I heard the 7's at RMAF in a rather large room and they sounded awesome. Powered by ARC Ref210 amps they filled a suite with no problem.
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I also think they sounded great at RMAF 2010, but they also showed a problem that Robert Harley (I think) reported in his review. They don't reproduce soundstage height. This problem I have also found with Vandersteen 5s and 5As. Robert Harley said it was probably due to their small size. This is baloney. The original EgglestonWorks Andras were even shorter and threw a huge soundstage up to the ceiling. At RMAF 2010, I listened to Esoteric MG20s, a short speaker, and they had no problem floating a soundstage well above their tops.
I am sure a demo will tell you most of what you wonder, John will give you all the time you need with them. When I heard the 5A at Audio Connection it played pretty damn loud to me, They should be able to capture dynamic Classical at louder levels, if you were to say you wanted to play power metal at concert levels that may be a completely different story but for Classical my gut tells me you will be very happy.
I run 5As in a 17x27x10 foot room with some absorption room treatment. Amps are ARC Ref110 and Ref 210 monos. The Ref 110 is enough as were Pass Aleph 2 monos (100W class A) but the extra head room of the Ref 210s is nice to have.
I remember reading that the 7s work fine with a 100 watt amp. But the reported sensitivity number of the 7 is lower than the 5A and the impedence is also a tad lower. I would want more than 100 watts for the 7s in a large room.
Maybe I have gotten use to the 5As, but I don't find the image height significantly lacking with analog playback. In fact, if the image seems kinda "short" I find it to be evidence that I need to tweek the VTF and or VTA on my arm.
But no doubt there are other speaker designs that make a taller sound stage.
Personally after listening to Vandersteen Model 7 Speakers, I can not think of any other speaker to own even at 5 times their retail price! It is a whole new direction in dynamic loudspeaker design. Yes they build off what Richard learned designing the Model 5 Speakers, but they are taken to such a level above that its a whole new game now. All the main drivers are designed and made from the same material. This and the Perfect-Piston drivers has a huge affect on eliminating driver artifacts. The Model 2, 3, and Quatro Speakers have a 'Sound' to them that becomes less and less as one moves up the product line. By the time one reached the Model 5A this is almost completely gone and only shows itself under stress (I have not yet heard the Model 5A Carbon). The Model 7 on the other hand has no 'Sound' as it just completely disappears leaving only a huge natural soundstage with unbelievable depth. They sound great at low, medium, and loud volumes. They are the first speakers I have heard that don't start showing their weaknesses are higher volume levels. I attend 2 to 3 ASO Concerts a month and the Model 7 is the first speaker to make me think I am in the hall where the recording was made. VTL 300's would be fine for the way I listen though you should probably speak to Richard about how loud you want to listen to them for his input on power. And while speaking of higher levels of listening, I noticed I didn't need to play the Model 7 as loud as I listen to the Quatro Wood or Model 5A Speakers. So I would say go listen to them for a few hours in a large demo room. I like the Model 7 with a tube front end being driven by Ayre MX-R Mono-blocks.
I have the 5A's and am in serious lust with the 7's. If my finances allowed the step up to the 7's, I surely would have taken it rather than opting for the 5A's, which are still awfully nice. But the earlier posters are right: the 7's are in a whole 'nother league.
One thing you might want to keep in mind is that the powered subs in the upper end Vandy's mean less strain on your amp, meaning that you may get more bang for your amplifier buck than you would with other "statement" speakers. In other words, a step up to the 7's might not require you to trade up in amplification, while a step up to other top-notch speakers might. Not definitely, but might.
Just something to keep in mind.
So what's the verdict? Did you hear the 7s? I agree with tdaudio. My room is very nearly the same dimensions as yours and I notice no problem with "image height" or dynamics with my 5As. Maybe my electronics play a role but, if anything, I find myself turning it down to keep levels comfortable. (tube front end with Ayre MX-Rs driving the speakers as Platinumplus aluded to) The 7s should be even more dynamic. Surely I'm
no genious at set up. I'd say try the 5A and save yourself $35,000. If you 're not happy, list the 5As on audiogon. I have several friends who
would like a pair.