Your thoughts about an upgrade


I currently listen to vinyl and digital through a VTL integrated amp feeding Vandersteen Treo CT speakers. The November Stereophile review of Vandersteen’s Quatro CT Wood speakers and M5-HPA amplifiers (which is apparently not on-line yet) has made me think seriously about making the jump, which would also require a new pre-amp and lots of cabling.

My listening room is 12.5’ x 15’ and I’ve never turned the volume on the current system above halfway. I think I’m not hearing as much bass as I would like, but it very much depends on the recording I’m listening to.

I can probably go hear the new setup at the dealer and will do so, but I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts on this move.
Def213cc 4d0b 4dc4 b4e8 2a2fe26ec1c2john_g
I can't comment specifically about your current setup vs. Quatro CT/M5-HPA combo as I've never heard the M5-HPA, but what you are considering is a major step up in every way (investment included).

Going from the VTL to a separate pre/amp combo and adding sub(s) with the Treos could also be a significant step up for less money.

If you love the Treo and have the scratch, go for it. The Quatro should tick the same boxes as the Treo with more bass.

If money is an object, you could get to a very similar place starting with the addition of a good sub to your current setup. Going to a pre/amp/crossover setup with a sub could get you even closer.
Since you mention bass then this one is very simple. Long before a risky speaker change a much better move would be to add a distributed bass array, aka Swarm subwoofer system.

The beauty of this is virtually any four subs you get will blend seamlessly with your existing system. You’ll have bass like you never dreamed- fast, articulate, smooth, deep, and dynamic.

There’s a number of different approaches, all of which will work. Easiest is to just buy the Audiokinesis Swarm from Duke. $3k plus shipping for genuine state of the art bass. Hard to beat. Next easiest, buy any four powered subwoofers. Whatever you like and can fit and afford. Hardest but perhaps best is what I did, DIY four subs powered with 2 Dayton amps. Less than $3k even with real Rosewood veneer and two amps.

All these options will be less cost, less risk, and more bass than a new pair of speakers. ANY speakers!

This is also the ONE way of addressing what you said: "I’ve never turned the volume on the current system above halfway. I think I’m not hearing as much bass as I would like."

The bass volume you hear, how balanced it is, is very much dependent on your listening volume. This is why so many amps used to have a Loudness control. Loudness turns the bass up so it sounds balanced at low volume. But you don’t have to listen at low volume to notice this. Bass can sound weak even at moderate to fairly loud levels. The beauty of using a distributed bass array is you are able to set the levels to what sounds best for you with the music and at the volume levels you want to listen at. Can’t do this with a new set of speakers. And even if you can find ones that do, still leaves you with the problem there are only two of them. Until you hear how much better four are you have no idea what you’re missing.
Great advice above. Or you could simply add a REL S3 SHO and dial it in so it's just audible (you don't want to overpower the room) and also be amazed for a lot less effort.
I am curious though about where your Rega P3 is located in a corner and if it will be subject to acoustic feedback.
John_g, I think you would be pleasantly surprised by adding one or two subwoofers. REL's are currently on sale in many places including https://rel.net/product-category/serie-ti/?utm_campaign=October%20Sale%203rd%20Reminder%20Consumers%...
If you can afford it go with millercarbon's suggestion.
noromance2,472 postsI am curious though about where your Rega P3 is located in a corner and if it will be subject to acoustic feedback.


The Rega is in fact in a corner, although it's mounted on Rega's wall mount to a reinforced exterior wall. My location choices in this room are somewhat limited. What are the effects of acoustic feedback?


