Set-Up Advice for Vandersteen 1Cs


I'm beginning to piece together a system and having previously owned a pair of Vendersteen 1Bs back in the late 90's before I sold all my equipment I purchased a pair used 1Cs for $299 and $80 shipping... hopefully this was a good price.

I have a small apartment and these will be in the living room with the TV and I would like the sound from my TV, Cable, Apple TV or Roku 3, Blu-Ray, a DAC connected to my ipad/iphone/macbook pro, and eventually a turntable to be able to play through this system. I plan I have zero interest in a surround sound system, so multichannel is not a concern.

My understanding is that I should probably get an HDMI switch with audio out since things like the Apple TV and Roku 3 don't have audio out and I'll want the audio from those to play through the system. This area is new to me so any advice here would be greatly appreciated.

To complicate things I would LIKE to have a tube amp if possible. I am willing to go solid state, but I would much much prefer tube.

My budget is somewhere in the $500-$750 range. I am planning on buying used equipment to get the most bang for my buck. Something with a phono input would be best, but obviously I can't have everything.

I've been completely out of the loop and this was totally a spur of the moment purchase for me but I don't have a tremendous amount of time or disposable income so I'm looking to greater minds than my own for assistance.
greatwhitebat
check out peachtree idecco. Hybrid tube pre/power/dac.
If the speakers are in good shape and came with the bases, you got a very good deal. I sold mine a few years ago and got over $500 plus shipping. Just follow the setup instructions in the manual and you should have no problems getting great sound.

For the rest of it, I would keep it simple. Keep the audio and video separate. Any gear that is designed for more than 2 channels would be a waste. Starting with video, if your TV has enough HDMI inputs for all of your sources, you're done. If not, just buy a switcher.

For audio, I'll recommend something a little different. I would start off with a good quality solid state integrated. In your price range, I like NAD because they give you a lot of options. Even though its not tube, it will still sound very good. What makes NAD somewhat unique is that the amp and preamp sections are connected externally with rca jumpers. This allows you to use it just as an amp, or just as a preamp. So when you go to upgrade, you can just by one piece at a time. The NAD also has phono, remote, dac options.... and other features you may need.
I have 2 British made and highly respected Onix integrateds that sounded awesome with the Vandy 1 that you have. that's how I heard them originally at Ocean State Audio where I bought them. they are a bit lower than you want to go, lol. Their mids are really nice. Typical British sound at a fraction of the Naim costs. I'm a tube guy (also selling my full function Quicksilver preamp as well as the Silver Mono's) and I loved the Onix integrateds and that's why I have two to sell. Let me know if interested. Google the Onix integrateds and you'll see what I'm talking about. Models: OA22 and OA32.
check out peachtree idecco. Hybrid tube pre/power/dac.

I don't want something with an iPod/iPhone dock on it because the connectors change, and I'd like to have something that will have longevity far beyond whatever the most recent lightning/40pin/USB connector might be.

I would like to get a DAC that is external to the amp/integrated amp. If the DAC is in a preamp I would be fine with that, but I think separates would end up costing more.

For the rest of it, I would keep it simple. Keep the audio and video separate. Any gear that is designed for more than 2 channels would be a waste. Starting with video, if your TV has enough HDMI inputs for all of your sources, you're done. If not, just buy a switcher.

I'm not sure I understand. I don't want multichannel. I just want 2 channel, but I do want to get the audio from my video devices to my system because I definitely won't have space for two systems and I don't want to purchase a sound bar or just use the built in speakers on the TV.

Does the HDMI switcher sound like a bad idea? I've found a few that have RCA outputs, but I worry that the output quality will be poor. I know there are some pre amps with HDMI input that have built in DAC. The NAD Master M51 and Linn Majik both have this, but they happen to be in a completely different area code (or maybe country code) from my price range.

In your price range, I like NAD because they give you a lot of options.

