Vandersteen or not to Vandersteen

I have been looking around the market for a subwoofer and I think I like the Vandersteen, 2Wq. I have heard one and I have the opportunity to take one home and try it, so, so far so good.

Ok, so I read that the Vandersteen 2Wq must be integrated with my setup so that I can get the right crossover settings and after that, I contact Vandersteen with the crossover settings that I want, pay them some money, and they send me some nicer crossovers to use, correct?

Well, what if I am planning to upgrade my amplifier for January 2004? I am buying something really nice (Audio Research is what I have my ears on) and I can't afford that high right now, but I can afford a Vandersteen. Right now I have some ok-sounding tube amps.

If I upgrade my amp, in 2004, I have to retune the Vandersteen and possibly need another set of crossover cables, right? And, if I upgrade my main speakers, which I also want to do, does that mean I have to retune the Vandersteen, again and possibly buy ANOTHER set of crossover cables?

Bottom line is that I not only have to retune my Vandersteen to whatever I upgrade(which you do with most anything you get), but I have to possibly buy another set of crossover cables for the Vandersteen when I do?

Geez, if this is true, the Vandersteen ends up costing me more than if I just bought a Rel to start with(Rel is my second choice). The Vandersteen sounds like a very high-maintenance piece of equipment. It seems to be very high end for 1300, but then with all the extras that you get for it, the price keeps getting higher. It is almost like a car dealership that makes most of its money from the service department.

So, tell me I am wrong!
The Vandersteen crossover that comes with a new pair of 2Wq's has a set of DIP switches inside the box that allow you to choose various resistor values, based on the input impedance of your amplifier. Vandersteen recommends that you initiallys select the crossover value that corresponds to the setting that is one value below your amp's input impedance. Having played around a lot with the Vandy crossover, I suggest you experiment with the values equal to one level above the amp's input impedance, the value that directly matches your amp, and the setting one level below the input impedance. The differences are subtle but noticeable.

After you determine the optimal setting, you can buy a "permanent" crossover with the optimal value for your amp. The "permanent" crossover has better resistors and capacitors in it than the one supplied with the subwoofer, but there is nothing that requires you get it -- you may find the original crossover suits you just fine.

There is one other option for you to consider, although it will cost a good deal more money. Vandersteen also sells the crossover that is made for the Model 5 speakers, but it costs $600 for the single-ended RCA version (the connecting cables are an integral part of the two boxes - one per channel). The Model 5 crossover, however, has much better component parts than the standard crossover, and it has internal connections that allow you to change the settings if you get another. Hence, the Model 5 crossover does not need to be replaced if you change your amplifier. Sometimes you can find the Model 5 crossover for sale on Audiogon.

If you are handy with a soldering iron, you could probably modify the crossover when you get your new amp. I'm sure that Vandersteen would give you the resistor values you will need to match your new amp, and you could then remove the original resistors and solder in the new ones. This would save you from spending another $125 for a new crossover from Vandersteen.
I appreciate all the good info, but I am lousy with solder and anything of that sort. I just want a system that is easy to install and then nice to listen to. I am willing to trade less sound quality for less hassle. I am now considering a Rel as my first choice. Of course, Rel is nothing to sneeze at.
What is the input impedance of your current amp? The input for an ARC amp will be 100k usually.
There are two ways to go here. Use the crappy switchable box that comes with the unit(yes you will need an additional pair of cables, buy a decent used pair that you can get your money out of when you no longer need them
if you don't want a spair pair around)untill you settle on which amp you are going to go with, which will give you time to break in the woofer anyway. Lots of amps are 100k by the way. You won't want to make any critical judgemnt too fast, and not untill the woofer has enough time on it.

Secondly just spend the money up front on the 5 x-over that Sdcampbell recomends which puts the price about the same as the REL.This will mean that you are covered for most any change you may make in the future(it is adjustable like the on that comes free with the unit but you will need to decide if you are going to go single ended or balanced). You have a major advantage with the Vandersteen over the REL this way(please REL owners don't take this as a knock)in that you have the true benifits of bi-amping when the low frequencies no longer need to be reproduced by your main speakers or your main amp. If you would like to see a second opinion on this topic go to the Vandersteen site and click on the review page then go to "audio perfectionist" rewiew of the 2Wq.
I have a 2Wq and it has taken some effort to set it up right, but the effort has been well worth it. My system does not sound like there is a sub woofer in it, but I have good deep bass which sounds like it comes from the main speakers. Don't fool yourself into thinking that the REL will be any simpler to set up correctly. All woofer integrations take some effort but when you get it right it will put a smile on your face.
P.S. Scott ment Cap values and not resistor values.
Maxgain makes some excellent additional points (and thanks for the correction about cap values -- I had a "senior moment" while writing).

I often respond on threads about Vandersteen products, and I sometimes feel like others may think I am a "pimp" for the company. However, given that I have been an audiophile for about 40 years, and have owned a LOT of speakers over the years, I think my comments are based on objective experience with Vandy products.

Maxgain makes a comment that I think should be re-iterated: the 2Wq subwoofer does take some additional tweaking / set-up time, but the results are well worth it. If having a sub that enhances the quality of your music reproduction, as well as providing low-frequency HT effects, is important to you, then you will have to spend substantially more than the price of the 2Wq to do better. I've owned several different brands of subs, and listened to many more, and for my money the 2Wq subs is one of the genuine bargains. If you decide to buy the Vandy 2Wq, I strongly urge you to consider having two subs in your system. From my own experience, a stereo pair of 2Wq's yields a VERY significant improvement in audio quality over a single sub.

There have been a number of threads about subwoofers on this forum over the past two years, including several summaries of reviews from audio mags that I submitted. Before you make a final decision about which subs to consider, may I suggest that you look in Audiogon's archives for articles about subwoofers? You might try using the search topic "subwoofer reviews" as a starting point.