JA’s Best Sound at CES: Vandersteen’s Model 7 Speakers
No, the Model 7 is not new. In fact, the pair Richard Vandersteen was demming at the 2014 CES were the same pair Michael Fremer reviewed for this magazine in March 2010. And the amplification wasn’t new: the M7-HPA monoblocks were shown in prototype form at the 2013 CES and the only news was that they are now in production at the same price as the speakers, $52,000/pair including proprietary DBS solid-silver cables, to give a system price of $104,000. But with an LP of Diana Krall singing Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, so powerfully physical was the presence of the singer in the room.
The Naim/Focal, Marten/Pass Labs, and Sony/Pass Labs exhibits got close to the Vandersteens in absolute sound quality, and all were even better in some respects. But none were quite so musically perfect across the board!
Designed with engineer Dean Klinefelter, the M7-HPA provides a high-pass filtered output (above 100Hz) to the upper-frequency drive-units of the Model 7, which has an integral powered subwoofer. The amplifier uses a tube input stage and two single-ended solid-state output amplifier stages with npn bipolar transistors operating across the speaker load, all mounted in a chassis machined from solid aluminum, with a sprung suspension from HRS and kept cool with a liquid cooling system. Specified output power is 600W into 8 ohms.