Review: Von Schweikert Audio VR4 Gen III Speaker

Category: Speakers

I've had these for 6 months now and have only changed one component (CDP) & a few PC's along with one IC, although it is the same type of cable, just with XLR ends instead of RCA.
I did the recommended 100 hr. loud music break in but over the months the sound quality has improved. A lot of the improvement in the mids came from changing the CDP then having it modified. I decided to go this route after listening to the new ARC CD3 in my system & hearing a definite improvement. I figured whatever I threw at the VR's it would accurately reproduce.

My previous speakers were Unity Audio Sig. I's & although I liked them, I was looking for something with more bass impact. What I got with the Gen III's was an improvement all across the board.

The biggest problem I have with these speakers is I have to share the living room & for a true listening session I have to move some stuff around, although it sounds OK w/o changing anything. For the placement these speakers do an amazing job, so I would think they would work well in a variety of rooms. Mine are 18" from the back wall and 20" from the side wall with a 1.25" toe in. They are 8' apart (center to center) & I usually sit about 11' away. They are spiked & at 150 lbs.ea will stay in place for awhile. I waited over 4 months before I put the spikes on in order to keep making adjustments until I was happy with the location. When I spiked them I noticed a slight increase in brightness & the bass tightened up as well. I also thought the clearance between the two modules was too close & called my dealer about it. We wound up using small pieces of dynamat on top of the little rubber spacers & it worked great.

Once I changed CDP's from a Meridian 506.24 to a 508.20 & had it modified w/Blackgates & Schottky's, I've been very happy with the sound. The CDP change eliminated the digital glare & made fatigue a non-issue. I mention this as it was a source problem, not a speaker issue. I decided to make this system digital only & concentrated on how to get the most out of this format. The VR's fit right in bringing the rest of my gear together. I can play anything from classical to hard rock & it all sounds great to me. The VR's really shine when it comes to deep bass or for that matter, any bass. Just a few examples:

On Diana Krall's "Popsicle Toes" the bass player travels all over the place (note wise, not spatially) and it's fun just to key in on his style.
Playing Timbuk 3's "Two Medicines" has one of the deepest bass lines I can think of but you can still make it out & follow the licks.

Then there's the other end of the spectrum & a good example was The Norris Turney Quartet on "I've Never Been In Love Before". The cymbals get played most of the way through this cut & they shimmer just like they're supposed to.

Some of the other music I listened to for critical evaluation was Somethin' Else w/Cannonball Adderley, The Cal Tjader Quintet, Schubert Symphony #5 and a CD called, "The only big band CD you'll ever need". Another CD I have to mention is The Blind Boys of Alabama "Spirit of the Century". These guys have great harmonies & you can really hear the huskiness in their voices. In addition to the great bass, which is neither overpowering nor offensive, the mids & highs are also noteworthy. I've really come to enjoy playing female vocals as they can give you goosebumps. I played Nicole C. Mullens' "Call On Jesus" for my wife & when it was over I looked at her & she was crying. Powerful stuff. Jazz sounds just as good.

The soundstage is pretty big but I wouldn't describe it as extending beyond the walls, nor would I say you could get up & walk around the instruments. Most of the time the singer is pretty well centered & just out of arms reach. I ran sound for a rock band in the mid 70's & since most of what I listen to is rock, what I'm looking for is a re-creation of that sound. With this system I get what I can best describe as "musical". When I play other styles of music that are more acoustic there is a greater sense of imaging and the VR's handle that with accuracy.

One of the last things I want to say is this was my first audio retail purchase in about 11 years over $150.00. I was lucky & ordered these 2 days before the price increase & as I understand it, these will be replaced by the Special Edition VR4's. Also, I can play these as loud as I can stand or listen at the lowest setting.

I imagine these speakers would work with a wide variety of associated equipment & musical tastes. I did audition at my dealer before ordering but was so impressed that I only listened about 2 hours before placing the order.

Product Strengths: Bass extention as well as full range integration.

Product Weakness: Low WAF. She told me tonight. (again)

Associated gear
Ayre V-3 w/upgrades
Pass Labs Aleph P
Meridian 508.20 (modified)
Luminous Audio Synchestra Signature w/XLR's (x 2)
Luminous Audio true bi-wire Renaissance
Elco, Virtual Dynamics & DIY PC's
Virtual Dynamics cryo wall outlet

Similar products
Unity Audio Sig. I's (owned)
B&W 802 (auditioned)
Wilson Watt Puppy (auditioned)
I've had these speakers for about 6 months also. I really, really enjoy them. I was initially going to get into home theater and ordered the center channel as well. I hooked them up to my 15 year old Adcom stuff and was stunned. I then proceeded to take all the plasma tv and receiver money I saved and spent it on 2 channel. Glad I did. TV sucks anyway. I have never even hooked up the center channel. I suppose I should try to sell it.
These speakers are already discontinued or rather updated and improved to the Special Edition. Typical Albert.
I have to get some dynamat and try your tweak.

Patrick, when you remove the top module, take a big screwdriver & tighten up the screws in the wooden spacer that sits on the woofer module. The ones on mine were a bit loose.

Also, I have some left over pieces, so if you don't have any (or don't want to buy a whole sheet), email me & I'll send them.
Aloha from Hawaii:

Not sure you will get this note, but two comments. I own the Generation 1 version of the VR4.

1) Your speakers are way too close to the back wall to get depth. Sounds like you don't have the room to do it, and the wife might kill you, but these need to be 4 ft. to 5 ft. from the back wall, measured from the front of the speaker. Then they open up dramatically, sounds come from way outside the sides of the speaker and very deep. Speakers should be at least 3 ft. from side walls.

