What Everybody Ought to Know About Vandersteen Audio

My Vandersteen 1c loudspeakers deliver as accurate an audio signal as you can get for under $1000. The 1c’s accomplish this through the combination of their flat frequency response down to 40 Hz, time aligned high quality drivers, phase correct cross over design and diffraction free, baffleless exterior. Since I am relatively ignorant of how you could invent these loudspeaker technical features, I’m excited to hear Richard Vandersteen speak at Quintessence Audio next Thursday.

As audiophiles, we buy our favorite high end home audio components based on a mysterious mix of subjective critical listening, technical measurements and the underlying philosophy and prowess of the manufacturer’s designers. The critical listening is usually only possible after you’ve made your investment and convinced yourself it was a good idea. Measurements are important and it’s essential that you understand all those charts in Stereophile reviews, but I’m the only person I know who gets excited by a step response graph. The most interesting product a small high end manufacturer can offer is their thoughts.

Vandersteen Audio is on tour this fall. On October 12 at 7 pm Richard Vandersteen will hold a Q&A at Quintessence Audio in Morton Grove, IL.

Here’s some questions I want him to answer:

  • You’ve stated that critical listeners can easily whether a loudspeaker is time/phase coherent, could you explain what we should be listening for? Detail differences between a coherent and regular speaker we can hear in relation to: imaging, timbre, frequency extension and amplitude and dynamic range (not sure if each of these apply).
  • I have 85 Hz high pass filters on the left and right channels of my amplifier, and I send a full range signal to my subwoofer through its low pass filter. How close in performance is this set-up compared to your speaker line level crossovers for your subwoofers (the sub and main speaker get the same high pass signal that is then rebuilt in the sub’s electronics)?
  • Could you explain the benefits of multiple subwoofers?
  • After the loss of Dunlavy and Meadowlark Audio (the only other time/phase coherent loudspeaker manufacturers except for Thiel and Vandersteen) how do you plan to expand the market for loudspeakers in your performance class?
  • Why should music and movie lovers care about Vandersteen?
  • Is it possible to make a time/phase coherent speaker for less than $700? If not, why?
  • As consumers, how can we protect ourselves from manufacturers and dealers making false claims that their speaker lines are time/phase coherent (Wilson, Legacy)? What information can we arm ourselves with (measurements)? What can we listen for in demos?

I’ll make note of his answers and post them after the tour date.

It’s funny how much I enjoy the ideas and stories that happen behind the scenes of products I enjoy. As an extreme example, Kevin Smith is much more entertaining talking to college students about his life and making movies in An Evening with Kevin Smith than his actual movies. Meta.

Hope to see you at Quintessence next week.

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