Sonus Faber Amati Homage versus Vandersteen 5A

Has anyone directed compared these two speakers in the same environment and electronics? How are their respective sonic signatures different. Are they more or less similar to the Wilson WP 7 or Ariel 20T??
No-brainer in my opinion. The Vandys are far superior being not only time and phase correct, but with a flat response below 20 Hz when properly set up.
Its not a no Brainer. Personal taste's are different.

Go Listen. Your ear's and only your ears should decide.

If you cant listen to a speaker,DO NOT BUY IT. SIMPLE

One mans treasure is anothers junk.

Trust your ears. Cheers
Beauty of Amati is in the integration. Vandersteen 5 is nice, but it's also a problem by leaving the owner to tune bass freq and output. If tuning those two parameters were so easy, why would anyone on earth want to buy big speakers when they can buy small speakers and mate with subs? On top, small speakers have better imaging.

And I doubt there is any speaker that is truly phase correct. All Sonus Faber are tilted to time align the tweeter. Most Sonus Faber also employs 1st order x-over to retain as much phase correctness as possible. Using more passive parts like in Thiel will only create more phase problem, not correct it. It's simple electronic 101, try solving (or even guessing) 1st order vs. higher order x-over behavior with twice as many parts on paper and you will know what I mean.

I have heard both and own Amati currently. Vanersteen 5 is a "complicated" speaker with flaws that can be heard occasionally, like Amati which also possesses some flaws of its own. Overall, Amati is still more transparent and musical to my ears and definitely a winner in look as well.
I agree with Natnic. I recently heard the 5As and less recently the Amatis. Both are superb speakers. The 5As do most everything right and are extremely coherent. That said, I found the 5As, at least in the setup I heard (paired with Quicksilver amps, Wadia CD and Audio Research preamp), to be very uninvolving. In contrast, the Amatis have less bass and IMO less neutrality but are more musical to my ears and easier to listen to. I am sure there are others that have an entirely different reaction and of course, system synergy is an essential ingredient to making any speakers make magic as is the interaction of the speakers and room.

I have not heard the Aerials but I have heard the Wilson 7s many times and found the Vandies closer in signture to them than the Amatis although, IMO, the Wilsons are superior speakers (still not my taste). Best to go listen and follow your own feelings. While you're at it, try out the JM Labs Utopia line with well matched amps like the Burmester (the Nova Utopias are one of the first speakers to really knock my socks off), the Genesis 501s which IMO are wonderful and I found more likeable than either the Wilsons or the Vandies, the Green Mountain Audio Continuum 3s which are IMO on par with the Vandies (except for the lowest bass)at half the price and finally the Beolab 5s which show great promise but are difficult to ultimately assess because B&O's showrooms need work. There are, of course, many others but these are a good sampling worth trying that may bring as much if not more musical pleasure than either the Vandies or the Amatis.


Must agree with most of the posters here in that you gotta listen for yourself. Also, I too find the Vandies a bit uninvolving and booring..if not "unpretty sounding". I think they are a tad veiled compared to the more refined soundig SF Amati's. I'm not a HUGE FAN OF THE AMATI'S per se. But then I like the clearer, more transparent sound of these, similarly like Theils, Wilson's, SF Extrema's, Maggies, and similar. The Vandies tend to sound a bit thicker and warmer to me, kind of like the older Mirage biggier personally.
I used to work in a few high end salon's. and I've sold higher end offerings from the likes of wilson, Thiel, Audio Physic, Celestion, Martin Logan, Magnepan, B&W, NHT, Mirage, Sonus, Energy, Sonus Faber, Apogee, Meridian, Avantgarde, and similar. I once heard the Vandie's hooked up in the same system we had some Thiel's and Audiphysics hooked up comparison to my ears. I didn't care for the rather plain sound of the Vandie's. Sounded like old Merlin speakers, but more veiled!(I was listenign to 3c's I believe). Anyway, to each his own.
Some may love em, but I found they added far too much coloration and signature to the sound!..that's just my findings...and of course, simply my opinion.
still, I'd listen for yourself. Buyone pair, then try the rest of us audio enthusiests/junkies
Semi: There is NO WAY that the Amati Homage is time coherent. Just because a manufacturer slants the baffle in no way assures that the speakers will be time coherent. In fact, in a Stereophile review of these speakers,

the step-response measurements clearly show that, although the tweeter and woofer are wired in positive polarity, the midrange driver is wired in inverse polarity relative to the tweeter and woofer.

