Vandersteen-like "In-between" speakers

I have a pair of Vandersteen 3A signature speakers that came on loan from my brother and I have to give them up in about a month. I am using them with a McCormack DNA-225 and they sound great. I have heard from others that Vandersteen works well with McCormack.

I don't want to spend more money than I have to, but I have about $6K set aside to buy my own speakers. This amount is much more than the 3A signatures. There is no way that I can stretch to buy the Vandersteen 5 or 5A's. A friend of mine has them and they are fantastic.

Can anyone suggest a speaker in my price range, which falls between 3A and 5A, that will give me the same "flavor" as the Vandersteens and will mate well with McCormack? I listen to all kinds of music except very little classical - mostly rock, jazz, bluegrass, vocals.
For $6k you can get brand new Totem Wind that will sing and rock with McCormack no worse than 3As for sure.
Totems tend to be much more accurate and have much stronger bass than Vandys.
Why don't you keep the 3A sig and add a pair of 2wq sub to the mix. It will be at least 80% of model 5 for about 2.5K. You still have 3.5k left for other upgrades or buy more music.
Thanks you Marakanetz but I don't think I would want to spend another $3K to get something that might be just "no worse" than the Vandys. I'd expect definite improvement! :-)

I have thought about buying my own 3A sigs. I am not one who is all that thrilled at the idea of using a sub. If I were to go that route I would probably just get a really good pair of monitors with a sub. I have always liked floorstanders but am leaving open my options
Motdathird, While there are many speakers that can improve over the 3A's - I think it would be helpful if you could specify exactly what about their performance you would like to improve and what you are happy with. You might get much more meaningful responses.
I've just heard that Vandersteen is showing a new speaker model called the Quatro at CES, price point to be around $6500 (between the 3a Sigs and the 5s). There was a small discussion on them on Audio Asylum the other day, and a picture has been posted (you could do a search. They're smaller than 3as, and less boxy: tapered and angular, more like the 5s. Sounds intruiging, but I don't now when they'll become generally available.
In response to Newbee, these are a few things I like about the 3A'a.

They seem to get the soundstage and imaging right like the level of voices and positioning of instruments. But, this might be due more to positioning and placement.(?)

They have very tight but not "bloaty" bass, at least in my room.

The highs are detailed without being hard. This is something that might be a plus when using with any SS amp.

I find they are very detailed and musical at low volume levels. Many times I listen in mid-evening when my kids are doing homework and cannot turn the crank up too much. Some speakers I have heard are weak at low volume.
I have to say that Sdcampbell makes a very attractive statement when it is said that less emphasis on cabinets equals more sound for the money.

No speakers better for another $3K seems that there must be a big void in this price range. Do others agree?

