Vandersteen 3A sigs, whats wrong here.

I recently purchased a Pair of 3Asigs here on Audiogon.
The problem is they dont seem to have much bass at all.
I have tried many different room placements. They are being feed by ARC VTM100MKII, ARC LS25MKII, ARC CD3MKII. Also with Kember 8HTC true Bi-wire cables, And a variety of IC's including transparent and Cardas Gold reference. Tried single ended as well as Balanced. So the front end gear should be ok, but no matter what I do there is weak bass. I also prefer to listen at lower levels, however regardless of volume it is always week. Any ideas, please help.
Hold you fingers gently on the woofers to make sure they are moving when music is playing.
Check the Treble and Mid-Range Controls on the back If these are set to +dB positions it will be accentuate these areas . The Bass will seem weak .

These speakers will produce decent Bass when Set-Up correct .
Yes, I did check the speakers and they are all working. As well as the level controls on the x-over. To test the rest of my gear I hooked up an older pair of Polk LS9 floor standing speakers and they had more bass. You can tell that the 3's will go deeper. But at a much lower level compared to everything else that is coming out of them??
I am still confused...
did you mean Kimber 8TC?

They have a very lean bass in my experience

for instance AZ Satori has much more of a warm balance

my two cents based on these wires in one system...
I had them years ago.They are a hard speaker to set up.Try tilting them back.You can raise the front with some books till you get them sounding correct. Hope this works out.
The Vandersteens are not a lean sounding speaker, actually they err on the warm side. The Kimber 8TC is a good match for the Vandersteens, perhaps they are a touch lean but that's not a bad thing for the Vandersteens. Positioning is important, use the guidelines in the owners manual. I see from your System photos you had your previous speakers close to the wall, while that might emphasize bass that is not the best location for Vandersteens. Ideally they will be at least 2 feet from the rear wall, more is better. Setting up the tilt of the speaker is detailed in the manual, but has no effect on bass. The tilt gets the upper frequencies just right for your listening distance and ear height. I would suggest checking all of your conncetions to make sure you don't have the woofers out of phase with each other, i.e., the connection of one speaker is the reverse of the other. That will kill the bass. Having done all that I would play bass heavy music and walk around the room listening to the bass level. You may find your room has a lot of bass nodes where cancellation or reinforcement are taking place. Speaker and listening seat placement may have to be adjusted to make sure you are not sitting at one of those nodes. Good luck!
Second Pmotz' generous reply. Even a seasoned user can get phase reversed accidentally :o( and much more important, positioning and room characteristics have a huge effect on bass.

One approach is to use monophonic source material with a lot of bass content. Turn the balance control all the way to one side. Place that speaker vis-à-vis the rear wall for best bass output. Then center the balance and place the other speaker for imaging. Yes mono for imaging: the sound should be centered.

The process takes a while; apologies if I'm telling you what you already know.
reposition the speakers closer to the walls.
Are there really speaker cables out there that are so bad that they could possibly cause a speaker -- one that is well known to have excellent bass -- to sound like it has "not much bass at all"? That's a sad state of affairs, if true.

I vote for a phase issue. With 10 connectors, it would be easy to accidentally swap a pair.
certainly the out of phase issue should be looked at.


I just mentioned the wire because I do think 8TC is a bit lean and if a few other factors like setup and one other lean component (if applicable) could sway the sound to be thin and lightweight.

I have found system matching to be critical and balance can sometimes be difficult.

my two cents...
Alot of great answers above, if one of these do not answer your question, its possible a speaker problem. To put this all together, Start easy, check your speaker wires at the amp and the speakers, + to +, - to -. Next, temporarily move your speakers closer to the walls/corners, see if this brings out the bottom, next, you might want to slightly back your mid and treble controls down a hair on the back of the speakers.
My guess is as mentioned you are dealing with room nodes. You might want to do something like measure the room and use something like the "Golden Triangle" formula by Cardas for imaging. Placing speakers by its measurements do help get rid of room nodes. I suspect that you have gotten used to a bit of bass boost by your other speakers being closer to the walls. You can use the Golden Triangle, then if not enough bass, start moving your speakers, by a couple inches at a time toward the corners until bass reinforcement is where you want it, then adjust your tow in accordingly. I hope all of this helps. Tim
Hi, sounds like speakers, are out of phase, that's the most reasonble explanation, just check your wiring carefully, those speakers have no problem going down 25hz:

"Start easy, check your speaker wires at the amp and the speakers, + to +, - to -. "

But if your preamp inverts the polarity, you'll want to connect + to -, and - to +.
Could it be you are just used to hearing fat ported bass and the bass alignment in the Vandersteen with the passive radiator sounds comparatively lean? It's easy to find that fat sound appealing. It may also take some time to get used to the difference.

I can make large changes in my setup with a set of ASC tube traps. You might try experimenting.
I would match high quality/powerful solid state or hybrid amp to drive them towers.
Hi, I once bought a pair of Reference 3A speakers and after a few weeks of driving my self nuts trying to get some bass out of them, someone suggested that I check the internal wiring. I opened them up and found that one speaker had been wired incorrectly at the factory and was out of phase with the other speaker.
once I reversed the wires on that one speaker the bass came back and I was a happy camper!
Just a thought, Tish
I agree it may be a phase issue. Maybe the original owner messed with the drivers and mis-wired the woofer on one speaker...if changing wires at the speaker terminals doesn't net a root cause. You could ask the person you purchased them from if he did any experimentation or repairs.

Also, you could purchase a RS SPL meter and a test tone disk and test to see how they measure. Don't forget to add in the corrective values to your findings to get an accurate indication of the measurements.

Good luck in you discovery,
Richard Vandersteen is still around. You can contact him and describe the symptoms. May be an easy problem such as swapping out bass drivers if there's defective one.
Ok just sell the damn things. You are not happy now so what could change that?
Use a test CD to do a phase test. I use a Rives Audio test CD 2. You could always just raise the cover sock on both and put some heavy kettle drums and place your finger to see if the woofer pushes out or in as others suggested. If one pushes in reverse the woofer wiring. I keep a cheap integrated amp just as a system isolation tool. The woofer coils could also be overheated as it is used. The 3a is not as efficient and may need more power amp.