Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT loudspeaker & M5-HPA monoblock power amplifier

"Stirring the stew" is what I've heard it called when a company introduces a new version of a product every three or four years. When a new product is launched, sales generally rise rapidly to a maximum and then slowly decline. If the stew is stirred every few years, plotting the product's sales volume against time results in a sawtooth wave, without sales ever dropping close to zero.

Richard Vandersteen doesn't appear to believe in stews or stirring. Vandersteen loudspeakers stay on the market for a long time, with infrequent updates. Consider the Vandersteen Quatro loudspeaker. The original version was reviewed for Stereophile by Michael Fremer in July 2006 and cost $6995/pair, with the necessary line-level high-pass filters priced at $595/pair for unbalanced operation and $795/pair for balanced. As retailers felt the plain-Jane sock that covered the loudspeaker might be an impediment to sales, Richard introduced not a new version of the Quatro with a wooden veneer finish but a different loudspeaker, the Quatro Wood, which cost $10,700/pair without the filters and which the late Wes Phillips reviewed in December 2007.

Twelve years later, there is a new version of the Quatro Wood, the Quatro Wood CT, which costs $15,499/pair in standard finish. Balanced line-level filters now cost $1295/ pair but are not necessary if the Quatro Wood CT is used with one of Vandersteen's high-pass monoblock amplifiers, the hybrid M7-HPA ($59,999/pair), which I reviewed in May 2016, or the new solid-state M5-HPA ($15,800/pair), which I am reviewing here with the Quatro Wood CT.

The Quatro Wood CT
The Wood CT looks identical to its predecessor: a slim, truncated pyramid with all surfaces finished in wood veneer. The front baffle features a vertical array of three drive-units beneath a substantial cloth-covered grille that provides the appropriate acoustic environment. Richard Vandersteen strongly believes that a loudspeaker should faithfully preserve the waveform produced by the power amplifier, including "all of the delicate time-domain relationships that comprise the recorded musical performance." The Quatro therefore uses first-order crossover filters and a sloped-back front baffle to bring the three drive-unit outputs into time alignment on the listening axis.


Two 8" subwoofer drivers, powered by a 250W amplifier, fire through a cloth-covered slot at the base of each sidewall and the back. The speaker's rear has a large black metal panel with the amplifier's heatsink fins at its base, above which are 11 trim controls for the subwoofer's 11-band equalizer, rotary Low Frequency Level and Contour controls, and four screw terminals—one pair for the tweeter and midrange passive drivers, the other for the woofer and the input to the subwoofer amplifier.

The differences between the CT and the earlier version are all inside the box. The baskets of the subwoofers are now die-cast aluminum rather than stamped steel. The front-firing 6.5" woofer is loaded with a different internal chamber, the driver's alignment optimized for free-space placement. (The earlier loudspeaker's woofer alignment was optimized for placement close to the wall behind it, which could result in a lean-sounding lower midrange with the speaker farther out in the room.) The 4.5" midrange driver still has the minimal-profile basket that Richard Vandersteen pioneered but now has a woven carbon-fiber cone rather than the original's polypropylene cone. Instead of the earlier Quatro Wood tweeter's alloy dome, the Wood CT's tweeter uses the carbon-fiber dome from Vandersteen's Model 5A Carbon.


The high-pass amplifier
As with other Vandersteen speakers that have active subwoofers, the amplifier used to drive the Quatro Wood CT needs to have its output rolled off with a first-order slope and a –3dB frequency of 100Hz. The subwoofer amplifier then applies a compensatory low-frequency boost. Designed by Richard Vandersteen and Dean Klinefelter and featuring a minimal signal path, the M5-HPA amplifier is a scaled-down, solid-state cousin of the earlier amp, offering a maximum power of 300W into 4 ohms compared with the M7-HPA's 600W. Unlike the M7-HPA, the M5 has variable high-pass settings, with a rotary switch with –3dB frequency settings of 20, 40, 80, 100, or 200Hz mounted on the main circuit board behind the balanced XLR input jack. (As I found out, the amplifier needs to be turned off before each change in the high-pass frequency.) The review samples were set to 100Hz for my auditioning.


The M5-HPA sits on four spring feet; those at the front are less compliant than those at the rear as the hefty power transformer is bolted to the amplifier's front panel. There is a Cardas double binding post on its rear panel, beneath the XLR jack, and power is supplied via a 20A IEC receptacle. The amplifier is turned on with a heavy-duty switch on the rear, following which a front-panel LED glows green to indicate the M5-HPA is in standby mode. Pressing the button next to the LED turns it blue and brings the amplifier out of standby.

Richard Vandersteen and Vandersteen Audio's Brad O'Toole visited to set up the Quatro Wood CTs in my listening room. With the speakers in what they felt were the optimal positions, Richard then placed a sound-pressure–level meter at the height of my head in my listening chair, and Brad used a tape measure to ensure that the speakers were the same distance from the SPL meter. Using the "Vandertones," which can be downloaded from Vandersteen's website—11 narrowband warble tones, one set each for the left and right channels, with center frequencies ranging from 20 to 120Hz, corresponding to the Wood CT's 11 equalizer frequencies—Vandersteen adjusted the setting of each equalizer band until it gave an SPL meter reading that matched his target response. After adjusting the EQ, he tuned in the subwoofers' level and contour controls. These were respectively set to "0" and "5" for each speaker.