Now go take a look at the same measurement FOR ANY THIEL.

Also, the bass peaks at 65Hz and then falls off at a rapid rate of 12dB per octave. That's not "first order" crossover, because if it were, then the bass driver would be falling off at a much shallower slope, due to its design needs to accomodate a first order design.

Sonus Faber attempts to replicate and pose as a Thiel, Meadowlark or Vandersteen, but ultimately fails from a design and electrical performance standpoint. And if the measured conditions are not met, then it will never be subjectively "correct" as a time coherent design, no matter how it "sounds."

And what you say about Thiels is absolutely false when it comes to phase coherence in a first order design. Just look at the benign phase angle vs. frequency response for Thiel designs. They blow SF out of the water on that parameter. I mean, give me a break.

Happy Listening (I've got my fire retardant suit on ;-) )
Funny how some people think one "data" equals to a fact. When reviewer measured speakers, do they measure them at listening distance, say 6'? No, it's more like a foot away. How sound and freq propagate over a longer distance is a complicated equation, not something Stereophile measurement can tell you.

And go pickup a circuit design 101 text book before you argue with me about phase. I spend years in school studying electrical engineering, I should have this common sense.

And about the slope of bass roll off. Go pick up a speaker design book 101, you will learn that bass roll off has as much to do with cross over as well as box design.

What matters at the end is how it sounds, and I have never ever heard a pair of Thiel that makes me think I am listening to live music. Isn't live music most phase and time coherent?
Stevecham, Please give us all a break,
Thiels are not anything anyone would want to duplicate,.

Thin lean un involving, toe tapin and Thiels just dont happen. Ettched sterile. Need I say More.

Who cares that they measure great they sound well to me any way not woth 10 Cents on the Dollar of what they cost.

Sonous Farbers Vandies and Meadolarks are all so much better than Thiels.

You are insulting the designers of those fine speakers.

Measurments are for fools who dont have enough sense to let thier ears choose gear.

Semi, could not say it better myself.

Thiels sound like Nails scratching on a Blackboard.

A few non audiophiles I took to a store to listen to gear said, the Thiels hurt thier ears. Nuff said.
Im not a huge fan of the AMati's sound but the craftsmanship is incredible. I sold 2 pairs of em back in 00'. Both owners love em to this day as much as they did when they first purchased them. Vandy 5a craftsmanship is nowhere near the level of the Sonus speakers but I do prefer their sound.
Ah, the comments of the ignorant and inexperienced. So sad...
Stevecham, lots of class .

Semi you hit it on the head, Thiels do not sound like Live Muisc,

Stevecham you remind me of an old saying a wise man taught me.

Never argue with an Idiot all he will do is drag you down to his level and then beat you with experience.

Like I said one mans gold is another mans junk.

No one attacked anyone untill you came out smeared a very Fine speaker. Not the best speaker not the worst but $ for $ a far better buy than a Thiel which Rhymes with Steal.
We should be able to tell Stevecham's taste from his gears - Krell pre + power w/ Thiel. Nothing personal, but something a lot, and I do mean a lot, of audiophiles will stay away from. Ahh, enough said.
What does thiel have to do with this person's question?
I must have touched a sensitive nerves with Semi and Natnic. That was not my intention. You guys must hate trips to the dentist.

The fact remains: Thiels, Vandersteens and Meadowlarks (and electrostatics) are time coherent, both in design and execution. Step response measurements prove this from both manufacturers and reviewers alike. And please don't discredit John Atkinson's measurment abilities. It's not subjective. The Sonus Fabers, as fine as they may sound to the ear (mine included..surprise!!!), are simply not time coherent. I wish they were.

