They are called the Quattro, not the Model 4. The number 4 is considered bad luck in some parts of the world. Google Vandersteen Quattro. Many reviews.
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There was actually a Model 4 at one time. No, I don't believe it would be a step up from 3A Signatures.
Mofi- there actually was a Model 4 and a 4a, a predecessor to the Model 5. It was kind of like a Model 3 w 2, 12" (powered, I think) sub-woofers built-in. You see them here maybe once every 5 years or so. I've never heard them, but I almost bought a pair on a whim a few years ago. They are BIG and HEAVY, IIRC. Looked like a Model 3 on steroids.
I used to own the model 4A (see pic on this link):
It was the biggest Vandys in the 90s, 5-way, tri-wireable, with an external active crossover.
See more info on it here:
Its sound is similar to the old Vandy design - balanced, if a little reticent. I bi-wired them with Transcendent Sound SC-150 on top and a pair of Odyssey Stratos at the bottom.
They sounded neutral for all kinds of music but not as dynamic as the new Vandy models.
I finally sold them because they were too big even for my great room. You will need a big room for them to sound good.
I owned Vandersteen model 4, they were excellent for that time, probably around 1984. They had twin 12" sub woofers per cabinet that faced each other (isobaric push-pull design).
The bass frequencies emanated from slots at the base of the cabinet which was mostly black grill cloth. Mine came with steel spikes that raised the bottom platform the appropriate distance from the floor for maximum coupling.
These required and came with an outboard crossover that divided the subs from upper frequencies. I bought a second factory crossover and ran them as dual mono for more control.
Back then I choose Counterpoint SA4 mono block OTL for the highs and modified (mono) twin Quad current dumping amps for the subs. These speakers would rattle the room, particularly if you ran the gain on the bass a touch high. They were tremendously fun to listen to and I still have fond memories of them.
If they had a flaw it was in the upper midrange and high frequency at somewhat high volume, a bit more distortion than ideal but that was a LONG time ago. The speaker was great for it's time and I would still take it over Vandy 3A due to bass advantage of the 4.
Wonder what it would sound like today with a better phono cartridge and all the improvements in interconnect and speaker wire?
Thanks for all your responses - I have to admit i was a bit surprised to find it was so difficult to find much info on these speakers..it seems they have become the "lost Vandersteens".. Anyway, I chose to stick with my 3A Sigs, (although I was interested to hear the difference, mainly the bass extension) - however, the speakers didn't have the outboard crossovers (and I haven't got anything that would suit), making any advantage of the 12" subs a mute point. Once again, thanks to all.
The 4A is truly an excellent speaker and stands up well today with a good front end. They were a bit fiddly - triwired and biamped with a separate crossover (or two) and some people aren't into anything but plug and play, but they are definitely worth the trouble to set up well.
I run them in my main system with a good vinyl front end.
Think of the Vandie 5 as a better looking simpler to implement update of the 4 with a few more years of thought on Richard's part.
Just got a pair of Vandersteen Model 4's. Removed the bottom and top end caps and replaced them with custom made caps made from ebony macassar wood.They now have a Sonus Faber look, well sort of. I have 2 ARC classic 120's on top and a updated (Sept.20,2011),Eagle7A on the bottom. Looking for speaker wire. I prefer Audioquest but...
Interesting in that I heard Vinh's (Hi Vinh) and there was also a local audiophile in my area that had a pair. It was my introduction into the hi-end. His were in a VERY large great room and I would expect that this would be a minimum requirement. He drove them with Perreaux monoblock amps from New Zealand. While I certainly can't give specifics as this was more than 25 years ago I can say that the bass these speakers produced were most impressive to me at the time. This impression lasted and was apparent with each successive time I heard his system. I'm sure the size and irregular shape of his room helped. Shortly after that experience I ended up with a pair of 2C's. I believe they retailed for 4K back then. It seems to me that there were issues with this design unlike any of the other Vandersteen models. Maybe someone can fill in the details?
I can't speak for Richard Vandersteen but it seems pretty reasonable that when he brought out a new model and called it the Quatro, he was simply trying to avoid confusion with the original 4. After all, the new model fell in line between the 3A and 5A but was significantly different from the old 4 and 4As.
Also, isn't it just a little ethnocentric to say he was avoiding the use of "4" because it might be considered unlucky in some cultures? Quatro equals four, it is only a matter of translation. ;-)
Back to the OP and other comments here. I don't know what the recent 4/4As sold for but the Quatro has been out long enough that used ones appear. Also, I would say a used pair of original 5s could be found for a reasonable price and that would certainly be a step up from the 3A Signatures.
I've acquired a pair of Vandersteen 4's with the WX-4 "Electronic Bass Crossover". Could someone with experience with these please advise me on the wiring ?
There are 3 connections on the back of the speaker, "Tweeter and Mid-Range", "Mid-bass" and "Woofer", plus a switch that selects either full 'Full-Range' and 'Bi-Amp'.
