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Vandersteen 3A Sig's sound DEAD and Lifeless...Can the SHD save them?

HionHiFi

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So here I am with a pair of legendarily good sounding, accurate speakers in the Vandy 3A Signatures. The problem is in my room they are just blah, boring, with no excitement.

My question is, Can the MiniDSP SHD with Dirac help?

I had a pair of JBL Studio 590's that I like the sound of. They had great bass and were lively. The Studio 590's are my reference for more lively sound.

I have 2 subwoofers that I can integrate into making the Vandy's liven up. Any suggestions?

HionHiFi
 
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HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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I've heard the Vandersteens and that is what they sound like. I would go with another type of speakers.
That's what's I figured but I wanted to ask first. With the power in the SHD I thought it might be able to provide a solution.
 

Krusty09

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I have the same speakers . I hear what you are saying but I'm not sure you want lively as much as transparency. One thing I did and not saying right or wrong is biamped them not biwire them and felt like they came alive a little more and had more control over the woofer.

I do really like the sound of them even if they may or may not measure well . I have had them for 15 years and have been thinking about a change but have no idea what I would get to replace them. Maybe some Revels.
 

JEarle

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In the brief period that I went crazy and played the audiophile game I had a Vandersteen system. 2ce Sig's and a pair of 2Wq subs (powered by PSA M700 and Stella DAC....I know). The 2ce's sounded good at the dealer, however, they never could be made to work in my 20x12x7 room. My room is far from ideal and from what I can tell is the 2ce's probably have a poor off axis response, which coupled with my non idea room really sounded quite terrible. Maybe the 3A's are similar?

Dirac did help things, but what really made things sound amazing was selling them and buying JBL 708p's.
 

Rick Sykora

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Hoping this helps as I have had Vandersteens and numerous other speakers. Compared to the JBLs, not surprised the Vandersteens sound "dead". They are much less sensitive. So unless you level match, you are likely to be attracted to how much louder the JBL's will be. I did have trouble with the bass from my Vandersteens (same active coupler design) and got rid of them before I could determine why. That said, would expect they are much better in the midrange than the JBLs....

These are very different speakers. Just as a Mustang and a Lexus are different cars. If you can afford to keep both, you may find both offer unique listening experiences. Getting the best from the Vandersteens will depend on your equipment and your taste in content. What sort of amplification do you have and what types of music do you enjoy?
 

andreasmaaan

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Those speakers are going to be criminally sensitive to vertical listening axis. Are you sure your listening to them right in line with the tweeter? If not, does changing your/their height help?
 

R Swerdlow

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I don't have Vandersteen 3A sigs, but I am very familiar with them, my brother owns a pair. They can sound quite wonderful or be blah and disappointing. It all depends where you sit. They have a narrow sweet spot, and if you move slightly to the left or right of that spot, they loose that wonderfulness.

They have 1st order crossovers (measured acoustically). Those 6 dB/octave crossover slopes mean that drivers on each side of a crossover frequency will both contribute to the sound you hear for more than an octave above and below the crossover. That can cause some additions and cancellations that change with your seating position. Both vertical and horizontal changes (in stereo) in position make a difference.

If you carefully arrange the speakers and your seating position, you can find that sweet spot. You'll probably benefit from testing different toe-in angles too.

Edit: After reading Rick Sykora above, I agree with him. The 3As need some power. The pair I often hear are driven by a 200 wpc at 8 ohm, 375 wpc at 4 ohm amp.
 
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Blumlein 88

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Way back when Thiel and Vandersteen were flip sides of the same coin. Thiel was bright fast and seemingly transparent. Vandersteen was a touch slow, a touch veiled, but easy to live with using not so great electronics. Both use 1st order crossovers and therefore have some lobing off axis. Being very careful about alignment can get the most out of them. Vandy 2's were more dead than 3a's so maybe some alignment can help some.

I see I am repeating what R Swerdlow said already. If you have a way to measure use REW and measure at some different angles to see if you can get a better response at your listening position.