I have not even considered electrostatic speakers.
The new Vandy speaker mentioned in Swklein's post above is the Vandersteen Reference Monitor that Richard V. has been working on for several years. It has been shown before at several audio shows. The speaker is essentially the top half of the Model 5/5A, without the subwoofer. Last fall, I had a chance to talk with Richard V. when he was doing a presentation at my local Vandy dealer, and he said that he was not ready to start manufacturing the "Reference" because he wasn't totally satisfied with some aspects of its performance. The prototype that I saw of this speaker certainly looked promising, but because it will lack the low-frequency response of the larger floor-standers, it may not appeal to everyone.
Check out the Von Schweikert VR4GenIIISE's at $6k (btw, every VSA dealer I've talked too is willing to deal, too, so figure less). The website is If you can audition these, make shure that you do! New VR4JR's are supposeldy quite good too at $4K....
I love how people think you can improve so much over the 3A Signatures with more money or whatever. What are you improving on. Just because something sounds "Different" doesn't mean it is "Better." The 3A Signatures are a proven accurate speaker. You will not find a more accurate speaker at anywhere near this price period! Slam me all you want---but you want! Of course some want the colorations of something else that better suits them which is fine. No, the Vandersteen's aren't perfect but they are not going to be a speaker you will want to unload in a few months. The time aligned and phase correct design allows these speakers to invite you into the music, not have it thrown at you.
I will agree with the above poster, add a pair of Vandersteen 2Wq subs to the 3A Signatures. It will run you about $6500.
Richard Hardesty in the "Audioperfectionist Journal" described the 3A Signatures as a $8000 speaker in plain wrapping. No fancy cabinet (the main cost of high priced speakers) but with the finest internal parts available.
Here is a man that could own whatever he wanted and chose Vandersteen 3A Signatures with the 2Wq subs as his reference. Doug Blackburn uses the same system over on Soundstage. Both have stated that the Vandersteen 5's offer about a 10% improvement over this combo. The 3A Sig uses the same tweeter and midrange but the 5's drivers are "Cherry picked" from the best of the lot.
Where are you going to get a speaker that has a full frequency spectrum from 30hz-20khz + or - 1.2db, 26hz-30khz + or - 3db and is matched at 6 different frequencies within + or - 0.1db with the reference model in the lab and within 0.1 db of each other in the matched pair(as sold)? And that is just the beginning. Look at the waterfall plot, time domain and any other relevent spec. you want and then tell me these speakers aren't accurate.
But, you know, some people aren't blown away by accurate because an accurate speaker has a tendency not to impress unless you live with them a while.
One last note, I believe the new Vandersteen speaker is going to be a monitor. He has shown it at shows for a while now.
The 3A's may be just the speaker for you - based on your approval of low volume performance and detailed but not hard, highs. Quality speakers in your price range should not introduce a bass bloat problem not inherent in your room itself, and the imaging has as much to do with placement and electronics as anything (albeit a very revealing/transparent speaker that is properly matched and set up can be a glorious thing to hear). If you get speakers that are more detailed/transparent than the 3A's, such as the Quad's or the Thiels (for example) you may have much more problem with proper amplification and room set up. I'm not dis'ing the Mac's, just suggesting that your appreciation of your electronics can change vastly when you get more revealing speakers. A speaker in your price range that is very Quad like in sound, that is not as room placement and amplification sensitive, is the Gradient Revolution - well reviewed and appreciated, even though its not well known or popular (do some on line research on it). Personally, were I you, I'd spend my extra money on some good music and enjoy the 3A's.
Hi Motdathird

You gave several things you liked about the Vandies but not one thing you didn't like. To be honest I really haven't heard a better full range speaker or I should say a speaker I prefer more than the 3a sigs anywhere close to their price. You can easily get different with better in given areas, the Quads, Meadowlark or Legacy Focus maybe but you will probably lose in other areas. The 3a sigs give you the whole enchilada for the price. The only thing that possibly wouldn't be appealing to some is maybe their "laid back" presentation but you didn't mention this and I think it is a misnomer myself.

I also find they are superb at low listening levels which is very important. The coherence of this speaker is just remarkable for a multi driver design. This is and has always been one of the great appeals of Vandersteen. I think you have your speaker and I doubt you will find much better across the board at your 6K budget. I may be wrong but I'll say I haven't heard it to date and on balance would take the 3a sigs over the Legacy Focus which is a fine speaker maybe preferable but not better.
You could try

You will find a model or two in the $4-$6k range. And I would venture to say they do a better/musical sound than the 'steens. I've owned the 3's and sold them 'cause after I got them home and settled in they didn't sound as pleasing as the 2's.

That isn't to say your experience will be the same as mine, but just because many, many other people like them, doesn't mean you will, on a permanent basis.
One more thought: check out the Aerial 7b. Voiced not dissimilarly from the Vandersteens, but more detailed and stronger bass response (if arguably a tad less smooth and coherent). A fine speaker, although you do pay for the woordworking...
New Vandersteen Quatro. Worth waiting for to atleast audition before making a move. I think Stereophile mentioned a spring release.
I recently heard the 3As at a dealer along with the Quads mentioned above and would have picked the Quads over the 3As but not the 5As. BUT the Quads seem to need a bit more room that I can use in my room. That said, I was waiting for Vandy to do a 5A without the self power sub. Also to note are the VS VR-4SEs adn the new 4 Juniors which I am told may better the VR-4SEs. Green Mountain Audio is also coming out with their C-3 which seems to be built using the same type of design.

