Vandersteen 2Ce Signature vs 3A

Can anyone tell me what the major difference is between the 2Ce Signatures and 3A in terms of sound? How about the 3A vs the 3A signature? Are these upgrades significant or not worth the money?
The Signature upgrades are worth the money. They provide signicant improvements over the stock speakers in the areas of transparency and frequency extension. They sound similar but the 3A will play louder and go deeper.


Yes and Yes, I had the 2ce and loved them I wound up getting a 2wq which helped the bass alot. The bass wasn't quite tight enought for me, not the fault of the speaker I just have a hard room and still better han 90% of the stuff out there in that price range. Where this speaker excelecd was the mids. Listened to some 3sig last year that someone had and they were wonderful. They are a bit more refined meening the mids are ritcher sounding and the bass was also better if I had them I would not of needed the subs.

Now let me also add some of my experance here that might be helpful. I started out with a Denon 3805 receiver drove the speaker fine sounded grate. Switched to a ar pre amp and adcom 5503 amp. Wow, more sound and soundstage. Put on some Kimber cable by wired and hero innerconnects grate improvement. After that added quicksilver v4 tube amps. made everything smoother and more tubey. This was all to the 2CEsig. What I am trying to say here is even teh 2cesig will be very responsive to high end equipnment. I do perfer the 3sig in every way to the 2cesig but the 2ce sig are one heck of a speaker, but all depends on what you are driving them with.

I never compaired a 3a to a 2ce sig but I would say they are probably about the same in the mids the 3a may have a bit more bass. the 3a to the 3a sig the mids are more refined.
Hi, I have both the 2 Sigs and 3 Sigs. I prefer listening to the 2s in my rooms simply because you need a larger room for the 3s. Yes, they're more refined and all, but if you don't have a large room and a solid amp you're going to get better results for less work with the 2s. I wouldn't consider older 3As. For the difference in price the performance gap is too small...the 2s would be my choice there.

Go to your dealer and take the time to listen. It's worth it!

I have the 3A Signatures in a 10 x 16 room. Excellant!!!!!!!
Driven by McIntosh C22 / MC275 combination, 4 ohm output taps.

My MC240 had no problem driving these speakers either. I had an MC225 that did well until pushed harder. Hey, at only 25 wpc what do you expect?
The 3's might be better, but, IMHO the 2's are a beter value.
First I had a Pair of 2CE sigs. loved them. Then I tried out a Pair of older 3A's was not impressed. The Older 3a'S seemed harsh in the highs and not as enjoyable as the 2ce sigs.
The 3's might be better, but, IMHO the 2's are a beter value

Very much agreed. The 2's are the kind of speaker that you never let go of. Probably the least expensive speaker that I can see myself living with forever. Just saving my pennies to upgrade...
People seem to think a bigger room is appropriate for the 3s. How big of a room would you need for the 3As or 3A sigs?
I owned 3A sigs for quite awhile. When I first received them I was working on a project in Dallas and set them up in the little condo the company rented for me. There was only enough room to set them about 2 foot from the front wall and the couch was probably about 6 feet from the center of each speaker. It wasn't even close to enough room for them.
Once I got home and put them in my normal listening room I found that they sound best when you can sit at least 8 feet from the speaker. Plus they need to be at least 4 feet from the front wall and, of course, you want space behind the listening position. I would think that for them to be at the best that the minimum length of your room should be 16 feet.
How big does the room need to be for the 2Ce Sigs in your opinion guys?
The Model 3A Signature uses many superior materials when compared with 2Ce Signature. The 3's midrange driver in particular is quite special in that it uses Vandersteen’s patented elongated magnet with a narrow profile which eliminates the reflection of unwanted back-wave energy from the midrange cone off of the magnet assembly. The 2Ce Signature’s midrange driver has a more conventional magnet structure and doesn’t offer the clarity, resolution or delicacy of the more advanced 3A Signature midrange driver.

The 3’s also offer more bass power, extension, and control than the Model 2 due to a superior 8” driver with a longer throw and more robust magnet system, a superior 10” active acoustic coupler with a longer throw, dual-spider aluminum cone with a cast basket, and a larger enclosure for the two woofers.

Lastly, the 3 has a more advanced crossover with Model 5 level components.

The result is a speaker that sounds noticeably more detailed, open, and transparent especially in the midrange (unlike the description given by a previous poster) than the Model 2. The 3’s also sound even more seamless from top to bottom than the already excellent model 2.

