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.

shel243's picture

I wonder how many review/show outings these speakers have on them and whether they have survived with all the original parts intact - if they've been making the rounds for almost 4 years and have survived and are still making that level of sound quality, that's got to speak volumes about the quality of the original design and construction!

junker's picture

That same pair of blue 7's had what I thought was Best in Show @ Newport 2013, but were being shown with Audio Research at that time.

Michael Moffatt's picture

I'm really sorry I missed this room. I was at CES but didn't get to spend much time at The Venetian. I've always enjoyed hearing the entire Vandersteen line as well as chatting with Richard who is a great, down to earth, guy. A number of years ago, I called upon a "store" located in a loft in Santa Monica - I won't mention names just to be safe. There, I heard Vandersteen Model 5 Signatures and learned that, until that point, I never really heard great hifi. I had heard systems worth several times what this system cost (and it wasn't cheap!) but that was the best I'd ever heard and still remains the best I'd ever heard. Never had I heard bass so low so clean and never mushy. The soundstage was so wide and deep, I was truly in awe. The players in the recording were playing in a room that was at least 10 times the size of the loft where I sat. You'd swear the guys playing whatever hand drums they played were 50 ft behind and 20 feet left of the left speaker with many other musicians scattered about in pinpoint positions. Incredible imaging like I had never heard! So, if those Model 7's in that room at CES were even half as good as the system I heard in Santa Monica, I'm REALLY sorry I didn't get to that room. I could listen to Dianna Krall on a boom box so getting to hear her on Vandersteens??? I might have wet my pants!