I own a pair of 5's ... the WONDERFUL thing about the design is that you can tailor the bass to your room - and - to your liking. If you feel that the bass was too much, you can reduce it, or, you can tighten it, or you can do both. I am truly convinced that you cannot get any speaker to sound better than the Vandersteens in YOUR room and to YOUR taste. I do not think anything is closer to the music. Good Luck and Good Listening!!
While you did not specifically ask for comments about the Wilson Watt/Puppy combo, I have felt for years that it is over-rated when compared to less expensive speakers. If cost is a factor in your decision -- even somewhat -- then the Vandy 5A would seem to the best choice, since it sells for about $7k less than the Wilson combo.
Jkphoto is absolutely correct in his comments that the Vandy 5A, with its' 11-band equalizer for the subwoofer section, provides a wide range of adjustment to tailor the response to the listening room.
I have heard both the 5A's and the Wilson Watt/Puppy, and personally preferred the 5A's. I can't imagine being dissatisfied with its performance, and the $7k that you save can be used to upgrade other components in your system.
Hello...I hope I do not start a controversy. However, I recently heard both speakers....the 5A's and the WP-7's.
My experience...The Vandersteens were quite good...with a smooth midrange and very good top and bass. I am used to the sub-woofer bass on my Infinity RS-1B's with much more air movement. However, the Vandy's were, how shall I say...polite??
When I listened to the WP-7's , they were spectacular .....wide and exact images. Clear, clean midrange and very tight and defined bass. The top end was good but still had that Wilson "bite"?
If I were to choose....don't know.....The Wilson were spectacular ...the Vandys were polite....BUT the reality is I believe the Vandys are MORE like live music the the Wilsons. Like it on not....live music is sometimes "polite".
i heard both of them at he2003 this year. not the best place to audition systems but you can get a good idea how they sound. i also have a local dealer with the 5a's and listened to them there as well. both are very good speakers. price no object,i would pick the wilson's. with 7k savings in my pocket, i would probably go the the 5a's. If i was going to buy a pair of speakers for 15k-20k, I would either purchase the joseph pearls or the revel salon's, both IMO, sound better than the WP-7's or 5a's.
Did you listen to any other speakers in the same room so you could get a feel for the sonic characteristics of the room. If you know what the roomsounds like it is easier to get a feel for how the speakers sound.
Which one of the auditioning system more closely resembles your own?
Just a couple of questions to consider.
I'd buy the Wilson Watt/Puppies if it were me.
they were dedicated rooms. the room with the wp 7's was a bigger room. i talked with a few people i knew that attended he2003 and they were impressed with the 5a's at he2003, so the room couldn't be all that bad. btw, i also liked the wp sofia speakers that were in a smaller room that the wp 7's, for half the price.
My favorite audio dealer in the Los Angeles area happens to be both a Vandersteen and a Wilson dealer. I have listened to both the 5As and the Wilson 7's in the same room with the same electronics. I have heard them both using all Jadis electronics, all Hovland, and a mixture of a Hovland preamp with several other amp manufacturers that he reps.
I really like the Wilson Watt/Puppy 7's. It is the first Watt Puppy that I could live with. It is very easy to listen to which makes it very different from the Wilson speakers of the past which I could only listen to for a short time. Somehow, though, every time I listened to the Watt Puppies I felt like I wanted them to do something more, and yet I don't know what it is. Every time I listened to the 5As I just sat back and enjoyed the music and never thought about what speaker I was listening to.
In the long run, I think that the Vandersteen lineup is just more friendly to the music and my ears.
In regards to the Joseph Pearls or the Revels. Maybe the Pearls but, the Revel Salons, pleeze. Only for HT.
My choice came down to either the Wilson Sophias or the Vandys. What ultimately made the choice for me was to play some music I find very emotional to listen to. The Wilsons gave me chillbumps, the Vandys made me weep. I bought the Vandersteens.