Many of my musician and audiophile friends ans colleagues have often commented to me how much they enjoy listening to my system. Shame on me for choosing inferior and poorly designed audio equipment such as Thiel and Krell. Gosh, Jim Thiel and Dan D'Agostino should hang it all up tomorrow and retire in shame. Obviously I should have consulted the "experts" and "engineers" first. And shame on me for having stone cold deaf friends.

And I truly enjoy Semi's and Natnic's excellent use of the English language in this discourse. For instance, I particularly found enlightening, "Thin lean un involving, toe tapin and Thiels just dont happen." And, "We should be able to tell Stevecham's taste from his gears."

I guess there are more people out there who "know me" than I thought.

To Dbk: I think you will find greater listening satisfaction and value in the long run with a pair of Vandy 5As than with the SF Amati Homages simply because the sonic engineering and design of these speakers is superior to the SFs, despite the better cabinetry of the latter. Plus, when I auditioned both of these speakers in my search for a pair, I enjoyed the Vandy 5A more and would have purchased them but they were out my price range. (Shame on me for not having the $$,$$$ either afford them.) Subjectively, your ears may tell YOU otherwise. Perhaps Semi and Natnic can elighten us all with a valid comparison of these two models your thread originally questioned about. That is, if they can cool down long enough to write coherently.
Take a look at Sonus Faber's website ( Tell me if I'm wrong, but there wasn't a single bit of useful product information I could find about their speakers.
Krell and Thiel oh my you are a treble on steroids guy Stevecham
My God 15 Minutes of that and most people ears will BLEED.

Sorry Stevecham for some of US English is not our first language. We do our best . I was not aware that I had to have an English degree to post.

Truth bites .

And like a child when you feel threatend you lash out.

Krell is AUDIO JEWLERY for Name Brand buyers. Not Musical in any way.

Get it, if the toes dont tap then it is not musical.

Simple test.

If it does not want to make you dance naked it aint worth squat.
Hey Guys, this was a really good question that dissolved into a pointless and sometimes rude argument.I appreciate the comments of those who do not speak perfect English. They make good points, but again let's stay on task. I too am considering these two speakers, along with Von Schweikert VR7's, B&W 802's, Aerial 20t's, and would love some astute feedback from someone who has heard them since I'm going to have to drive long distances to hear them myself. You might save a weekend for me. But more importantly, I'd like to get an idea of which ones really make you relax and enjoy the music, like the old Infinity IRS speakers did.
Stevecham, what does whats on a website have to do woth selecting a speakers.

Speakers need to be heard by Human EARS, You and J. Atkinson can Measure all the F you want. Bottom line anyone who lets whats on a website pick a Speaker is Brain Dead.
Ok, I have to speak in order to stop people like Stevecham from making incorrect claims.

Sound speed is definitely freq dependent. But in order to truly make a speaker time correct, you will need to have infinite number of drivers to cover each freq and align them on different time axis. This is is not possible since each driver covers a certain freq range, not one freq, and the designer "picks" a freq to time align it. Not the whole freq range since it's not possible. Therefore reviewer tests the same way, one freq on tweeter axis. So if the reviewer doesn't test the designer's freq, it will not appear time correct.

As for phase correct, the worst thing to do is to use anything higher than 1st order crossover like in Thiel. This is a common sense and often practiced by well regarded manufacture including Sonus Faber and Dynaudio. I challege Stevecham to solve an op-amp in 4 pole equation, it will involves 1st to 4th order slope and will show it's impossible to keep phase correct with high order x-over. I hold a MS in EE and have been in semicondutor field for 10+ years, it's almost embarrassing to hear people like Stevecham making unsound claim without any technical background.

And thank God there is people like Stevecham on earth to keep company like Thiel alive who picks equipment by one data set, not by his own ears.

And this site is great for people who listen with their ears, not for people who bash other manufactures without knowing what they are talking about.
Semi you are completely incorrect on this topic. Yo umay goad me but it won't work. Audiogoners are well educated and know the difference between reality and BS, which is what you are fermenting.

