VON SCHWEIKERT AUDIO VR-11SE Mk2
INTERVIEW WITH ALBERT VON SCHWEIKERT
Ron Resnick Mono and Stereo May 21, 2016
This report ends with a relaxed session listening to jazz on reel-to-reel tape with Albert Von Schweikert and his colleagues at Von Schweikert Audio, but it begins in Manila, Philippines. For almost two years I have been traveling all over the planet to audition in dealer showrooms or in private homes the world's best loudspeaker systems. I am researching and looking for the last and ultimate speaker system of my life to buy for my own listening room.
This journey has taken me to London, England (Analysis Audio Omega, MartinLogan Neolith); Frankfurt, Germany (Avantgarde Trios with basshorns); Ry, Denmark (Gryphon Audio Pendragon); The Netherlands (modified Genesis Advanced Technologies 1.1 and Tidal Audio La Assoluta); California, United States (Rockport Technologies Arrakis and Altair II); and, most recently, to Manila, Philippines to hear at a friend’s home the Von Schweikert Audio (“VSA”) VR-11SE Mk2.
VSA VR-11SE MK2
My friend’s listening room is the best-sounding, as well as the most elaborate, listening room I have ever encountered, whether at an audiophile's home or at a dealer's showroom. The room is quiet, but not at all over-damped. Quiet speech in the room is easily and clearly heard, even at a distance. The intelligibility of the room is startling.
|Ron's friend's superb tuned listening room in Manila, Philippines|
The VR-11SE Mk2 is an extremely tall and very impressive one column speaker system. It is similar in many ways to the Rockport Arrakis. Both use an M-T-M, D'Appolito array, with mid-bass drivers and a pair of 15" woofers, in a heroically constructed cabinet weighing about 900 pounds.
The Arrakis' 15" woofers are passive and side-firing; the VR-11's 15" woofers are self-powered and rear-firing. Both speakers consist of three large, heavy modules stacked vertically.
The Arrakis has no crossover or level adjustments for the drivers; the VR-11 has crossover frequency, level, phase and 25 Hz boost controls on each active subwoofer module, and separate level controls for the tweeters, the front-firing ribbon super-tweeter and the rear-firing ribbon super-tweeter. The VR-11 should be able to be adjusted to work great in any room of a reasonable size for such a large speaker.
Unfortunately, my friend’s turntable was not working the day of my visit, so we could listen only to CDs.
I cannot say that, even with digital playback by my friend’s CH Precision stack of digital components, it did not sound like we were listening to CDs. As amazing as the room and the system are, it did sound like we were listening to CDs. But the excellence, the capabilities and the grandeur of both the speakers and the room were clearly evident, even with CDs.
We listened, among other things, to James Taylor, U2's Joshua Tree, Sarah McLachlan, Enya and deep house re-mixes. As you probably can imagine the VR-11s can rock!
The VR-11 confirmed my view that height matters. The height of the Arrakis, the Genesis 1.1, the Pendragon and the VR-11 allows them to project a scale and a grandeur which I do not hear from speakers half their height or less. This scale, for me, contributes to believability.
The Arrakis and the VR-11 present a fascinating contrast. Clearly each is a state-of-the-art, statement product by one of the top speaker designers in the world.
In different rooms and with totally different systems it is hard to be certain about sonic differences. I think the Arrakis is a slightly warmer-sounding speaker with a richer balance in the lower midrange/upper bass range. Putting that same point a different way, I think the Arrakis is a little bit darker-sounding than the VR-11. (I love the tonal balance of the Arrakis (and of the Altair II).) I think the VR-11 is more neutral and slightly faster-sounding than the Arrakis. My friend agrees with these observations. (Of course the VR-11 is so adjustable that by raising the crossover point of the 15" woofers one can make the lower midrange/upper bass range richer-sounding.)
I am used to MartinLogan electrostatic speakers which, in my view, simply do not work off-axis. Many speaker companies, especially manufacturers of dynamic driver designs, claim that their speakers sound good off-axis. I think dynamic driver designs sound better off axis than do MartinLogans, but I never thought anything sounds good off-axis.
Well, the VR-11s, in my friend’s room, sound very good off-axis. With music playing, as you sit in different areas at the back of the room, it sounds like you are changing seats in a nightclub. This is not hyperbole. Somehow the system maintains a believable sonic perspective, even as you move around. I have never experienced this before. This off-axis believability was not achieved at the expense of center image focus. The system creates a fairly clearly-delineated image of a solo vocalist.
