Review: Von Schweikert Audio VR5 Anniversary MK2 Speaker
I go to live acoustic performances often. I am not a “found the holy grail type” but with the Anni’s I just may have found my speaker for the next decade. First up was classical piano because I am very familiar with what a piano should sound like in my room, having played a 7 foot Kawai grand in the same room as the speakers in the past. Through the VS Anni’s, piano now sounded seamless across all registers, with a better sense of the nature of the instrument with its wood case resonances and felt hammers on strings more evident. This allowed the piano to sound fuller, more natural, and real.
All instruments were more convincing. Guitars conveyed the sense of type of string and wood. Bass viol was much richer and accurate in timbre complexity. Sax had more burnished warmth with appropriate bite and no harshness. High flute was sweet and light and low flute mellow and full bodied. Organ was much closer to real, with true excitement. Massed strings were at another level of power and beauty with no stridency. Close-mic’ed female voices were free of artificial edge. Male voices were wonderfully clear and present. Whispered and poorly enunciated words that were barely decipherable before, were now clear with no strain to hear them. When pushed with loud, highly-layered, complex music, there was less congestion or compression of dynamics. There was never any sense of struggle by the speaker to meet the softest, loudest, or quickest demands. Drum kits and percussion from treble to bass were awesome with jump, control, and subtle timbral distinctions easily heard.
The VR4 very slight hard edge on certain passages was now completely gone yet with even more micro and macro detail present. I can only explain this as a dramatic reduction in mechanical distortion and cabinet resonances. The whole sonic landscape was more seamless, natural, and musical. The music was more dynamic and real, yet more relaxed. The musicians, whether classical, pop, jazz, or rock all seemed more confident and in control, yet more fluid because of a sense that everything was flowing with correct pace and proportion. Nothing jumped out, calling attention to itself, yet many things gently invited appreciation, including better location of instruments behind other instruments. Sound stage width remained excellent but now there was clearer placement, greater air, bloom, and holographic depth. In summary, if I heard these speakers and were then told that they cost $50,000 I would have promptly worked hard to save $10,000 per year to afford them five years down the road because these speakers brought me so much closer to the experience of live music and not just increased hi-fi dazzle that turns to frazzle. I judge them to be an awesome value for price, and able to challenge any big-dog you care to mention. As a bonus the whole Von Schweikert team has been stellar throughout the ownership experience with their passion for music and quality clearly evident at all times. I am not a dealer and have no financial ties with VS audio.
Other equipment: Ayon CD5s $11,300 (all-in-one transport, DAC, and preamp). Nuforce Reference V3SE $5,000 mono blocks modded with Cardas binding posts, special fuses, vibration controlled with Hyperion Magnetic floaters, weighted with lead bags, and isolated with PS Audio Quintet. Morrow Audio bi-wired SP6 speaker cables. Skagg audiophile balanced IC’s. Herbie’s gliders under stock points. Room 38 foot by 22 with soft pecky cypress walls, maple floors on trusses, 10ft peak ceiling. The CD’s and SACD’s used in evaluation were the best recorded and most familiar in my collection.
Comparison speakers: I have enjoyed Von Schweikert VR4SR Mark 1’s for many years in the same room and location, all descriptions are compared to the VR4SR’s which I have considered a very fine speaker and preferred to Wilson, Dali, and many other brands.