The input signal used for step reponse analysis covers the entire bandwidth, not just a single frequency as you indicate. Obviously your degrees were obtained by mail order. Semiconductors; what do they have to do with analog waveforms? Bunch of ones and zeros, like your logic.

Thiel uses first order crossovers. You are wrong on this also. Anyone else wantto challenge this or do you still want to sit alone on that throne of nails.

I chose my system based on my ears, not on specs.

"An op-amp in 4 pole equation" has nothing to with this topic. No s$#t crossover with higher than 6 dB oer octave will cause phase shift. 4th order causes 369 degrees near the crossover point. So what?

No further comments from me; I answered Dbk's question.

I suspect you are a little kid with a desire for a nice system. Go out get a job and earn it like I did. And wipe your nose and zip up your fly.
At least the user Worldcat hasnt entered into this thread.........
I suspected Stevecham was the same guy who worked in Music Lover Audio who bashed everything and discredited anything they didn't like. They claimed Dunlavy and Spectral were the most accurate products out there and anything else were not worth listening to even though they carried them. They even went as far to tell their customers they should not be in this hobby if customers did not agree with their "reference" system. So narrow minded.

Semicondutor is a billion times more advance than audio product, and that's why Applied Materials can be where they are today. What I learned from semicondutor is current metrology can't interpret all behaviors, let along audio measurements where only a VERY small handful of people are doing research on. Semiconductor has billion of dollars to back up this industry every year and there are still a lot to learn, Stevecham is so sure the one data from Stereophile explains everything? What a joke.

And if measurement alone will determine the sound, why buy Krell when Adcom will do since they all measure the same? And I bet Thiel CS6 won't measure that differently from CS3.6, why spend the extra money.

Go to school to learn how to interpret data and understand analog circuit design first before you argue with others and waste others time. BTW, my study was on digital, analog, and device physic.
Semi, who said above: "I suspected Stevecham was the same guy who worked in Music Lover Audio who bashed everything and discredited anything they didn't like."

"Stevecham is so sure the one data from Stereophile explains everything?"

I have absolutely no idea what you are saying. None of this even resembles reality or truth. There is good science, and there is bad science. You know nothing about me and this just vindicates my conclusion that you are a so-called "scientist" of the worst sort, making conclusions based on suspicions, not on reproducible, let alone verifiable, facts.

And by the way, Krell and Adcom don't measure the same. Some "engineer" you are. Grow up.

Get a life, loser.
I know of alot of Adcom products that will stack up with Krell(and even post better "measurements" too) just for the record........nametag and pricing doesnt always mean better sound thats for sure......
Specifically Ritteri? Like what? Do us all a favor and educate us with something besides suppositions.

If you can't provide specific examples then stay the heck out of it.

NONE of Adcom's products rates as doubling power in halved impedances, either by their own publication or by anyone's tests! And forget them working in class A, they are biased for class A/B at rated power. Big difference.

Put a 2 Ohm load on an Adcom and get out the weenies and marshmallows. (keep the fire extinguisher close by)

And why do you own Aragon if Adcom would suffice? Yeah, I thought so. Exactly!

I think the best thing about this thread is that it at least encourages all the whining trolls to emerge from their gulches and belch a few times into the wind before running back from whence they came.
Well done Gentlemen, you have slapded him and he is acting like a true spoiled Brat.

Thank God for people who care about this Hobby and will put
people like Stevecham in thier place.

Hey though give him a break, when you get your brained messed by Thiel and Krell it can make you go insane.
I am an old engineer/audiophile and know analog circuit design well, I have to agree with Semi in that over the past 30 years measurements of anything have consistently evolved and changed. So measurement of "now" doesn't mean absolute truth like what Stevecham claims.

And how Audiogon staff continue to let people like Stevecham post any responses given his aggressive and unprofessional attitude is beyond me, especially when he doesn't have a solid technical background. Stevecham sure sounds like all the names he has been calling others.
Stevecham: Dont be a complete fool(opps, too late I guess....). Were not just talking about "amplifiers" here, were also talking source and preamplification units also.But besides that point. As to why Im using Aragon instead of an "Adcom" product is due to the fact that I needed multiple monoblocks to run my current configuration. Adcom doesnt make a pure monoblock.

