Vandersteen 2CE Signature Speakers


Hello.  I recently auditioned a used pair of Vandersteen 2CE Signature speakers. I found them to be amazing for jazz (lots of detail, great imaging) - really everything I read about on how these speakers sound.  However, upon listening to classical (full orchestral recordings of Mahler symphonies and Strauss tone poems), I found them to be boxy, dull and closed (quite the opposite from the jazz recordings).

Is this normal?  Why would this happen?  What can be done to fix this? I would like to buy them. 

Thanks
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Perhaps a poor recording? I would experiment with many different recordings from LP to CD to see if you get better results. Also Vandersteen tends to be a little power hungry, so, if possible, try a beefier amp to test with. Good luck, these are fantastic all around speakers.
OP - Please report back after listening to a variety of symphonic recordings.  What associated components are you using?
I listened to them at the seller's home with his Manley Neo Classic 250 amp and Sonic Frontier 3 preamp.  And I listened to both LP's from Mobile Fidelity and Telarc; and CD's from DG and Phillips (all high sonic quality recordings which normally sound great on my home system (Yamaha DAP A1 integrated amp and Wharfedale Rubiance RB 27 speakers).

I do realize that they will sound different in my listening room.  But I don't think I can take them home then return them if not happy. 
Pass on them. They are just not your cup of tea!
I should add that I'm quite pleased with my current setup. But we all have that nagging feeling of what better components can do. Vandersteen's are definitely a better speaker than Wharfedale's. But I can think of better things to spend $1000 on (including more records). And I don't think my 12 x 15 foot room (listening widthwise), is best for the Vandersteens. Additionally I'll probably want to upgrade my electronics to make them sing.
I had Vandersteen 2ci for 22 years and also a pair of 2ce for 3 years until I put them in storage.  The 2ce had a tipped up treble compared to the 2ci.. I am not sure how different the signatureII sound but On my 2ci speakers Classical was excellent.  Very full sounding with just the right amount of treble.  The triangles and wire brushes sounded so real and life like.  Jazz was excellent as well as Rock.  I drove mine with a 175wpc Classe amp and a tube preamp.  I wish I still had that system. 
The idea that a speaker plays jazz and rock well, but not classical is crazy.  The requirements for a loudspeaker for all music is the same: "play it as accurately as possible with as little damage as possible for the money".  

You may be expecting the classical to sound good, but the dynamic range requires both of the following.

1) Very low noise floor in the room because the quiet parts will be masked and boring.
2)  Enough power to play the classical loud enough to lift all of the music out of the noise floor.

This is not as much of a  problem with jazz or rock, because the music tends to be played a higher levels without the very quiet passages that are so important with classical.  An accurate transducer is required in both cases and will play all types of music equally, IF they have the headroom.

What possible difference would any designer make to a speaker for one music or the other sound 'better or worse' mystifies me to this date, but some folks seem to take this myth for granted and lose out on some great audio because of it. 

I have spoken to many top speaker designers about this as it's been perpetuated since the beginning of audio as we know it.
I'm using 2Cs with  Krell 300W/4 ohms in a 14x14 dedicated room. Didn't sound wonderful until placed room treatments on all four walls and ceiling. Plus speaker position and listening chair position are critical. Also the dedicated AC line helped too.
Hope this helps, I think they are wonderful speakers.

Tom
Thanks Tom.  Set up is critical for all speakers, but often times even a dealer isn't set up properly as they move things around so much.  Once set, you can forget it and ENJOY great speakers that will play anything well. ;)
@ctsooner , agreed! Speakers don't care what genre is playing :)!
Teh headphone and IEM world is all about getting multiple top can's/CIEM's for different music.  I just shake my head.  Everyone is so concerned about matching cables to 'tune' their system.  Again, just get a great cable that is natural (this is why I love the Audioquest line).  If you have the right components you will hear THEM!  If you need to tune things, then go get the right components first.  Any designer will tell you that, even teh cable guys.  Just logic to me.
Accused Vandersteen fanboy and advocate weighing in, I own and enjoy 3 different pairs
but i also own and enjoy planars and horns...
The demo you got included some great gear
always have to wonder on setup but let’s assume any competent Vandersteen owner read the awesome instructions and followed them - so we could fault the recording- but assuming you brought or listened to references you know well ?
so I like the not your cup of tea approach...
have fun
enjoy the search and the music !!!!!!!!
Never an accused fanboy but one the less. Believe me ( where have I heard that before?) Steens can and DO large scale classical. I owned and lived with a pair for 10 years, the last 4 in an impossible room/situation as three subsequent speakers confirmed. This speaker plays it all as all great designs must.There are other issues, time for an expert to chime in, Johnny R maybe?
I have the 2CE sigII. I had auditioned about 11 brands and various models and liked the sound of the Vandersteen and Magnepan the best. As with many audio components, one has a great amount of choices in speaker brands and models. No need to settle, if one has the patience to keep listening and auditioning the many offerings. Keep looking until you find what suits you. The arguments about which speaker is best are comical. The overwhelming variety and many choices of speakers benefit the audio consumer. I have never been a fan of measurements and the scientific end. My ears are my tools and I can listen to many, many speakers to decide what sounds good to ME.
No surprise that you liked Maggies and Vandersteen's since both sound like point source speakers and have some other similarities in sound quality. I have many friends who own both, but they are still very different tonality wise I feel.  Great advice on using your OWN ears and not a friends, ours or a salesperson.  

