VSA VR4 SR or JR as a match to my system and room

I want to replace my Totem Forests. I'm using a DK MkII with an FMJ23 CDP. My room tends to be brightish (lots of glass and wood) and is about 19x28x14(vaulted - approx 6000+ sq. ft.). My listening tastes are eclectic with an emphasis in Jazz and Classical, but I also like to blast alittle rock now ant then. Would the VR4 SR or JR be a good match?

Other contenders include Proac R38 (there is a dealer near by) and Merlin, but I'm just at the beginning stages of this illness and am open to other suggestions ($5 to $10K range).

BTW, I have wanted to listen to a pair of VSA VR4 SR or VSA VR4 JR's based on comments on the discussion forums. However, living in the Canadian Rockies does not bode well for having access to dealers. I've now sent two E-mails to VSA to find the nearest dealer (e.g., Seattle??)across the last two weeks but have not heard a peep from them. From what I've read, VSA seems to be a good company to deal with; however, my experience is making me wonder. Any comments regarding VSA customer service?


John, suggest that you just call them. Anyone in the office should be able to tell you about Dealer location.
(760) 410-1650
I have had excellent support from them (answering my questions) over the phone.
I have had the jr's for 18 months and think that they are a real audio bargain.Well worth your effort to audition. I have never heard the Totem's, so don't know how they would compare. Your room is probably large enough for the sr.

from my experience:
biwire them
load w/ lead shot
use the spikes
allow 400+ hrs burn in time
Call Von Schweikert.
Canada has a number of good speaker manufacturers -- esp given the testing facilities available. Presumably, Canadian products will be easy to access (ditto with customer service).

Your room is big and can accomodate most, if not all, commercial speaker systems available at your price point.

As you listen to classical, a larger -- rather than small & dainty -- product would be preferable. Especially, you'll have to satisfy yourself that the lower mids (midbass) to bass region is acceptable and blends seamlessly with the "mid" frequencies (i.e. violins, etc); otherwise your tenors will be singing Wagner and the orchestra will be playing Mozart, so to speak:)

Sorry I can't make any specific recommendations (which is probably what you're looking for).
Don't know what VS' customer service is like.
I confess the 4JRs actually impressed me much more than the more expensive 4SRs when I heard them in the same room, on the same electronics a couple months ago. The 4SRs also did not impress me in show conditions when I heard them at the 2005 THE Show in Vegas either. I really felt they did not have the dynamics I would expect from a 10K/pr. set of speakers. The 4JRs by contrast were very impressive, but they have just received a big price increase to $5.5K/pr. so that should also be taken into consideration, IMO. I like them a lot, but they are not the value they used to be... Good deals on them used can be found here on Audiogon, however.

I prefer the Merlins easily over both, but I think your room may be too much for them to sound their best. Maybe Bobby can weigh in on that one as he is the designer/expert. The Merlins are fast, non-fatiguing and have incredible resolution. Both VS speakers have lower (but not better quality) bass, however.

As for other options, I would stay within the VS family used, and check out the excellent DB99s (either the SE or mkII models). These are incredible performers IMO and can work with very low powered amps even in large rooms like yours if needed (due to the 99db sensitivity rating). They are definitely the real deal.

New, you could look in the direction I ultimately went... I bought the Tyler Acoustics Linbrook Signature System (the original one that costs about $5K/pr.). Some of the best bang for the buck on the market, IMO, and excellent overall performance top to bottom. I am obviously biased, but in a large room like yours, the Tylers would be a very good fit. Downside is they are Internet only, so there are no stores to audition, and you would have to have them shipped from the US (as they are built in Kentucky).

Others worth a look are the Dali Helicon800s (excellent), the Ayon Butterflies (amazing, but somewhat bass shy), and if you are adventurous, a used pair of McIntosh XRT-28s arrays (a love em/hate em speaker... I love em). While an audition is highly advisable on any speaker purchase (especially in this price range), with the McIntoshes it is am absolute must, because they really are some of the most polarizing speakers opinion-wise I have heard to date.

Good luck,

IMO, I wouldnt buy VSA right now, they just hosed their dealer network by secretly moving towards an internet direct company. Is the company in decline? Who knows, they havent said much to anyone. One thing is for sure, they make great speakers, but in the past that hasnt made much of a difference, VS has still gone belly up a few times. So for your future resale or your future service, they may not be a company. If you are still interested in VSA, look at higherfi.com, they sell the speakers 40% off of retail.
Go for the SR. You won't regret it. A three way system will outperform your Forests significantly and you have the space for the SR.