As for products doubling down their rated power if you actually knew anything about physics of amplifiers you would know that NO AMPLIFIER can truely double down their power when impedance is cut in half. And every time your impedance drops your THD and TIM goes up. Go back to until you can validate a competant argument seriously.

"if you actually knew anything about physics of amplifiers you would know that NO AMPLIFIER can truely double down their power when impedance is cut in half."

"Go back to until you can validate a competant argument seriously."

The emperor has no clothes.
Just found this by Mgs on another thread:

"For what it's worth, I believe Franco Serblin (sp), the designer of Sonus Faber speakers, uses a pair of Krell monoblocks as part of his test system at the factory."

You guys make me laugh. Thanks for the grins and happy listening to all ;-)
Since someone likes to pick fight, here is one for you.

So Ferrari uses Pirelli on their cars, does that make Pirelli the best tires on earth?

Many classical recording studios use B&W 801 III, does that make B&W 801 III the best speaker on earth?

Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy are the best selling speaker in that price range (according to Wilson), does that make Wilson Watt/Puppy the best speaker around $20k?

Some people just don't get it. Guess idiot will always remain as idiot.

I never once used the term "best". That is solely your assertion or invention Semi.

Serblin obviously (probably?) values Krell as ONE of many tools when evaluating his own designs. Most high quality speaker designers also use several amp manufacturers for the same reason, including Thiel, who uses Audio Research and conrad-johnson tube designs as well as Mark Levinson, Krell, Rowland, Pass and others for solid state.

I also know that Ferrari uses other tire brands (like Bridgestone in Formula 1, which truly is a winning combination) in their DESIGN of suspensions, brakes, aerodynamic adjustments, etc.

Most recording studios have at least three or more pairs of monitors of different brands specifically so that they can evaluate the mix/master under different conditions. Take note of Harbeths and small Yamahas also as widely used studio monitors. Many even set up a car speaker environment to ensure the final mix will succeed in automobiles.

And what does "best selling" speaker mean Semi? Number of units sold, or revenue generated, or margin vs cost per unit realized? There are number of ways of looking at this, just as there are evaluating and enjoying components.

You yourself said that single data points are not the way to evaluate something. I take no issue with that.

I'm certain that if I were to hear your Amatis I would be mighty impressed. If I had $20K to spend on speakers I would probably look at Sonus Faber and others (Thiel's most expensive speaker maxes out around $15K). You are very fortunate for being able to afford such speakers.

You wrote:

"Some people just don't get it. Guess idiot will always remain as idiot."

Fair enough, we've called each names now, so let's move on and be civil. And why do animated, spirited discussions always have be seen as "fights" these days?

I remain a student for life and try never to shut the door on keeping an open mind. If I'm an "idiot" for doing that, fine, let's stop the name calling, OK?

Is it possible to let the dust settle and perhaps turn this into an elightened discussion or will we continue to hurl the BS. If the former, then let's continue, otherwise, let's not.

I'll also bet that we have more in common than we don't.

Perhaps we could get back to Dbk's original question, which was a good one.
Good point. We are here to help each other and many of us feel Amati reproduces music in a very special way regardless what the current industrial measurements indicate. When you measure a real Guarneri vs. a $500 violin, there will not be much of a difference. I have talked with several big name amplifier engineers and they openly admitted measurements were for reference only, not absolute final design which were done by ears. I knew because I had to send in my amps for service (lack of bass) and they said measurement were fine, but they also heard lack of bass!

Bottom line is I have owned too many speakers and settled on a pair of Amati (along with two other pairs of SF for "backup") for one reason, they reproduce music with greater emotion which is what most of us try to recreate at home. I was a big fan of Dynaudio and owned several fine Dynaudio speakers in the past including the fame C5 several times, but their latest offering (C4 in particular) lost my business due to "fat" bass and weird styling. Otherwise, Dynaudio is another fine choice among other elite speakers.