+2 for millercarbon's suggestion of a DBA ("Swarm")
@OP, 
The Swarm is definitely one way to go, but I would suggest getting either a pair of 2wq or Sub 3 subs. I really like how the Vandy method relieves the amp from reproducing the power draining bass frequencies. ( I don't know if the Swarm method does this or not, though AudioKinesis should be able to confirm this)
I also own the Treo's (non-CT) and will upgrade to the new Sub 3's when I sell my 2wq's. I think it should get me to about 90% of a Quatro.
I would also consider moving to a zero feedback amp- Like Aesthetix, Ayre or Atma-Sphere.
Bob
Thanks to all who responded for your thoughtful insights. I went to the dealer (Stereo Unlimited in San Diego) yesterday and they didn’t have the setup in the store. They’ll call me when they do, and I’ll go check ’em out with a couple of recordings I know pretty well. I’ll report back when I do.
Well, after a couple of listening sessions with my own records, this week I went ahead and did it: Quatro Wood CT speakers, M5-HPA monoblocks, Rogue Audio RP-9 preamp, balanced interconnects between the preamp and amps, new balanced interconnect for the exaSound e32 Mk II DAC. Will keep my existing Kimber 8TC bi-wired speaker cables but shorten them up from the current 10-foot. Dealer will take the Treos and VTL integrated in trade. Should arrive in a few weeks.
@OP, 
Great move. Though I would consider moving to Audiquest cables.
IMHO, they really compliment Vandy equipment.
Bob
gdnrbob, I might take you up on that. Got about $1K invested in the Kimbers. In fact the dealer did recommend AQ Yosemites for the interconnects.
op great move, you will have a world class system :-) I suspect with your room size you have an optimal spot to listen from and now you will have 11 bands of room EQ, variable Q and level. When you cut down the Kimber or have Robert or Ray do it, consider an external shotgun bi-wire configuration- you have plenty of wire for it !!! My Treo are wired this way. What wood did you get ? I am in Carlsbad, please visit when we get thru this!!!! Congrats!!!!
I just helped setup a pair of Treo CT w Aesthetix Mimas in Carmel Mountain area :-) lovely Sound. W Quattro and M5 amps you in for a real treat
tomic601: I’m bi-wired now with the 8TC and Treo CTs. The new ones, like the old ones, will be cherry, because I love it and it goes well in the room. I'm looking forward to expert advice on speaker placement and tuning all the EQ on the Quatros.

It’d to get together when the plague is over; I’m in La Jolla.
I have Vandersteen 5A's with Ayre electronics  .....and a terrible room.   Richard himself did the setup.  Not until I got rid of furniture was I able to lock the sound into place.   The room is very much a part of the sound and it should be addressed appropritately. (the wood on my 5A's are Kowazinga....don't know what that is, but they are gorgeous.)
So I took the plunge and got the Quatro CTs in cherry, M5-HPA amps, a Rogue Audio RP-9 pre-amp and Audioquest balanced interconnects for everything but the Rogue Audio Aries phono preamp and Rega RP-3 turntable, which are unchanged. The exaSound e32 DAC and Sigma streamer are also unchanged except for a new Audioquest "Earth" interconnect which replaces a Kimber Hero. The Kimber 8TC speaker cables I was using are cut down to 5' and still bi-wired.

It took about six weeks for all the pieces to arrive and everything was installed yesterday. There was a scary-but-then-hilarious moment after the guys from Stereo Unlimited (San Diego) had everything hooked up. We turned it on and got nothing, not from the phono, not from DAC. At long last we turned up the volume and learned that the Rogue RP-9 volume dial goes well above 100, and a setting of 75 is inaudible, at least in this system.

I'll post some pictures on my system page but can say that the Rogue Audio pieces and Vandersteen amps are low-glitz black boxes. That kind of suits my tastes visually, which of course has no effect on the sound but is the stuff you sit and look at while you listen to music. The Quatros look almost identical to the Treos they replaced, which was what I wanted.

The installers set the speakers at the vertices of an equilateral triangle with my listening position, and slight toe-in. Of course I'm already noticing substantially more bass. The drill is that they will come back in a few weeks and tune the equalizers on the Quatros after everything is broken in.

Which brings me to my question:  how long is a reasonable break-in period for this setup—40 hours, 50 hours, 100 hours? I really don't know, and would appreciate any theories/suppositions/hypotheses that anybody cares to offer.
@OP,
Congrats on a great system/choice!

Break in is one of those things that varies, at least to me. Some things require a couple hundred hours to settle in, others more.
As for the Vandy's, I would suspect at least 200 hours. More would be better, in my opinion. You have both speakers and amps breaking in, so that is a lot of things that will be 'settling in'.
My only recommendation would be to switch to some AQ speaker cables.
Kimbers are good, but the new AQ cables really, really are very good.
As I have posted on other threads, I am not a cable guy. But, when I heard the Willaim Tell cables, I was blown away.
Alas, more money, but, I think you will be very happy with the results.
Perhaps Stereo Unlimited can loan you a set?
Bob