Vandersteen 5a Carbons

I wanted to ask if the 5a Carbons are a steep up from the Martian Logan Summit X speakers.
I'm very familiar with both. It's always subjective, however I've often heard the Carbons beat the crap out of the 50k plus speakers when set up properly. They shine vs the competition. There is still competition in this price range and many outstanding choices. The Vandy's are transparent and very very fast in the midst especially. They are seamless in their approach too with a coherency that most panel folks love to hear. They go VERY VERY deep. Most people's rooms can't even handle deep bass properly, but if they can, then this speaker will give it to you in spade AND tunefully. They convey the pace and rhythm that folks talk about. They are musical as long as you feed them that great signal that I'm sure you would.
They are really quite different animals. If you like the electrostat "clarity" and the imaging characteristic of bipolar panels you will probably prefer the Summit X. The Vandies will play louder, go deeper (and better) in the bass and have a better high end; they are almost certainly a better overall speaker.
I spent months positioning my Avalon Eidolons. I invited close friends who had an audio industry aquaintence visiting to a casual dinner. He moved my speakers a few inches out and closer together. The results were simply amazing.

It became clear to me that until one knows what things are supposed to sound like things can be a real crap shoot in this hobby. Its not golden ears its experience. Factor in subjectivity and personal taste and well...

I can now say with confidence that I can hear speakers whose time and phase design is weak. Vandersteen is a standout in this area as well as offering adjustable full range bass performance. I think his dealer network are all trained in setup procedures.

I can't speak to panels other than to say the big Sound Labs and the all Sanders system have impressed me.

Have fun

Very interesting post Ctsonner, Sorry to disagree, the Vandersteen Carbons still sound like someone threw a blanket over the top end. If you like brass instruments to sound lifeless then yes these are the greatest speakers in the world.

Yes Vandys are improving but their basic sound hasn't changed much, big, unfocused images, overblown mid bass, and a shelved top end. Haven't you ever wondered why not a single reviewer uses Vandersteens as their personal reference?

The Vandys are a good speaker but they are hardly the end all, they have a sound and numerous flaws, if you like them great, but I feel your comments are out of kilter to the reality of the product.

Now I am not saying there are bad $50k speakers, that sound like speakers, but Vandys have a lot of trade offs.

Personally I would take a pair of Vivid G2 over any Vandys including the 7's. As per transparency that has never been a word associated with Vandy's musical yes, transparent no.

For $30k there are a lot of other speakers I would consider.

And if you are wondering I have heard them many,many, times as shows and at peoples houses.

So for this gentleman's question I would recommend you go out and hear a pair and also hear the Kef Blades, Vivid loudspeakers, perhaps the Rockports, and see which way your ear leans, you might also want to listen to the Wilsons and Magicos too.
Audiotroy, a dealer disclaimer/reference to any speaker brands you do sell is appropriate when discounting another brand.
your statement : Yes Vandys are improving but their basic sound hasn't changed much, big, unfocused images, overblown mid bass, and a shelved top end. Haven't you ever wondered why not a single reviewer uses Vandersteens as their personal reference?

complete crap
Audiotroy. you know you really want to like them
Let me guess from your response you work at another audio dealer
who can't get vandersteen and you are just defending your turf by throwing
the name under the bus. I laughed Mao
JohnnyR Vandersteen dealer.
I believe Anthony Cordesman (Absolute Sound) uses a pair of 5 Carbons as one of his references.
Troy, let's get into this if you want to so badly. First off please let us at least know what dealership you work for. That would be the best start. I'm not a dealer. I've been in and around this hobby since I was 9 (1969). Got to meet Mr Klipsch and he showed off his corner horns with Crown and Phase Linear amps and I was hooked. Bought my first system with my Bar Mitzvah money and haven't looked back. I'm not a big buy and sell guy.
I decided two years ago to finally get what I wanted, but I also needed to sell off all my old gear. I have sold much of it and it amounted to over 4 full HI END systems.

I have been going to live events since I was a baby. I know what live music sounds like and for me most of the 'high end' gear doesn't sound live at all.

