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Von Schweikert's New Clothing

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by Josh Ray on August 15 '06

 Albert

Von Schweikert Audio, to everyone's great relief, has changed its name. No more misspellings, Von Schweikert is now known as V Speakers.

Along with the new name, V's entire speaker line is getting a new identity. The legendary VR-4 JR MKIIs are now simply called the "Virtues" and run $5695. The $995 VR-1s now go under the name "Victory." Above, the smaller $75,000 VR-9 SEs are now the "Valiant" while the big $150,000 VR-11 shall forever be called "Vanquish." Seeing a trend here? The VR-7s probably have the best name: "Vast." I'm surprised there's no "Vendetta." Shame.

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The new "Valiant" speakers (VR-10 MKII) are surely some of the largest speakers in the world. At $85,000, that gives V a total of five speakers above $20k which, I believe, is a record for a speaker company. Double towers per side, the bass block has four 15" woofers with 1000 watts covering 10Hz up to 60Hz. The $65,000 more expensive Vanquish doesn't go the double tower route but uses an identical main stack. So why more expensive? The drivers in the VR-10 are similar but cheaper. So instead of the Seas 8" magnesium driver (retail $177.45 at Madisound), the Valiant uses the Seas 8" aluminum ($73.85). Add 'em up, throw in an upgraded crossover, electronics, cabling and, viola, there's your $65,000.

Also new from V Speakers is online purchasing. Strangely, the www.vspeakers.com site doesn't have a shopping cart. Instead, www.higherfi.com, the eBay of ridiculously expensive speakers, is handling transactions. Regarding online vs. retail and protecting retailer margins, the V Speakers site says this:

"V" speakers by Von Schweikert Audio are available for purchase either online or at our dealers. Both our online and dealer prices are the same.

But a little trip to the Higher-Fi site reveals a 30% price drop. Why?

The 30% discount shown assumes you will donate a working component (speakers, cd player, receiver, etc) to the charity of your choice or send it in to us so we can donate it for you. This is part of our "Share The Music" campaign to provide music to those less fortunate, please support our program.

Wow.

Comments

Ah yes, Albert Von Schweikert and HigherFi in business togther ... "Share the Music" campaign. So, let me read between the lines:

You donate, say, a $100 Denon CD player to the charity and you get a 30% discount on "V Speakers" from HigherFi? Nobody will buy this once-again-reinvented line from a dealer if they can get an instant discount through HigherFi.

This looks like nothing more than an almost exclusive retail partership between Von S. and HigherFi. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but don't pretend it's something else. Who's going to check on whether or not you sent in your $100 CD player to the Make a Wish foundation?

More than that - what dealer in their right mind would ever take on VS again when they are partnred with HigherFi to undercut? Makes ZERO sense.

The question is, now in its third manifestation, will Albert Von be able to survive his own bullshit?
No, he won't. He opened up the heavily discounting HigherFi without any warning, effectivly stranding all of his legit dealers with huge investments in demos and inventory. Then he changes the company name (again) and throws salt in their fresh wounds. Just more bad news from a bad company.
"So instead of the Seas 8" magnesium driver (retail $177.45 at Madisound), the Valiant uses the Seas 8" aluminum ($73.85). Add 'em up, throw in an upgraded crossover, electronics, cabling and, viola, there's your $65,000." Huh? My math may be rusty, but I'm having trouble making the difference of a few thousand dollars (conservative) in parts turn into $65k. Me thinks the $65k may be more appropriately attributed to "needing to push the speaker over $100k for maxiumum snob effect."
Check this out: Higherfi's "Speaker Comparator" http://www.higherfi.com/comparator/comparator.htm What a joke. The most negative the comments get for Von S. speakers are "needs smooth amp." All others get some pretty bad sounding negatives: "bloaty bass, cabinet rattles, colored mids." Obviously in bed with higherfi.
This is why I hate VS. Great designs for the money, but they either go out of business, or change them up significantly, every two or three years. Does nothing for their resale, or the value, or brand status.
Actually, they are really not 'great designs for the money.'
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

V-Speakers has now instituted a delivery service. Your heavily discounted V-Speakers will be delivered to your doorstep (or to your car if you happen to be in traffic) via our state-of-the-art white delivery van.

