Spendor vs. Von Schweikert?


I'm the very happy owner of a pair of Spendor S100's. I bought them new 15 yrs ago. My system's evolved over the yrs from transistor to all-tube and thru it all the Spendor's always sounded rich and musical, very satisfying to my ears. I think that the tweeters may be showing their age (or maybe it's my ears!;) but I've been contemplating a change. I've read so much about the VR4Jr's, I need to audition them somehow, but thought I'd throw the question out there. Anybody familiar with the sound of both these lines? How do they compare?
Convert?fit=crop&h=128&policy=eyjlehbpcnkioje1mdexnjcwmjisimnhbgwiolsicmvhzcisimnvbnzlcnqixx0%3d&rotate=exif&signature=3cdd8c5307ba60785d7d6b6bb3cef45602d2edb2b931c5e59364a357b7e0ca80&w=128chazro
Chazro. I owned the SP100's for several years and only sold them when I moved the system to a room that couldn't handle their size. I've also auditioned the VR4JR's extensively. I'm always cautious with these types of things because so much is system dependent and much relies on personal preference. For me, it isn't even close. The Spendors were the best speaker I've owned (and I've had quite a few). The VR4JR's strike me as more of an audiophile speaker (i.e. one that images well, does all the hifi theatrics and checks all the boxes but simply does not make music like the Spendor. There's a reason why you've kept them all these years--they are that good. Having said that they are probably showing their age after 15yrs. Depending on room size you could replace with a pair of Harbeth Monitor 40's which are identical size but will sound even better or go with the slightly smaller Harbeth HL5 Super's which will sound better than your Spendors except for the deepest bass. If you like the Spendor sound I do not think the Von Schweikerts will be your cup of tea. They certainly weren't for me.
I disagree - wholeheartedly with Dodgealums assessment/opiniion . The VSR 4jr are very musical speakers. They are all about what is in front of them. Feed them tubes and you will be in heaven. If you consider excellent imaging, first rate detail retreival, realistic vocal reproduction and first class bass 'hifi theatrics' then I am not sure what sound you are looking for. I do not have much experience with the Spendor line but I did audition the Spendor FL9/FL10 extensively before they were replaced/discontinued some time ago and they are good speakers. They were too sweet sounding for me in the end, and I found several other speaker lines with similar priced offerings that were easily more natural sounding. The VSR4Jr are competative to those and IMO better in all respects. I suggest an audition before dismissing them. The Harbeths may be to your liking...I won't comment on those because I only heard them for a few moments at an audio show. But again I suggest you listen to them first. They certainly have a distinctive sound.

good listening.
I've owned a number of Von Schweikert speakers over the years, and have loved each of them. They're very musical speakers that keep getting better with better components. They're one of the very few speakers in my experience that don't have a "ceiling"--i.e., the point at which the electronics become too good for the speaker. I've heard a few Spendor speakers in the last couple of years, but have never owned them. To my ears, they're a little soft at the extremes, but that could well be the equipment they were partnered with when I heard them. The best advice I can offer is to try to listen to both speakers and make up your own mind.
Although I've never heard the Spendors, I find the VR4JRs extremely musical and very revealing of all upstream components. If you do audition the VR4JRs it is very important to remember that they take at least 400 hours of break-in before they reveal their real potential. They must also be mass loaded with 40-50 lbs of lead shot (each), as they were designed, as well as be spiked to the floor. Once they meet those requirements, they will make realistic, involving and very satisfyng muslc like few others. But, again only listening will allow you to choose what speakers best meet your preferences.
Certainly different speakers have their own sound. I'm a Tannoy user and owned Missions before these. There is a "British" sound although it varies a bit between Spendor, Tannoy, Kef, Harbeth etc. This sound is nothing like the house sound of VS. Apples and oranges. To tell the truth, I liked my 15 year old Mission 70's better than the VR-1's. It's just personal preference. I enjoy the "British" speaker musicality and overall sound. I find speakers like VS unemotional, but that's just me.
Hi,

I agree totally...totally with Dodgealum. I have listened to both Spendors ( S5e, S8e ) and Von Schweikert ( VR-1, VR-2 and VR4SR ). For my music preferences ( Sweet mid range, vocals and instruments ), Spendorfs are way far superior. Atleast for the discs I played, this is no comaparision. If your musical preference is Sweet sounding mid-range and good instruments, strings....you are better off with Spendors.

