Von Schweikert VR4-Jr: Urgent Opinions Needed

Hi All,

I would like to get any comments/opinions on this speaker. I am very interested in purchasing it. It is purely for stereo use, no home theater. Mix of music, ranging from new age (Adiemus, Vangelis), some light classical, light rock (Cranberries), and especially female vocals (Norah, Diana Krall, Katie Melua) etc. I am limited in terms of what is available to me here but I can get a set of these at a very good price. My other option is the Usher Audio CP-6381. What would you guys suggest?

for 2k, I'd rather look somewhere else. I'd go Totem Forest or even Triagle Celius xs. Just my 2 c. Good luck, Tim
Hi There,

Unfortunately as mentioned I am limited in terms of availability and currently these are the choices I have :(

Anyway, the Ushers are $3400 and the VSA' $4000.

FWIW TAS just did a positive review, I got mine in the mail yesterday.

VMPS RM40, Dali Helicon, Gallo Reference 3, JM Reynaud Offrande, or any Audio Note speaker would be great choices from what I have read, in that price range...

It's easy to understand why you would have questions about these speakers, espescially if you have read the review in the new TAS. It's one of the most poorly-constructed reviews I've come across in quite some time.
The strength of this speaker is it's versatility. It can excel with MANY variations in musical tastes. Example: you can enjoy both "Love Scenes" and "Back in Black". You can also upgrade your other gear several times and never "outgrow" these speakers.

It's easy to understand why you would have questions about these speakers, espescially if you have read the review in the new TAS. It's one of the most poorly-constructed reviews I've come across in quite some time.
The strength of this speaker is it's versatility. It can excel with MANY variations in musical tastes. Example: you can enjoy both "Love Scenes" and "Back in Black". You can also upgrade your other gear several times and never "outgrow" these speakers.
I for one say go for the Von's...I have there big brother (the VR4Gen III SE's) and love them. I will admit I have not heard the jr's but from what people tell me they are one heck of a speaker for the money. Just my 2cents
I own the VR4jr's and can report that they are extremely good for the price. They are fast, clear, and exceptional on vocals. Great bass for the size as well. You should be able to find a pair for under $3K lightly used (I bought a new pair for under $3K). Very highly recommended.
Thanks for the response guys! I do understand that the VSA is a fantastic speaker especially at its price point. Just wanted to check if anyone has perhaps also heard the Usher CP-6381. Any opinions on it, in particular relative to the VSA.

Search the archives on Audiogon and you will find that there is an almost unanimous praise of the Jrs on here, even guys who have enjoyed some very expensive speakers think they are great and unbelievable for the money. It seems that their greatest strenght is their versatility.
I also own the vr 4s and without a doubt they perform above $4k list price. If you can get them for a lot less then you are getting much more for your dollar.

The midrange is very smooth for vocals. And the bass beats most speakers in this price range. IMHO listen first if you can, but I would buy mine all over again at $4k if I had to do it again. I still listen to other speakers at my dealers and friends places, so I don't have this opinion in a vacuum.

VSA 4-Jr, Gallo Ref. III and Hyperion HPS-938 should be on your short list. They are in the same price range. Bear in mind, these speakers are only as good as the amp. used to drive them. I notice on an earlier thread that you intend to drive them with a 60-watters. Are you planning on amp upgrade in the future?
I currently have an Electrocompaniet 75W amp. Future upgrade depends on the speaker. For the Usher's I would add an Electrocompaniet power amplifier and use the ECI-3 as the preamp. For the VR4-Jr's I would most likely biamp using the ECI-3 for the bass and another amp for the mid/tweeter module.

If you will do a search of Usher..I posted some thoughts and comments on the 6381 as an owner. :) Ken
I know you have your mind made up already, but there's another choice you may want to consider.
It's the Strata RSL Mini available from www.av123.com
Yeah Yeah! av123.com produces some mid-fi stuff but this is different. Mark Schifter, the owner, has always dreamt of producing hi-end stuff. He mentioned in many forum threads on av123.com that this will be his banner year (2005).
The Strata Mini is the entry (as in smaller, not lesser) model to the Strata line. It's Mark's dream project. He wants it to sound as transparent as the Quad 989 but with dynamic punch.
To be quite honest, they are beautiful. If they sound as beautiful as they look, they will be tough competition to beat at the introductory price of $1,595.00/pair. What could be considered positive is they come with a 350-watt woofer amp.
Here's the big brother, the Strata RSL One.
Like you, I was going to go for VSA-4Jr until I saw this thread. Now I'm confused.
I have no relation to av123.com.

