Vandersteens, PSB or something else?

I’m looking to upgrade my speakers and would appreciate some input. My system includes ayre amp, aesthetix calypso preamp, and vandy 2c sig IIs. The room is relatively large at 23’ wide (speakers on this side) by 27’. I would like speakers that are good at both music and home theatre. I plan to run HT pass through and 5.1 overall. For music, I listen to a lot of classic rock, blues and jazz. Not too much classical. I do enjoy live Dead and Allman Brothers. I’d like the speakers to image well and present a nice soundstage but also really draw me in emotionally to the music. For home theater, I’d like to be able to include a center channel and get a decent theater experience. The vandies, really no complaints, they have served me very well. But I have budget to take the next step and was thinking maybe the Treos. But once I make this next step, I would not be making any moves for a while, so wanted to explore other alternatives as well. The PSB Imagine T3’s seem to have been reviewed well and may be worth a test. My budget would allow for these, and I guess I could possibly go up to the quatro for the right deal. Any other ideas that, given my musical preference, room, budget could be worth a shot? I have to admit, sometimes I do wonder if the live recordings that I’m listening too would really benefit from a big upgrade to the speakers.

all are good; add Magnepan 3.7i to your auditions - easily had at $4k for used, or $6k at a dealer

I eventually replaced my Vandies with Maggies

Yes, the live recordings that you're listening to would really benefit from a big upgrade to the speakers - I listen to the same and it is a huge difference, esp. with Dave's Picks or the new release of the first GD album, much less A. Bros.

include room tmts. in your budget
Thanks for the comments.  Maggies.  Hmmm.  Hadn't thought of those.  You think they'd be good at delivering the home theater angle too?  
I think you will find that every move up the Vandersteen line will be an improvement over the previous model. The Quatro’s are really great at Music and HT and may be the sweet spot in the line. With a room your size I am not sure the Treo’s will work for you. You might also try the 3A Sigs with a pair of Vandersteen subs. They also make some nice center channel speakers like the VCC-2.

I would reach each out to Vandersteen or to John Rutan at the Audio Connection to get some advice. Since you have been happy with Vandersteen for a while I think it makes more sense to upgrade within the line than to switch to another brand. Just my opinion and YMMV.

Good Luck!
+1 for Joey54
Johnny R is the best person to speak with. (PM him at 'audioconnection' here on Agon.
Quatro's would be a match made in heaven, otherwise the Treo's with a pair of 2wq subs. I personally wouldn't go for the 3a sigs as the newer models provide so much better sound quality.-And, yes, I owned the 3a sig's before moving to the Treo's+subs.
I can see Maggie's as a contender, but remember that they need more power, perhaps even a Zero autoformer to help the amp with the lower impedences. (Though even Vandies can sound better with Zero's).

I would agree with several others here that if you enjoyed the sound and staging of the model 2 Sigs. that you stay with Vandersteens.  Either Quatros or Treos plus stereo subs. (2wq).  Either way you should be a happy camper!

Nothing against Maggies but they may not be the ideal choice for the music you prefer.

Sounds like you have the itch to try some new transducers . I say go for it . You could always go back to Vandersteen in the future . Get off the forums ,and get out to where the speakers are to hear .
I agree with many here. The Quatro Ct and the 3.7 are my two top personal favs. But the 3.7 will sound the best with high quality powerful amps. The CTs are just awesome and would not need all that extra power. If you can find a dealer to audition both, I would do that before I dropped the cash.

sb, I also have the Vandy 2CE Sig 2 that I use for both home theater and audiophile stereo listening. They sound great as they are being driven by a pair of Mcintosh monoblock 600 watts each. If you ask me, I think These speakers are under rated. I'm getting good bass, clarity and, good soundstage, although my room is not as big as yours but it sure is sound great. I wish you could come over and listen to my set up.
I have the 2ce Sig II as well. I run a Parasound A21, but I bet the mono McIntosh amps make them sound even better. I don’t think they can sound nearly as good as the Quatro CT or 3.7s. The bass alone with both speakers will go lower and cleaner. 
My recommendation would be to stay away from current PSB speakers, especially the T3's.  After reading glowing reviews of the T3's, I thought I had the solution to upgrading my PSB Stratus Gold i's.  When I went to hear them, I eagerly anticipated the PSB house sound, only upgraded to current times.  What I got was a listening session that lasted all of 10 minutes because the speakers sounded like crap.  Now, crap, like pornography is kind of hard to define.  But, we all know it when we see it, or hear it on audio gear.  Now I know a lot of techies will be asking about room size, treatments, gear to drive the speakers, humidity and barometric pressure.