I am a Vandersteen dealer. Hope this helps.
Thanks for the response Dave. What size room do you think I would need for some 2Ce sigs or 3A sigs?
Hi, almost any size room will work for the 2s. The 3s thrive in large environments. So for them I'd say at least 14x20...minimum. Larger is better for them. Also, make sure you amplify them well. Quicksilver V4s, BEL 1001s, Theta Dreadnoughts, etc are all good considerations (and vastly different from one another).
Good luck!
With all due respect I have to disagree with "almost any size room will work for the 2s." The 2's can be very sensitive to rooms and placement. For example, for many years Sound By Singer in NYC demoed the 2's in a tiny room. Just plain awfull. Yet in an appropriate room, properly placed, they just might be the best speaker value available, bar none.
I agree that almost any room size will work with the 2s. The 3s will benefit from a larger room, but I have heard them work successfully in a few smaller rooms also. It is important to remember that with Vandersteen's 1st-order floor-standing speakers (Models 1, 2, 3, Quatro and 5) you need to sit at least 7 feet away from the speaker in order to achieve proper blending of the drivers regardless of the overall room size.

The more important difference between the two models is that the 3 is more demanding and sensitive to the electronics you choose, especially the power amplifier. Where a good 50-60 watt amplifier can work well with the 2s, the 3s prefer larger higher-quality amplifiers typically in the 100 watt/ch range or higher. The 3's will also be more revealing of the quality of the electronics in front of them.

Both models can also achieve even better sound quality (more like Quatros and Model 5s) and become much easier to drive when partnered with Vandersteen's "audiophile" 300 watt active subwoofer known as the 2Wq.

Good luck.
I actually have the 2Ce Sigs right now. They are being pushed by an Ayre V-5Xe. I was thinking about upgrading to the 3A Sigs. However, I am starting to reconsider. My room is about 10X16.
I'd keep the 2s and the Ayre and concentrate on your front end.
Have fun!
I measured. The room is 12'X 17'. Is this big enough to accomodate the 3A sigs on the long wall?
"I measured. The room is 12'X 17'. Is this big enough to accomodate the 3A sigs on the long wall"
I didn't use Vandersteen's method of speaker placement for your room. But, simply using the "rule of thirds", which is good for quick calulations, would lead me to beleive that your room is to small for the 3A's. That probably could be overcome by having some type of diffuser behind the listening position and the seating right up against it. But, I don't think that you would be getting the best from the speakers. If you use the Vandersteen method for setup, you need to find a speaker/seating position that is at least 8 feet from the speakers. That would put them very close to the front wall, which also could be overcome with some treatments along the front wall and may need bass traps in the corners.
If it were me, I'd maximize the room for the 2ce sigs that you already own rather than change for the 3A's. I've owned both plus the 5A'a and I think that in the proper setting the 2ce sigs are so close to the 3A's that improving the room and proper positioning will gain you more than switching speakers.
You could try, but that's gonna be a pretty comprimised setup. The Vandies are designed for a minimum seating distance of 8'. Any closer and the drivers don't blend the way that they're supposed to. With 12' of space, you're looking at placing the speakers 2' away from the front wall and you sitting 2' away from the back wall.

I don't know your exact room layout, but placing the vandies along the short wall may be an option. Perhaps placing them about 7' apart and sitting the minimum 8' away? You would probably need to toe in the speakers just a little bit, but Vandies don't seem to have as much trouble being placed close to side walls as some other speakers do.

Either way, in a room that size I would go with the 2CE Sigs, personally. Sure, the 3A's could work, but it just isn't enough space to do them justice, imo.
What other speakers in the $2-3k used market(4-6k new market)might work well in a room this size?
Bang for buck the vandies are the best if you like the sound it is very smooth, detailed and refined. Theil is also good but more $$$ for a similar sound. You just need to listen and see what you like the best. But to get the sound of the 3's you are looking around 10K+ new. I looked for other things because I didn't like the look wnated more wood. But the sound finally sold me.

The distance thing you are going to run into with all speakers not just vandersteen. Some smaller speakers might do a little better but won't sound as good as the vandies overall and vandersteens image so well that I think if you are tight in the space by just a little it is still going to be better than most of the stuff out there.