As for scaling, the Vandy line scales as good as any other speaker line I've heard.  I also have a shop owner put their top amps on any speaker I listen to.  

I was listening to classical music yesterday and it filled the room.  Not once did I feel it wasn't giving me a huge sound stage etc...  Tonally, it sounded awesome.  Loved what I was hearing, but I should as I purchased it all lol.....
And which Vandersteen did you listen to?
I have owned the Treo's and now own the Quatro's. I'm VERY familiar with all of his speakers though and have ton's of time with all of them.  

I have spent extensive time with the 2's since they were released in 78 I think it was (Bruce's at Stereo Unlimited in SD).  When run with the proper electronics and set up properly, I've never heard them to be boxy. Honestly, the design of the 2's was so they wouldn't be boxy.  He has the smallest baffles on the mid and tweeter for that very reason.  Also, for the price, they are considered highly dynamic as long as the recording is dynamic.  Not saying you didn't hear what you said you did, but if a speaker is designed properly, it will play anything the same.  

Too many perpetuate the myth that a certain speaker is good for one or two genres only.  Just ask any top designer and he or she would tell you the same I promise.
(((This speaker plays it all as all great designs must. There are other issues, time for an expert to chime in, Johnny R maybe?)))

My take would be this..........

 (((I found them to be boxy, dull and closed (quite the opposite from the jazz recordings).))))

Having heard both electronics in our sound rooms

I probably would agree with the OP with what he heard with those electronics.
 Compared with ARC,VS 110 Manley Neo Classic 250 has a darker feel their output transformer taps offered only a fixed tap with no adjustments.
 at its best with a lower impedance speaker.
 Feedback City think it wanted to be controlling a speaker that needs way more control.
 Sonic Frontiers preamp we found it was decent for its time yet somewhat
 electronic or mechanical presentation at the time associated with dated amps also using Hi Feedback.
 I'll bet 5 bucks if he takes his Yamaha back there with some AQ wires
 he finds a new companion instantly.
 Best JohnnyR
 
Hi Johnny, do the Audio Quest cables really make a big difference? I am using Blue Jeans  Bi-wire Canare 4S11 Cable and sees to be doing a great job, but if I switched to AQ cables you think I would be pleasantly surprised? if so, what is the best bang for the buck on the AQ cable?
(for reference I am running the 2c's)
Thanks!
I'm not Johnny.  I owned the best MIT speaker cable and interconnects made with their 350 cable (interconnects) and their 770 speaker cable.  I got the AQ adn never looked back.  I have had so many name and off name cables in teh system and none have been as neutral as the AQ stuff.  If you are going to use a cable/wire to 'tune' your system, I personally feel that you have the wrong gear.   Using Nordost to lift the highs of a dull amp, still starts with a DULL AMP, lol.  This is just system matching, but for my money nothing touches the AQ cables for sheer neutrality.  JMHO
John is the most knowledgeable I've ever met it this genre....Maybe Richard Vandersteen is his equal...not sure.
I'm not Johnny.  I owned the best MIT speaker cable and interconnects made with their 350 cable (interconnects) and their 770 speaker cable.  I got the AQ adn never looked back.  I have had so many name and off name cables in teh system and none have been as neutral as the AQ stuff.  If you are going to use a cable/wire to 'tune' your system, I personally feel that you have the wrong gear.   Using Nordost to lift the highs of a dull amp, still starts with a DULL AMP, lol.  This is just system matching, but for my money nothing touches the AQ cables for sheer neutrality.  JMHO
Yeah, I think that's the same concept over in the analog section where I was asking if it could be possible to go from MM to MC on the cheap by buying over-achievers in their respective price groups. The consensus was that it doesn't really make sense to go MC unless you first make sure that all the other supporting gear/electronics is top notch, if you don't there isn't much benefit and could actually sound worse. I will likely save up for the Vandy subs as my first order of business then let the wallet heal and for bit then buy a pre-amp after that at some point (or upgrade to the 2ce sig IIs). 