Happy Listening.
Simple, you have three choices...
1. Brand new 3A Sigs. This allows you to spend the rest on the front end where it's better spent.
2. 3A Sigs with Subs. A significant improvement, but maybe not to your taste.
3. Vandersteen Quatros for $6500. They're essentially 3A Sigs with the 2WQ subs integrated into the speakers. It's as close to a 5A as you can get without spending the $10K extra to get the actual 5As. You should see them in the stores this year.

Good Luck!
Wow..I wish I had your problem...not sure what model...but the THIEL range would be something to look into...phasecorrect design as well...Meadowlark also comes to mind...
Have to plug Green Mountain Audio as well...I have there Europas($900 monitors)...can only dream about there higher end models...good luck...
Mikej do you have insider information on the new Vandersteens? I've read nothing that indicates the Quatro is a 3ASig with integrated 2WQ subs. In fact considering it's 4 driver design and enclosure size my best guess is that it's a standalone 4 way full range passive design. This seems a logical progression from the Reference Monitor which was never released. Rumor was Richard was never satisfied with the low frequency response of the Ref Mon.

I'm hoping this new Quatro has more in common with the 5A than the 3ASig. It looks to be a 5A without the wood veneered enclosure, slightly smaller midbass driver, and with a single 8" driver in place of the active 12" +EQ system in the 5A. Will be interesting to hear more.

I agree with Sidssp's suggestion. Go with what you know works and the subs will get you most of the way to the 5As. Also the Thiel and Meadowlark suggestions are good ones but if you went with Thiel CS6 (my speakers) you might need to upgrade the amp as well.
I agree with Vedric and would think the Quatro would be a 4 way design.. It doesnt make sense to me for it to be a 3A/2Wq combo. Without some form of bass contouring, it would probably not have smooth bass response... and with bass contouring it is essentially a cheaper model 5. My guess is it is a 5 set up for bass like the 3A Signature (using the acoustic coupler, or however vandersteen describes it). I hope it uses the same drivers and crossover as the 5A, but I kind of doubt it.
The depth of the top part of the quatro cabinet in the picture I would say is approximetely the same as a model 5/5A, and way larger than a 3A Signature would need to be, even with an integrated sub.

Motdathird- I would put serious thought into demoing and maybe getting the 3A Signatures and two 2Wq subwoofers if you have the space for the subs in your room... If not then I would consider buying the 3A Signatures and spending the rest on music you enjoy, or maybe some upgrades elsewhere in your system

I know this is off topic, but I wanted to ask for a little advice related to the 3A sigs. I have a pair of 3's that I bought used a couple years ago that I reallt like and I'm curious about the difference between those and the 3A signatures. I know all about the driver differences etc.. but I's like some input on the sound difference. Is it (as I suspect) an absolute must upgrade?
The 3 sounds closer to the 2Ce where the 3A Sigs are closer to the model 5's. They are considerably more transparent, sound stage better and seem to open up so much better. Look at the Sounstage review by Doug Blackburn. He has a pair of 3A's he compared to the 3A Sigs. The 3 would be a ways behind the 3A in my opinion. In fact, I rather have the 2Ce Signature than the 3. Blackburn's review sums up my feelings. For once, a reviewer I agree with on a lot of issues!
Thanks to all for the advice and those that have kept focus on considering the questions asked regarding the 3A in comparison to the 5A and what might lie between (having no interest in the 3 or 2ce).

If sticking with the 3A/2wq option the choices are new and used. I would, of course, like to save as much as possible but I would need to find these locally as to possible avoid shipping damage and costs. This could take awhile since I know my brother is not going to sell his! Buying new would be the easiest way to go.