Back in the 90's when I had the Vandersteen 1Bs I had an NAD 304 and an NAD 502 CD Player. I did enjoy the NAD sound then and I could see myself doing that now. However, I really would prefer tubes because I like the tube warmth more, I feel it really falls in line with my desire to focus this system (eventually) on vinyl, and I shamelessly want it to look really cool. I am completely open to the idea of picking up some sort of older NAD integrated as a temp solution and then moving it into the bedroom to pair with the RA Labs Black Gold Mini References that I have sitting in a closet practically unused since about 1996.

they are a bit lower than you want to go, lol.

I don't know what you mean by lower. Price? Power?

I might be interested, but I didn't see them listed on here for sale. Links?

--Thank you all for your assistance. I really do appreciate it--

I was thinking about maybe a Jolida integrated? Maybe I can find one used in my price range?

The biggest secondary issue is getting the output from the apple tv/roku/bluray to the inputs.
"I'm not sure I understand. I don't want multichannel. I just want 2 channel, but I do want to get the audio from my video devices to my system because I definitely won't have space for two systems and I don't want to purchase a sound bar or just use the built in speakers on the TV."

I know you don't want multichannel. My recommendation was for 2 channel equipment. For example, if you have a dvd player, you run a video cable from that directly to your TV (or switcher), and send the audio to the integrated amp (or whatever you decide to go with for audio).
I know you don't want multichannel. My recommendation was for 2 channel equipment.

Ok. Sorry, I wasn't trying to be dense.

For example, if you have a dvd player, you run a video cable from that directly to your TV (or switcher), and send the audio to the integrated amp (or whatever you decide to go with for audio).

Ok. Sorry, I wasn't trying to be dense.

The issue with this is that some of the components on the video side do not have seperate audio/video cables. They have HDMI output only. I'm trying to find a solution for that that gets the HDMI passed through to the TV and the audio to the amp without making a mess of the audio first.
"The issue with this is that some of the components on the video side do not have seperate audio/video cables. They have HDMI output only. I'm trying to find a solution for that that gets the HDMI passed through to the TV and the audio to the amp without making a mess of the audio first."

I didn't realize that was the issue. Most TV's have audio outputs. You can just go from the out on the TV to one of the inputs on your pre/integrated. You'll still be able to bypass the speaker on your TV.
Are they the black pair on ebay last week? I bought a pair a while ago for $265 with free shipping. Was the only bidder, felt like that was a bargain.

As for the tube amp in your price range, you'll probably need to look at some of the Chinese made products. I'm currently using a pair of Dared VP-20 mono amps. They only allow for a single input and only produce 18 watts each; probably not for you. Hopefully some other owners of these products will chime in.
Are they the black pair on ebay last week? I bought a pair a while ago for $265 with free shipping. Was the only bidder, felt like that was a bargain.

Yep. I would have loved to have found a pair as cheaply as you did. There are some 2Ci that just sold in Indy for under 300 for pick up only, but the looked quite marked up and didn't have stands. I considered those, but thought these might be in better condition and they included the stands.

I have been looking at the amps from china and one big question is how low powered can I go on these?
"I have been looking at the amps from china and one big question is how low powered can I go on these?"

Pretty much as low as you want. The 1C's are very easy to drive. You would have no problem with a well made 20-30 watt/channel tube amp as long as the room isn't too big and/or the volume too loud. From the 2's up, you would probably want more power but not so with the 1's.