TNtransplant's picture

Great to see JA reviewing a product that's been available for a few years -- as opposed to a review featuring a component from initial production, which too often has shortcomings/parts failure that the manufacturer comment attributes to a first run that has since been rectified. or the reviewer excuses since this particular one has been passed around e bit. (I get it, but not everyone has the ability to measure whether their product is within spec and people do move once in a while.) But it's also interesting to note in associated equipment that JA is still listening to, and presumably enjoying, several components that are not "flavor of the week" and in at least one case now discontinued.

Which prompts a question as to the 3 year policy on Recommended Components? Understand the list may get unwieldy for physical publication (and a few products escape the axe with a star) but perhaps could still be appended without comment to full category list with reference to online review.

Think it's a testament to the quality and value of Vandersteen speakers that RV does not come out with a Mark II or III or whatever like clockwork every 2-3 years. Not to say that there have not been upgrades along the way with appreciable improvements, and I've moved from 2ci to 2ce to original Quatro fabric to the Quatro Wood CT over the past 30 years.

Enjoyed listening to each over that time and I've truly appreciated the qualities that JA highlights in his fine review of the Quatro CT's for over 5 years... okay, but still looking forward to hearing the new Vandersteen Kento's and hope it doesn't take Stereophile another 5 years to review them!

jeffhenning's picture that it's really not very competitively priced..

You could buy a pair of KEF LS50's, a Benchmark AHB-2, 4 Rythmik L12 servo subs and some really nice cables and stands/furniture to go with all of this for about $7,500. This is what I have. It ran me a little less than $7,500.

Throw in an Emotiva RMC-1 surround processor for another $5K and your total is $12,500.

Buy 4 really decent powered studio monitors and stands for surround sound and you now bring your price up tp around $15K.

Get a single LS50 for the center speaker and power that with an nCore or Purifi based monoblock amp and you add another $1,500 or so.

So, for around $1K more than these speakers, you can have a killer surround system that will eviscerate these speakers in the low end and sound every bit as good in the mids and treble. And also, have Dirac Live room correction.

Again, my argument isn't that they don't sound good, it's that they are a waste of money. There is much better to be had for the same price or less.

Hey, if you want a set of giant monkey coffins in your listening room, the Legacy Focus SE is most likely as good or better for $4-5K less (depending on the cabinet finish).

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Other speakers one could also consider ......... The GoldenEar Triton Reference (reviewed by Stereophile and Hi-Fi News) and the GoldenEar Triton One R (reviewed by S&V magazine and, Stereophile review may be forthcoming).......... Both GoldenEar models have powered woofer sections and, both cost about half the price of this Vandersteen speaker model :-) .........

tonykaz's picture

Does anyone know who makes the "half price" loudspeakers you mention?

5 years from now, will you be able to locate a replacement Woofer?, or any other unique part ?

The point being that Vandersteen actually exists and answers their dam phone when you call. Try that with the unknown people that make your suggestion.

Tony in Venice

Indydan's picture

Good point Tony.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be you could ask Stereophile, S&V and the other magazines and websites not to review those products and rate them favorably ....... May be you could ask those magazines and websites not to advertise those products ....... May be you could ask the dealers not to demonstrate and sell those products ......... May be you could ask audio show organizers not to demonstrate those products :-) ......

I'm not telling anybody how to spend their money and which products to buy :-) .........

tonykaz's picture
tonykaz's picture

Of course, you make dam good & valid points.

I'm lately taking the "Nationalist" position on Manufacturing.

It could be "Fairly" said that I'm screaming my head off about all this "Off-Shoring" that even my own General Motors is a willing participant in.

I'm mad as hell about it. g-dam-it.

On balance, Stereophile reports on a tiny sliver of the Consumer Entertainment Industry, it just happens to be an Industry that I've been an active participant in.

On the much larger Scale, our Industrial Leaders are now forced to chase Quarterly Profits and super cheap labor, they abandon their Loyal Local Labor Force who take pride in building quality products to be sold at a fair price.

Consumers buying because of low prices are spending their low wages on products destined for the Waste Management Land Fills.

I'm sounding like a RANT, again.

I'm not at all aiming at you,

so, I'll try to "Stand-Down".

Thanks for writing

Tony in Venice

ps. I admire China !

1.) China has been the Global Industrial Leader for the last 2,000 years ( with the exception of 1850ish to today ).

2.) China is NOT a War Mongering Nation. They only has one War in the last 500 years, with Viet Nam where they lost badly.

3.) Chinese people are hard working industrialists.

Ortofan's picture

... Sandy Gross from GoldenEar Technology, who asserts that he often speaks with customers by phone.

Go to 16:30 in the following Audiophiliac interview video:

Give it a try for yourself at 410-998-9134.

Sandy Gross was also interviewed in the secret lair of JA1:

tonykaz's picture


Sure, he talks to people. That is the kind of thing he does.

Pick up the Phone and call Klipsch in Hope Arkansas where you can talk to the factory where your loudspeakers are being built, the Klispch technicians who will help you straighten out your technical problems.

Have you called Mr. Gross ?

Tony in Venice

ps. I'm not about trolling Golden Ear,

I'm ranting about China Sourcing.

This man chooses to order his stuff from Asia, import it to USA and go around selling it to his existing contacts. It's business.

