Vandersteen Audio 2Ce loudspeaker Page 2

Sitting atop the bass enclosure is a separate, smaller cabinet holding the 4.5" midrange. This driver uses the same cone as the midrange driver in Vandersteen's more expensive Model 3, but not the same basket or magnetic structure. Another baffle on top of the midrange enclosure holds the 1" metal-dome tweeter—a different version of the tweeter used in the Model 3. The cabinet itself is constructed of MDF and critically braced—attested to by its net weight of 60 lbs.

In their promotional material, Vandersteen makes a special point of their time-coherent design. It begins with proper physical alignment of the drivers, made simpler by the use of separate baffles as described above. First-order crossover networks, which have lower phase error than higher-order crossovers, are used at 600Hz and 5kHz. (The effective operating region of the "active acoustic coupler" is said to be 26Hz to 35Hz.) First-order networks are by no means considered ideal by all manufacturers. They do have good phase performance, but their use demands that the drivers chosen have good performance well beyond their passband. And the vertical listening axis is more critical with a first-order design. More about this later.

None of this elaborate internal structure is visible to the user. All that can be seen are the grillecloth front, back, and sides and wood bottom and top. The latter is covered in wood veneer and has a large "sunroof" opening—also covered by grillecloth—to minimize reflections from the tweeter off of the underside of this otherwise solid top plate. As in the Vandersteen 3, this is the one obvious compromise in an otherwise low-diffraction design. The dowel posts at the four corners, which connect the bottom and top and around which the grillecloth is wrapped, are also potential diffraction sources, but are further away from the drivers and do not form flat, reflective surfaces. That does not mean they will have no effects, only that those effects are lessened.

On the rear panel are two sets of inputs, and contour controls for the midrange and tweeter. The inputs may be used only with banana plugs and are configured for bi-wiring—strongly recommended by the manufacturer. Bi-amping is also possible. The owner's manual clearly explains how to make either type of hookup (or single-wiring, if you must). The contour controls are flush-mounted and calibrated in dB, with a maximum indicated range of +2dB to -3dB

Setting up a pair of 2Ces is more complex than setting up an ordinary pair of floor-standing loudspeakers, but not difficult enough to confuse anyone conversant with the replacement of a light bulb. I strongly recommend that the owner's manual be followed closely on this. It is very thorough, especially in the important matter of tilt-back of the loudspeaker to attain the proper vertical listening axis. You will really need the optional base in order to do this correctly and retain good stability for the cabinet.

The 2Ce owner's manual also provides detailed recommendations for loudspeaker placement. For my listening, the placement I have found optimum for most direct radiating loudspeakers—well out into the listening room and away from the side walls—worked out fine.

I had my first listen to the Vandersteen 2Ce some months back in conjunction with my reviewing the PS Audio 100 and Aragon 4004 Mk.II power amplifiers. At the time, I found it to be a fine performer, though perhaps a bit lacking in overall transparency and richer than life in overall balance. The report on the Vandersteen itself was delayed due to other review priorities; when I was ready to return to them we learned that the 2Ces we had in-house were no longer current. Several months after the loudspeaker's introduction, two primary alterations had been made: a revision in the bass loading, primarily to the active acoustic coupler, and a change in the size of the tweeter from 0.75" to 1.0". We returned our samples for an update.