As far as I know, yes.
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Absolutely need some sort of high pass, without them damage to the subwoofer is sure to follow. Richard strongly recommends using the Model 5 filters, however you can use the X series filters (commonly used with 2Wq subwoofers), a home made substitute for the X series (what I use), or electronics with the high pass built in (I think Ayre offers that). In addition to damaging the subwoofer I think not using a filter would sound horrible, way too much low end.
I spoke to a dealer and he told me that the damage would be to the mid-range driver as it could not handle the low end and could warp the voice coil.
Pmotz can you send me instrudtions on home made filter to firstname.lastname@example.org?
I purchased an old 1999 pair the other day without the filters. They sounded very good without the filters but I will use them with the filters. As far as replacement drivers, are they common drivers? If so what are they? I won't have the speakers for a week since my buddy picked them up for me and will bring them to me then.
I used to own Vandy 5A speakers so I am very familiar with them. If you haven't done so, I think you should go to the Vandersteen web site and read the 5A manual that is online. Even though it is the 5A manual, it equally applies to the Model 5.
If you do not use the proper high pass filter - it will cause damage to the Mid Bass drivers (not the mid range drivers). If you should need to replace the drivers, you will need to get those from Vandersteen. If you do damage one driver in a speaker, you will need to replace the corresponding driver in the other speaker as these are matched pairs (assuming you want to maintain the best possible sound from the Model 5's).
The manual will also insure that you set up the high pass filter correctly with respect to the input impedance of your amplifier. I would suggest, given the quality of the Model 5, that you just order the proper M5-HP high pass filter from Vandersteen (single ended or balanced version depending on your amp).
Also, you might already know this, but just in case, the Model 5 contains an internal battery pack that biases some parts of the crossover. The battery pack is located on the crossover board and if I remember correctly has a life span of about 7-8 years. If your Model 5's are from 1999 and unless the that battery pack has been replaced somewhere along the line, it is long since dead and should be replaced. I cannot tell you what the sonic differences are with the battery pack active or not, but if Vandersteen uses it (and still does for sure in the newest version of the 5A) there is probably a reason. The battery pack can be replaced at your home usually by a dealer.
Finally, the manual will also guide you through how to setup up the model 5 subs. Again, doing this correctly for your room, will greatly increase the sound quality that you achieve.
Hope this helps
When the 5's are set up and running properly they are wonderful speakers. ..but listen to Babybear. In order to set up your speakers properly, your dealer will need Realistic analogue sound pressure meter, the official Vandersteen setup CD, and a laser penlight. You can send the crossover boards back to Vandersteen and they will replace the batteries for about 150 dollars as I remember. You must do it or the sound will not be what it was designed for. There is an appreciable step up when the batteries are replaced. You can't do it yourself because all the batteries are soldered in. There are 6 or 8 batteries...there are also batteries in the high pass filters that must be replaced as well. Contact Vandersteen himself for all of the information you might need. He is extremely nice and always looks out for his customers.
The Vandersteen drivers are all custom, including cones, baskets etc are also measured and match blueprinted at 4 points per driver for best left right matching pair performance
There are also three 9 volt batteries inside the speaker on the x over boadrs that should be pulled out as per in the manual and changed with the 10 year Lith Ion type 9 v
properly pack and ship just the boards and new batteries is best performed neatly at the factory.