Vandersteen Seminar at Audio Connection (NJ)

Audio Connection hosted a fantastic seminar this past Saturday with Richard Vandersteen.  Richard spent a few hours answering questions and telling us about what's going on at Vandersteen.  One of the more interesting tidbits (IMHO) was Richard's focus (obsession?) on the non-pistonic behavior of cones, found in even in "hi end" drivers (but not his carbon/balsa ones).  Richard seemed to view non-pistonic behavior as causing significant losses in information, and simultaneously responsible for the heightened sensitivity of a lot of drivers (i.e., that some of those dBs of sensitivity are distortion).  He mentioned that a major objective is to bring pistonic behavior into the lower-cost designs, leading me to hope that upgrade packages might because available for the 3A Sigs.  :)    

After the chat, Johnny R had a demo running of the 7s set up with the new Vandy subs ("System 9" is what he was calling it), Vandy amps, AR Reference preamp, and Aesthetix phono-pre.  (Sorry, I missed the specifics of the pre and the analog rig; I did notice that it was a Benz LP cartridge.)  They were playing the MoFi one-step pressing of Fagen's The Nightly--it was probably the best sound I've ever heard in my 25+ years in this hobby.  The midrange and high frequency clarity was just unreal.  After "New Frontier" played, the whole room had to pick their collective jaw up from the ground.

Kudos to RV, Johnny R and the whole Audio Connection for putting on such a fantastic event, and for setting up the demo system so well.


Thanks for putting up this thread, sorry we didn't have a chance to meet. I was the one that requested some 'Dan' music and Nick came up with The Nightfly. I was in the center seat, front row and i think my brain melted after hearing that.

Also want to give thanks to John and crew at Audio Connection for hosting this wonderful event. Admittedly a lot of what RV spoke about went over my head. But his passion and commitment were the things that I connected to.

One of the things that I came away with that day is that I need to get a turntable. I think the vinyl bug bit me hard!



Hi Audionoobie!  I'm the one who said you were a man after my own heart when you requested "Dan"!  I was right behind you during the demo!  I will make sure to say hello to you at the next seminar.

You definitely need to invest in a turntable.  Even if you don't want to invest much, you can great sound.  I have a very inexpensive Rega RP1 (I paid about $600 with the so-called "Performance Pack") and I get amazing sound from that.  Of course, the sky's the limit from there.



glad to hear it was such a good time!
my brother reports that the event in Florida was also fantastic!!!!

Pistonic is one of the holy grail pursuits, RV work looking at the behavior of cones will be regarded as seminal someday .....the laser does not lie....many high end drivers are producing significant out of phase output compared to the input signal

i also think in some sense people like the trash that comes with cones flopping out of phase and we know for sure that the human brain equates louder with in some sense many 5 a owners dont ( at first ) understand the 7.....

spend any amount of time with the 7 and you will know....

@cedargrover That's crazy man!!! Glad you dug it as much as I did. I would say that $600 - $800 is what I'm looking to spend so I will def. keep your recommendation in mind.

I'm curious to see if any other Agonners were present at AudioConnection as well.....

Your point is well-taken, tomic601.  As a (mediocre) drummer, I hone in on percussion because I know what cymbals and drums sound like in real life.  Same for piano from having grown up with it.  It takes a short while to ease into what the 7s are doing, but when you start to really think about what you are hearing and apply your references, there's no escaping that what the 7 is doing is right (IMHO).

audionoobie, I'm not sure if Johnny has an RP1 on display, but happy to bring mine in so you can hear it. I live 2 miles from there.
@cedargrover I appreciate the offer. Maybe after the new year I'll take you up on it. Lucky guy living so close to AC!

As an aside, I am a drummer as well, although I like to think of myself as "slightly" better than mediocre. When I’m not I.T.’ing things during the week, I play in two Top 40 club/wedding bands on the weekends.


I also attended the event. I thought the 7's powered by the Vandersteen amps sounded the best I have heard them. They truly disappear in the room.

Nick played some great music and I lust after that AMG turntable. At around $18K-$20K it's way out of my budget. I do have a fairly good TT, Clearaudio Performance DC with an AMG Teatro cartridge and although I have a good digital setup, Ayre Codex & Aurender N100H, my listening is 90% vinyl. I highly recommend adding a TT to every system.

I thought the system with the 5A Carbon's and an all Ayre stack sounded great as well. Richard is always entertaining when he is there and it's a real pleasure to speak with him.

The Audio Connection crew deserves a lot of credit for setting up this annual event. And John wearing a suit, unbelievable!
Nuts, I didn't even know about it. I always wanted to meet Mr. V.
Thank you for the Vandersteen report.  Question: How were the Vandersteen subs connected with the Vandersteen 7's? Did you have a chance to listen with/without the subs in the system?

