It had never been apparent to me before, but all the music coming out of the Vandersteen sounded "veiled." Before, I purchased my vandies, I read and heard all the criticisms regarding this "veiled" or "shrouded" sound. I never felt this was true about my Vandersteens until now.
You may have pointed out the source of the problem with your own words. I love the Vandy but perhaps you've evolved to the point a more transparent speaker is in your future.
Unfortunately most speakers that beat the Vandy cost a lot more. The Vandy is one of the great values in today's high end market.
Changing to Purist cables is not going to solve this problem. I love Purist cables but their job is not to change the sound from dark to bright (or the other way around). I would save my money for another speaker if you've decided to rebalance your system.
I dont know what cable would be the answer but NIT may be taking some sizzle away from your gear.
You have a lot of questions on the table, and I will not respond to all.
You have already implicated the Vandersteen's, ...perhaps Tyler's would suit you better (I have no experience with the Tyler's).
The Krell integrated will definitaly not be an improvment in my opinion, but maybe a Gamut integrated will be. I use a Gamut 200 MKII (as does my friend with Vandersteen III Signatures - having switched from a Krell integrated 300i). The Gamut is very natural sounding. However, I think the McCormick is hard to beat at the price.
I have no experience with your other components.
I do highly recommend Purist Cables, but really belive that you shoud address your speaker issues first.
Have you thought about or tried any room treatments? My buddy has Vandy 2CE Sigs, Rogue 99 Pre, Rouge 150 mono blocks and a Sim Audio CDP. He has be adding some room treatments lately and loves the results. He has done bass traps in the corners by the speakers and a couple of panels behind the speakers with some panels at the first reflection points yet to be done. Cleared up the bass. At first we thought it reduced the bass but, soon realized that it just cleaned things up. It also has better imaging and detail.
It's funny how I read your post and came to the same conclusion as Albert before I finished reading your question. I think your money is best spent on speakers. Having heard the Vandy's last week, I am confident in mine and Albert's suggestions.
I think there is a chance that switching to other cables from MIT might remove that veil. My brother has Vandy 3A Sigs, AR LS-16 preamp + AR 100.2 amp, plus MIT cables. I think the system sounds a little "veiled", too.
/The Cable Company's cable lending library to check out different cables for cheap. They essentially charge you a <5% rental fee to check out several different cables. I used them to try 4 digital cables valued from $75-450($850 total) and it only cost me ~$35 for two weeks of use.
The rental fee can be applied towards a purchase if you like one of the samples. There really is no better way to check out different cables both in and beyond your price range.
BTW, the guys that work at Fatwyre are experts for suggestions on what to try with your system. They never try to push anything on you and will suggest real budget performers. Ask for advice and take it seriously, they are great.
My Dad has the 2ce sigs also. I hooked up a Bryston B-60 which delivers nice highs on my B&W CDM1nt's and although it sounded good...it still is as you say..."veiled".
Interestingly enough...I recently swapped out the Bryston for my Dad's old Fisher 400 receiver and was really quite impressed to the bass & midrange improvement, but the highs were still not there.
I love Vandersteens. I also had the 1b's for many years. I think that for the money that they are hard to beat and an excellent introductory speaker into high end audio. i have not heard the 3's 4's or 5's of any iteration so I'm not sure how they would sound but from my experience with the 1 and 2's I think that they are nice...although I agree with Albert & Nutella.
just my 2c fwiw
Greetings, I have four suggestions for you, I use them all and they are all from Walker Audio and made a HUGE difference in my system.
1. Walker's contact treatment, get the best one, it makes a huge improvement.
2. Walker's High Definition Links HDLs, they made a subtle, but very worthwhile improvement.
3. Walker's Vivid CD treatment, goes a long way in getting rid of the veil you discribe.
4. Walker Talisman de-magnetizer, also increases clarity.
And no I don't have any affiliation with Walker Audio.
After owning both the Vandy 1Cs and 2CE signatures my advice is to ensure proper set up and placement. I learned with the 1Cs that vertical orientation is critical to detail and image. This held true for the larger speakers also. I suggest this because my initial set up followed the instruction manual as I understood it. With some experimentation though, the sound improved significantly. If you haven't exhausted this avenue it will cost nothing but time.