I'm say'n : Buyer Beware

Ortofan's picture

... is it only the models in the Heritage series product line?

See this example:

Feel free to rant.

tonykaz's picture


We are the Hi-End Class of Music lovers, hobbyists, collectors and vinyl hoarders, we are probably-not the Bob Katz top Pro-Audio Class of accuracy perfectionists.

I think that we are proud to buy & own, good sounding Gear made by Prestigious Manufactures, Reviewed by gifted talents like Jim Austin & Herb Reichert.

I have the feeling that we, for the most part, trend to be Steve Guttenberg types. We hope & try to be properly informed about all things Hi-End.

I also have the feeling that we Stereophile Audiophiles are not the bargain hunters that haunt Best Buys, hunting for lower prices on Chinese 5.1 sorts of gear.

We are the Connoisseurs of Sound Quality and high quality gear, built by gourmand audio designers, maintained by loyal and local employees that take pride in being an integral part of this industry.

This ain't a race to the bottom, this is our life's love affair thats been a rough road journey over these last 7 Decades. But, we're soaring now, high up with engineering talent providing ever more thermal lift.

Tony in Venice

Ortofan's picture

... connoisseur of sound quality and high quality gear, but Best Buy would seem to offer a selection of equipment that could prove to be quite satisfactory.
A system with B&W speakers, Rotel pre and power amp, Marantz CD player and Pro-Ject turntable with Sumiko cartridge doesn't exactly represent a race to the bottom.

tonykaz's picture

Why are you reading this publication?, are you only aspiring to mid-fi?

Of course, Best Buy might be your only local place offering Speciality Audio Gear and they provide hassle free returns.

"Satisfactory" best describes Best Buy, I've purchased Epson Printers there, they are Local but they are the best buy about 10% of the time. Usually the Internet will present a range of better offers.

Best Buy is where I purchased a Samsung Refrigerator in 2011, they gave us $100 Gift Certificate that I cashed in on Cases of Printer Paper.

A great deal from Best Buy is a great deal.

Tony in Venice

ps. I just recently bought a LG bluetooth headset from Best Buy, the darn thing was junk, I returned it for a FULL Refund. I love em for that.

ps. 2) If you're worried that you might be buying junky, buy it from Best Buy with the ability to return the dam thing.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If you are looking for Bluetooth headphones/earphones, look into the new Apple AirPod Pro ($250) or the new Bose Model 700 BT noise-cancelling headphones ($400) ...... Bose 700 were S&V top-pick :-) .........

tonykaz's picture

I might own the Apple stuff but I'm not anxious.

Thanks for mentioning,

Tony in Venice

Ortofan's picture

... "mid-fi", then that level of "mid-fi" is satisfactory for me.
Same for the Martin-Logan Neolith or KEF Blade speakers - all available at Best Buy.

B&W uses Rotel amps to demo their speakers, so, if it's good enough for them ...

JA1 characterized the performance of a Marantz CD player by stating that "its intrinsic resolution is better than is needed by the CD medium". Does that strike you as being of "mid-fi" quality?

tonykaz's picture

B&W have been courting Mid-fi all along.

B&W have wife appeal, Audiophile Loudspeakers typically don't.

Rotel is also rather mid level mid-fi in price and performance.

Intrinsic resolution is good but vague. I'd go further by suggesting that Red Book CD is farrrrrrrrr better than Vinyl. I'll even include the ultra inexpensive players.

Best Buy is a Sales Outlet, not a high end shop.

High End is rather tweaky, nitchy, especially neurotic and psychotic. ( certainly including me )

High End is Tube Rolling, Wire performance, Cable trusses, Record Cleaning machines and the differences in vinyl cleaning fluids, Cramolin Red & Blue Contact Cleaning, 33.3 vinyl hoarding, isolation feet evaluating, equipment rack sonic performance improvements, turntable set-up fixtures and tools, special formulas for speaker placement including Blue Tape on the Carpet, etc, etc, etc....

Audiophile is sort of the; "Lunatic Fringe".

Best Buy is Mainstream Mid-fi where the females are important customers.

I think that we Audiophiles are a Quirky bunch, much like Steve Guttenberg the Audiophiliac.

Tony in Venice

Ortofan's picture

... "what the high end is all about". He further stated that "these speakers breathe humanity". Does that seem like a reference to "mid-fi" sound quality to you?

If nothing else, Best Buy - including its Magnolia shops - has hours that accommodate schedules of the working class, as opposed to the 'banker's hours' that the local high-end boutiques like to keep.

Given that your definition of high-end is "Tube Rolling, Wire performance ...", maybe you should be reading the reviews on the 'posi+ive feedback' site by Jeff Day, who has all sorts of "hot-rodded" equipment.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The secret to that 'breathing humanity' is, the Synergistic Research ancillary equipment ........ Just kidding :-) .......

tonykaz's picture

Mr.JVS has opinions, as do we all.

For the record, I imported B&W Loudspeakers in the mid 1980s.

Certainly they are nice loudspeakers. I'll even say that I sold thru every shipment within a one week period. I only worked with the 801 & 802 series.

And a very high Authority : Mark Waldrip uses B&W for his remarkable Visual & Sound surround system.

If you want B&W to be your HighEnd, g bless you.

In fact, I'll compliment your choice if you chose B&W 803 instead of those Golden Chinese things.