If you prefer an option closer to home, I believe Bryston (Toronto), which sells active PMC's (UK Speaker), is definitely worth investigating. PMC's are in the same league as the VR4 (used also in studios) but are more expensive as they include built in amps.
VSR Customer Service is excellent. I always receive a response to my emails within a day. They also answer their phone. I think your experience may be an anomaly. TVAD's advise is right - call them.
I too thought it funny when I did not hear back from VSA when requesting dealer locations. What I found out is they apparently forward your email address to the nearest dealer and it is up to the dealer to respond. This is what happened to me and I am in NW Louisiana. I too am interested to hear input, especially on the VR4SR.
I listened to both VR's and selected about 4 months ago the VR4SR for my lots of wood and glass roughly 9,000 sf ft room. I have been extremely pleased. They were not fussy about placement and can stand near wall position, they are totally nonfatiguing yet detailed. I listen to mostly classical from orchestral to solo instrument and some pop/rock. My dealer also dropped his Dali line after hearing the VS speakers because the VS were so much more for the money in his opinion.
In terms of VS service they used to answer every phone call promptly but I think they now refer the questions to nearest dealer in an attempt to support the dealer network.
Both the JR and Sr are great, fit and finish is a real wife pleaser. Hope this helps
There is no VSA dealer in Seattle, but four good hifi shops all within a couple of blocks of each other in the university district. If you care to hear a pair of VR2s i live near the border, let me know.
I would say Find a great deal on a pair if vr4jrs. If you like what you hear, step up to the 4sr. The 4 sr will require top notch amplification to shine Keep this in mind.
The Schweikert factory is small and you will comunicate directly to Albert himself, or his son. they will make things correct. I purchsed My VR-8's Direclty from them. The factory favorite is the VR-4SR, The Db99 is what albert uses at home, he recommends single ended 845 amplification.
I had the vr-4 and went to the vr-8 no playing games.There is no turning back. The amps that sounded great with the vr-4 are "good" with the vr-8 Bass is MUCH more Accruate and tells everything about your amps. It WAS comical to hear my old hurricanes try to control the Lowend section on the vr-8. But sounded great on the vr-4. The schweikerts are very transparent and be prepared to not leave well enough alone.
I sent an email to VS with specific questions as to set up of my VR4JRs. I got a reply that said sorry, we're too busy to respond to emails. Go ask your dealer. (In not too many words than that).
I was suprised to be treated so poorly after hearing all the great stuff about thier customer service.
Still love the speakers, though.
They get many many emails. Ive asked a question and actually recieved replies from Albert, Damon (son) and kevin. All on the same subject. "System tuning for bass". All a bit diffrent but in the same direction. CALL THEM, they will take the time, Talk to Damon. He doses most of the set ups for the shows ect. The company workhorse.
I called VS when I received my VR4JR's with set up questions and they were very helpful. They were in no hurry to get me off the phone and did not refer me to the dealer. I did buy mine from the local dealer in Minnesota.
In defense of the company, it does seem reasonable to expect a Von Schweikert dealer to shoulder the responsibility for assisting customer's with set-up. If a customer calls the company with set-up questions, and the customer has first asked his/her dealer and received less than satisfactory service, then it seems appropriate for Von Schweikert to assist the customer, and to also question the value of that dealer. If dealers aren't pulling their weight with customer service, and customers are contacting VS directly for answers to questions that should be handled by their dealers, then it explains why VS may be re-thinking their dealer distribution model.

IMO, FWIW, Amen, All Praise to Allah.

I respectfully disagree with Drseid. I heard both the JRs and SRs in the same dealer in the same room with same gear and cables. The SRs are noticeably better. No offense to the JR owners out there, as I almost bought a pair myself cause they are a very good value player. But after hearing the SRs, and given my large room, I ended up buying the bigger brother. Everything the JR did well, the SR did it better. But I do agree that if going with the SRs, make sure you have good high quality amplification, it might take more power to drive those 2- 8.5 inch bass drivers, vs. driving 2- 7 inch ones on the JR. Also, make sure you have good sounding gear and cables to support it, or else you will hear whatever's in your system chain, cause they are very revealing and transparent. They do show the character of your system, good or bad.