If you haven't had a chance to listen to them yet, you're in for a pleasant surprise. I put my 1's next to some very well regarded speakers that cost a lot more and thought the Vandersteen beat them easily. The cheapest speaker that I could find that I like better are the 2's.
So you're in Indy? I live in Brownsburg.
Howdy neighbor!
Most TV's have audio outputs. You can just go from the out on the TV to one of the inputs on your pre/integrated. You'll still be able to bypass the speaker on your TV.
It does have a SPDIF out, but that's the only output. I suppose I can get a sort of converter for that... I'll continue to look into it.
I'm currently using a pair of Dared VP-20 mono amps. They only allow for a single input and only produce 18 watts each; probably not for you. Hopefully some other owners of these products will chime in.
How is that 18W working for you?
Pretty much as low as you want. The 1C's are very easy to drive.
Yeah, I had no problem with the 1Bs on the 35W the NAD 304 produced. I'm just wondering how low I can go... like below 20? It's a relatively small room, 11'9"x14'4.5", though it is partially open into a rather small kitchen/dining area.

I'm looking at some Yaquin integrated amps that seem nice.
So you're in Indy? I live in Brownsburg.
Howdy neighbor!

I live in Dayton Ohio, but I used to live in Indy. I wouldn't mind driving there to pick something up, so I was browsing in that area, and always expand my searches there since it's not a bad drive and I have friends there.

Howdy nonetheless.
I've come to the conclusion that something like a Peachtree Decco65/Nova125, NAD D 3020, or Teac A-H01 would probably be the best solution for me at this point in time. I'll only need to add a phono stage for a turntable.

In the future I would like to get something like a Primaluna Prologue One or Four, Jolida JD502CRC, or Dynaco ST-70. Those will require an external DAC, phono stage, and depending on the choice a preamp. I like this solution better, but the cost is prohibitive at the moment.
I have a great sounding NAD 326BEE that I"m willing to part with since I got my Ayre integrated. I used it with my Proac Super Towers for a year and it sounded pretty good. not in the same class as Ayre, but for what it cost it was great. Let me know if you have interest. Rogue is something to look at as it mates really well with Vandy's too.
Well... at the moment I'm not so sure I'll be getting the Vandersteens at all. The seller still hasn't shipped a week later and has been rather flippant and not terribly responsive. That isn't instilling me with a lot of confidence as to the condition or quality of the speakers even if they do arrive.
If you are still in the market, I have 2 pairs of Proacs that are for sale, lol. The monitors are currently at Audio Connection where they'll ship out off and you can do a cc if you want. Just let me know. Both sets are in teak.
Finally the Vandersteen 1Cs have arrived... without the floor stands. I'm now attempting to get the seller to ship me the floor stands. It amazes me how incompetent this seller has been with this transaction overall. On the other hand, they sound great and are working well so far.

I have purchased a NAD 3140 as a temporary integrated amp and it is happily driving the speakers along at 40wpc without any issues at all.

Now I'm just working on figuring out placement.
I fear that I might have to get rid of my TV bench/stand in this process and mount the TV on the wall for me to be able to place them close enough together.

They are set on the long wall in a room that has dimensions of 173x141. One side is partially open into a kitchen and dining area.

The couch is faced opposite to them with my listening position about 14-20 inches off of the back wall depending on how I'm sitting.

The TV bench is 71 inches wide with a 50" TV set on it in the centre. The bench itself is 18.5 inches high.
If I place the speakers on either side of the bench with their faces poking out about 4 inches in front, toed in slightly, and about 2 inches off to the side of the bench that puts them about 73 inches apart (from edge to edge). They are currently 15 inches off of the wall behind them and 39.5 and 36 inches off of the side walls. My listening position is about 96 inches back from there.

I feel like I need to bring them closer together, probably around 55-60 inches apart because the soundstage sounds very thin in the middle and pulled out toward the edges.

Perhaps I should wait for the floor stands before I get too deep into this?
Find sweet spot without stands. It's much easier to move them around and you don't have to poke holes on your floor with those stands.
Although they can be driven with low-powered amp, They'd benefit much larger from 100wpc or larger. If you plan to add 2wq sub or pair later you'll get sound superior to 3a performance.
So your future options are: more power and/or sub and/or 2xsub and you'll be in nirvana.
You need 2 things to set your speakers up properly. The stands and the owners manual. There's no way you are going to get it right otherwise. If the seller didn't include the manual, you can download it from Vandersteen's web site. Read through it and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Just follow the formula he gives you. From inside edge to inside edge 6 feet apart is a good starting point. You can go a little wider if you have to. As far as the amp goes, you're OK for power. If you had a pair of 2's, you could make a case for more power, but the 1's just don't need it.