I won't be disrespectful like you were. I won't be putting down others products like you did. When I started my quest for a new system, I decided that I would go to stores all over the country and abroad when I was there to hear what is really out there. I wanted to hear all the major brands as well as the smaller companies. I decided to give everyone a fair level playing field from what I have heard of their products in the past. I originally felt that I would just get the upgraded speakers from the company who's speakers I've been using for many many years, however I didn't love the way the sounded. As I've been posing on here for years, most products are tilted to the high end too forward for me. That excitement that folks talk about is just distortion and it's not what you hear at a live event. It's like buying a new TV and they have the brightness turned up in the story and folks talk about what a vivid pic it is. Well, go calibrate it and you'll see that movie mode is much better for MOST folks.

I have to ask you HOW you heard the Vandys that you talk about hearing. Did you hear the 5A's that this poster was asking about? If so, what was the gear and what was the room like? How many folks were in the room? I don't know about you, but I can't hear a product properly in a room full of people. Thats why shows aren't the best place to listen. You are rarely in the sweet spot and when it's first order and phase coherent like any Vandy, you need to be in the sweet spot..Any dealer will share that with you before you purchase. How long did you audition? Did you go back and hear them again? I know I have never heard a Wilson sound good in the past and they were set up correctly. I have heard them over the years in stores and friends houses and they were always a bit bright for me. I recently heard a few pair and they sounded nothing like what I've heard in the past. I could live with them, however I then went home and heard my Treo's and they were more musical. The bass didn't go as low, but I was toe tapping again. I listen to music not the components. I want the components to get out of the system and the Vandy's I've heard do that. They don't have a high end sound, but most high end sound is just tweeted up treble and you can look at so many speakers measurement in the mags over the years and it proves my point. The Vandy's are all flat. If you really have heard the 5's set up properly with the right equipment and haven't felt like you were sitting in the Blue Note listening to Dr John's fingers clicking the key's are hearing Candy Dulfer's hot sax then you aren't being fair and honest. I know a bunch of guys and gals who have totally different hearing than I do and they don't own Vandys's, but when they've heard them set up properly, they realize how HONEST they are and why folks do love them.

I've heard all the speakers you mentioned and yes, there are some excellent choices there. Are they in his price range? Possibly.

Do you live near NJ Troy? If so, let's set up a meeting at Audio Connection. I'd love to hear what you aren't hearing. Wet blanket? Really? Come one now man, that's just wrong. There is a reason that you don't find many of the high end Vandy line used ;)....

Oh yea, your reviewer comment I found intriguing. Do you know that Vandy's use a high pass filter because he allows you to control the bass? Bass is the most difficult thing to control in any room and speakers with subs allow you to control it for setting them up easily. Reviewers can't use a speaker that needs a high pass when they review. That's about as basic as it gets I would think. I personally know of a distributor of a high end speaker line who uses the Vandy 5CT's in his own home for his personal use. THAT to me is telling. Also, I wonder why reviewers who review his speakers over the years seem to love them. Are they everyone's cup of tea? No speaker is and they don't pretend to be anything other than what they are. Open, fast, flat, no smearing, sound staging, imaging reproducers of what they are fed.

Tubes are great with them. I think I may have posted above, but I recently heard the 5's with the AR Ref 75's and AR ref pre with AQ cables and AR Ref CD and WOW....they just sounded right. Everyone who was there went NUTS over them and these were Maggie owners, Vandy owners, Proac owners and the list goes on. Seriously Troy, what store do you work at as I'd love to meet you and have you demo for me. I'd give everything you demo a level playing field and I'd even be willing to make a nice post on this thread.

I hope the OP goes and listens (you should anyways) and comes back and shares his thoughts.
Troy why can't yo show your face? Where have you gone? Hit and run?
Troy, just admit that you HAVEN'T heard the Vandy line in ages. Popping your head in the door at an event doesn't count.

Not one thing you wrote about the Vandy line is true. Not even close no matter WHO'S ears you are using. Not everyone will like them nor should they. The fact is that many folks FEEL that boosted highs are proper or hi fi. They have been sold and told this for years and years. It shows well in the store, but not in the long run in the home. That's where it all counts. There are always trade offs in speakers. That's the reality we face, but to say the things you have said is just WRONG and you owe this board an apology don't you think? Do posts like yours really help you sell gear?

