I compared them both, separately, at local dealers and bought the VR4JRs. They surpassed the 804s in natural realism and were just more musical-sounding, yet detailed, dynamic and transparent; great imaging and soundstaging. A phenomenal speaker. Much, much more involving then the 804. Very revealing; every systemic upgrade and tweak is clearly noticeable with the VR4JRs. The 804s sort of blast nice sound at you, while the VR4JRs envelope you in music.
But, you must load them each with about 40-50 lbs of lead shot and spike them to optimize performance. And, they take about 500 hours to break-in properly - but it's worth the wait.
I can't see anything major that could have been done to S series to justify price based on improved performance.IO sold B&W for 6 years and left just before the S and D series came out.if you have the room just go out and get a pir of 803N's which have much bigger sound stage width,height and especially depth plus a coherence that the 804 just didn't have .I lsitened to these apeakers daily.used it will be $3500 for 803 but prices have dropped to $3K price.You'll need 200 watt the bter quality the better or if tube amn 100 wats like Arc VT100 Mk.II or Rogue 120's,Quicsilver VR4's etc (all good values).Hybrid amps,class D whatever because even though the nomminal load is not low and they are rated 90 db efficient they have a nasty impedance drop so crave curent.Good 200 watt need now cost and arm and a leg these days.I used a 300 wat Adcom GFA 5802 (modded caps realy improved it) and it was great.Played them with Krell in showroom and the bas traction was superb but mids were ebter with other amps.If you have small set up )100 solid state or less than 80 wats tube)I'd go here the Von Schweikerts.Their a fine speaker and maybe the nter of the two.It's close.I am BTW also a fan of Audio Physic (used) and Spendors (8's or 9's).If you want to spend less and know of a Quad dealer you''ll really be inmpressed with Quad 22L.Hell of speaker for the money with that Brit sound and not the high prioce of Harbeth,ATC etc.Used 803's if you have room and amp will be way beter than new 804S's.
Chazz, the 804 only went up in price by 500 bucks. That's without a price increase over the life of the Nautilus line. With the upgraded crossover, the upgraded tweeter and no price increase in about 8 years, I would say that 500 bucks isn't so bad.
These are two very different sounding speakers, especially when you factor in the VR4jr's rear "ambience" tweeter which depending on level makes it a much more back of hall perspective versus the 804 which tends to be more forward. I have not spent much time with the newer D series, but I would agree I always found the old 803 to be far superior to the 804, much more so than even it's price increase would indicate.
In this price range try to listen to the Dali Helicon series, I think you may find you like them better than either of those mentioned above and they are defnitely finished better than either with a high gloss laquer. The B&W's are ok, but the VR4jr's finish is mediocre with no gloss and little depth to the wood.
As a follow up, do any of you see an issue with these speakers and room size? The room is 25L x 20W with a cathedral ceiling about 25ft at it's peak. I'm assuming that the VR4jrs would be able to adequately fill this room given enough power.
Jgiacalo - what are you using to power your speakers?
Thanks for your input. Jgiacalo suggested what I kind of assumed based on my experience with the two brands.
I'm powering my VR4JRs with a 75 watt/channel McIntosh MC275 which actually supposedly measures at 90 Watts/channel. For what it's worth, I formerly powered them with a 300 watt/channel Bryston 4BST and I prefer the Mcintosh by a wide margin.
I heard both at different dealers with different (but similar class/league) gear and cables. My nod goes to the VR-4 JR. But as mentioned you should use a good amp on the JRs and also lead shot them and break them in at least 400 hours to hear the potential. Used/demo pair of JRs (Mark I) can be found on Audiogon quite cheap these days. Not sure how good the Mark II sounds over the Mark I. If you like surprisingly realistic musicality at a modest price around 2k, you can't go wrong with the VS JRs. You will have to look very hard to find something that can compete in that price range.
Good luck !
Thanks everyone for you input. I went with the VS Jrs (purchased on Audiogon). As I mentioned before, the 804S sounded good enough to me, but they didn't blow me away as other VSR models had in the past. So, I'm taking a chance on a speaker I haven't heard, but I'm pretty confident I'll like.
I would have liked to listen to some of the other suggested speakers, but in this area (Buffalo, NY), the choices are pretty slim.
Anyhow, I think my mind was mostly made up. My wife thanks you all for pushing me over the edge to make the purchase. Now she doesn't have to hear about it anymore....until I tell her that I'm now looking for a new amp...
The same local store will push McIntosh and Audio Research just as hard as B&W. Resist their efforts. Both manufacturers offer nice gear. However, there are better and less expensive options for you to consider including VAC, BAT, Quicksilver, Cary, CJ, et.al.
Congrats! I would like to add that it takes a few weeks or more to realize the best that VS speakers can offer. I have slowly inched my VR $JRs around and little by little I have found the best spot. Also, the do develp a richer midrange and slightly deeper bass as they break in. Have fun!
Congrats on the VSA speakers. All the above is accurate info. They do take some time to run in... though I suspect you bought a preowned pair, right? If so it won't be so tedious a process.
Let me kick in what not to do in setting up the JR's. Don't mess with that rear tweeter until you have them where you want. bi wire them. Shotgun works best for me in my system. Get larger spikes than standard. other iso items for them are available. Do one of the two if not both, as the upper cabinet rubber spikes can be improved upon for sure. More power won't hurt a bit with these units. good sound however, can be had with pretty small amounts though. the shot deal is as I understand it a very good one. Even VSA AGREES WITH DOING JUST LOADING THE BASS MODULE. the MK II's come with some lead shot I think. The finish, though not spectacular, is way easy to care for and the matt finish is attractive enough. Keep them off the walls as much as you can... and with a big room like yours, I suggest a sub is in order. Enjoy.
A year ago I was in love with the B&W speakers, seriously contemplating to buy 802D and almost ready to pay $17,000 (Canadian $ in Canada) for them. Then, about the same time I accidently discovered a pair SR-4 jr at an another store in the same town. SR-4jr at nearly 1/3 price sounded better to my ears on the same set of my reference CDs albeit in different rooms and with different electronics. Not a blind test of any kind but an easy choice for me. No regrets whatsoever since then - sound produced by these magnificent speakers are one of the brightest spots in my life day after day. Congratulation to Albert Von Schweikert and his team.