Speaker Upgrade, Vandy 3a, Thiel 3.6 ect

I am thinking of making a speaker upgrade. Unfortunately I don't know where to begin.

My budget is somewhere around 2 - 3 k and I am considering buying used.

I currently have Mirage OM-10s driven by a ATI 1505 in a HT setup. My room is problamatic for the bipolar design as one side is open and the other closed.

I don't think I will be changing amps anytime soon, I would wont something that would work well with the ATI, which I have heard is on the bright side. I may also try using the ATI to Bi-amp the front speakers.

I think the Vandersteen 3a Sigs and the Thiel 3.6 may fit into my range (used). What do you think about either of these paired with an ATI?

My pre/pro is a sherwood AVP-9080r but if a decide to bi-amp, I'll be using a Yamaha DSP-a1 as a pre for the front and use the a1 internal amps to drive the surrounds.

Anyone have any advice?


Mike, I have the Thiel CS3.6's and love them to death but only after finding the right front end to drive them. I'd heard these speakers in Delaware with a Spectral Amp/Pre-amp combo in a rather large listening room..WOW,,did they portray the essence of accurate reproduction for the price they sold for new,let alone used! After listening to roughly 20 different speakers in the tri-state area I could not get past the sound heard from the 3.6's for $4200.00....BUT, heres the BIG BUT!!! I had a mediocre system at the time of purchase,(mostly NAD & ADCOM)and was very dis-pleased with sound for a fairly long time until I stepped up a level or two and started buying Krell and Levinson gear. Then it all started to sound right again,like I had heard at the demo.......MY point being that the 3.6's are amazingly good speakers if fed with good clean sources and powered by some pretty potent power amps. Otherwise they will sound very bright and or harsh with most music even at medium volumes.....Not the most Forgiving speaker at all, BUT a very GOOD speaker!!! I did listen to the Vandersteens and liked them alot for their forgiveness with sources but being a musician I was after tonal accuracy of brass and percussion. It did cost me a fair amount to upgrade my system to get the best sound I could afford but "used" Krell and Levinson got them sounding great....Thats my input on Thiel CS3.6's / Best of Luck, Bruce
I'll second Bryhifi about the Thiels. I own 'em and love 'em, but they need high current amplification of the highest pedigree to really perform. They're also very unforgiving of upstream mismatches and lesser quality gear. If your ATI is bright, then you definitely don't want to mate it to Thiels. I wouldn't dismiss the 3.6s, but it may cause a very expensive upgrade chain reaction. For your intended amp, I'd go with the Vandys - a much warmer speaker and a much easier load.
I am a Vandersteen 3A Signature owner who mates them with a Pass Aleph 4 amplifier and a Convergent Audio Technology SL-1 Ultimate preamp, so I have top equipment. That said, in the months I have owned these speakers, I have had a great deal of trouble in getting them to really sing in my room. It is not that I don't think that it is possible, but it has been really hard work. As I was more familiar with the Vandersteen 3 prior to purchasing the 3A Signature, and since the 3 is one of the most dynamic speakers with an extremely powerful and deep, but slightly bloated low end, I was surprised that when I got the 3A Signature home, it was quite polite, had so-so dynamics and while spectrally neutral and more extended on the top end than the 3, it was lacking "snap", immediacy and transparency. Part of the problem is the amp which, unlike yours, is by no means bright and while it is one of the finest amps around, does not possess stunning dynamics, but my previous speakers didn't sound like this! I have been working to find interconnects and speaker cables which will bring the midrange forward and add the sparkle that is missing. You probably won't have this problem if your speakers are bright. I would encourage you to listen carefully before buying and to believe what your ears are telling you, and to not invest more trust in the reputation of these speakers than in what you hear. If possible, listen with your own amp before buying. You might consider a Vandersteen 3 which can be had used for under $1000 now, if you find the 3A Signature too "refined".
Hi, Mike: Both of the speakers you are considering are excellent, but I concur that the Thiels usually present a greater challenge to the front end than the Vandy's. I currently own the Vandy 3A Signatures, which were preceded by the 3A. The amplification chain is all Bryston, which yields a very clean, dynamic sound quality with the Vandy 3A Sig's. I have owned a number of Vandersteen models since the late 1980's, and none have been picky about the choice of amplifier, provided the amp was of decent quality. If your budget allows, I'd try to find a set of used Vandy 3A Signatures (used price is often in the $2500-2700 range). I believe the upper-mids and highs produced by the 3A Sig's show a real margin of improvement over the 3A's that fully justifies the extra expense.

