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? 
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. 

Years ago I drove a pair of Vandy 1Bs with an Acurus A250 amp and this combo provided a full range dynamic sound on everything I listened to. The "most audiophile speakers fall apart" comment is silly and in my experience utterly unfounded, as any supposed "audiophile" speaker should be expected to play anything well, and most actually do within possible sound level or bass response limitations, but LS3/5As shouldn't be expected to sound like something with 10" bass drivers. I use mains now with very small 3.75" mid/bass drivers (Silverline Preludes) and a couple of REL subs…65 watt pc tube amp…this rig will play anything beautifully from low levels to ear damage warning zone, and the "music style" specific speaker concept is ridiculous…Mahler and Landreth both should feel as good as mandolin solo works, and in most reasonably sorted systems they will.
" 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."

Poor choice of words on my part. I should have taken the time to compare the differences between the speakers than to just say they sounded broken.
having owned 3A Sig for a decade before moving to 5 A and now 7 Mk2 I will say there are a couple of critical things to get right about the Model 3 in general.

First it sounds like you did not buy them thru a dealer - make sure they are not broken including a fried voicecoil or  a delaminated surround. IF you did get them thru a dealer make them work to support you. IMO just about every Vandersteen dealer is crazy about the product and supporting it. Richard also takes a lot of ? via web and posts answers and of course he picks up the phone.

setup - verify gas tight and correct phase connection thru the chain. Are you biwiring ? do you know IF the connections are correct ? Shotgun or ?

Follow the setup directions to the T
did you do the math on the room and use the golden ratio setup #’ ?
the sound anchor stands are essential do you have them ? are they by any chance touching the back wall ?
the acoustic coupler will connect to the back wall in a massive way if they're too close. you can also tune the bass a bit by experimenting w distance to back wall. You can download Vandertones off Vandersteen website and use a simple radio shack analog SPL meter - this way you will know what your room is doing..more non Vandersteen owners should also do this...many prefer head or ears in sand...
Use a tape measure and a helper to very your ear height at the listening position and the distance to speaker, get the tilt right !

you can also download the setup manuals off the Vandersteen website

finally IM experience you need an amp with high damping factor to control the woofers BUT also a sweet top and mid - they are pretty revealing. I used a 200 WPC Mac and I would say it worked well. My LiL Mac 240 would run them barelyy...ha The Mac did not do so well with the 5's but that is a deifferent tale...

My old 3 A sig still in service making great music in brothers system - 150 WPC PS Audio has a vice like grip on Bass, Mac preamp, SOTA table.....ah.......



Very good info from the replies to your post. I have 2CE's, 3ASigs and Maggie 1.6 in different systems in my home. They ALL sound great to my ears and other's who have visited. With Vandersteens and Maggie's, set up is VERY IMPORTANT!! All of the points made regarding set up by the folks responding here are spot on. Read the manual, experiment  and take your time. If possible, speak with Richard Vandersteen or John Rutan of Audio Connection. They will help you get the speakers performing their best. I'm a long time customer of John Rutan's. He's the best in the business and he's "Way Recommended".