The other option is to find something else in between the 3A and 5A and the consensus seems to be that there is little that will be too much better in that category based on what I like. This is about what I figured but I am still open to further suggestions.
I have no inside info yet. The last I heard was still second hand...and until I hear it from Richard it's "gossip". Essentially, what I have been hearing for a while is that Richard wanted to combine a 3A Sig. with the 2WQ. The new Quatro is that speaker. Once I get tech specs I'll let you all know about it. Although I doubt I'll be first. Vandersteen will let the world know as soon as they feel confident that the design is final, etc.

In summary, nothing above is gospel! I expect to have more un-official news this week.

Before you pull the trigger...audition the Green Mountain 1.5i at 5k...I have a strong sense you will not be is also Phasecorrect like the Vandies...good Roy at GReen mTn with any questions...he is one cool dude ....
From the Vandersteen data sheet they had on hand at CES--

Quatro Components:

Tweeter: 1 inch dual chamber, critically amped, ceramic-coated alloy dome wteeter. 5kHz-30kHz.

Midrange: Patented open basket 4 1/2 inch midrange with a curvilinear filled polycone. 900Hz-5kHz.

Woofer: 6 1/2 inch woven fiber cone, and a precision formed magnet assembly, with a copper Faraday ring. 100 Hz-900Hz.

Subwoofer: (2) 8-inch carbon loaded cellulose cone subwoofer with a long throw motor assembly. Built-in 300 watt amiplifier with multi-band room response compensation. 20Hz-100Hz.


Frequency Reponse: 24Hz to 30kHz +- 2dB.
Sensitivity: 87dB @ 1 meter with 2.83 volt input.
Impediance: 6 ohms +- 3 ohms.
Crossover: 100Hz, 900Hz, 5000Hz, 6dB per Octave.
Physical: 43" high, 10" wide, 19" deep. 110 lbs.

I talked to Richard and he said that he was releasing this speaker as a replacement for people who are using 3A sigs with 2 subs. In that regard, the price is almost spot on, plus you get the added bonus of the bass contour controls.

Hope that helps!
Part of my concern with using subs is practical. It is another connection to be made and more wire to buy. Also, I've always understood that sub placement can be tricky in a lot of rooms, especially using two. But, the right placement can work wonders. I wonder if these Q's will be a tradeoff. Some sort of convenience for lack of flexibilty of positioning.
The room compensation controls on the back of the Quatros and MOdel 5s will allow you to place the speakers anywhere in the room. You then use the controls to level out the bass response. It's an amazingly effective answer to "Where do I place these so the image AND have bass response?".
when i was in the market for speakers vandy 3 a's were high on my list. Being a 1-b owner i was looking for more speaker but similar voicing. I discovered Dunlavy athenas (alethas) and the search was over. Great at low volumes, solid bass, very open detailed highs that are never harsh (as long as you avoid silver in your cd interconnects), beautiful mid range, holographic imaging. In short, for the $4500 i spent on them they seriously outperformed the 3as and other much more expensive speakers (including aerial 10Ts). They are also fairly easy to place and don't need to be out very far from the rear wall which can be a nice bonus.

Now that Dunlavy closed shop some folks think they don't sound good anymore and are giving them and their box shaped sibling the cantata away for prices as low as $2500. Personally i could never dream of selling mine except for vandy 5s and i'm not sure the upgrade can justify the expense.
The Vandersteen Quatro was an idea that came to Richard just 3 weeks before the show, and the one at the show is the only prototype. He is using all existing components from his other speakers, but has combined them differently and packaged them at a very attractive mid point price.
This speaker has many of the good attributes of the 5A, at a much lower price. I liked the sound very much - good imaging and depth and a strong well integrated bass. It has the Vandy sound and is better than the 3A Sig (especially should be easier to set up since the sub is integrated), but is not on the scale with the 5A (in my opinion).
If you are opened to used speakers, you can get a pair of used Avalon Radian HC or Dynaudio Contour model ?? for $6500. I think it has all the improvements/qualities that you described.

Maggie MG-20 would be another great choice. I think McCormack DNA-225 can work reasonable well with all these speakers.