Grakesh
Grakesh, glad it works for you !
"Sweet sounding mid-range" I just don't get how someone can like a coloured speaker over a neutral one. Doesn't it get old very quickly? Also with suropy/sweet sound how can you listen to rock or pop or anything with Bass or strings? It seems to me that a speaker that kills the leading edge of a brass instrument or an eleectic guitar to attain an unnatural smoothness or sweetness would lose its appeal very quickly ! I listened to the Spendors with an all Mac setup and they were playing some smooth jazz and other light sounds. Sounded good especially with vocals but seamed to me in general, they are a niche speaker for specific music only. In fact this dealer would not even let me and my brother-in-law play our own music that we brought along, we brought some rock but also milder stuff like Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and some pop music – Dave Mathews,. That was immediately a big red flag for us. A speaker designed for a specific type of music reproduction, IMO is not a very good design. I guess, to each his own… but not for me. I’ll take VS, Dynaudios or any number of neutral designs over that kind of sound any day.

Good listening
Great thread. This is exactly the information I was looking for because both the VR4JR and Spendor S8e is on my speaker buy list in march when I get my tax returns.
Tough decisions. I don't think there is a Spendor dealer in Arizona and the only VR dealer has a room thats 10'x'10. Sounds horrible.

I'm also considering Quad 22L, Vandersteen 3a signatures and some crazy off the wall speakers called Zu Druid MK4's
and Intuitive Design Summit PSL624.
Im not considering a Merlin because I don't have nice tube amps. Sure would like some views and comments on those speakers how they compare to Spendors.
Wow, htis is a great thread. People giving honest opinions of their perception of hte gear in question (and people seem to agree on what that sound is), yet disagreeing civilly about their differences in percieved value of those traits. This is what it's all about!!
Thx for the responses! I'm reading this with much interest. One thing though, as far as the Spendor's only sounding good with "softer" music, I couldn't disagree more. My favorite types of music are Latin Jazz, Latin dance music, Fusion, Jazz, Blues, R&B, Bluegrass and some Classical. In other words, any and all types of music sound fantastic through my Spendor's!
It is exactly the nature of the VR4JR sound that gets old and quick. The BBC sound has a slight dip in the upper midrange which relaxes the presentation and a completely uncoloured midband that makes them so listenable over the long haul. Ever wonder why there are so many Von Schweikert's on the A'gon for sale and so few Harbeth/Spendors? People "date" speakers like the VR4JR's and then move on to the next "best" thing. People marry the Harbeth/Spendors and rarely get divorced.
Arkio,

Spendors are very good speakers. I never said they will not work well with any other type of music. I just said spendors work very well with the type of music I played. I did not mention this earlier. I did play Pop & Jazz and it sounds darn good as well. I am not an audiophile. I play my audition discs and expect the speakers to put me in musical world. Spedors did that darn well and so did DynAudio Contour S1.4, Totems and Sonus Faber. But Von Schweikert failed to put me in the musical world.

Again I am not an audiophile. Von Schweikert may be producing the music precisely...I am not sure. What I know is, it did not emotionally involve me in the musical world. What is the point in accurate musical re-creation when the listener can not be emotionally involved in the music he is listenng to. Again, this is very personal opinion and can change from individual to individual

Grakesh
keep the spendors. the classic series is one of the finest lines of loudspeskers ever made.
Arkio,

Spendors are very good speakers. I never said they will not work well with any other type of music. I just said spendors work very well with the type of music I played. I did not mention this earlier. I did play Pop & Jazz and it sounds darn good as well. I am not an audiophile. I play my audition discs and expect the speakers to put me in musical world. Spedors did that darn well and so did DynAudio Contour S1.4, Totems and Sonus Faber. But Von Schweikert failed to put me in the musical world.

