I have a stereo pair of 2Wq subs in tandem with my 3A Sig's. I've been very pleased with them -- not just for HT, but also for 2-channel audio.
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I had a pair of 2Cis for 12 years in a 2 channel system located in a large living room with a cathedral ceiling. I listen to a lot of jazz and the bass was incredibly good - I never considered I needed subs to extend or fill the low end in. The base response measured below 30 hz at 3 db down. The 3s are an improvement on the bottom end so I'm sure they would have performed even better.
If I was trying to combine a HT with my 2 channel, I suspect I would have wanted a more floor shaking kick for movies, and the 2WQ subs would have definitely been the way to go.
Assuming you are considered an upgrade to a 2 channel, I suggest that you consider investing first in the best source and front end you can afford before adding subs.
I have no interest in HT, only 2-channel acoustic music (jazz, folk, classical). I own the Vandersteen 3A Sigs with VPI TT, ARC CD3, CAT SL1 Ultimate, and Pass Aleph 2 Monoblocks. I was curious as to whether the (2)2Wq would improve the overall sound, as well as the bass. Some postings suggests that the Pass Aleph 2 are a bit lacking a bass slam. I thought the 2Wqs with their 300 Watt Amps would make up for this perceived lack of bass slam - but would they introduce other problems: additional wire, filters, integration etc. Frankly my system sounds good to me, but it is hard to know what you might be missing till you hear a system that has better performance for comparison. I would be interested in any ideas for improving the system as a whole, including the "front end" -but I suspect this is not my problem area, but I'm interested in other opinions.
I agree that your front end is not an issue and especially like the CD3 as a CDP. One of my friends has the 3A/2Wq combination and in his listening room the bass did not sound nearly as good as the 2Cis without subs did in my room. The room can make such a big difference!
I am currenly blessed with the 5As and the subs have made a huge positive difference in my listening experience. They are so well integrated that you never "hear" them and recogize them as subs. The bass is extended,natural and present at all listening levels. I can turn the volume down and still "feel" the music. The bass in jazz has much more realism and richness - you can better hear the notes and harmonics, not just the pulse of the string.
If you have good bass performance currently in your room, you can probably improve it measurably with the 2Wqs and I would highly recommend it. If not, you might want to explore room measurements and reconfigurations first. More information on your room would help.
The room is 30' Long x 14' Wide. The walls are irregular shaped solid stone. The floor is carpeted concrete. THe ceiling is exposed wood beams (about 9'). The speakers are 10' from back wall, 3 1.2" from side walls, and 9 feet from listening position. I think I have followed most of the recommended practices for avoid major positionj problems. I like to have the main speakers as far out from the rear wall for best imaging and apparent depth.
What electronics are you using with the 5As? I heard them at the dealer with ARC REF2 and some solid state amp (Plinius?). They sounded excellent. It does raise the issue of buying 2Wqs now, or save for a year or two forthe 5As. Word of mouth has it there is a 10% imprvment over the 3a + 2Wq combo for over twice the price, but of course in sector of diminishing who would not pursue that extra 10% - frankly, 10% better sounds like alot of improvement at this level.
Your room and setup sounds ideal and not too different from my own. My room is 18W by 30L by 11H (with cathedral ceilings). I too have positioned the speakers out from the back wall and listen in the near field.
The advantages of the 5As over the 3ASigs/2Wqs are many:
Better mid driver, and better cones.
Total seamless integration of speakers and subs.
A 400 watt amp with plenty of reserve.
Fully adjustable in 10 bands to flatten response.
Adjustable level and Q.
Less total furniture and a better looking speaker (WAF).
A cross-over that unloads the amp and thus cleans up the highs.
I don't know about your 10%, but this combination can't be beat at this price in my opinion.
I am using an ARC CD3, an ARC LS 25 MKII, and an ARC VT 100 MKIII. There seems to be a great synergy with ARC and Vandersteen 5As, and I am running all balanced. Without going into too much detail, I have good image height, width and depth, good separation and definition within the image, no apparent digital grain or harshness, and a roundness to the vocals. I have auditioned both the 5s and 5As in the same room with the same electronics and the 5As are a distinctly obvious improvement on both the top and bottom.
