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While I like Wilson speakers and will be auditioning the Sophias again soon, after reading a few of the Audio Perfectionist Jourals, I'm thinking I should listen to the Vandersteens again. The last time I heard them was about 10 years ago. The 5A's are close in price to the Sophias, and have the built-in subs, so it evens out. Unfortunataly, I can't find a shop that carries both brands. In fact, I have to drive about an hour in three different directions to listen to Wilson, Thiel or Vandersteen.


So has anyone done a side by side, or listened to these speakers long enough to comment on their relative merits. I live in the Nor Cal. bay area, so if I am missing a shop, maybe someone can recommend a good one.


Either of these speakers will probably push me over my 20K system target price, but I'm adjusting the sound quality of my HT downward to compensate for a better 2ch listening room.


typo
 

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First order designs which are time and phase accurate are kind of like religion (and other speaker designs :)). You either hear the difference and everything sounds more natural and become one of the flock or you do not. Mad Milkman is a fellow first order enthusiast so I would direct you to a post which illustrates how far our thinking goes: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...14#post3266114 . If a first order time and phase accurate design does not sound more natural to you, more like live performances, or even if it does but you don't care or like that sound, I would buy a well designed 4th order speaker as you will get better dynamic range and you will put much less stress on your drivers. Plus, they are easier to drive with amplifiers.


To me, the speakers just sound right, while other designs sound "impressive" is the best I can describe the difference. I hope Mad Milkman chimes in here because I strongly believe he has better ears than I do . He certainly has far more musical training than I do. He might have something more specific to say.


Your room is small btw, so I would not rule out the idea of purchasing the Quatros instead of the 5 or 5A's. You might save yourself 5-8 grand that way and their smaller footprint might work better in your room (then again, it might not).
 

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I have heard the Quattro's at CES and found them to be an awesome value. I can tell you that under show conditions they sounded MUCH better than the Pipedreams on the same demo material. I am an ex Dunlavy dealer and I do agree with the time and phase concept. As far as Wilson's go there is IMHO no comparison. They are way to bright for my taste. But to each his own. :)
 

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Wow... a chance to put Wilson and Vandersteen up against each other? I don't get this one very often...


As Tpigeon said, I am definitely a Vandersteen fan. The reason is that I've been playing the violin since I was 5 (I'm 23 now). The great part about the violin is that when you play any 2 notes together, when they are in tune with each other they shoot off a huge number of overtones and harmonics. A violinist listens for the harmonics to know if he is playing the notes in tune-- he doesn't listen to the actual notes.


Having listened for these harmonics and for the overtones in general coming from different instruments, I've become very sensitive to harmonic structures. When I listen to music on a pair of speakers with a higher-order crossover I hear what I can only describe as holes in the sound. For a long time I thought that this was just a result of the recording process. But after discovering Vandersteen speakers I found something that I could listen to without that distraction.


Now, the Sophia is a time-aligned speaker (assuming you are sitting the proper distance away) meaning that the sound from the different drivers are designed to reach you at the same time. But the absolute phase will be off, meaning that the harmonics won't sound how they should.


Will you notice? Maybe, maybe not. If you do, chances are you'll be a first-order crossover fan for the rest of your life. If you don't, you'll wonder why we put up with the disadvantages of first-order designs (high IM distortion, limited dynamics, etc.).


All of that said, I do like the Sophia. It is a very well-designed speaker and doesn't seem as bright as some of the other Wilson designs, although I would definitely pair it with tube amps. But the Vandie 5A is the single best speaker that I've ever heard. It just presents music in the fashion that I enjoy. It too sounds the best driven by tubes.


If you like the brightness and detail of the Sophia you may want to take a closer look at Thiel. Their designs are generally brighter and more detailed than Vandersteen, which tend to be a little laid back. That way you could get the detail of Wilson and the phase response of Vandersteen.


One of the best recordings for testing the differences between first order and higher-order designs is "Vivaldi: The Four Seasons/Fritz Kreisler: Concerto for Violin" performed by Gil Shaham and Orpheus. Vivaldi uses a huge number of seconds, thirds and fourths (chords on a violin) and Shaham hits them spot on. This recording is quickly becoming one of my best references not only for the chord work, but for how well they captured the essence of stringed instruments. It feels very real.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...ce&s=classical
 

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These are opposite ends of the spectrum. You will like one or the other.


With any design their are positives and negatives---forget the theory and check out the sound for yourself.


For example, i was not impressed by the Quattros, as i was with the 5As.


