Attention Vandersteen 5A owners/ amp matches

What are all you other 5/5A owners using to drive your speakers these days. I have noticed members using Bel and also Quicksilver. I am really thinking about selling my humble farm and spending up to 15 k (new) or used on an amp. I generally have leaned in the direction of tubes in the past, but am not totally close minded to all SS right now. I prefer a slightly warmer sound, but now of course want (almost) everything with my upgrade. I am now considering Audio research , VTL S400, Jadis Ja 80, and am interested in a used pair of Jeff Rowland 9 monos. I am looking for plenty of power( although I know 5A s are o.k. with less) which I hope will translate to a relaxed effortlessness. I want the 5A to fill my 23/12/8 size room with a nice wide ,deep soundstage with good dimensionality. Thank in advance to any and all suggestions. Boy, am I going to miss that farm.
The best by far that I've heard the 5A's has been with Joule Electra OTL monoblocks at CES 2005. Plenty of power and glorious OTL sound.
If you don't live near a dealer, I recommend Rich Brkich at Signature Sound. He is very experienced w/the Joules. Cheers,
I've used Jeff Rownands, Theta Dreadnaught, and now the ARC VTM 200's. I haven't had any desire to use anything else since switching to the ARC monoblocks. They also sound great with the ARC VT-100 MK III's.
I have them with a McCormack DNA-225 upgraded to Steve McCormack's Platinum specs. (see review). It is one of the finest combos I've heard at any price. One of these days I plan to do them in dual monos.
I use a Rogue Zeus and love the combo, but 150's would probably do just as well and like you I've read great reports on the quicksilvers with 5a's. Note, part of the 5a trick is the use of a high pass filter between pre amp and amp. This tends to improve the sound of both pre and amp by freeing them of the current hungry low frequency stuff. The typical bass advantage of solid state is likely not much of a benifit.
Thank you all so far. It would be easy for me to check out an ARC system with the 5A at a local dealers(NY/NJ/CT). I plan on doing so, but my only reservation would be with the current house sound of the new ARC gear. It certainly has been said previously that of the current medium -high power tube amps, that the ARC would be one of the ones with less of the warmth normally asociated with tube amplification. I do feel that if an amp with the power of the VTM 200 (for instance) would suit all my previously mentioned needs, and also be that compromise between say a CJ/Cary sound and a warmer SS amp sound(Lamm/dartzeel...),
it may be just the right flavor Kool-aid. I want the dymanic grip and control of SS along with maybe the slightly forgiving nature of tubes. The Joule is clearly one of the best amps on the planet, period. However, I doubt it will have the power reserves of a 200 plus watt transformer coupled amp. It is with that power that
I believe an effortless , relaxed sound can be achieved.
I do realize with any high end component, there must be compromise. I am willing to give up that last bit of detail for the fullness and realistic dimensionality of the real thing. Come on Vandy 5 owners, it was only one hour of sleep. Thanks for letting me share my opinions.
"I do realize with any high end component, there must be compromise." Shouldn't that be the other way? Why spend so much if you have to compromise?
I am not a 5/5A owner. However, I am very familiar with the speakers and have extensively auditioned it with the Bel 1001 MkV and Quicksilver V4's. I have also heard it with the latest generation ARC gear, the Joule at CES 05, and the Spectron Musician II. If you want a warm midbass and midrange, you do NOT want the Joule. To me it sounded spacious but left me wanting more meat. The V4 is definitely on the warmer and fuller sound of neutral compared to the other tube units. It also has a huge soundstage. The V4 is a classic old style tube amp. It is very seductive. To be fair I have heard it on two different Model 5 systems and not on the 5A. I've heard the Bel on the 5's and 5A's. For bass drive, the Bel can't be beat of the ones mentioned. Also it scores well in the detail and harmonic richness department and it also has a very big soundstage. Bel owners are true believers for life. I personally love the ARC house sound so that is where my bias is. It is pretty neutral, detailed, spacious, and dynamically agile but a little bit soft on top. Some folks would like a bit more meat on the bones than what ARC offers. The ARC house sound is leaner than what you would find with Quicksilver but much more substantial than the Joule. The way ARC handles dynamic shifts is magical to me. The ARC/5A system at CE 05 received a lot of raves. The Spectron sounds like no other amp I've ever heard so I couldn't recommend it for your tastes. But it was unbelievably dynamic, fast,had a technicolor soundstage and also had great bass response. It's greatest strength was its effortless power. It is a very exciting sounding pairing with the 5A. But you would never mistake it for a tube amplifier. Another 5A demo I heard that was very impressive was the Musical Surroundings at CES 05. The 5A was powered by a big Rowland. I believe it was a 302. That combination certainly is worth an audition. I thought it was terrific. It was powerful, dynamic, possessed 3D imaging, and a harmonically rich midrange.
Hi, I have a couple of comments:
1. Regarding the comment by Jeff Jones - "The typical bass advantage of solid state is likely not much of a benifit." This is not entirely true, although his point is well made. The amp you choose is no longer directly driving your 5As. However, it's signature on the bottom end IS. So you WILL hear a difference on the bottom end even when using a HP filter and the inboard amp. Simply put, that amp will only replicate what it sees from your amp. So it's still important to have good bass in your main amp.