B&W compliments many people's sensibilities, they fit in a living space rather well. They are Acoustic Suspension sooooo, they need Tons of low impedance amplifier power, ( dual Mono 200W. / 400W into 4ohms ). Forget Tube Amps.

They don't need crazy speaker placement as far as I'm concerned.

Over all, I don't think that I ever met one tweaky Audiophile that ever owned a pair, but the "Brand" Buying Home Theater Group seem to love em.

While I was importing B&Ws as B&K Imports I also ran a High End Audio Salon called Esoteric Audio in Farmington Hills, Mi. I never demonstrated the B&Ws, I was selling them thru an Advert in Audio Mag. , Free Overnight Air Shipping, 802 s sold for $1,999 pair. "the good ole days"

I'm not bashing B&W, I just don't think that they are HIGH END. Its my opinion, not your opinion, I get your point.

One more thing please: When two people agree on things, only one is thinking.

I admire you for standing your ground, we need more of that sort of thing!

Tony in Venice

Kal Rubinson's picture

Tony wrote: "B&W compliments many people's sensibilities, they fit in a living space rather well. They are Acoustic Suspension sooooo, they need Tons of low impedance amplifier power..."

All the big B&Ws I've use have vented boxes.

tonykaz's picture

Is Vented the equivalent of Ported ?

Venting is bandwidth specific in that it works with a part of the Band that seems a bit low in efficiency, doesn't it?

Are the B&W models you've known around 85db per watt efficient? , all that I've worked with seemed typically low efficiency as was typical of UK Acoustic Suspension designs including KEF, LINN, Rogers, Spendor, ProAc.

I'm describing this Box Design as typical Acoustic Suspension, some have minor enhancements like "Tuned Ports" and Dummy Drivers. Raymond Cooke revealed that the design allows a wider "flat" frequency response from a Home Friendly Size. Downside was increased power needed.


Quad Electrostatic Designs & Line Source like the pricy PCM or even Planers.

And then there are the efficient designs like Tannoy & Horns & Open Baffles, etc....

For my part, I'm excited by the Active Designs featuring Class D amplification. Down side here is that they don't need super pricy Speaker Cables and the critically important Truss Systems. They can still benefit from $1,000 Power Cables.

Tony in Venice

ps. Still enjoying this hobby after all these decades, my mother would be proud.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1's measurements of B&W 802 D3 (which I believe KR is talking about) show ........ 91 db sensitivity (very good sensitivity) ....... -5 db at 30 Hz and -10 db at 20 Hz (very good bass extension) ....... Yes, they are ported (bass-reflex) design (port tuned to 20 Hz, which is very low port tuning) ........ They go down to 3 Ohms at certain frequency ........ They are rated Stereophile Class-A, full-range :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

The B&W 802 is improved from the ones I imported and Sold back in the mid 1980s. (perhaps )

Stereophile gives Class-A ranking, for a year.

Do they maintain that ranking, year after year ?

I guess that I'm probably wrong, again.


I'd have to have a good listen, which I will probably never do.

Anyway, thanks for trying to straighten out my tangled thinking.

Tony in Venice

tonykaz's picture

-10 db down at 20 Hz

Do you realize how much power is represented by 5 db ?

3 db is doubling the Power, I think.

5 db is nearly doubling the power yet again.

10 db would probably suggest tripling the power. ( and then some )

with all that being at 3 Ohms, phew, that will be one hell of an amplifier able to drive these transducers with 15 bits of dynamic range.

Of course, 33.3 vinyl will have substantially less dynamics. So, maybe, these are Vinyl playback loudspeakers considering that vinyl does not typically have ultra low frequency content like Digital could.

-10 db down at 20 Hz suggests this Loudspeaker needs Subwoofers to go full range. They claim Full Range but they aren't, are they?

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Answer is, yes and no and may be ......... It depends upon how low the music goes down ....... It depends upon how loud the music is played and how loud the low frequency energy is in that music played ....... If we want the 20 Hz low frequency loudness to be with 90 db sensitivity, we probably need a couple of 15 inch or 18 inch subwoofers ....... Yes, such subwoofers are available, if we want to pay their price ....... -10 db at 20 Hz is petty much audible, if the music goes down that low ....... Think about it, if we are listening to music at average 90 db, -10 db is 80 db and we certainly can hear it :-) .........

tonykaz's picture

It depends on Room Size, Amplifier Power, Speaker efficiency, loudspeaker low frequency capability and a few other things.

I content, these Consumer loudspeakers might be Full Range in a ultra tiny Room. ( 300 cu.ft. )

I contend that it takes considerable Full Range Loudspeakers plus High Powered Active Subwoofers to achieve realistic Full Range music Reproductions as in the System that Bob Katz just displayed on Steve Guttenberg's Audiophiliac YouTube series. I'm referring to a normal sized residential room setting that has been properly engineered and designed.
Bob Katz reports super high power levels in use, for his Mastering Studio main DynAudios plus two very capable active Sub-Woofers yielding seamlessly smooth music reproductions.

I realize that folks like to "think" that they are buying a "Full" range loudspeaker system but it's only Full Range in a mid-fi mindset.

I'm not trying to dispute Stereophile's Recomended List of Full Range, I'm presenting what guys like Bob Ludwig, Bob Katz and the ProAudio folks who use gear like JBL M2 systems buy and own: Full Range.

