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Von Schweikert VR-4 jr Floor-Standing Speakers

Part I

August, 2006

Jason Victor Serinus

 

 

Specifications:

Design: Dynamic-driver four-way system using a triple-chambered transmission line and two-piece stacking enclosure.

Drivers: 2-7" mica-cellulose poly-laminate woofers, 1-7" carbon mica-cellulose poly-laminate midrange driver, 1-1" poly-tri-laminate silk-dome tweeter, 1-1" rear firing ambience mid/tweeter with fabric dome and transmission-line loading.

Dimensions: Midrange/tweeter module (12.5"h x 8"w x 20"d). Woofer module (25.25"h x 8"w x 20"d). Total (38.5"h x 8"w x 20"d).

Weight: M/T module: 26 lbs. Woofer module: 52 lbs. System: 78 lbs. each (up to 128 lbs. each with lead shot).

Frequency Response: 25 Hz-20 kHz, +/- 2 dB. Impedance: 6 ohms avg. (4 ohms 20 Hz-150 Hz; 8 ohms 150 Hz-20 kHz).

Recommended Power: 20 watts up to 300 watts music power.

Sensitivity: 89 dB @ 1w/1m using 2.83 v (91.5 dB in room with boundary reinforcement).

Crossover Points: 200 Hz, 2.2 kHz.

Warranty: Ten years Parts and Labor, excluding burned voice coils due to amp clipping. Transferable to second owner.

MSRP: $5,500/Pair USA

Von Schweikert

Introduction

No matter how many positive reviews a speaker or piece of gear may receive, no music lover can be sure that it will mate well with the rest of their system without hauling it through the door and giving it an extended listen. This is exactly what I decided to do with Albert Von Scheweikert's VR-4 jr, Albert's little floorstander has received so much copious applause from a host of my colleagues that I finally decided that I had to try it out in my own listening room. I especially recall speaking with a senior editor at another online publication, who urged me to review the VR- 4 jr because he could not believe how good it is for the price.

Albert Von Schweikert and I first spoke about reviewing his speakers at CES 2005. We spent awhile together, listening to the major difference that the addition of external Bybee Quantum noise purifiers made to the noise floor and clarity of one of his larger models. The difference was astounding.

Equally astounding is the discovery, as I review my overstuffed email "in box," that the review pair of VR-4 jrs now filling my living room with beautiful music first arrived on my doorstep in April 2005. I tip my hat in thanks to Albert for his forbearance and trust as he has patiently awaited this review.

For many months, while my reference amplifier underwent a series of frustratingly inadequate fixes and my reference speakers went through one upgrade after another, the VR-4 jrs sat in their shipping cartons. Then they were put to use in the upstairs guest room. Fed by my spouse's antiquated monaural TV, connected via its headphone jack to an even older Kenwood receiver, they provided sound for the Will & Grace reruns that continue to keep spouse and dog occupied while I write into the wee hours.

As I was to learn when I finally hauled the speakers downstairs and filled each of their woofer compartments with the recommended 50 lb. of lead shot, mating the VR-4 jr with good equipment reveals that there is far more quality sound to be had from these babies than one might expect at first time. After living with the Von Schweikert VR-4 jr for some time in my reference system, I understand why everyone has sung its praises.

Setup

When compared to setting up my 200 lb. Talon Khorus X Mk. II reference speakers, the VR-4 jrs are a dream to move around. The speaker comes in three parts: a lightweight spiked base, large woofer module that houses two identical woofers, and the smaller top module that houses the midrange, tweeter, and rear ambience driver (rear-firing tweeter). Each of these parts proved no problem carrying up and down the stairs. Even after filling each woofer section with 50 lbs. of lead shot, I found it easy to move the speakers from place to place by, when necessary, moving one section at a time. When it came to fine-tuning speaker placement, the fact that the base's spikes rested in the supplied little metal wafers made it simple to push the babies across the Persian rug without damaging the carpet.

Moving from place to place until one finds the ideal location for each speaker is essential for getting the most out of the VR-4 jrs. Just as the impressively detailed, multi-page placement section of the extensive manual explains, if the speakers are too far apart, the volume level of the image between the speakers will be lower than the sound coming directly from the speaker. If you have the speakers too close to each other or to reflective surfaces, the sound may also be affected to its detriment. These speakers may cost less than the Talons, but they require the same amount of care with set-up.

The area to the right of my right channel speaker extends virtually uninterrupted into a long, uncarpeted, quite resonant dining room; the space to left of the left speaker is also quite large, albeit less resonant. As a result, I soon discovered that I could not place the right channel VR-4 jr too close to the archway between the rooms. Doing so allowed the adjustable rear ambience driver to broadcast into dining room, rendering the sound somewhat harsh and brittle. Similarly, placing the speakers on the wood floor rather than the rug created a treble not to my liking. Finding their optimal place on the Persian rug, and fine-tuning the rear-firing tweeter became a major priority.

When I first initiated set-up, Albert counseled me by e-mail to aim the speakers directly toward my ears, and to position them far apart. Given my room particulars, I found that spacing them between nine and ten feet apart worked best.

He also noted that bass response is totally adjustable, yielding more or less bass depending upon system configuration and room. Since I did not wish to compromise the review by telling either Albert or a Von Schweikert technician what I was hearing, I decided to leave well enough alone, and have a go of it on my own. Had I not been reviewing, I would have taken advantage of Von Schweikert's excellent customer service and enlisted their assistance.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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