Vandersteen Model 7: has anyone heard?


I won't have $45K to spend on a loudspeaker in this lifetime or any other I imagine but the little snippet in TAS peaked my curiousity. Has anyone heard this speaker and would be willing to offer their impressions?
russellrcncom
Russell, I am very anxious to know as well. The reviews based on the the "7's" introduction at the 2009 CES are quite good and report that this speaker is a notable step up from the 5A. That certainly peaks my interest as a highly satisfied 5A owner. What differences are making the 7 stand out?

Also, Vandersteen has updated their web site and improved it greatly. If you haven't been there lately you might want to take a look. THere are some reviewer comments on the 7 as well.

Vandersteen Audio

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These will be on display the RMAF through Audio Alternative. Not sure if they will be using Ayre or Audio Research for electronics. But I am wanting to hear them.
I saw them at CES and they did sound wonderful. But, they had about the best upstream gear I have ever seen driving them, so I couldn't really say if they were 3X (which is the cost difference) better than the 5a's which are stellar.

The best thing that I heard at CES was the Magnepan demo of their mini panel/planar sub system. But, once again, the upstream electronics (all Bryston, including the AWESOME 28B SST driving the gear) were so over the top, I was concerned about what it would sound like in the real world.
No, I have not heard the 7. If the past is any guide, you will be disappointed. Don't fool around, go directly to Wilson's. Aside from the tweeter, everything else is just gliz in overpriced furniture. The acid test for speakers in that price range is whether the dealer will on a loan basis, put them in your listening room, and set them up on a trial basis. Hearing, in your room, is believing.
"The acid test for speakers in that price range is whether the dealer will on a loan basis, put them in your listening room, and set them up on a trial basis."

How many dealers do you know who can afford to do this? It's simply not practical. In most cases they only have a demo pair for audition. They take it from the store and then can't audition for other customers. I've never known a dealer who would do that with an expensive speaker. Which ones have done it for you?
Great response from Buconero117, real quality advice. Paraphrased as "I haven't heard them, so I have no idea what they sound like, but I'm going to say no, you'll be disappointed". As far as the packaging I'd say the same about Wilsons. A nice sounding speaker but waaay overpriced in an expensive package. Sorry I can't comment on the 7's, but if they are as good as Richard Vandersteen's other speakers, all of which I've heard, they sound much better than their price. And it is so nice to know that when you buy Vandersteens you're paying for quality components, not expensive window dressing.
funny, wilson vs vandersteen, and if the past is any guide...
Due to the completely different design philosophies, I've never seen Vandys and Wilsons in competition for the same listeners. I've heard numerous models from both and can hear what diverse listeners find to admire about both approaches. Listen, choose, then enjoy!
I just recently heard the model 7 at AUDIO CONNECTION in Verona NJ.

Mr Vandersteen was there giving us a lesson in speaker design, and he spoke all about his new creation, The 7. I couldn't believe how much r&d went into these speakers from the design of the chassis to the materials used for the drivers.

When we finally went into the listening room, owner John Rutan gave us a wonderful demo using the top of the line Audio Research gear, and all I can say is WOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW !!!!!!!my mouth was wide open. Hugh wide open soundstage, natural , beautiful midrange, effortless at all ranges. The refinement level of this speaker is the highest I have ever heard. John had put on a cd of a wonderful female vocal, and I was floored. Besides the wonderful tonality of her voice, I found myself thinking of what this woman looked like! As i listened I turned to John, and asked him how old he thought this singer was. These are the kinds of images these speakers project. It is hard to imagine the emotional involvment I felt with these speakers.

Do yourself a favor, and go listen to these speakers. They are really wonderful.
Heard the 7's at RMAF this year in a very small room - surely too small for a speaker this size. They were powered by all ARC electronics. There were maybe six chairs in the cramped space and attendees were fighting over them because the sound was amazing. Crystalline clear, precise, nothing overdone or out of place. The sense of desire in the room was palpable. Heard the 9's last year in one of the large salons and they were equally incredible.
Rballdude: "Heard the 9's..." ? Can you clarify?
ive heard them! 2 weeks ago 10/6/09 mr vandersteen himself held a seminar and listening demo in my neighboring city (verona,NJ / audio connection). while i like and enjoy the vandersteen sound ive never owned a pair ive heard th 2c's upgraded and the new 7's. the demo pair witnessed were stunning in all aspects - looks, sound, dept, highs, AMAZING LOWS, soundstaging unbelievable. seriously, everything! mr v said while they can be used with tubes they prefer ss b-cause of their fairly low efficiency (83db?). they were run off really high end sh**. enormous audio research mono blocks (huge) ar pre-amp, ar cd player. the soundstaging was astounding, the mids + highs phenominal and the bass/ room & body shaking extremley pricey but i guess if u can afford them a good buy!
should u ever have the opportunity take a listen or if in the nj area stop into audio connection.
I recently spent some time listening to the speakers during a event hosted by John Rutan of Audio Connection in NJ. Richard was there with what he said was the first production pair of Vandersteen 7's (The earlier pair shown at CES in Cherry Red were apparently pre-production and made for his wife).

