Vandersteen 5a. How refined a product are they

Im interested in this speaker and went to hear them at a dealers yesterday and they sounded only adequte. They seemed to disappear quite well for a large speaker and dynamics were incredible. They had the detail for sure, But lacked (dear I say- Magic!) I was wondering if there are any Vandy 5a owners who have been able to make peace with this speaker. It definitely Plays at louder levels without strain and thanks to the built in powered subwoofer, (12 inch bass drivers) I would be able to drive it With my moderately powered tube amps which otherwise would have some difficulty with a speaker with the 5a' s size and capabilities. I would greatly appreciate any info including some of the associated equipment which you 5a owners are using. Thanks
Vandersteen is Stereophile favorite. Big advertisers though. I have no doubt PSB or especially any B&W will out perform them.

Or, the dipole designs will even out perfrom those. That is, electrostatic; planer/ribbon; or especially dynamic driver open baffle, which provide the best of both of those worlds or

But only if 'true to the orginal' is your goal. They just frustrate the 'connoiseurs of coloration' who use their system to achieve some 'sound' each advoate seeks to their individual taste. They claim it is subjective, and explains the total lack of consensus among them about just about anything.

I believe transparency is a for them because when they hear the sonic characteristics of a given recording that is less than adequate they leap to attempting to moderate the anomoly with their system.

Of course having been conditioned by the magazine reviewer's philosophy who attribe sonic characterics (described in eloquent and even poetic terms by the way --which seems an odd way to discuss distortion) more to components, cables and tweaks, especially the mfgrs that advertise with them, than they do the actual source material.

That is, the system gets used as though it were a mixer, in a futile attempt to 'improve' the music. But only accomplishes a kind of sameness with all recordings. It would be easier, and lot less expensive, to hang a blanket over the speakers, or put cotton in your ears.

Of course then the debate would be over the many fabrics availble that could be used, and their specific acoustic qualities, and who likes which one better. Recommendations would continue to flourish (I kid them :-)

The the 'other', though not the popular, approach intrigues you check out for truth, and an abundance of knowledge on all things audio. Even papers on various theories by experts in the fiel, at the LINKS link.

BTW, in the MUSIC link you will find tested and proven to be sonically superior, well produced and engineered, reference quality CD's: in a variety of musical genres. I have several of them. And have even burned a professional 'copy-equal-to-original' compilation of the recommended tracks.

A couple hours worth in a row. Wow. Sometimes I just play them to recalibrte my hearing, which is continually corrupted by other media.
Give me a break. Vandersteen hardly advertises and when they do it is a very small ad. I don't know where you get off with saying they are any magazines favorite either. Stereophile has never given (Vandersteen)them a great review let alone accurate. Also, the Vandersteen 5A's are a very accurate speaker and use design engineering that is very valid in the course of reproducing music, time and phase correct. Very few speakers test or sound as ACCURATE as the 5A's. You might want to move up the audio food chain when discussing a speaker to compete with the 5a's.
FWIW, I agree completely with Bigtee's comments. The first post in this thread regarding Vandersteen is inaccurate and misleading, and is apparently written by someone who has not listened extensively to the Vandy 5A. The 5A is one of the most refined, full-range speakers on the market, and there are only a couple of speakers that compete with it in the $15k price range. Richard Vandersteen has some of the best ears in the high-end speaker industry, and he holds patents on several of the driver designs that he uses.

The lack of "magic" that you note may be due to several factors:
1. less than optimal setup by the dealer (the 5A's are quite sensitive to room placement, and the subwoofer must be tuned to the listening room);
2. less than ideal front-end electronics (the 5A's are very revealing of upstream components and recordings);
3. the 5A's (and the 3A Signatures as well) do not tend to "grab you by the throat" the way some speaker designs do, but virtue of being very balanced and musical. Some high-end speaker designs have added treble or upper mid-range emphasis, which may be initially appealing but is not satisfying in the long run.

While I'd agree that PSB and B&W also make fine speakers, PSB does not make a single model that can compete with the 5A's, and the only B&W model that will challenge the 5A's is the "801" (which is more expensive than the 5A).