These are great speakers, we've got an extra pair and if our boss finds out he is going to KILL us! Won't you please buy them from us? We'll cut you a GREAT deal! Just take them off our hands so we don't get in trouble with our boss.
Umm. . OK Matt. Maybe I should qualify it: "Great designs for the money (in my opinion)." How's that? Not talking about the $65K ones. I'm talking about the VR4's I used to have years ago.
That sound you hear is Von Schweikert dealers cleaning the four tons of yak dung Albert just dropped on their heads. ... Yellow Freight operators will be able to retire off the shipping profits made from Von Schweikert dealers returning every last piece of VS inventory -- and Albert will have to accept the deliveries or risk his dealers changing terms from Net-90 to E.O.W. Payment (that would be End Of World).
Like it or not, and I do agree that Albert's up to his usual hilariously silly crap, the 5SE's are quite unbeatable in every meaningful way compared to their cone speaker competition at the same price point. Nine years of continuous speaker hunting continues to bear this out. I'm not commenting on horns/stats at that price point-they're too taste-based IMHO, and the sound from both over time reveals imbalance. Too much focus on one area of sound repro at expense of other areas.
Yep, this latest reinvention of Mr. Von Schweikert is laughable. It pains me to say this because about ten years ago I met the man at Hi-Fi 96 in NY and thought he was a real gentleman. And furthermore I was so impressed with the original VR4 that upon returning home I immediately ordered a pair (Silver version) and loved them for over 3 years. This was back when his speakers provided great sound for (relatively) bargain basement prices. Boy are those days long gone.......
You guys sound like a bunch of whiners! As a consumer, I welcome innovative ideas to make it easier for us regular joes to obtain great speakers at a more reasonable prices. I would rather buy from the internet than buy from a dealer with high overhead. The end result as I see it is a win for us. - chuck one up for the consumer and Albert. Stop your whiiining!
Who's whining? Albert used to make quality speakers at reasonable prices. In the beginning his top of the line offering was well under 20K. Even the VR4 Gen III SE, which is no longer available, was only $5995.00 and sounded great. I have heard the VR4 Sr. and to my ears it wasn't as good. And it's now $12,000.00. Can YOU see where the price should be twice that of the speaker it replaced? Have you heard them both? Hey I'm not saying the VR5, 7, 9 etc....don't sound great. I'm sure they do. But any value based products have long gone from the lineup. Oz
Oh by the way, I just got my new VR4 SR two weeks ago with the up graded drivers/crossovers in AFRICAN MADIGASCAR EBONY-WOW! Total cost was $7000!!! No I have not heard the older VR4 III but I bet my new VR4 can run circles around it. Oh by the way I have auditioned wilson sophias, B&W, revel 52 and the VR4 Sr more than justify the cost I paid for them and more. Boy that is only $1000 more than the genIII and got superior speakers in my opinion that can hang with the big brand boys/girls.
"No I have not heard the older VR4 III" That is very telling. "Boy that is only $1000 more than the genIII and got superior speakers in my opinion" Yet again, telling. You know this HOW? BTW, I have heard the Gen III and the Sr. and I can tell you that my Montana SPX runs circles around BOTH of them. And I can say this having heard ALL of the speakers in question. Oz
Hey Oz, How I envy you!!! I wish I would have been able to hear all of the above speakers you mentioned. Specially the Montana Spx. I'm glad we are both in audio bliss!!! with our respected choice of speakers. Any suggestion on a preamp that can complement my McIntosh 402s? Solid or Tube? I ask because you seem to have vast knowledge of my VR4Sr.
Hey Victor, No hard feelings. Glad you enjoy your Sr.s I enjoyed my VR4s for several years and still have fond memories of them. No, I don't have "vast knowldege" of your speakers. But I did spend several hours at a dealer comparing them to the DB-99s. This was last year and I had the Silverline Sonata IIs at the time and I would have taken the DB-99s over them in a heartbeat. The Srs. would have been a closer call, but I do think they were better than the Sonatas. You are right, we shouldn't bicker because we are all in this for the same reason, or at least one would hope so. BTW, my preamp is a TVC based model and I highly recommend it....;-}} Oz