2. Jimburger and I know each other well and I agree with his sentiments. My top picks for the 5As are the BEL amps, Quicksilver V4s and the Theta Citadel mono-blocks. We have both heard the Citadels on my system and although I would stick with my BELs, those Citadels were darn close. Also, they may not have been fully broken in. So I would add them to the list for sure. Since they are out of the price range you mentioned you may want to try the next model down from Them and see if you like it. All of these amps are well known musical pairings. Regarding ARC, give them a listen too. Although they aren't my favorites they are very musical on Vandersteens. Just make sure you don't buy the highest power version as they tend to be less reliable than their other designs (in my personal experience).

Let your ears choose!
I Used to own a pair of 5As and have heard them with the number of different amps in my listening room including BAT 75se, Blue Circle AG8000 and BC 2.1, Atma-sphere, JC-1s and Conrad Johnson 12s. They are great speakers and you pretty much get out of them what you put into them. With the BATs, 2.1s, and to a lesser extent CJ 12s they were lovely. (For Jeff Jones, they sounded big, dynamic, and maybe just a little dark with 75se and VK5se amplification - very seductive). With the big Blue Circle's and atma-spheres, they sounded very clean and clear. My favorite is the 2.1s... just beautiful (they don't get much press anymore but I think they are terrific amps for the right owner).

As far as bass response and playing loudly, They don't take much power to play at what I think are reasonable levels, but can really suck up the Watts quickly if you want to play loud. Some people say that speakers with first order crossovers cannot play that loud but they played plenty loud for me (using the JC-1s). I think your bass response will be dominated more by your room than by your amplifier, although the big Blue Circle and Parasound amps had the best bass (no surprise)
Thanks for all your responses to date. I see this thread dominating all even days in April, and hated to see nothing for 4/8. I am listening to an Einstein light in the dark right
now and I guess it was aptly named. It is very quiet with
very discernable silence in between the notes. The dynamics are excellent, especially for an 80 watt hybrid amp. It seems to strike a nice balance with the Vandys, offering detailed,
articulate bass, along with textured mids we often associate with good tubes. It is showing much promise early on. My price
range is around 10-12 k , but hope not to spend on the 12k side unless it is clearly the (dare I say) last stop. Good to hear from you Jim R. and all.
I also have my 5A's hooked up to Rogue Audio Zeus. It sounds awesome. I have rolled the 12au7 tubes and 12ax7 tubes in this amp and it raised it to a new level. Prior to the Zeus and when I had must model 5's I had a ARC VTM 200's. The stock Zeus before the new tubes blew the ARC's away. The ARC midrange and high's just don't have it compared to the Zeus. You do not have to spend a lot of money in the case of the Zeus and it will make your 5A's sing
I ended up with Telefunken smooth plate 12ax7 and RCA clear top 12au7's. This combination is just awesome.
I recently tried the Einstein hybrid with my 5A and all the positive press this manufacturer has received is clearly justified. It had good control of the bass , and was extremely detailed with very smooth and liquid mids and highs. As much of a world class contender as this amp is, I just feel that the Vandersteen may benefit from slightly more power. This is not to say this Hybrids 115 watts was not respectable, because it definitly was. I just felt that at higher listening levels, it sounded loud but not effortless. Again,this is strictly in my system with the AA capitole 2 as my only source. I would love to hear this amp with a speaker91-94 db sensitivity, IMHO it would be hard to beat. There are just too many Vandersteen 5A owners out there to have so little feedback for this thread.
It would be nice to hear from more people.
Fjn04 - I use the Theta Citadel Monoblock amps with the 5A's. My room is 34 x 12 x 8.5 and with the Citadels the sound is (among other things)effortless. If you can find a used pair (rarely come up on Agon) they would be in your stated price range. They are well worth auditioning with the 5A's. Good luck
I have an all Ayre top of the line electronics system with my Vandersteen 5A's (Kawazinga finish - beautiful). I am using Anti-cables balanced interconnects, and speaker cables (don't twist them - much better without the twist), and am very, very pleased. The cables are even better than and way cheaper than my second favorite cables - Audioquest silvers. SgreenT@Att.Net
How about 5As with an Edge NL12.1? And do the 5As' amps
generate a lot of heat? (I once had to sell a Pass X350 because of all the heat.) Also please, how near can one sit in front of
a 5A? (I sat pretty close at an audio show once and thought they were fine, not too "in your face.") Thanks in advance.
The vandersteen 5's need power. They are on the dark side (electrostatic) qualities with a dark twist. They do not play loud (dynamic range). They are one of the best speakers in the cone magnet woofer type in its price range. Nothing can touch em for under 48,000.

