I have not upgraded my Vandersteen 5's, but did compare the 5's with the 5A's before purchasing the 5A's. I cannot tell you if it's worth $5,000 to you, but the 5A's are definitely better speakers. They have a better total balance and more resolution, without sounding bright or analytical. FYI, I have compared my Vandersteens side-by-side with Audio Physic Avanti III's and the Vandersteens have greater resolution and pass more information, they just don't sound as bright.
I don't know how difficult it is to swap out the midrange, tweeter and bass module. I think it just takes simple soldering skills... but for $5,000 make your dealer do it! If something did go wrong (highly unlikely), at least he would be responsible.
Hi, I've had mine upgraded and it's worth it. This is not a field upgrade. Vandersteen will not send out kits at this time. Call the factory for details.
mikej:what increase in performance did you notice,and what components do you use to drive these?also is this a 2 channel music only system and if so what do you listen to?thanks for your in-put.bill.
My understanding is that Vandersteen originally planned to offer the upgrade as a field kit, but found that the process was too difficult to do in the field.
Apparently some of the replacement drivers have different mounting geometry, so new mounting holes must be precision-drilled in the head, and the old holes must be filled and sealed. The consequences of mis-drilling the holes would be catastrophic (ruined head), so apparently Vandersteen decided to make the upgrade factory-only.
As to whether it's worth the money - only you can decide that. I made my purchase after the 5A had been introduced. I auditioned the 5 back-to-back with the 5A, and chose the 5A. The 5 is a great speaker, the 5A is substantially improved. Quite substantially improved.
I do suggest that if you don't already have pretty much the best-of-the-best in electronics, the upgrade probably won't be worth it to you. If you do have great electronics, it probably will be worth it to you.
I have owned both- I upgraded my 5's to 5A.
The first thing that struck me when I got the 5A's from the factory was- they retrieve more low level detail- that, for me, was the most signifigant improvement. They do everything slightly better though, but low level details is what I noticed most.
For the record, I use for gear:
Linn LP12 /Ekos/Arkiv/Lingo/Cirkus
AudioQuest LeoPard tonearm cable
Aesthetix IO, dual volume control
AusioQuest Cheetah interconnect
AudioQuest Volcano speaker cable
thanks for all feedback.still hard to decide if another 5700.00 is worth it.i will would have 11,500.00 invested at this point and there are some exceptional spkrs avail. for 5700.00.a tough decision.did any get to keep the components that were replaced?thanks again.
The upgrade is more than worth the cost. I was amazed when I got them and they worked in. The sound is at least 40% better IMHO. As for the parts, what would you do with them?
mikej.i would take the sub amps and build two sub-woofers just for fun,as i have other systems to play with.how long was your turn around time.thanks.
The power supply is the only change in the sub amp. You'd have to build the rest of the amplifier to do that... Probably not worth it IMHO. Just buy a pair of V2Ws or a digital Velodyne.
The difference in the new, stock price between the 5's and 5a's is $3,300 according to the Vandy site. If the upgrade cost is $5,000-$5,700 (exclusive of any shipping cost), as I read here, it would seem a bit steep if the components are all modular and replace easily. Wonder why the price difference, or am I missing something?
There were a couple of versions of the Model 5 - it has changed over its life. The variation in price on the upgrade is due to the change in price of the Model 5 - when it first came out it was around $9500/pr, IIRC. Part of the cost of the upgrade is some physical modification work that must be done to the Model 5. The older the speaker the cheaper it was to purchase, and the more work needs to be done to it to bring it up to Model 5A specs. Thus the additional cost.
That's the way it was explained to me, anyway.
Thanks, Rex, that makes more sense to me.
I upgraded from 5's to 5A's and found the differnce to be tremendous--well worth the cost (I had early versions of the 5's so it was over $5K for the upgrade). From top to bottom, it's a significant improvement. The 5A's offer much better detail, with noticably lower distortion and less listening fatigue. At first it seemed as though the 5A's were less bright, but you soon figure out there is no differnce in brightness, just lower distortion in the upper midrange and high-end (richard told me the distortion has essentially been reduced 50% in the 5A). I agree with Will, that the bottom-end is more extended and defined, but for my money/taste, the improvement in the midrange and high-end is the most pleasing aspect of the upgrade. I also had the speakers refinished to high gloss for another $1000 while at the Vandersteen factory, and the improvement in cosmetics is well worth the price to me (mine were standard walnut, not too great looking before the finish upgrade). I plan on keeping these speakers for a long time.
One note, although the 5A's were noticeably improved when I got them unpacked and set-up, they do improve significantly once fully broken-in. Richard tells me it takes 200 hours to fully break-in the new drivers.
My asociated equipment:
Levinson #380S Preamp (w/ PS Audio Radian Power Cable)
Levinson #360S Processor (w/ PS Audio Radian Power Cable)
Levinson #37 CD Transport
Levinson #335 Amp (w/ PS Audio Ultimate Lab Cable)
PS Audio P300 Power Plant (on source components, with PS X-Stream Plus Power Cable)
Transparent Ultra Balanced Interconnects
Transparent Ultra BiCable Speaker Cable
PS Audio Power Ports and 20 Amp Circuit