Stereophile's Tyll Hersten reported on those JBL M2s where he was doing a bit of research for an Article.

There have been well documented Stories about Audiophile full Range systems, like the time JA1 visited PS Audio and auditioned the Infinity IRS series .v.

Tony in Venice

ps. I will never own a Full Range System other than the Sennheiser Headphones that glide, coast, smoothly well down below 20 hz. where Bombay Dub Orchestra recordings have additional ultra low frequency signal added by the mastering engineer.

ps. 2) I'm happy with a simple home music system, I'm not chasing greatness.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Let me give you three examples ....... This Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT frequency response measures -10 db at 30 Hz and almost -15 db at 20 Hz ...... However, because of his room boundary re-enforcement, JA1's in-room frequency response of these speakers is almost flat at 20 Hz, in relation to mid frequency ...... Couple of other speakers GoldenEar Triton Reference and KEF Reference 5, also measure flat at 20 Hz, in JA1's room ......... So, listening room also plays a major role in bass frequency loudness :-) ......

Interestingly JA1 has a +5 to +8 db peak at 30 Hz in his listening room :-) ........

jmsent's picture

Vented boxes can be aperiodic, open back, or bass reflex. In simple terms, acoustic suspension designs , by definition, use a sealed enclosure. The air within the box acts as a suspension component (air spring), controlling the high mass, loosely suspended cone in a linear fashion. This allows for deep bass production in a small enclosure. The trade-off is sensitivity, but this also depends very much on how the bass system is tuned.

tonykaz's picture

Thanks for straightening all this out!

I stand corrected.

Thanks for taking the time to write this.

Tony in Venice

ps. this is one hell of a resource here at Stereophile. Plenty of brain power lurking here in these comments sections.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Vented is still Acoustic Suspension, isn't it?

Despite all the yadda yadda: No!

tonykaz's picture

I stand corrected.

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I recently bought some stuff from Best Buy ........ I used the 'promo-code' 'Ortofan' at the check-out counter ........ I got instant 15% discount ........ Just kidding ....... I only got 10% discount ....... Just kidding Ortofan ...... Sorry, couldn't resist the joke :-) .......

Herb Reichert's picture

are made by an old friend of mine; and, all three of the companies he co-founded (still) actually exist:

Polk Audio, Definitive Technologies, and now Golden Ear. GoldenEar supposedly has around 200 brick and mortar dealers in America.

"Unknown people"???


tonykaz's picture

Thank you for writing,

You, sort of, prove my point.

This guy can build here with reliable Companys still existing and producing.

My Objection is: taking his love to China to "unknown" sourcing.

Golden Ear isn't alone in all this, my Alma Mater is up to the same dirty trick. dam them.

Still, we have a "legitimate" Right to be angry & upset with Chinese Sourcing and we have a "legitimate" reason to bitch about it.

I am not disparaging the high Quality that China is capable of.

I'm disparaging of the supposed value for money that is lost when these Chinese Audio products fail and we learn that they were designed to be unserviceable. I know of a fellow that can't seem to get a replacement transformer for his Prima Luna. ( just as one small example )

I might be the only one attempting to point out the real cost of ownership here, althought:
you alone showed the little china sticker on those KEFs ( just a short while back ). I did a full-on internet search and never once found any published photo or published reviewer comment mentioning the China Sourcing, ( a disappointed purchaser in England did complain on some internet site ) JA came to your defense ( as did I ). I blame KEF because Raymound Cooke was a working acquaintance of our previous business interests. I felt betrayed as I do by Maytag building in Mexico while their traditional workers are abandoned.

200 Brick & Mortor Dealers ???

Are there still that many Hi-End Audio Dealers in USA ?

And, are they "Stocking Dealers" ?

We have Magnepan selling over the Internet, where are all their dealers?, Magnepan was the most desirable Loudspeaker Line ( wasn't it? ), I certainly would've carried them if Audio Dimensions ( Harry Frances ) didn't already carry that line. Hello Harry if you are reading this.

Speaking of Dealers, the Audiophiliac just showcased a Fresh Dealer that I could easily buy gear from. I think the guy is in Brooklyn and carries those beautiful Luxmans ( made in Japan ) .

OK, on to the "unknown" people. Can anyone put a name to anyone in China building the Golden Ears? including the name of the companys, location of the companys and/or names of any of the Chinese builders including a working phone number?

Tony in Venice

ps. Bob Katz is reporting on Class D Amplification in Steve G's AES reporting. Is there a higher Authority in Recorded Sound? ( that we know of )

tonykaz's picture

It was Mr.Bogolu that was referring to "half price", I was using his term to resonate my response to him.

Are they half the price of other equal quality loudspeakers?

or are they also half the value of similar loudspeakers?

Tony in Venice

Indydan's picture

All you do is throw out other models every time something is reviewed. Or quote songs followed by...

Why do you constantly do this?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

See my response above :-) ........

Indydan's picture

Which one of your numerous posts are you referring to?

Here is a word for you "parsimony".

Bogolu Haranath's picture

My initial comment got buried in all the other comments, which preceded and followed ...... You may have to read all my comments and other people's comments ....... All (mine and other people's comments) are good and entertaining comments, if you have time ........ Anyway, I'm reluctant to spend the extra money on anything, if I feel it is not worth it, especially if another equally good product(s) is available at a lower price :-) ........