If your electronics are up to par. They are not a good choice in my experiences. Just to dark for my tastes now.

A front end is were to spend hard earned money.

Roger Busby
Vandersteen 5As do indeed play loudly with Parasound JC1s driving them. Believe me, I've heard them at my friends house many times.

They do play quite loudly when called upon to do so.

And they are magnificent.
>>Nothing can touch em for under 48,000<<

That's simply incorrect and disingenuous.

They are outstanding speakers but there are dozens of speakers that "can touch" them.

And one not need spend $48K to do it.

You need to get out more.
I use my 5As with a combo no one has ever mentioned or probably even thought of, BAT VK51 se through a Krell FPB 600. Why? Because that's what I happened to have when I bought the 5As. My ambition has always been to switch to an Ayre system but they sound so good as is it's hard to rationalize spending all the money to switch. Loud? Yes. Dark? NO! Bright? No. I think there is no right or wrong answer here. These are some of the best speakers ever designed and will sound very good with whatever they're matched with. I still would like to hear them with a pair of MX-Rs in my room though.
I'm using the 5a's with a Joule Electra LAP150 and a pair of Spectron Musician III SE MkII used as monoblocks. The Vandersteens have no problem handling the huge power of the Spectrons. The Spectron amps energize the Vandersteens- they sound bigger and more dynamic. The neutrality and range of the 5As is well-matched with the distortion free output and huge dynamics of the Spectron amps.
I agree. The 5A doesn't need a lot of power in theory but lots of power really brings them to life. They manage to never sound overly bright to me though.
Aesthetix Atlas mono blocs with signature caps. A hybrid that will give you
the voltage that the sub woofer in the 5a needs. 16k for both amps. RV
has said that these speakers and the Model 7 need that voltage.
I've talked with Richard about this many times, and according to the return guarantee cards, Ayre and Audio Research top the list for associated equipment.
Ayre monos work very well with the 5A and 7. Same for Aesthetix monos. I also have talked with Richard about this. I opted for Aesthetix monos because I have the Io Eclipse preamp. I also think the world of Jim White. The AR 210 can drive the 5a very well. These were used at THE SHOW in Newport with the 5a Carbon
and sounded very good. At Rocky Mountain the 7 will be driven by Aesthetix like it was at CES in 09 which brought rave reviews. For the 5a all three of these would work very well. Take your pick. Richard (along with Charlie Hanson) consulted with Jim on the development of the Atlas.

Note: The new HP filter is just about out now and will be an improvement. Randy Cooley (Optimal Enchantment in Santa Monica) and Peter Roth (Ultra Audio) have both heard it and told me that it is a very good upgrade.
Madfloyd: "They sound incredible with Atma-Sphere amps."

I'll second that. I'm using M-60 3.1s.
Chargerfan- you mention a new HP filter?
The old one is M5-HP, is the new one just an update or a new model number?
The new high pass filter is the M7-HP. I talked with RV last December about it at the LA/OC Audiophile dinner. He has completely revised the unit with much better caps and other parts. He has since told me that the difference is very
clear. Peter Roth, who has the unit, told me the same thing. Pete has the 7s. I would think that this would apply to both the 5a and 7 speakers. I'm not sure about the price, but it will be somewhere around double the M5-HP.
I failed to mention that I believe it also has a fiber carbon enclosure and the pigtails are Audioquest Wild Blue Yonder. So, as you can see, this is a completely
new HP filter.
Where does Pass Labs amps compare to all the other amps mentioned. I use the X250.5 with the 5A's and I'm very pleased with the sound. Especially the Bass. Thanks