Vandersteen 2Ce Signature loudspeaker Page 5

I very much enjoyed the manner in which tubes fleshed out details in the midrange, though, curiously enough, I found the Vandersteen to be less revealing of progressive enhancements in the digital front end than it was of amplification upgrades.

Making the Tradeoffs Work for You
In his exhaustive 1993 analysis of the Vandersteen 2Ce loudspeaker, Brother Tom Norton concluded that "they don't do any one thing particularly well, but spread their compromises around in an engaging manner." It seems to me that "spreading compromises around" is indeed the very essence of speaker design, until you approach the cost-no-object price zone.

All of this begs the question of whether or not the 2Ce Signature is a true high-end loudspeaker. Without a doubt, I believe that it is—it just might not be yours or mine. But the joy of high-end audio is that there is something for everyone, and the 2Ce Signature portrays a distinctive point of view—one less concerned with elusive notions of neutrality than with a warm, deeply extended, musically engaging presentation.

Though I derived real musical pleasure from the 2Ce Signatures, ultimately, given the sonic and budgetary tradeoffs, and given my own tastes, for about the same money I'd likely sacrifice the Vandersteen's full-range bass and euphonic midrange lushness in favor of the crystalline clarity, transparency, and greater soundstaging depth and coherence of the two-way Joseph Audio RM7si minimonitor ($1799/pair). This encapsulates the tradeoffs facing consumers shopping in this price range: for some of you, the Joseph might prove too bright and analytical; for others, the Vandersteen might seem somewhat veiled and bloomy.

Still, nothing in this price range offers total aural nirvana. In the end it comes down to personal taste, how you make your tradeoffs work for you, and whether you fancy full-range excitement or two-way resolution. If you crave the former, you owe it yourself to audition a pair of Vandersteen 2Ce Signatures. They remain one of the enduring values in high-end audio.

Footnote 1: See Stereophile, Vol.9 No.6, p.92; Vol.12 No.5, p.97; Vol.13 No.1, p.71; Vol.13 No.5, p.148; Vol.16 No.4, p.217; and Vol.16 No.9, p.107. Our reviews of the Vandersteen 2Ce and Vandersteen 3A can be found among our on-line loudspeaker review archives.

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