Indydan's picture

I can't believe you are comparing the LS50 to these speakers! Complain about the price, but the Vandersteens destroy the LS50 wireless. It's not even close.

JHL's picture

But a tiny 5" coax in about 7 liters with a third order transfer function to a tweeter in a hole and a bunch of intermodulation distortion is SO damn near exactly the same thing as a 6.5"-4.5"-tweeter stack in a 20 liter first order impulse-perfect vertical array, Indydan.

Indydan's picture


JHL's picture

That was sarcasm.

JHL's picture

It's time to distill all speakers down to some KEF minis and a couple powered subs again. Happens for anything above about $10k. The fact there are almost no similarities doesn't matter because benchracing rules. Make some highs, make some lows, compare price, and done.

Take note, Stereophile. And stop listening, for heaven's sake; even measurements are hereby passé.

MZKM's picture

Is this amp designed to be paired with their speakers, and that’s it? I can’t imagine anyone with a mega-buck system wanting that early bass roll-off or those high 3rd harmonics. A <$300 Crown amp has similar power, less distortion, and linear frequency response.

audioconnection's picture

Greetings regarding the design of a High pass amp may hard to understand what is the design goals or achievement.
A crown DC 300 is a historical decent amp with all of the measurements checking the boxes and when you listen to it in 1986 is all fine. until you listen to the Crown Straight line one with the less convoluted circuit you realize you can't ever go back to the DC 300
Think of the Vandersteen High pass amp with only 5 parts in its signal path as a high powered single-ended amp that is freed from having so many parts in the signal path or also music's path..
yes, it can drive all the over quarter million Vandersteen speakers in the field and other speakers that will take advantage of this design.
Best JohnnyR

jeffhenning's picture

Three points I'll make and then let the guys who blog and flame as a huge hobby have their way:

• I don't care about what anyone on these comment sections thinks about what I write. Even more so when they haven't read the entire review, my comment or properly comprehended either (which is usually half of the respondents).

• If you have issue with what I wrote, well, put forth a coherent argument to the contrary. Flaming me just makes you seem extremely lame.

• Since these speakers were compared to LS50's in the measurements section, bringing up how these over-priced, under-performing boxes are compared to the KEF's is pertinent. Again, a pair of LS50's with 4 Rythmik servo subs and a Benchmark power amp will outperform this system for half the price.

If you take issue with anything I've written, fine. I'll be out living a productive, enjoyable life while you take some ridiculous pleasure in running down a person you don't know on the web.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Surprisingly, JA1 did not compare his 'in-room' frequency response measurements of these Vandersteen model speakers with the GoldenEar Triton Reference speakers, which he favorably reviewed (Stereophile Class-A full-range) :-) ..........

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
Surprisingly, JA1 did not compare his 'in-room' frequency response measurements of these Vandersteen model speakers with the GoldenEar Triton Reference speakers, which he favorably reviewed (Stereophile Class A full-range) :-)

Good point. I will create a graph in the next couple of days and post it.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Tim Apple thanks you for comparing Apples to Apples :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It is also interesting to see how well the 'Precedence effect' ('Haas effect', Wikipedia) works well in the LS-50, compared to the 'Time-coincident' Vandersteen speakers :-) ........

John Atkinson's picture
As promised, here is a link to a comparison between the spatially averaged in-room responses of the Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT and the GoldenEar Triton Reference.

The two speakers excite the low-frequency room modes differently - this is due to the fact that the GoldenEars were significantly farther out in the room than the Vandersteens. The GoldenEars also have a lot more top-octave energy than the Vandersteens, though their midrange balance is more even.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be you (JA1) could do a follow-up review of the GoldenEar Triton Reference with the Vandersteen M5-HPA and possibly with Lamm M1.2 Reference ....... if, possible :-) .........

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
Maybe you could do a follow-up review of the GoldenEar Triton Reference with the Vandersteen M5-HPA and possibly with Lamm M1.2 Reference ....... if, possible :-)

The Vandersteen amplifiers, along with the Vandersteen speakers, and the GoldenEar speakers have all long since been returned to the manufacturers. I do compare the Vandersteen and Lamm amplifiers in a forthcoming review of the Q Acoustics Concept 300 loudspeakers, scheduled to be published in the January 2020 issue of Stereophile.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Here is a suggestion for JA1 ........ May be JA1 could review the new Revel Performa F328BE ($15,000/pair) and compare them to the Tidal Akira ($215,000/pair) speakers, which he reviewed? ........ Both model speakers have almost similar size drivers and crossover points :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Also, interestingly, his 'in-room' FR measurements of these Vandersteen model and the KEF LS-50 closely match with each other, in the midrange and the high frequency ...... Of course LS-50 is not a full-range speaker :-) ........

RH's picture

"Again, a pair of LS50's with 4 Rythmik servo subs and a Benchmark power amp will outperform this system for half the price."

Even if, for sake of argument, that was correct in a technically verifiable sense...

You understand people can still have perfectly reasonable, rational reasons to buy the Vandersteens over the set up you suggest. Don't you?

Jim Austin's picture

You wrote:

I don't care about what anyone on these comment sections thinks about what I write.

Jeff, with all due respect--then why post? What's the point if you don't care what anyone thinks about what you write? Then why write it? What am I missing?