2) A cheap isolation method for the tweeter/mid module is to place 5 Vibrapods under the upper module. Greg Weaver of Soundstage did extensive testing on this and recommended a layout. You should be able to find on the Equipment archives (Loudspeaker reviews) of


Hi Terry & thanks for the suggestions.

At this time, moving the speakers away from the walls will not be possible. The only thing I can do to remedy that is buy a new house!

As for the vibrapods, I used a similar tweak. I bought a set of Herbie's Footers & placed 4 under ea. module. It definitely cleaned up the highs & added to the clarity. I also added a set of Soler Points & they really helped tighten up the bass. I'm going to order 2 more Footers to make it 5 under ea. module, as the tweak you mention was brought to my attention by another 'phile recently.

I've also swapped out the Ayre for another one, the V-5x & have made other changes with the AC & PC's. Currently I'm using Porter Ports w/2 20 amp dedicated lines, a TG Audio 688 to the CDP & Chris V's DIY PC's to the amp & pre with his cable.

Now that it's been a full year since I've had these, they have continued to show they are very capable speakers. The tweaks & changes I've made have fine tuned the system to the point I'm extremely happy with what I have.
I have the VR4 Silver version that I purchased 2nd hand, and have paired it with(for now) a Chiro C-200 amp and AR LS-3 pre. The upgrades replace Vandersteen 2Cis, Rotel preamp and Carver amp. My 7-sided room is small, 16l X 15w X 11h; the 7 sides consist of angled bay windows behind the speakers at the front of the room and an angled fireplace to the right rear of the listening sofa. I've got them abt 50 inches out from the front wall and 35 inches from each sidewall. They are angled in at abt 65 degrees each, and are abt 81/2 feet apart. I listen mostly to Jazz, R&B, and Blues, with occasional forays into NPR or a small classical collection. Sound stage is wayy wide, but really not much wider than the Steens were. What has changed is that the stage is much deeper and the images are bigger. These speakers play louder, deeper and with much more clarity of voice or instrument. Now, to be fair, I haven't hooked up my new electronics to the 2Cs, but after living with them for 10 years, I already know that the VR4s have them beaten hands down, based on how they both sounded thru my old electronics. I already knew that better equipment equaled better sound, but I really thought I had a pretty good system prior to now. Now, I know why people with money smile so much in their cars on the way home... LOLOLOL Peace, out!
This is a follow-up on the Chiro C-200 amp. It died recently. Sounded great, but had been acting up all along. Things like blowing fuses on the left channel several times and the right once. Things like the left channel not blowing, but also not powering up, necessitating 20-30 re-start-ups before it actually came "on." My dealer later mentioned that Kinergetics/Chiro had had "reliability problems," but... I drove from Raleigh to Richmond to have the thing fixed because the guy there was the "only guy on the east coast" who could service it. Well, the shop had moved and the new owner did not know where THAT guy was. But HE could fix it. He told me all it needed was for him to clean the contacts. OK, so I anted up the $25 and was happy. Til I got home. Same issues. You know, I've had a Carver M 1.0t since 198? that STILL works and NEVER has been in the shop. And my B&K is works just as easily as you'd want. Doesn't sound quite as smoothly detailed --I really did like the Chiro's sound-- but if anyone ever wanted ME to say what I thought about the product... Don't ask!
Time for another update. I have again moved up in the Ayre line, this time to the V-1x and have upgraded from the ChrisVH Flavor 2 to his Gold Flavor 4. I have also moved up in the Luminous Audio line to the Synchestra Reference XLR. The biggest departure from what I had is I'm now using Madrigal attenuators, which have an attached pigtail that connects to the amp.

The spkr. positioning has changed slightly, as I now have just a ½” toe in with the same 18” from the back wall but 15 ½” from the side. I've also done some tweaks with isolation & that has helped with detail & smoothness.

I also increased the # of Herbie's Footers under the top module to 7 on ea. side, with 4 along the heavy side, 2 on the other & 1 in the middle. They are now level, as before there was a slight lean to the heavy side.

These spkrs. continue to deliver & although there have been times I've thought about upgrading, changing something else in the system has continually proven these are great spkrs.

The bass is truly some of the deepest & tightest I've heard from a home system & the upper freqs continue to deliver a rich & harmonious musical presentation.

Although I still have 2 yrs. left on the 5 yr. warranty, if I wear these out I'll probably go with the factory upgrade.

I also plan on horizontally bi-amping eventually, as I had a chance to run the 5x on top with the 1x and everything just got better. There was seemingly unlimited headroom; the soundstage was slightly bigger with more air & not just at 105 dB.

After almost 3 yrs. with these I can say I've been very happy & they have really exceeded my expectations.
I wanted to post some additional comments but sold the spkrs before I got around to it. Now that I've had a few months to dwell on this, I want to post my final thoughts. I had these just a few months shy of 4 years.

I wound up with an Atma-sphere MP-3 preamp with the Ayre V-1xe and that gave me a slightly deeper soundstage than I had experienced with the other preamps. It also was a smoother sound, but I had a tubed preamp with a big SS amp 20 yrs. ago and always liked that combination.

I didn't just sell the VR's-I sold the entire system save the cabling. There were several factors involved, none which was a complaint about the sound. Well, maybe one small complaint, and that was the room was too small for the VR's. If I could have had my way with the furniture and the total layout of the living room, it would have worked, but with the constraints I had, it wasn't a perfect fit.

I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed having these spkrs and will be auditioning the VR4jr's as possible replacements, as they look to be a better match with my room.
I highly doubt that the Jrs. will be able to replace the Gen IIIs. YMMV.....