Vandersteen makes a great speaker for what little payed. Wilson's on the other hand does have the snob appeal that Vandies will never have. The Vandersteen 5a rank very high sound and built. And that boring sound you hear from the 5a might just be the right sound and not the hi-fi sound that some of the ultra expensive speakers are known for.Take a look at your room. And decide if its gear or room problems then try repositioning the 5a and listen. You might just be neglecting your self out of better sound and save allot of cash for a speaker that's really not better but different.
Shcipo makes some good points, however, I am not a Vandersteen fan, the Vandersteeners are zelots who have a rather fight than switch mentality, as far as I am concerned there should be zero brand loyalty only to creating musical realism, what brand is immaterial, sure I love my stuff, but if someone can show me something else that I like better out with the old and in with the new!
With that being said, I think both of these brands are way over rated. The build and materials quality of a Wilson are far superior to what Richard puts into a pair of 5As, that however that doesn't mean that the 5A's don't sound good.
Every time I listen to both of these speakers I can pick both of them apart and tell you what I hear they both do wrong, again that doesn't mean you can't build a good and satisfying system around either one.
I believe there are other speakers that do what Wilson does right with less of what Wilson does wrong, don't get me wrong Wilson's are superb speakers, so are Vandersteen's it all depends on what you believe is the better match for your personal tastes.
And forget the deal mentality, the best deal is finding what works for you, most people are dumping 7s as the new Sophia sounds better for about $5k more than a used pair of 7s! Get what works for you and don't be tempted just by price, I have had some of my components for close to 15 years, if I kept buying and selling I would have lost way more in both time and money than by finding an occasional stalwart component!
Vandersteen 5a speakers are just boring lumps? Why, because they are among the rare and few designs that are time and phase coherent, with a completely flat bass response down to 20 Hz?
Wilson has snob appeal that Vandersteen doesn't. Why, because it has fancy paint jobs and cheap, out-of-phase-by-design drivers?
I can't believe the stuff I read anymore.
I think he meant aesthetically "boring lumps", he hadn't gone into the sound yet!!!
That question is like; would you prefer a Bentely or a Rolls, or a Ferrari or a Lamborghini. Both are great speakers go listen to them and pick the one you like best. They will have different personalities and or flavor but you must listen for an extended period of time before you decide what you like.
I concur with AudioFreakGeek 100% based on my auditions @ various Wilson dealers and owners rigs.
Also an audition of a pair of Vandersteen 5As at an in-home audio salon leaves me the impression that the speakers are way way far from " time and phase coherent"
especially in the mid-bass region.
Your speakers are awfully good, but if you want something different and more exciting a Wilson would be a good choice. I wouldn't go with a used WP 7 or 8. Audiofreakgeek nailed it, get the Sophia 3.
For HT you want something clean, fast, and dynamic with a minimum of transient overhang, ringing, and cabinet resonances. Vandersteen and Wilson address these issues in different ways, but between the two, IMO the Wilsons tend to be faster and more articulate. Being pretty sensitive they are capable of excellent dynamics on a moderate amount of power. If your Vandy's seem like "lumps," it may be because they require so much power just to get moving. I'm pretty sure they're around 86 dB efficient where the Wilsons are somewhere above 90. This is like quadrupling your amplifier power.
* FREQUENCY RESPONSE
22Hz to 30kHz + or - 2dB
87dB at 1 meter with a 2.83 volt input.
* RECOMMENDED AMPLIFIER
40 TO 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms for the upper section, 400-watt subwoofer amplifier built in.
6 ohms nominal, 4 ohms minimum.
100Hz, 600Hz, 5000Hz and adjustable H.F., 6dB per octave.
All the drivers are connected in positive absolute phase.
* UPGRADEABLE MODULES
Totally modular design. The driver, crossover and amplifier modules can be changed in the field to accommodate future upgrades.
44" high, 14" wide, 20" deep.
182 pounds net, 225 pounds gross, each.
I didn't say get the Sophia 3, I was making a point about the deal buyer mentality, a great deal is only a great deal when you take into consideration a number of possible factors.
Take for example:
A Levinson 33H which was a $30k amp which probably sells now for $10k however, at least according to Mike Silverton of Soundstage, a pair of Nuforce Ref 9SE V3 smokes them! I am quite a fan of the REF 9 and I think if you hear a well setup pair they are amazing sounding! The Nuforce's are fantastic amplifiers for the money, however, as with anything else they must be used correctly.
I will take my very well set up KEF 207.2 to a pair of Sasha or Sophia's or Vandys thank you very much.
The KEF's are a total sleeper biggest problem nobody gets to hear them setup well, as most KEF dealers are custom installers while many others big dealers have jumped on the boutique manufacturer of the month club ie Magico or YG.
The problem with many audiophiles is they believe more what's in print and have to own the hot trophy product and are also swayed by marketing bull.
If you look at most of the magic midrange drivers which Wilson uses they are paper and reed seas drivers which cost $78.00 from Madison! Wilson makes a big deal saying they are proprietary however, having a basket which is stamped their name is hardly proprietary.
People need to go and listen to these products carefully setup in a good shop and then make up their mind, stop believing what you read in print as most of these magazines are more beholden to their advertisers than the truth.
When I look at a product I look at the driver technology, the engineering, the quality of design and if possible the measurements, just because a speaker is or isn't a particular type of crossover slope or uses x type of drivers doesn't mean it sounds better!
I own wilsons but was practically drooling at a demo of the Vandersteen 7s - I wouldn't suffer too much if I had to live with those ($40K+!) speakers...
Audiofreakgeek is overreacting. His comments and my reaction indicate only that IF one is going to go with Wilson that the Sophia 3 is a better move than a WP7/8. Of course there are lots of other choices. KEF and Revel come to mind. But, given what Programmergeek currently owns, coupled with what he is now looking to do, the Wilson seems like a good fit for him. The point is FOR HIM, not what the best speaker is on an absolute basis.
The speakers he already has are very, very good. Given how room adjustable they are, he's probably better off looking at placement, room treatment and upstream equipment rather than new speakers.