Tube Integrated for Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE


Hello. I'd like some input from anyone using a tubed integrated amp with Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE loudspeakers.

Considering a KT88 based integrated, but I'm also open to SS suggestions.

I'd like to hear from real world users.

Thanks in advance.
tvad
Hi Tvad:

I just read a review of the new Copland 405 integrated, running a pair of 6550's per channel, in UHF Magazine. The three reviewers on the panel appeared to be quite impressed, with the only negative comments directed at the input RCA jacks and the auto shutoff (which can be removed by the distributor when ordering the unit). Don't know if 50 Wpc are sufficient for the VR4's, but the review panel did not experience any shortcomings in this respect. Their reference speakers are a pair of Living Voice Avatar OBX-R and a pair of Reference 3a Suprema II.

Regards,

Max
These speakers need power my son, You should be concidering tube mono blocks to get designed performance from them. I woulnt use solid state. Good luck
FYI, present system consists of:

APL Denon 3910 (4 AKM DACS per channel, Lundahl output transformers, 24/192 Upsampler, H-Attenuator)
Lamm LL2 preamp with Mullard 6X4 and 12AU7, and Siemens CCa
VAC Phi 110/110 stereo amplifier w/ Sylvania 6NS7 GTA "Chrome Top" driver tubes
Von Schweikert VR4 Gen III HSE loudspeakers
MAS Signature Hybrid speaker cable
Purist Audio Aqueous Anniversary Contego RCA interconnects (CD>Pre) and Purist Audio Venustas interconnects (Pre>Amp)
Purist Audio Dominus Rev. B powering the APL Denon 3910 > Hydra 2 > DCCA Extreme Reference plugged to the wall
Volex 17604(preamp) and Elrod EPS-3 (amp) >Hydra 2 >Elrod EPS-3 Signature plugged to wall
2 dedicated 20amp circuits with cryo'd Porter Port outlets
Neuance shelf for digital source
Symposium Rollerblocks II under preamp
Aurios Pros under VAC amp

16x19 room...carpeted and draped. Nearfield listening. Speakers 8 feet on center. Listening chair 8 feet from driver plane.

Eclectic taste in music...jazz to metal. Listening volumes exceed 100db at times. Normal volume around 89db-90db.

Looking to simplify and pull out some $$.
What about the VAC Phi integrated?

Looking to simplify and pull out some $$.

Tvad (Threads | Answers)

04-05-06: Camadeco
What about the VAC Phi integrated?


The Phi Beta does fulfill one criteria...

LOL!
Hi Tvad,
I know there has been alot of banter about the DK Design amps but I have found them to work great with my M-L speakers and drive them with no problem at all.

Best of luck,Bob
Hey TVAD, Camedeco thought you wanted to pull money out of your 401K :).

I am using VAC Avatar Super to good effect with 4JRs, not sure that this is comparable or not. VSA often recommends VAC for their speakers. Give Kevin or Albert a call.
Thanks, Maineiac. That's one integrated that interests me.

The DK amps are always a possibility, too.
Hi Tvad,

I had excellent success when I used my DK Design integrated (modified) with V4R Gen III HSE. I downsized my speakers (and system) since then but they were a very synergistic combo. They DK drove them as loud as you could ask for while still keeping the VR4 under control. My amp is listed in the classified as we speak but this is not my motivation for answering your question. I have read many of your posts over the last 2 years and finally get to try to offer you help. Good luck on your search.
If you can make do with only 2 inputs, how about a Berning. I used mine once to demo the VSA 4 Gen 111s and I thought it worked pretty well.
Good point, Swampwalker. I require at least three inputs and a tape loop, or a second pair of fixed level RCA outputs in lieu of the tape loop.
How about a VAC Avatar Super, Grant? Give you a similar flavor, KT88 tubes, and should put a few bucks back in your pocket.

Regards,
John
If you can swing it, go with the Phi Beta integrated. I have heard this integrated with the VS at CES and Kevin and Albert use each other's equipment for designing and voicing. The Phi Beta blows away many separates; a friend in Scottsdale has one and the sound quality; dynamics, detail, musicality all easily rival my separate Phi 220's and Phi 2.0 pre amp. It is an absolutely gorgeus piece of equipment that has plenty of power to drive the VS. In fact, I think Kevin is building a Phi Beta 150 that delivers 150/ch.
BAT VK55 / Antique sound labs Hurricane /
If some one can point me to a Phi Beta for around $7500, I'm in. I'll personally come pick it up anywhere in the US.