Here is a graph where you can see the off axis lobing. These are 2ce's, but you'll get something similar with 3a's. Notice this is only plus and minus 15 degrees.
1602030796071.png
 

JEarle

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Hoping this helps as I have had Vandersteens and numerous other speakers. Compared to the JBLs, not surprised the Vandersteens sound "dead". They are much less sensitive. So unless you level match, you are likely to be attracted to how much louder the JBL's will be. I did have trouble with the bass from my Vandersteens (same active coupler design) and got rid of them before I could determine why. That said, would expect they are much better in the midrange than the JBLs....

These are very different speakers. Just as a Mustang and a Lexus are different cars. If you can afford to keep both, you may find both offer unique listening experiences. Getting the best from the Vandersteens will depend on your equipment and your taste in content. What sort of amplification do you have and what types of music do you enjoy?

Yup, you are right, they were never level matched...didnt even own them at the same time. Listening to pop, rock, metal, EDM, movies etc I prefer the JBL's. They seem to be able to handle a wide variety of music better. Maybe the Vandersteen's would perform better when playing polite 50's jazz, IDK.

The proximity to the side walls probably took the potential away from the Vandy's in my setup, doesn't seem to bother the 708's too much.
 
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HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Hoping this helps as I have had Vandersteens and numerous other speakers. Compared to the JBLs, not surprised the Vandersteens sound "dead". They are much less sensitive. So unless you level match, you are likely to be attracted to how much louder the JBL's will be. I did have trouble with the bass from my Vandersteens (same active coupler design) and got rid of them before I could determine why. That said, would expect they are much better in the midrange than the JBLs....

These are very different speakers. Just as a Mustang and a Lexus are different cars. If you can afford to keep both, you may find both offer unique listening experiences. Getting the best from the Vandersteens will depend on your equipment and your taste in content. What sort of amplification do you have and what types of music do you enjoy?
Thanks for the feedback Rick. Yeah, I can't remember what the midrange was like on the JBL's. It's just the last speaker I've owned that had a different character to my PSB Stratus Goldi's, Egglestonworks Fontaine, and now the Vandy 3A Sigs.

I'm driving them with a VTV NC502MP Amplifier. It has something like 500 watts x 2 into 4 ohms and 250 into 8 ohms.
 
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HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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I don't have Vandersteen 3A sigs, but I am very familiar with them, my brother owns a pair. They can sound quite wonderful or be blah and disappointing. It all depends where you sit. They have a narrow sweet spot, and if you move slightly to the left or right of that spot, they loose that wonderfulness.

They have 1st order crossovers (measured acoustically). Those 6 dB/octave crossover slopes mean that drivers on each side of a crossover frequency will both contribute to the sound you hear for more than an octave above and below the crossover. That can cause some additions and cancellations that change with your seating position. Both vertical and horizontal changes (in stereo) in position make a difference.

If you carefully arrange the speakers and your seating position, you can find that sweet spot. You'll probably benefit from testing different toe-in angles too.

Edit: After reading Rick Sykora above, I agree with him. The 3As need some power. The pair I often hear are driven by a 225 wpc amp.
Thank you. I'll work on the placement over the next couple of days to see anything can be gained there.
 
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HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Way back when Thiel and Vandersteen were flip sides of the same coin. Thiel was bright fast and seemingly transparent. Vandersteen was a touch slow, a touch veiled, but easy to live with using not so great electronics. Both use 1st order crossovers and therefore have some lobing off axis. Being very careful about alignment can get the most out of them. Vandy 2's were more dead than 3a's so maybe some alignment can help some.

I see I am repeating what R Swerdlow said already. If you have a way to measure use REW and measure at some different angles to see if you can get a better response at your listening position.

Here is a graph where you can see the off axis lobing. These are 2ce's, but you'll get something similar with 3a's. Notice this is only plus and minus 15 degrees.
View attachment 86516
I have REW and the MiniDSP SHD I'll setup REW and do some measurements to see where my sweet spot is.
 

Daverz

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I have Vandersteen Quatros (original cloth version), which are essentially the 3A with built-in powered subwoofers. Unfortunately, because their off-axis response is not that great, these don't take that well to full-frequency DRC, at least not in my room. But they do benefit from taming bass modes.

