Vandersteen Quatros or B&W 803D's

I have my search down to these two.

I am leaning to the Vandersteens because these will have to be placed close to a rear wall. Vandersteens would be better in my mind because they are adjustable.


If they are like the 2ce or 3a, they are not meant to be close to a rear wall, those definitely need space behind them. While you can tune the bass, I think the real issue with how your midrange and imaging will perform.
Pubul57 Said
"If they are like the 2ce or 3a, they are not meant to be close to a rear wall,....."

Pubul57, I hope you don't base your judgement on exp. with 2ce,3a without hearing actually speakers in question?

If it is only a guess, it might be a better idea to let a user, dealer or someone with a real exp. to pass on this question.......don't you think?


That's true. But the issue is the same with the 5As which I am familiar with, so it is not too far of a stretch to think the Quattros are not a radical departure for Richard - not impossible I grant you. Which is of course why I qualified my statement by saying "if they are like..." That being said, I would always go to a dealer and audition with my own ears before I take any advice given; assuming there is a dealer in my area - of course, that is not true form most gear I'm interested in.
All true, but wouldn't you agree that some distance from rear wall could be beneficial to vest majority of speakers on the market today? There are speakers that are a little more flexible when it comes to "in room placement" then the others......and IMHO I thing Quatros are one of those speakers. A better bass responce and balance will benefit the overall tonality from top to bottom of the fraquency range & reflect on the overall performance of the speakers.

About B&W - there are simply not my cup of tea.
But I can see how one could choose B&W for his/her system.

Ken I cannot comment on the placement of the Quatros.

What I can tell you is I was impressed with the Quatros matched with Ayre CD, Power, and Preamp components that presented a incredible soundstage with depth and imaging.
I've had B&W 803Ds recently and can tell you they do not like being placed close to any walls; the three bass drivers need a lot of space.
Look at the Vandersteen website where the complete manual for the Quatro is located. These speakers require every bit as much setup as any Vandersteen speaker and do benefit from being away from the wall. Imaging and depth will suffer being too close. You need to follow the setup instructions as close as possible. If you don't, you will never hear what these speakers are capable of.
My Vandersteen's are 52" out from the rear wall. As you move them closer the bass will become somewhat diffuse and ill-defined. The controls on the back are for frequency deviations in the room (room effects) and will not adjust out boom and other near wall problems totally. However, as I said, the bass is not the only thing that suffers in too close to the wall locations.
I've listened to the 803D speakers numerous times and chose the Vandersteen's. The B&W are excellent speakers and I can certainly see them not being close to the wall. I did not really care for their sound honestly (personal preference.) I just thought the Vandersteen's threw a bigger sonic picture that seemed ( for the lack of a better term) more accurate in their portrayal of the sonic picture. Too me, B&W has always had a certain sound that is pretty consistent across their line. I use to call it the Kevlar sound but I'm not really sure what it was. The Vandy just sounds more natural to my ears (when it is setup right.) Otherwise, it will sound very average.
Mrjstark, I think you are right that most speakers do benefit from some space, but my experience with VS, and it seems Bigtree's message supports the same view with Quattros, is that VS really does need the space. Given that, I have loved my VSs that I have own, and have always preferred them to the B&Ws I have heard, but that is totally a personal thing and there certainly are folk who own and love B&W. Ken, how close to the rear wall do they have to be?
The Quatro's active bass adjustment capability will most certainly allow them to sound better near boundaries than speakers which lack those adjustments. With the sub level, Q, and EQ controls, you can accomplish quite a bit. Lower Q settings near boundaries load the room nicely.

We have set up Quatros near the back wall with excellent results.
That's fine and I agree with you to a point, but I don't think it addresses the issue of the midrange and soundstaging sounding best with space behind the speaker. In fact, I would venture that part of Richard's design with the Qs and 5s was to be able to place the speaker out in the room for best midrange performance, while being able to contour the bass to the room where corner placment would ordinarily be best for room loading and smooth bass balance. I don't think back wall placment is a bass problem so much with the speaker, you are right, the EQ does help to address that issue, but I still think being out in the room is optimal for the overall sound and balance of the speaker. Best thing is to go to a dealer, place the speakers near the back wall, then try a setup with the speakers out in the room; if you can't hear a difference, or you can live with the difference you do hear, then you know what to do.
I think the Quatro is by far one of the best values in audio period. My father has the Wood Quatro and even with his financial ability and the upgrade for free program Richard offers he feels no need to go with the 5A.
The BW model can ben very bright and forward, where the Quatro is very smooth and somewhat warm, lastly given the bass adjustment the Quatro offers it is almost a no brainer, these speakers have bass slam that excells over even some much higher priced Wilson models.
FWIW I have heard the 802Ds several times and even positioned well out from the rear wall in a big room they had warm bass, too much for my taste, clearly colored IMO. The high end and midrange were quite nice however. I have not heard the Vandersteens.
Pubul57, lets make something CLEAR.
Ken asked which speakers will/might be better for him and his situation, Vandersteen Quatros or B&W 803D's.
A matter of how much space behind the speaker is optimal for the particular brand or model is a broader disscusion for onother thread perhaps.
IMO if above speakers were placed in the same room, very close to the rear wall - Vandersteen Quatros would came on top. Are they the ones for Ken ??? Only Ken knows. Are they good enough for me ??? Well, check out my system for answers.
His situation may warrant a speaker other than Vandersteen or B&W given his need for close placement to a rear wall (though we still don't know how close) - I think that is CLEAR - and it is an issue to consider, at least with VS, can't say anything about B&W in that regard. He may choose to go with either speaker anyway, he may be happy with either, but he should also know that close placement is not ideal IMO for the VS; which I think is highly relevant to this thread. Better yet, Ken, why don't you ask Richard, he is a straight shooter and I'm fairly confident he'll give you an honest opinion.

