Sunday, December 20, 2009

Speakers - Vandersteen 3A

See the cat's tail in the second photo from the bottom? Yup - that's the reason you're seeing these Vandy's in their birthday suit. Picked these up off local (LA) CraigsList for a song and the socks were in good shape. My cat, Satchmo would have, sooner or later, discovered these wonderful scratching posts and tore the socks, possibly even the rear woofer, to shreds.

With all the best intentions, I decided to set forth and remove the socks, taking care to keep them intact so that I may put them back on in the future should a resale opportunity arise.

Ever removed socks from Vandersteens? There are no less than 100 industrial staples per speaker holding these super-tough socks in place. The first sock removal took over an hour, and the second speaker went a little faster at about 45 minutes. Of course had I realized what a chore it was going to be I would have photographed and documented it for this site. As it stands, if you need any advice on removing the socks from Vandersteen speakers, go ahead and email me or post a comment and I'll be happy to answer specific questions.

So, the good news is that I really like the way the look without the socks! No, this isn't sour grapes, you see I've recently discovered the societal sub-culture of steampunk, and these skinned Vandys reflect the design influence of steampunk perfectly! Love the over-built structure and commanding lines of these speakers. The mat-black sprayed finish and the khaki stapled felt pad accents.

So, how do they sound? Wonderful. I've got a pair of Vandersteen 3A Signature speakers downstairs in the family room, but we use these mostly for gaming and home theater. HORRORS! I know, but they will be around for decades, and will eventually find their way into a dedicated listening room. In the meantime, don't fret - Call of Duty on the PS3 sounds absolutely phenomenal on these puppies. They are NOT going to waste.

I can't tell any difference between the 3A and the 3A signature, sound-wise, but then again, I don't have them set up side-by-side in an A/B test configuration. One is on tile in a very large room with hard surfaces, and these 3As are in my smallish loft with lots of soft surfaces and heavily-padded carpet. There's no way I could say which one sounds better under these conditions.

My recommendation: Look for any Vandersteens after the 2C model as they will have rubber surrounds on the drivers. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the 2C and prior models all had foam surrounds. You can usually find 2CE and above for $500 or so. Try to buy local as shipping these is expensive. If you can find a pair - grab 'em. You might even consider removing the socks as I did. With the socks on they are monolithic and draw no attention to themselves. Without the socks they make a bold statement - either good or bad, depending on your taste and that of your spouse :)

Have anything to add? Please leave a comment or shoot me an email - hificollector88 [at]


  1. Bonjour je cherche Vandersteen 3A sigature d opportunité (occasion).
    Ou envoyer m pour Touver.
    Merci Je suis français.
    Mon e-mail andre.guhur @

  2. Very interesting to see a naked Vandy. If you're going to leave them that way, have you considered cutting off the dowels flush with the bass cabinet? I've heard of someone else doing that.

    You mentioned you don't hear a difference between the 3A and Sigs, rather the rooms are too dissimilar for comparisons. Have you brought one pair to the other and performed a comparison yet? I'd be very interested to hear your impressions.


  3. Hi Steve - No, I haven't done a side-by-side on the 3A and 3A Sigs, but I'll have that opportunity some day and write in on my findings. I thought about cutting the dowels off, but there's part of the support structure attached to them and I don't want to lose any rigidity. Plus, for resale value, I figure someone could always re-sock these if I decide to sell. . .which I doubt if I will :)

  4. Greetings Hi Fi collector
    Very interesting pictures
    Just wanted to suggest that if you can place a
    area rug on the floor in between you and your Vandersteen 3A Sigs it will be more obvios of the improvements between the 2 models.
    Cheers Johnnyr

  5. Have you compared the 3A's to the 2Ce signatures? If so, what are the striking differences? I've wonder if you had the opportunity of listening to the Energy Connoisseur C9's. If so how do you rate them between the 2Ce signatures? Thanks for your time in advance.

  6. Hi - No, I haven't compared the 3A to anything in an A/B setting. If the 2Ce Sigs are available for a decent price - grab them. I've heard many Energy models, and, although they're decent speakers, none have compared to the Vandersteen's. Never have heard the C9 model, however. Hope this helps.

  7. Hello, I found a pair of Vandersteen Model 1 that I intend to buy. But...the guy selling them says it's very difficult to get their masks (socks) off so he can send me some pictures with the drivers. Is there any risk on the drivers of these loudspeakers. Should I buy the Vandees considering only that the guy who sells them tells me they sound great. Thank you and congratulations on your blog!!! You do a wonderfull job

  8. Hi Stefan - The socks can come off, but are VERY difficult to put back on, so it's nothing you want to ask of the seller. My suggestion would be to get the serial numbers from the speakers then call Vandersteen speakers, directly to determine whether the drivers have foam rubber or butyl rubber surrounds. I've called them a couple of times for info and actually spoke to Richard Vandersteen, himself once. He often fields support calls. Here's their number: (559) 582-0324

    1. Thanks for the tip. If the loudspeakers are still available i'll do that.

  9. Hi Tom! Thank you for the advice. I already ask the seller to give the serial numbers. Do you also have a mail contact from Vandersteen Audio?



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