Vandersteen 7 Flagship at CES

The Vandy 7s were introduced at CES and seemed to have created quite a stir.

Vandersteen 7

Any of you hear these speakers and care to report? How do they sound compared to the 5As?
They were sublime. But as stated, they had all state of the art equipment around them, and Vandersteen had the only room that actually had acoustic treatment, and carefully done at that. Still, the 7's were world class, as good as anything that I have ever heard.

The only thing in the same league as far as striking, was the Magnepan demo of thier small speakers system. That was pretty amazing too, and they didn't have a stated $300k system around it. It was all Bryston gear, including discs instead of vinyl. Pretty impressive.
I own 5A's and have been very interested in the Vandy 7 sound as well. I wasn't at CES, but in case you have not seen these, here are a couple of links to the impressions of Robert Harley and Jonathan Valin from TAS. It does appear from the written reports from the various trade magazines that have surfaced so far, that the Vandy 7's are something special and as good as Macdadtexas stated. My dealer was there as well and said that Robert Harley's description of the sound is very accurate as to what he heard as well.
The Vandersteen 7s were very special indeed. When I heard them at CES, the room was full and not one person coughed, whispered, rustled paper, or left--let alone speak loudly to anyone. Folks were spellbound while listening to two tracks of a live Diana Krall LP--"I've Got You Under My Skin" and another I can't recall--but she certainly got under my skin. And, being mainly a classical listener and be-bop jazz enthusiast, I've never been so captivated by her recordings before. Granted, the associated gear was worldclass--Clearaudio's topline, jukebox-looking table and topclass Aesthetix preamp, phono, and Atlas monos.

The sound was different to my ear than the 5As, which were also grand last year--a great sense of space and separation with lovely detail presented with finesse.

In a way, the 7s seemed to me more coherent, presenting a more lifelike presence. But it wouldn't be quite fair to say with complete authority as I listened to different kinds of music (Mozart choral on the 5As), with different electronics (Joule/Electra monos with Aesthetix preamps) and a full year apart at that.

My 3 cents...
The Vandersteen 7 were very good at CES with a more open treble than I am used to hearing, and better bottom end control. They were vivid and dimensional. But at the price point there is a lot of competition. Would I buy them if I had the money.....tough call, a lot of good stuff near 50K.
I am a ribbon fan....
This demo would have been worth the trip to CES to me. The only speaker I'd like to hear more right now is the 5A upgraded with the full compliment of carbon fiber/balsa drivers to see how close it comes to that level of performance. It will be a while before I can hear (let alone afford)either one. Lucky thing the standard 5A is as good as it is. I envy those of you who got to experience these.
Make no mistake, I love Vandersteens and respect his ideas on proper reproduction of the waveform, but he is charging 45K here...

It uses the same 12" woofer system as the 5A's with a new carbon fiber/balsa wood mix for the midbass, mid and up. Asking him about it, he mentioned the flex that occurs with his previous cone materials that this new combo cures.The balsa (thats right balsawood) is both light/strong and adds damping to the CF and at the same time is rigid end to end where flex is bad for detail/transient. Somehow he found a way to lay the fibers down to maximize what he wanted to do with the CF.

It sounded fabulous of course (Clearaudio/Aesthetix) But he could have offered it on the 5 series since it uses the same compliment of drivers, size and all, alas-.

Still if you have the bucks and appreciate a master of technical knowhow on how to do it right, this is your speaker

The 5a costs $16,700 so a bit of 'carbon fiber/balsa wood mix' for the mid, mid bass and up adds an extra $28,300 to the new 7 model over the 5a?
Sorry, I just can't get excited over a pair of enclosed speakers that cost a wallet s....t....r....e....t....c....h....i....n....g $45,000!!!.
Hope to hear them at a show though one day not with the intention of buying, even if I could afford a pair.*
I am going to start a society for the 'keep it real and in check with reality' group.
Sound wise can they be really worth the huge price increase over the model 5a?