Still believe the 1Cs are one of the best values on the market, new or used. Good luck.
All good suggestions. I agree, it looks like better speakers are in you future. The rest of your system has evolved to the point where this is only a natural progression. IMHO, Vandys are nice and easy to listen to, but boring and bland for the most part. You should mention your room size and budget before anyone can reliably suggest a replacement.
I will probably get some raised eyebrows for saying this--if you really like your speakers try some cheap tweaks. Insert a graphic equalizer in the signal path and boost up the highs. Try some silver based interconnects or straightwire cables, these will definitely bring out the highs. Lastly, if you have some tubes lying around try some different ones. If you have none of the above, try borrowing from a generous audiobud. All you are wasting is time. BTW, speaker placement is critical with these speakers as is the rake angle. A friend of mine has a pair of these in an all Rogue setup and it sounds too bright to me. These speakers have a metal dome tweeter and can put out plenty of highs. Anyhow, if you implement some of these, I'm sure you will see an improvement. Your equipment choices all look good, so no problem there.
After reviewing your system again, I think the MIT cables are the bottleneck creating your problem. Try borrowing some other cables and make sure you bi-wire the speakers.
May I offer replacing the MIT speaker cables with a couple of pairs of Alpha-Core MI 2's. You might want to consider replacing the inteconnects too. I don't have a suggestion for those though. Alpha-Core offers a generous 30 day trial period.
Well, here is another vote for speakers. Your present electronics will support a fairly good system. However, choose carefully or you may end up in the group of audiophiles who go out and buy the 'best' and spend the rest of their audiophile life trying to find matching components. Good luck........
You might try room treatments. I have a buddy that has Vandy 2CE Sig's, Rogue 99, Rouge 150's and Sim Audio CDP. He has been adding treatments lately and has never been happier. Cleaner bass, better imaging and better detail.
simply put, vandys are neutral. at the end of the day, most great designs are.....going for that last once of midrange detail, or that super articulate treble may be your cup of tea....but there is always a trade off.
I will be the contrarian here and suggest that your time of listening to an old NHT/Rotel system AND through headphones (especially) has thrown off your perception of what sounds natural/real. I think you should recalibrate your ears to what real acoustic instruments sound like before making any changes at all. Of course, this really only applies if you are trying to get real, natural sound from your setup. If all you want is to get more exciting sound than what you have, then have a blast changing whatever you want that meets that subjective requirement.
I suggest a pair of Von schweikert Vr-4. Can be had for a very good price and are very transperant with still great bass as you are used to. Many speakers will have more energy up top and might drive you crazy after the vandies.
I had almost exactly your system. the only difference was that I had the DNA-1 not deluxe. I have since gone to the TAD-60 AMp.At first I noticed the greater sense of air/ spaciousness compared to the Mccormack. Highs were a bit laid back. I messed around a bit with the placement, toe-in toe-out and was able o change/improve the sound. I changed tubes both in the AMp and pre. i am using some GTs from Upscale in the pre, Tung Sol 6550s, a tele 12AX7 and some RCA 12 AU7 cleartops in the amp. Soundstaging and attack improved, air and spaciousness improve even more.
Now I am working on tweaks. Got some Electronic feet for the Amp and CD, a granite base for the Pre-power (stacked) and some solid wooden feet for the turntable. I also got some silver wire for the Amp-pre and TT pre connection. Now hearing some better balance to the system. Still a work in progress as i have not hit the speaker cable yet.
What I have found out by experimenting.
- Vandys do not promote listening fatigue. Bacause they are not normally bright I can listen for hours.
- Changes occur at most every tweak. They sound only as good as your sources. One might never reach the peak of what they can do.
- My ears do not find them veiled at all. I belong to the Houston Audio society and everytime I return home from a meeting, I find that my system sounds great to my ears.
- I wouldn't trade them. I like the nuetral sound that I get from them and the way they change with differnt tweaks.
- Placement is critical. Experiment.
Of course they are not for everybody but, there are so many people with 2CE sigs, they must be doing something right.
How much are you willing to pay to get someting "better" than the 2Ce Sigs? I would also reread Krisjan's comments - I think he makes a really good point.