I am not a big fan of MTM design, let along MTTM in newer Dynaudio. One can usually hear the smearing effect of critical midrange with MTM, whether it's adding or subtracting. At least in this department, SF, Thiel, and Vandersteen all chose the right approach.

Nothing against Vandersteen 5, but they don't have that "jump" factor you often get when listening to live music. Randy of Optimal Enchantment (Santa Monica, Ca) is a big Vandersteen fan and I have heard V5 there seveal times with very fine front end (ARC Ref 2 Mk II, ARC Ref Phono, Oracle V, Graham 2.2, ARC VTM-200, AQ something). Bass extension is quite a bit better than Amati as expected, but for lack of words, they still sound like other Vandersteen except more refined.

Bruce (forgot his user name) had a V5 for sale on Audiogon a couple years back, I introduced him to Dynaudio C5 and he never looked back and have gone thru several pairs of Dynaudio since. Not saying Dynaudio is better, but I am not alone in thinking V5 is a little soul-less.

Good luck with your search. Buy whatever that please your ears, you are the one who is spending the money.
I agree with Stevecham, the Sonus Faber web site was not a bit useful to me, I can't believe I could not find anything about their products!
Stevecham says he belives that Krell is being used, I belive otherwise. Dont say stuff you cant back up.

With all the Outstanding amps made in Italy in Europe , a Krell is not lickly the voicing source, but thats my take , its just as valid as the speculation the Fool Stevecham made.

Dont make claims you cant back up.
I agree Sonus Faber site can use some improvement. Afterall, they are selling electronics.

But Italian thinks differently, they think of their creations as art and can't be captioned with spec or description. They want people to judge their products based on how they sound, not spec. Maybe they are right, maybe not?

Like Rolls Royce, they don't quote their HP.

Stevecham, guess you are a F1 fan as well :)
I have met and hung out with France Serblin and a few Sonus Faber reps on a few occasions when the Amati's were introduced a few years back. For the record he doesnt use Krell for anything, he uses a pair of home made triode amplifiers he built himself. More bogus info from a jackass..........
Sorry to barge in like this, but Serblin did use a pair of Krell 300CX, or something like this, to introduce its flagship speakers, the Stradivarius...

I use EAII with Bryston power and Krell Showcase, great lively sound... :)
Maybe Serblin used a pair of amps to "showcase" the introduction of his speakers(due to being a recognized name for promotion purposes)but he sure doesnt use Krell(or ANY SS amplifier)for his own personal setups. He is a die hard tube fanatic.
I am still being called a Fool and a Jackass by Ritteri and Natnic. C'mon guys, lighten up will ya?

And thanks Lowrider for confirming Serblin's use of Krell to power his speakers, for whatever application.

Semi: Thanks for the kind response. Obviously you've done your homework when it comes to evaluating many different speaker manufacturers. I would be interested to hear more about how you settled on the Amatis after so many speakers in your life.

I used to own Dynaudio Contour 3.0 speakers when I was using Bryston 7BSTs but they simply didn't have the bass extension I sought. Plus, there were times when I heard some smearing and lack of depth of the midrange on certain recordings. Their highs didn't provide enough air and detail, all things I missed after living with them for awhile (a year). I simply missed my old pair of CS7s that I had traded in in order to downsize my living space. The Dyns were good but not quite what I wanted in the end; it took some time to realize this. I feel they would have been better in a smaller living room environment however.

By the way Ritteri, I am a diehard tube fanatic for all my guitar amps. IMO there is only one way to amplify electric guitar and that is with tubes. I have also recapped and restored many different silverface Fender amps from the 70s where the caps were leaking or the resistors had drifted way out of spec. Each time the amps came back to life with great dynamics and tight bottom end and chime throughout the albeit narrower frequency range of such designs. I wouldn't touch a blackface or tweed pre CBS Fender though, let someone else determine whether to potentially devalue from a collector's point of view vs a player's view.

I tried tube amps (cj and AR) with my Dynaudios and Thiels but I much preferred the "jump" factor provided by high current SS. The KCT and 400cx with CAST are synergistic to my ear and in my experience. If this combination EVER made my "ears bleed" it would out the door before you could say boo.