The crossover has "R&L INPUT", "R&L HF OUT", and "R-STEREO-L LF OUT". There are holes for "R-MONO-L LF OUT" but they are blanked off.
My understanding is that the crossover inputs are fed from the power amp outputs, but since the WX-4 crossover only has RCA ins and outs, it gave me pause. It's kind of hard to mate RCA connectors with the mongo cables in use these days :>) I just want to make sure before applying power!
I spoke with Mr. Vandersteen about the 4's. The Full Range switch is there for testing purposes only, he says there is no internal crossover.
He also mentioned that some models of the WX-4 had dip switches to allow you to match the input impedance of the power amp. Otherwise the actual crossover point may not be the 80 Hz design value. My unit doesn't have these.
Unfortunately, the WX-4 doesn't seem to to be powering up. I need to check the fuses inside the WX-4, or maybe the power indicator LED is out.
I would like to try bi-amping these, I imagine they will sound fantastic.
He said that the woofers in these were made by Dynaco and replacements are not available, so be careful not to blow them!
Time to trouble-shoot the WX-4. To be continued ...
Own Vandy 4a's. Big difference between a 4 and a 4a, despite being cosmetically identical. The 4a was a bargain priced upgrade of all the drivers ($1800), ~1990. Big sonic differences, so don't waste your time with a 4; only get a 4a.
The 4a is the predecessor to the model 5. Retailed with crossover for $5200. Has the original open back midrange in the 3a signature. Two tweeters, one is a super tweeter that extends response to 40khz.
What sets the 4a apart from any Vandersteen speaker is the subwoofer section. It uses isobarics like the model 5 (dynaudio 30w100 and 30w54 12 inchers), but does not include on board amplification or crossover. This is what makes the speaker great and yet also a pain in the designer's derrier.
Great is that with the right wires (real VanDanHul Magnum), and the right sub amp (Electron Kinetics Eagle 2a or later) this speaker can really unload in the bass with a very clean sound that easily integrates with tube amps on top (top section is 8 ohm easy load.) Never heard 5s do that.
The pain is that only biamping with the perscribed wires and amps seems to have the extra magic. A single amp is a joke. Even Krell lacks something on the subs. Only Eagle 2a+ on subs, not 7's which are not even close in the bass. Eagle 400s, bridged 2s, offer awesome power, but the threat of erasing speaker magnets by buzzing an rca and the doubled noise floor from bridging make it a questionable selection.
What makes the sub section driven correctly so fine versus the model 5?:
1. Dynaudio 12 inch sub drivers are smoking good and no longer sold to general public or manufacturers for new designs. If sold today those drivers would cost over $2000 for the 4.
2. Line level crossover. A pain as it requires more interconnects versus the 5's speakerwire level slave sub, but the very clever may bypass the top section and shrink their coupling caps in their upper amps to achieve the first order roll off. Removes some connections in signal path and allows cheap upgrade of amp caps since their value is greatly reduced to achieve 80hz crossover point. In theory this is a noise/sound floor upgrade over the slave setup where the input to the sub is from another amplifier rather than the preamp directly. One can try to replace the WX4 with a superior unit.
3. Eagle 2a and above have superlative bass and were optimized for even order distortion by the iconoclast designer John Iverson. They really integrate well with the upper section for a fine gestalt and excellent concert hall balance.
What holds back a 4a?:
1. Superior tweeters now available.
2. Slightly older driver versions, but 8" midwoofer may also be Dynaudio!
3. No esoteric crossover parts or battery bias, etc. Quality parts carefully chosen, but not boutique!
4. Can't touch cabinet on a 5a, though they have an interesting nude look, especially if one removes the support rods for the oak top.
5. 3a sig with a couple subs gives a good fight with far superior ultra low bass, but the 4a integrates better and makes it to 24 hz.
The 4a done right should have subtle noise/sound floor advantages over its successors. They can be had for around $1000 these days and Eagle amp and vanden hul wires might be as cheap as $500, but just as scarce as the speakers themselves.
The statement about doubling the noise floor with eagle 400s in my previous update is completely wrong. It will lower the noise floor by about 8 db according to specs:
Now, I'd like to try some 400s. Recapped my current Eagle 2a with blackgates and put in IXYS hexfred diode bridge. Also squeezed in 280,000 uF of capacitance. All of these helped the sound/noise floor of the system a lot. Bridged 400s would be very interesting. Also recapped WX4, but limited blackgate, but did put in Schokty type diodes which was major change. Also upgraded ICs in WX4.
Following this now. bdp24. Yes. I did the work myself. A definite no no for those not familiar with a soldering iron. I only use mine as a sub. If that is the case for you, then don't upgrade.