Makes the most sense to me.  I personally upgrade the speakers first.  Then the source and then the amps.  Cords and cables are always last.  That's just me. I purchase the best speakers I can afford.  
+1 for building the system around the loudspeakers.
Work the speakers, setup setup setup !!!!!!!
and the room w modest treatments and then cables.

i actually own a shotgun bi-wire set of the Canare and have used them with Apogee Stage , Cornwalls, Vandersteen 1ci
they are pretty good, especially for the $$$
i am using AQ spades and bananas

slightly bettered by a non DBS now ancient set of AQ shotgun biwire Type 6


The idea that a speaker plays jazz and rock well, but not classical is crazy. The requirements for a loudspeaker for all music is the same: "play it as accurately as possible with as little damage as possible for the money".

I don’t fully agree, because what we want from each are different emotions. I have very (objectively) neutral speakers, which I feel are a little light in the bass for R&R, but perfect for Jazz, Choral, Orchestral and movies (latter with a sub). Listening to R&R, I may turn up the bass. :) Also, at low volumes, they lack detail, so loudness helps. Some speakers may be heavier in the bass, or more U shaped responses making them more suitable.

Still, to the OP’s point, actually that sounds more like electronics. As another mentioned, do think about room treatment. Contact GIK Acoustics for advice and high value products.
Best,
E
Many speakers that do well with rock do not do so with classical .
Guys, just ask the designers of speakers and they will 100% disagree with you.  Music is music.  A great speaker needs to be able to reproduce what it's fed.  Plain and simple.  I really think the problem is that we have all been told that quantity bass is better than quality bass.  A boost in the lower or mid treble gives us more sound stage or sparkle.  

I've had this conversation with a few of the top speaker designers over the many years I've loved audio and music and each one says what I posted. I'm just parroting, but yes I totally agree.  I auditioned so many speakers before getting my Quatro's and the Treo's before that.  I noticed that so many makers will use the same cuts to show off their various strengths.  Then I listen to my own music and they fell flat on their faces.  When I did the same for the Vandy's and a few others, they played all songs very well (to my ears as well as others I"ve auditioned with).

Some speakers are highly dynamic, but lacking in detail and layering.  Some speakers don't worry about teh sub bass and the foundation of the music.  Manufacturer's have to make compromises, I get that, but if you have a great speaker that is fairly neutral from top to bottom, it should be able to play all music well.  

Eric, you won't agree and I get that.  This has been deeply ingrained in audiophiles since the beginning of the hobby and it's not going away.  It's too bad as you don't need to settle as there are many speakers that can play anything.  
My guess is that the speakers were not set up optimally for bass, which did not become apparent until music with a lot of complex and "thick" mid-bass was played.  The thick mid-bass sound will compromise midrange transparency and make the speakers sound "boxy". 
I agree with ctsooner. Overall, I think a well designed speaker should do justice to all music played through it. If a certain speaker plays jazz well, or another plays rock well.. it might mean the coloration of the speaker or design matches well with that type of sound. But that does not mean it is a well designed speaker. I think well engineerd speakers are difficult to make and above average in cost. Most people I know compromise and find speakers that may only suite their tastes.
I personally feel that we are TOLD how to listen by so many top manufactures that make speakers that maybe aren't great.  You hear the same tracks for audition for so many of the speakers out there.  It makes them sound their 'best'. This is why I always take my own music to play. 

I always use a variety of music, even country.  Folks bag on my all the time for being a Vandy fan, but honestly, it's one of the few I've found in the price ranges I listen to that is tonally outstanding and what you get as you move up teh food chain is better bass and a cleaner presentation.  

That to ME is the way it should be.  I do want a speaker that does everything, but I also realize that to get great bass, it costs a lot of money.  Cabinet size, larger and or more drivers, extra top end x over parts, better speaker cables, better amp and a source that can send it along.  Then that bass can't interfere with the rest of the sound...then an open top that isn't fake (tipped up a few DB's at the 10k hz point like so many 'top' named speakers are).

This is where Vandy makes the excellent trade off's in it's price ranges.  I'm not the only one since they sell so many speakers.  They just don't have the hype machine that Wilson did when they started.  Doesn't mean that the one speaking the loudest, is teh best for my ears ;)...