Powered by Parasound JC-1s, my friend's Vandy 5As provide plenty of jump and I don't hear the reticence mentioned earlier. Ray Brown's Soular Energy on SACD was very dynamic and vivid (Sony SACDP). Very lifelike and great dynamics.

I'm also a musician (guitarist/bassist/sometimes keyboardist who is used to playing frequently in low volume environments with live percussionists so I know what live music sounds like. Plus an occasional trip to SF and Boston Symphony Orchestras helps too.
Steve: Lighten up? Did you happen to check out any of YOUR original comments before our posts?

If you want "jump" from tubes you need a high current design like the VK150se mono tubes from BAT. GIves you the best of both worlds, a high powered MAC tube amp would also fit the bill.
Right on Ritteri. High current is certainly what's required for lower impedance designs. I was not aware that BAT can produce such current and I definitely investigate. I have only heard their components at Audio shows. Always a difficult environment in which to accurately evaluate systems.

Also, it seems like Manley may have some higher current tube designs as well. Comments welcomed.

Question: From Dbk's original question, which of the four pairs he asked about, SF Amati Homage, Vandy 5A, Wilson WP7 or Aerial 20T would be the easiest to drive from a current demand point of view?
They are all nominal 4ohm designs, and real world impedance curves throughout the bandwidth will confim that any competent amplifer can drive em all with relative ease.
Specs may give you a hint, but will never fully tell you what a speaker will sound like. Those who simply want to reject all speakers which are not phase coherent or which have certain shaped impedance curves or which are this much efficient or inefficient all miss the point. You can't take a single piece of data out of the context of the product as a whole. These are speaker SYSTEMS, which mean that they rely on many factors to reproduce sound. Some of these factors are known and can be measured. Others are most certainly unknown as to why one speaker will sound better than another. Moreover, the conventional wisdom as to what factors are important in designing a high-quality speaker system are certainly only half-true or perhaps will be proven not true at all in the future. Indeed, using our ears alone, we cannot even agree on what is an excellent high-quality speaker for the large part. So how can we agree on what are the essential must-have ingredients and designs for an excellent speaker? My feeling is, unless we design speakers for a living, the less said about the "how" as justification for great sound, the better. We don't really know if the "how" is the "why" for the great sound we think we are hearing. We are typically only relying on what the manufacturers are telling us. Can't we just relax and enjoy the music without fighting about the engineering and can't we all just get along?
1) We can all get along; no more "fighting" about engineering from my end...
2) Actual listening to systems is the best way to evaluate ultimate inter-component compatibility...but
3) One CAN make sensible choices BEFORE listening to particular component combinations, e.g., whether a particular amplifier would be well suited for driving a speaker based on a couple of specs, or whether the output impedance of a particular preamp would be suited to the input impedance of an amp. My point being that, at the very least, some incompatibilities, based on electrical parameters, can be screened out ahead of time by such methods.

1. I haven't heard the Vandersteen 5A, just the 5.
2. I am a Vandersteen 3A Signature owner.
3, Although generally a fan of Vandersteen, I feel myself to have enough objectivity to let my ears make the decision, not my prejudices.

I heard both the 5 and the Sonus Faber Amati Homage years
ago. It wasn't at the same time or at the same dealer.
First off, if these two speakers were pitted in a beauty contest, the Amati would win hands down. They are flat-out gorgeous. The Vandersteen 5 is large, squat, clunky-looking and, in my opinion, cannot be considered, in any sense, a decorative enhancement to a living room. The Amati looks like a piece of furniture or a musical instrument such as a harp, doubling as a speaker. It is a visual enhancement to almost any room in your home.

Sound-wise, I would give the contest to Vandersteen by a wide margin. Remember that the listening sessions were at different dealers, using different electronics, in different rooms. The Vandersteen dealer takes particular care about setups, equipment matching etc. and room placement, while I would say that the other dealer seems to have difficulty showing equipment off to its best advantage. Sonus Faber Amati is certainly not a bad speaker. I found it just slightly on the warm side and I really have nothing bad to say about it. Although I don't remember any obvious flaws, it just didn't make me sit up and take notice of anything which it did exceptionally well. I thought that $20,000.00 was a lot to pay for what I was hearing. They are deep-bass shy, which I won't call a flaw, because for many, it is not a strong need to have. It is still worth noting and although the Vandersteen 5 did not excel in my deep bass tests, it had a far more substantial low end than the Amati's. Sorry for not saying more about the Amati's, I would say more about them if I remembered more.