The one project that is not terrible on this amp would be upgrading the bridge rectifier as it is mounted on the chassis between big caps and transformer. The IXYS was very nice and $25 or so. A user could also replace the large capacitors too, but their is no guaranteed sonic upgrade, but these computer grade caps are becoming scarce so snap some up. The vintage blackgates that would work are crazy, crazy money and custom install and less capacitance. Not worth it.
tomic601, 3A sig is very good, but 4 ohm speaker. I like tubes a lot so never seriously looked at them when upgrading from 2ce. The Vandersteen 4a comes with 4 spikes in the best. A MAJOR tweek for the 4a is to remove the back two spikes and put one small cone in the back. With the two front spikes you can still level, etc but the cone provides much more stable mating to floor. The 4a is twice as deep as a 3. Not aware of Sound anchors.
Upon consultation with experts, well in fact bridged amps do make the noise floor worse as originally stated. So STRONGLY do not recommend Eagle 400s for Vandy 4a. The improvement with diodes, ICs, and blackgates were substantially audible and improved the overall sound floor quite remarkably. Schottky diodes in the crossover made the system sound almost like it was driven only with tube amps (currently use 300b and 6b4g push pull amps for triamping 4a). Bridged amps would be a step in the wrong direction since they would worsten the noise floor. With any of these sub powered systems with active crossovers, sound floor/noise floor is weakened due to additional amplification stages and crossover electronics. Despite claims that noise floor (sound floor) is less important in the bass, these upgrades have shown me that it does matter greatly.
Just seeing this fascinating string, years after the last post. For some reason I thought I was the only one who knew about the Vandersteen 4's...apparently not.
I bought a used pair of 4s in 1987 or so. They were $3K used at that time (arrived on a semi-trailer; shipping cost $600 from west coast). It was love at first sight. To this day I've never heard anything equal them, not that I tried too hard. My audio jones went into deep remission after we moved to a new house in 1990.
Anyway, I had them biamped with an RM-9 100wpc tube amp on mids/uppers; and a 200wpc SS amp on the subs (started w/a modded Adcom, ended up w/a Perreaux). I thought the sound was spectacular. I had no problem at all hearing what 1st order crossovers can do. The dynamics were explosive, but friendly to the ear somehow. There was real impact, especially in the low registers (those 2 subs shook the house)--but it somehow didn't feel like I was getting pummeled by Gitmo interrogators, the way some high-power speaker systems can feel.
* Not long after, I had Modjeski modify his amp so that each of the 8 EL-34s (or KT66s/KT88s--I had them all) could be stitched to triode operation (vs std. pentode). The effect was astounding...still the best sound I've ever heard from an amp. And the 4s just faithfully transmitted all that tube wonderfulness...
I remember once having an orchestral recording on (VPI TT/Grado moving iron cartridge, a good one). It was pretty loud. A quiet passage came, and the percussionist struck a triangle. It was insanely lifelike, thrilling. I bet nobody ever went as crazy for a 1-note triangle solo as I did--and it was all because those speakers tripped my audio pleasure circuits so.
I still have them (all my gear from those day). Haven't unpacked them in 27 years. I'd be afraid to actually power the 4's now. I'll bet the surrounds are gone.
I remember talking with Richard Vandersteen circa 1989, and he was offering to mod the midrange (take out stock midrange and replace w/newer module he'd developed). I now realize he was talking about at least partially updating my 4's to 4A's, though I'm not sure he was even using that model designation yet.
LOVED those speakers!
The subwoofer section in particular is made of one Dynaaudio 30w100 coupled with a 30w54. Surround kits abound for these irreplaceable drivers, but rubbing or burnt out coils are trouble. The rest of the drivers would basically be upgrades from Vandersteen at this point. The tweeters might be problematic as the Vandersteen 4a is 5-way design with two tweeters compared to the 4-way Vandersteen 5s with one tweeter.
I've actually had to send a 4a into repair at Vandersteen and basically they have an inventory of drivers to match what is in your speaker; they have the actual measurements from your pair and will match as best they can. The expensive Dynaaudio subs he won't have; I'd be surprised if he was out of the tweeters, but I'm sure a better one could be done in the speaker by someone who knows speakers.
The problem with replacement drivers is often Richard won't have an exact match. With the 4a's if you modify them to tri-amp then you can overcome any matching issues via level controls and amp level controls. With the 4's design the level of the super tweeter and the the 8 inch mid-woofer are locked together if you only bi-amp.
Do not buy used Vandersteen 4's if you are trying to have the best example of these speakers. The 4a has all new drivers and was almost a $2000 upgrade back in the day; it would cost a fortune now to take a 4 to a 4a. 4's are fine cheap and kept as they are. The 4a with the right setup is a mighty speaker, but the cabinetry at best matches a stock model 5 for sound. The strength of the 4a is those Dynaudio 12" woofers which need real Van den hul Magnum and the right amplifier to rival or exceed the current models. At the time 4a's were 5% of Richard's sales, but 95% of his calls; the key is the subwoofer section and ancillaries. Richard with the model 5's built in amplification eliminated that support issue lol.