I'll be shocked if Troy shows his head around this thread. lol....Glad to see many enjoying their sound.
I'm glad this thread took the anti-Vandersteen to task. His comments are totally wrong. I have 5A's, am a professional musician and chose them for their truth in musical reproduction.
String, I have thought the same thing. I know a TON of musicians who have Vandy's from the 1's to the 7's. You can live with them and sing along. If you feed them a top signal you will get everything you paid for. I also find it funny that when you speak to folks who love music more than the components (I love both), they gravitate towards the Vandy's...I've seen it time and time again when folks listen to the other brands when I'm at my dealer. I think the ears want what the ears want, lol.
The design and features of the top Vandersteen models are fantastic; they are very adjustable and livable (but heavy) like the hybrid Martin Logans. At their price, the 5As are less compromised than the Summits. Short sound but they are coherent and dynamic and more engaging. As a feature-driven, total package question, could be any easy call, but with $30k my mind can't help but wander. Considering sound only, the 5A Carbons have real competition at that price point.
I agree with you Oglala. There are so many choices for 30K. That said, I've heard the Vandy 5CT sound nearly as good as ANY speaker I've ever heard with all AR ref gear and top of the line AQ cabling at Audio Connection when Richard was there visiting. It was one of those days where the stars aligned and the sound was near perfect on all genres. Many felt the 5's were besting the 7's that were playing in the other room. Personally, it hit home as I've always said that too many audiophiles like everything to sound dynamic and 'detailed'. The 5's were rocking for sure, but the 7's were just layer after layer of detail and micro/macro dynamics. Much closer to live for my tastes. That said, the 5's were doing the same, but it was a lot of complex music and all digital that was being thrown their way and they just resolved everything as fast as they needed to. I was captivated and so were the others there. I spoke with many guy who didn't really like Vandy's until that day. There were owners of Verity, Wilson, Rockports, Proac, B&W, Legacy, Focal, Thiel, Dynaudio and a few others that I forget. Everyone one of them was in shock and said they were doing to come back and audition the 5CT's as they were floored by the sound even at that 30k price point.

To me it's telling that someone gets the Vandy's at first glance in a not so perfect listening environment. Personally, I need to listen in the sweet spot for any audition and I need MY music and components that I"m comfortable with. in a room that I know. The fact that often Vandys and ML's are compared is interesting. I always tell folks that the carbon midrange/tweeters that Richard uses in his top speakers SOUND as fast as panels/ribbons. There is no smearing in the way he designs his speakers and that's so huge I think. If you have a chance you can go to his site and see how he builds his cabinets and speakers. I know that it costs him more to make his speakers than most of his competition. You truly are getting a lot for your money, however to me the only thing that counts is how things sound. Again, he's not the only one who makes great speakers by any means, but I do feel that from the Treo on up his speakers are best buys and should be on anyone's audition list as they don't sound like they used to sound. He's really taken them to new heights I feel. JMHO
Yeah, I've heard vandersteens a number of times including Richard vandersteen's tour of dealers, which was cool of him to do. They do a good job marketing and putting the speakers out there. Relatively easy to audition, in America at least.
Heard the Vandy 5C during his tour, it was pretty good, but it was not the end all for me at that price point. I can see why some people might like them but for me, at least, it was good but not at the top of my list.
Joey, that's why there are so many choices out there. What are the top three in that range that you like?
Sonus faber Stradivari, BW 800 diamond.
I've heard the Summits, very nice but to be honest I've never listened to a ML speaker that I would choose over a Vandersteen with proper amplification and source, in other words, all thing being equally ideal. Haven't heard the Vandy line lately but living with a pair for many years and hearing numerous models at shows and particularly dealers over the years I feel pretty certain things haven't changed YMMV.
Thanks everybody for your response. I did end up purchasing the 5A Carbons.
Russb, congrats. I hope that you love them the way the rest of we Vandy owners do. Will the dealer be setting them up for you?
Yes he will do a set up this Saturday.
Awesome...Very happy for you.
To those of you that said there is a lot of competition at that price point can you give some examples of speakers that compare?
For me, Vandersteen 5aCT's are the best I've heard at this price point. I've listened to most of the speakers mentioned in this thread along with nearly every other company out there from Legacy to Clearwave to Salk to Focal, Thiel, Eggleston, SF (new and older company), Proacs, B&W, Meridian, Linn, Aerial, NOLA, AN, Harbeth, Avalon, Rockport, Magico, Wilson, Dynaudio, many other smaller companies and nearly any mainline companies. I just like the coherency, clean open and musical song it makes. No smearing and it's fast, natural and most importantly to me it's flat without being boring. It gives you what the producer puts down.