PS: I was going to start a thread here on A'goN sharing the news on this product but did not want to be perceived as running a commercial for av123.com. There's too much of this sensitivity crurrently existing on this site that a simple sharing of product news gets perceived negatively.
Hi There,

Haven't made up my mind quite yet :)

It is still a debate between the VR4-Jr's and the Usher Audio CP-6381. Both have gotten good reviews and backing, now I am trying to gather real-world experiences in particular if anyone has managed to compare these two.

I was thinking about the JR's until I found out they are made in China, I'm not sure I like that. For what it is worth, that's my opinion....
Allright, I am leaning more toward the VR4-Jr's. Just wanted to make a final plea :) if anyone has perhaps had the chance to hear BOTH the VR4-Jr and the Usher CP-6381 and can make some sort of comparison (perhaps some dealers who sell both?) that will be much appreciated!

Hmmm, I am not sure really. I know they are assembled there to reduce costs, but all the component are European/American and it is overseen by VSA representatives. The Usher Audio is completely made in the east and are meant to be one of the most reliable speakers built.

Any other opinions or perhaps comparisons??

Instead of buying a Vandtersteen wantabe, why not buy the real thing? There is a reason that Von Schweikert speakers are sold out of garages instead of dealers.
Hi again,

Perhaps re-itterating my mix of music may help. It is mainly new age (Adiemus, Vangelis), some light classical, light rock (Cranberries), and especially female vocals (Norah, Diana Krall, Katie Melua) etc. No blues/heavy jazz, no big ensemble classical, no opera, no heavy rock, no rap. Is either speaker (VR4-Jr or Usher 6381) better suited to this type of music?

For Agaffer,

If you think that any Vandy speaker up to and including the 3A signature can hold a candle to most VS offerings, you are living in a dream world.


I do not currently own any VS products, but have in the past.

This post hijacks the thread quite a bit, and its long, so apologies in advance to everyone and Xenathon in particular. Agaffer and Ozzy62 bring up a subject that's interesting to me in light of my brush with audiophilia so far.

I have been hoping to get a high end system going for a while now, and last year spent a lot of time auditioning many speakers in the Los Angeles area, (although I couldn't find dealers to demo many of the speakers I wanted to hear; in fact I think one dealer tried to convince me to buy one of his TVs instead... "Didn't you hear that two channel's dead?"). Unfortunately, I have had to postpone my entry into the audiophile world, but I still constantly prowl websites like this one to learn what I can in the mean time.

The Vandersteen 2a sigs, and the 3a sigs were among the speakers I auditioned last year. I auditioned them both with and without a pair of the Vandersteen subs.

I was, and remain, a newbie to the hobby, but I have pretty definite musical tastes that have a heavy bias toward big classical- both modern stuff and old chestunuts. In fact, while overall I listen to the usual eclectic range of music, its my desire to hear my classical cd's in particular, presented as well as I can afford to hear them, that got me thinking about buying some audiophile equipment in the first place.

Well, I plagued a very helpful, knowlegdeable and accomadating Vandersteen dealer for a couple of months, auditioning and re-auditioning his equipment with a big bag of my cd's. Very much to his credit, and unlike one or two other audio dealers I briefly ran into, he never made me feel unwelcome, never talked down to me, or ever attempted to pressure me into making a decision. The man just had a genuine love for his music and his product, and a genuine respect for his customers. And for my part, I really wanted to buy a pair of Vandersteens.

I admit that I found their appearance just shy of awful, but the dealer's service, the manufacturer's design philosphy with regards to time alignment, minimal baffle, non-fatigueing sound, etc., were the things that mattered to me. And the prices were reasonable compared to some speakers I was auditioning at the time. Add to this the reputation and re-saleability that Vandersteen speakers enjoy among many audiophiles, and I was all set to write a check. No brainer, right?


Try as I might, I just could never hear the same Vandersteens that everyone else was hearing. Indeed, not only did the Vandies sound unremarkable to me, they actully sounded below par compared to a number other speakers I auditioned! To my ears, they were indeed non-fatigueing, but at the cost of detail and most importantly, at the cost of the life of the music- And though I am a newbie, I am not talking here about missing the fake cheesewhiz sizzle of lo-fi, or the odd hyper-etching of some hi-fi.

However, that wasn't the worst of it. Even with the subs releaving the mains of some of the work, for me, both models could never quite sort out the really crazy passages of high octane orchestral works. My worst case scenario acid test was a few recordings of the last movement of The Symphonie Fantastique. To me, the Vandies always made a muddle of it, with the emphasis on the 'mud'. And finally, the bass, which by all accounts is a Vandersteen strong point, and which supposedly makes the line a good match for orchestral works, seemed again, completely unremarkable.