Perhaps even a pair of Wilson speakers if you like them.
Motdathird, After reading a little more on this new Vandersteen I still believe its worth waiting for an audition.

The show reports seem promising. Soundstage and Positive-Feedback approved of the sound for what it's worth. I can't wait to actually listen to them myself.

That said, If they are nothing more than 3ASigs with 2WQ's in overall sound quality I feel this is a step sideways for Vandersteen. Sure the inclosure size is attractive and placement/space issues much improved over trying to place a pair of 3A and 2WQ's. Not to mention the extra cables and hook-up issues with the 2WQ's. However if they don't offer most of that Model 5 transparency and perhaps a good chunk of the 5A magic (Quatro A perhaps?) then there is little to look forward to other than easier setup.
Well, even though it was in a different room, and about two months apart, I still feel that the Quatro is a significant improvement over the 3A Sig + 2Wq combination. And yeah, it's significantly smaller and more convenient than having the 3A Sig and 2wq in the same room...

But then again, all I want is a pair of 2CE Signatures for right now.
Vandersteen has reportedly made the statement that the Quatro is NOT the equivalent of the 3A Sigs and 2wq's. How could it be in the bottom especially? The 2wq uses 3-8" drivers, the Quatro uses 1-8" driver. No way are you going to move the same amount of air.
It's actually two powered 8" drivers Bigtee. I honestly hope this thing is a model5 from the midbass up. Looking at the depth of the Quatro confirms more in common with the 5 than the 3. If you put it all together considering price point it makes sense too.

Model 5:

smaller midbass driver
less expensive subwoofer driver arrangement
smaller amplifier
less expensive cabinet construction
no wood veneer (sock)

The Quatro in my opinion must offer something more than compact size and room correction over the 3Asig+2WQ combo. It wont be in ultimate bass output and extension as you pointed out Bigtee. So logic (or is it my wishful thinking?) dictates this new speaker will have much in common with the model 5 from the midbass up.

If this speaker equals the model 5 with slightly less bass extension/definition and it's simple sock finish, I predict it will FLY out the door.
If I may be so bold. On the used market you can hook yourself up with an amazing pair Hales Design T-8's for around $5K+/-. I think you'll find them to be a significant improvement on the Vandy 3c's. When I bought my T-5's I auditioned the Vandy 2's, 3's and 5's and in my opinion the Hales were better than all but the Vandy 5's.

There may even be a pair for sale on Audiogon. I know there was a few weeks ago.
Vedric, according to Soundstage, the driver compliment is a 1" tweeter, 4 1/2" midrange, a 6 1/2" woofer and a 8" sub. If this is incorrect, then I stand corrected.
I spoke to a friend that was at the CES show who had talked to Richard about the system. I am repeating what he said. My friend also uses the 3A Sigs and 2wq subs as I do.
According to Richard, this speaker was just to satisfy wives who didn't like the "Sock" approach. The cost is due to the "Cabinet" approach. Even being smaller, it is more costly to produce than the 3A design. That was the beauty of the 3A Sig.---an $8000 speaker in a plain wrapper.
I suppose at some point we will find the truth. I would be very excited also if the top portion was the higher grade drivers (cherry picked). However, since the 3A signature uses the exact same tweeter and basically the same midrange out of the Model 5, I honestly don't think it will be different. The difference in the Model 5's tweeter and midrange is that the 5's drivers are "Cherry picked" from the best of the lot. The others go into the 3A Sig.
For $4800 retail, you could opt for a pair of Cabasse Egea II's. They produce a true and beautiful tonal quality and an awesome sound stage. They are 93 db efficient which is an easy load to drive. Check them out. You won't be disappointed.
Bigtee the information sheet from CES said two 8" drivers driven by a 350w amp. Themadmilkman mentioned this already in this thread. I confirmed this with a dealer so it looks legit. Ya never know though these speaker people like to make last minute changes!

The Quatro also uses an outer "sock" and two end caps. It just isn't shaped like a rectangle. Judging from the overall shape, the cabinet itself looks to be more like a 5 in contruction (hopefully with all the advantages as well).

