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 Post subject: Vandersteen to Harbeth
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:32 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Hillsboro, OR, US
Greetings Harbeth Owners,

My present system: Vandersteen 2CE Signatures, Luxman 507UXII, Oppo UDP-205, Project RPM 9.2 w/ Ortofon Quintet Black mc. My room 18' x 12' x10' full shag carpet.

Question, I'm not getting the "amazing magic" out of my Vandys after months of placement trials including seating, formulas and general VooDoo. Great bass performance, but not so great image and soundstage, lacking overall satisfaction.

I am seeing many recommendations, reviews, and accolades for Harbeth speakers. Has anyone out there "Owned" Vandersteens and changed to Harbeth or vice-versa. If so your comments would be much appreciated.

Thank you!


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:38 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:57 pm
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Location: Homestead, PA, US
Have you ever tried "stacking" ? I Don't mean stacking Vandersteens, but high quality bookshelf speakers stacked 2 per channel on medium height stands. This assumes your amp has speaker A+B capability. If you raise the speakers vertically higher you will "Always" get a much more impressive image, same as if you have a table lamp on the floor and then raise it up on a shelf. Believe me, your room will get a lot brighter, because its dispersing the light better. Same with sound. There are some amazing bookshelf speakers you can find used. I just picked up a used pair on ebay and it cost me less than $150 total including shipping. With their thin small cabinet surface there is little in the way of cabinet reflections (diffraction). I like my speakers to be above ear level in height. Moving them out about 3 to 4 feet from the back wall does wonders for imaging, the bass lessens though. The Vandersteens should image well. Maybe what you really are craving is more upper midrange and a bit less warmth. This enhances focus and imaging and provides a more lively exciting sound. If the choices are right, the sound can still be very sweet and have sufficient warmth also. If you like the Vandersteens sound you should check out the Vandersteen Quattros which are better than 2ce's
When stacking bookshelf speakers the bass "always" sounds 20 to 25 hertz deeper than just using the one pair, because of the increased woofer area. Some real good reasonably priced bookshelf speakers to consider include Q Acoustics 3020, Era Design model 4 & 5, current Wharfedale, ( Herb Reichert of Stereophile said he likes one of the Wharfedale models more than KEF LS50 ). One of the older KEF bookshelf models, the Reference 101 uses the same drivers as ls3/5a's and sound amazing for a lot less $$. They are especially great on vocals and have less upper midrange than the above choices. Stacking will lower the impedence by 1/2 so its wise to make sure your amp will be that impedence capable. The extra good news about all of this is that on the used market you should be able to score 2 pairs of the above speakers for $320 to $700. They are all very very nice speakers that image like nobody's business.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:58 am 
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Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:32 pm
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Location: Hillsboro, OR, US
Good morning Upside,
Thank you for the response and advice. I will look into this idea.

My Luxman has outputs for two (2) sets of speakers and a selector for A, B, A+B. However there is a very highlighted warning that if using both speakers together (A+B) that each pair have an impedance of 8 ohms or higher. That would require the purchase of two (2) identical pairs, which might be a good idea.

The Quattro speaker is a dream speaker for me, my initial thought is this might have the exact same issue as 2CE's due to the big size in a small room. I wish there was a way to try it!


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:38 am 
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The other great thing about stacking is that there are 4 speakers sharing the volume instead of two. Which means that each one is playing at half volume. Distortion goes way down when drivers are just loafing instead of pushed loud. There is a noticeable sense of ease to the sound, and of course the imaging becomes all the more wonderful not only in image height but in depth also I notice. The sound always gets warmer with 2 pairs and always significantly deeper in the bass. You don't have to worry about the volume setting as much either, with all those speakers splitting up and sharing the volume. Of course if you perfectly line up one identical speaker on top of another it just looks like it could be one speaker, bigger in size.
I put little thin squares of carbon fiber between the bottom & top speaker so that the energy of one isn't as much being transferred to the other, ( the speakers are not actually touching each other this way). There is a seller of scrap carbon fiber on ebay that will sell you a piece with cut out patterns, but there is still enough left to cut some off to use. Use metal cutters, carbon fiber dust is harmful to inhale.
Being one to think outside the box and experiment, I have actually used 2 very different speakers on top of each other with great results. For instance one speaker did not sound extended enough on top, so I matched it with another brand of speaker whose tweeter was more extended. It worked perfect.There is nothing weird about the sound, as their mid/woofers are within an inch in size of one another and their timing sounds in sync. The focus was fine. It makes you wonder about all this stuff about mirror imaged drivers. The drivers of both pairs are vertically aligned however. Visually is the only compromise, the speakers looking different.
Amps are usually stable down to 3 ohms or a little lower. So (2) six ohm speakers you might be able to get away with using. When a speaker company rates their speakers for impedence they have plus or minus leeway of a little bit, ( a fraction of an ohm), so a speaker rated at 8 ohms might actually at times dip close to 7 ohms or so.
Drivers sharing volume pays big dividends as far as lower distortion and power handling. Instead of paying for a large floorstander, where they price it up because of size, cabinet etc. stacking high quality bookshelf speakers might be the way to go for maximum sound quality per dollar spent. Many exotic flagship models of floorstanding speakers have 2 midranges, but you really pay for this luxury.There are full reviews on the net covering all the speakers I've mentioned and the ones I read are pretty accurate reviews, as are the speakers themselves.
You might want to also try some 5 or 6 inch wood stands underneath your speaker stands. Elevating them even that much higher up, can make a lot of difference in the image they throw. Your bass will be noticeably less loud though, with the woofers being further from the floor.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:58 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:57 pm
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Location: Homestead, PA, US
If not wanting to stack. The Harbeth's are supposed to be very good speakers, but before spending that much I would at least consider these also. There is a new speaker from Denmark I believe. The company's name is Buchardt. At this time there are 2 models I think, the S300at around $1100/pair and the S400 around $1800/PR. Some say they could be game changers at their price. They are larger bookshelf speakers and supposed to be REALLY special. On the new or used market I would consider Silverline Minuets, ProAc's, Magnepan .7's (if you have enough free space for them), Ohm Walsh models, Apogee ribbon speakers, Joseph Audio, Kef R107 without Kube. These are all speakers that image magically and you may prefer to your 2Ce's without breaking the bank ($450 to $1400).


