I haven't heard 3As in a long time, but I own the 1Cs and 2Wq subs. If had to pick a speaker most unlike the Vandys, I might well pick Def Techs. YMMV, but I find the Def Techs harsh, too bright and brittle sounding. Vandys, by comparison, are pretty smooth (some say too smooth, but not me). I have no experience with Parasound, but Vandys do well with higher power amps (both ss and tubes). I run mine with an Odyssey Stratos HT3 to good effect.
In the price range of the 3A, but with a better WAF, I would also audition:
Silverline Audio Allegro
Reference 3a Veena
Ohm Walsh S3200
Joseph Audio RM 25siMkII
Vienna Acoustics Mozart Grand
I will probably catch it from the Vandy crowd on this but I'm just not a big fan of their speakers below the Quatro level. The Quatro and the 5A's are nice speakers and a good value for the money--the 5A is one of my favorites. But below that level I'm not impressed. I think you can find a better sounding and more attractive speaker and should expand your search. The volume of your listening area is actually pretty large so you will need something full range and this may push the price upwards if you want high quality sound. Not sure what your budgetary limits are but I'm sure we can offer some suggestions if you share that information.
You already have received good advice so I will just add to it. I agree that the Def Techs are not even close and agree that Joseph Audio and Vienna are good substitutions.
If you go with the V's I don't think Parasound is the best match but it is safe. I would look at Odyssey or Electrocompineit. (miss spelled)
Another great speaker that requires a REL sub to compete is the Intuitive Design Summit, Delta Summit, or Gamma Summit. I heard the Summit which is their entry speaker beat out the 5A Sigs.and only sell for $5200 with stands but you must put a REL with it.
I have the Parasound A21 paired with Vandersteen 3a sigs. in a 25 X 30 foot room and it sounds great. I tried the Vandersteens with the Parasound A23 and it did not sound good at all. I also have listened a lot to the 3as powered by the Parasound JC1s and this is a wonderful combination.
So Dhel, you think the 250w per ch vice 125w per ch made that much difference? I am leaning that way also. Just looking for confirmation? Did you use a sub with yours? If so, what type? thanks. Does the wife like the looks of them?
Joe in Mobile
I suggest you check the archives.
Not to sound facetious, but check what in the archives?
Joe in Mobile
I do not use subs with my setup. I can make my system have too much bass or too little bass by moving the speakers and seating location in the room so subs are not necessary even in my large room. I have heard the 3as with and without subs and they definitely sound better with subs in the system, but I don't believe they are a must have for good sound. I don't think that the difference in wattage of the amps is what makes the speakers sound better because they did not sound good at all even at low volumes with the A23. With the A21 the 3as sound great at all volumes. My wife is not bothered by the look of the speakers, but they are in a dedicated room so aesthetics come second to sound. You can check it out if you click on my system link by my username.
Beautiful set-up you have. I am not sure how my wife will react as this will be in the living room. I'm hoping the sound will convince her. A couple of questions for you; 1) You don't think the wattage of the amp mattered, yet they sound better w/ 250w vice 125w. What do you think makes them sound better with that amp then? 2) I will be using a NHT powered sub with them. What do you think of that combo? Thanks for your input and I look forward to hearing from you.
Joe in Mobile
Hi Joe, here is a thought on WAF.
I'm sure over 90% of the Vandersteens sold (models 1, 2, and 3) have the black sox. Note that Dhel does and that his front wall is also a dark color.
Years ago when I was ordering new speakers that were very large (6' tall) and came standard with black grill cloth (covering 98% of the front of the speakers), I happened to mention this to a friend who was an interior decorator. She reacted in horror and ask if any other color grills were available. My walls and drapes on the front wall are off-white. I was able to order off-white grills and in spite of their size, these speakers blended in with the room quite nicely.
I believe Vandy offers beige and possibly gray as alternatives to the black sox. Finding a color that better blends with your room décor could help win the battle of WAF. Not everyone appreciates a 2001 monolith, let alone a pair of them in their living room.
Also, while I've not heard current versions, you might find the 2Ce Sigs with Vandy subs works better than the 3As. This is because you could then fine tune the bass more easily and accurately. And since the Vandy subs are self-powered, you would not need as much power on the main speakers.
What type of material did you order to use as grill cloth? How much material did you use? Were you satisfied with the end result? Was it easy to do as a diy project? If you can think up any other questions I should ask, please feel free to answer them. ;)
Joe in Mobile
Joe, sorry wrong impression. I ordered my speakers with off-white from the factory. And since I've seen them, I know Vandersteen offers other options to black as well. You'd best get current information from them.
In the event you bought used speakers or wanted a color that Vandersteen does not offer, I've heard of a company call Gilford that sells a selection of appropriate speaker material. I have not personal experience with them. And while it certainly can be done, I'll guess the replacement of the sox style cloth on Vandys is more difficult than a typical speaker with a pop-off grill frame.
Also, please consider my suggestion for the Vandersteen subs. They are very flexible for system matching and offer many of the advantages of the larger Quatro and 5 systems when used with the model 1, 2, or 3 speakers.
I have the 3A Sigs in beige cloth direct from the factory. You can see a picture by clicking the system link by my signature.
I am not sure what the difference in sound is between the two amps; perhaps current. The NHT sub would work, but the Vandersteen subs use a high pass crossover that relieves your amp and speaker of producing deep bass. Therefore, every area of the speaker improves. Check out Vandersteens website for info on the subs. I can tell you I have never heard a better sub for music. I haven't heard that many subs, but I know when something sounds good.
I will have to 1st hook up the system w/ my nht sub and see how it sounds. I had not originally planned on a new sub, but as in anything I have ever planned I usually have to add 30% - 40% to my budget to get the real budget. ;) Which sub are you using?
Joe in Mobile
Definitely try your system with and without your sub you may find that you do not need one. Sure the 3As sound better with the Vandersteen subs, but they also sound great without them. I currently do not run subs because of financial reasons, but I do plan on adding stereo 2wqs in the future.