This article marks the third in my survey of the new-generation low-end offerings from Von Schweikert Audio. Like the previously reviewed VR 1 minimonitor and floorstanding VR 2, the VRS/1 delivers impressive performance, especially considering that its size and price are about half what I would have expected from the sound quality.
The built-in amplifier provides fast transient response combined with electromechanical braking of the driver between notes. In addition, the amplifier delivers clean and robust output down to 20 Hz. Those characteristics, together with the need to compensate for the small volume of air inside the cabinet, require electronic pre-equalization. The high-current circuit -- with 300-watt continuous and 600-watt peak power -- enables very high output levels at low frequencies. To eliminate distortion on peaks, the high-current power supply utilizes 1 KV transformer. For protection during very high-volume playback, a protection circuit limits amplifier output to prevent clipping that could damage the woofer.
The down-firing woofer is placed in a sealed cabinet. The 25mm MDF cabinet walls are damped by a shelf brace at their midpoint, stiffening the cabinet to eliminate resonance and coloration. To eliminate cavity resonance, the enclosure is heavily stuffed with Dacron. Two-inch-tall spikes elevate the woofer off the floor, enabling 360-degree dispersion that reduces standing waves by providing differing path lengths to the room boundaries. (If the VRS/1 is to be used inside a wall unit, it can be placed on its side with the woofer firing forward.)
Appearance And Control Panel
However, I decided against keeping a VRS/1 in the upstairs system. Why? Because the bass was too powerful for the situation. I live in a town house with better-than-average sound isolation between units. Thankfully, my neighbors are not bothered by the exceedingly robust output of my reference system, but our two master bedrooms are only a single wall apart, and the sub-30 Hz output that the VRS/1 slams out so effortlessly, in such close proximity, struck me as likely to tax the patience and erode the tolerance of those amiable folks next door. The more modest output of the little PSB sub is adequate for my needs in that smaller system, and less likely to upset the neighborly applecart.
Von Schweikert had sent me two VRS/1s for use in the reference system, and my early listening with one sub sitting behind each of my hot-rodded Egglestons had me planning to keep that setup. I was able to integrate the sub with the main speakers in just a few minutes; to such a degree that I'm confident a blindfolded listener would be unable to detect the presence of the subs. Moreover, the quality of the augmented bass was flawless -- I could discern no differences in speed of attack and settling, pitch differentiation or instrumental timbre. What I could discern, in spades, was a complete and authoritative reproduction of those lowest notes that the Egglestons -- which really don't offer much below, say, 35Hz -- had only been hinting at.
So impressive was the contribution of the twin VRS/1s that I found myself wondering what a single sub could do. To my amazement, with one sub located between the Egglestons there was little audible difference in the system's overall performance. True, with the necessary higher playback level setting the overdrive protection circuitry activates more frequently when I'm in full high-volume listening mode. But there is a vanishing small difference in the system's balance and sense of authority. So, a single, unobtrusive little VRS/1 is now resident in the big system, contributing greatly to my listening pleasure.
What's Not To Like?
Woofer: 10" Extreme-Duty driver suspended by double-thick butyl rubber surround with long-throw design (1.5" peak-to-peak excursion potential). The 70mm voice coil is aligned in the gap with a double-thick spider and is driven by a 15-lb magnet assembly.
Amplifier: High Current design with high-bias Class A operation in the preamp section, Class AB output section. AC power is switchable between 117V and 230V. CE approved for Europe. Auto shutoff with green/red LED.
Output Power: 300 watts r.m.s. continuous with 600 watt peaks
Electronic Crossover: Adjustable from 40 Hz to 100 Hz with 12 dB/Octave slope with bypass switch to disengage the internal crossover when used with a multi-channel processor.
Signal to Noise Ratio: 85dB
Controls: Volume level, Crossover frequency 40 -100 Hz, Phase reversal 0-180-deg, Crossover bypass switch, A.C power on-off.
Warranty: Ten years conditional, excluding abuse and/or burnt voice coils due to clipping. Warranty is transferable to the second owner.