I preferred the precision of seeing into the music and the amazing soundstage that WP7's present versus the muddy "emotional" (I had a drink already) Vandy's. The crossover to the sub in the vandy was a hometheater experience for me.. and was impossible to get to match with the midrange.. it cut into bass guitar and upgright bass notes.. plus the dealers I've heard the Vandys like to crank up the bass and then the speakers to show you how loud (It felt like a hometheater demo or a high school parking lot).
If the rest of you system is up to snuff then Wilson's can take it to the next level.
If everything upstream isn't, then buy the Vandersteens and spend the money upgrading your front end, otherwise you will be disappointed with the Wilson's.
Or buy the Sophia's and upgrade your upstream components.
I bought "Fly Yellow" WP7's because I could also buy them in something other than boring Black Laquer or dark wood grain (unless they were Avalons in the Burl wood!!!!)
The dealer audition of the 5As had a lot of very low bass which caused me some reservations like you. They were set up "flat" since Dick Vandersteen was coming to the store in two days and he was going to show them his setup procedure. I decided to overlook the slight issues I had.
My 5A are still fairly new but they are broke in and the dealer came back to adjust the bass. I am convinced that unless you have a very odd room the Vandys can be set up to get it right. I spent 2 years moving my Dunlavy SC4A and REL Stentor around EVERYWHERE and the 5As are far better than I hoped for in the bass as well as in ALL areas.
The 5As have a lot more detail than the Dunlavys yet the sound in my room is warm in a realistic way. I plan to revisit the bass adjustments again later but after listening to a lot of music and HT they are close if not there.
BTW I very much agree with what Rwd and Burce 1 said.
I had a similar internal dialog within the past several months, however, several other speakers have also been part of the mix. I found that 5As and WP7s were similarly appealing with respect to long term listenability, but they were not equally compelling to listen to. On the very best systems there seems to be an elevated ability to convey the communication between musicians, or even the meaning of a song sung by a solo vocalist. These subtle shades of meaning may lie in very small dynamic and tonal changes that are very brief in duration, and very easily obscured. I've heard the 5As and WP7s several times on the same systems (once, perhaps, in the same LA area dealer as Agaffer), and the 5As obscure what the WP7s reveal in an unparalleled way. I thrive on that aspect of musical expression, so my choice is obvious.
Can you elaborate more on what you mean by this post? What do you perceive as the differences between the Wilson WP7 and the Vandy 5A???
I hope a few specific musical examples will suffice.
On Ella Fitzgerald's 40th birthday concert recording (In Rome) she sings "Stompin' at the Savoy" with Oscar Peterson's piano trio accompanying her. There are several instances when you can tell that Oscar was subtly pushing Ella's tempo and that she pushed back. He did this primarily with the pedals, and I actually felt the hammer sustain with the WP7s. I couldn't with the 5As. This extremely charming interaction was lost.
On Stevie Ray Vaughn's recording "In Step", the song "Tightrope" displays a novel blues ensemble sound that I've only really heard through the WP7s as I did live. For this album, Stevie and the bassist, Tommy Shannon developed a group improvisatory approach that I haven't heard before, or since. It involves the guitar and bass very closely tracking each other dynamically, as well as chordally. It has the effect of the two instruments sounding like they are "breathing" together. This close tracking occurs through the lowest notes on the electric bass, to way up on the fret-board of the guitar, and from silence to screamingly loud. It gives me a rush just thinking about it. The WP7s display this event so naturally that it seems impossible for you not to have noticed it before. The 5As did not have the finesse to track the moment to moment changes in volume in the two instruments throughout their range, obscuring the details, and substantially reducing the emotional impact of the song.
These, and many other musical moments distinguish these two speakers in my mind. I want to add, however, that I think the 5As are marvelous. I have a pair of Vandersteen 1Cs at home and I think that company only knows how to make marvelous music. I just think the WP7s are in a different arena altogether. I hope this is helpful :)