:)
Grant will drive to any location in the lower 48 in his E46 M3 CSL to pick up that integrated. Any excuse for high speed fun.

http://www.bekkers.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=CSLaero
Have you considered the Onix H6550 tube integrated from AV123.com? Here are the specifications:

Tube compliment: 6550x4, 6SN7x4, 12AX7x2
Power: 50w + 50w class AB1
Volume Control: Stepped Attenuator
Input Impedance: 250K ohms
Output Impedance: 4ohm, 8 ohm
Input Sensitivity: 380Mv
S/N: >90dB
THD: 1%
Power: 117V @ 60Hz
Dims (mm): 430w x 185h x 380d
Net weight 74lbs

I have an Onix SP3 integrated and absolutely love it. Based on my experience with AV123's customer service and Melody Australia's design and construction quality, the H6550 amp at $1995 is a great deal. The photos indicate point to point wiring which looks a bit more solid than my Onix SP3. I feel absolutely no need to upgrade to the H6550 since my SP3 provides all the volume and sonic quality I need in my small listening room.
Good Luck, Tvad!
hey grant... i think it's gonna be hard to beat your phi 110. i wish i could find a phi beta for 7500 too, dang that'd be nice. i still hold out that integrated as a final resting spot on my little (ha!) audio addiction. are the von schweikerts considered detail speakers, or more warmish speakers? i could never figure that out. i heard a pair with a spectron digital amp, and i thought it sounded really average. totally flat soundstage.
are the von schweikerts considered detail speakers, or more warmish speakers?

They are neither, IMO. Rather, they sound like whatever is in front of them.

i heard a pair with a spectron digital amp, and i thought it sounded really average. totally flat soundstage.
Dennis_the_menace (System | Threads | Answers)

That's the Spectron amp. The VR4 Gen III HSE produce a three dimensional, holographic soundstage with the VAC Phi.

Again, it's what in front of these speakers that counts.
yep, i figured it was the spectron. totally agree that the amp makes a big difference. i think if i was in your shoes, i'd probably consider the vac avatar super (one listed now), a vtl it 85 (only because i owned one for a while and was really blown away with how great it sounded), and maybe a cary sli 80 (maybe the f1 model). oh yeh, and another integrated that i'd love to try but that might not have enough power is that mastersound reference integrated w/ 845 tubes...
TVAD, you may want to check with Kevin at VAC, I saw that the VAC Avatar Super is temporarily out of production, I wonder if a different model is coming?
Pathos makes some beautiful amps; I'm using twin Classic One MkII units in bridged mode. Puts out 170wpc. Extremly pleasing sound. Something to consider, and definitely audition if you can; the use of integrateds as mono amps eliminates the extra preamp and IC's, which to my ears sounds extremely rich and clear.
I posted a review of the stereo as well as review of these in bridged/mono mode on audioasylum.com
I recently bought a good used pair of VAC Auricle Musicbloc to power my Reference 3A Dulcet mini-monitors. I e-mailed Kevin Hayes to see if he felt this would be a good match. Kevin said the Musicblocs would be a fine choice, but he said that his new Musicbloc 160 would be his ultimate recommendation. If you go to the VAC website, read through the info on the new Musicbloc 160's and you'll see that Kevin waxes very poetically over these. It's obvious that he's particularly proud of these new 160 Musicblocs. Kevin did welcome me to the VAC family.
Congratulations, Sherod, on the VAC Auricle Musicblocks. I was marvelling tonight at my VAC Phi 110, and wondering why the hell I want to sell it. There's very little that could replace the Phi 110 at it's used price, IMO.

The Musicblock 160s, at $8000/pair, ought to be good for that kind of money. The Phi 110 offers more, IMO, since it has triode and ultriode modes, and switchable feedback modes, among other things.