Might it be time for the 3A Sigs? I run those off a DNA-1 Deluxe and a Rogue Magnum 66 pre. No veil, at leasat to my ear.
I'll also come down on the side that perhaps the system can be saved with current speakers. Most of the components in your system is more on the clean and clear side.
I was at a Vandersteen event a week ago, and the dealer (Audio Connection) really seemed to understand how to get the best out of them. Just about all of my previous exposures to stock Vandersteens is the same as you are experiencing now, more on the dark and rich side than I really prefer. One of the things I noticed was the use of silver cabling.
With that in mind, please try this first, replace the MIT loudspeaker cables with something more forward, such as Kimber 8TC. No, they're not silver, but they are quite affordable. I have been around systems that really sprang to life when the MIT cables were removed (the converse is also true, they were needed). Also, try toeing the speakers in, so that the tweeters are aiming right at your ears - this will extract the maximum amount of jump factor a speaker can provide, in addition to my belief that it also is tops when it comes to imaging.
If these two things really opens things up, you may just be all set.
If things are still a bit too laid back, you may want to consider moving to a different speaker at that point. Or, one additional option, Millersound. I have personally heard the improvements Bill Legall can wrest from a pair of Vandersteens, and in my opinion, they are most significant. Somehow, he is really able to get them to wake up. This would be far more cost effective than moving to another pair of speakers.
I agree with pubu157 and Krisjan. I can listen to a good set of headphones on a good amp and get more detail that will make any speaker sound veiled. Not a real good comparison.
It's already been said but I would agree with
#1 accoustic treatments (Corners and first order reflection points) and speaker positioning are probably the cheapest upgrades!
#2 Agree with Albert that cabling is not going to fix the problem... The MIT cables aren't the problem, if anything they would open up the top end and add detail.
#3 Vandys are great speakers for the money that provide a very musical presentation. But they lack the detailed pinpoint imaging compared to much more expensive speakers.
Start saving for speakers! Determine what you liked about your headphone setup and start listening to new speakers (ideally take them home for a demo).
I was using McCormack amps with my Vandy's until I tried Channel Islands D200's. Personally, I think class D amps are a good match for Vandy's. They are very revealing amps and coupled with the Vandy's darker nature for me is a good combination.I'm using the 3 sigs, and the McCormack was a DNA 1 revA Gold
Thanks for all your insightful responses. So it seems there are 3 general suggestions. I will try to address each of them and provide info for more dialogue.
I hadn't given this a thought. I agree, the Vandersteen arguably gives you the best "bang for the buck" if you will. Yes, I would have to spend quite more money to better that, but despite my reservations... I'm saving for an engaement ring, I can budget up to $2000 for new or used speakers. My listening room is roughly 25 x 15ft, and my system can only fit along the longer wall. What are some suggestions? Anyone own Gallo reference 3/3.1, or can anyone comment on them? Are there people out there who switched from a 2CE sig to a 3A sig? What improvements did you hear?
Keeping speakers and re-evaluate/re-calibrate listening perception:
Krisjan and others make an interesting point. It is very possible that my listening perception or preference has changed/skewed due to listening to music through other systems. However, I am also inclined to think that my listening perception has been somewhat improving throughout the past couple years. In the past couple months I felt that my old NHT/Rotel system (my first "real" system) was very listenable, albiet a little lean. The Sennheiser HD650 headphones were driven straight from the phono out from my Eastern Electric CDP. It's sound is wonderfully flat throughout the mid and high FQ, but the bass can be overwhemling at times. Just two years ago my NHT/Rotel system was the best I had heard, well that was until I auditioned the Vandersteen. I hope my listening perception doesn't flip-flop so easily, but perhaps a recalibration is in order. I will keep your comments in mind when I listen through my current system. I would like to hear more of your thoughts.
Keeping my current system and making minor tweaks/additions:
Eagleman, thanks for your comments on tube rolling. I could be wrong, but I remember an old post you made regarding "high FQ roll-off" with your system. What changes did you end up making?
I am quite a novice when it comes to room treatment. I would like to learn some more about this. Can anyone direct me to a good thread or website?