I was at that meeting as well (up visiting friends and snuck away to visit John, haven't seen him since I moved four years ago).  Richard was fascinating, and that Model 7 system with the subwoofers was quite frankly the best system I have heard in years.  Wasn't as impressed with the 5 carbons, only because I felt the bass was a bit heavy in the room compared to their midrange--that could be due to where I was standing, though.

I couldn't make it, and that's a shame.  I have heard Johnny's Vandy 7 setup, and it is magical.  Mr. Rutan knows how to set up a system and match components as well as anyone I have ever encountered.  He also happens to be a heck of a nice guy.  If I had real money to drop on gear, Audio Connection would be my first visit.

"New Frontier" is my absolute favorite track on the Night Fly (there was even a way cool video of it back in the day).  I use it as a demo, and that's only a 16/44 FLAC needle drop from a bog-standard LP.  I can only imagine how the whole thing sounded with the re-issue on high quality vinyl.

@goheelz I don't know the details, but I am pretty sure RV said that the 7s were high-passed at 50hz.  I'm not sure how that is worked out among the 7s, the subs, and the high pass built into the Vandy amps.  Maybe JohnnyR will chime in.

@bondmanp Agree, I think it's best track track on the album.  

I live less than an hour away from Johnny's place but unfortunately we had other commitments that day and could not make it. Pretty pissed about it since I really wanted to meet RV and hear the 7s.

I expected nothing less than excellent sound but keep in mind that system with top line AR preamp and Vandy amps, TT, cables, etc., was probably pushing $200K.

Richard and John are a couple of my favorites..... so sorry I couldn't attend.   The one thing that was better living in NJ was that John was only 1/2 hour drive away.
[RV] mentioned that a major objective is to bring pistonic behavior into the lower-cost designs
Please, please, please! I've fantasized about my 2Ce Sig IIs with carbon tweeter and midrange. That might be hard to make coherent with a lesser woofer, but I'm willing to give it a listen!
RV mentioned that the carbon/balsa sandwich cones -- just the cones -- cost him about $1400/each.  I think RV is going to have to arrive at a breakthrough before we see pure-piston cones reach 2s and 3s.  Let's see!

RV mentioned that the carbon/balsa sandwich cones -- just the cones -- cost him about $1400/each.
OK, maybe the world isn't ready for a $15K model 2!

Some others have also gotten pistonic behavior: Vivid, KEF, TAD, and Avalon come to mind. Avalon Ascent (circa 1990) used a 2" metal dome to handle the mids with a crossover to the woofer set very low. I'm not sure what the spec was but I think the 2" driver handled everything from the upper bass to the tweeter range. The breakup frequency was well out of the crossover range. Vivid uses a similar strategy. KEF and TAD (maybe Thiel) get there with a coincident driver, the mids handled by a 4-5" metal ring around the tweeter. I wish Thiel was still building the Jim Thiel's designs. Most of these are crazy expensive designs. I'm curious to hear the KEF R series with the coincident driver. These models are quite affordable (but also made in China).
pistonic while using time and ohase preserving 6 db slope...
it aint that hard with steep slope filters....remember Vandersteen is a set of related and interlocking first principles....

i have some ideas for the el- cheapo carbon fiber / balsa pistonic driver......but listening to the 7’s evaporates any energy I seem to have for the endeavor...
a coincident driver has absolutely nothing to do with pistonic.....
a coincident driver has absolutely nothing to do with pistonic.....
Right, I didn't intend to imply that it did but pistonic behavior is very much the design goal of the TAD and expensive KEFs (not sure how close the Chinese-made KEFs get but these measurements for the R500 are encouraging). Jim Thiel's designs, I think, got there, too.
I was there Great Day and was the one who supplied 
The MoFi one step The Night Fly
Err....It looks like I missed another great event. I was hoping to get over in for an hour but it didn't work out.    
Tomstruck, that was a fantastic contribution!  Thank you!
almost worth moving there to meet you guys
Never thought you'd say that about NJ, I bet!!  :)
Hey - we have a great audio club in The Garden State! - a fun group of ornery audiophiles.
Check Audio Connection’s twitter feed. 
Well if you have something against twitter you can also find pix on AC’s Facebook page.  Otherwise, you might be out of luck on the picture front.  
How could anyone be against twitter?
The greatest person in human history does so daily .
Well, that is one reason, schubert.
It mostly hinges on the fact that I think it is the silliest waste of time a grown person would be involved in, but if anyone likes it, fine.
Facebook is marginally better.


Once, years ago, a husband of one of my dear friends said I took moral stands on ridiculous issues.  Had to do with cheating on taxes.  Age shows.