My friend’s room is so well-designed and balanced, and the speakers create such a coherent sound field, that he showed us how, by standing between the speakers and facing the rear wall of the room, it sounds like the music is projecting from a sound-stage in front of you, coming from the rear of the room! I have never heard that “trick” before! My friend explained that the extremely coherent sound field generated by the VR-11 is due to unique proprietary circuit topologies developed by VSA over the last 25 years.
VISIT TO VON SCHWEIKERT AUDIO
Even though I am biased toward panel speakers I was so intrigued by the VR-11SE Mk2 that I decided to learn more about VSA by reading the company’s website. There I learned that the ULTRA 11 -- another flagship model -- was in the works.
I wrote an e-mail to Albert Von Schweikert to introduce myself, to explain that I just heard the VR-11SE Mk2, and to ask to schedule a visit to his factory to meet him and to learn more about the ULTRA 11. I wrote in my e-mail to Albert:
I would be grateful to meet you in person, and to learn more about the differences between the VR-11SE Mk2 and the ULTRA 11. I would have thought the VR-11 is as perfect a dynamic driver design as can be accomplished in a one column format. I would be particularly interested in learning what shortcomings, if any, you now perceive in the VR-11 and which, presumably, you are trying to address with the ULTRA 11.
In reply to my e-mail I received an e-mail from Leif Swanson,
Vice President, Sales and Marketing
of VSA. I called Leif to discuss a possible visit.
Vice President, Sales and Marketing
of VSA. I called Leif to discuss a possible visit.
Leif was very knowledgeable and friendly, and he was very enthusiastic about the new ULTRA 11. We scheduled a visit for me to listen to the VSA VR-55 Aktive and to interview Albert and to meet the VSA team. I was hoping to audition the ULTRA 11, but the ULTRA 11 is still in the final production stage. Leif explained that the VR-55 Aktive embodies several of the driver improvements included in the ULTRA 11 and thus would give me a hint of what the ULTRA 11 is all about.
VSA is located in a clean and upscale industrial park area in Riverside, California, about two hours East of Los Angeles. When I arrived at VSA on May 17, 2016, I was disappointed to see that they did not have a turntable. But I was encouraged to see that they did have a tape deck!
Albert is an analog guy through and through, and he shares my strong preference for analog over digital. The VSA team is in the process of selecting a turntable to use at VSA and to transport for use at shows. I offered that digital does not cast any speaker in the best light, and that they are doing a disservice to their speakers by not demoing with analog. Albert agreed.
It is not possible to spend seven hours with Albert Von Schweikert and not come away adoring the guy. I promise you I am not brown-nosing: nobody who spends time with Albert would come to any other conclusion. Albert is soft-spoken, relaxed, completely down-to-earth and very humble, which is surprising in view of the fact that he is a true titan in the field of loudspeaker design.
Leif and Albert’s son, Damon, are industrial engineers at VSA, so they joined us for the entire day. VSA is a true family affair. Damon’s son, Devon, also works at VSA as webmaster, as does Damon’s sister Alexis, who works as the financial manager and office administrator. Damon clearly has enormous respect for his father's achievements in the loudspeaker world. I could tell that the father and the son get along great!
At Munich High End 2016 I heard for the first time Zellaton Statement loudspeakers and Magico M-Project loudspeakers. Previously I had heard Tidal Audio La Assoluta loudspeakers in a friend’s home.
I hear each of these speakers as being extremely transparent (especially considering they employ dynamic drivers), “fast”-sounding and just a bit “tizzy” or “zingy” or “menthol”-sounding. It is hard to know what word to use to describe the very "fast” sound which such speakers produce. It is not in any way a traditional brightness or edginess (such as was produced by the Wilson Audio metal dome tweeter for many years until Wilson’s recent switch to a soft dome tweeter in the XLF, the Alexia and the Alexx). But it is a characteristic which is noticeable, to me, from the members of this genre of speakers.
The transparency of which these very fast-sounding, dynamic driver speakers are capable is very impressive but, to my ears, that transparency comes at the cost of a bit of naturalness or "musicality" to the sound. The fact that I am aware of this “fast” sound as a discrete characteristic tells me that it is not the type of sound I personally, subjectively, prefer. If a speaker has some characteristic which makes me notice that characteristic and identify it, then I am not engaged in, and lost in, the music. I have learned that, for whatever reason, this genre of speakers just does not allow me to become emotionally connected to the music.
