Vandersteen 5As...first impressions

They and I arrived home Saturday nite, I got them running Sunday, and got them positioned Monday.

My 5As are about 3 years old and were the 1st pair painted a color–Porsche Arctic Silver--different than black, my dealer tells me.

I put them in about the same positions previously occupied by the Avantis, installed carriage screws (instead of spikes) so the heavy boxes would be easier to move, and leveled them. They’re toed in somewhat...10 degrees?...but intersect WAY behind me.

I used a pinknoise generator and third-octave RTA to adjust the bass-system equalization; that went fairly quickly. Still evident are the combined-bass-nodes peak at 28Hz and the broad notch centered around 80Hz, but they’re certainly lower in level. Speakercable is 4 feet of inexpensive AQ Rocket88, one of their two-bundles ‘flatrock’-type cable. I unzipped the 2 halves for most of the length and counter-spiraled some Neotec OCC-in-Teflon conductors around the 2--18g. Copper for the LF cable and 23g. Silver for the HF.

The systems have about 40 hours on them, and these are my first impressions.

Overall, these are the best-sounding speakersystems I’ve every heard. The sound is relaxed, natural, coherent top to bottom, etc. In the MOST-important midrange (MR), they are highly transparent, more so than my highly improved Avanti IIIs--and MR was the Avantis’ best area. The treble is smooth--that is, NOT course or rough sounding--clean and extended. I can now listen to my brighter-balanced recordings at higher-overall levels because the treble is no longer slightly unattractive. The transition from treble to MR...or MR to upperbass or upperbass to lowerbass, for that seamless as far as I can tell. Instruments with fundamentals in the lower-MR to upperbass such as cellos and bassfiddles sound like one instrument instead of two. Acoustic bass that’s well recorded, with some air around the instrument, etc., sounds excellent; one can hear the harmonics from the strings and the warm sound of a hollow wooden chamber resonating. (1)

The transition from upperbass to lowerbass is also not apparent to me. The bass from the powered woofer is tight, authoritative, and goes down about forever. The sounds of particularly-low-tuned orchestral bassdrums are reproduced with so much information that one can hear the initial impact and immediate fundamental and then the wave as it resonates thru the hall. (2)

Imaging and soundstaging are both as good as I’ve ever heard, even with my barely tweaked positioning. The speakers are as dynamic as I’ll ever need, and my 160-into-8 Monarchy SE-160s drive them effortlessly.

I agree with others that the closeness of amplifier-heatsink fins prevents the use of typical audiofool powercords, but Pangea 14s fit finely and fairly tightly on the inlet prongs, so I’ve ordered a long-enough pair.

WOW what magnificent sound. More later.

BTW, anyone who wants pics of the rather-busy crossovers should e-mail me at jeffreybehr(at)cox(dot)net.

(1) For excellent-sounding acoustic bass, try Opus 3's ‘Knud Jorgensen Jazz Trio’, CD #CD 8401, recorded very naturally with, I believe, a single figure-8 stereo mic. GREAT music too.
(2) My favorite recording of Holst’s ‘The Planets’ is Adrian Boult’s latest, LP #ASD 3649 and CD 0777 7 64748 2 3. ‘Uranus’ contains that bassdrum strike at 2+ minutes in.
Among the top three "reasonably priced" loudspeakers I have had the pleasure of hearing. Enjoy!
Saw your pics on AA. Very nice looking 5A's. Enjoy!!!
Did they replace your AudioPhysics on your posted system?
What's the most music you're listening?
I've heard them doing great with orchestra and symphony but did not like them playing instrumental, rock and fusion.
TY Dodgealum and Samhar for your good wishes.

Marakanetz, yes, they did. I listen almost exclusively to big-orchestra Classical and film music plus some Classical small-group music, mostly piano and cello...and Diana Krall. They sound superb on small-group music, never making the instrument bigger than life.

I never listen to rock and fusion. I imagine the 5As are a little too 'relaxed' sounding for music that's intended to be rather in-your-face.

BTW they have such great-sounding and extended bass, I no longer use the SuperSubs to reinforce the front-L/R channels. It's now used only for the '.1' channel of multichannel audio and video discs.
I agree, one of the best speakers I have heard period. I think they are in the same group as my top speakers:

Wilson Alexandria (of course, but they should be, right?)

Magnepan 20.1

Vandersteen 5a

MBL Radiastrasser

enjoy, great purchase!!
My Vandy 1C's sound wonderful in my system. I can only imagine how great your 5A's must sound. Musical nirvana, I assume. Congratulations on your new speakers. Happy Listening.
One of the best speakers available at any price.

Truly a great speaker, congrats!
Great purchase. Congrats.

I just want to add that it looks like you bought a used pair. You might want to check the date on the batteries in both the external and the internal crossovers. If you are not sure how old the batteries are, replace them. Vandy 5 is very sensitive to battery. If they aren't fresh, it won't sound its best.
TY, all, VM. As I listen more, I increasingly appreciate their excellence.

I intend to very carefully improve parts in the x-over. I understand V'steen matches drivers to each other and to crossover parts, so I'll have to be very careful to match values. I'm astounded the speakers sound as excellent as they do with such medium-quality parts--WIMA 'propylenes!--in them.
Jeffrey, I wouldn't touch the crossover if I were you. IMHO, randomly replacing parts isn't a sound engineering method. I am sure Richard Vandersteen knows much more about his speaker design than you or I do.
I love it when somebody who's invested so much time and money gets the reward.

Congrats on a great speaker and better synergy.
After having my 5A's for about nine months, they still bring a smile to my face -- they continue to surprise me with all the things they do well!

Happy listening!
Sidssip, I won't be 'randomly' replacing anything in the crossovers, and I'm confident that RV know FAR more about crossover parts than I do. I also know, however, that the 5As, even at $17K/pair, and built to a price. Said another way, V'steen builds them with as good parts as he can and still price them at $17K and sell enough to be profitable and stay in business.

The Model 7 uses Dueland cast caps (plus another brand, IIRC), and they retail for $45K.

I'll be careful. :-)