Wilson doesn't seem to get high ratings on audiogon. I would take the Wilson's hands down. IMO Vandersteen's are boring
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I have heard both and owned the WP 6s. I prefer the Wilson's by a wide margin. Much greater resolution, detail, imaging and dynamics. But let's be realistic, the Wilson's cost almost twice as much.
The Van 5's are very good, unlike the other speakers in the line which I find have very little life. I have a friend who has the Van 5's and once he dialed in the bass, he was very happy. I hear they are also very cable dependent.
I have also compared the WP 6's to the Amati's and while the Amati's are the most beautiful speaker I have ever heard, I still lean to the Watt Puppies.
Go for the Wilsons! They have incredibly high build quality and do it ALL!
I have had the Vandy 5s for 2 years. I bought them from a dealer who also sells Wilson. I'm there frequently and have spent long periods of time listening to the W/P6s, with virtually the same electronics as I have at home.
Personally, I prefer the Vandys by a wide margin. They are very cable dependent, but I have found that the perform extremely well with Stealth cables. It is really important that they are bi-wired with the same cable top and bottom.
The 5s are anything but boring. I can listen to them for hours on end and they are so involving that even after long periods of listening I have difficulty pulling myself away.
The Wilsons sound more detailed, but in my book that doesn't mean they more accurately reproduce the musical experience than the Vandys.
In the end, it is really a matter of personal choice. However, I believe the price difference between the Vandys and the Wilson is better spent of better equipment or cables.
Thank you for your opinions. Jtinn, is there a speaker you like better than the W/P6s? I too am finding their clarity and dynamics hard to ignore. Pctower, I own the Vandy 5s running them with Cardas Golden Reference, finding them somewhat dark. Substituting Nordost SPM ref made them thin and harsh. I don't know the Stealth cables you mention but wonder if they are a happy medium. Right now I'm leaning towards the Wilsons (staggering actually). Any further thoughts?
I have heard both speakers and after lengthy listening at different dealers, here is my opinion: IMO, Watt Puppy 6's have boomy and congested mid-bass and not much extension below. Otherwise, I don't find that they do much terribly wrong, but I think they are way overpriced at $20,000.00. The Vandersteens are the best speakers I have ever personally heard. They are not dark, as is the complaint with other Vandersteen loudspeakers, nor bright. They are smooth, natural, neutral, but yet, unlike other Vandersteen speakers, they make you take notice of the highs rather than the bottom end of the frequency spectrum. They deliver a breathtakingly exceptional midrange and high frequency presentation, with plenty of separation around instruments as well as a very wide and deep soundstage. The midrange transparence and immediacy is exceptional. More than any other speaker which I have heard, it felt like the musical performers were in the room with me. In the system in which I heard them, I found the bass a little bit soft and not as deep as I would have thought, but it was smooth. Since the bass is adjustable, perhaps this could have been altered to more closely suit my tastes. Dynamics as I heard them in that listening session were good, but not exceptional, as is my impression of other Vandersteen speakers, but this could have been a by-product of the setup which was Wadia 860, Ayre K1, Ayre V1 and the speaker cables were Nordost SPM.
The Watt Puppy setup was Proceed DVD transport (model unknown), Levinson 30.6 DAC, Hovland HP-100 preamp or Aesthetix Callisto linestage, and Levinson 336 power amp. Interconnects were XLO between DVD player and DAC and Siltech between pre and power amp. Speaker cables were Siltech.
The Vandersteen 5 is twice the speaker at 1/2 the price of the Watt Puppy 6's, IMO.
Khrys - My experience with the Cardas Golden Reference on the Vandy 5s was similar to yours. My experience with Goertz was similar to your experience with the Nordost. The Stealths are not a happy medium, but truly transcend both the Cardas and Goertz. They are extremely open and dynamic, while at the same time refined and detailed. They kick ass when needed, but are gentle as a lamb when appropriate. They are the only cables I have used on the Vandy 5s which simply do everything, without any detectible limitations. They really allow the Vandys to demonstrate what they are capable of. I personally would not even dream of trading my Vandy 5s for Watt Puppy 6s. I am sure there are other speakers which I have not heard which duplicate or exceed the Vandys ability to so ably capture the magic of music, but I will be that the price of those speakers are multiples of the Vandys price.
Just for point of clarification, I am using the Stealth Ultimate Ribbon speaker cables. I don't think they come in biwire configuration, so I am using two pair. My Rowland Model 12s have two pair of speaker terminals so that works out well. My interconnects are all Stealth PGS gold cables.
Also, if you are using the internally biwired Golden Reference, the bass portion is different than the upper cable. In my experience, this is a real no,no. Because of the Vandy's gentle slope crossover, there is a fair amount of upper signal that goes into the subwoofers and vice versa. Therefore, it is really important than the cables used for top and bottom be the same. Also, from everything I've read, internally biwired cable configuration defeats much of the purpose of biwiring.
Good luck in your decision, but I would hate to see you trade the Vandys for the Wilsons without first trying the Stealth cables. Stealth offers a 30 day trial, so you have nothing to loose, and even at full retail price the cost of Stealth cables on your Vandy 5s will probably be far less than the cost of trading over (or down) to the Wilsons.