Jim Austin, Editor

JHL's picture

Jeff asks, however, that when he compares a Whopper to a Chevrolet that the world present a coherent argument to the contrary. I can't not take that as an admission of sorts...especially when he goes on to claim a zero-to-sixty for the Whopper of a second less.

jeffhenning's picture

Hi, Jim.

One of the trends, forever and a day, in audio reviews is, "It sounds good to me."

In the last year, you had a review of a Border Patrol DAC that used a 20-25 year old DAC chip that cost a couple bucks and under-performed in a fantastic way, but the reviewer thought it sounded great.

There was then a subsequent article where the writer had spoken to JA who said something to the effect that if the reviewer or the public liked this, he didn't know why what he did was of value anymore.

I'm loosely quoting.

If all your publication is as a shill for companies that make dubious equipment, go ahead.

If not, I expect you to call out underperforming, over-priced equipmenrt.

Is that too much to ask?

I expect Stereophile to be the standard bearer for audio, not just a rubber stamp.

Can you do that? At present, I'm not sure you can.

Please do call me to the carpet if I'm wrong.

jeff henning

JHL's picture

...the 300b is a useless device. It was developed before WWII.

Jim Austin's picture

I expect Stereophile to be the standard bearer for audio, not just a rubber stamp.

So you do care? Or is it only my opinion you care about? If so, I'm honored, but you should know i don't read most of what is posted in comments and on our forums, so if that's the case, you're usually wasting your time.

As to the substance: You are so deeply wedded to a particular approach to audio--so sure that it's correct--that you cannot see that others do not share it. The criteria you seem to embrace are not the only valid criteria. You should sit back, relax a bit, and begin to respect alternative points of view.

I'm going to resist the temptation to quote from--rather, I'll just include a link here and strongly urge you to read it. Or, if you like, just give up on us and go away. Because the odds of us giving up decades of hard-won wisdom and suddenly embracing your point of view are nil.

Here's the link. You'll read it if you're serious, and perhaps benefit from it. We'll see which way it goes.

Jim Austin, Editor

JHL's picture

To any reasonably experienced audiophile who's also gifted with a reasonable perspective, it's evident that a substantial percentage of audio is sold to perception. Perception of value, perception of merit, and *perception* of sound.

Sound itself is inherently, forever, and obviously a different thing.

Perception of technical adequacy is another motivator, and it's this one that markets well to Objective Experts. They have no better apparent or evident hearing acuity and they have no better powers of analysis, but since they're Objective Experts, they Know Things You Do Not.

This leaves a tiny percentage of audio to be vended to real *listener* judgement, and of that, maybe a tenth to actual ability to hear, discern, and choose well among ten or a hundred components.

In other words, audio objectivism and audio scientism aren't saving ears for the finer things. They're just a belief system that marches a little differently. Whether adherents acquire a truer, more meaningful musical fulfillment is not in evidence, although granted, they spend great capital warning the world about frauds, hucksters, and charlatans to whom, presumably, such fulfillment is irrelevant. For the reasons above no reliable test for all this snake oil exists.

Which brings us back to simple, raw perception and not real sound.

When objectivism bangs on against all the shady types that surely *must* infest fine audio, maybe we can take its disciples at their word: They exist a perceptible notch above such types.

I'll give them that because audio objectivism and audio scientism don't produce much authentic, moving, reproduced sound. Great reproduced sound takes real under-the-hood ability, rarely exists in the broad market, and generally isn't revealed much. Practitioners are rare, off-radar, and having too much fun.

Objectivism is content to Know Things You Do Not. This is its default perception and that is about the limit of it.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Both GoldenEar Triton Reference and Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT, measure great and sound great ....... They both are at two different price points :-) .......

JHL's picture

Both Chevrolet and Whopper drive great and taste great ..........;-) They both are at two different dealerships ..........;-)

Bogolu Haranath's picture

However, none of them are as great as the 'Big Mac' :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

For the 'vegans', now they have the new 'Impossible Whopper' :-) ..........

John Atkinson's picture
jeffhenning wrote:
In the last year, you had a review of a Border Patrol DAC that used a 20-25 year old DAC chip that cost a couple bucks and under-performed in a fantastic way, but the reviewer thought it sounded great . . . I expect you to call out underperforming, over-priced equipment.

Hi Jeff, I see that Jim Austin has responded to your overall point. But I would like to emphasize that the reason you and all our readers knew that the BorderPatrol used a technically under-performing DAC chip was that Stereophile alone included this relevant information in this review. Yes, the original reviewer liked the sound of this DAC for the reasons he explained, but the magazine's reviews should be considered in their entirety, with the measurements and Followups.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

jeffhenning's picture

JA, all I expect from your publication is to not rubber-stamp equipment and call out the stuff that doesn't perform as expected or specified.

When you have a deal like that Border Patrol DAC, I'd have hoped that you would trash the thing in the review or, at the very least, add a sidebar explaining what a POS this thing was.

Just a thought.

This whole "It sounds good to me" deal really ticks me off and makes the whole audio reviewing thing seem incredibly lame. Unfortunately, that's most of the industry now.

Regardless, I do thoroughly appreciate your work. You're one of the few people keeping the methodology that Audio magazine used to do alive.

All the best from a fellow bassist,

Herb Reichert's picture

some blind Benchmark vs. Border Patrol DAC tests (conducted by Jon Iverson) could sway you?

You do believe in blind testing - right?