What I can tell you is that my jaw dropped in utter disappointment as I really, really wanted to like these speakers.  I looked at the sales rep and said "these speakers sound like crap."  His response?  "I know; they do."  I then said to him "How on earth do you expect to ever sell a pair of these?"  He then told me "We are hoping that somebody buys them from just reading the TAS review."

The "experts" couldn't get these speakers to sound good in their own listening room.  How, then, do you think you could get them to sound good in your home?

Process of elimination is a tough way to go, but that, combined with some informed insight and listening, will get you to where you want to go.

As always, trust your ears.
Thumbs up to the Quatro's - a quality upgrade from a quality line of speakers!
Head scratch on dissing the PSBs. Pretty universal praise from reviewers and audio shows, virtually all praising its value. Relatively easy to drive, matching center and surrounds. Seems well worth the audition. Vandersteens are fine speakers, especially for two channel but don’t think their designer expected them to be applied to home theater. My two
I actually think with a room that size, and considering home theatre application, you’re better of going with speakers that are more "filling" and have wider dispersion. Ohm speakers should sound great in that room or a brand with di-pole design with plenty of room behind it should work well too. Magnepans give a real nice and deep soundstage but have a very narrow sweet spot.
I'm a Maggie lover so that is my recommendation.  You will love them and become addicted to their sound.  I would get a used pair or new ($2,000),of the 1.7i's not a lot of $ and you can see if you like them.  I use mine for HT as well. I have the 1.7i's up front , with the CC3 center, MMG's as side surrounds and MC1's as rear surrounds. It sounds incredible without direction from any one speaker, just surrounded by the sound. You need a nice amp with power for these puppies, which sounds like you already have that Ayre amp. I power the 1.7is with the Bryston 6bsst. Or you can purchase The MMGs for up front which will give you the Maggie sound for only $650 from Magnepan with a 30 or 60 day return policy. You cant beat that! go to their web site. You could use them as side surrounds or return them and buy the 1.7i's or 3.7is, if u have the cash. you wont be disappointed!!!
Don 1,

I hate to break it to you, but as a professional theater designer, nobody uses panels of any kind in a real theater or a system designed to actually function as one.

The best real theaters all use direct radiating loudspeakers with some kind of horn loading usually for the tweeter, with compression drivers and dsp.

Look at Dts spin off Procella, or Paul Hales company PHC and you will see. The issue is dynamic range, and dispersion control and efficiency.

A planar radiates sound out of phase with the front wave this is called diapole cancillation, and according to Newtons law an equil and opposite reaction cancels out, what this means to sound is there is no air spring effect and your bass is not good, a dynamic loudspeaker has much greater spl, and can launch a sound wave with much greater force.

As an ex Maggie owner, 3.6’s these speakers have mondo issues, One the image is way too large, two the bass is weak, three the dynamics are constricted and four they are very inefficent, five they don’t play loud.

If this gentleman has a large room and loves rock, speakers he should be considering are ATC and Legacy to name a few.

As per PSB the T3 are excellent. loudspeakers, they sound very good, Paul Barton, is a very respected designer, and his designs for years have been highly rated. The T3 is going to have a ton more of resolution then an old Straus so you may not care for listening to a much more modern design with a Titanium tweeter vs a much more recessed sounding tweeter sound which you are used to. I don’t know of any dealer who carries speakers that they know are bad, it is not good business to do so.

For all you Vandy guys out there, a pair of Vandy whatever plus their subs will not a theater make. The Vandy subs are not real subs compared to the world of subs like JL Audio or SVS. A JL audio Fathom 113 uses a long throw nearly 15 inch driver with a 3,000 watt amplifier 3 smaller woofers although they sound like they can move more air actually fail to move as much air due to the efficiency of coupling air to the size of the diaphram, not to mention a 300 watt amplifier is not enough power to really move three eight inch drivers.

Vandersteen are nice speakers for music but the company is much more in the 2 channel camp then they are in the Home Theater world even their best center channel loudspeaker doesn’t use identical drivers to their higher end CT series drivers and as noted an 85db efficeint speaker with a somewhat limited power handling.

