I have heard the Von Schweikert VR5s and they are in my opinion one of the very best speakers on the market today.
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I've heard both and they are both world class and have a lot of similarities. The 20t probably comes off as being a bit larger which could be a consideration if you're listening room is big. Ultimately the best choice would come down to synergism with your other components, and your personal preferences. I would strongly suggest listening to both in your set up. That's really the only way to tell.
I've heard both. VR5SE bass is outstanding. The lower midrange was a bit muddy (could be the amp or source). Highs were exagerated (had him turn down the back-firing tweeter but that only helped a little). This was the dealers personal pair in his home. Wasn't my type of sound reproduction. I urge you to listen to this speaker with your own ears before you buy.
20T. Great speaker top to bottom. The ribbon is directional, though (the dealer pointed it out and discussed it with me). Once out of the sweet spot the sound changes character. This is a great speaker, but the directionalness would bug me. I'd like to see that speaker without the ribbon.
Fredrick21 makes great comments but I thought I would add to his concern over the directionalness (is that even a word?) of the 20t because I think it is overstated. In other words they'll take your breath away in the sweet spot which is and they'll sound great everywhere else. You know I heard that comment about the Vandersteen 5as I almost bought before the 20ts and then I realized I sit in that location anyway so who cares. Then I tried it and it was no big deal. That's not to say it won't bother you, but that's my experience.
I didn't buy the 5a's, I instead went for the 20t's. However one of the comments people often make about the 5a's is they are directional, same for the 20t's. I would guess those comments are overstated in both instances. I mentioned it because it kept me from buying the Vandersteens, and I think some put too much emphasis on it. As far as whether the Vandersteens are in fact directional, I am not a good resource as I've never lived with them.
I cannot comment on comparison of the VR-5SE (or newer edition VR-5A) with Aerials because I never listened to the latter, but as an owner of VR-5A, supported by good electronics, I must agree with many others in this thread that they (VR-5A) are indeed phenomenal speakers. I plan to keep them for life. With every genuine improvement to my system they are sounding better, meaning that are still best component in my system and limiting its performance whatsoever. To me, they are like a large, open window into a blue, sunny sonic sky. I wish that many recording studios had them in place when they were recording or mastering their recordings ... .