Of course, if Kevin says the Musicblock 160s are the new best thing, then I suppose they are, but they ain't cheap.
Yes, Grant. Kevin's stuff is expensive. I'm having a difficult time trying to figure out how you would downsize, get some extra money out of it, yet still be as happy, and at the same time stay with VAC products. Can this be done? Perhaps. It seems that you want to keep your speakers, right? So, that's where you start building from. The big question is your initial thread question. I'm assuming that you want to stay with VAC products. Maybe a quick e-mail or call to Kevin might be just the ticket. There's a chance( mentioned in an above post by maineiac, that Kevin just might be revising his Avatar Super based on new technology that he has developed. If that is the case, there might be some VAC Avatar Supers up for sale fairly reasonably priced. But then, how much would you be sacrificing sonically from your current Phi 110/Modwright combo. If you need extra money, let's pass the hat. We'll put Gunbei in charge of all donations.
Sorry, I meant to say Lamm LL2 preamp.
Sherod, I don't necessarily need to stay with VAC amps. I looked at the Avatar, but in it's present configuration, I don't believe it has the stones to drive the VR4 HSE. One thing I really like about the VAC Phi is the ability to run it in triode. It has more power in ultriode, but it has more sweetness in triode.

I'm considering a McIntosh SS amp or integrated amp as an alternative.
i'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on the Mac vs. Vac... tho i have a gut feeling about how that comparison will fare
Hey Grant, how about this beauty? I know it's tubed, but man!

http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?intatube&1149247597

Hello Sherod and Steve my old friends!
yo dean! you're right about that mac, it's sweeet looking. who knows what it sounds like tho... :)

Grant, have you done a search on Von Schweikert in the threads? I'm also curious what other VS speaker owners use for amplification. Needing lots of reserve power might be difficult in finding the right integrated. Do you have any close by dealers who might loan you something to demo in your own system? I'm also wondering if going to a SS integrated will satisfy you after getting spoiled on the Phi 110 tube sound. Are you getting tired of tubes in general?
Yes.

I would rather not ask a local dealer for a demo as I have no intention of buying new.

No.
Hey Grant,
I respect your respecting the dealers. Very honorable. That's why we have Audiogon to buy used, right? Have you narrowed down your choice of integrateds yet? I just shared another e-mail with Kevin Hayes at VAC. He has been amazing with his prompt replies to my questions. He told me that his new VAC Auricle Musiblocs I just bought have essentially the same amplifier circuitry as the Avatar Super integrated. I got a gut feeling that he's about to introduce an all new Avatar. Have you considered maybe changing to speakers that might not be so power hungry? It might give you a better choice of integrateds. I just bought Joseph Chow's new preamplifier and I'm chomping on the bit in anticipation. I also recently bought his Premium power cord($195.00) and it's been one of those "Oh..my.. God" jaw-dropping experiences.
04-15-06: Sherod
Hey Grant,
I respect your respecting the dealers. Very honorable. That's why we
have Audiogon to buy used, right?

Thanks.
Have you narrowed down your choice of
integrateds yet?

No, not really, but everyone's suggestions have been helpful.
I got a gut feeling that he's about to introduce an
all new Avatar.

Perhaps. It would seem to be a logical market segment in which to have
a strong product.
Have you considered maybe changing to
speakers that might not be so power hungry?

I briefly considered Silverline Sonata III, but I really, really
like my speakers, and I'd rather not toss everything out and start over.
I'm having a difficult enough time deciding to buy an integrated. There
are several options that offer plenty of power.
I just bought Joseph Chow's new preamplifier and
I'm chomping on the bit in anticipation.