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:45 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 9:39 am
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Location: WC, CA, US
Are the speakers on the long wall or short wall? And how far are they from the walls? You may want to try a nearfield listening setup, if possible.

Another option would be to try a Synergistic Research PowerCell. If pinpoint imaging and depth is what you're seeking, this is an area where they excel over many other power conditioners.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 4:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 22, 2018 1:32 pm
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Location: Hillsboro, OR, US
Thank you for your input sadono -

I have tried over 44 positions according to my notes. Long wall, short wall, nearfield, Cardas formula, Mr. Hunter's Sumiko formula, Richard Vandersteen's set up instructons in the owner's manual. I have had good sound, but not great sound or "Oh wow" sound.

My power unit is a Shunyata Hydra triton. I have played it in the system and out. It is noticeably better with it in the system.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:13 am 
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Going from a speaker whose midrange and tweeter is mounted in free space behind cloth to enhance 3 dimensional airiness, to a fairly sizeable box speaker does not sound like an imaging solution to me. My imaging, using stacked very small cabinet bookshelf speakers, where the cabinets get out of the way sonically, results in my imaging being literally floor to ceiling. The vocalists voice in the middle sounds like it has such image height that its on the ceiling often. The images get a little less ethereal at the extreme sides of course, but everything seems to breathe air. Even at the sides the images sound like you are listening to instruments on a "elevated" stage.
Vandersteens are a nice speaker, and thethingsingle thing they are definitely known for is imaging. Sound with more extension and energy on top would undoubtedly sound airier, (it happens every time), if the combo of components being used has too much warmth and murkiness, you might need a bit of bright spotlighting to give an increased sense of "hear into" imaging and resolution. People using amplifiers with tone controls could just boost the treble a bit and an enormous improvement in spotlighting and air would undoubtedly occur. Sound that is too dark will not sound like it is highly resolved which is tied in with imaging and transparency. Transparency and warmth are almost always at odds with each other. If your sound is a bit too dark and murky it will sound like transients are blunted also. This problem doesn't' sound like anything even remotely involving what power conditioner is being used. It sounds like to me that it is a combination of lack of transparency everywhere and lack of full extension in the highs, and that the sound needs to be a bit brighter, at least at certain frequencies. How much upper midrange you have does affect the highs and the sense of airiness, and the highs do affect how the upper midrange sounds. The upper midrange if just right should enhance focus. I would try elevating the speakers, moving them further out from the back wall, and maybe purchasing some good Nordost speaker cable. Vandersteens have enough body so any hint of thinness that the cable might have,should not be obvious and it should give it a dose of life and resolution which "magical" imaging "fully" depends on. Going to a warm sounding British "box" speaker is almost certainly not going to be an imaging solution, although the Harbeth's are a good bet to be a better speaker overall than most any speaker from so many decades ago.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2018 2:49 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2018 4:57 pm
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Location: Homestead, PA, US
Just a quick add on for accuracy sake. The original 2Ce signatures came out many decades ago. Have no idea how old yours are. They also had a model 2Ci. Since the lletter i is "after" the letter e in the actual alphabet, you would think to avoid confusion they wouldn't' go "backwards" with the lettering. That's aimost as bad as someone coming out with a MK II version of something that displaces the MK. III version.


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