Speakers or.....

I am considering upgrading my front speakers.


Here are some details of my current system:

Pre-Amp: Marantz AV7005
Amp: Rotel 1095
Front Speakers: Vandersteen 2Ce, purchased new in 1994
Center Channel: Vandersteen VCC-5, purchased new in 2012
Rear Speakers: Vandersteen 1B, purchased used in 2002
Subwoofer: Vandersteen V2W, purchased new in 2012
Universal Player: OPPO BDP-93
Synology NAS stores lossless ripped CD audio and home photos
TV: Samsung plasma 64" PLND8000 or something like that :)
Speaker Cables: Canare 12AWG bi-wire to the fronts and center, the rear goes through the wall with cheap Home Depot Cable.
Interconnect: transparent basic RCA for the fronts, blue jeans RCA cable for the center and rears.
Oppo to Marantz connect is HDMI.

the system is in the family room, which is fairly large and open to the adjacent kitchen, with valuted ceilings and large windows.

The family watches movies here and TV here, and I want the system to be fun for family movies (it is!), and great for dialog (it is, though there is a hint of boominess to male voices). The center channel is in a cabinet, and sticking out a few inches (which was recommended by Richard Vandersteen's son (Nathan, I think?).)

I also listed to music here with the TV off at night when it is otherwise quiet in the house. To me, the music sounds good to very good, most normal people (non audiophiles :) comment that it is really great (like "wow, that sounds so clear"). I listen to music off of the Synology drive which is on the network, it is decoded in the Marantz Av7005. The "transport" of lossless digital audio should be perfect, as it is over a computer network (hard CAT 6 ethernet) that doesn't downsample or lose packets, etc). I also listen to music off of the internet (spotify), which is 44KHz, 16b audio, and I control it via iphone or ipad over AirPlay (which the Marantz supports). Even that sounds very good.


I am thinking about upgrading the fronts to the latest Vandersteen 2Ce Sig ii which now has the midrange from the 5's and I think the tweeter from the 3's.

I went to my local hifi audio shop and auditioned a used 1 year old pair (which did not have the 5 midrange) and while I was there I also compared it to the Maggie 1.7s. Of course the dealer had completely different front end equipment than I do, so it's a little hard to judge, but the new vandersteens certainly sounded better than the ones I have (though it did not seem like a big jump). I liked the sound of the 1.7s. Here are impression of comparing the 2ce sig ii to the 1.7s:

1. When sitting in the sweet spot the 1.7's have a bigger soundstage, especially vertically, and seemed more involving.

2. The 1.7's sounded a lot faster and somewhat more detailed than the 2Ces, but had significantly less bass.

3. I listened to the 1.7s first, and then the 2ces. My initial feeling when the 2Ces came on first was that I liked the 1.7's more. After the 2Ces were on for a while, though, I started to really enjoy them.

4. The speaker placement in my house would not be where the dealer had them in the room, they would be wider apart, farther back and closer to the side and back wall. At my request we redid the audition with the speakers in that position, and then the maggies lost all of the great soundstage they had. The vandersteens sounded about the same as they did in the more optimal position, but a little more distant or thin. They were still a couple of feet from the back and sides not too close. (At my house I sit 14 feet away from the speakers, and they are about 12-13 feet apart, and about 3 feet from the back and 2 feet from the sides).

5. The 1.7s are tall and would not work aesthetically in our house (its hard enough to defend the vandersteen look - but they are much shorter :)

6. If I switched to the 1.7s, I would have to probably buy a new maggie center channel to match the sonic signature of the 1.7s, and I really love the VCC-5 center.

Anyway, I'm trying do decide whether to upgrade to the vandersteens or do something else. It would cost me about $2000 after selling my old ones and upgrading to the new ones, and its really hard to know how big an improvement it would really be for music listening.

I started wondering whether the money would better go to a different component, like upgradingt the rotel 1095 to a theta dreadnaught ii or iii (that would cost more like $3K used, I thin). I have never heard that amp, but the reviews are amazing. Also, I am wondering if something would pair better with the vandersteens or whether rotel is a good complement. The music sounds good, clear, nice bass, etc, but I keep thinking it could somehow be better (bigger soundstage, more depth in the soundstage, more involving, etc).