I will test out different speaker placement this weekend.
Thanks for the cable suggestions. I'm gonna have to start demoing some new cables before I conclude I must change them.
Wow, I started out with what I thought were alot of qustions, but now I have even more. Thanks for all the comments... keep them coming.
My first response was based on the title of your thread. Now that you have opened your options, I can't help going back to and agreeing with Albert's first reply, which suggested a speaker change. Yes, the Vandersteens are amongst the truly great values, but, if they don't satisfy you they're not worth it. If your looking for something similar yet, with greater detail for under $2000, I'd suggest the Thiel 3.6's. BTW, I was in a simialr situation years ago, liked Vandy's, bought Thiels. Your room and desired placement, make the currently out of your budget Dunlavy SCIVA's worthy of a mention.
One aspect to keep in mind when positioning is the vertical angle. I can't stress this enough as it's what made the real difference for me. If you have them tilted back as recommended then remove most of if not all of the tilt and start from there.
Oh yeah, and keep us updated on progress.
I run the same system with respect to pre & power. Other pieces are a Jolida CDP & Snell Type A speakers. I'm not noticing any veil at this point, but this is always subject to change I suppose.
One large step I experienced toward clarity & transparency was the addition of VH Audios silver ICs (DIY). Big change for the better.
I'd agree with treating the room. You have a large room & no doubt have some acoustic issues to deal with. With the $2K you have available you, you could "do" the room and probably have some money left...depending on your approach & extent of the work. Consider it an large-positive investment in any system you run now or in the future.
Here's a few references to get you started:
This one is for a home theater, but his approach is fairly typical.http://www.sbrjournal.net/journalsite/archives/acoustics/acoustics.htm
This next one is a great resource, scroll down to the bottom for research links:http://www.bobgolds.com/AbsorptionCoefficients.htm
Here's a DIY approach to bass traps:http://forums.studiotips.com/viewtopic.php?t=535
Ethan Winer is a great resource (he hangs out over at the Rives forum on AA). He sells "Real Traps", but also tries to educate people...never met the guy, but he looks to be an interesting fellow:http://www.realtraps.com/articles.htm
Here's a white-paper...blue-paper I guess that he wrote that can get you started:http://www.ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html
And his home page:http://www.ethanwiner.com/
That should keep you busy for a while. There are many sources for room-treatment panels, corners, diffusors...do a search on A-gon & you'll find them. Or find a consultant and see what he/she thinks. This is one area transcends equipment mixing & matching & makes anything sound better...and it's logical why this is the case.
I just went through a process of trying to find a replacement for my 2ce's (non-sig). I listened to about 8 pairs of speakers (which is not a lot, but all I could find in my area). The only one I could imagine myself I liked better than the vandy's were Totem Forrests. Just a really nice speaker that retain the strengths of the vandys (a big, rich, natural sound) while adding more detail (without sounding forward or fatiguing). Try to listen to a pair. You can pick them up used for under 2k. As an added bonus, they are smaller and more attractive than the rather homely looking vandy's.
You could also find a pair of 3A Signatures for ~2k. Improved mid driver and tweeter, bigger bass driver, and upgraded crossover all make a difference. They sound more like series 5 speakers then 2s. Check out a pair if you get the chance, at least.
One of my employees has NHTs and I've heard Vandys with our gear many times (showed with them once at CES as well...).
Vandys are not 'veiled' next to NHTs. Something else is going on, and I have to say if I were you I'd loose the MITs- I've not seen them work with the smaller Vandersteens. Audition other cables so you can sort that out.
BUT- have you considered bringing the other system into the same room and comparing apples to apples?? Being in two different rooms its unlikely that either system is being treated fairly with regards to the other. I'd do that first- you might be surprised at the results!
In response to your question about high- FQ roll off. I am still in the process of tweaking the cable mixture to find the best math. I got a pair of DIY from someone at the Houston Audio Club. I connected it to my TT and from the pre to the amp. More extention at the extremes and nice detail. I have a pair of Aural thrills air silvers coming from a purchase that I made from Ebay. I will also be trying some interconnects and speaker wire...
Right now the sound is very listenable but, can still be improved a bit. I would look at the 3A signatures except the room that I am in is a it too small..
