Speaker Recommendations - from Vandersteen 5As

I have been using Vandersteen Model 5 speakers in my system with excellent results.  I like the open sound, balanced top to bottom sound, sound stage 3D dimension, and having deep bass that is adjustable.  They really have a huge sound that is also very musical.  I used to own Alon V MKII speakers and the Alnico mid-range driver produced a better mid-range sound  compared to the Vandersteens in that one aspect.  That mid-range was just pure magic and the Alons had more impact but were not close to being as balanced of a speaker.  I recently sold my older model 5s because I got a great deal on a much better cosmetic condition Vandersteen model 5As.  To me the 5As just don't sound like my old model 5s.  I have not really had the chance to play around with them that much and my system unfortunately changes in some ways because my Audiomeca CD transport bit the dust.  That was one hell of a great sounding CDT.

I am looking in the $7500 price range and usually purchase used.  I have plenty of dealers in the NYC area that I can visit and people that I know so I will be taking the time to take a look around.  I do like the size of the Vandersteen 5s so that if something I would be considering.  I was thinking of a short list and thought Verity Parsifals, Sonus Faber, Legacy, DeVore, etc.  I tend to focus on piano so I need a speaker that really can produce that sound first before I look elsewhere.  I probably lean towards a musical sound maybe slightly warm, open on top with air.  I can adjust the sound by changing caps and resistors in my components so I guess I just need a balanced sounding speaker with a great mid-range that can also product deep bass.  

Also note that I build my own DAC (separate power supply), preamp (separate power supply) and power amp so I can build anything for any speaker.  Right now my DAC is a DHT design, preamp 6SN7 design and amp is a hybrid 6SN7 design.  My system is dead quiet and the components are reference quality compared to the best that I have compared them to at local dealer showrooms.  I only spin CDs right now through a transport and I am using a Metronome CD1A  transport with a separate power supply.

So knowing that I am in the NYC area, what speakers in the price range should be on my short list to go our and hear?

I probably sound like an A-hole but I would really like some recommendations.  If you are in the local area, I would enjoy the company if you are interested.  I'll buy the pizza and beer!

Thanks and Happy Listening.
I would look for a pair of the salk exotica 3's with the powered woofer section.  There has been a pair of used ones on and off of US audio mart for a while.

Might be exactly what you need.  The seller is asking too much IMO, but might try to reach out.

powered lowers, and those drivers are exactly what you are looking for, down to the magnets.
These Usher Be-10s are a bit over your price range, but they're in NYC so maybe worth an audition.  

Also some nice Acoustic Zen Crescendos

Or maybe a pair of the new Joseph Audio Pulsar Graphene monitors with a couple good subs (SVS, Rhythmic, etc.)

Personally I'd stick a crowbar in my wallet and jump on the Ushers, but best of luck in your search. 
As you are in the NY area, I would contact Audioconnection for a demo of ProAc. Similar to Vandy's but with a British sound that may be closer to what you are looking for.
And, if midrange is your fav, have you thought about electrostatics?
To be fair, what are you using with the 5a's? 
If you are game, I would love to meet up.
While I can’t offer any good suggestions (other than maybe the Verity’s) I am more interested in what you don’t like about the 5A’s versus the 5’s.  I have 5’s and really like them, and have certainly thought about upgrading, but every time I have heard more recent models in a show environment they sound quite different, and not in a good way.  One person here, don’t recall who, said the 5A was the pinnacle of that model.  Apparently you don’t agree?  

One more thing, I would follow gdnrbob’s suggestion to visit Audio Connection.  They know the Vandersteen line really well and could point you in the right direction, perhaps it’s just a change in electronics or cabling that will correct what you don’t like about the 5A.
Thanks for the great recommendations - responses so far.

I know John at AC very well.  My 5As are just not balanced sounding like my 5s were.  Like I said, I need to play around with them a little more.  I know John would come out and help me when I am ready.  I have really not Ventured out to hear speakers in quit a while so I figured now would be the best time.

I had partnered my equipment with GT Audio here in New Jersey. His speakers are fantastic sounding if I wanted to to more towards electrostatics.

My equipment is on listed here on Audiogon.  I make components so there is nothing out there that really competes with what I have for DAC, Preamp or power amp. 

I have also heard the ProAcs at Audio Connection and they IMO they did not compete with the Vandersteens.  Like I said, my system has changed slightly since the 5s so I need to get back to that system to really evaluate the 5As.

