Vandersteen Audio 2Ce loudspeaker Page 7

Listening to Flamenco, the 3s proved superior at reproducing the subtle low-frequency room rumble generated by the footstomps, while the 2Ce definitely excelled at relating the high-frequency reverberation reflecting off the back wall of the recording site.

So it went, recording after recording. Ultimately I preferred the 3s for their greater effortlessness and bottom-end weight, but not by much. And in some ways the 2Ce boogied in a way that the 3 did not, the smaller loudspeaker's punchier, tighter midbass moving rock selections along at a more rhythmic clip. If nothing else, the comparison convinced me of one thing: that the 2Ce has been developed to the point where significant further effort and expense in an essentially similar design will buy added refinement but not a dramatically improved sound. In short, the High End has not managed to repeal the law of diminishing returns. I would certainly advise anyone shopping for the 3s to also listen to the 2Ces, and possibly consider the option of Vandersteen's own subwoofer (which was not evaluated in this comparison) to extend the 2Ce's bottom end, if you feel the need. A pair of 2Ces plus a single Vandersteen subwoofer will cost just a bit more than a pair of 3s.

The Vandersteen 2Ce is not a perfect loudspeaker. There are loudspeakers which will go deeper in the low end, create a more vividly alive soundstage with more precisely transparent inner detail, play at lunatic-fringe volume levels with less sense of strain, and present a more spacious, open, sound. Many of them are in Classes A and B of our "Recommended Components," and all are considerably more expensive than the Vandersteens. Eighty thousand pairs of various generations of Vandersteen 2s were clearly not sold to people with mush between their ears. The 2Ce's strength is in the fact that it does not concentrate its compromises in any one area—it spreads those inevitable compromises around to the point where you're not seriously distracted by any of them. Not to put too fine a point on it, the newest revision of the Vandersteen 2 remains, like its predecessors, one of the best buys in high-end audio.