Before I even listened to the speakers, I was taken aback their beauty. As a 5A owner with a slight preference for more involving designs, I can tell you the 7 is truly built with an eye toward form and function. Even the pair on his website does not do the speaker justice.

The pair displayed was a metallic sapphire blue and unlike any speaker I had ever seen. After Richard shared the design philosophy behind the speakers along with some highs and lows of his twelve year effort to produce them, a number of us had the opportunity to listen to his latest creation.

After more than 25 years in this hobby, I can tell you that the quality of sound reproduction was unmatched by anything I have ever heard. Upon first hearing the speakers, it took my brain some time to catch up with the emotions. The accuracy and lack of any coloration is immediately noticeable. Music appears effortlessly, and with all the impact of the original performance. You immediately sense the scale, impact, and meaning of the music.

There is an audible ‘family signature’ in the sound of the speaker, but the execution is just perfect. Richard shared with the audience his design philosophy and suggested that it has not changed much with the 7, but that the difference lies in the application of new materials, and cost-no-object design. This philosophy allowed him to place in the 7 the very best components for each application.

As the Snapple Ad’s says…. ‘Made from the best stuff on Earth’ and now they found (or in this case designed and built) ‘better stuff’. The same seems to be true for the 7’s. As for me, I am saving my pennies.
I am sorry I missed the demo at Audio Connection I found out to late and had plans. I am actually intrested in these and called for a addition and the 7s are no longer there. Speaking with a couple people that went though they said "it was the best thing they have ever herd" I do like wilson but I think it is a totally different speaker. Hopefully I will get to listen to them some time soon in the mean time I will suffer with my 5a ;)
I can also say that these were among the best speakers I've ever heard.

If I could afford them, I'd buy them in a hearbeat.

I spent a long weekend in the room with them at RMAF and was amazed at how well balanced and detailed they were given the room/show conditions. Exceptional coherence are words that first spring to mind as well as tremendous micro dynamics, sound-staging etc. Tracks Richard played off Amused to Death were as real and "in room" as I'd heard them before--even at home.

Definitely a _must hear_ in their price range. They got better every day while the show went on and seemed at their peak Saturday night. Many show-goers agreed who happened through. Richard definitely nailed it with the 7's design.
When John (Rutan) at Audio Connection in Verona, NJ sets up the Vandersteen 7's, he will make them sound fantastic! John is very knowledgeable and have sold Vandersteens for many year. Mr. Vandersteen is there at least once a year to do demos and it's a blast!!!!
Samuel,

Did you like them better than your Maxx 3s?
I too was at Audio Connection for the Vandersteen demo a few weeks back, and they indeed are among the finest speakers I have had the pleasure of hearing. And Richard Vandersteen is an absolute pleasure to speak with as well. If I ever get enough money they would be on my short list. And the great thing about them, like the 5As, is that you can adjust the bass level to tame a lot of the low frequency problems a full-range speaker like this would otherwise have in a listening room.
One other thing I forgot to mention, while they were superbly musical speakers, the Model 7, perhaps more than any speaker system I've heard in a while, really made starkly apparent the difference between a top flight analog source and a merely very good digital source. IMO, of course.

Mad, I liked that the 7's disappeared better than just about any speaker I've ever heard including the 3's. The fact that they could be tuned to fit the room exactly that they were using them in with pitch perfect bass was also a huge plus.

The 3's might have an advantage in reproducing the scale and overtones of a full orchestra while the 7's seemed uncanny with small groups and voice. I tell you, I'd love to have the 7's over for an extended visit but couldn't comment in useful detail until I had.