@gdnrbob are you in NYC or the area?  Let me know and we can schedule a play date!
@bigkidz ,
I’m on Long Island. Let’s make a date. I know for a fact there is a good pizza place just down the road.-though Rutt’s Hut isn’t far either.
I haven't heard of GT Audio until now. I will try to listen to a pair.
As you have listed your equipment here,
I will look at your system. I just can't understand why you are having issues with the 5a's.

Are you a member of the NY Audio Syndrome Audio Group?  Steve is the dealer for the speakers.  If you want to go hear them, let me know and I will meet you there.  If you check out the prior two Capital Audio Fests, they used my DAC with an Esoteric CDP as a transport. I am off the week of August 26th if you have a day you can break free.

I will hook up them 5As again this weekend.  I have an Agon member that I have been friends with for a long time coming in from Ohio.  He has my DAC in his system also.  He heard the 5s in my system at the beginning of this year and freaked out about the sound of my system.  He wanted me to build him an amp.  Funny thing is that the amp is way more improved now versus back then.  I rebuilt the amp form top to bottom all point-to-point wired, etc.

Let me know.


Are you sure you got the “great deal” you thought you did? Are you sure all the drivers (and the crossovers) are working as expected? 
@nrenter No I am not sure.  I used an oscillating sweeping tone and confirmed that all of the drivers are working.  The one sub-amp has a blown capacitor and resistor but it still works.  I have to order those parts and repair that sub amp (this weekend?).  The sub amps do not seem as powerful as my older 5s for some reason. Again I will play around with them over this weekend.  I just finished moving all the gear round so I can get to everything very easily now. If I cannot get them set-up to sound like what I had, I will contact Johnny R to come over for a visit.  He actually knows the person I purchased the speakers from.  That person purchased the model 7s.  I don't know how to test the x-overs so I may have to take them out and send them to Richard V. I am hoping that I don't have to do that.  I also had built my own HP filters that sounded much better than the original Vandersteens HP filters that I used and sold with the 5s so I have ordered the parts to make them again.  That will make a sonic improvement also.

I have 5A's and think they're quite wonderful.   A reach out to Richard or John will find the missing link.
I agree with @nrenter and @stringreen .  The 5A's should be a step forward and if not, something is not working right.  As you do, I purchase used, and have had equipment that wan't quite right (and not that I think I was defrauded, but the seller didn't notice).  While not cheap, shipping the 5A's to Vandersteen and letting them go through them (especially since he does running changes on many speakers) is a surefire way to get them back to new condition.  

I was a in a similar situation last year, my Magnepan 3.5's had a delaminating woofer.  I was trying to decide if it was a good time to upgrade to a 3.6 or 3.7, but could face the same issue, try to fix myself, or take a chance on having them done by a third party.  I ultimate ponied up, boxed them, spent the $250 to ship them to Magnepan.  $1100 in addition from Magnepan for a rebuild and shipping back, but I got back speakers in brand new condition that I knew were checked and fixed properly by the manufacture.  
If you decide on sending your speakers back....Vanderstein has an account they will let you use for a bit of savings.  The cabinet is very heavy...you can much more easily remove the amps and crossovers..send back the silver boxes in the back....the batteries probably need replacement anyway. When you plug in the speaker you should hear a "whomp" sound from each of the speakers...then put your ear to each of the drivers to make sure they're  working. Are you sure the dip switches are set properly?

Thanks please keep your comments coming.

@stringreen thanks for that info.  The 5As are in excellent cosmetic condition not like my 5s which were in pretty bad cosmetic condition.  My audio pal is on his way from Ohio today so we will have a go at this all weekend and see what we can figure out.  I can repair any audio component and I repaired the 5 amps when I purchased them.  The batteries I can do myself but they were replaced not to long ago.  I am hoping to get them running the way they should be as I did really like the 5s.  In fact my 5s sounded better than what I was hearing at dealerships!  I will run through it all again and see what happens.  I also will go out to hear what is out there just to see if I find something that interests me.


I would recommend listening to Spendor and Dynaudio.

Reason I say that is that within last year I auditioned around 20 speakers from a dozen or so manufacturers in the $3-10k price ballpark and ended up choosing and purchasing Spendor D7. Reason why this might be relevant is that the runner up finishers for me were Vandersteen and Dynaudio. So I liked Vandersteen a lot but liked Spendor more, but of course everyone hears differently and has different subjective tastes. Vandersteen and Spendor demos were in same room with same electronics - I don’t remember exactly but probably either Ayre or Audio Research, maybe both (it was 8ish months ago). Take it FWIW.

