After hearing many good things about Vandersteen speakers I purchased a pair of 3a signatures. They sound beautiful with chamber music or small group jazz but quickly fall to pieces with symphonic works or rock. Have other people noted this deficiency with Vandersteens? 
The point of the OP is valid imo. There are many speakers which are superior to the Vandy II and III in terms of tightness and accuracy of the bass especially. I found this to be the case regardless of listening level. These models of the Vandersteens are not the last word on definition and cleanness, and bias in favor of the speakers does not change that. I owned the II CE and got tired of the indistinctness of the low end, so I moved to as far afield as I could, the Maggie 1.6QR. Of course that model has its own issues. Both of these speakers are bargains but have distinct shortcomings. 

In terms of their performance to price the lower end Vandersteens are highly recommendable, but certainly not in terms of absolute performance. This should not be shocking, as after all Vandersteen has improved their lines markedly with much superior and much more costly models like the 5 and 7. 

I had Vandersteen ll CE Sigs for a couple of years and kept switching amps, both tubed and solid state, including Krell, Rogue Audio, Musical Fidelity and Conrad Johnson in the hopes of "waking them up." Ultimately, I could not get them to achieve the level of dynamic range I wanted. I finally found my desired level of punch in Thiel 2.4s and have enjoyed them for several years now with no inkling of swapping them for another speaker.
" These models of the Vandersteens are not the last word on definition and cleanness, and bias in favor of the speakers does not change that. I owned the II CE and got tired of the indistinctness of the low end, so I moved to as far afield as I could, the Maggie 1.6QR. Of course that model has its own issues. Both of these speakers are bargains but have distinct shortcomings."

The problem with Vandersteens is that very few people take the time to set them up right, and match components for best results. Right now I have my Model 2's v biamped with 2 Ayre V-5's, Aesthetix Calypso and a Wadia 861SE. That's close to 30k in electronics for a $2500 speaker. If you listened to my system, you would never say the speakers are the weak link in the chain. They embarrassed both pair of my B&W 802's, made the 1.6's and 1.7's sound like they were broken, and in most areas, outperform my Wilson's. But that's only if you set them up right. Most people aren't aware of just how transparent Vandersteen's are overall, and quite often mistake flaws in other components as speaker issues.  
Talked to John Rutan awhile ago. He said using the Belles Aria integrated not only improved the overall sound of the Vandy's, but drastically improved dynamic range. Somewhere down the road I'm going to try this amp on my Vandersteen Treo CT's to validate his impression.
mb1audio02, your comments mirror the perceptions of a good number of audiophiles. Any speaker will leap to impressive performance levels when placed with very fine gear and set up well. One method of system building which is "tried and true" is to find what one considers an outperforming affordable speaker and jack up the components ahead of it. Of course, the opposite method is just as supported, using what are considered outperforming affordable electronics with a perceived more high end speaker. As might be expected there are proponents of each method. I have tried both and one can get desirable results either way, but typically not SOTA. 

So, it's not surprising that you achieved far better results than average by complementing the Vandy's with the most suitable gear. My point was not to diminish Vandersteens, but simply to point out why some would not prefer the sound. A system which has been optimized for one speaker will not typically serve all speakers with equal benefit. One notable exception is the Exogal Comet DAC and Ion PowerDAC together, which I reviewed for and own. It was the only set of pre/DAC/power electronics to take five speaker systems (including panel, dynamic, hybrid dynamic, omni) to their best performance ever, something which had never occurred in all my years of reviewing. I was deeply impressed by that result. It should be expected that normally a rig that is set up to maximize the sound of a dynamic speaker would not be forgiving to a panel speaker.


In regards to your comment about the Maggies sounding "broken" in comparison, I will share a brief story. At one point I had a pair of MMGs in my office. Some friends who are huge Vandy fans were interested, having never heard them. I carted them over to their house and used their system to compare the Vandy 3's (I forget which version)  to the humble MMG. We simply dropped the MMGs in and did no optimization for them. They guffawed at the sound quality level achievable when this cheap $600 speaker was put into their big gun system. No "broken" sounding result that time! Obviously a radically different result as would be expected.
I knew it would not be a cakewalk for the Vandy 3, but even I was surprised at how competitive the MMG was considering two Vandy Subs were in use but not tweaked for the MMGs (They were also in use with the 3s). 

I consider the term "broken" as largely a dismissal of the panel sound. There seem to be nearly as many fans of Magnepan as Vandersteen - they are both premier audiophile speaker sellers in North America. Maggie fans would be as able to describe the sound of a Vandy, or any dynamic speaker, as sounding "broken". Technological preference plays a large part in your comparison. 

As for myself I find both have something terrific to offer and specific limitations, which is why I work with both panel and dynamic speakers. The Vandys and Maggies are perhaps the most adored of these two competing technologies, and for good reason. :)

Finally, I suggest that for people who have the perception of the OP, they might wish to try a class D amp with very high power, like 500-1,000wpc, with the Vandy 2 or 3 as this should tighten up the speaker quite a bit. Tonally the outcome is not guaranteed to be acceptable (I put the odds at 50/50, but such things are part of the exploration.