Now lets look at a Legacy Focus Signature a $7k speaker which actually sounds a lot like a bigger version of a Quattro CT at half that speakers price or for  a bit more money the larger Focus at around $11k

The Legacy is 92db efficient Sig 95db for the Focus
has high power handling 300 watts Signature 750 watt 
has very low bass 22hz Sig 18hz Focus
is tall enough to throw a big soundstage
has a series of matching center channels
uses Heil amt tweeters and a heil AMT midrange for a smooth top end with good detail
PLAYS loud!

The only issue is the somewhat limited amount of Legacy dealers,

We have the Legacy Focus Signatures in our small theater and they sound fantastic.

Other great music and theater speakers KEF Reference who we use in our large theater and they also play loud and are 90db efficient depending on model and they have high power handling.

You should go to your local dealer and try to listen to a bunch of good speakers and focus on those traits as I have listed above.

Here is the movie theater we built for Rev Run of Rev Runs Rennovation
and featured on TV:

Here are the construction shots note KEF THX in walls with JL Audio Subs:

If we can be of assistance to you please feel free to contact us:

Audio Doctor NJ

Thanks all for taking the time to provide me with input on the speakers.  There are a few dealers in the area.  For me, it is really a lack of time to properly check them all out on the right electronics.  Hence, my post to get a few ideas and perhaps shorten the journey.  I'll see if I can make some time to do proper auditions.  I'd say I want my system to be excellent an the audio / stereo side and if I had to sacrifice, I suppose it could be on the home theater side.  But I do enough movie watching that I'd like the 5.1 to be really good overall with a proper center channel.  
A Vandersteen fan for sure
but not a dealer

a center channel with the carbon fiber / balsa drivers would blow your whole budget - which is why they do not make such a beast....

Vandy HT is well thought out but is not sloppy Q bombastic stuff which is why he builds 2 different (3 now with the 9) sub models available

obviously the Vandersteen  bias is to SOTA 2 channel

sounds like you have done some soul searching on priority
I echo others get out and listen
lots of dealers carry excellent 2 channel and HT

where do you live ?

The Five Quattro's Music film system we installed played at concert level so good I didn't want to leave, that's what it's all about quality instead of Quantity.

Hey Troy, I give you a gold star for trying to penetrate all these folks threads. Remember you came by and I played you the Quatros and you thought they were the sevens.
I think I trust this fellows judgment calls below to make observations.
anyway sincerely wish you boys success in what you are trying to do.
 Best JohnnyR


"Many loudspeakers have passed through my listening room in the past year, but the one I most missed after its return to its manufacturer was this expensive, full-range Vandersteen. Driven by its almost-as-expensive dedicated amplifiers, it produced a sound that was consistently to die for." -John Atkinson, Stereophile

Your definition of concert level sound and the rest of the world may be a bit different. 

As per Home Theater your definition of what constitutes a Home Theater again I am willing to bet is different then ours. 

Take a look at what a real Home Theater looks like in the video and our flickr. What you are talking about is a Media Room. 

A real Theater is both about quantity and quality, and we are trained professionals in Home Theater after taking courses with Toni Grimini, Keith Yates and Russ Herschelman.

An 85db loudspeaker will go into compression at realistic theater levels which can routinely hit 105+ db, unless that speaker can handle a lot of power which means big voice coils the only 85db efficient loudspeakers that we have suitable for Home Theater are the ATC which can play all day loing at 108db as they are deigned for professional applications. 

Would you also like a quote from John Atkinson, not about a $62K speaker but a $20k one that also includes a preamp, a dac and a room correction processor: The Legacy Aeris:

The combination of the Aeris and Wavelet provide some of the most musically realistic sound I’ve ever encountered. They take digital processing and room correction a vital step forward, and show they can reach levels that are competitive with even the best purist speakers.

You would be amazed at what a $7,000 pair of Legacy Focus Signatures can do compared to many of the $14k loudspeakers out there.

If you are in our neck of the woods you should experience the Legacy line they are unbelievable loudspeakers and an incredible value.