Again I am not an audiophile. Von Schweikert may be producing the music precisely...I am not sure. What I know is, it did not emotionally involve me in the musical world. What is the point in accurate musical re-creation when the listener can not be emotionally involved in the music he is listenng to. Again, this is very personal opinion and can change from individual to individual

Grakesh
Dodgealum, check Audiogon carefully, there are just as many if not more Spendors for sale at any one time then VSR. That’s not a very valid point anyway, because people upgrade all the time. VSR speakers get progressively better (signifcantly) as you go up the line and when people afford it they often move up. Something that might be the polar opposite in the Spendor line. Aren’t the small moniters signifcantly better then the floor standing speakers? One thing I want to make clear is I really do have lots of respect for Spendor speakers, their history and designs are time tested and they do have legions of fans. I am not bashing that , all I am saying is there is a good altenative in the VSR line which to me sounds more like real music. The ‘Slight dip’ you speak about is more like a big dip in the upper midrange which skews the speaker to the warm/suropy side that gives all music a distinctly unnaturally warm sound. If you like that coloration… good. Obviously many people do ! Perhaps you could enlighten all of us what precisely about the 4jr’s sound that makes it sound old for you… what equipment did you listen to them with? Not to berate you because your opinion is as valid as mine.. I am just curious. Giving a blanket statement that they are not as musical as the Spendors seems a bit of a generality. To me the VSR4jr are as natural as I have heard in the under 8K range and to me they easily reveal the components you use in front of them precisely. I can tell cable changes easily with these speakers. They play what the CD/album has to offer, nothing more / nothing less. No artifical sweeteners there ! Also the idea that Spendors have some exclusivity to one being able to listen to them for long period without fatigue. I routinely listen for 6-8 hours or more with not a hint of fatigue… just pure exhileration and exitement. I have a feeling listening to the spendors for any period of time would put me to sleep… :) Maybe that’s why so many people like them.

Grakesh,
If you think the VR4jr lose something in terms of musciality/emotion then I would suggest you heard the auxileries and not the speakers. I guarantee you, I could change your mind about the VR4jr if you heard them properly setup. There would be no doubt in your mind about there ability to convey emotion, pace and rhythm of music beautifully . Dare I say, even better then the Spendors. That said, I have a feeling you like that sweet mid-range sound (BBC sound) for some reason … and if that works for you then congratulations. Nuff said.

As always, good listening, I know I shall be.
Arkio,

I have this opinion about Von Schweikert because I have heard VR4SR with DK Design Reference Integrated Amplifier which is an integrated amplifier with Tube Pre and SS Power. DK Design has very good reputation for being a very good amp. If I remember well, the cdp is CARY cdp I guess. But VR4SR costing almost 10K did not provide the musical rhythm that a $3000 Totem Forests (or) $3500 SF Cremona Auditors (or) $4800 SF Grand Piano (or) $4000 Totem Mani-2 (or) $1800 Spendor S5e (or) $3000 Spendor S8e could do. Again, this is a very personal opinion applicable to my music taste.

Grakesh
It has been ages and ages since I have had a listen to the Spendor line, however I can indeed say that the VSA JR4's are indeed worth your listen. I find them to be truly a muscial speaker. Be it tubes or SS, there is music in those speakers.
I currently have the VR4SR with DK VS1 MK2 amp and Sony XA777ES. IC is Kimber KS-1030. Speaker wire is Signal Silver resolution biwired. No treatment in the power area. I also use Siemens CCa for the pre section.

I can tell you that music has never been better for me. Listening to Diana Krall, Sara Chang violin, John Williams guitar, and FIM sampler discs can be a real joy. It's just like I go to a live concert everytime I listen. I have no experience in Spendor speakers so I cannot compare. However, I had listened to all the big names carried in the Washington DC area such as Dynaudio, JM Lab, B&W, Aerial, Wilson, Vienna Acoustic,and others.