The difference in transparency between the 3Asig and 5 is not subtle. Cabinet construction, crossovers which are different and as you pointed out the hand selected drivers all contribute to this. It will be interesting to see how much of an improvement it is, if at all. Gotta love CES!
Vedric, Well, let us hope for the best. It sure would fit my room better and the pair of 2wq's is overkill. Is the woofer on the front of the speaker that Soundstage said was 6-1/2" actually an 8"? I was wondering where a 6-1/2" came from. I have not known V to use this driver before.
Guess we'll wait and see.

The Vandersteen information sheet from CES says 6 1/2" woofer. 100Hz-900Hz
Thanks Zargon. Where did he put 2-8" subs as mentioned above? I honestly figured one sub in each speaker.

There are 2 - 8" carbon loaded cellulose cone subwoofers with a long throw motor assembly, powered by a built-in 300 watt amplifier, with multi-band room response compensation. (20Hz - 100Hz) The subs both fire downwards.

The speaker is 43" high, 10" wide at the bottom (maybe 5 at the top), and 19" deep and weighs 110lbs.

It is covered with a sock, except for the wooden base and top plates, and sits on 3 cones. Like other Vandys, it will be factory upgradeable as improvements are made.

The top end is not quite like the 5s. It has the speakers set into a continuous flat plate the width of the speaker and tapered towards the top. The 5s have the speakers set into individually molded compartments as narrow as possible around the speaker with space between them and the sock. The bottom end is similar in that the woofer is in a box, but the 5s have a unique single 12" push pull dual driver sub.

The Quatro is 6 ohms, + or - 3 db, and the 5s are 8 ohms, + of - 3 db. Both are 87 db sensitivity.

So the Quatro is really well positioned inbetween the 5s and the 3A Sigs. Neither the top end or subs can compete individually with the 5s, but the package is much more integrated and flexible for set up than the 3A Sigs with 2 WQs.

I hope this helps.
Thank you Zargon. I'll be looking forward to their official release. They certainly sound interesting especially the bass integration.
I listened to the model 5's in Raleigh, NC a while back driven by Musical Fidelities 308 series. The room acoustics weren't the best so it was really hard to tell anything. They sounded very similiar to the 3A Sigs + 2wq combo but with a better low end and slightly more resolution, transparency and soundstaging. Not a giant leap but better non the less. I'm sure better room acoustics would have provided better performance. There was also a room resonance that seemed to affect the transition from mid to low bass somewhat.
I also listened to them in Atlanta but they were so poorly setup you couldn't tell anything. I'd bet the bass was 10db up over the midrange. To bad dealers for the most part don't set up such fine speakers properly.
Now I'd really like to hear the 5A's!
I just added subwoofers to my 3A Sigs and the improvement was substantial. The soundstage is much more three dimensional and dynamic, and the midrange is even more transparent. I would highly recommend going this route since you already know you like the 3A Sigs in your environment.
Latest Update from Vandersteen:
I just spoke to the factory and the Quatros are going to be shipping within the next 30 days. The final price is $6,995/pair. Orders for them are already being taken by dealers. In fact, there is already a small back order on them.
Regarding technical specs, the bass crossover/high pass filter will use the same arrangement as the Model 5s. So matching it to the room acoustics shouldn't be a problem.
IMHO you should stick with Vandersteen, or find a speaker
with similar characteristics, e.g., dark, recessed, nonanalytical sound, because your amp tends to the lean and lively side. Maybe the Quattro will be right for you. It won't be my choice because I won't be dependent on a dealer for dialing in the room adjustments. Modern psychiatry tell us that audiophiles, tweakers, DIYers, want the freedom to move things about and make acoustical adjustments themselves. Do I want to make an appointment with my dealer whenever I move my speakers or change upstream gear? Not this audiophiliac! The high-end Vandersteens are some of the best speakers in the world. But they are for people who want to listen to music, not for the restless afflicted who enjoy the never ending search for the absolute sound.