New Spendor D7.2 and D9.2 have been announced so current new 7 and 9 models are likely discounted. Good luck
@kren0006 what Vandersteens did you compare them to?  I may be able to hear the Spenders this coming weekend along with Legacy.  Thanks for the update info also.  Can you be more specific why you preferred the Spenders vs. Vandy?  I have only heard the older Spender speakers but they always produced a very musical sound.
So I believe it was probably Model 7?, which may be an older model I’m not too sure. Whatever it was it’s price was in the 5-7k range like the Spendor D7. Dealer said house sound of Vandy pretty consistent thru their lineup, fwiw, you just get more or less of it as you move up in price or down.

So I liked the Vandy’s either #2 or #3 (with Dynaudio) of the 20+ speakers I listened to - ie, really liked them. I loved the midrange smoothness, nice bass, pleasing treble, and general musicality of the Vandy speakers. Liked the tonality and found it much more similar to Spendor than different.

I loved all of these things about the D7 too, but to me at least the Spendor’s had just a little more enthusiastic presentation with their sound while the Vandy’s seemed a little more laid back for my tastes.

It’s interesting I guess because every D7 review I read the author started out by describing how Spendor speakers historically was a laid back, pipe and slippers sound - apparently that is the sound the brand was known for throughout 90’s and 00’s. But with the new tweeter of the D7’s I found them to be not so laid back in a very pleasing way to me. Just the sweet spot in what I was looking for that way.

Don’t get me wrong. The Spendor’s are not a forward sounding speaker like some might associate with Paradigm, Focal, B&W etc., (at least that’s how i perceived those brands in comparison to Spendor, Dynaudio and Vandy -- I’m sure some would disagree, these are just my opinions).

But for me the Spendor’s, while still sounding lush and musical, just had a little more energy for me than the Vandy’s did, and I liked that.

I liked the looks of Spendor much more also but that was a very minor factor for me -- 98% sound, 2% looks.

Again, just my impressions and everyone is looking for what they are looking for. Would never imply others are wrong if they disagree. Spendor D7 just worked for me and I kept coming back to it again and again thorughout the demos across several dealers and several months.
If you're in NYC area, besides Johnny Rutan at Audio Connection (NJ) I'd recommend visiting Thomas at New York Sound and Vision (LI).
Oops, not Model 7. I think it was Model 3. Sorry. I was just going off memory which is hazy and I looked at so many and it was awhile ago. But it was a $5-8k speaker in cost, that much I’m sure of (cause I remember thinking these were the direct compare across the brands as close as it got) and I did compare them over an extended period of time (well over an hour) because the Spendor’s and Vandy’s were side by side and I could do very nice A/B.

Unlike Dynaudio which was at another dealer
I guess the Spendor D9 would be a better comparison for you than D7 against Vandy 5a, though Spendor D9 still quite a bit cheaper. I haven’t heard D9 or 5a, fwiw - those were outside my budget. But offered my comments since arguably relevant concerning house sounds of the brands. Good luck
@bigkidz .
I looked at your system, but see you are using your own (hand built) equipment, and since I don't know how it sounds, it is something I can't comment upon.- Though I would sure be interested in listening to it.😉

I never heard of the  NY Audio Syndrome Audio Group. A quick Google showed nothing. And, I would be interested in joining in, too.

I think Stringreen, and others have made good points regarding the possibility of the drivers/crossovers not being up to spec. 
Stringreen also made a great post saying that you should be able to send back only the amps/drivers/crossovers and save on the shipping. I, too, would have a hard time justifying sending back my whole speaker.
As you are a very capable fellow, removing said items should be a walk in the park.😁
Sorry if the emojis are goofy, but I like to play with them...


He built his own highpass filters, so the dip switches probably don't apply.  Still, the first thing I always start with is checking with a voltmeter and 1kHz/100Hz tones that the frequency response of the highpass filters is correct.

Then check that the subwoofers are working by checking with the Vandertones and an SPL meter (sounds like you've done that).  I have problems with the bass level pots on my Quatros, and I sometimes have to wiggle them a bit if the bass response droops or drops out. 

Calibrating the bass response can have a large effect on the midrange transparency, so you may want to redo this (sounds like you may have already).  Richard has a newer procedure for this which is a bit easier than the old procedure (it's in the newer manuals online and on youtube).