Also, you should pay attention to tilt of the speakers, though this should not be an issue if your listening height is within an inch or so of 35 inches
 

CDMC

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I will just mirror what others have said, having previously owned 1cs, 2cs and 3A Sigs:

1) They need a lot of power, they are low sensitivity at 85db/w and dip down to 2.8 ohms at 35hz. I powered mine with a Sunfire Stereo amp (330w/ch 8 ohms and 600w/ch 4 ohms) and found them to have plenty of dynamics, volume capability, and bass that was tight and extended (better than the two Velodyne ULD-12s I had at the time). If you amp is less than 200w/channel with the ability to comfortably drive a 4 ohm load, that may be limiting your dynamics.
2) They have a very, very, very small listening window. Very carefully follow Vandersteen's instructions for tilt and toe in, using a tape measure. Within their small listening window, they sound really great, outside of it, exactly as you describe, dead and lifeless.

I would not be inclined to try and equalize them. Spend the time to dial in their setup and use the built in treble and midrange controls. If that doesn't get them where you are happy with them, sell them for something that fits your needs better.
 

Rick Sykora

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Thanks for the feedback Rick. Yeah, I can't remember what the midrange was like on the JBL's. It's just the last speaker I've owned that had a different character to my PSB Stratus Goldi's, Egglestonworks Fontaine, and now the Vandy 3A Sigs.

I'm driving them with a VTV NC502MP Amplifier. It has something like 500 watts x 2 into 4 ohms and 250 into 8 ohms.

Unless you are in a really big room, a NC502MP (I own one as well) should be enough power. OTOH, would not expect them to perform well in a small room either. If too close to the rear wall, would suspect you are going to have more bass issues with that rear-facing active coupler.

As with most monopoles. they are going to have a sweet spot and (as others have mentioned), may be a narrower vertical one. My Vandy 1s rocked the best of the bunch, but they needed tilting to optimize their listening window. I still have the midranges from my 2Cs, and have yet to measure lower distortion in a midrange. Vandersteen may be old school, but would take his attention to detail over others even if they swear on Toole's bible but are still subject to big company dictates...

Sounds as though you have enough other experience to know what you like. That said, would give the Vandys a shot, but not expect to fix with more processing. While I like what I get from DRC, have had many without it (and still have some), and they sound great too. If they are a bad fit for your room or your tastes, would not hesitate to replace them. IME however, would just advise to think about what you like about speakers, and then you will be more likely to find "keepers".:)
 
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CDMC

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I'm driving them with a VTV NC502MP Amplifier. It has something like 500 watts x 2 into 4 ohms and 250 into 8 ohms.

Saw this after my post. Your amp should have plenty of power to drive them well.
 

tuga

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So here I am with a pair of legendarily good sounding, accurate speakers in the Vandy 3A Signatures. The problem is in my room they are just blah, boring, with no excitement.

My question is, Can the MiniDSP SHD with Dirac help?

I had a pair of JBL Studio 590's that I like the sound of. They had great bass and were lively. The Studio 590's are my reference for more lively sound.

I have 2 subwoofers that I can integrate into making the Vandy's liven up. Any suggestions?

HionHiFi

Maybe you should replace the Vandersteens with some JBLs.

With loudspeakers "excitement" is quite often the result of distortion by the way. Not everyone prefers "accuracy".
 
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HionHiFi

HionHiFi

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Maybe you should replace the Vandersteens with some JBLs.

With loudspeakers "excitement" is quite often the result of distortion by the way. Not everyone prefers "accuracy".
Yeah, I’m leaning that way, but I’m not only interested in the JBL’s. I might try a bookshelf. That would integrate with the dual Def Tech SuperCube II Subwoofers to provide a serious bottom end.

Here are couple of speakers I've been eyeballing...
Elac Debut Reference DBR-62's
Revel M105's
Ascend Acoustics Sierra 2 (?? are they lively?)

I might even try my powered KRK VXT6's to go with the subwoofers.
 
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Wes

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just put some Maggie LRS's on top of them
 
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