Those VR-10s are not new. They are "revived". Essentially they are the equivalent of 2 pairs of VR-4 SRs with two bass towers and a ribbon tweeter per side. Why they were revived at all is a mystery to me but they are there probably to cater to the "bigger is better" clientelle who find the VR-9 SE "tiny" but can't afford the VR-11 XTCs. Just by looking at the pics it appears that there will be significant crossover differences as well with the 11 using mechanical time alignment instead of electronic time alignment on the 10. Factor in the multiple use of those $600 per piece V-Caps instead of the Hovlands in the 10 and Von Scweikert himself paying you a house call on the 11 the way Dave Wilson used to with his Wamms and one gets a better idea of where that $65,000 goes. I am not a fan of this higherfi deal owing to the fact that i believe in the value that a knowledgable and professional dealer can bring to the table. This is especially true for V Speakers' floorstanders that require both physical help in placement (they are all heavy) and set up expertise as well because of the rather unique radiating patterns. That part is a true pity. That 30% discount just looks like a plain dealer hose down. Have a heart at least offer the street price. None the less, the product offerings are more than at par with those in their respective price ranges. Gone are the cost saving fabric wraps and in are beautiful veneers. What's more telling is that the performance of the models climbs along with the associated components which points out to these buggers being should I dare say "over engineered". As for the Gen III which I owned and loved and the SRs which I also owned and loved, Now owned and loved by my brother. The difference was night and day in terms of transparency. The SR's added sensitivity also allowed for a wider range of amplification sources. I don't know where this "needs smooth amp" folly came from since fully broken in VRs are nowhere near as white and analytical as many of the competition. I do agree that one not use any of the models with gear of low pedigree since the speakers will definitely call out their deficiencies. My VR-5 SEs have gone from Levinson to Plinius to BAT and now to Lamm and never were the loudspeakers the weak link. They just got better and better. Perhaps it's time the guy got his due. IMO He's earned the right to choose what price to put on the sticker. At least as much right as Thiel, Wilson, and the rest. The design and implementation especially of the premium line speaks for itself. Whether or not we agree with that price is up to us. He may be a quirky businessman whose enthusiasm is often equated with eccentricity but he's one hell of scientist and despite what people say about him and his ideas and terminologies nothing offensive can be said about the products and the music they play. If he can somehow find a way around the extremely long and arduous break-in time which limits his products to only those of true faith, his company could be much more successful.
I just purchased a pair of VR5Se after listening to a variety of Wilsons, B&W and Ushers. To my ears these are as good as the best I heard from this group (the B&W 800D, which are excellent) and better than than the Wilson Watt Puppys (I auditioned the 7 which I found superior to the new Sophia). I settled on the VR5 as they offered competetive sound to the best at a considerably cheaper price (I got a deal on a demo pair for $13k). I found Von S quite odd to deal with as a company - total lack of communication for weeks followed by flurries of emails and phone calls from Albert himself explaining what was happening to my pair, incorrect packaging when delivered etc. The end result is I got a great pair of speakers at a good price but the experience of dealing with HigherFi and with Von S (the company) would give me pause before recommmending others purchase this way.
Having read so many negatives about The VS line, it has caused me to put my decision to purchase The VR10 MkII's on hold indef. The sound of the speaker was never in question, but from a business perspective you guys give me the impression dealing w/ VS is a no no,