Vandersteen 3 w/ARC d240 MKII


Good evening all.
Recently I had to retire my ML Sequell IIs and replaced them with a pair of Vandersteen 3s.
At the same time I swaped in a new amp and realized my speaker cables were damaged.
After several weeks of tweaking I cannot get the sound right.
I have a feeling it's the speaker cables.
I was using Audioquest Midnight 3 bi wired and am now using an old set of Audioquest Type 4+ in a shotgun bi wire.
The speakers sound muffled and lack dynamics and good imaging.
Before I replace the cables im currious if you guys think the d240 has enough power to drive the Vandersteens--was using a sunfire on the MLs.
Thanks in advance for feedback.
ltngstrucktwice
I'm pretty good with Vandersteen's. Unfortunately, there's more than one thing that can cause your problem. Hold off on buying cables. I don't think they're to blame. Try 2 things first. Make sure you have the speakers positioned, and the back tilt set like it tells you in the owners manual. After that, closely examine your speaker cables. Its possible that you made a mistake when hooking them up. Make absolutely sure all of the cables are where they're supposed to be on the binding posts. For example, maybe you put the + on the -, or the - on the +. If you did that, and the speakers are wired out of phase, it can sound exactly like your description. Its a very common mistake.
The D240 should have enough power unless you play very loud or have a large room. Having said that I don't think a lack of power would cause the system to sound dull, if I understand what you mean by dull. I take dull to mean lacking high frequencies. I would try another amp if available to see if that makes a difference. Given the speaker cables were damaged it's possible there was speaker and/or amplifier damage. A couple of other things to check in addition to checking the speaker tilt as recommended by Zd542; first check the Mid and High frequency adjustments on the back of the speaker, they could be misadjusted. A few turns back and forth might also help to clean any corrosion on the wiper. Second, make sure all of the connections are clean, corrosion can cause dull sound. I will add that I had 3A Signatures and upgraded to 5's and was somewhat suprised by the increased high frequencies of the 5's.
The Vandersteen 3A sounds slow and hazy. I had them for 18 years with many amps and never could get them to hurry up. The 3A Sigs are a major upgrade.
Thx guys.
The speakers are set up "pretty" good now, but ill work on the tilt and toe a little more.
The room is large at 16x16.
The speakers are old, so good call on the terminal cleaning!
I have ran a couple Stereophile test CDs and all drivers are working, responding well and everything is in phase.
A little background on the damaged Midnight 3s.
2 of the wires going to a spade were severed clean off so Ive since disconnected both cables and packaged them up to be sent back for factory repairs.
Pmottz, funny you mention loudness.
The Vandersteens only seem to come alive if the volume is high, and that is why I was curious about the amp.
I auditioned the amp in a very similar system, and that system sounded very detailed and imaged very well.
I guess the problem Im having is, when I listen to music, a piano doesnt sound like a piano any more, it sounds like a recording of a piano and vocals are just not real any longer.
I have heard the ARC amp and similar my Vandersteens sound very well separately, but not together, so its reassuring to know we think the amp has enough power.
Ive never felt great about the Audioquest Type 4s and I have a feeling they are choking the sound.
"The speakers are set up "pretty" good now, but ill work on the tilt and toe a little more.
The room is large at 16x16."

I don't know if you have the owners manual, but you need to follow the formula Vandersteen gives you to set the back tilt. Also, since your room is fairly small, and is close to being a cube, you're going to have to try different placements, and will probably end up being different than where your SL-2's were. Vandersteens don't need to be too far apart, like most other speakers do. Start off by putting them 6 feet apart, from inside edge to inside edge. One thing that you will have to watch closely is how far away your listening chair is from the rear wall. When you use the formula, your listening chair has to be a certain distance from the speakers, in order for the speakers to work properly. You don't want your head up against the rear wall, and that may require you to move the speakers closer to the front wall. You'll have to experiment some, but always make sure your listening chair is at the distance the formula gives you. Leave that as a fixed variable.

Looking at your cable situation, its much more important that you biwire the speakers with 2 completely separate runs of cable. No internal biwire. The good thing is that you don't need to use really expensive cables. It might be a good idea to go to Best Buy and pick up a spool of Audioquest bulk cable and cut 2 pairs at whatever length you need. For the time being, it should work fine.

Overall, I think your overall strategy will have to be getting the speakers placed properly. Your SL-2's are much easier to place in a smaller room, so expect to put a little time in experimenting. Also keep in mind, the Vandersteen's are much more revealing than the Martin Logan's. Especially in the high frequencies. Do all of your setup work with the contour’s set flat. When you feel like you've done the best job you can setting the speakers up, then make some small adjustment if you really need to.
You might want to turn the back contour controls from far right to far left a few times. They might just be dirty and be in a "null" point. Also make sure they aren't turned all the way down.
The D240 has plenty of muscle. Match with ARC preamp. PT
Very different speakers!
I have owned the 3's and placement is more critical than any speaker that I've experienced. The only way I could get them to sound ok was when I would tilt them back between 60 and 45 degrees. So I don't think the problem is the amp or the cables.
"02-04-15: Plasmatech
The D240 has plenty of muscle."