To be crystal clear I am not suggesting that Magico or Tidal Audio or Zellaton speakers are doing anything objectively wrong. I am saying only that, to my ears, subjectively I do not care for that hyper-fast sound. People who like that transparent, detailed and very fast sound (and many people do, which is why Magico is so popular and Tidal Audio and Zellaton are so revered), will have no idea what I'm talking about, and they simply are enthralled with the transparency and openness of such speakers. I completely understand and appreciate that (differing) preference. That is what makes this hobby subjective.
After hearing the VR-11 and concluding that it is one of the top two dynamic driver loudspeakers I have ever heard in my life (the other being the Rockport Arrakis) I was really baffled (a little skeptical) as to what Albert would do with the ULTRA 11. I could not imagine how a dynamic driver speaker designer could improve upon the VR-11 in a one column format. I was concerned that Albert might be chasing that sense of maximum transparency and that “hyper-fast” sound that other manufacturers have pursued. This concern drove a couple of my questions to Albert.
QUESTIONS TO AND ANSWERS FROM ALBERT
You originally were a musician? What instrument did you play?
I played the electric guitar in a band called The Ravens. In 1967 and 1970 we opened for Jimmy Page and the Yardbirds.
I understand that you and Jimmy Page got into some trouble while on the road touring?
Yes. Jimmy and I went into a hamburger joint to get some food for us and the other people on the tour bus. A couple of the locals made some VERY rude remarks about our appearance. Jimmy gave the finger to a redneck, and that instigated some name-calling and a fight. A couple of the guys on the tour bus saw what was going on and came out wielding mic stands to help us. The police showed up. The rednecks blamed it on Jimmy and me, but the manager told the police that we didn't start it, so we were not jailed.
How did you start designing speakers?
I played in a band for Sonny and Cher and also for Neil Diamond. I found at that time that PA speakers sounded poor, and I built my own three-way PA speaker. Neil Diamond heard the speaker and liked it a lot. He said I was a “good guitar player, but a better speaker designer.” So I started focusing on speakers.
What did you do at Caltech?
In the mid-1970s, at Caltech, I got involved in measuring speakers and in researching the way people perceive sound. I developed a theory of the “speaker as mic in reverse,” which I later called “Acoustic Inverse Reproduction.”
Albert explained that his mentor and close friend, Dr. Richard C. Heyser, at Caltech/JPL, invented and built the first “Time Delay Spectrometer” (“TDS”) which was able to measure mechanical vibrations and electrical energy. The TDS, Albert says, was used to map the surface of the moon and the ocean floor. (Fred Thal, of AT Audio Engineering, and, as far as I know, the world’s leading technical expert on Studer tape machines, participated in 1984 in a one week TDS training class with Heyser, and confirmed to me that Heyser was a brilliant inventor.)
Albert and Heyser configured the TDS to measure speakers without having to resort to an anechoic chamber. Albert used the TDS in the mid-1970s to measure the frequency and the phase response of several different types of speaker systems, one of which was the prototype of the Vortex Screen, later renamed the VR-4. At Caltech Albert also was able to measure and test speaker drivers for impulse response, frequency response, bandwidth and dynamic range.
Albert analyzed the waveform from the electrical output of a microphone and then compared it to the waveform from the output of a speaker. The comparison could be clearly seen on an oscilloscope. Any difference between the two signals was considered a distortion. Albert credits Heyser with inspiring Albert to continue with research into the fields of psycho-acoustics and loudspeaker engineering.
What is your speaker design philosophy? What are you trying to achieve?
- My theoretical goal is for the speaker to work as a microphone in reverse. Recordings have no music on them, just microphone voltages that represent the musical waveforms.
- In order to make the speaker sonically invisible, we lower the distortion from the drivers, circuits and cabinets.
- We design for flat and linear frequency and phase response, both on and off-axis. A very wide dispersion is necessary.
- We design for wide bandwidth and high dynamic range in order to successfully reproduce a symphony orchestra.
- My study of psycho-acoustics since 1974 enabled me to design speakers which the human hearing mechanism finds very natural and relaxing, much like live music. This is our secret ingredient.
In 1983 Albert published a “white paper” describing his view that the speaker should project into the air what the recording microphone picked up. The paper was well-received in the industry and many companies, including LucasFilm (THX Division), Infinity, JBL and Klipsch, hired Albert as a consultant.