No question though that they are in a small class of the best speakers I've heard outside my home.
I have heard Vandersteens have narrow sweetspots like Wilons, those that auditioned did you feel your head was in a vicegrip or was the sweetspot generous?
Not a vice grip, but they definitely did sound better in the sweet spot than off axis, as far as imaging goes. Noticed the same thing with the Quattros as well.
I appreciate your response, Samuel, thank you.
Every speaker has a sweet spot, Let me explain my understanding. For speakers to disappear they need to sound the same and be at the same volume, along with some other minor factors this only happens one spot in the room. I find my 5a the sweet spot is actually bigger than some of the speakers I have had in the past. I think because the vandies are so clear and transparant people notice the sweet spot more and notice when they are out of it. I have had several speakers no matter how I tuned them I never really found a sweet spot or got great imageing. But yes they are sensitive to position but that is a aucustical properity that applies to every speaker. I love the fact though that they can be tuned this allows adjustnment for the room and position. Ever speaker should have this feature.
What are the deminsions of the 7's. I can't find them on the web site.
44"h x 14"w x 20"d
I heard the Vandersteen Model 7's at Audio Connection last weekend and all I can say is that they are absolutely outstanding. They do not look like Vandersteens in that I mean than they are beautiful looking, relatively small (about the same size as Wilson Sasha's) and would do any decorator (high WAF) proud.
But it is the sound of the speaker that is the real thing of beauty. The Harley and Fremer reviews are spot on. Open, clear, neutral, effortless with tremendous soundstaging and to me the most important -- excellent tonality.
I have often thought of Vandersteen speakers wonderful to listen to, but not "alive." These speakers sound different to me. Not only do they share the hallmark Vandersteen coherence, they sound like live music. And they have the flexibility to be tuned to your room.
Anyone thinking about speakers in the $25,000 plus range must listen to the Vandersteeen 7's.
Shut up and go away. You could cost people a lot of money.

Just kidding.

BTW, after 6 years with the 5A, they seem to be quite alive to me in the sense that with any kind of "good" recording the music seems to come from things that are vibrating in a space. Always fun to fire up the system.

And Richard has a history of putting out meaningful upgrades.
TD
Tdaudio -
Your response is well taken. My "alive" might be another persons "bright." Regardless, Vandersteen makes some of the best speakers on the market.
Your system is enviable. Love those amps!
Covet your turntable! What cartridges do you run with it?
Thanks Aronsss, I am using two ZYX Universe carts. Both picked up used on Audiogon. One in a Triplanar and the other in TW Acustic Raven 10.5. One Universe has north of 1500 hours so I am starting to look for something else although it seems to be going strong.

After reading about the virtues of MM carts, I recently placed an old Shure V15 vmr in service in the Raven arm and it was a step back. It had not been played in a few years but I gave it several disks to loosen up. Maybe the Triplanar would have been a better match.
I echo the many comments made by others regarding the 7's. When I visited Audio Connection on Saturday for the Vandersteen event, the electronics were mostly Aesthetix - Rhea, Calypso, Atlas, with Audio Research CD player and I don't know what kind of turntable.
I completely agree with the others who heard the 7s at Audio Connection. The ARC CD Player was the Ref-8; the Turntable was a Basis with a Graham Phantom arm. I think John said that the cart. was a Clearaudio Goldfinger. In his talk, Richard said that they intentionally had chosen electronics that were significantly less expensive than what you'd expect to hear driving speakers of that price. It certainly didn't matter in terms of what we heard.
I haven't heard the 7, but as a former 5a owner, these are the things that I hope the 7 would address:
Narrow sweetspot (particularly in the vertical plane)
Bass anomalies with certain recordings
Lack of midbass energy
Lack of dynamics and slam with some types of music
These are issues I had with my 5a's.
I wonder if these speakers would sound good with solid state electronics.
Cartridge was the Clearaudio Concerto, not the Goldfinger which is very expensive. I believe the Concerto is $2400 which is quite reasonable in my book.
(((I wonder if these speakers would sound good with solid state electronics.))
We broke the Vandersteeen 7s in with a 1200 dollar NAD Solid state power amp sounding superb.
The first couple nights i was there till 2 am running through music totally engaged..

Best Johnnyr
Can anyone comment on the Vandy 7's being classified in the same league as say, Magicos or Tidals ?
I have heard the 7's with Ayre stack of MXR, KXR, C-5xe. Yahtzee!!!!!!!!!!!
The Sevens were on demo at Ultrafidelis in Milwaukee all last week. That's a five hour drive each way for me and I was unable to make it. Anyone get a chance to check them out there? I need to hear them sometime. It's hard for me to imagine sound dramatically better than my 5As produce. For the money, this is likely the place for me to stop. Still, never say never.
"In his talk, Richard said that they intentionally had chosen electronics that were significantly less expensive than what you'd expect to hear driving speakers of that price. It certainly didn't matter in terms of what we heard."
To my way of thinking, this is a tremendous endorsement and shows the confidence the Designer has in his speaker. The fact that the speaker can be tailored to adjust for room indiosyncracies is icing on the cake. Has anyone listened to this speaker with piano music at low volumes?
On Wed. I stopped into Ultrafidelis for a quick listening session. The speakers were scheduled to ship out later that afternoon. I met Jon for the first time, who after a short introduction began spinning lps. A quick note; I believe all supporting equipment was Audio Research except for turntable, which appeared to be an SME...sorry if that is incorrect. The AR amp was a digital, I think the DS 450. Unfortunately, I had limited time, so spent very little of it inquiring about the equipment. I am completely unfamiliar with each of these audio manufacturers so I cannot fairly assess the speaker on it's own merits...the whole being a product of the sum.

