Vandersteen has over 29 years of experience in Biz
the guy is a walking think tank with many performance features not found in 50,000 plus speakers. If they grow on you in a positive way perhaps they are the right choice.
They were it for me.
In my small opinion, there is only one choice for accuracy of harmonic structure and timbre and that is the design that is phase and time correct.
Vandersteen 5A: As with Thiel, you hear as accurately as possible the signal from the partnering amplifier, and that, to me, is the goal.
If you check Eggleston you will see that the step response clearly indicates that not all drivers are delivering the harmonic content in phase but that some components of what constitutes correct timbre are out of phase and with this will be creating critical cancellations, literally removing some of the music you have spent precious resources to capture. Why anyone would take this approach to investing in the so called high end is beyond me. But then my opinion is a small one.
Go with Vandersteen.
Ije, let your ears be your guide. There's so much more to speakers' performance than just looking at some specs or charts. Make your decision after hearing the Andras and Vans. The big question is "how will each sound in your room?".
As for the Andra IIs. I own them, so yes, I am probably biased, and to me, they sound as real as it gets. They are very musical, very dynamic, and will be as good as what you throw at them.
Good luck with your quest.
vandersteen may have 29 yrs of experience, but the andra-1
became one of the best sounding speakers on the market regardless of price in one stroke (of genius). then eggleston improved it by "30%" when offering the andra-2's- the reviewer in stereophile openly wondered if the even larger eggleston savoys were necessarily better, citing the fact that the andras were already full range, accurate, and musical. the vandy-5's with an active sub delivers more bass according to my friend who has heard both speakers- therefore they're probably more capable in absolute terms. but he still thinks my andras sound superb just the same. if the musical message is still your 1st priority the egg's are competitive with just about anything out there.
The Andra II was designed primarily by Albert Von Schweikert, who also has a few years in the biz. Both of these are excellent speakers, necessitating an audition to choose between them.
IMHO, your ears should make the decision. If it's a close race, then take into account the room tuning with the Vandersteens. They will make most (if not all) rooms work where as virtually every other speaker will be more compromised in setup options and resultant sounds. I'm sure both sound good, but when listening to them in different rooms and environments I'm fairly sure the Vandersteens will be more consistent and musical.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy whichever you buy!
The conclusion one could draw from the posts thus far is that both speakers have their supporters, with different rationales offered for their preference. The best advice is to do extensive listening tests with your favorite music in your own home with your own equipment and these speakers if at all possible. One thing that hasn't been mentioned that you are likely to find if you do the audition in your home is that the McCormack amp and the 5a's are a Very synergistic combination. If you can't listen in your home, take your amp with you and listen to the speakers through your amp at the dealer's. That will help you decide (it did for me--I bought the Vandy's).
You really do have to listen to both speakers. If they had somewhat of a similar sound then maybe it would be easier to weigh in with an opinion based on personal experience, build quality v.s. price, product support, etc. I have listened to both speakers and they are very, very different speakers and you will have to decide which sound you prefer.
Interesting comments. Auditioning these speakers in my own setting is out of the question but I have briefly listened to the 5A in a dealer setting but not really critically. I definitely need to spend more time with it. I think I can get it connected to a DNA 225 possibly.
On the Andra, I hope to audition it when I do make a brief stop at a friend's place out of state where he has paired the Andra 2 with a DNA 500. He raves about the synergy between the two. I will make sure to take some program material.
Thank you for all for the comments. It appears that both speakers are very highly regarded. The Vandersteen possibly being a bit more forgiving in setup.
I might be able to land a sweet deal on the Andra 2 that I wont be able to match on the 5A. On the other hand, it appears the Vandersteen holds its value very well since they seldom show up on A'gon. How about the Andra 2?
On sound quality, a lot of A'goners say Vandersteens are laid back, what kind of sound should I expect from the Andra 2?
I am acutely aware also of the heft of the Andra's at 250lbs. Scary to say the least. Might need a winch on hand to manhandle the beast!
Please keep the comments coming because I want to get this right. All comments appreciated.
It is tough to beat the 5A. It will definitley work in more room applications. The Andra 2 is a nice speaker, but I sold it to move to the 5A. I have no regrets, the Andras were much more difficult to drive. I had a 200 watt tube amp, and honestly felt they either needed a big VTL ( maybe the 450) or solid state. If you are not planning a venture in to tubes, the Andra may be a nice choice. The Vandersteen is also supposed to be a nice match with Mccormack.
Anyone use the 5A with the grills off? I find the 'moving blanket' cloth surrounding the drivers to be kind of cheesy. Can you replace it with a more attractive alternative? Thanks to anyone who might know.
Evita - the 5A was designed to be used with the speaker grille installed. The cloth face on the speaker is an integral part of the design. Vandersteen told me he chose every single component of the speaker with great care and deliberateness. I would not make the type of changes to my 5As that you are contemplating.
Thanks for the response, Rex.
Re: The 5A sounding laid back. I don't know the Andra, but I've auditioned the 5A's extensively and offer (FWIW) just two observations:
Unlike the passive Vandy's, I find that the 5As are less sweet and somewhat more analytical sounding speakers. However, unlike most speakers fitting that description, the 5A doesn't sound harder as the volume increases. In fact, for dynamic impact, I've found they sound better at SPLs significantly higher than my usual listening volume.
The bass tuning capabilities are amazing. Most systems of this type have left me lukewarm at best. I've heard the 5A in three different systems (Optimal Enchantment, Brooks Berdan, and at a friend's home) and, in each case, bass response was as good as I've heard and significantly better than my Verity P/E in any of the three rooms in which I've had them.
Overall, I think the 5As are very fine, unusually versatile speakers with superb bass that sound best when played LOUD. However, I don't think I'm impressed enough to replace my Vertiy P/Es.
I'm a bit puzzled by the narrowness of this thread: why Vandersteen vs. Eggleston? I'm not particularly a Vandersteen lover, but lots of people are. I own a pair of Andra II's and truly love them, but one major reason for my purchase is that they are designed to go within 18" of the front wall, which is critical for me. If that were not the case, I have been blown away by Dalis, delighted by Sonus Fabers, and awed by Avalons. You can't go wrong with the Egglestons (and again I really love them), but I'd listen around a bit. And on the subject of power, the A IIs, unlike the Andras, were redesigned to be much more efficient, and although I use a pair of Mac 501s, I doubt that they ever put out 125 watts a channel on the loudest music.
Ije, any update on your decision?
I am looking at the Andra's as well, have a DNA 500 and SWL so your findings are of interest to me.
I have a comment and a question for those who have heard both speakers. Years ago I listened to the original Vandersteen 5s and liked them very much; however, both by itself and when compared to the original Eggleston Andra, with which I was very familiar, the soundstage height of the Vandersteen was low, not much higher than the top of the speaker; by contrast, the Andra's height was tall and natural. Is this still the case with the newer versions?
HI Vladimir, the image height is adjustable using washers and the footer cones. My 5As image higher than that. It's very natural. The manual gives directions on this and is very accurate.
I think the fact you are posting this question AFTER listening to the Vandies says something. Go listen to your buddies Andra's. If when you turn on your system at home you cannot forget what you heard at your friends the decision is made. IMHO. Good Luck!