The Vandersteen 5 was exceptional in 2 out of the 3 auditions in which I heard them. They are neutral, open, airy and throw off a wide soundstage in which individual instruments can be precisely located. It is an extremely smooth-sounding system, but instruments operating within the midrange and treble had just enough "bite" to sound real. Many of the complaints that people have about Vandersteen systems are just unequivocally absent on the 5's. Faults of the Vandersteen: I thought that all 3 times that I heard them, the bass was less than exceptional, a surprise for a Vandersteen speaker. Dynamics were also OK, but not standout, also a surprise. I heard them with Ayre K1 preamp, and V1 amp, again with K1 preamp and Bel Canto EVo amplifier. The third time which was at the N.Y. High Fi Show, used an Aesthetix Callisto preamp and Cary V-12 tube amp. I liked that demo the least. I don't remember the electronics used with the Amati's. It could have been BAT electronics, which I have never favored.
I am not sure where this thread is going but I have learned about three more speakers now in the running at this price point in addition to the Wilson WP7, Vandersteen 5A, SF Amati Homage, and Ariel 20T now including Dali Euphonia MS5/4, The Bang & Olufson Beolab 5 and the Meridian DSP 7000. These are radically different design approaches. I believe the future of hi end audio might be speakers that can be tuned to the in-room acoustics by electronically tailoring their output through feed back. The truth is that no speaker will sound the same in our own respective home environments when compared to the showroom. Ideally we would want a speaker that would sound better that what we had heard. I have decided to make my own listening room with acoustic treatment in an attic space that is now unfinished. I plan to do this while auditioning the various speakers mentioned (a time consuming process but worth the efffort). We do need to believe our ears when the investment is substantial (40K) or more. In the end everything needs to be synergistic but the best speakers are the least influenced by electronics and room acoustics IMO.
When venturing into the $$$ territory for speakers that you are Dbk, room optimization should and ultimately will become a significant investment in both time and money. My hunch is that as best we can evaluate speaker, amp, pre amd source combinations in store environments, we will always have the ability, given resources, to exceed the performance in-home, in terms of room treatment and component placement, simply because we have time. That simple facet of the listening experience, which helps average out our very plastic and flexible sensory/emotional/physical states can only occur over time and with repeated experiences. Trial end error in some cases, along with educated decisions about optmization of the listening environment, make for the best outcomes.

Note too that many B&M stores are now focusing on system installations and room treatments as the "added value" proposition for their own survival. I have almost no experience with room treament except for a bass buster in one corner. Did it help? I think so but there are some days and some recordings when I don't think it makes a difference.

I read the latest reviews in TAS about the B&O and Meridian speakers too. With Meridian my feeling is that the user is somewhat restricted to using their source components (not necessarily a bad thing, I enjoy my 508.24 and 504). The few times I have heard their systems it was with DVD-A sources and it was hard for a vinyl junkie like me to really get the whole sonic picture of what this system would sound like at home. I fear I would end up playing with menus more than I would just sit and enjoy music.

With the B&O, it's hard for me take them seriously suddenly because for so long they only made, IMO, systems that were primarily for the eye and not for the ear. So I'm sceptical about the TAS review.

You do have a point about how the "best" speakers may be influenced the least by room acoustics, but I hope we agree that in order to get the most from such designs requires dedication to optimizing that room acoustically. My cathedral ceilings don't help all aspects of my CS6s (snapping fingers reveals that horrid pinging noise bouncing off sprayed textured walls) and I look forward to being able to hear them when we downsize our living space this year.

I'll bet that in almost every case, given good choices between the rest of the components in a system, we all have the power and ability to make any system sound better than it ever did in the showroom.