Mrjstark, I am glad you are happy with your system, very nice pieces and I do love VS - your room treatment may be helping alot, and in the photos, your speakers don't really look that close to the rear wall; which is why I asked Ken in affect, "how close" are we talking.
Pubu57, my set-up is (i am guessing) totally different then Kens'. WAF is not an issue (it is a dedicated "L" room) & it was (still is) optimise to get the best possible results. And your are right - Quatros are pulled out from the rear wall just a bit (actually, it is 58inch to be exact). Room treatment was always a part of my set-up (past or preset). My room isn't finished yet, and I am still trying to fine tune the room/speakers response. But I can tell you this, Vandersteen Quatro made my job a lot easier. Yes they need a lot of fine tuning to get it perfect or at least close to it. But at least you have some control over it ( placement and active EQ ).
And I am not arguing the fact that the sound stage is important and a BIG factor in any set up but getting the bass right is also CRUCIAL. And with vast majority of speakers you are basically restricted to fight the room acoustic anomalies with spks. placement and some room treatment like bass traps etc. Don't forget Pubu that frequencies of 500Hz and higher are a lot easier to control then mid/lower bass ( especially between 20-150Hz region). Most speakers manufacturers have an idea how their speakers are going to interact with the room between 500Hz -20Khz. They even got better in mastering cabinet resonance & vibrations.....but controlling the bass is another story. ASK RICHARD VANDERSTEEN what gives him the biggest headaches, getting the sound stage right or the bass. I might be wrong, but my money is on bass.

I think it doesn't matter if Ken will be placing speakers 12" from the rear wall or 24". It is to small of a difference to make a significant changes in sound stage. If he will get the smooth and balanced bass, great. Sound stage can be tune with proper toe-in few absorbers and diffusers at the first reflection points, between the speakers and the ceiling (If one chooses to pursue perfection, have a dedication & no WAF).
Mjstark, I think I agree with you and I think Richard has certainly found a very clever way to get bass right in almost any setting.
In the perfect World we shouldn't have this problems but You as well as I know that it is not the case.
We may have differences of opinion on some issues but we all try to achieve the same way or the other. That's what is it all about.
I think we have a great community and I am very proud to be a part of it. If the neutral ground can be found and honesty is intact......great.

One more thing.
When I said:
I think it doesn't matter if Ken will be placing speakers 12" from the rear wall or 24". It is to small of a difference to make a significant changes in sound stage.
I think I should take that back since everything change the sound....even 12". What I wanted to say is that Ken (unfortunately absent from this conversation to make it easier on both of us) is most likely forced to placed them against the wall or very close to it. So, performance is already compromise (sound stage you mentioned earlier & bass could be a problem also) but what Quatros can give him back is a better, smoother and more balanced bass. Using few tricks can also improve sound stage but WAF might be a problem.......we don't know.
I hope that he won't have to decide based on this thread alone, and will have a chance to hear both in his own place. This would ultimately answer all his questions and remove any doubts.

Sorry to be gone for some time. I have a sick 6 month old.

The speakers will be about 12-16 inches from the rear wall and at least 6 feet from the side walls.

I wish this was not the case but it is so, the question is narrowly which of these will be best in that applicaiton. And if they both will be poor is there a much better option.

And a sincere thank you for the input!

Hi Ken. You might want to start a different thread entitled "Speakers for Close Placement to Back Wall" - you would proably get a lot more response related to the issue. The Quattros definitely will address the issue of controlling bass output effectivley, but I don't know exactly what that close of a placement will do to the rest of the spectrum and soundstaging, etc. One thing for sure, the Quattros are very fine speakers.
I know a dealer who has tuned the Quatro with great results near wall, maybe not as good as more room would allow but these speakers offer great adjustment....cheers