And fwiw, i chose Avantgarde Solos over the Sophias...


Cheers,


KeithR
 

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I have owned Wilsons but not for long. I, too, am a 1st order/sealed enclosure speaker lover and if I were looking for a NEW speaker today, the Vandersteen 5A is the first place I would go. (I own Dunlavy VI's and have for 8 years -- I was a dealer until near the very end)


It all depends on what you prefer....they sound absolutely nothing at all alike and you sure won't need to have them side by side to hear the difference.
 

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Don't forget, Keith, that the Uno is time and phase coherent as well. Single point source, concentric drivers, first order crossovers... very different execution, but in this regard, the end is the same.
 

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The harmonic structure of a sustained violin note would be absolutely identical with any phase coherent crossover design, whether it is a first order, or a second or fourth order Linkwitz-Riley for example. 0-deg phase shift will reveal itself only on transients, as square-waves readily show. Ironically, it is low frequency transients that I have the most concern about, as group delay increases with constant phase shift at lower frequencies. Most people associate transients with higher frequencies, and the group delay there with a 360-deg phase coherent design is quite small.


Perhaps what you hear is a change in transient tonality. This is something many people have listened for, including myself, and I don't think there is any concensus yet. Looking at the waveforms, I would not expect to ever hear a tonality change caused by full-cycle phase offsets on sustained notes/chords. The same rich overtone structure is present in many instruments, some of which I am very familiar with, and that structure isn't affected by full-cycle phase shifting.


I'm not suggesting that you don't hear what you claim to hear, but merely helping you understand what is perhaps the cause for what you hear. It is the transients that first order crossovers preserve so well, not the harmonic structure.
 

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I'm sorry, but could you define "phase coherent crossover design?" I'm trying really hard to understand what you're saying, but it's not quite clicking. I've always been told that higher-order crossovers induce phase errors, so you may need to explain a few more things to me.


I use the violin as an example for two reasons. First is that I'm very familiar with it, obviously, and second is that it is one of the few instruments that is both tuned "perfectly" and capable of playing more than one note at a time. A piano, for example, can play many notes at one time, but is tuned "imperfectly" meaning that the notes are tuned to an absolute standard and not to each other. So when you play a third on the piano, the two notes are in tune against the absolute standard, but not against each other. With the violin, on the other hand, you can adjust a note to be in tune with another simply by moving your finger. It's this perfect tuning that creates the intermodulation that I hear.


Interesting factoid-- only recently have pianos been tuned "imperfectly" in this regard. Previously they were tuned in chords, essentially, which allowed for the kind of "perfect" tuning that I'm talking about.
 

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Take any two sustained frequencies and look at the sine wave summation. Now shift either of those two frequencies any multiple of 360 degrees and look once again at the summation. Both results will be identical. Thus, sustained notes, no matter how complex, will exhibit no overtone structure changes when one frequency is shifted a multiple of 360 degrees.


Second order Linkwitz-Riley crossovers have an electronic 180 degree phase shift and flat amplitude response summation. With one driver wired out of phase the total acoustic phase shift is 360 degrees. Fourth order L-R crossover have a 360 degree phase shift. Thus, both of these designs are "phase coherent" even though they don't preserve the original absolute phase. In practice, this means that there is some group delay present between high/low drivers, and that group delay has the effect of distorting transients. Whether this group delay transient distortion is audible or not is an area of ongoing research. Perhaps this is what you hear.


First order designs shift each speaker 90 degrees in phase, but have zero-degree phase summation at the crossover frequency. I've always been skeptical about this design route as tiny changes in head position relative to the speaker will destroy this zero-degree phase summation. In other words, first order designs with spaced drivers are very sensitive to speaker/head relationships, and only have that magic "perfect phase" response for one small volume in space (incidentally, a volume smaller than the human head if you include the upper frequencies as being important).


Coincident drivers get around that problem very nicely. Even though each driver still has a 90 degree phase shift, the acoustic phase summation is 0-deg across the crossover frequency, and since their acoustic centers are coincident that means the effect remains off axis as well. Of course, coincident drivers bring to the table a host of other design problems. Thus the truth that speaker design is about compromises.