JHL's picture

As this comment thread shows, the great irony of audio objectivism is how subject it is to preconception. Or, as the man once said, it knows so many things that just aren't so.

Audio objectivism exists largely to prejudge. As I alluded in a previous remark, it's not related to hearing (or enjoying) but to the perception of performance, performance it cannot identify except by sighted bias.

It's interesting that the cabal that oddly insists that for fear of bias you can never take in an audio component using more than one sense, instead reduces them down to not sensing them at all.

PS: The other remark I made - that the 300b wasn't obsolete - wasn't to point out that good audio didn't have a born-on or an expiration date. It was to see if our Objectivist grasped the engineering: An active device is hugely dependent on its support circuitry.

The consumer test of which is to hear the thing. Unless, of course, you prefer to just assert a comparison not supported by the engineering.

Sadly, these comment threads too often become Redditized. We're flippant partisans who don't deal with real substance as much what we say things look like. It's a pose, not a position.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

As a historical perspective Transistor was invented by Bell labs, right after WWII, in 1947 :-) ........

tonykaz's picture

Didn't Mr.Pass suggest to Steve G that Audio Transistors can & will last forever?, 4-Evah, never evah fail ? ( kinda like my Wedding Vows )

I wan't aware that these devices has such reliability and are well worth having as the Amplification devices instead of the superior sounding Tubes.

So, I'm looking for some dam good solid state gear ( like a Levinson piece that JA reviewed ), ( unless I can get some SS Schiit in Levinson Colors ( autographed by Mr.Stoddard )

Tony in Venice -- ambient temp around 80F with glorious Sunsets

ps. Venice is an Incubator for Old People !!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Chances are if we buy transistor gear made by Mark Levinson, Krell, Pass Labs (Threshold) and some others, that gear probably will last 4-Evah :-) ........

Ortofan's picture

... "dam good" solid state gear?

Here you go:

JRT's picture
TonyKaz_in_Venice wrote:

Venice is an Incubator for Old People

Or, maybe Venice is just one big solar jerky dehydrator for feeding dried snowbird to the Florida alligators? You are not many miles from the western end of Alligator Alley, are you?

Conspiracy theories abound on the Internet.

As far as I currently understand the telling of the history, it all started back in the mid-1970s when some young Floridians of the sunburned neck variety attended a showing of the film Soylent Green at the local automobile drive-in movie theater...

tonykaz's picture


Dried Snowbirds ?

Florida is Quality of Life not feeding alligators.

70 - 74 year olds make up the largest percentage of the State's population demographic.

By saying Incubator, I'm conveying the idea that people can thrive here, well into their 90s. It was 88F today, I was in the pool swimming while the Standing Corn froze up in the North where I just left.

It was Bob Katz, who relocated to Orlando, that explained the reasons behind we Northerner's Mass Migrations to Beautiful Florida where mosquitos and sweltering heat have been outlawed.

You not living in Florida might explain some of your reaching anxieties. ( if that is what they are ).

Tony in Venice

ps. Sarasota County Florida is where the Jesuses come to retire, we have hundreds of them riding the Buss Networks, carrying their entirety in a $20 pull behind folding grocery cart. I admire their great freedoms, I may join them one day.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

We have some tube gear around here to keep us warm during the winter months ......... So, no problem :-) ........

tonykaz's picture

Good to learn that you will not freeze to death up there in the Frozen North.

Tony in Tropical Venice

tonykaz's picture

Oh dear, I no longer own garments with lonnnnnng sleeves.

I haven't seen any temps lower than 74F.

I'll have to buy clothes if there's a Funeral in Michigan but I'm still mostly Off-the-grid!

And I'm considering a Solar Powered Class D Amplification system .

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Several famous people were also born in 1947 ....... including, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Elton John, David Bowie, Carlos Santana, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Arnold the 'Terminator' ....... and many others ...... Search Google :-) .........

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
Several famous people were also born in 1947 ....... including, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, Elton John, David Bowie, Carlos Santana, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Arnold the 'Terminator' ....... and many others.

On this subject, Paul McGowan (PS Audio), Peter McGrath (Wilson), Bob Stuart (Meridian, then MQA), and I were born between April and July 1948. We are all children of the transistor!

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1 and Prince Charles of Wales were born the same year 1948 :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Several other famous people were also born in 1948 ......... including, Stevie Nicks, Ozzy Osbourne, Steven Tyler, Olivia Newton-John, Robert Plant, Justice Clarence Thomas, Cat Stevens, Alice Cooper, James Tyler, Glenn Frey, John Bonham, Al Gore, Andrew Lloyd Weber, Grace Jones, Rick James, Brian Eno, Jackson Browne, Todd Rundgren, Billy Crystal, Jean-Michel Jarre, Alan Parsons, Steve Winwood, Howard Dean, Wolf Blitzer, Dennis Prager, Terry Bradshaw, John Oates, Donna Summer, Jeremy Irons :-) ..........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Now we know why 1948 was a great year to be born :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

1948 is considered as one of the best Port Vintage :-) .........

otaku's picture

This might be slightly OT, but...that is one spectacular photo of those speakers.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

What a relief to read a comment to the effect that Stereophile did something right. As for your concern, as is often the case with the comments section, determining exactly what is "on topic" is tantamount to declaring, with absolute certainty, who's on first [].

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is 'Impossible Whopper' considered as 'off topic'? :-) ..........