Anyone read the review of the Vandy Quatro Wood in the latest Stereophile? With this effort, Wes Phillips has moved the bar a full notch lower, further diminishing the relevance of the major audiophile rags.
After a (too) lengthy treatment of the design specifics, he touches on a fairly narrow range of performance characteristics and then spends the rest of the review on a useless (and superficial) comparison of the Quatro Wood and the Wilson WATT/Puppy 8--which is way more than double the price. What was he thinking? Why not compare the Quatro to several other similarly priced floorstanding models? How about a comparison with the sock version Quatro or the 5A? At least the consumer could get some sense of where the Quatro Wood falls within the Vandersteen line and whether the wood or the larger 5A is worth the extra bucks.
It's not that I am disappointed--the only reason I keep my subscription to these mags is because they are dirt cheap (a consequence of the inflated subscription figures that the low rate provides) and the record reviews are somewhat helpful. It's just that this particular review has demonstrated just how useless these reviews have become.
I keep my subscription also because of low price. They offered me 2 year for $18.00. I figure it will cost that much just to buy the paper so I pretty much get the reviews for free. Well, there is also an old saying: you get what you paid for.
The whole purpose of this review is clearly laid out on the first page of the article. Read it again put 2 & 2 together (what you know, what you read here - it is not that difficult to figure out what that review supposed to accomplished.
The only comparison I wanted to hear was going to be with the Quatro sock. I am very familiar with the Quatro, and like it alot. I want to know what the wood version offers over the sock version. As far as the reviewers it seemed to me like Fremer liked the original more than Phillips liked his.
Has anyone checked the Hi-Fi+ reviews lately? They've been doing a lot of comparisons. It's pretty cool to see, for instance in the latest issue, an affordable CD+Integrated amp comparison across three different brands, or several reviewers writing about different bookshelves, etc.
I'm sure the highest dollar stuff won't get compared to other highest dollar stuff because, well, that would just be bad for business, but it's still good to see some legitimate comparisons.
Why not stack it up against a much more expensive model? I see no reason to not compare what a lower dollar amount can get you compared to a much more expensive model. I did think when reading it that Wilson may write a letter of displeasure about the direct comparison...especially when it appears to outperform the Wilson on a few direct comparisons. My father owns the Wood Quatro and it is an amazing speaker, with the trickle down technology I would say it betters the sock Quatro by upwards of 10% but a majority of the upgrde cost is cosmetic.
Reviews purpose was to explain Richard's risky design decision (in my opinion) plus to find justification in almost 4G price increase over "cloth" Quatro. Not easy task. It would make sense if direct comparison was performed. Instead different approach was chosen, a silly one to. Wilson Watt Puppy 8. No word about sound resemblance or differences between "Wood", "Cloth" and 5A. Interesting ????? Another thing - why Wes Phillips not Fremer him self. It would be a lot more logical to have Fremer conduct follow up review of "Woodys" but I just don't think he would sign the article with his name for the obvious reasons. So patsy was chosen.
I think the comparison with the sock version would have been useful since the Quatro underwent some significant reengineering in order to provide a fully wood veneered cabinet. The wood version looks much better and will blend into the room more easily--the question then becomes--do you give anything up soundwise to get a more attractive speaker AND is it worth paying the $4K premium. As far as comparing with another speaker as a reference point, this makes no sense. I thought live music was the reference, not another pair of transducers--no matter how "good". All in all a useless review of what is a well designed speaker.
I wonder why I am not surprised to see problems with this review.....it would be interesting to see the opinions if Wilson was not used, if it is supposed to be a benchmark speaker for performance, then why not see how the Vandy and Wilson stack up to eachother? I thought it was a nice spin on reviews and to have more direct comparisons in both same price bracket and seperate brackets can do nothing but help inform potential buyers, why is that a problem?
Bob, I was also wondering how involved he was in the original review. Maybe....just maybe Wes used Fremer's notes as a reference and put a little spin with Puppys. Surely compering Woodys to Willson is a complement considering the price difference but who cares. IF I WANTED TO BUY QUATROS, this review would not help me at all. Sound Quality and "supposed" improvements over original Quatro are still unknown and quait cloudy in my point of view. My opinion is firm on this matter and I don't want to repeat my personal observations on this thread. I own Quatros and Stereophile's weak review did not impress me at all. Quait simply, my overall impression is that campaign for Quatro Wood as a superior version of the original is just as difficult as justification in $3700 price increase for potential buyer. I still believe that original Quatro represent the best bang for the money. And it seems that Stereophile has a hard time in convincing themselves as well as their readers that Richard Vandersteen's decision was the right one. If I am right about this - you will never see Vandersteen TOP OF THE LINE speakers in a 'WOOD' version.
I think there's a point being missed here. From what I've read, the purpose of the speaker was to make the line more appealing at the request of dealers, not to offer up a different or lateral product to die-hard Vandy fans. As such, prospective buyers may be seeking comparisons to what's out there as opposed to the Quattro itself. A propective buyer can read Fremer's review - it is footnoted - and then see in this one that Vandersteen himself is quoted as saying it's better. Wouldn't this be enough of a verdict?
Yes, I agree that at least a cursory wave be passed at the Quattro from WP, but I do not think that being silent about it takes away from the relevance of the speakers' performance. I am in no way praising the review or disagreeing, but it's not that different from others. (Why I, too, can be a Stereophile scribe with a paragraph such as this.)
It doesn't make economic sense, IMO, to offer up a pretty-pig version unless you're trying to expand your market. Vandy fans look past the cloth and can stick with the Quattros proper - but new buyers, it appears, are not.
I saw Richard Vandersteen at a local shop about two months ago and he said the speaker is alot different than the sock version. Not just made to pretty up the Quatro. Reworked midrange and tweeter drivers, and reworked crossovers. I can see how the bass may have been a problem for Phillips. The store I met Mr. Vandersteen at told me it took a few days work to get the bass right. they sound very, very, nice now. Anyway, I like the Quatros so much it would have been nice to know what is gained with the wood versions.
I always find Stereophile's reviews of interesting/exotic gear a fun read - but I'm more interested in learning about design rather than the reviewer's opinion. It's rare to learn anything useful from the conclusions.
As to the Quatro Wood, I've heard all three powered bass Vandies on several ocassions - and they always impress (although set-up clearly impacts just how much they impress). Despite the Vandy set-up protocol (designed, I thought, to provide consistent in-room bass response), I've heard large differences in bass response from these speakers at different auditions. I find it hard to believe that room specific issues made it impossible to find more consistent overall bass levels from one set-up to the next. Go figure.
BTW - Robert Baird's music reviews alone justify the subscription price IMHO.
The one thing I was hoping to get from this, and of course didn't, was that as an owner of either 2Ces or 3As, if I were thinking of upgrading to the Quatro, would this be a good overall choice? And how much would I gain and would it be cost effective relative to what I could sell my used Vandy's on the market? And would I have to upgrade other parts of my system to get the most from them etc. What I want and expect from these ragmags is real world stuff, not glitz and voodoo.
Stevecham, I have heard the Quatros sound beautiful in a fairly modest system. Ayre CX-7E CDP, Ayre K-5XE preamp, Ayre V-5XE amp. I heard alot of systems that cost alot more that weekend and thought this was one of the best.
The sock version is a super speaker, but the Wood is in a different league but wont be worth the premium to many audiophiles, my dad picked the wood and couldnt be happier, they are so good he is debating the 5A upgrade.