Reader Request

Reader F. Teixeira suggested that I profile a high-end Vandersteen home-theater speaker system in this blog, and I'm more than happy to oblige. Vandersteen has been among audiophiles' favorite brands for over 30 years with good reason—they sound spectacular!

The ultimate Vandersteen home-theater system starts with the brand new Model 7, which was first introduced at CES 2009 and should be shipping in September for $45,000/pair. This time- and phase-aligned design includes an integrated, powered subwoofer with a 12-inch aluminum-cone diaphragm and 400-watt amp. Next up the frequency ladder is a 7-inch woofer made of Vandersteen's exclusive carbon-fiber/balsa-wood sandwich composite, followed by a 4.5-inch midrange and 1-inch tweeter made of the same material. Finally, a 0.75-inch alloy-dome supertweeter takes care of the extreme top end, extending the speaker's overall frequency range from 22Hz to 40kHz (±2dB). The Model 7's modular design allows upgrades to the drivers, crossover, and amp, and the speaker provides an 11-band room-compensation control.

Vandersteen offers two center-channel speakers, including the flagship VCC-5, which lists for $1995. Like the VCC-1, it employs a coaxial driver with a 1-inch alloy-dome tweeter at the apex of a 6.5-inch polycone woofer and adds two internally mounted 6.5-inch woofers that fire out of ports on either side of the center driver. This design is said to avoid the comb filtering associated with traditional center-channel driver configurations and yields a frequency response from 50Hz to 30kHz (±2dB).

For the surround channels, Vandersteen recommends the VSM Signature ($1895/pair), a wall-mounted model using the same coaxial driver as the center-channel speaker. Why not just use more Model 7s as surrounds? Because the VSMs can be mounted higher, which is especially important for monopole surrounds. As with the Model 7, the VSM and VCC speakers are modular, allowing upgrades to be installed as they become available. With its single coax driver, the VSM Signature's response extends from 60Hz to 21kHz (±1.5dB).

At the low end of the sonic spectrum, the Model 7 has its own integrated subwoofer, and Vandersteen recommends adding a 2Wq sub ($1450 each) to the VCC-5 and VSM Signatures so that all channels are truly full range. For this configuration, you'll also need highpass-filter modules for the center and surround channels at $500 each. If your pre/pro doesn't provide an easy-to-access LFE-mix control, you could also add a couple of V2W subs ($1450 each) for that visceral impact from movies. Both models include three 8-inch, downfiring drivers and a 300-watt amp, and they are upgradeable thanks to their modular design. The V2W adds a 12-inch passive radiator, while the 2Wq provides a single-band, fully parametric EQ, and both are equally adept at plumbing the depths down to 20Hz (-3dB).

So what's the final price tag for this ultimate Vandersteen system? A 5.1 package with two Model 7s, one VCC-5, two VSM Signatures, three 2Wqs, one V2W, and three highpass-filter modules will set you back about $56,000, while a similar 7.2 system is around $63,000. The vast majority of the cost is in the Model 7s, so you could opt for two Model 5As instead and slash about $28,000 from the bottom line. Either way, this is sure to be a sweet system that will keep you up all night watching movies and listening to music while the Vandersteen family sleeps the peaceful sleep of a job well done.