Vandersteen Quattro review in Stereophile

Some of you may recall the rather heated discussion that occured in this forum some months back stimulated from a "Watchdog" piece by Richard Hardesty that made it to these pages where he slammed the Wilson Maxx speakers.
Hardesty has been and still is a very avid supporter of Vandersteen designed speakers.
It was with great interest that I read Michael Fremer's review of the Quattro. It was a very positive review and he did bring up the previous thread that was generated here.
He admitted that maybe Hardesty was right about the sound of the Vandersteen's and declared the Quattro one of, if not the, best bargains in audio speakers. He also admitted that it was better in some ways{which are actually important to me} than the Wilson Maxx( a speaker I personally respect but don't particularly like for the money) and offered up a lot for much less money($44,000 vs $7500 including the required filters.)
It is not my point here to bring all this back up but to say I was glad to see that Fremer and Stereophile do honest reviews and I think he handled the previous disagreement well (after he heard for himself) with what I would consider somewhat of an admission that maybe Hardesty isn't as nuts as he was originally made out to be. I have always thought Fremer wrote excellent reviews and I had a feel for where he was coming from even though I certainly didn't agree with everything he said. I was disappointed how he responded to Hardesty but I'm truly glad to see his appreciation of what Vandersteen can do for a lot less money. Now he needs to review the 5a (or the soon to be released 5a Signature.) I think he would find, when properly set up like all Vandersteen's speakers, a real treasure for the money.
What is known about the 5a Signature?
"one of , if not the best deals in audio speakers...."
Not much is actually known at this point. A dealer in NC who seems very up with Vandersteen(long term dealer and knowledgable Vandersteen guru) told me about it. Seems he has come up with some different damping material and possibly a better tweeter. I had actually heard he was coming out with a Model 7 at one point. This however may be what is happening with the Signature version of the 5a instead of a new speaker.
It was my understanding that the intro was later this year at a price of around $21,000. Of course, this was tentative. I'm sure with Vandersteen's reluctance to release a product until he is absolutely sure of it, it could be longer and/or more expensive. I haven't heard if this will be an upgrade to current owners but I feel it will at a price and a trip back to the factory.
Did he review a Quattro with the wood cabinet ($10,700 i think)?
It sounded excellent at HE2006.

Wilsons and Vandersteens are completely different designs and goals, so i would think to be an apples and oranges comparison.
The price difference between the two Quattros shows you how much cabinet contributes to speaker costs and why Vandersteen has always represented such a good value (but not such an attractive speaker).

I would have a hard time putting the non-wood Quattro in my living room. I think the shape and proportions of the Quattro are all wrong aesthetically, but the wood makes it more palatable. How does it affect the sound, I wonder?
"apples and oranges"?....The high-end goal of accurate reproduction of recorded music would seem to be similar.
Tarsando-- i tend to believe there is no perfect speaker, and designers opt to voice how they see accurate reproduction. the problem is they think different of what "accurate" reproduction is. otherwise Thiels would sound like Vandys.

i've heard Vandys a zillion times, and while i think they are great speakers, they don't have the resolution i hear in other brands. that said Vandys have a natural coherancy that others don't have. pick your poison. ymmv. sounded great at HE2006 in both rooms i heard them.

i'm with Drubin---the sock look just isn't aeshetically pleasing to me and the wood cabinet version woudl be more appealing to me. then again, people think my Sophias look like silver robots, so its a very personal decision!

I always liked Vandersteen's approch.. and resonable pricing, as for appearence I think that I recognize that people have aesthetic issues with many devices, but I gave up on that long ago in turn for better pricing and buying something more as a "Tool" to get this audio nut job done, yeah wifes and all that can be an issue, but screw that give me another 10,000 in performance over 10,000 in an exotic finish. So I like the respect given to the little guy in the end. But thats just me:)
Interesting how different we all seem to "hear."
KiethR says " i've heard Vandys a zillion times, and while i think they are great speakers, they don't have the resolution i hear in other brands."
To me, the ability of the Vandy's to reproduce an acurate resolution lies in their ability to image. I was actually out of the audiophile treadmill for over 15 years. Then I went to the last HES in SF looking to get some ideas on upgrading my old Vandy's. When I walked into the room playing the Sophia's I knew that was the type of sound I liked in my Vandys' and that they were a potential replacement speaker because they sounded like my Vandy's. But then, to each his/her own.


One of the characteristics of the Vandersteen time and phase accurate speakers is that the drivers work together in phase. In addition to other benefits, this means the leading edge of a transient, from each driver, reaches your ear at the same time. This reproduction is truthful to the source.