After buying the SRs and living with them over 8 months or so, I haven't looked back. These are amazing speakers and will perform up to the task and then some - if properly setup.

As always try to audition a pair and judge for yourself.

I would also recommend Krell Resolution 1 or 2, very impressive speakers, especially if you can find them used or demo. Or perhaps the Revel Ultima Studios, but they might be a little harder to drive compared to the above speakers.

Good luck.
Wanted to throw my experience in here, FWW (lol, Tvad). I live in Nashville, TN, and emailed VSA asking for a dealer list, as I travel quite a bit and wanted to try to audition the vr4jrs when I was in the same city as a dealer. I got no response. Several days later, I called asking again about dealers, and spoke to someone who took my message, telling me I'd get a call back. I didn't get a call back. I made a second call several days later, this time asking if higherfi's 40 percent off distribution of vsa products was legit. I finally got a call back--but it wasn't from vsa, it was from chris at higher fi (who, btw, has been excellent to work with). Vsa had him return my call. I still don't know where any dealers are. This experience, combined with yet another unreturned phone message I left with vsa regarding amplification have left me with a little trepidation about pulling the trigger with vsa. Its just one persons experience and could very well be totally anomolous, but I thought I should mention....best of luck in your search. Btw, if anyone has the vr4jrs near nashville, I'd love an audition.
I have found the Von Schweikert people, specifically Kevin, to be incredibly responsive to all of my requests. They sent me replacement bass modular plugs for my 4-Jrs., new (vastly improved) spikes -- no charge. They've also been good about responding to e-mails and have always answered the phone promptly.
Try Brian at Sound and Cinema in Knoxville. Unless something has changed, he is a dealer -- and not too far away.
Thanks so much 9rw. 2.5 hr drive is definitely worth it. I've been having a hard time justifying a purchase of these speakers having not heard them.
Pneumstized, I have been saying the same thing for weeks now, but everyone ignores my comments. it is kinda of odd, dont you think? what you said is the absolute truth and VSA has left the dealer network high and dry. I know a dealer personally whose rep left VSA because of that reason. He didnt know the whole story until i told him. He recently purchased a pair of SR's through a little sale VSA had a few months ago. Said it was "B Stock" cabinets but it probably was just to drum up some much needed cash flow. VSA isnt saying a thing, they are laying low. Doesnt look good.
I owned the VR-4JRs and have auditioned the VR-4SRs. The SRs are better in that they are more revealing of musical detail than the JRs and go much lower with stronger bass. I think either would work in your room but small to medium sized rooms need not apply.

I’ve never had a problem with VSA customer service. My emails and calls were all handled in a prompt and professional manner. I am sorry to hear that others have had problems.

Speaking as a fan of VSA speakers, you may also want to look into the Consonance M15 speakers. They are an amazing speaker. I feel that they are much better than the VR-4JR and VR-4SR. In my opinion the M15s compete with, and are better than, the VSA DB-99. The M15s are probably the most engaging speakers I have listened to. They really pulled me into the music and made me stop analyzing the sound. All the audiophile stuff is there (imaging, wide/deep soundstage, detail, bass extension, treble extension, etc.) but after the first song or two I stopped focusing on all that. I just listened to the music.

I had a fabulous experience with Brian at Sound and Cinema in Knoxville. He came to my home 2 1/2 hours away and personally did the set up. Very knowledgable, no pressure and believes in careful auditions as well. He sold me my Sr's.
I would go with the SRs -The jrs would be a little strained in a room that large -at loud volumes the jrs might "bottom out", which happened to me on a couple of occasions...
I believe used VR4 Gen III HSE offer the best bang-for-the-buck performance in the VR4 family. Reference grade loudspeakers that are above the VR4Jr, and below the VR4Sr. They are often seen listed for around $3500.
I live in the Seattle area and will soon be receiving my pair of modified VR-4's, which you will be welcome to audition. I have had several conversations with Albert, and he says that my pair will sound very similar to the VR4-SR. Mine are actually different from the regular VR4-to-VR5 mod, partly because of the addition of the same ribbon tweeters used in the VR-9 and VR-11, but the speakers can also be run without them.