* they maybe the next best thing to sliced bread.
The 5A drivers and crossover can be upgraded to the new 7 drivers and new crossover. However, it must be done at the factory since the crossovers are individually tailored to the drivers via testing in an anachoic chamber. I have yet to hear the price.

Don't forget the crossovers are new and the cabinet is a complete remake over the 5A. Also, I understand there is a great deal of hand labor in turning the balsa and forming the cones for each driver. I'm not justifying the price, just pointing out that it is more than just a bit of 'carbon fiber/balsa wood mix'.

I am also looking forward to hearing the new drivers in a 5A! That will be a challenge, since it is unlikely that a dealer will do such a thing. It would have to be at a willing Audiogon members room.
I agree that the 7 sounded fab at the show. As to bemoaning the cost, Richard Vandersteen prices everything based upon the cost of constructing, and his multiplier is below the industry standard (consistent with the brand's value-oriented reputation). Accordingly, the cost of building the 7 is, quite simply, almost 3x the cost of producing the 5A. The cones themselves (before voice coils and the accompanying Scan Speak motors) cost enough to represent about $10K at retail. Based upon my discussion with Richard, any upgrade of the new drivers/crossover to the 5/5A will only be offered (when, I don't know) to original owners, and won't be cheap given the cost of the components to be upgraded. - Pete -
Zargon, I am sure there is more than my very simplistic synopsis view point of the 7 speaker.
Just another speaker to add to the 'got to listen to' list.
Will owners of the 5 go for the upgrade?
Would I go for the upgrade? Good question. It depends a lot on the price and what others say about the sound of the upgrade as I'm unlikely to hear these myself without owning them. I dread the idea of packing up my 5As and shipping them to California but I know it's been done by plenty for the 5 to 5A upgrade. Also, if the upgrade costs $15,000 or more and I could sell my 5As for $10,000-$12,000 it's getting close to the point where maybe spending the extra on the 7s is worth it for the carbon fiber cabinets and resale potential. For now, I'm just trying to remember that the 5A is still an awfully good speaker.
"Trying to remember?" Come on they ARE a great speaker that only Alzheimers could erase a memory of.....make no mistake you are a lucky man Sonofjim!
Richard has and always will be one of the most stand up guys in the business, armchair quaterbacking is great for someone who needs self vindication but to question his prices is a bit out of line. Talking to him makes it clear these cost alot to make, also how many months, years and man hours went into the research developement phase and how many units are in reality going to sell to make it worth the trouble with all that goes into tooling and creating a new statement product?
I just really think in this case its wrong to hear some's back handed remarks from this and other threads and forums. His history, track record and reputation is something only few others in this industry could aspire to even equal let alone surpass. Its very expensive but if anyone is going to try to price something as honest and realisitic as possible I am fully comfortable in saying that man is Richard Vandersteen.
Of course the 5a is a great speaker. I think I'm just trying to talk myself out of(or into?) going out and spending big bucks on the 7s. They are one of the more exciting products to come along in a while in my opinion. Sometimes this makes us forget to be thankful for what we already have. I agree with you, if any speaker would be worth that kind of money to me it would have to be one designed by Richard Vandersteen. He'd be one of the last guys to price a product unecessarily high.
There was no side by side obviously, and the 7's did sound fantastic, but... In my memory the best sound I have ever heard from a system included the 5a's at the local Vandy dealer, and they didn't have anywhere near the upstream gear that Vandersteen did at CES. That was the best I have ever heard a system, and it was with the 5a's. Great speakers.
Wow allot of good comments. I agree the price seems steep 3x the 5a's, but I have not herd them so I can not judge, yet. For me the look is much nicer than the 5a which I have now and never really cared for, that for me is a big part of it. I am still in sticker shock over the price for a vandersteen speaker. For the 5a the price point was good but as stated above there is allot of competition in the new price point. I hope they are worth it for me that may be a little to much and upgrading my 5’s is not an option since I don’t like the look that much I would sell them first take the cash but upgrading to the sevens in this market is to big of a jump. I look forward to reading all the reviews.
what did you think about Unified 3 or was it? the new smaller speaker from Vandersteen?
Programmergeek...just wondering if you have the standard finish on your 5A's, I have the Kawazinga finish, and everone that sees it thinks its gorgeous.
I just got black, figured it would alwas match and my dealers said it makes them look small which my wife liked. Didn't come in as nice as I had hoped wish I had something nicer. I also did the big center and sub and 4 sourounds so I wanted them all to match. Love the way they sound hate they way they look for the price. In fact they look totally unimpressive and any of my friends that come over have never had anything good to say about them in fact most even ask what they are since they look like big black lumps sitting there with no brand or anything that stands out.
Hi, I have the Vandersteen 5A, I heard the Vandersteen 7 at Optimal Enchantment and the Sound was just out of this world it was like you were at the recording session in the studio listening to the actual performers. I have know Randy Cooley for some time now and he has on show the Vandersteen 7 with the Audio Research Anniversary Edition Preamp going into Mono Blocks Audio Research. You really need to hear this setup to understand the pure excellence the mating of these too items. He also uses the Basis Turntable which I think is the best ever made bar none.. Jay Stambler
Hi, I have the Vandersteen 5A, I heard the Vandersteen 7 at Optimal Enchantment and the Sound was just out of this world it was like you were at the recording session in the studio listening to the actual performers. I have know Randy Cooley for some time now and he has on show the Vandersteen 7 with the Audio Research Anniversary Edition Preamp going into Mono Blocks Audio Research. You really need to hear this setup to understand the pure excellence the mating of these too items. He also uses the Basis Turntable which I think is the best ever made bar none.. Jay Stambler
Which ARC monoblocks?
Thanks, arahl
Randy's listening room and set ups are always exceptional, and I have listened to his successful mating of ARCs and Vandersteens for over 20 years. Looks like I need to plan a trip to Santa Monica soon.
It's getting to the point that an average joe millionare can not afford any of this! Maybe there is peer presure not to make other companys look bad and price too cheap. It is hard to beleive that anything could sound that good.?
I also have been at Randy's and listened to the new system:

Air Tight PC-1
Vector 4
Basis Debut Vacuum with Basis speed controller
Weil Signature IC's
Everest S/C
Arc Reference Phono
ARC Anniversary Edition preamp
ARC Ref 210 amps
Vandersteen 7's

The 7's sounded as good as they looked!!!! The system's ability to recreate the energy/sound of a live piano was very impressive as was the timbre of the instruments inside an airy, large and deep sound stage.
All Vandy do a lot real well. The Vandy's all share a sound pallet that just sounds RIGHT. This goes up and down the product range to the Signature 5a. I haven't heard the sevens.

My Quatro Signature II Woods sure sound a LOT better than Wilson Sasha's, I auditioned, for instance. I sure wish that the Wislon's were better, with 60 grand in tube amps, pre amps, and high-end cables running them. Nope. They were too bright, thin, lacked body and didn't go deep at all. Clinical was the word that best described them with a shallow low-end. They were dynamic sounding, though, and the treble was WAY FORWARD and could go crazy loud. I was hoping to hear that magic "musical" carrot out there that I would lust after over and above my Quatro's. I've "read" good things on the Sasha's, but I didn't "hear" it. The point is, that the "sound" doesn't follow a price. We all have products that we just "read" would meet our expectations and they let us down. What that is depends on what you think you want to hear. This is "entertainment, after all. Twenty speakers will never get your voice right. None will agree on which one is "most" right.

So, I'd just LOVE to hear the sevens. Too bad that the Quatro's sound so good for the money, and I agree, the sevens "read" like they do "sound" fantastic but at a stratospheric price, but let's just leave it at the sound.

We all need that carrot to make this hobby so much fun. If you can get there, great. But most of us are tweaking to get "somewhere" at a factor that includes realistic costs. That's what makes us experiment and learn. The "best" product you want to emulate is the final exam. Listen and compare. I hope you find encouragement in the new products you hear.