Why have you focused on dynamic driver designs? What is it about electrostatic drivers which do not do it for you?
I used to have Quad ESL 57s, and I very much liked the midrange transparency and openness of those panels. But the dynamic range of electrostatic panels was limited. To build a truly full-range electrostatic speaker I calculated that the panel would need to be 15 feet tall by 8 feet wide.
Albert also found that musical impulses would flow from the center of the electrostatic driver to the perimeter of the driver, and then reflect back to the center due to the clamped edges and limited excursion. He experimented with a rubber edge around the perimeter of the electrostatic driver to dampen these distortions. Ultimately he was unsatisfied with the result and he turned his attention to minimizing distortion in dynamic drivers.
If you liked the open and transparent sound of electrostatic panels why not build a smaller panel and cross it over to some woofer driver at 200 Hz or so?
I experimented with hybrid designs like that. But I found it difficult and unsatisfying to match a dynamic driver with either an electrostatic panel or a ribbon driver. The two different radiation patterns made the crossover audible, especially off-axis.
Also, since my philosophy is to create a loudspeaker which functions as a microphone in reverse, I believe that the point source radiation pattern of the dynamic driver speaker is more accurate with respect to reproducing what a microphone “hears.” The tall line source radiation pattern of a planar speaker is not similar to a microphone’s pick up pattern and, by definition, is incorrect.
If you like the open sound of panel speakers, why not design your dynamic driver loudspeakers with an open rear baffle?
I tried that but I found that the open baffle made the frequency response of the speaker and the sound staging of the speaker too dependent on the room -- whether the front wall was reflective or absorptive or whatever – and the resulting sound too unpredictable in peoples’ homes. I found it better to control the rear wave of the drivers by Gradient Density TM absorption inside the speaker cabinet and to use a rear-firing tweeter to project a dipole radiation pattern to create a realistic soundstage and ambience. These techniques enhance the three-dimensional recreation of a musical performance. We provide a level control to enable the customer to adjust the dipolar effect to his room and taste. This presents the best of all worlds -- no reason to choose between a box or a dipole.
Have you ever experimented with ribbon drivers?
I experimented with the Strathearn ribbon drivers (which Arnie Nudell also used at one time in the first Infinity QRS, the predecessor to the IRS) but used eight KEF 5” cone woofers. I found that, as with the electrostatic driver, the limited excursion travel of the diaphragm was not sufficient to reproduce the dynamics I was looking for. Also, the ribbon’s sensitivity was very low and could not handle high power or high volume levels.
There is no one best speaker design and no one best speaker solution. Every design has compromises and trade-offs. To me, with the latest advances in dynamic driver technologies, dynamic driver speakers offer the least compromises and the best solutions. I believe that cone drivers are no longer inferior to planar drivers in terms of transient response, clarity, and “openness.”
The VR-11SE Mk2 is one of the two best dynamic driver speakers I have ever heard. I would have thought the VR-11 is as perfect a dynamic driver design as you can accomplish in a one column format. What shortcomings do you now perceive in the VR-11 and which you are trying to address with the ULTRA 11?
We don't perceive shortcomings in the VR-11. But I designed the VR-10 in 1987 and its replacement, the VR-11, in 2003. Even after the Mark 2 edition of 2009 there have been important developments in driver technology. New drivers, new cabinet designs and new wiring have allowed us to achieve even lower levels of distortion and coloration than we had achieved in the VR-11. In addition, my level of experience has grown.
Some of the improvements of the ULTRA 11 over the VR-11 as described on the VSA website, and as explained to me, are as follows:
Master-Built ULTRA Internal Wiring comes standard on the ULTRA line. Each signal path is individually shielded. The wire is designed and fabricated by leaders in the aerospace industry and is made with rare and precious alloys, combined with patented winding geometries to reduce quantum noise.
All-new ceramic-composite woofers and midranges, Beryllium tweeters, and compound woven subwoofers are used in the ULTRA line (instead of the original carbon fiber 15” drivers and carbon-kevlar-cellulose aerogel midrange drivers and soft dome tweeters used in the VR-11SE Mk2). The new drivers have one-quarter or less of the distortion than our original drivers, enhancing clarity.
Point-to-point hand-built networks and cross-overs are enclosed in a proprietary Faraday cage which protects cross-over parts and wiring from electrical noise contamination.
Version 2.0 Aktive Cabinet Vibration Control eliminates cabinet noise with new materials and layering techniques which reduce the noise of the cabinet via the conversion of vibration into heat.
