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 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.....