"I feel like I need to bring them closer together, probably around 55-60 inches apart because the soundstage sounds very thin in the middle and pulled out toward the edges."

Once you get the speakers higher up on the stands and set the back tilt, that problem will go away. Also, if you bought a new amp, its probably not broken in yet. Make sure you get at least 100 hours on it before you do any serious listening.
55...60"'s too close. split them at least 6' apart.
You need 2 things to set your speakers up properly. The stands and the owners manual.

I should have the stands by Friday Night, so I'll be doing a lot of that stuff when I get home.

Once you get the speakers higher up on the stands and set the back tilt, that problem will go away. Also, if you bought a new amp, its probably not broken in yet. Make sure you get at least 100 hours on it before you do any serious listening.

Cool. I will look forward to that. Also the amp is like... 1-2 years younger than me. I think it's broken in ;)

55...60"'s too close. split them at least 6' apart.

Currently they are about 73" apart edge to edge from the toed in inside front edge.
Be careful with the tilt. I found very little tilt worked best for me with both the 1Cs and the 2CEs. Discovered this after setting tilt and noting how much better they sounded when I was standing in front of my chair. I straightened up the speakers until they sounded best when seated. Still some tilt, just not too much.
I would think the 40 watts is plenty unless you are really cranking them.
If John from Audio Connection sees this thread, he'll chime in. He's an expert at setting them up. I think he uses an inexpensive laser, but I'm not sure. I get my Treo's set up next week and will see. Are you biwiring them? If not, you need to or you won't get everything out of them that you want.
"05-22-14: Timrhu
Be careful with the tilt. I found very little tilt worked best for me with both the 1Cs and the 2CEs. Discovered this after setting tilt and noting how much better they sounded when I was standing in front of my chair. I straightened up the speakers until they sounded best when seated. Still some tilt, just not too much.
I would think the 40 watts is plenty unless you are really cranking them."

Did you use the formula in the manual? If you set everything just right, it should sound OK as long as you don't have other problems like a bad room, or your head is too close to the rear wall.

" Are you biwiring them? If not, you need to or you won't get everything out of them that you want."

You can' biwire the 1's.
I assumed the 1's could be biwired. When you hear Richard himself talk about wiring, it's very interesting. His speakers definitely need to be biwired or you'll lose what you paid for. That's a must and anyone will tell you that.
"05-22-14: Ctsooner
I assumed the 1's could be biwired. When you hear Richard himself talk about wiring, it's very interesting. His speakers definitely need to be biwired or you'll lose what you paid for. That's a must and anyone will tell you that."

I think you took my post the wrong way. I just pointed out that you can't biwire the 1's. There's only one set of binding posts. Aside from that, I agree. I run 2 sets of speaker cables on all my Vandersteen's. And the difference is not subtle.
REally? Wow, I'm almost shocked. I bet it's because of the price range he made them for. I know they are more efficient than the others too. That's a good topic the next time he does his tours. Wow.
He talks about the lack of bi-wiring on the 1C at length in this interview