I wish to offer a preface illustrating my dubious and hesitant bent that I entered the listening session with. My one previous experience with Vandersteens was back in the mid-90's in a much less than optimum setting, leaving me tastelessly biased.

It was just Jon, another customer and myself; so I was slightly off, and sharing the sweet spot. Jon played a number of cuts off of lps, mixing in some jazz combo, vocals, harpsichord, small scale orchestral and lastly live Van Morrison.

From the first cut I was struck by the inner detail and lack of distortion. Incredible display of articulation without any noticeable grain or stridency. Jon switched out lps frequently, so to give us an assortment of genres and presentations. Each track brought out the most "live" in-the-studio panorama I have experienced form an audio system. The rightness of the instruments this system produced, especially in piano and strings was, again, the best I have heard. Not only the overall tenor, but the size and depth of each instrument seemed extremely accurate. The Van Morrison, with audience just blew me away. It was all there.

For me it is very difficult to justly make judgments in 40 minutes. The couple criticism I silently made was in Coltrane's tenor...sounded thin; and how sitting slightly off center was reminiscent of my experience with Avantgardes...the dominance of the nearer speaker. I have only the greatest adulation for the system Ultrafidelis assembled. It was evident the placement, room treatment, etc. was well thought out. When I got home and played a dozen lps or so through my Avalons/Jadis/Walker/Joules I was left wanting. The transparency and low level detail, decay and resolution of my system did not even approach what I had earlier heard.

One last comment...no slam music or heavy bottom was played. I regret not having made that request.
Hmm, I do wonder if these speakers are up to playing rock at 95db, or big orchestral works.

I'm at RMAF and will be checking out the Vandy 7's (for my second time tomorrow); I wonder if I can convince them to play something less intimate.
Hello Ian
I was breaking in the Vandersteen 7s for a few days with the new NAD 275 BEE Stereo power amplifier ($1199) power amp and played Black Label society's latest cd track 6 Zakk Wylde guitar cranked and the room was rocken..... Alice in Chains(would)cranked up also sounded amazing. REMs live Cd track 2 or 3s bass line and singing was sick.
Best Johnnyr
Can anyone else from RMAF comment on hearing this speaker?

I recently heard it and I feel it is potentially a huge paradigm shift for the audio industry.
I attended RMAF and felt the ARC/Vandersteen 7 room was one of the best at the show. Incredibly musical and with no weaknesses that I could hear. One of the few rooms I could have stayed in for hours on end. The only room I clearly liked better was the Acapella room.
I could not stay in either the Vandy 7 room nor the Acapella room for more than a couple of minutes (and I have been a fan of Acapella in the past).

Both had top ends that were too aggressive for my taste; a characteristic I found quite common among most rooms...at least on Friday.
I heard them at RMAF and thought they sounded pretty good
overall. I have to say the track that was playing was god
awful and made me want to head for the exit though.
I heard them at RMAF, and do agree- was one of the best sounds at the show.
Tvad, even though I do understand your sentiment, but couldn't agree with your impression. Of course, it's a matter of personal preference.
I actually made an honest attempt to listen to Audio Note speakers again (mostly because of your very comments on it in this forum), and yet again found them lacking dynamics and any resemblance to live music. They do portray a very different take on music reproduction, that to my taste has very little to do with how music actually sounds. Sorry.
They do portray a very different take on music reproduction, that to my taste has very little to do with how music actually sounds.
Maril555 (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)
That's an interesting topic, because I find just the opposite to be true.

95% of the systems at RMAF were too tipped up and sounded nothing like any live music I have ever heard. Yes, they dig out every detail on a recording if it's there, but the recordings usually selected as reference material are often close-miked and are not representative of live music from an audience's perspective.

My favorite speakers were the JM Reynaud Offrande, Audio Note AN-E/SPe HE, Tidals Piano Diacera SE (they got the detail and dynamics of music without the aggressive tipped-up sound of so many rooms), and the Daedalus DA-RMa (driven by the Modwright KWA 100 SE in the Modwright room), and the Daedalus Ulysses (driven by Berning and First Sound). These rooms to me presented a more natural sound than did the others I visited.

Anyway, based on what I heard at RMAF (and at the other shows I've attended) most listeners appear to want the sound you also like. Yet, so many audiophiles constantly complain of bright systems. It's a Catch 22.

My preference in sound is clearly a minority point of view.