Despite Holeneck's comment, VSA isn't going anywhere, and isn't secretly moving toward an internet direct company. I expect that their products will maintain resale value as well as those by other high end makers.
With the conflicting feedback as to VS responsiveness, it would be helpful for those who have posted to give the time frame in which they had either high responsiveness from direct calls to the company, or nonresponsiveness. My expereince was that six months ago when I called I would immediately get either the son or father and very good response, but in the last few months these calls were diverted to the dealers who then may or may not respond.
G3dahl, do you really know what you are talkin about? Is there a reason that the guy (posted above) was referred to Higherfi.com instead of a local shop in his hometown? Is there a reason that you can buy a new pair of speakers on Higherfi.com for 40% less than you can buy from a dealer? Is there a reason VSA is doing this and they didnt warn their dealer network? I dont believe you are informed. I have never knocked the quality of the VSA sound, just the quality of the business. VSA has folded several times....FACT VSA is moving to an internet direct company.....FACT VSA did warn their dealers......FACT

Does that sound like a quality company? If he was as good a business man as he is a speaker designer we wouldnt be having this conversation
All of my communications with VSA have occurred within the past three months, most recently today. Linda Von Schweikert (Albert's wife) is the one who usually answers the phones, but most of the time I have been connected to voice mail. Damon still works at VSA, but Kevin isn't there anymore. It is true, reaching VSA has sometimes required some persistence...

I expect to hear from Albert again within the next few days. When he calls, I'll alert him to the communication issue, and let you know what I find out.
i call vsa today to inquire about a used set of vsa speakers that are listed here. the guy who answered told me damon would call back in 30 minutes. about 2 hours later, i called back. got the same guy who told me damon was still busy. i told him i wanted to speak with somebody. thirty seconds later i was talking with albert. albert was great to talk to and gave me a lot of insight on the speakers i was interested in. he spent 20 minutes talking to me about a pair of his speakers that i wasn't even buying from him. much, much, much more than i could've expected from the company. his conversation is what steered me to purchase the used speakers.
My experience occured beginning around early june through early july. Every time I have called I have spoken to a young man--who I presume to be the son, and every time he has taken note of my inquiry, taken my phone number, and let me know someone will need to call me for my answer. In total three seperate calls and one email, and no direct response from vsa on any of them during this time period.

At the moment, I can get the vr4jrs or the acoustic zen adagios each new for about the same price. I called acoustic zen the other day and was able to speak to robert extensively--he was helpful and courteous. I obviously want to go with what sounds best, but my experience will likely wind up impacting my ultimate decision.
VSA has folded several times....FACT VSA is moving to an internet direct company.....FACT VSA did warn their dealers......FACT
Holenneck (Answers)
Other than Von Schweikert Research closing their doors once in 1999 due to an awful flood at their Watertown facility reported here in Stereophile, I have read no other reports of the company folding. Would you please provide some specifics to the other times this has occurred. Some links would be helpful.

Lastly, your claims that VSA is moving to an internet company and that they warned their dealers may be fact...or it may not be fact. At this point, all we know is what you have stated as hearsay in an internet discussion forum. Your statements cannot be taken as factual without any corroborating evidence.
Holeneck, yes, I do know what I'm talking about. Yes, I do know the reasons for the recent discounting, but I can't tell you. I can, however, say that it doesn't mean the company is about to go under. My purpose was to reassure Johnrob, not to argue with you.

I don't know of VSA having been out of business any time other than 1999 due to the well-known flood incident. When on earth were these "several times?"

As for internet dealers, you have me confused. You wrote "they didn't warn their dealer network" and "FACT VSA did warn their dealers" in another part of the same post. Which are you alleging?

here is a link to this same topic on another forum, audiogon please forgive me

here is a link to this same topic on another forum, audiogon please forgive me
Holenneck (Answers)
There are no facts on that thread either other than Len's correction of the reference to a company who defaulted in the city of Vista, which in fact was a company other than Von Schweikert.

This is the problem with internet discussion. It's chock-a-block with misinformation that people take as the truth without doing any research into the facts. Gossip is a disservice to those seeking information and the truth.

Now, I'm not disputing reports from dealers who have been dropped by VS, but without further credible info, one cannot with certainty project anything about the viability of the company.