Dave owner

Audio Doctor NJ

Dave, why do you insist on calling the Signature SE the Focus Signature? Aren't you a dealer for the Legacy brand? The Focus and Signature are 2 different models. It is pretty stunning to me that you carry the line and don't know the names of the models and continually call one of them the wrong thing. It really makes you seem that you have no clue about their products. There is no such thing as the Focus Signature. Signed, a long time fan and multiple time owner of the Legacy brand.
Sorry we call the large version Focus and the smaller vs Focus Signatures.

Both are based on Focus. 

This discussion mentioned both versions.

We are a displaying dealer and have sold a good number of both.

On the website they are listed as Focus Se and Signature Se if you talk to Legacy even they sometimes refer to the Sig Se as Focus Signatures as they are just a compact less expensive version of the Focus Se.

The point of this discussion is to draw attention to this wonderful brand for both their remarkarble sound quality and value for dollar.

As a Legacy owner please comment if you feel the same way.
I agree that the Legacy brand deserves recognition and certainly represent a good value. My point is that calling both speakers Focus is confusing. They are not the same. Just a bit of history about these models. The original Focus was an extension of the Signature model (not sure if it was sig 2 or 3), IOW the Signature came first. The Signature SE is meant to update the Signature 3 as the Focus HD/SE/XD carried forward from the Focus 20/20, which carried from the original Focus. When I see Focus price mentioned at $7000, it gets my attention, as I know they sell for north of 10k. IMO, avoiding confusion is as simple as calling them what they are called on the company website. Sorry for getting off topic here.
+1 for the Legacy. If you want to "feel" the sound, go with Legacy. They will hit you right in the chest, especially in your large room.
Like Tomic, I'm a Vandersteen owner (Quatro CT's in Havana Black) and have auditioned most of the speakers out there.  We all hear differently, but personally I've heard an incredible theater set up with Vandersteen Quatro's and subs to make a true 'swarm' set up.  It was plenty loud and plenty dynamic.  I won't get into semantics, but it was the most musical HT system I've heard in recent times.  I have heard some that are in the stratosphere price ranges, but that's not what we are talking about.

I personally like the newest version of the Legacy speakers much better than their previous models.  They are still too bright for my taste as I've always found with Heil drivers (my best friend Steve had a pair of the original Transtatic 1's that cost over 1k back in 73.  They were a transmission line bass.  I remember them being nearly as dynamic as his Klipsch Heresy's.  

I too used to love the highly dynamic, but no detail bass along with the bright highs.  Not musical, but it didn't matter back in the day, lol.  Things are much more refined now, but as I said that AMT driver complement is a love hate relationship.  Worth auditioning if all you want is dynamics for home theater I guess.  Lot's of other choices out there for you.  
OP caught in a crossfire hurricane

btw Allman Brothers Live at Fillmore is a seminal album and worthy of a great rig... there is great subtlety captured in the drums and symbols... lots of Air and hall ambience in Mountain Jam for example

the better speakers should all be chasing the holy grail of pistonic motion... many high efficiency speakers are junk producers - distortion counts as output...
better to ask WHY is a Vandersteen 7 an 85 bd speaker ?
no trash cone motion in the output...

i used the MQA version of Terrepin Station to help me decide if MQA was any good ( and it is) so keep chasing your dreams !!!

if I can help in some way let me know

Great post and thanks.  I agree on pistonic motion and also lack of smearing.  That album is awesome.  Very well recorded stuff.  A test I"m running going forward is using Diana KRall live from Paris.  Just a great jazz album if you love Jazz and man is her voice haunting on my system.  If a speaker can't get that one right, then good luck producing anything.  It's going to reveal the cracks in your speaker's ability to playback realistic voices, that's for sure.  My Quatro's are nailing it. I went to hear it in a local shop recently and even the owner couldn't defend his more expensive speakers non ability to deliver the goods.  

I like MQA too, but I also like true DSD.  I don't own any yet, but will get getting some soon.  

Very interesting about efficiency and how it may relate to distortion. Maybe that's why I find horn loaded systems to be difficult to listen to for long periods of time.  have no idea if they are related, but just a thought in my head, lol.
I owned three pairs of 2s, then went to Revel Studio 2s, then went to Magnepan 3.7s.  For the size space that you have, I don't think 3.7s would suffice, but 20.7s would.....  I would not pair Magnepans with subs....

Vandersteen represents good value, but frankly if you listened to the likes of Magnepan for a week or so and then went back to the 2' would think they were an absolute trainwreck sonically.......

