Stereophile magazine has infected me with upgraditis (luckily my empty wallet’s immune system is strong). In the last two issues they’ve reviewed Vandersteen Audio’s new 2ce Signature II loudspeaker and Slim Devices’ Transporter. For under $4000, I could take my system to the next logical level. Both these components, one at the beginning and the other at the end of the audio chain, could replace my Airport Express wireless transport and Vandersteen 1c loudspeakers respectively without any regrets.
What you need to know from each review:
- Slim Devices Transporter network music player: The $2000 Transporter is Slim Devices flagship wireless music server and DAC. Stereophile’s Wes Phillips liked its looks and build quality, highly configurable display and front panel shuttle wheel for playlist navigation. He compared the Transporter to both his flagship CD player, Ayre C-5xe, and his Slim Devices Squeezebox 3 feeding a Muscial Fidelity X-DACv3; The Ayre beat the Transporter by an almost imperceptible margin and the SB3 and X-DACv3 lost to the Transporter more obviously. The Transporter measured very well, but had a higher jitter rate than the Airport Express (Transporter’s 235 psec over wireless versus AE’s ~180 psec), I guess overbuilt power supplies and gain sections make more of a sonic difference than jitter (or some jitter is more benign?). Interestingly, the wireless input had the lowest jitter measurements when compared to balanced and unbalanced digital cable inputs. Overall, Stereophile was very impressed, fantastic.
- Vandersteen 2ce Signature II loudspeakers: I was surprised to read that the 2ce’s are the best selling single model loudspeaker over their 20 years of production. The Sig II’s new design: “the new version’s most significant refinement is its use of the same proprietary midrange driver that Vandersteen developed for his Model 3A: a 4.5″ plastic-cone model with a cast-alloy frame, whose English alnico magnet structure is sized and shaped to prevent backwave reflections from impinging on the polymer cone itself. The result is said to be a less colored, more open sound.” The 2ce’s have an easy load and can be driven by low watt amps. Because of the speakers’ pinpointed sweet spot, John Atkninson had trouble measuring them on his usual tweeter axis, once he switched the microphones to the midrange driver the frequency, impulse and step response measurements fell into more expected areas. Art Dudley concluded that it didn’t quite match his Quad ESL’s “hear through” quality but were an above average speaker in all categories and you’d be hard pressed to beat them in their price bracket.