Changes may be imminent at Von Schweikert. The high end audio industry in general is experiencing a paradigm shift regarding business and distribution models. This is considerably different than concluding that the company is in trouble, which is what the gossipers are spreading without offering any facts backed by evidence.
I was away for a few days.

thanks for the input.

Does anybody know where Kevin of VSA went? He was great to talk to. It's a shame that he is not there anymore. I wish him the best!
Von Schweikert just completely re did their web page, and displaced Wilson Audio in a HUGE Hong Kong Dealer!
That don't sound like a company that is going out of business to me ?

But, as a consumer, I could care less about some "dealer network" as long as I get a good deal on the speakers I want to buy ?

Orion sells direct only, as do many other small companies, so what ?

All I know is that Albert has been around high end audio since the late 70's.

My friend just had a pair of 15 year old original VR 4's updated, so how is that for product support ?

I don't know that Albert is going to sell direct, or remain a dealer supported company.
Frankly, I really do not care.

What matters to me, as a consumer, is that Albert will be there for me down the road, if I need him.

When Alberts original company in Upstate New York went out of business because of a flood, wiping out his inventory, Albert still supported his old customers with parts, and updates, etc.

Original VR 4's sell fast on Audiogon, if you can find them ?

So why should I, as a consumer, be "afraid" that Von Schweikert isn't going to "be around" ?

As a consumer, I see Albert still supporting 20 year old original VR 4's with mods and updates.

So, why should I be scared to buy his newer stuff, knowing his excellent track record of supporting old designs ?

Personally, I wish he would sell direct, and cut out the dealers altogether so I could get the best deal I can.

But, that is his business, not mine.

One final thought, do you remember CounterPoint ?

They went bankrupt, yet the old owner Mike is still offering mods, repairs, etc.

Even if Von Schweikeert goes bankrupt, there are many thousands of Von Schweikerrt speakers out there.

Albert would have to be a complete fool to "walk away" from all these speaker owners!

And, as far as resale goes, Celestion and Hales are long gone, but still have plenty of resale.

Resale value is high, when the product is good, because speakers are pretty reliable devices.

Look how fast old VR4's sell here ?
In attempt to clear things up I called Von Schweikert today. His son, Damon picked up on the first ring and as always was friendly and informative. He said that the company is doing wonderfully. New dealers are being signed up including the one mentioned in the Far East. They have several of thier products with reviews coming out shortly. Concerning the higerfi internet sales. That was a one time overstocked situation. The big boys (VR7 and VR9) are built to order for an individual. Occasionally one can not be paid for as planned and then VS would place those speakers with a source such as Higherfi which could sell them as new, as indeed they are new.
Lastly they are aware of the variablity of responsiveness at corporate headquaters and being a small comapny everybody answers the phone but there are tons of calls. They are now in process of hiring a customer services person to handle much of this daily call volume.
It appears to me that VSA owners are a passionate group. Although the responders to this thread are self selected (not a random sample) there are few negative statements about any of the VSA products, no one has complained about significantly poor service, and most seem happy with the service. Considering the sometimes "under the bottom" negativity that can appear on Audiogon, this says alot. Your comments have reinforced my original desire to listen to VSA speakers.

I'll be in near to Boston for two weeks. Are there any VSA dealers in the Boston region??
A good call on the feedback and excellent decision Johnrob!

Thanks for your post on 7/21/06.
It seems that this post is filled with VSA supporters that just have hard time accepting what is really going on with VSA.

You however nailed it. If they don't belive what oyu have posted, they can discuss this with their local VSA dealer. But wait, where are the local VSA dealers now? Seems they have all gone away.
I'm considering the VR-4Jr's and some of these posts along with the recent uptick in VR-4Jr's for sale here made me wonder if trouble was a-foot.
I emailed VSA asking about a local dealer and three days later got a response from one offering to set up an audition.
Seems that they answer emails and have a local dealer here in Baltimore.
I'm comfortable purchasing them now.
Well Von Schweikert came out with news this week of a new sales policy allowing sales on one internet site and also reportedly better support for their dealers including an extra two years warentee if bought through a dealer.
Since I complained about not getting a good email response earlier in this thread, I must now say that I called them a few weeks back and got excellent service. I don't know the name of the person, but all questions were answered fully and patiently by a very knowledgable and polite person and it was a very positive interaction.