I in no way mean to disrespect the opinions of the many experienced audiophiles that enjoy Vandersteen for classical. And for that matter, I really appreciate the dealer who spent so much time auditioning them for me and explaining the ideas that have gone into their design. I am really grateful both to the dealer, and to the many people who have written about their own experiences with these speakers on various websites.

But, in the end, I have to say I just don't get it. To my surprise, I was never able to hear the things that many people say are characteristic of these speakers. Apart from the oft remarked on "warmness" or "rolled offness", they could have as well have been from a different manufacturer, or a different planet.

To this day I can't account for the fact that my gut impressions are so diametrically at odds with so many people with so many years of listening experience. In a way, I'm not writing here about liking or disliking Vandersteens- I'm writing about matching up what's in print to what I hear when they're plugged in. While I heard other speakers that I liked or didn't like, the disconnect between a given speaker's reputation- its characteristic sound, its strengths and weaknesses, and my own actuall listening experience, never came close to the yawning chasm of a gulf that I experienced in that regard with the Vandersteens. That's part of why I kept going back to listen- I just couldn't wrap my head around it and figured I must have listened to them on days with heavy sunspot activty.

I have yet to hear the Vr4jr's, but I was able to audition a pair of Vr2's. I will probably not be purchasing these either, but I like them, especially for the money, and they made it to my short list. But more to the point of my post here, what I heard in my audition with the VR2's wasn't too far off from anything I'd read about them or heard described before or since. And that's pretty much the case with all the speakers I've auditioned with the single exception of the Vandersteens.

Anyway, I did finally find a speaker I think may fit the bill for me, and although it's plenty warm sounding and rolled off rather than flat accurate, I feel that there's enough detail and dynamic controll there for me to follow all the little threads in a complex passage, but not to the point that I can't also just enjoy, and have the whole thing blissfully wash over me if I choose not to mentally disect the music. In a word, I would describe their sound as lush. They seem to get little notice in the magazines and on the web sites, but what I have been able to find is in line with what I heard. Often what I read about them is critical or negative. But as with the Vr2's, I can at least feel confident that I'm listening to the same speaker, whether or not I share a particular writer's final judgement. The difference at that point is merely a matter of personal preference and taste. And who knows, in a few months when I audition them agan, I may like them less, or like them more (of course, since last year I've read about a few more speakers I'd like to hear before making my final decision- I guess this hobbey really is a disease).

Anyway, Agaffer's and Ozzy62's posts reminded me of all this. I don't know what the answer to the Vandersteen mystery is in my own case, but damn if it aint mysterious.

The best I can come up with, and something that I must assume to be an unspoken taboo subject lurking among audiophiles, is this: Quite apart from any issues of personal taste, musical asthetic, or psychoneural predisposition, each of us ultimately listens to music through a pair of unique ears, made of flesh, blood, and bone, and that are subject to all the wear and tear and changes that flesh, blood, and bone are heirs to...

That's my story and I'm sticking to it- apologies again for the long hijack.
Terrific post Bill. Really good writing.

You certainly gave the Vandys every chance to appeal to you, and at the end of the day, they didn't quite make it. No speaker designer could ask for a fairer shake.

Another compliment for a great post, Bill. Really good writing also. Like you I heard the same thing you mention about the Vandies: "lifeless with large orchestral music". I almost put them on my short list awhile ago (considering what they do with jazz and rock etc.) until I spinned the large scale classical CD's...
BTW, what speakers did you decide on?
I see the thread is close to being hijacked :) so before that happens just wanted to check quickly if anyone has some final opinions on the VR4-Jr vs. Usher 6381.


Contact Shane at hometheaterdoc.com. He handles both speakers and is familiar with their sonic characteristics. Tell him Neal recommended that you contact him for advice. You won't have to worry about him being biased since he sells them. He will give you a drop dead honest opinion. And, if you do by chance buy from him, he will give you a drop dead good buy.
Thanks very much for the positive responses to my post, and Xentithon, thank you very much for your patience, and apologies again for diverting your thread.

Rbischoff, I had to postpone my purchase last year so I've stopped auditioning and havn't gotten anything new yet. The speakers that I liked best last year were the Vienna Acoustics Beethovens, for the reasons I explained above. They're rarely discussed, and seem to have next to no press, so go figure.
I only had one short, but impressive session with them, so I'll be doing more extensive listening just before I'm ready to buy. And before I do pull the trigger, I plan to listen to several new speakers that have become available this year, the Vr4jr being one of them.

I'll probably be posting here again down the road to see what kind of experiences people may have had with whatever my final two candidates turn out to be. Hopefully someone like me won't come along and hijack the thread!
I owned the VSA VR2 for one year, and I now have the 4jr's. They are the most musical, comprehensive and enjoyable speakers I have ever owned. Email me if you want more specific comments. Sorry, I cannot compare them with the Usher's