To those who've tkn Vandersteen 5A upgrade plunge

I've got a pair of Vandersteen 5's (am the original owner), and am curious as to what the experience has been for those who have upgraded, in regards to changes in the sound, since it's an expensive upgrade, and I've heard differing opinions before as to just how much of a difference it makes.

I've considered taking the money it would cost and putting it into a relatively better turntable cartridge, cd player, or possibly preamp at a future date; I currently have an SME 20/SME V combo plus an Ayre cx-7e, K3x, and V5xe(though it's quite possible I'd spend the saved money on the rig anyway, even w/ the upgrade...). Do you think the money is better spent elsewhere, or as well or better spent here?

Thanks for any feedback!

I've been the original owner of my 5s/5As and the upgrade is very significant. Absolutely worth every penny. Feel free to read about it in my system. However, I can't comment on how to spend your money. The turntable is also a worthwhile it's up to you to prioritize.

I never thought there was anything wrong with my 5s...but when I got the 5As I realized I was wrong. Not sure which comes first for you, but I decided I wanted to resolve all of the changes in my system when I auditioned them. So I upgraded the Vandersteens first.

Good luck and have fun!

Thanks for the feedback; just a question about the 5A's. Someone recently told me that the 5A's are considerably more sensitive to room placement/setup than the 5's (is this your experience as well?) and might not work for a relatively smaller room. My current listening room is 12 1/2 feet deep and 18 feet wide; the speakers would be w/in 1 1/2 to 2 feet of the front wall, about 8 feet from drivers to my ears, and I'd be about a foot from the back wall. Room is 18 1/2 feet wide. Any major concerns about this (might move system to new home/larger room w/in a few years, but this is what I have to work w/ now)?
9000.00 to replace drivers[not even sure all],mod x-over.mod woofer amp.,and test.this is what i was told by vandersteen you get.seems to me price is based on keeping price inflated,rather than actual cost.i own 5's and would like to up-grade,but this is just to much to justify,even with intellectual property value factored in.every-one is entitled to make a buck[i run my own buss.],but come on.can anyone en-lighten me? i guess you could say when your done you have 5a's,but you started with most of the spkr. and labor to build already paid for.thanks for replies in advance.
As an owner of 5's, I tend to agree with Machine, if I understand his post correctly, that is. :-) And, given that I have had other components upgraded, I am not oppsed in any sense to upgrades. But, $9K+ is way too high, IMHO, though I can see why a manufacturer would not want someone to be able to buy a pair of used 5's and upgrade them to 5A's at a subtaintially lower cost. I figure, if I decide to upgrade, I'll sell the 5's and buy something else - maybe Vandersteen, maybe not.
Hi Aubullience, the 5As have more top and bottom end range than the 5s. They're also considerably faster and more transparent. You'll find that the room problems you had before will be more noticeable, but just as tunable. Your dealer will do this as part of the upgrade. Tuning time takes 1-4 hours depending on the room. My room took 90 minutes whereas a friends (who has the worst bass response for a room I've ever heard) took 4 hours to get right. So in a nutshell, you'll be fine. The difference between tuned and untuned is just much more dramatic than before.
To Machine and 4yanx:
I understand your perspective so let me try and answer your questions.
1. What does the upgrade cover? Generally it includes getting the speakers packed (if you have the shipping material still...otherwise you need to buy it in advance). Shipping to the factory. Fitment of new precisely matched drivers, XOVRS and amp modules. Hand tuning in the anechoic chamber until they're right. Packing and shipping back to you. Delivery by your dealer for initial setup and burn in. One last trip out by your dealer to do final tuning.
So let's count that up...that's a minimum of 3 trips out by your dealer, the shipping...and the upgrade. Actually, it's not a bad price. Your dealer is working for peanuts on all the trip too. Any extra time spent on this you'll probably get charged for, but that's between you and your dealer. Every delivery is different. (One friend didn't have his packaging and went on a trip...his dealer made 6 appearances!)

2. I'll summarize the rest of your comments about the speaker into...What do I get for this money?
The answer is simple. You get the best speaker I've heard for under $500k. Sure, you can spend more...but you would be doing yourself a disservice. The $9k is still a bargain compared to anything you can get elsewhere for the money. (Yes, I'm biased...I've also heard a lot of systems and speakers though.)

Your money, your decision...but if you're happy with 5s I'd keep them. Listen to a few 5A systems and you may change your mind. At least you have the choice.

