Vandersteen 5A Loudspeaker Reviewed

Published On: January 4, 2009
Last Updated on: October 31, 2020
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Vandersteen 5A Loudspeaker Reviewed

A large full range speaker, the 5A's are obelisk-shaped. Their design gives them exceptional detail and imaging and Vandersteen fans all aspire to this speaker. To see if it is fits your needs, click here for the full Jim Swantko review here.

Vandersteen 5A Loudspeaker Reviewed

  • A veteran of, Jim Swantko also wrote home theater and audiophile component reviews for in the early days of the publication. His focus was on mid- to high-end audio brands like Mark Levinson, Classé, Noble Fidelity, Cary Audio, MartinLogan, and Paradigm.


The model 5A reference speaker occupies the top tier of the Vandersteen product line-up. Considering the excellent performance of its siblings, it must be something very special to have earned this position. The four-way, five-driver model 5 has been in production since 1997 and has earned many accolades since its debut. It utilizes all the familiar Vandersteen design aspects, such as a single-order crossover to preserve phase, a minimal baffle to reduce image smearing and multi-plane driver locations to preserve timing. The model 5 also includes a unique subwoofer driver, which consists of two motor structures driving a single 12-inch aluminum cone in a push-pull configuration. As impressive as the model 5 was, Richard Vandersteen is not one to rest on any laurels, so he set about to push the model 5 further towards sonic nirvana and created the 5A.

Additional Resources
Read more audiophile grade reference speakers from the likes of Vandersteen, Wilson Audio, Wisdom Audio, THIEL, MartinLogan, B&W and many more.
Read more about Vandersteen by clicking here....

The $16,900 per pair and up 5A still maintains the signature Vandersteen philosophies of time and phase coherence, but improves upon the previous version in several ways. Of particular importance is an improved crossover, which is now matched specifically to the drivers in an anechoic chamber. The tweeter and midrange drive units are also upgraded, as is the 400-watt subwoofer amplifier.

The sound of the 5A is pure Vandersteen, which is to say that its most obvious qualities are its transparency and imaging. The 5A ranks among the very best at recreating details that are lost with lesser speakers and presenting those details in a soundstage that is wide and deep. I hate to use the word "holographic," as it has been so abused that it carries little meaning, but in this instance, it applies. What was a surprise was the incredible bass performance that the 5A can produce. Vandersteen reports that the 5A plays to 20 Hertz within one-and-a-half decibels, and I have no reason to doubt this claim. They are phenomenal on the low end in my listening tests, especially compared to other speakers in the ballpark of their price.

Read the High Points, The Low Points and The Conclusion on Page 2


High Points
• Vandersteen speakers are well known for being excellent imaging speakers, but the 5A takes sonic imaging to a new level. This, coupled with its outstanding transparency, allows the 5A to come very close to placing musicians in your living room, which is what you should expect from a speaker at this lofty price.
• The 5A offers amazing construction details such as a "head," which is formed by 22 layers of three-quarter-inch medium-density fiberboard, which are permanently bonded with an anti-resonant adhesive.
• The 5A has been designed to allow for future upgrades and Vandersteen has a history of making those upgrades an excellent value. The owner of a 5A can look forward to upgrades rather than fearing them and the scramble of selling off old versions in order to purchase the latest iteration.

Low Points
• The 5A is not what I would consider an overly dynamic speaker, as it leans more towards the smooth side of the spectrum. If you crave pulse-pounding dynamics, there are better choices.
• Aesthetically speaking, the Vandersteen 5A is something of an ugly duckling. It's obvious that Mr. Vandersteen invested his time and effort in performance rather than styling.
• If you are a home theater guru, you might find more bang for your buck in other speakers, as the Vandersteen 5A is voiced to woo the tough-to-impress audiophile market; within that market, it's a winner.

The Vandersteen 5A rightly earns its label as a reference loudspeaker. Its ability to reveal detail and nuance, coupled with its ability to throw a massive and realistic soundstage, create a one-two punch that is very formidable. It offers a smooth and relaxed presentation, bristling with details. The internal subwoofers are so powerful that any external subwoofers are simply not necessary for audiophile applications. The 5A is an excellent loudspeaker that does nearly everything right. Take an audition at a dealer, but prepare to fall in love. Maybe make a call to the credit card company before you leave for the audio salon, as the Vandersteen 5A can sing to you in ways that will make you plunk down the platinum card. 

Additional Resources
• Read more audiophile grade reference speakers from the likes of Vandersteen, Wilson Audio, Wisdom Audio, THIEL, MartinLogan, B&W and many more.
• Read more about Vandersteen by clicking here....

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