What amps are you running and cables? These also make a big difference in the imaging. If the amps are not up to the 3a level you may want to look into them instead of the speakers. I put a set of quicksilver v4 on my 2cesigs and wow more open and a better image.
I don't know how Vandersteen suggests measuring listening position from the speaker. Dunlavy and Thiel suggest measuring directly from listening position to the the center of the woofer (though their phiolosphies part ways in other regards). I think Green Mountain suggests measuring from the listening position to the the center of the distance between speakers "equi T". If Vandersteen's suggestion is similar Dunlavy and Thiel, your Vandersteens should fit in comfortably. If Vandersteen's suggestion is like the "equit T" things might get a bit tight. Having heard many of them, in many different situations, I personally find Vandersteens to be very sensitive to rooms. I don't know if there is any correlation, but, since Thiel followed Vandersteens lead in using passive radiators, they too now seem to be garnering this reputation. This was not as much of an issue previously with Thiels (though associated gear, especially amplification has always been a concern). All in all I think you'll be OK. I strongly suggest you give Vanersteen a call. Richard Vandersteen has always been a straight shooter.
I believe the literature says to measure from the listening position to the center of the speaker, ie the middle of the top plate. I have to look it up every time I move them, though, since I never remember exactly.
Programmergeek...I am using an Ayre V-5Xe and Synergistic Designers' Reference Interconnects with Synergistic Resolution Reference biwired speaker cables
Kmiller5 as to used speakers in the price range you quote you can find Dunlavy Athenas/alethas in the $3k-$4k range and Cantatas sometimes sub $3k I've never actually heard the cantatas but they have the same speaker configuration as the athenas with a rectangle cabinet. I was a diehard vandersteen fan until i discovered the dunlavys. Room and electronic considerations kept in mind the athenas smoked the 3CEs in my listening experiences (and everything else in my budget range)earning their place in my living room.

I'm doing the Dunlavy long wall thing in a 14x20 room with the couch slammed against the rear wall (which gets behind-the-head treatment). About 24 inches from rear wall to center of speaker and about 5 ft to the side walls. the dunlavies can live close to the rear wall if you spend a little time dialing in the bass. my guess is that working with the vandersteens will also bring good results
What are your thoughts on the sound quality of the 2Ce Signature vs the 3A (non signature)?
We have discussed your room's ability to allow for appropriate speaker placement in the room and listenig postion for proper driver integration. We have not discussed the issue of the size of your rooms ability to accomodate bass frequencies. While the 2's have almost the same bass extension as the 3's, that little extra bass the 3's have may be pushing the limits of what your room can handle.
I think a pair of new 2Ce Sigs will sound noticably better than any old pair of 3As. Ask Richard Vandersteen if you're not sure. The improvements that he's made in these speakers is amazing!
i'm just about to pull the trigger on moving from 2ce sigs to 3a sigs. i only have a BEL1001 amp running stereo. is it going to be enough power? i know the literature says it should be 100-200wpc.... any advice?
One BEL will do unless you're listening to things such as opera at full voice (VERY loud). The amp will not clip hard. It's like a tube amp in this respect. 99% of the time, it's fine. I'd say try it and if you notice any compression at high volumes you should get a matching BEL amp. That will solve the problem completely.
mikej- thanks for the reply. another question. currently i am not biwiring my 2cesigs. i have a very high quality jumper. what difference would i expect to get sonically from biwiring with vandersteens? is it critical for the 3a sigs?
Bi-wire them. I'm not sure I buy into the reasoning, but with Vandies it sure does seem to help. BTW, seperate runs seem the best way to to appreciate the benefits of bi-wiring.
Bi-wiring will offer an incremental improvement in the sound for your speakers. The only jumper/cable combo that equals or betters this that I've tried is from BEL. Everything else was not as good as traditional bi-wire. XLO and others (pick your favorite) work well.
If you're not sure this is worth the expense, ask your dealer to loan you a bi-wire set to take home and you'll see what I mean. The jumpers just aren't going to cut it.
Regarding wires in general, I suggest you use the same type throughout the system. That way it's really a component and not a tone control.
Landru64 - I moved from 2ce sig powered with VTL MB 125 with 2Wq subs to 3A sig powered with the VTLs and 2wq subs. The 2ce sigs sounded great with the 125 watt vtls but the 3A sigs were awful. No dynamics. Its strange because the 3As are more efficient. In my opinion and experience the 3A sigs need a lot of power and current to sound great. I am now running them with parasound JC 1s with excellent results. I personally think they need to be played at about 80 DB or more to sound their best. BTW my room is 13x35x8. The 3As may work better with lower power in a smaller room. My room is the smallest Ive heard them in. Hope this helps.
In short, yes, bi-wiring the Vandersteen speakers does result in a noticeable improvement in sound, especially at higher frequencies. The sound becomes more clear and open when you bi-wire. Here is why:

The purpose of bi-wiring is to provide two physically separate wire pathways; one for high frequencies and one for low frequencies, which are isolated from each other. The reason for this is that when high and low frequencies travel together in the same cable, the delicate treble information is modulated by the much more massive current and magnetic field associated with the low frequency signal. The large magnetic field blurs and distorts the delicate high frequencies. By separating the high and low frequencies, bi-wiring eliminates this kind of distortion and results in noticeably improved sound.