Happy Holidays!
mikej.i heard nothing about dealer involvment from vandersteen.mine are used and out of warranty,with no dealer anywhere near what would be considered a reasonable distance.not a good deal,just my opinion,nothing more.
I believe one benchmark for valuing the upgrade option is the difference in used prices. Right now a 5A vs a 5 in the classifieds in $7400. So if you sold your 5s and then bought used 5As it would cost you net about $7K. Add to that shipping and whatever you would have to pay to get a dealer to help set them up and you are probably not far from the $9K. To me, if you really like the 5 I would go listen to the 5A somehow and if it seemed like a great place for you to be, then throw down for upgrading your speakers. It's only your money.
Machine, I guess you've just got to consider leaving well enough alone. The 5s are still awesome speakers! In the end, if you decide to upgrade it's still going to be very, very difficult to find anything better top to bottom. Then the $$ may make more sense. Either way, it's your call.
Don't get me started about the "needing the dealer to come out and set them up" business. If I had known about all that (my fault for not enough research), I would not have bought these 5's.

As an aside, I have all the original packaging and live just a pleasant half day ride from Hanford. When I inquired about packing them up and delivering/picking them up myself, the answer was - no, you must go through your dealer. With all due respect, after speaking with the dealer nearest me, I'm not going that route.
4yanx, where are you located? Have you contacted Richard?
If you bring in the speakers youself there is
from what i remember a freight allowance you would $save
better call vandersteen and ask him 559 582 0324
These speakers are easy to set up if you are used to adjusting a thermostat you can do it, although a good dealer may be worth having as a friend a good woman is also a good thing to have help read you read the meter while adjusting.
Just dont forget to follow the 70 percent target in the manual.
Cheers Johnnyr
maineiac,i have seen 5a's sell on this site for as little as 7500.00.[only once,sold instantly].
I would upgrade your components before I spent the money to upgrade the speakers. I think you'd get more bang for your buck by upgrading to the Ayre K-1xe and V-1xe.
Audiophilia is all about upgrading. If you dont, you will know that your speakers' potential is compromised, and you will feel pain in that. I have heard that the 5A's are about to be updated. Richard V said that the biggest problem with the 5A's is that the speaker is all time aligned except for the woofer. I suppose the 5B's or whatever they will be called will be completely time aligned. Lets get out the checkbook yet again.
Yes, contact Richard. He will tell all you want to hear and more. The consumate sales rep.and biggest advocate for his line-up.
I would sell the 5s used... then buy a pair of used 5As.

The best way to go about this is this though... do not sell until after you buy and after you take delivery of the 5A (used). Then you can do a demo and be sure of your decision. Not only that, but you will guarantee yourself to not be "speaker-less" in the interim that you sell your 5s only to find there are no 5As to be had on audiogon.

Buy the 5As used, then sell your 5s. I think your net loss would be at most, $3K. That's a LOT easier to swallow than a $9K loss that you will absolutely NEVER see again in the used/resale market... given the price that a used 5A picks up.

Do not blow your money away like that, especially with middle America tight with money in this economic time of ours.

Good luck with your decision.

I'm a Vandersteen dealer. Let me try to clarify a few things.

1. The 5A is an improved version of the 5. How much better? As with everything in life, that will be for each listener to decide. The changes involve upgraded drivers, new switching power amplifier for the subwoofers, and new crossover. Fine tuning is done by hand to each speaker individually in the chamber.

2. For some people properly setting up and dialing-in the Model 5/5A will be possible. For many who are less experienced and/or knowledgeable, it will be difficult. A dealer (like me) has lots of experience setting up Model 5 and 5A's in all kinds of different enviornments and will be better able to insure optimal set up than a guy who is winging it for the first time.

3. Anyone who has original Model 5's and is perfectly happy with them can keep them for a lifetime and remain perfectly happy. I am always facinated by those who get upset when the manufacturer improves a design (in this case it took nearly 8 years before the 5A came out) and offers the latest upgrades to existing customers. It's a bonus for those who to upgrade to the new model. If you don't want to upgrade, that's perfectly fine too. No one is putting a gun to your head. It's just nice to have the option.

4. As a dealer who has done a number of 5 to 5A upgrades, it is the least profitable and least pleasureable thing I can think of. We become more like a moving company; picking up, shiping off, receiving, and delivering back to your house. We also have to rent a truck because the 5's won't fit in our van. Not fun.
Do all those suggestions and market values (for 5's and 5A's still stand? It sounds like 5's are (purely coincidentially) woth say $5,000 where the 5A's (current model) bring about $11,500? (Plus some $ for a crossover?)
Anyone know wah the current upgrade cost is? There is a fabulous pair on AG right now for $5000 and they look perfect !