Bi-wiring is very inter-
esting. We have been doing it now for
twenty years. Our smallest model, the 1C
is not bi-wired, and we’re often asked why
is our littlest speaker not bi-wired. One of
the main advantages of the bi-wiring is the
separation of the magnetic fields in the
wire. I’m talking about the expanding or
collapsing magnetic fields that occur when
an amplifier is trying to drive a wire con-
nected to a very large, heavy duty woofer.
This results in a tremendous amount of
current going to that woofer and because it
is not a simple resistive load, it’s a re-
active load, the back EMF can be very
significant, and you have to remember ex-
panding and collapsing magnetic fields
is how transformers work, so it can be
very significant if that field is crossing
through the very same wire that is driving
the subtle signals involved with the mid-
range and tweeter. The reason we don’t
do it on a small two-way is because it’s
a very light weight responsive 8-inch
woofer. So when you are talking about
small, little speakers, I think bi-wiring just
makes it sound different. It can’t really be
justified from an engineering standpoint
and the money it costs to do it would be
better spent on higher quality components
for the crossover or better drivers.
Here is a model of what my setup looks like within the room.
This was quick (not quick at all... room layout programs are not as easy to use as I thought they would be) and dirty.

Image 1

Image 2
Nice drawings. I suggest some very heavy drapes in front of that window as absorptive panels aren't going to work there. Especially if your seat is right up against the window.

Did you use the formula in the manual? If you set everything just right, it should sound OK as long as you don't have other problems like a bad room, or your head is too close to the rear wall.
Zd542

Yep I used the manual. Don't recall it being specific about the amount of tilt. No substitute for dialing it in with listening though. The stand up, sit down test is very revealing if there is too much tilt.
very cool. yes, I remember reading that at one point and hearing him talk about it now that I see it. (I have drop out at times with MS). Of all the designers I've been fortunate to meet, he's the best by far. He just gets it and when you see who his friends are in the industry you realize that they get it too. Just look to see who he shows his speakers with etc... All are great products overall.
it's recommended to form equalateral triangle so ideally either your speakers should be placed even further apart or listening chair should be closer or speakers should be moved closer.
"Yep I used the manual. Don't recall it being specific about the amount of tilt. No substitute for dialing it in with listening though. The stand up, sit down test is very revealing if there is too much tilt."

If you go through the manual, its the part where you hang a string off the back of the speaker (you tie something to the end of the string like a nut to keep it straight). Once the string settles, you measure the distance between the string and the bottom of the base of the speaker. That's your back tilt. How much is determined by all of the other setup factors, so you should know beforehand how much you will need. I think the last time, for me was about 1/2 an inch. If I were to move things around, though, I would have to set the tilt again to account for the changes. I know some people use a lazer level but the string is easy enough that I don't see the value in spending the extra money. Going back to what you were talking about noticing the differences when you stand up and sit down, yes, its a big difference and that's why back tilt is do important to get right.

Greatwhitebat,

After seeing your drawings, something tells me not only will you make light work of setting these speakers up, but you'll really enjoy the process. I wouldn't be shocked if you already have a lazer level. lol. It looks like you have plenty of room to either move the speakers out further in the room, or move your couch closer to the speakers. If you can, I would split the difference and do a little of both.
Very interesting thread. is that Sketch up you are using? We use that when doing plans for furniture building (woodworking).
The stands came... but they lack the spikes. I can't believe it, but whatever... I'm done fighting with this seller and I'm just going to try to find some replacement spikes. I'll start making calls on that tomorrow... in the mean time they provide some tilt, but no real adjustability.

I do not own a laser level... YET!

I can change the TV bench and make it smaller so I can put the speakers closer together, but moving the couch away from the wall really cuts into the space. I did have the couch set in the room in a different fashion. I am in a 1 bedroom apartment and this is my primary living space other than the bed and bath.

Heavy drapes are going to happen because I know I'll want to cover those windows, and I need the light blocking so I can see the TV better during the daytime anyway... so 2-for-1 win on that count.
Very interesting thread. is that Sketch up you are using? We use that when doing plans for furniture building (woodworking).

I'm using some random free thing I found for mac called Sweet Home 3D

I'm sure there are better things out there... even free. I just wanted something and this had good reviews. I wish it was easier to use and provided more information about placement, but whatever... I could probably spend 100s of hours just messing around with blueprints. I'm a bit obsessive.
Check Amazon if you have a prime account or Partsexpress for spikes. The Vandies probably use a standard thread for their spikes and should be cheap and easy to find.