All of this, of course, matters not a damn unless the 5A's sound good to YOUR ears. I'd suggest, however, that before you make a decision to reject the 5A's, you should audition them at another dealership, and take your own music selections with you. The 5A is truly a world-class speaker that competes very well in the $15k - $25k range, when driven by high quality tube or solid state electronics.
"the 5A's (and the 3A Signatures as well) do not tend to "grab you by the throat" the way some speaker designs do"

Which is part of the reason they are such great speakers. Overly bright speakers grab you at the store but, fail to satisfy after you get them home and try to listen for hours. With the 5As hours of musical enjoyment pass and you still want more. They do require more setup expertise then most other speakers, however. Not because they are finicky but, you will find that wherever you set the controls at first they will require a second setup after about 200 hours and possibly a third adjustment at about 300 hours. A good Vandersteen dealer knows this and should offer to come to your house and set them up for you and let you know that he will be back to fine tune them after they are broken in. There is a possibility that your dealer's speakers weren't yet broken in. Also, it shouldn't be done by ear. He should have proper tools for the setup.
One of the best speakers I ever heard was the 5a set up in LA, One of the worst speakers I ever heard was the 5a set up in Minnesota. Set up and system matching is critical with these and all other speakers for that matter
Can you tell us more about the partnering equipment and setup?
Heck, I've heard the 5A sound like absolute magic, and then sound like absolute crap in the same room. Same equipment, too. The difference? The dealer had to move them farther back to make room for other equipment. They still sounded pretty good, but they blew my mind in their first position. It was the single most convincing reproduction of music that I had ever heard.
first poster obviously has not heard the 5 or 5a,or at least spent any time with them.sounds like an axe to grind.refer to second poster for objective and more accurate info.
5a is an awesome speaker, hopefully it was the setup. At this price level a home audition is mandatory though.

Didac....calibrate your hearing? That's a new one to me.
Thanks for the feedback. I do think the 5a could have been set up better and they were certainly very resolved w/ deep articulate bass and obviously will be very revealing of assoc. equipt.. I have a VAC 220 sig. Amp (4-kt88 per mono chassis) ,First Sound pres del Mk. 2 linestage, Aestetix Io mk. 2 phono, AA capitole 2 digital, Basis 2500, GRaham 2.2, Koetsu RSP cart, Koetsu standard red Cart. Kubala sosna emotion cabling and a 23L - 12 W- 8 high room. I did hear them at 2002 CES with the Tenor 75 and it was much better than my recent audition and the fact that they can be driven with fairly lower power is great because I would then have so many options for amplification. A home audition with this speaker just isnt happening. Thanks
What a didactical oxymoron. Vandersteen 5as are great speakers, better than the previous 5s and especially so at the price. As I am sure others have, I have listened to great speakers badly setup by dealers (in fact one of them was a Vandersteen 5 in Texas years ago) but that just mean the dealer isn't very good.
Your pen name shows an admirable degree of self awareness.
The just-released issue of "The Audiophile Perfectionist" (Richard Hardesty's quarterly audio publication) contains a lengthy review of the both the technology and the sound quality of the Vandersteen 5A. Hardesty was the first audio store owner to carry Vandersteen speakers, and is arguably the most knowledgeable person about them, other than Richard V. himself. If you can borrow a copy of the new issue, there is a wealth of info about the Vandy 5A.
No need to borrow a copy of the Audio Perfectionist to read Hardesty's article. It's posted on the Vandersteen website. I guess Richard Vandersteen liked it too.
I listened to the Vandersteen 5A at a dealer's store in San Diego. I was most impressed with this speaker. In all respects it had the "magic" for me. BAT electronics were used with a VPI TNT/Transfig Spirit front end. The Decca, Mercury, and RCA recordings that I brought along all sounded wonderful. One other thing to note is that the speaker can be upgraded when the time comes. Time and phase correct speakers offer a revelation in listening if you have never heard them. After hearing other speakers in the 14K-25K price range (including the much talked about Kharma) I purchased the 5As.
Just a lone reviewer from The Absolute Sound, but it covers the same ground as Richard Hardesty's piece in his "The Audio Perfectionist (which accepts no advertising whatsoever).