BTW, I have played trumpet now for about as long as you have played violin, though I get rustier as time goes on and I don't play as much as I should. The overtones you mention are present when two brass instruments play together, and are very rich in structure. Though the instruments themselves have mathematically defined pitch centers for each note, these are easily enough "bent" to accommodate even tempered tuning. When using my ears alone, I play a scale out of tune wrt an electronic tuner, but perfectly in tune wrt a reference pitch, whether that be a fundamental or not, much the same as you play a violin. My lips are equivalent to your fingers. Erm... something like that. :D


Oh, and I always have my piano tuned using even tempered tuning. I would never let anyone near my piano with an electronic instrument. Yuck! That makes me curious... I'm rusty on the theory of even tempered tuning; I think I'll go do some reading to refresh my memory of how the mathematics plays out.
 

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Tempered tuning... thank you, I couldn't remember the word.


What is so nice about how violins resonate is that your chin is pressed right up on the instrument. The vibration travels up your jawbone to your ear. In fact, when tuning my violin, I will essentially fold my ear over and press it against the instrument so that I can better hear the resonances.


And thank you for the definition. Perhaps it is group delay transient distortion that I am hearing. This is new to me, and rest assured that I'll spend a good time listening to see what I think about this.
 

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BTW, having played in dozens of orchestras, I can say that I absolutely love string instruments. But... my favorite is a tie between the cello and viola. :p


Used to have a lot of violinist friends when I was younger... haven't been in touch with them in years. My only beef with playing in orchestras is that string players tend to play notes past even tempered tuning... widening a major third to brighten the chord, diminishing a minor third to increase the tension. Wider fifths, diminished major seconds, widened minor seconds, widened major sevenths... MAN!! Bending notes on a brass instrument to play in "theoretical" tune is tough enough. Keeping your ear trained for even tempered tuning takes practice, and works very well with wind symphonies. But trying to keep up with the string instruments stretching intervals all over the place is a nightmare! My orchestral music was always covered with up and down arrows to remind me which way I needed to bend the note to be consistent with the strings, all dependent on the particular chord the score was following at that moment. String players always wondered why a trumpet player was putting bowing marks all over his music! :D


Man... I do miss it though. The "real" world, where you have to actually work to eat, does sometimes suck. As I move my carreer into the audio world, I hope I regain some time to once again performing instead of just listening. Don't ever stop playing... you'll regret it the instant you realize how much work it will take to get back to your previous level of performance.


OK, now I'm rambling - sorry for the tangents there. Back to the regularly scheduled thread...
 

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Is it me or is Bigus a closet "subjectivist"? :D, Very educting post Bigus, thanks. Speaker making is defintely an art of balancing compromises and in that respect Vandersteen in cones is a very balanced one and with a "good" price tag. For me the MG 20.1 does it all however. I am still dreaming of a speaker with the phase coherence of the Quad Electrostatic, the dynamics and eficiency of horns, the midbass bloom of Dunlavy, the low bass of the Genesis 1.1, the highs of the Mgnepan 20.1 or in cones speakers those of the Dynaudio Evidence all this under 20 K... dream on
 

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Audioguy


I heard it, liked it then, my father thought about it but opted much later for the Infinity QRS... I believe however that the ML HQD would not fare well compared to modern days speakers. No I was thinking about a speaker built with these in mind. One speaker which has most of what I described except for being phase coherent is the Dynaudio Evidence Master. I want to hear the Vand 5 A, I was most impressed by the 3A
 

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I was under the impression that Dynaudio used first order designs much like Vandersteen and Thiel. Is this true only for some models?
 

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They are indeed first order designs. This is more a question: Does first order slope, phase coherent a design make?
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by FrantzM
They are indeed first order designs. This is more a question: Does first order slope, phase coherent a design make?
Only if the drivers are geometrically time aligned. If an analog delay line is used instead to match the phase at the crossover point, then the speaker will only be phase coherent at the crossover point. That is because analog delay lines are just all-pass filters which still exhibit frequency dependent phase shifting. You can calculate the appropriate phase shift at the crossover frequency to offset the geometric delta between two drivers, but the impact on frequencies away from the crossover point is unavoidable. You might as well use a higher order design with time aligned speakers, as the result would essentially be the same.


Digital delays are a good way to get around that problem, but it requires the extra A/D step if the signal isn't presented to the speaker in a digital format to begin with.
 

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Bigus said "Digital delays are a good way to get around that problem, but it requires the extra A/D step if the signal isn't presented to the speaker in a digital format to begin with."


And that's one of the reasons that the Meridian speaker approach has such huge potential. Before their demise, Dunlavy had a prototype of a digital speaker that had EVERYTHING (crossover, driver time alignment and speaker/room correction) performed digitally.
 
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