The VR-11SE Mk2 consists of three modules stacked on top of each other: an M-T-M array module in the middle and a subwoofer module at the bottom and at the top. The ULTRA 11 is a one-piece cabinet. Albert says that his tests show that the one-piece cabinet manifests less resonance than the three stacked modules of the VR-11SE Mk2 due to less “wobble and roll” of the three stacked modules.
Due to the 1,000 pound weight of the ULTRA 11 it comes with a custom crane to enable a customer’s dealer to stand up the speakers. When someone buys an ULTRA 11 VSA personnel also are on-site for setup and supervision.
I have heard for many years that some people find ceramic drivers to be a bit bright or to manifest a bit of a ringing sound when stimulated at certain frequencies. I asked Albert that since the VR-11SE Mk2 sounds so good why switch to Accuton ceramic drivers and Beryllium dome tweeters in the ULTRA 11?
I have measured and evaluated many drivers and I found that the driver material is less important than the execution. ULTRA 11 uses custom ceramic-based honeycomb Accuton woofers and midranges designed to meet our specifications.
Regarding the “thin” or “resonant” sound of metal domes, It is harder to make a bad sounding soft dome tweeter than it is to make a bad sounding metal dome tweeter -- most audiophiles do not like the thin or bright sound of metal domes. We use a proprietary dampening technique on our Beryllium tweeters which makes a huge difference in the raw response, plus we designed our crossover circuitry specifically for the Beryllium tweeter. Most other companies simply use a “generic” circuit design. Last, but most important, stock metal dome tweeters “ring” due to lower frequency midrange signals overdriving the excursion potential. Our proprietary version goes down to 500Hz flat. In fact, I’ve made headphones from them as a pure design exercise, and they sounded fabulous.
While I have been historically prejudiced against metal dome tweeters because I found them to sound bright and edgy, I can attest to the fact that the Beryllium dome tweeter in the Rockport Arrakis, the Rockport Altair II, the VR-11SE Mk2 and the VR-55 Aktive do not sound the slightest bit bright. So, somehow, Andy Payor and Albert have tamed the brightness of the Beryllium dome tweeter.
I have heard the Magico M-Project, the Tidal Audio La Assoluta and the Zellaton Statement. They are amazingly transparent and they sound “fast.” Is ultimate transparency and a “fast” sound what you are aiming for with the ULTRA 11 to compete with these other speakers?
No. We are not trying to chase any characteristic of “fast” sound; that is a code word for “analytical.” In fact, the ULTRA 11s do not sound faster nor slower than the music recorded. They do not have the type of unnatural sound that can be considered to be “fast” (analytical). This is a distortion that I have avoided after discovering the effect. The ULTRA 11 sounds more natural and more musical than the original VR-11s.
Why, at the high price point of the VR-11 and the ULTRA 11, do you use Class D amplifiers to drive the 15” cones, and not Class AB amplifiers?
I find the Class D amplifiers to have very low noise and are neutral in tone quality. We use them only as the last stage of amplification, so, in effect, they are simple “booster” amps to enable bass level adjustments. We sample the signal from the main amplifier and the output of the mid-bass drivers. The Class D amplifier inherits the sound qualities of the prior amplifier stage. So if the client uses a tube amplifier, the Class D amplifier inherits the sonic tube nature of the signal.
How many pairs of VR-11s have you made?
About 30 pairs of the Mk2s, but we have upgraded many Mk1s to the Mk2 status. We continue to be amazed at the popularity of the VR-11 in Asia.
Will you continue to take orders for the VR-11SE Mk2?
Yes, we will continue to manufacture the VR-11SE Mk2 and the VR-9SE Mk2. The VR series has a strong following across the world and people are interested specifically in those speakers. Our Asian dealers are convinced that this is the best speaker they have ever heard, at any price, from any company, so we won’t kill the Golden Goose!
Do you have any plans to make a production four column system, or will four column systems always be a custom order and custom design?
We have not announced this yet but we will be producing a four column system called the ULTRA 101. The 101 is essentially two ULTRA 11s in one channel utilizing twice as many drivers. The subwoofers will be housed in separate tower enclosures. It will retail for $550,000. We have orders from two of our Asian distributors who have discussed this project with us for three years.
I asked Albert if there is a certain size of listening room for which each of the mid-height VR-55 and the full-height VR-11/ULTRA 11 and the four column ULTRA 101 is optimal?