In speakers that are not time and phase accurate, the tweeter will tend to lead the midrange in time, which some hear as an apparent increase in resolution. While this apparent increase seems desirable at first, over a longer listening session, this distortion in time can really irritate and add listener discomfort.

If you spend some time listening to a Vandy and then listen to a non time and phase accurate speaker, this difference really jumps out.

Vandersteen has long advocated the "open basket" enclosure, with no sides and a very limited baffle to avoid affecting the natural dispersion of the driver. The openness of this design approach is very beneficial. So it is curious that Richard is offering the Quattro with wood sides along the drivers. I believe he is attempting to provide, as an option, a speaker that is more attractive and appealing, and has kept the sides as narrow as possible at the top to minimize baffle size. So the proportions are right for engineering reasons.

My guess is if you auditioned them side by side, the non wood version might be slightly less open, but maybe not easily detectable. If you like the additional wood, I would certainly not hesitate worring about the difference.
The regular "Sock" model was reviewed. In this review, MF was impressed with the resolution and openess of the speaker bettering the sound staging, etc. of the Wilson Maxx(his reference.) I think he said he had not heard better in this area.
The dealer in NC said the wood cabinet was better by what he thought 20%. I kinda find that hard to believe but I haven't actually heard the wood version and understand it is a little different cabinet(more than just the finish.) I did hear the sock version and was mighty impressed with its capabilities.
I also liked the smaller footprint with the built in subs. It is considerably smaller than the 3A Sig's and certainly the 5a's. I felt it to be an improvement over the 3A Signature and a pair of 2Wq's. It also has the 11 band equalizer of the 5a to precisely adjust the sound from below 120hz or so to the room. It also appeared to have a level control as well as a "Q" control. Lots of possibilities here with such a moderately priced speaker.
Of course it does require a little setup effort to get everything right just as all Vandy's do. Overall, I thought them to be an unbelievable bargain in todays market.
Re: Sock vs. Wood Quatro

I have been looking at the Quatro (among others; MBL, Acoustic Zen, Sound Lab) over the last month or so. My local Vandy dealer says that the Wood uses an improved tweeter (from the 5A) and that several other modifications were required during development of the speaker due to unanticipated impact from the use of the wood cabinet. The party line is that the wood is a superior speaker.

My own experience is that the "Sock", "Wood" and 5A are all (pardon the pun) cut from the same cloth and share very similar sonics. At this point, I'm leaning toward a pair of Socks.
bigtee,i agree with you,Fremer could have down-played the vandersteens and gave wilson the upper hand but he didn't... i have always enjoyed Fremers writing /reviewing abilitys and appreciate his honesty in the stereophile review... kudos mikey...
IMHO, the Quattro is one of the greatest values today. The catch is that you have to care more about music than hi-fi buzzwords like resolution and whether the flute is 2ft or 2 1/2 ft from the left speaker edge. Also if you listen in nearfield or want a speaker that you have to sit in some locked middle location than the Quattro is not for you. If you listen to orchestral and organ (as well as jazz, rock, country and everything else like me) and like a sound that spreads across the room and are not shy about realistic volumes, than belly up to the bar boys & girls.

The simple explanation is they sound like music to me and the only reason I didn't buy them was the dealer was too far away to allow for a home trial.
If you listen to orchestral and organ (as well as jazz, rock, country and
everything else like me) and like a sound that spreads across the room and are
not shy about realistic volumes, than belly up to the bar boys & girls.
Does this mean they have to be cranked up to sound good?

And by the way, folks, Quatro has just one "t".
No, they don't have to be cranked up to sound good. The QuaTro's (with a single T) sound good at any level.

I think it shows that as you climb in price above a certain price point the returns per dollar diminish or are none existant. In this case 7900 vs 44000 they are different but one is not necessarliy better than the other.

Good point, Larry. Also Wilson spends big $ on their cabinets in terms of materials and finish. RV spends next to nothing. Add 2 layers of mark up and the cost diff in terms of drivers and x-over may be not as much. Factor in diminishing returns and you can see where the discussion has led.
As stated above, cabinetry adds most sygnificantly to the cost. This is one reason Vandersteens ahave always been such a huge bargain in terms of "sound" for dollar value. YOu pay for the sound, not the cabinet. Take a look at the cost difference in the wood version of the Quatro vs the sock Quatro. Now imagine taking that amount off any other high end speaker. If you can afford the jewelry in high end audio, all the better for you. If you want the best sound quality for the price, Vandersteen has long been one of the best ways to go. IMHO