All that being said, the 3ASig/2Wq combination is very good and very reasonably priced, and would raise your current performance. You could go this route with the 5As in your future and have little trouble turning that equipment over later via AGON.
Zargon, thanks for the input. The 5A path seems right. One thing I like about Vandesteen is he has a design philosphy that he can articulate (on speaker boxes, on subwoofer integration, on multiple drivers covering the same frequency. on time and phase etc). Not only articulate, but one that has been consistent for 20+ years. Also a reason I like CAT equipment.
It sounds as if the 5As have some type of equalization programming to improve the bass/room interface. In some of the material I have read, the argument for using of subwoofers on corners for best room/bass acoustical interface seemed to make sense (the ideal location for mids and highs is not the same as the best location for producing bass). Also the the idea that having the subwoofers in a separate box would improve the on the deleterious effects of low frequency interference with the mid range and tweeter - I assume that some of the additional cost of the 5As is dealing with implementing a mechanical engineering solution to this problem.
The strength of those principles suggests that much of what went into the 5As (besides better drivers? crossovers? and fine cabinetry?)are electrical and mechanical solutions to inherent problems resulting from all the drivers being in one box. It sounds as if Richard succeeded admirably while producing a speaker aesthetically better suited for most rooms. I would think if the 5As sound better that the 3A/2w approach it would be due to better parts and tolerances, as "natural" principles seem to favor the use of dual separate subwoofers as a solution to some typical speaker design problems and compromises.
While I agree that the location for best imaging and the location for best bass are in geneneral not the same, in my room they are not very far apart and the controls on the 5A easily corrected for the difference. (Only the bottom two bands were adjusted slightly for flat performance.)
The additional controls on the 5A sub seem to overcome the advantage of physical separation as in the 2Wq. There may be problematic rooms where this is not the case and separating the subs might help, but I would imagine additional solutions would be needed as well.
Since Vandersteen has designed both separate subs and integrated subs I suspect he fully appreciates the pros and cons. I find the 5A subs to be the best integrated and best sounding subs I have ever heard. They disappear along with the speakers leaving a naturally distributed sound stage. So for me they work very well indeed.
4yanx, sorry for misleading you. I was comparing the virtues of separate versus integrated subs. The 5A subs cannot be improved on IMO.
Pubul57, the search never stops! (:-)
My next step is addressing power and conditioning. I am currently running 2 Richard Grey 400s in series, with the pre on the first and the CD on the second. The amp and subs are direct. Everything is driven off a single 15 amp circuit with nothing else on it. The 15 amp circuit is a very short run (15 ft.) to the main.
Frankly, I have virtually inaudible ambient speaker noise (even without the RGs), and such great performance that I can't imagine that I can improve on it. Is it possible that the all ARC, all balanced equipment is so well designed and so compatible that any power issues are accounted for?
However, based on AGON reviews and given the reasonably low cost, I can't see any down side to adding dedicated circuits. I would put 3-20 amp circuits in (1 for the amp and 1 for each sub), and 2-15 amp circuits in (1 for the pre and 1 for the CD).
Have you any experience in this area?
I had a 20 Amp Dedicated Circuit installed, but unfortunatley it was done at the same time I brought in the CAT and ARC CD3 - so of course it sounded better than before. I asked ARC about power conditioners and I get the impression they use Richard Grey for shows. I would imagine power requirements at shows are not great given the day time hours and the electrical use in typical hotels. My take on dedicated circuits is they can't hurt. On Power conditoners it seems CAT and PASS both feel they provide no benefit, at least with there equipment and design approach. It is the typical reply I here when asking electrical engineering types. I think when the equipment is well engineered, when the components work synergistically, when the room acoustics, speaker position, and seating position have been optimized, that some of these "tweaks" might make a difference - if not just on an emotional level.
Do I see a REF 2 calling?
This is what I did. I have a set of 3A sig I did add a sub and ran a set of Transparent ultra XL and a set of $125.00 jumpers. The sound was very nice but I got a wild hair and bought a set of Transparent ref XL cables. I put the ultra XL on the lower and the Ref XL on the upper. Beleve me the speakers can and do put out bass as low as my sup did with this set up I have pulled my sup. The speakers with this type of cable set up does not need a sup. The sub now just gets in the way.I did not expect the vandersteens could go down as low as they do.