VR-55 Aktive Review
Von Schweikert Audio produced one of the show’s best sounds with its VR-55 Aktive loudspeaker ($60k) that debuted at Rocky Mountain last October. Driven by Constellation electronics, the VR-55 had a gorgeous rendering of timbre in the midband—lusciously liquid and free from coloration.
Next, here is a report by Tom Norton of Stereophile’s Guide to Home Theater:
No designer, it seems, is as active as Albert Von Schweikert in launching new models. And "active" is the operative word for the new VR-55 Aktive. It uses its own internal 525W subwoofer amp to drive its two cast-frame, honeycomb-ceramic cone, 8" woofers. This allows the user to adjust the level of the bottom end to better match the listener's room (no manufacturer can predict the bass gain that a specific owner's room might generate). Response down to 21Hz is claimed (a mighty feat for a pair of 8" drivers).
The top end is handled by a tweeter with a damped beryllium dome, the midrange by a 6.5-inch ceramic cone with Kevlar backing. At $60,000/pair the VR-55 Aktive wasn't the most expensive speaker I heard at the show, but certainly could party hearty with that group. The sound was tight, crisp, and dynamic.
Finally, a wrap-up by Tom Norton of Stereophile:
We ink-stained wretches often spend almost as much time in a room like the one shown here as in the show rooms, bringing you the latest skinny on the fat world of high-end audio. Nevertheless, THE Show 2015 was a fun event, with perhaps more good-to-excellent sound than was typical of shows I've attended in the recent past.
I certainly didn't get into all of the rooms, but of those I did hear I have to give my best of show nod to a tie between the Sony SS-AR1s heard in a large ballroom and the Von Schweikert VR-55 Aktive in a far smaller hotel sleeping room. In the former the large volume of the demo room may have prevented the formation of the standing waves—the bane of small rooms. And the larger space may have tamed a modest (for me) excess of warmth I've heard from these speakers in the past (the larger the space, the less the low-frequency "room gain"). As for the VR-55s, they at least had adjustable bass level. Although this in itself can't tame coloration from standing waves, I heard no obvious bloat with the source material I auditioned there.
But in a world more accessible to those of us with a limited bank balance, the Sonus Famer Chameleons, Chapman T-5s, and Magnepan .7s (in no particular order) stood out for me. And last but far from least were the new budget speakers from ELAC, which have "high-end for the rest of us" written all over them.—Thomas J. Norton