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This loudspeaker is THE best selling high end loudspeaker of all time

A Review of the Vandersteen 2CE

by Mike Blake

The iconic Vandersteen Model 2 was launched in 1977 by Richard Vandersteen.

 

This loudspeaker is THE best selling high end loudspeaker of all time, eclipsing the sales of all competitors for one reason and one reason only. At its price point there is no other floor standing loudspeaker to come close to the ability and agility of the Vandersteen Model 2.

Now in its 8th revision/upgrade let me go through a few quotes for those unfamiliar with the reasons why this loudspeaker remains in the systems of so many music lovers. I’m doing this to get back to basics.

Basics being the intent of hi fi equipment which is the accurate reproduction of music, adding and subtracting from the source as little as possible. 

 

I find that some of today’s audio equipment reviewers are sometimes swayed by fashion. They are quick to tell us that this is the best in the world (until the next review), as though this “best in the world” product even exists. It does not.

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The first quote, (one of my favourites), is the comparison between the Quad ESL 63 and the Vandersteen 2 in 1986. (see image)
I own a pair of Quad ESL 63 (completely overhauled by Quad specialist “One Thing Audio” in the UK) and it remains a true legend in the audio fraternity for good reason. It is still sought out by many despite its age and there are a few refurbishment companies around the world maintaining this legendary loudspeaker. It is timeless. 

The Quad ESL63 is now the Quad 2812, which is upgraded over the years. No longer made in the UK and it sells for $15000.00.

The Vandersteen 2Ce Signature III is one third of this.

The Vandersteen 2 not only ages well, it becomes more of a high end steal every year.

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In 1986 the Vandersteen 2 was in its 2C vintage. Since then the Quad ESL 63 remains the iconic ESL 63, but the Vandersteen has undergone slow, methodical and logical upgrades. Whilst the original Vandersteen 2 is a great achievement even today, the later versions are certainly incrementally improved.

.THE QUOTES:

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Stereophile 1986

“In fact, the Vandersteen 2C will give the Quad ESL-63 one hell of a good run for its money in terms of resolution and transparency.”

“How does it compare with other speakers? Well, I recommend audition of the new Apogee Caliper, the comparably priced Snells and Thiels, the Magnepan MGIIIa, the latest Acoustat 1+1s, and possibly the MartinLogan CLS (if that latter speaker ever turns out to be consistent and reliable).  I can't think of much else that's both sonically competitive and priced under $2000.”

“The result is an extraordinarily revealing speaker. It will show the effect of small system adjustments, but does not exaggerate their effect.” “…you owe it yourself to audition a pair of Vandersteen 2Ce Signatures. They remain one of the enduring values in high-end audio.”

Stereophile 2004

 “Stereophile's list of "Best top 25 speakers of past 40 years".

VANDERSTEEN 2 LOUDSPEAKER

“In production for a quarter century and incrementally improved throughout that period, the modest-looking 2 offers astonishingly clean, extended, and detailed sound without ever losing sight of the music. That it does all this for just $1500/pair is a tribute to Richard Vandersteen's talent but also foresight.”

Stereophile 2007

“So we're back to where we came in. Today's 2Ce Signature II is an unambiguously fine loudspeaker, and from what I recall of its forebears, the latest refinements have endowed it with even more openness and clarity. 

When friends came by to visit, I didn't drag them into the hi-fi room to show off the Vandersteens, as I sometimes do with my homemade Lowthers or rebuilt Quads. But while the speakers were here, every time I brought home a new record or remembered an old one, regardless of style, I played it without worry and loved it without measure.”

The Absolute Sound 2018

“In fact, the Model 2 is the best-selling audiophile loudspeaker of the modern era, with more than 100,000 pairs sold—all of them made in the U.S. 

That the Model 2 is still enjoying robust sales more than 40 years after its introduction is a testament to the speaker’s fundamental rightness of design and sound quality. The Model 2 is one of the defining classics of American high-end audio.”

Well let’s not labour the point. There are countless reviews of the Vandersteen 2 and I haven’t yet read a negative review.

Set up properly, which given a little space and room flexibility, is quite easy, there is not a lot at the price of the Vandersteen 2 in the way of floor standing loudspeakers that come close to it’s ability to convey the speed, the accuracy and the full frequency range of music, whatever genre that might be.

The Vandersteen loudspeaker was the second product (after Manley Labs) to be brought into The Listening Room’s product line. We are proud to represent Vandersteen Audio in South Africa and would like to thank all at Vandersteen for their continued support of us here in the bottom piece of Africa.

Lastly, I would like to add one of my architect friends’ words on the looks of the Vandersteen 2. In a conversation years ago he remarked that ‘the loudspeaker is easy to work with. It attracts no attention to itself and blends easily into the decor of almost all modern era interiors.’
 

Other loudspeakers in the top 25 of the last 40 years  include such legendary and still classic, loudspeakers such as:

  • Dahlquist DQ10

  • Yamaha NS1000

  • Acoustat 2+2

  • MBL 102d

  • Spica TC50

  • Apogee Scintilla

  • Celestion SL-600

  • Martin Logan CLS

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