When we talk of high-performance speakers, the conversation wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Vandersteen brand. It’s one of the most respected speaker brands in the country, the type that you see in recording studios, mastering labs, and record company offices around the globe. We will be comparing Vandersteen’s two best-selling speakers to find out which is better. A word of caution, though, these speakers are ideal for small to medium rooms. They are not designed for open and large areas. If you’re looking for speakers that work best in that area, you can take a look at the following brands:
In summary, the Vandersteen 2Ci and 2Ce both come from Vandersteen’s Model 2 series, one of the most successful speakers in history, with over 100,000 pairs sold since they began production in 1977. Music enthusiasts like the Vandersteen 2Ci for their looser bass, with the Vandersteen 2Ce having tighter and flatter bass. However, the 2Ce has a better and more improved tweeter compared to the 2Ci.
Are you confused about which pair of speakers to choose? Read on as we delve deeper into details and give you a comparative review of the two bestselling speakers in the country.
Design and Build
The Vandersteen 2Ci is a three-way loudspeaker that’s been in production for more than 30 years. The simplistic cabinet, lacking in wood veneer and paint, has stayed that way for years since it’s one of the critical factors why the Vandersteen 2Ci is the least expensive floor-standing speaker in the market today. It stands 36.5” in height (43.5” with sound anchor stands), 16” in width, and 10.25” in diameter. Each speaker offers minimum-area baffles for driver mountings to remove grille diffraction anomalies.
The Vandersteen 2Ce is the upgraded and revised version of the iconic model 2 series. The timeless cabinet design was kept, but inside the cabinet is where the changes took place. They improved the driver combinations, making them the only time and phase-correct speakers in the world. Vandersteen also has the distinction of being the only speaker manufacturer that uses Gen-Rad 2512 Fast Fourier Transform Computer Analyzer in their research and development to come up with the best design and speaker performance.
The Vandersteen 2Ci has a unique cabinet construction wherein each speaker driver has its own separate cabinet, and they do this to physically time-align the drivers. It has a ¾ inch aluminum dome tweeter, 4 ½ “ plastic cone midrange, 8” cone woofer, and a 10” active cone radiator that handles frequencies below 35 Hz. The frequency response is 28 Hz - 20.125 kHz at + or - 3db. Its impedance is at 7 ohms nominal and 5 ohms minimum, while its efficiency rate is at 88db for 1 watt at one meter.
While most speakers use a banana plug connection, the 2Ci has a barrier strip connection. A U-shaped wire connector (also called a spade lug) is tightened down a big screw head for a tight connection. It also has a better contact than the banana plug that most speakers use today. The internal cabinets are solid, made from MDF filled with damping materials to minimize resonance.
The Vandersteen 2Ce has an improved 1” alloy dome tweeter with a dual-chamber design for better linearity and range. It has the same cabinet construction as the 2Ci, but the external cabinet for the high-frequency drivers is wrapped in a felt material meant to absorb reflections. You can often see this set-up in costly speakers, and it’s incredible how Vandersteen was able to incorporate it into their system within their price category.
The midrange and woofer used for the 2Ce are made from high-quality cast-metal baskets rather than the common stamped baskets. The advantage of cast metal baskets is they are inherently rigid and provides superior sound control. They enhance the cone movement accuracy and minimize sympathetic resonances for a clearer and more natural sound.
Additionally, Vandersteen developed their unique driver made from Polycone filled with minerals. The end result is an 8” driver that is lightweight and resistant to flexing. You will hear a more natural and less distorted sound.
You may also check the 2Ce's Manual on Vandersteen website.
The Vandersteen 2Ci sound quality was tested using musically delicate soundtracks, and it all came through loud and clear. The bass is solid, and you can feel as well as hear the beat. The vocals were accurately conveyed, and the acoustic guitar was conveyed in a clear and concise way. The Vandersteen 2Ci is laid back and dynamic, the soundstage a bit recessed. The paradigms are dynamic, especially in the midrange and high frequencies.
The Vandersteen 2Ce uses a variant of reflex-loading to achieve an extended and somewhat better bass response. They make careful time-alignments of drive units to achieve the best time-domain performance. They also feature a “baffle-less” design. All Vandersteen 2Ce speakers are patiently engineered to minimize baffle reflections. The elimination of distortion caused by these baffled reflections makes the music easier to hear.
The Vandersteen 2Ci can be considered as one of the defining classics of high-end loudspeakers in the country. While the company has stopped producing the 2Ci and is now on its 8th generation/upgrade of the iconic loudspeaker, you can purchase pre-loved and used Vandersteen 2Ci units on the market today. You can check out third-party retailers for the best price. The average price of a pre-loved Vandersteen 2Ci is between $300 - $700, depending on its condition.
According to its owner, Richard Vandersteen, the Vandersteen 2Ce is probably the best 2-way speaker they have ever made. It is one of the least expensive loudspeakers in the market and is truly a catch because of its quality and performance. The Vandersteen 2Ce starts at $1,495 per pair.
It’s nice to know that both the Vandersteen 2Ci and the 2Ce are bestsellers and are part of the most respected brand in high-performance speakers. The Vandersteen 2Ci is the timeless classic, while the Vandersteen 2Ce is the upgraded and continues Vandersteen’s goal of bringing your speakers designed to celebrate music and bring value to your money.
Here’s our verdict based on specifications:
- Size and weight - Winner: Vandersteen 2Ce
- Connectivity - Winner: Tie
- Bass Response - Winner: Vandersteen 2Ci
- Features - Winner: Vandersteen 2Ce
- Sound - Winner: Vandersteen 2Ce
- Price - Winner Vandersteen 2Ce