They sound very good too. I've always felt the whole D series was very under rated. Its a great sounding, all around amp.
Lightening. Could the problem possibly be the Vandersteens? I've listened to the 3's and every version of the model 2,Ci, Ce, Sgnature, etc. Both these vandy,s the 2 and the 3's have some common problems. That is lacking in mid range resolution and dynamics. Not that they are bad, just other speakers at that price point that are better. I have heard these problems at various Vandersteen dealers with various equipment so I think it might be more than coincidental. Just an opinion.
Thanks All!
Good replies.
I have read very good things, here and a few other sites about the d240, and when I auditiioned it, I was very pleased, so it very well could be the placement--I just find it hard to believe this much resolution could be affected by toe and tilt, but stranger things have happened in my world....lol
I also understand about finicky placement/set up as I was using Martin Logans before this, so even if the speakers weren't set up perfectly, I feel they should image and reproduce better than they are currently.
I remember the first time I listened to Vandersteen 3s and it was Pink Floyd Dark Side of The Moon.
I heard background sounds for the first time I didnt know were in the recording.
Its pretty much what got me into our hobby...lol
Plasmatech. Im using and ARC LS3b in Direct mode connected to the amp with Transparent XLRs.
So, I will play with the set up over the next few days and post the results.
If anybody has any thoughts, please do not hesitate to chime in.
"I just find it hard to believe this much resolution could be affected by toe and tilt, but stranger things have happened in my world....lol"

Its more of a timing issue than resolution. Once you get your speakers set up a little better, play some music while sitting in your listening chair, and then stand up. Notice how much the sound changes when you do this. You'll see right away as to what I'm talking about.
(((mode connected to the amp with Transparent XLRs.)))
Transparent cables are on the darker side.
I would insert any decent Audioquest interconnect in there ASAP!! JohnnyR
I had some custom Mogami XLRs made up a while back, so Ill swap those tonight.
Wlutke, I dont have 18yrs...lol
Zd542, I get it. Ill tweak it some more, I just feel there is a bigger issue at hand here.
Even when I was trying to squeeze the last little bit out of my Martin Logans with placement, I could still hear the potential and I'm not getting that with the Vandersteens.
I wish I had a different speaker cable.
I have a ton of CAT6 left over from a project I just did, maybe ill try one of those TNT DIY projects and see what happens.
ltngstrucktwice -

I feel so old! My point was the 3A (and probably the previous 3 if that is what you have) is neither dynamic nor airy and has soft, slow bass. It's pleasant and nonabrasive. The presentation will not bring the band into your room. It will take your seat and place it mid hall at the venue. And they work much, much better in a large room than a small one. I'm not trying to be Mr Buzzkill. They are what they are. Good luck.
I forgot to mention this in my last post. But do you have your 3's on stands? That's very important.
Wlutke/
Anyone with an 8 ft wide room using a full range speaker
will have, in your words slow bass.
The reason for this is you would be 12 db up with your bass in room response with your speakers positioned in the corners loading the room.
This is easily fixed by high passing the speakers without a sub.
pop a Vandersteen x 2 in the system and start at the lowest settings and work up until the desired result is achieved.
These speakers can sound as fast as you want them.
The Audio quest interconnects/Speaker wire will be better choice for the rest and as Zd542 say stands and proper laser tilt back is important.
Best JohnnyR
PS
Sound Anchors with all 3 spikes properly adjusted side to side level and tilt back is vital rip off any heavy wall padding and go to diffusion as well at the first side wall reflection.
wlutke, you nailed it! That's exactly how it sounds/feels.
I need the musicians in the room...lol
Speakers are on factory sound anchor stands, 2' off back wall and 3-1/2' off sidewalls.
I got home late last night so no audio play time. I'll spend a few hours on Saturday.
I truly appreciate all the feedback!
Thanks all for the suggestions.
I've come to the conclusion the Vandersteens are not for me/my system.
Time to start looking for another pair of MLs.
Again, thanks for replies.
Good move! I had them years ago and could never get them to sing!
They are 23 years old....
and you wouldn't take a clue anyway.
Before you give up on the Vandersteens, call Richard at the factory. He's very approachable, and will want to make it right for you. You've got little to loose, but a phone call.
Audioconnection, I swapped out the Transparent MusicLink for the Mogami 2534 w/Neutrik XLRs this afternoon, and the sound has improved.
Good call on the Transparent cables.
They were the first XLRs ive owned (bought them here) and didnt realize they were as you say, "a little on the dark side".
Nice move,
If you want them neutral and able to show off their capability hit them with a pair of AQ Red River XLRs
You wont believe what happens.
JohnnyR
"The Vandersteens only seem to come alive if the volume is high, and that is why I was curious about the amp."

That's not necessarily true. It could be something else, like your amp.