Any adivce would be appreciated.
Obviously, if you can get the new Vandys into your home, you'll be able to make a more informed decision. I would *not* swuich to Maggies - bad WAF, costs a lot of money, you'll lose the seamless transition you currently have with the all Vandy setup.

So, try to get the new Vandys into your home and determine if it's worth the cost to you...If you cannot, sit pat and enjoy what you have - that is a very nice system you've assembled!!

I recently added a new pair of 2CE, Sig II.

Before I purchased, I auditioned a pair in my home. At first,I was not that impressed. However, after some tweaking and placement adjustments they sounded fantastic.

My new Integrated (McIntosh) was delivered yesterday, so today I will be re-doing my system and repositioning everything. I loved the Vandys with my older set up (16 year old Carver seperates) and cannot wait to hear them with the new Amp today.

For the money, the current 2Ce, Sig II is a terrific buy.
Agree with RW 100%, integrating the Maggies with the existing set-up plus placement issues would make that route a real challenge and could very well leave you wanting in the long run. I would as RW notes try to get the lastest 2Ce's in for a listen before committing to buy if this is possible. Is is a natural thing to want to improve but nothing is more frustrating, at least to me, than making lateral moves and spending money to do so. It might prove more cost effective to look at changing other components in the chain but again, only if you can listen first. For a home theater set-up you do indeed have a nice one!
Oh,how I love upgrading speakers with in the same line. This naturally always leads you to start thinking about the other speakers and asking the question what if I upgraded those. You see the quandary here. Pathologic right?
I would not get the maggies. The need a lot of space to take advantage of the technology behind them. They always get a lower spousal approval rating. As stated already integration with exsisting speaker is problamatic. Upgrading the amp is a great idea also. So many choices, we could on for days on that subject alone. That is just my opinion because I like to explore amps.
Will the shop, let you take them home on trial? That is always an easy way to solve this dilema.
Also, have you optimized the listening space to take full of your exsisting system? Speaker placement? Cables? Floorcovering?
What ever you do don't fret. Have fun doing this.
Thanks for the responses.

I don't think it is possible to get new Vandersteen's in my house just to audition. The dealer near me doesn't have new ones in stock and said he would order them directly from Vandersteen if I purchased them.

I guess the real question is - how much better are the new Ce Sig ii circa 2013 vs. the ones I bought in 1994. I'm sure they are better, but is it $2K better?

I do play around with the speaker placement, and they do better at least 2-3 feet away from each wall, which is where I keep them (even though they look better closer to the wall :)). We have hardwood floors and a wool rug on 80% of the floor in there. I think the windows and the vaulted ceilings don't help much. I have been thinking about getting something soft to hang on the walls behind and on the sides of them.

I appreciate the comment about not fretting. It's true that to some extent this is partly about being obsessed with the final "product" of the system. It sounds really great for jazz and folk or rock where there are few instruments and non-harsh sounding instruments. I have a big collection of hard rock from the 80s and 90s that sounds terrible. I know its the recordings, but of course the system brings it right out there - flat, compressed, mushed together - lack of distiction between the elements. When I play that stuff on my iphone and listen through headphones the enjoyment comes back into it. Odd thing is -the more you spend on the system, the worse it gets :).

I was also wondering if anyone knows whether Rotel and Vandersteen are a particularly good or bad match. I have not tried to mix/match either to have a comparison.
Stick with the Vandersteen package you have. I think you would find more improvement with an amplifier upgrade. What is your dealers favorite Vandy amp? I'm sure other Vandy owners could make some good suggestions.
Chrysos , Conrad Johnson works very well with Vandersteen speakers. I used CJ amps and preamps for years with the 2CE..... sounded fantastic!