Others have said they found some problems with them, but I honestly don't feel they have heard them in the proper setting (shows just don't count).
I spent the day yesterday with the Tidal dealer in the US. GREAT guy and what a nice system he had. We spoke and listened for hours. He works hard to get accolades at shows and he's earned many, but it still isn't what you hear in your home or even in a store. I give a ton of credit to the poster in this thread who said he didn't like part of what he heard, but it was a show and I bet he goes to a local show room to listen properly to give them a legit shot.
Obviously every speaker has fans or they would be sold.
I have owned Vandy 3's and 5's as well as their subs. I guess every speaker has its fan base. I talked to Richard several times and believe he is one of audio's all time greats. The speaker or the room it's housed in to me are the most important part of the audio chain, then everything must fall in behind it. So a speaker can only kill another one in the same room under the same conditions, each using the amp that it was voiced with in order for it to be a fair fight. The Vandy's are fantastic if your ears say they are the best then go for it, at that price I try to be damn sure I like it. i no longer own Vandy's, I still go to dealers to listen to them, to my ears the Rockports ( I heard them at Andy's home in Maine) set up properly are fantastic as well as some other brands, including king Sound, Merlin, Raidho, Vapor, etc. you can't go wrong with any of them, show conditions are not optimal I've hear the new Vandy's sound great then not so great. Once you have a great speaker design the hard work is building a system and a room that make it sound great!
My thing is space-robbing panels (Sound Labs, Analysis Audio) have a lot strengths, a greatly reduced down side and come in to their own at that budget.
Guys, I just read the last few posts. Never owned Vandies, but a couple of years ago, I spent some time socializing with Treos at a dealer. The dealer had taken in trade an ARC VS-115 amp, which happened to have been the same model amp I was using at the time. I was underwhelmed.

Having said all that, I'm not so sure now that the fault was the Vandies, the amp, the cabling or any other system component. Instead, the problem may have been the room.

I'm not going to repeat the schpiel (sp??) I already posted in the DEQX thread that is still active. But suffice to say, I bought the DEQX PreMATE which corrected a goodly amount of my speakers' time alignment deficiencies. Even still, I can't say in good faith that my Paradigm Sig. 8s (v3) are as time coherent as the Vandies. But my speakers are more time coherent as corrected do sound better.

All that said perhaps the most important correction effected by the DEQX was room correction. If I didn't see the room effects with my own eyes via mic and computer display and hear the corrections with my own ears ... in my sound room, using my gear ... I wouldn't have believed such improvements were possible.

So ... back to the Vandy posts above. Even if I stipulate that Vandies are the most time coherent and best sounding speakers ever made and are driven by the best electronics, I submit that if the room sucks, the sound will suck.

Trust me on this. In fact, call Mr. Vandy himself, John Rutan of Audio Connection, and ask him what one could expect by way of performance if the room sucks. Johnny R is a pretty straight shooter. I surmise he would say get the room in order or be prepared to trash a lot of dough.

Btw, in my case, the room distortions were not limited to 500 Hz and below. Point being, I am dubious that the low end equalizer correction features in the better Vandies would be able to address all of my room issues.


Thanks Bruce. I have this talk with Johnny on occasions too. Everyone knows that the room is as important as anything else. There are a lot of inexpensive corrections you can make to get a nice starting point.

I have had the Paradigm that you reference in my home before I bought the Treo's and it wasn't even close to my ear or my wife's. She has no clue what is what but she said she was happy I got the Treo's as they were much better than the 'other ones'. I have an old pair of Paradigm's with cube sub in my bedroom, so I like the company overall.
Bruce, the correction is bass only, but it allows you to be much more liberal in placement of the speakers in the room making it more friendly if you don't have a dedicated room like most folks.
Ctsooner ... the Paradigm S8s (v3) are very good speakers.

The Vandy dealer compared the Treos to the Paradigm Tributes. The Tributes ate the Vandy's lunch. But again, I'll be generous and open minded. I suspect the room was the culprit.

Equipment synergy and room effects are sooooo important. It's difficult to make generalizations.