An occasional comment I have noted from owners of Vandy 3A Sig's is that they sound "polite", which may be a problem caused by either room acoustics or the power amp being used. My listening room is rather small, so I listen in essentially a near-field environment, but I can say that my 3A Sig's have NO problems with dynamics or transparency. I believe the 3A Sig's, when matched with a good quality preamp and power amp, will compete effectively with speakers that are much more expensive. The 3A Sig's feature the same tweeter used in the Vandersteen Model 5, plus an improved crossover and matched mid-range drivers. So, you are getting many of the quality improvements of the Model 5 for 1/4 to 1/3 the cost.

I use my Vandy 3A Sig's as the front speakers in my HT setup, combined with a Vandy VCC-1 Signature center channel and Coincident Technology Triumph Signatures in the rear channels. The 3A Sig's have proven excellent in both HT and pure audio use. The 3A Sig's are driven by my Bryston 4B-ST power amp (in bi-wired configuration, using Kimber 8TC speaker cable). The center and rear speakers are driven by a Bryston 5B-ST amp. I suspect that your ATI amp should work nicely with the Vandy 3A's or 3A Sig's.

I could write at some length about the 3A and 3A Sig, but I will simply summarize and say that I have found them an excellent speaker for my listening tastes (jazz, classical, and blues, with occasional rock) and for HT use. At used prices, you would have to spend at least twice as much money to do better.
I agree with the others. Both the Vandys and Thiels are excellent speakers, but the Vandys can be very tough from a placement perpective and they may even be a bit too polite on the top end depending on your tastes. Thiels aren't an option with your current electronics and will require big dollar upgrades to do them justice, although the results are stunning.

I guess the best real world recommendation I could make in your situation would be the Joseph Audio RM-25si, which you can get under $3k used and are fairly forgiving of placement and upstream equipment although they will significantly reward improvements in both areas. Another great recommendation would be the Soliloquy 6.2, which is a little smaller in stature than the RM25si but can be had new for around $2500 and I think represents better value overall if it meets with your tastes.

A major reason I recommend these two is that they are both soundstaging champs that literally disappear in a room. I would think coming from an omnipolar design this would be an important consideration for you to avoid disappointment. They are also both very efficient so will work well with what you have or just about anything else you might upgrade to in the future, including tubes if you ever want to go that route. Just thought I'd throw in a couple options in case the Thiels or Vandys turn out to be too much of a struggle. Best of luck.

Excellent repsonses above, I'll only add my 2 cents - these are phenomenal speakers which can support anxillary equipment costing many times more than you'll ever pay for 3.6's even new. My electronics are just past the line of acceptable for these speaks and they can be magical with a good source recording, with a bad recording you get just that, with a good recording you get tonal accuracy that is really satisfying. They are also very dynamic but need lots of power. Any weakness upstream is EXPOSED! I had 3A sigs before and they were excellent but I prefer the Theils - good luck...
Thanks for everyone's helpful responses. I just got a crazy idea that I may try to explore.

One of the things I don't like about my Mirage OM-10's is the lack of low end. I see that the old m3si can be had for under 1000 used. I may try to pick a set of these and see how I like them. Old reviews on these speakers were very positive. The other advantage of going this route is that the m3si's have a better chance of integrating with the rest of my HT setup(all mirage stuff)

the other thing I will have to do is try to listen to a bunch of other speakers to try to discern what different solutions offer.

Thanks again.