I could be wrong , but I thought the latest version of The 2Ce sig 2 have been out for about a year. You may have heard the latest version when you recently auditioned the Vandersteen sig 2. When exactly was the midrange on the 2CE changed?
I would stick with the Vandersteens and upgrade the amp. Talk to John at Audio Connection in Verona, New Jersey. I don't know where you live, but I'm sure he would talk to you and give good professional advice.
Get a record player. I'm sure you will disagree, but vinyl can be a much more rewarding listening experience, regardless of speakers or system. I have no problem with digital and have owned a 10K+ CD player, so I'm fully aware of what digital can do. Nevertheless, IMO, analog is just more musically satisfying. So that's it.
Call your dealer and ask him to loan you the already run in demos.....
When you try them make sure you remove the old speakers out of the room so they perform at their best. Make sure you adjust tilt back
This will allow you to feel more comfortable in making a decision..
Thanks for the great suggestions everyone. Maybe I will borrow a record player and see how that sounds :). But the convenience of controlling all of your media through an iphone is really great. Oh, and I have no records :)

I found some older threads on Audiogon where people advocate for Audio Research, Ayre, Theta, CJ, McCormack amplifiers. I will probably borrow some of these and test them out from various dealers around here. Seems like the amp may be a bigger improvement than the speakers, but some of those amps are very expensive. And the ARC mono-amps are too huge for my family room.
If you don't have records now, I wouldn't suggest starting now. Your system isn't bad, if you just have to upgrade, I think your on the right path by considering amplification.
I flipped between Vandys and Maggies, etc. for years. In the end I realized that I was seeking "the One," a single speaker to satisfy all my desires to hear music; there's just one problem - it doesn't exist!

I stopped the foolishness and bought both a dynamic and panel speaker, and found joy at last. Perhaps you are similar, and should give very serious consideration to owning both types of speakers. IF you have the room, the addition of the panel speaker would bring FAR more enjoyment overall than any other component change. The current Vandy's are quite capable and can be nearly infinitely "upgraded" sonically with attending equipment over the years.

I assure you that if you choose to buy a different box component you will end up at the same point in time. Contrarily, if you widen your horizons and are able to accommodate two radically different technologies in your home (dynamic and panel speakers) your enjoyment will be virtually unending; the moment you are bored you can switch and fall in love with the newness and experience all over again. It sure beats flipping speakers forever! :)
Hi Chrysos,

It appears that we have extremely similar systems: similar age, similar layout (I have one open wall connecting to kitchen nook and kitchen), and similar usage (I also stream wired & with AirPlay). I have been contemplating upgrading my front speakers due to their age and a little to much love from one of our pets. I was very pleased when I saw this thread and with the advice given. In reading the thread, it looks like I should at some point consider upgrading my center to the VCC5; however, my current progression is most likely to upgrade LFE to V2W, add a 2wq, replace 2Ce's with 2Ce Sig II or Treo.

The one tidbit that I can add as far as amplifiers goes is that when I was using a VCC-1 as a center channel, and I was switching components around for cleaning, I switched out an Outlaw Audio M200 amp for one of the channels in a Bryston 3B-ST. I was completely surprised how much more open and clear the VCC-1 was. Within a month or two I purchased a Bryston PP250 for the center channel and sold the M200.

I am interested if you were able to explore any of the suggested amplifiers (Ayre, ARC, CJ, Quicksilver, Rogue, etc) and if you found any significantly more satisfying than your Rotel.

I am even more interested if you ultimately upgraded your 2Ce's, stuck with Vandersteen's, and your experience with the new speakers.

My system

Pre-Amp: Marantz AV7701
Amps: Bryston 4B-ST, 5B-ST, PP250
Front Speakers: Vandersteen 2Ce, purchased new in 1993 (one year earlier than yours)
Center Channel: Vandersteen VCC-2
Rear Speakers: Vandersteen VSM-1
Rear Center Speaker: Vandersteen VCC-1
Subwoofer: Outlaw Audio LFM-1 and considering upgrading to Vandersteen V2W
TV: Samsung LCD 60 inch
Universal Player: OPPO BDP-93 connected via HDMI
Streaming: Stored FLAC from Windows PC running MinimServer to Marantz

Thanks for starting this thread and the replies you and others have made.