What, no VAC Standard LE? (only teasing...) Try a Volex 17604 power
cord from Carlton-Bates.com for $7.50 (or $5/ea for two or more). 14
gauge, 3 conductor, shielded. It beat several $1000+ cords on my Lamm
LL2 preamp. No joke.
Grant, if the old budget could have handled it, I would have given the VAC preamp consideration. Joseph gives a 30 day return policy on his preamp and an Audiogon member with a very nice system just sold his $16,000.00 First Sound Paramount Sig. because he liked Joseph's 2.0 preamp better, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'll keep the Volex in mind, but I've read some ho-hum stuff on it in Audiocircle threads. For $159.00, try the Audio Horizon Premium power cord. Two guys here in Audiogon just sold their Shunyata Anacondas, Elrod Sig 3, and Electraglide Epiphany X to go with the Audio Horizon Premium and Transparent cords. I'm very impressed with the magic of Joseph Chow. I sent him a Citation 14 tuner that I paid $75.00 for on Ebay. It retailed for $595.00 in 1972. After $300.00 and Joseph's magic flooby dust, this tuner has become my main source of listening. World class sound.
I'll keep the Volex in mind, but I've read some ho-hum stuff on it in Audiocircle threads. For $159.00, try the Audio Horizon Premium power cord.
When audiophiles routinely spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on accessories like power cords, and a $159 power cord is considered a bargain, I can't understand why anyone resists spending less than $10 on something that might well work marvelously. You've been around the block many times with power cords, Sherod, and you know as well as anyone that synergy is the key. Perhaps those over on Audiocircle haven't used the Volex in the right application. Perhaps they haven't even tried it at all. Whatever...it's less than $10 shipped to your doorstep. Try it or not, it's up to you.

My Volex works really well in it's present position on the Lamm. Otherwise, I'm all set where cabling and power cords are concerned, and it feels good to be off that merry-go-round.

Now, about the possible new Avatar...
Yes, the new Avatar. You might give Kevin a little e-mail to feel him out a bit.
I agree with you that power cords, as well as other cabling, is system dependent. It's all about synergy, although the Trolls out there cringe when they hear the word synergy. I'm so glad that you are off the cable merry-go-round. Perhaps someday, I'll be so lucky. Good luck in your amp quest. May you find that right synergy and still be able to put a few $$$ in your pocket. And everyone said, "Amen".
The word I heard on the Avatar was that VAC shut it down until they could find a way to make it more cost effective. Evidently there wasn't enough profit margin on the older Avatar's.

Cheers,
John
04-15-06: Jmcgrogan2
The word I heard on the Avatar was that VAC shut it down until they could find a way to make it more cost effective
Wow, John. That's interesting. At $6500, you'd think there'd be some profit in it. Well, selfishly, I hope Kevin finds a way to offer a "low cost" VAC integrated that offers the outstanding sound of his other products...and I'd like to ask for a triode switch. :)
Grant, maybe you should look at the older Avatar's, pre Super, 1999-2003. The original Avatar and Avatar SE had a triode switch. 30 wpc triode, 60 wpc ultralinear.

I didn't say that there was no profit, just not enough profit. Companies count on their products to make a certain percentage of profit. From what I heard, they were costing too much to make and not enough profit. VAC didn't want to raise the price, so they suspended production until they could figure out how to build them and still realize their profit goal.
Can't blame them really, a company wants to stay in business. They could outsource to China like many others, but I don't think Kevin wants to do that.

John
Check out the Sound Quest sq-88 tube integrated from www.questforsound.com. Other's here on the gon. love this combo with the VR4jr. Check it out.
I spoke with someone at VAC a couple months ago about the Avatar Super replacement & if I remember correctly, it will be in the neighborhood of $10K retail. I got the same story about not enough margin on the discontinued Super. Those used Avatars look pretty good after hearing that figure.
04-15-06: Jmcgrogan2
Grant, maybe you should look at the older Avatar's, pre Super, 1999-2003. The original Avatar and Avatar SE had a triode switch. 30 wpc triode, 60 wpc ultralinear.
Those are nice features. I don't think there's anough power there to push my system up hill.

I didn't say that there was no profit, just not enough profit. Companies count on their products to make a certain percentage of profit
I understand completely, and I agree VAC should charge whatever they want to charge.
http://iar-80.com/page68.html

Here's an interesting quick review of the original Avatar and the current Super that might help put some things into perspective.Scroll down to Avatar.
Thanks for the Sound Quest suggestion, however I require at least three inputs and a tape loop, or a second pair of fixed level RCA outputs in lieu of the tape loop.
Easily fixed with a Niles box sold by quest for sound.

Enjoy.
Brian
The Niles box adds too many additional connections for my taste. Thanks again for the suggestion, but I'm going to pass on that unit.
Good luck.