People often see a bi-wire setup and ask what good it could possibly do to have two separate cables (high and low) both coming from the very same amplifier (actually, the very same output terminals on that amp). The assumption is that the two cables are carrying the same information to each part of the loudspeaker. But this is not the case.

The cable which is attached to the “high” input of the loudspeaker is actually loaded by crossover components (capacitors) that will only "pull" high frequencies (in the form of current) through that particular cable. The same is true of the bass. Your amplifier doesn’t just “push” or send the entire signal through a cable that is attached to a speaker. The speaker “pulls” those frequencies that it wants (based upon the crossover components attached to each cable) from the amplifier.

To understand this better, imagine yourself in NY holding one end of a very long speaker cable, and a friend located in LA holding the other end of that same cable. You connect your end to the output of an amplifier. He connects his end to the high frequency input of a loudspeaker. When you hit play on your CD player the amp does not send the entire signal all the way to Los Angeles only to find out once it arrives that nothing below the treble frequencies are allowed to pass. Instead think of the speaker in Los Angeles as "pulling" only those frequencies that it wants from the amplifier back in NY.

Because of this, when you bi-wire, what you are really doing is moving the dividing action of the crossover from happening inside of your loudspeaker to instead happening right at the output terminals of your amplifier, which means prior to your speaker cable runs. In the NY/LA example, this means you would literally be moving the crossover action of the loudspeaker from occurring in LA to instead happening back in NY.

For an even more thorough discussion of how bi-wiring works go to:
i got the 3a's home-- got a deal i couldn't refuse on them. still have my 2ce's. with the BEL, the 3a sigs are just ok, but the slam is missing. a lot more resolution in the mids and top with that same vandersteen musicality. as you suggest, dynamics aren't terrific. i'm a professional musician and i know what dynamics are ;)

i tried borrowing some biwire cable that is slightly inferior to my cable, but that didn't 'fix' it. my dealer friend who carries this stuff thinks that the one BEL just isn't quite enough. it isn't clipping. but perhaps, it is suggested, it just isn't CONTROLLING. so i'm considering a search for a second BEL1001 mkIII. or else i'll go back to the 2ce's. ignorance is bliss ;). thanks to everyone else (mikej) for input and help! any other suggestions are appreciated!
I got 2CE Sig II now, if I upgrade to 3A Sig, will I notice the difference since they both uses the same tweeter and midrange?
The newer 2Ce Sig 2's have the same mid/tweeter as the 3A Sig and model 5's in a smaller package. Prices on these models just increased. You could try the 2WQ sub but the newer 2's have decent bass.

It's a catch 22 question. You will also need a larger amp
for the model 3's. I don't think you can beat the overall
value of the model 2Ce Sig 2's. Spending another $2100.+ not including tax and selling your 2Ce's at a loss or trade in doesn't add up to me. Of course you could call Richard Vandersteen and get his advice...
Well, as I have learned recently, I've asked Richard Vandersteen if they made any changes on the 2CE Sig II since they started the production, and he said "absolutely" but didn't change the model name and this goes the same for for the 3A Sig. So, what he was saying is that the older 2CE Sig II is not the same as the 2CE Sig II NOW. I just thought I share this info with you.
Yup. Availability of parts change. Cost structure of parts affect design trade-offs to maintain price points. Product feedback drives tweaks. Many companies do it. Few speak of it.
Yep the price went up and so did the quality of the drivers. The 2Ce Signature, 3A signature and the fabric Quatro now have the woven composite mid range cone of the Quatro Wood and the 5A speaker. What a deal!!
Cheers Johnnyr
Are upgrades to the mid range driver of an older 3A Sig possible and if so what are the sonic benefits and cost? I love the sound of my Vandy's but if I can make them better I'd like to do it. Thanks John.
Tony, from what I was told, the 3A SIg, at least the new ones have the same tweeter and midrange of the Model 5 Try calling Vandersteen and verified I also would like to know.