Since I have another setup in the home theater which includes B&W N804/N805/HTM1 with Classe CAV180 + Bryston SP1.7 and numerous different cables, I tried the VR4SR with different units to find the synergy and the setup above is best for me. I also tried to drive the SR with Plinius 8200 MK2 (which I also own) and it does not work for me.

I also want to point out that since I replaced the Mullard CV2492 with the Siemens CCa, the music becomes much more involved and detailed without harshness.

Everyone has different ears and component matching is important to suit your taste.
It's up to you, but I have the VR4jr and would not consider another speaker until I can afford the DB99s. In other words, I've heard most of the speakers that are in the price range and nothing compared to the VS. Do a search for reviews. Pretty much stunning across the board.
Robm321,

What type of music do you listen to ? I have seen reviews like this that say Von Scweikert is too good and went for audition with a high expectation. But for me they sounded so dull..un-inspiring..and un-emotinal...and un-involving. I was not disappointed with any speaker this much.

Grakesh
I heard the VR-4 SR and JR at CES this week and they were among my absolute favorites. Very clear, spacious, dynamic, and to my ear, realistic.
Art
Grakesh,

Were the speakers broken in? set up properly, rear ambiance turned to the proper level, etc? Either you have some strange taste or something was wrong with the set up. No offense if you just don't like the sound, smooth, fast, and transparent with a very 3D soundstage, etc.

I listen to classical, jazz, rock, blues. That's one of the best things about VS speakers is that they are good across the board since they don't add anything to the sound.
Robm321,

Speakers may be properly boken in as they have atleast 6 months of running time on them. They were driven by DK Design Reference Integrated. So I expect it to do a decent job.

Let us come to my taste. I like Vocals, Jazz, Instruments and need a musically involving sound. The speakers that have musically involved me are Totem Arros, Forests, Mani-2 and Sonus Faber Grand Piano and Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors. Dont you think these names are some of the decently musical speakers ? All these speakers have mesmerized me with their musicality.....but not Von Schweikert. So either my taste for music along with Totems and Sonus Fabers must be bad....or Von Schweikerts should be bad. I will leave it upto you.

Grakesh
Grakesh,

You're right they sound bad. We're all nuts including the reviewers. I guess the jig is up ;)
Spendor.
I have been listening to BC-1s for 25 yrs. and the S-9s for 3 or 4. (The S-9s are better). They have always been, to my ear and by reputation, some of the most musical speakers made. They didn't get that rep over the decades no reason.
Maybe its like buying a Mercedes. It may not be a Ferrari but for living with day in and day out will probably be more satisfying.
I haven't listened to the "Harbeth" line but given they are the same BBC design as BC-1s, they should be good also.
Robm321,

I referred my opinions to my personal musical preferences. May be it is better for other music preference. Rememeber...we are comparing spendors and Von. If Chazro likes Spendors and asking for opinion to move to Von, my posts do make sense. Spendors, Totems and Sonus Faber have very similar genre when it comes to vocals, instruments and musicality....My point is Von does not fit into that genre.

Grakesh
Grakesh,

It's very hard to argue with different tastes.

"What is the point in accurate musical re-creation when the listener can not be emotionally involved in the music he is listenng to. Again, this is very personal opinion and can change from individual to individual"

You probably prefer some coloration to help make it musical for you. I don't. I guess it's different taste. I use a very modest tube amp with my VS's and it is as smooth and emotional as I could imagine for the money spent and for my preferences.
Robm321,

Does it mean not only spendors....Sonus Fabers Cremona Auditors, Sonus Faber Grand Piano, Totem Arros, Forests and Mani-2 are all colored speakers too ? (Bcoz I liked them better than even spendors and my preference is for colored sound) In your summation that you provided in the last post...only Von Schweikert is the non colored speaker.

Grakesh
Grakesh,

All speakers have coloration. Some more some less. I've stated which I prefer.