That seller should be tarred and feathered.
If you have hardwood floors, you can skip the spikes and buy threaded felt-bottomed furniture glides at a hardware store. They're cheap, they save your floors, and the pitch on the threads is the same as for the Vandersteen spikes. I use them for my 1Cis.
The hole/thread is 1/4" - 20
so I should be able to find that fairly easily. I'm looking around.

and unfortunately I have carpet in this apartment, so I'm stuck with spikes. I'm also stuck with carpet, and carpet is a visual nightmare... even if it's good carpet.
I think I've sorted out the setup temporarily. I moved them forward and inched my couch forward 6 inches. The stands need the spikes, but I feel like that'll just help tighten things up a bit. Also, I need to close the door behind the right speaker when listening when listening... and DRAPES DRAPES DRAPES.

I'm really torn between amps:

NAD 3020: Easy. DAC included. SS which means maintenance free. Bluetooth. Cheap as hell, especially because it includes the DAC. I feel like it'll be completely the opposite of what I'm looking for... but I know it'd probably be a good temporary amp and eventually move into the bedroom.

Jolida JD102CRC: I love the way it looks. I want that tube sound. I want to get into tubes and play with tube rolling. I'm worried it won't be enough power because I hear they over estimate the power on these. No local dealer that I can find. Some questions about quality. I like the fact that the DAC isn't included so I can upgrade it separately, but it's far more expensive.

Peachtree Decco 65: DAC included. Some of the tube sound. Plenty of power. I can buy it locally.

Something else in the under 1K range: I don't know??

Yaqin: I want to believe these are reasonable... but I am heavily questioning it. It would be great to get a solid well built 50wpc in tubes with a remote for $500. It seems unlikely.

Help.
Oh, and just a question: do any other subs match 1Cs? I'm not finding any used 2wq subs for sale. I'm not paying $1500.
I drove a pair of Vandersteen 1cs (and later a pair of Vandy 2ce sigs) with a 100 Watt McCormack DNA-0.5 with excellent results. They go for about $650 used.
(((Heavy drapes are going to happen because I know I'll want to cover those windows,)))
This is a big mistake try lighter normal drapes
like a chintz material.
Vandies will sound fine in normal homes think diffusive materials like nic nacks,book cases,lamps,tables chairs,record rack,plant,etc.
The more normal your room is the more you will experience
the venue.
I predict when you install light drapes,
and have all of the underlined correctly you will discover their magic.
1 Did you fill the stands with dry sand?
and tighten finger tight, then one full turn on each
with a 7/16th wrench?
2 Did you read the manual and do the tilt back
with the spikes in place?
3 Did you ever think if I get a turntable I may not feel
a tube amp is the next move?
Best JohnnyR
3 Did you ever think if I get a turntable I may not feel
a tube amp is the next move?

I've thought about this.

From what I can tell the biggest things holding my system up are:

The DAC. I'm running sound out of the headphone output on my TV because I can't get the digital source from my Apple TV or computer into the amp any other way. This is OBVIOUSLY a HUGE PROBLEM. So... I need that solved.

The biggest thing holding me back there is if I pick a external DAC I feel pretty compelled to head into the tube world because both of the amps I'm considering that are SS have DACs included.

I've been quite tempted to simply jump and get the 3020 D and see how I like it because at worst I can sell the damn thing on ebay for very little loss. I saw a used one sell for within ~!$20 of retail the other day. Very little risk there.
Listen to John. He knows Vandy's and what goes best better than anyone other than Richard I think, lol. He just gave you some of the best free advice you can get. John has a lot of used gear that would sound great with those Vandy's I'm sure. You may want to see what he has that's in your budget to drive them. You'd be amazed. Save money, help a dealer who's trying to help you regardless....win win from the looks of it and he wont' let you make expensive mistakes which happens often in audio as we all know.