Back in the early 1980’s I had a chance to listen to a pair of Vandersteen Model 2’s. What attracted me to them was great sound and a price tag that was actually reachable for a just-out-of-college person. My friends all had Altec Lansing models with huge woofers. Strap them to a Pioneer or Technics receiver with 150 watts per channel and you could threaten the neighbourhood. But I was more interested in better sound. The Model 2’s with their time and phase correct posture brought the linearity and coherence I valued. They were not flashy, but when everyone had gone home I was thrilled with their performance.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago and I had been enjoying my current Vandersteen Model 2 CE Signature II’s for a while when I walked into my favourite local dealer to find a pair of the Treo’s hooked up to Audio Research gear. He had an LP on and as I sat to listen I was struck by the extraordinary top end. It was like someone had opened a skylight and extended the room upwards. Something I had not experienced as viscerally when I had listened to the Treo’s previously. “What gives?” I asked? The dealer pointed to the new carbon tweeter, the same one found in the vaunted Model 5A Carbon’s – a wonderful trickle down benefit of ten years of Vandersteen R&D that had first appeared on their flagship Model Seven’s. So much for my Model 2s! Fortunately, by high end standards, the Treo CT’s are not nearly the stretch financially though I did have to make some budget changes to get them home.
Vandersteen Audio is a firm rooted in R&D and it has the patents to prove it. All aspects of their speakers are developed in house with extensive listening guiding the progress of their evolutionary and sometimes revolutionary design decisions. A decade ago Richard Vandersteen began the development of his Piston-Perfect carbon drivers that became one of the hall marks of his top of the line Model Seven speakers. The carbon tweeters in the Model 5A Carbon, Quatro Wood CT, and Treo CT are not the full version found in the Model Seven’s, but are still using many of the advances offered by the Vandersteen developed Carbon technology as well as all being hand made in the factory in Hanford, California. Speaking with Richard Vandersteen, he explained the process for creating the carbon tweeters takes a full eight hours. The Treo CT speaker itself is basically a passive version of the nearly twice the price Quatro Wood CT’s which feature an active subwoofer in a similar sized cabinet. The two speakers occupy the middle range of the Vandersteen Audio line.
One of the salient features of the Treo CT is its ‘cabinet in a cabinet’ construction. The inner cabinet is separated from the outer shell with a viscous membrane designed to dampen vibration and resonance to a significant degree. The resulting wave dampening trapezoid shape of the speaker creates a striking and attractive cabinet available in a variety of wood veneer choices. Located inside are the Carbon tweeter covering 5kHz to 30kHz, a 115mm midrange from 600Hz to 5kHz, a 165mm woofer at 35Hz to 600Hz, and a passive radiating 200mm woofer covering 35Hz to 55Hz. Tto 55Hz. The enclosure is ported on the bottom and uses phase coherent, first order (6dB/octave) crossover slopes throughout. There are bi-wireable spade connections along the barrier strip. Three spikes act as feet with the rear spike being height adjustable via a supplied set of washers to provide the appropriate tilt to match the tweeter to the listening distance and ear level. The spikes also provide enough ground clearance for the downward firing woofer port.