Ralph aka Atmasphere is right on the money. Loose the MIT's and pick up some cabling of the appropriate impedance.
On top of that, Vandersteen's cause loading problems with most amps as frequency climbs. You need a very stable amp at high frequencies, otherwise treble response will dip by a EXTREMELY MINOR amount above appr 10 KHz or so. Using speaker cables that are less than optimally designed in terms of broadband power transfer will only compound the problem. Sean
I also agree that you should consider changing out the MIT cables. I am a Vandersteen dealer and used to sell MIT cables. They are a nice band-aid for bright systems but aren't helping your system. Go with something that is simple, uses good high purity copper or silver and doesn't have network boxes like MIT or Transparent.
I also used to sell McCormack gear and while that is a nice amp, it is somewhat dark sounding- especially when not left on continuously. The McCormack amps of that era seemed to need more warm up to sound good than most other amplifiers, so turn it on and leave it on permanently.
The signature version of the 2Ce is a very neutral and revealing speaker. They are not veiled, but they will reveal things about the rest of your system. Many people who haven't heard Vandersteens lately don't realize just how open and transparent the latest generation has become.
I would also take the time to insure that your 2Ce's are set up properly according to the manual.
I have a pair of 2CE sugnatures that were sold to me by Audio Concepts in Houston. I currently have Tara labs usc Prime wires that were sold to me with the speakers. Can I do better at a reasonable price point? I am using a Tubeaudio design Amp and pre.(made in chicago see the reviews) They reveal some wonderful qualities on the Vandy's but, I may be short on highs a bit. I have a set of Aural Thrill siver ICs coming to brightten thngs up also...
Thanks for all your input guys. I'm gonna first try testing various speaker positions, toe-in/out, vertical angle and such, and see what improvements I can get for free.
What do you think would have more impact? Switching IC's or speaker cables?
My guess is that switching speaker cables would have more impact, but, switching both would help.
Have not had the same system, but had assembled a system with a Theta Transport, Muse D/A, Krell pre, Aragon amp and Mirage M3si speakers. I was very unhappy becaue there was little sonic difference between this system and a home theater setup I had using an inexpensive Sony receiver and NHT Super Ones and Zeros (plus sub). Your story interested me because my description of my own sysyems sonics at that time was that it sounded like listening to a good system from another room, or as if there were a blanket between me and the speakers.
At the dealers recommendation, I was using MIT MI-330 Series II ICs and MH-750 Biwire SCs. I was (and am still) taken with some aspects of the MIT cables, but they were the culprits in that setup. Replacing the ICs and SCs really opened the system up (no more blanket).
One can't say what would be a more drastic change i.e. swapping the speaker cables or the interconnects, as it would matter what make / model for each that you intended to go with. Even then, some of that would be guesswork, especially with IC's, due to system synergy and the impedance related issues. As such, speaker cables would be the easier route to go, but even then, there are still quite a few variables involved depending on the choices that you make.
I think that Richard uses and recommends Audioquest cabling. Whether or not you go this route is obviously up to you. Most of this will boil down to your personal preferences, system goals and system synergy. Unless one has an identical system with very similar sonic preferences, the only thing that you'll get here is recommendations based on one's own personal preferences within the confines of their system.
There may be some technical issues involved in why some speaker cables work better / more uniformly than others in most SS installations, but all of that has been covered in the archives. Whether or not one likes the sonics that the technical advantages that these speaker cables bring with them boils down to personal preference. In most cases, people "band aid" their systems using cables as a tone and transient control, making such changes and recommendations a crapshoot at best. Sean
You can't design a product with very obvious technical pitfalls and then try to correct all of those problems after the fact with some type of network or correction circuitry. This is akin to designing / building an obviously sloppy circuit that will pass signal and then trying to make it "world class" in measurements by band-aiding the errors with a gob of negative feedback. The end result is something that is less than technically correct or natural sounding and the ear / brain interphase recognizes this. Sean
I have Vandersteen 5A's and they are anything but fuzzy, cloudy, etc. I am using all top Ayre components. I tried all kinds of cable. Audioqest silver rediculously expensive, and Anti-Cables rediculously cheap are the best matches. Try using differnt cable - I bet that works. Vandersteens are really very good.