If realism is top on your list (instruments in acoustic space, rendered realistically) then you cannot do better than 3.7s or 20.7s

If you need more low end, then Quatros will probably be mandatory, but those are in the same range as 20.7s which you do have the space for.....

One speaker way out of left field that is what I would describe as the best of both would be the Marten Django XL.  I heard a pair at my dealer Reference Analog in Oklahoma, and then when he took them to the Rocky Mountain show and it is probably the only dynamic speaker I've heard that I could live with after having Magnepans and they are not really that expensive......

Realism? Magnepans? More like pleasant, euphonic colorations. Realistic presentation? Hardly.....A sub IS exactly what a Maggie needs.
+1 mr_m.
In fact Vandy subs are considered an excellent pairing with Maggies.
Have you actually heard Vandy subs with Magnepans?    Where?     Ive heard them    along with JLs and Rythmik

If you want more bass from a rbbon    you get a bigger ribbon

As to euphonic coloration, I honestly have no idea what you are talking about, you obviously have heard a different loudspeaker than I
There are no absolutes unless we are talking about statistics.  That's why audio is so much fun.  I purchased the Quatro's over the Maggies adn I could have fit the 20's if I wanted them.  Maggies are not easy to fit in a room properly.  That's the reality of them.  They also have to be padded down a bit with those resistors for my tastes or they are too hot.  I like them and I like them a lot, so not just being a fan boy.  For my ears Vandy's have the best tonality.  Value for the money???  Yes, but that's also at the top of their line too.  I've had my Quatro's up against the Persona 9H's and they clobbered them (persona's are to hot on top for my ears as well as many of us who have heard them).  I like them better than the Magico S3 mk 2 (whatever their newest is).  Better timber etc...  Magicos for my ears aren't coherent.  I like them better than the new B&W's (all of them as they are was too up front for ME).

Marteen's are nice speakers.  I actually like Tidal's too, but too expensive and they have some issues also.  The problem I have with Marteen's is personal.  I won't do business with companies who sell out the back door and screw the dealer.  That's fine for us if we want a great 'deal', however it also clobbers resale value.  I have the same problem with Pass.  Again, just my thoughts and not saying you are wrong saying what you say about Maggies.  

You can't make a perfect speaker.  Just not happening anytime soon.  Teh best designers know what compromises to make. That's where I feel Richard is better than anyone going.  He's been around, has passion and knows what he's doing.  

To me it's exciting to see where he's taking things.  Those Sub 9's I have been told are amazing.  So easy to use that EQ to mate to the room.  I can't believe how great my Quatro's bass is as I have such a difficult room.  It's been a blessing to be honest.  
Thank You!
Lookup posts here on Agon regarding Maggies and Vandy sub combos.
And, yes, I have heard the combination. If I had to give up my Treo's, a pair of Maggies would be my first choice.
I actually have heard most Vandersteens to date........The 5s and 7s have always left me flat in show conditions but the Quatros and Treos have always sounded consistently wonderful.....

Stewart, If you have a chance to audition the 5 and 7's in a home system or at a shop, I think you'll find out how awesome they can be.  I have found that often times folks listen to the 5 and then the 7's and dont' fully understand how great the 7's are. They are subtly so good.  Their attack and decay is amazing to me.  Using Richard's amps with a  great pre, you will be able to relax into the music.  It's got dynamics out the wazzou too.  It gives so much information without smearing that it's almost hard to 'get them' as you aren't used to hearing that type of sound.  I dont' even know how to put it in words, but if we were listening together, I think you'd fully understand what I'm trying to say.  Tomic has the 7's and can better explain. 

I went from Treo's to the Quatro's and it's just blowing me away. That carbon fiber cone is just amazing in it's recreation of mids.  They just become part of the room and the best part is that they love to be pushed into the corner and up against a wall.  No need to pull them out into the room as you can eq the bass.  That's just a great thing to have.

I hope you get a chance to audition them in a non show environment as I think you'll have a blast.
+1 audiotroy

I am a dedicated Vandy guy, and I agree 100% that Vandies are not the choice for HT. Love Maggies too, but they're not meant for HT either.
Horns, cones, sensitivity, efficiency, durability for HT, IMO.

Now, for listening to 2-ch music  like I do, I only listen to Vandersteen. If I had a larger room, I would also consider Magnepan.

Having one room for 2-ch music and HT will by necessity yield some compromises for both.
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