I'll up the ante - I was also considering the B&W dm603 or some small monitor audio floorstanders - anyone heard these in comparison?
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Listened to the S-520 when helping a friend put together a system. Maybe it was the rest of the gear (Rega amps) driving the S-520 but I found them small sounding and bright. We ended up going with a DALI concept 2 instead, which I think is fantastic for the money. perhaps the best I've heard new at that price. I've lived with VR-1s for many years now, and I don't really think the S-520 is in the same league. though of course the VR-1 costs much more. On the other hand I heard the Usher cp-6311 at RMAF and here in chicago and I think they're really excellent speakers.
I have the Usher s520's in a 2nd system, driven by the Cayin A-88T and the combination is magic. Only a small room so not too much demand in loudness terms, but they are certainly not bright and the bass is surprisingly extended for such a small speaker. Listened to the VR 1 before opting for the Usher. Very little between them IMHO but as I live in Asia, I could get the Ushers for under 15% of the VR1 price, so a no-brainer.
I was one of the original posters who asked this question, and I just want to post a followup - perhaps someone will find this useful.
I picked up a used pair of Usher S520 ($250 in perfect condition) on audiogon before I had a chance to audition the VR-1. I found the stock S520 to be a tad bright and fatiguing. Based on some information I found on www.audiocircle.com, I performed a minor tweak to the crossover, increasing the resistor in series with the tweeter to decrease the tweeter output. The original value was 5 Ohms, I increased it to 5.75 Ohms to drop the tweeter output by approx 1/2dB. This minor change made all the difference in the world! They were no longer fatiguing, and serve up gobs of detail, even at low listening levels. The bass is surprising for a speaker this size, and in my 14' x 20' living room I do not yet crave a subwoofer for 2-channel listening.
I'm sure you can do better, but I doubt you can do better for the price. I'm still curious to audition the VR-1 someday, but for now I'm quite satisfied. My previous speakers were Klipsch RB-5II, then Polk LSi9. Neither of those speakers came anywhere close to the musicality that the little S520 provides. My amp is a modded Jolida 1301 hybrid integrated, my source is an Eastern Electic Minimax CDP.