You have to know the output impedance of your amp to properly adjust the high pass filter..follow the guide on the filter itself to set the dip switches
@daverz the HP filters I built are the same as the originals but I upgraded the capacitor and resistors  I have dip switches in the ones I built also.  I added he picture to my system here on audiogon.  I know who tot set them up properly.  I will be playing around with them this weekend.

So far this weekend I am thinking that the sub-amps are not working properly.  Turned up to full volume they should be shaking my house but they are not.  One has a pop when you plug it in and the other has a blown cap and resistor so that pop come on after about 30 seconds.  I am going to have to remove them and go through them.  The top end sounds really good so far.
Ahh, now that seems like something- not the best situation, but at least a reason for the sound discrepancy. And, like I said, you seem to be a very capable person, so tracing the problem should be easy.
BTW, how can I listen to the components you build?
Hi Peter Big Kidz
Hope you are doing well........1 How did you assess and confirm the High pass setting for the 100 HZ minus 3db down point?2 Did you ever read the manual and perform proper tilt-back from your chairs ear height and distance in inches out to each ear? If so whats the speaker’s measurements in inches firstly tweeter to tweeter, and then left channel tweeter to your left ear then Right channel tweeter to right ear in inches?

3 What speaker/ Interconnects cables are you running?
4 What are the pots clock positions within the Bass amps EQ both speakers on
pots.9,10,11? example Left CH
pot 9 9 o’clock
pot 10  2o’clockpot
pot 11  4 o’clockRight Channell same as above.?etcCheers, JohnnyR

John I will give you a call or stop by hopefully this week.  This weekend I was able to reassemble my system to where it was with the 5s.  They sounded much better.  I may have an issue with the sub-amps.  I think they are supposed to be 400 watts each.  I do not think I cm getting that type of output right now.
I would also bring in those homebrew non-battery bias hi-pass units for comparison they may also be a part of your shortcomings.
5As being more revealing may also be showing their lack of clarity and transparency or dip switch settings needing a different set of adjustments.
while you are at it bring in both amps.
Vandersteen only charges 15 bucks each to performance verify
and always reasonable if something is needed.
Cheers JohnnyR
Thanks JohnnyR.  I sold the homebrew non-battery bias hi-pass units when I sold the 5s.  I am using the original Vandersteen filters that I have always owned.  When I had the 5s we compared the homebrewed to the originals and the originals did not perform as well.  I will build another pair and we can compare them in the future when I get around to it.  I will take a look at the amps and if necessary, we can send them to Vandersteen.  I always appreciate your professionalism and being there when needed.
@audioconnection Johnny will you be getting in the new model Vandersteen that sort of replaces the model 5s?  I think the name is Kento???
That's the name and Johnny will get them I'm sure.  Glad he got on the thread.  I would think that he can show how great those 5's can be.  I've never heard them not sound balance and coherent.  Based on what I know, the Kento will be a very special speaker.  I would love to meet up with many of you guys at Johnny's.  That would be a blast.
OK who wants to meet at JohnnyR's the week of August 25th?  What day and time?




Weekends are probably best for me.
It sure would be nice to put a face to everyone's name.
@bigkidz ,
Can you bring some of your equipment, too? Like your DAC?


@gbnrbob I can bring anything you guys want to hear.  Johnny R has heard my DAC.
I would be interested in comparing your DAC with the Ayre Codex, which I use and know Johnny sells.
Any updates?
@gdnrbob if John will allow that, we could do that or I can give you one of the prototypes for you to take home and listen. What are you using as a source transport or something else?  Remember that we are playing in a much higher price point with top tier DACs Bricsati, etc.
I stream music from a Bluesound Node into an Ayre Codex.
Currently play quobuz through the Bluesound.
Almost made it to audio connection last week, as I had work in Hawthorne NJ. Just couldn't squeeze it in. Pretty bummed as the higher end Vandersteen are on my bucket list..
Bstat.  you would have a fun time there.  He's about as good a dealer for that line as any.  Always fun listing to music.
OK gentlemen, Who can make the last Saturday in August the 31st to meet a Audio Connection?  I need to know whom will be coming so that I can work out the details with Johnny R.  I will buy the pizza.
I would love to go along with you guys, but living near Phoenix Az. makes the trip somewhat difficult. lol.
@mr_m come on, just book a fight now with all the rewards miles you have been hoarding! 
ummmmm, I have a miles reward card, but I keep cashing in the points every now and then.... darn....
@MR_M I don't have a miles card so I cannot help you but hey maybe some others here can help you out?  Come-on folks help out Mr_M get to Audio Connection.  Can we set up a GO Fund Miles website?