The VR-11SE Mk2 and the ULTRA 11 can be positioned in a surprisingly small room. We test each pair of VR-11s in this room at the front of our office, and they sound great due to the fact that we designed this tall system to work in small Asian condos. One of our hallmarks is the fact that every frequency range of the system has an autoformer level control, so we can EQ the final sound of the speaker and room interface. This pleases our customers very much, as most of them have tried big speakers that sounded less than stellar in their small rooms.
The difference in speaker size is more about how much a client wishes to pressurize the room. All of our active woofer and subwoofer systems employ our unique back electromotive force feedback system. This design, along with the great adjustability of our powered woofer or subwoofer modules, makes it easy to integrate surprisingly large speakers in a small listening room.
Do you prefer tube amplifiers or solid-state amplifiers on your passive midrange/tweeter modules?
Traditionally VSA demoed with tube electronics such as VAC, which was my personal amplification for years. Right now in our sound room we are using a Constellation Centaur stereo amplifier. I think the sound of the best tube amplifiers and the best solid-state amplifiers has been converging, and nowadays we like many examples of both technologies. There are many amplifiers that work well with our speakers; we just don’t have enough room to keep 20+ amps and pre-amps on hand.
Damon and Leif also gave diplomatic answers to this question, indicating that each of them, too, likes certain examples of both tube and solid state electronics.
It seems that the focus of some high-end manufacturers is to design ever more complex products at ever higher price points to sell to ever fewer people. Where do you see the high-end audio business going?
We think the high-end audio industry is alive and well. I see young people listening to music on iPods and with earbuds. But, as they get jobs and move up the economic ladder, I believe they switch to better and better sounding audio equipment.
Also, we are trying to run counter to the trend of releasing only ever more expensive products. In 2009 we designed a line of inexpensive speakers for our sister company, Vortex Acoustics.
After I finished asking questions we turned to listening to music. The VSA listening system is in the very front of the office. It consists of VR-55 Aktives and Constellation electronics, a Meitner DAC and YFS CD transport/server and is wired with Master-Built ULTRA cables for which VSA is the U.S. distributor.
I brought my usual stack of LPs, but only one CD. So we played "Send in the Clowns" by Bill Henderson, Live at the Times (Jazz Planet Records/Classic Records). We played this track once with the rear tweeter on and once with the rear tweeter off. It was interesting to hear how the sense of ambience dries up when the rear tweeter and associated ambience circuit are turned off.
We also played some digital files and some songs on tape. I always love tape! After being unable to truly relax listening to the CD and the digital files, I was able to fully relax listening to some easy-listening jazz on tape. The warmth and the naturalness of the analog recordings on tape just sound so right!
Since we could not play my familiar audition LPs I cannot come to any definitive conclusions about the sound of the VR-55 Aktive. I can report that the transparency from the VSA speakers is very close to, if not almost indistinguishable from, the transparency to which I am accustomed from electrostatic panels and ribbons. This is puzzling to me because I have always believed that ribbon drivers and, especially, electrostatic drivers, had an advantage in transparency which no dynamic driver could ever equal.
I do not think the dynamic drivers of Rockports and the VSAs are achieving transparency through some brightness or detail or tonal balance trick. I still believe that the MartinLogan Neolith is two smidgens more transparent, and that the ribbon panels of the Genesis 1.1 and the Gryphon Pendragon are one smidgen more transparent, than the best dynamic driver speakers, but, after hearing the incredibly transparent Magico M-Project, the Tidal La Assoluta, the Zellaton Statement and the VSAs, I'm no longer as sure of this as I used to be.
The VR-55 Aktive, like the VR-11, has better off-axis response than I am accustomed to from planar speakers. The VR-55 Aktive was very transparent, detailed and dynamic. It also seems to be neutral and colorless. When we switched from digital to tape it sounded like a completely different speaker. With tape I forgot that the electronics in the VSA system are all solid-state, so natural, warm and relaxing was the sound.
It is clear to me that when you buy a VSA speaker you are getting the benefit of over four decades of Albert’s experience, testing, measuring and designing drivers, cabinets and cross-overs. Albert has asked every question there is to ask in the field of loudspeaker design and manufacturing, and, after researching carefully and exhaustively the alternatives, he has come up with a rational and proven answer to each question. His speakers embody those answers.
Thanks very much to Albert, Leif and Damon for an interesting and fun visit to VSA!
Ron ResnickMono and Stereo Senior Contributing Writer