When I owned the 3A Sigs, I used Audioquest for a while, and the system sounded very good. I then tried Alpha-Core Goertz silver and thought the system sounded better yet. Don't what the pricing is for Goertz anymore, but it was very reasonable at the time. Just another cable to explore, but one I ofund to work very well with Vandersteen.
Pubul57: Thanks for pointing out what i've been trying to tell people for a long time now. I just get tired of repeating the same mantra over and over : )
Due to the geometry that the flat series of Alpha-Core Goertz cabling uses, the impedance that they present should be an ideal match for such an installation. As far as i know, they offer the best power transfer characteristics over the widest frequency range of any cable on the market. As such, high frequency response should be improved and transient energy should be increased. On top of that, they typically bring a certain "natural" or "musical" presentation to a decent system.
Whether or not an end user likes the sound of the system with Goertz boils down to personal preference. If it sounds bad to you, don't blame the Alpha-Core's for what you're hearing. These speaker cables are simply letting you hear what your components really sound like. Sean
PS... One could go the other route and purposely introduce cable colourations into the system trying to band-aid the situation. If such is the case, the use of something along the lines of Nordost might give you what you're looking for. Whether or not you can live with that type of sound in the long run is obviously up to personal preference.
This is an old thread but I had to add that Mr. Vandersteen contradicted many here in his own Q&A section.. he mentioned that the 2ce's can be made less dark with cables.. just read his Q&A.
I am wondering what the original poster ended up doing.
I'm a Vandersteen dealer and used to sell MIT cables and McCormack amplifiers. The Vandersteens can sound very lively and transparent with the right gear, but MIT cables are the wrong choice, especially partnered with the also darker sounding McCormack amplifier.
You have three things all tilted in the same direction. The 2Ce Sigs are ever so slightly leaning toward the warmish side of neutral, the McCormack even more so, and the MIT cables are the most skewed.
Start by changing to a neutral solid-core conductor cable with no networks or filters of any kind. That will bring some life back into your sound. Then you can consider the amplifier next if needed.
I am using Tara RSC Prime Biwire with my 2Ces with excellent results. No haze, great highs and details and solid lows powered by a Rogue Cronus.
Haven't seen this thread for a while but, I have since gone to EH6CA7s in the AMP and changed out the speaker cables from the Tara Labs that Steve has to some Yang Wings that a local dealer from my audio club sells. Totally different sound. Sound stage opens up as the volume is turned up, more detail, highs are more extended air and background cause the image to spread out. I tried some MITs on my system and while it was an improvement over the Tara Labs it did not open up my system as much as the cables I wound up buying. I won't say what I paid but, they were 1/2 as much as the Tara labs but, remember that they are Chinese..
So initially I started out by playing around with speaker placement, including toe-in and tilt and such. Toe-ing increased a bit of brightness and proper tilting also helped.
I set up my second system in the same room and interchanged components. I also decided that comparing headphone sound to the sound from my main system was pointless as it was impossible to make objective analyses between the two.
I maxed out the midrange and treble controls on the back of the speakers and noticed that it sounded better than when they were at 0db. Perhaps others have experienced the same? I'm thinking this result varies from room-to-room.
After exhausting all my "free" options (assuming time isn't money), I wasn't still satisfied with my system. Yes, improvements were made, but still I sensed a bit of a veil. Yes, the ugly word reveals its ugly head again.
So, I went out and tested different IC cables. The local hifi store had Tara Labs (forgot the model, $200 range). I demo'ed them and returned them the next day. I borrowed some Pursit Musaeus and Audioquest from a buddy of mine. IMO the AQ sounded worse, but the PAD cables were an improvement, especially with the imaging. Then I came upon a great deal for Kimber silver streaks. Wow, what a difference. High FQ resolution was improved, although the bass was a tad thinner.
Anyways, I'm looking to change my speaker cables... still using the MIT2 bi-wire at this moment. I was thinking two separate runs to each of the vandies (bi-wiring) may be an improvement. My McCormack does have two binding posts for each channel. I can play around with that a bit.
So continues my quest to extract more from my vandersteens.