In my case, I think the DEQX tamed my Sig 8s and crummy room. Perfect ... NO. Better ... YES.
Bruce, that's why they make all these models....we all hear differently. I know the whole Paradigm line very very well. That's one reason I own a pair, lol. For me, the Treo's ate the S8's (v3) lunch. I have heard the Tributes too and liked them very much, but for me they aren't the Treo's or Quatro's. I will say that they were in my top three speakers to purchase when I was ready to make a purchase.

I have heard a lot of room correction, including the DEQX. I have found that one to be one of, if not the best, however I like the Lyndorf one also. They rebadge it in the states under the Mac label. I have a similar program in Amarra that I'm going to fiddle with soon I think.

In the end, it's still all about starting with a good room and then purchasing a system and not components. I was open to anything on the market and I was an audio free agent (I had no dealer) so I shopped about 45 different dealers in my travels to figure out what I liked best.

When I looked as my favorite lines of speakers most were phase and time correct. The speakers I thought I was going to like the best, I didn't (I have owned a few lines since 69, and thought that I would start with those brands, however overtime I realized that I like other lines the stores carried better.

I found most speakers goosed a db or 2 in the top end and I can't sit and listen to them for hours. To me that's not 'open' or 'detailed', it's just annoying. Again, that's me. That's one reason I liked the S8's too. I also listened for the speakers that show the differences of a cable when you switch them out. Hopefully you didn't take my comments as badmouthing the Paradigms.

Bruce, the other thing that just came to mind is how a speaker is auditioned in a show room. I take control of the remote as many dealers will personally like one speaker over another. It's often about markups and money. It should be to an extent, however I have had dealers goose the volume a spec during a song etc.. to 'show how dynamic they sound'....we know that's not right, but I've been in very high end boutiques and caught them doing it.

That's why listening and educating yourself is so important. You can tell by many folks posts if they do that, however we all know that too many just buy on what some of us say and they don't use their own ears or don't trust their ears. I say, just go listen and if you don't hear a difference in a product, then it's not for you. Just because it sounds different, doesn't mean it sounds right.
Ctsooner, I will have to find my way to Johnny R's shop. He is an ARC dealer and knows more Vandies than Richard (sic). As I said above, I suspect that I didn't hear the Treos at their best.

Other speakers on my radar screen are Magico S-5s. They are phase coherent but not time coherent. That's where the DEQX does its thing.

And even with the best Vandies, they may be perfectly time coherent, but they will sound like crap in a crummy room.

Will need to talk to Johnny R.

Just had retinal surgery. This exercise will have to wait for a bit. Also, my next tweak may be upgrading my ARC Ref 150 to the SE. It's a process.
Bruce, you can fix much of that room pretty easily and inexpensively. A few plants, some wall hangings of the right material and some diffusing in the rear. Do you have walls or ceiling that vibrates with various modes?

I spoke with a friend who also uses and likes DEQX. I think that's what the Lyndorf/Mac uses and if so, I was impressed with it. Johnny had the 5aCT's running on the Ref 75's and it was about the best I've ever heard them. It was during Richards last visit and I stayed after everyone left. They ROCKED. I have no idea what what going on, but the room was on fire. We just wanted to stay and listen to everything he had recorded, but they had to go eat. That's the day I said that I had to get the Quatro's. Some felt the 5's were sounding better than the 7's, but NO WAY. That's when I realized that so many don't fully get what they are listening to. The 7's were even more dynamic, but ONLY when the producer wanted them to be. I really feel that many folks just aren't aware of how great sound sounds. Not sure if that comes out right, but you just listened to the 7's, the 5's and even the Treo's and stopped thinking about what you were hearing. That's when it becomes great sound.
Good luck with your recovery. Let me know via PM or email when you head over to AC and I'll see if I can drive down from CT.
Thanks CT. I generally recall that AC's listening rooms are pretty carefully set up. My listening room/basement is disaster.
Yea, John doesn't spend a lot of money and I think he even plugs things straight into the wall for the most part. Hardly even pushed special ac cables. He uses things that you find in a regular room for the most part. I promise you that if anyone can make your room sound better without breaking the bank it's Johnny. I have been into so many high end stores in the last two years and very few are set up well. I don't understand it either. Most of the rooms seem dead which is strange because a hotter system usually sells even though it will give many fatigue over the long haul. Kind of like folks buying the brightest tv at Best Buy.