Mike's Von Schweikert VR4 Jr / Conrad Johnson Rig
Ditching the Zu Audio speakers Mike goes all out for a cult hero of the high-end audiophile scene, a pair of Von Schweikert speakers. Mike picked these up used and they were a bargain from what I gather. I had never heard any Von Schweikert speakers and had not really looked into them too much, but I know one thing that is certain, these are very pretty.
Just look at that shit, it's like a golden god of a speaker. These VR4 Jr's are true objects of desire, enough handcraftyness to make a man confused about the importance of material possessions.
Mike invited me over to have a listen and to help with setting up the speakers. He said he needed more power so I loaded up the Kinergetics THX certed beast mode class A amp and the measuring gear and headed down the road. When I got there he had already setup the speakers using the Cardas method and equilateral triangle seating position as seen in the placement calculator. We cranked some tunes and had some fancy craft beer while I setup the measuring gear and fiddled with the level controls on the rear tweeter.
Yeah dude, it's got a tweeter on its backside..
It's actually a pretty cool idea. The rear tweeter is horn loaded to avoid any kind of dipole/bipole cancelation and is just used to tune the tone of the total energy in the room. Adjusted all the way up sounded and measured best so that is where we left it set.
Other Assorted Drivers
Look at all of them fancy drivers!
The woofers are pretty weak sauce. While they do play clean they just can't put the SPL's in the bottom octaves that I need from a fullrange speaker. Port has a foam insert to calm it down and sounds good with no chuffing despite the little woofers epic fapping at volume.
The tweeter is a nice textile dome that does the job. The grill has some foam piece that fits around the tweeter built into it to help control baffle interaction and edge diffraction effect. This is yet another a great solution to a common problem that is expertly implemented. This Von Schweikert guy is really earning my respect.
SetupCheck out the gangsta lean on that Kinergetics... it was threatening to melt the carpet so I propped it up with a Dewalt tool box filled with Stillpoint stands.
After a little listen we ended up moving the speakers closer together and further back. I find the equilateral triangle uncomfortably wide, like sitting in the first row of a theater. Usually you can just back up the listening position a couple of feet, but in this instance The Cardas placement is pretty crazy in this room recommending the speakers 6 foot from the main wall. Making use of some of that extra space we moved the speakers back to about 4.5 feet from the wall and ended up about that far from the side walls as well. Sometimes this kind of square placement from boundaries will make a nasty mode issue, but not this time as nothing showed up in the measurements or listening.
Things were really sounding very good now so I took some measurements.
This is the left and the right speakers measured, the driver tolerance is very impressive as the speakers measure damn near identical.
This is a close mic of each driver while it plays pink noise. Note that the horn loading on the tweeters shows some goofy results when they are measured like this.
Note the 250Hz crossover to the dual woofers, this helps spread the floor bounce effect around to all three of the drivers. The crossovers look like they are working as intended and it all seems like a nice well designed speaker.
Outside of some hanging bass the waterfall shows no obvious problems in this untreated room.
Messing with the amps
Mike was using his really nice Conrad Johnson MV-75 amps and matching preamp. This is a killer tube setup, but even with 150wpc does seem to lack power with these speakers. The idea was to biamp for great justice and use the Kinergetics to run the woofers leaving the tubes to power the tweeter and midrange. The level matching of the amps was a challenge, but we managed to rig something up to give it a listen. The extra power did something for it, but not enough in my book.
Color me impressed. I've been known to be a hard ass when it comes to speakers, and I hope that this lends more weight to my endorsement. These are derivative in only that they take the good bits of textbook speaker design, and innovate where there is room for improvement. All I really require from a speaker is a smooth neutral frequency response, but it's the little things that make these speakers better than others. It's the foam around the tweeter, the rear tweeter with an l-pad on it, and the fact that the drivers all match so perfectly that I could not tell the left from the right in any measurements, all of that put into a box that doubles as a work of art.
I think Mike has a winning setup here. He will soon be confined to apartment life, and I think that given the constraints of that kind of living arrangement these speakers are probably some of the best he could get to do the job.
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