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June 2004
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
Von Schweikert VRS/1 High-Speed Mini-Subwoofer
Review By Wayne Donnelly
Click here to e-mail reviewer

 

Von Schweikert VRS/1 High-Speed Mini-Subwoofer  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.

 

Technical Overview
The fast, clean sound of the VRS/1 begins with its proprietary-design 10-inch woofer. The very stiff cone is fabricated from a carbon fiber-impregnated resin, and its large 70mm voice coil is capable of an unusually long 1.5-inch peak-to-peak excursion. The 15-pound magnetic assembly accelerates the cone with a very high drive capability; that requires an extremely stiff suspension to provide mechanical braking, so that the woofer cannot continue ringing after the note has ended.

Von Schweikert VRS/1The 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
Finished on all four sides and the top, the compact cabinet has a clean, attractive appearance. The available hardwood veneers are black ash, dark red cherry, blonde maple and African Hazelwood. A polyester resin clear coat protects the veneer. 

Von Schweikert VRS/1The well-marked control panel offers the usual features: IEC AC receptacle; switches for power on/off, crossover in/out, and phase 0/180 degrees; calibrated rotary knobs for setting the subwoofer's upper frequency limit and playback level; RCA jacks for direct line-level input from a preamplifier; loudspeaker terminals for high-level input and output to the main loudspeakers. The internal crossover is not a full-function electronic crossover that would send low frequency signals to the subwoofer and not to the principal speakers. Rather, it is a "pass-thru" design that transmits the full frequency range to the left and right loudspeakers and adds to that the subwoofer output within the selected frequency range. My evaluations of the VRS/1 were done with the RCA line-level inputs in the downstairs reference system and the high-level inputs in the smaller upstairs system.

 

Listening, Upstairs/Downstairs
The listening tests described in my review of the PSB SubSonic 5i involving the Von Schweikert VR 1 and LCR 15 stand-mounted loudspeakers and the floorstanding Meadowlark Swifts were essentially repeated with the VRS/1. The sub performed admirably, easily matching the speed of those very agile small loudspeakers and providing an almost frightening degree of well-integrated bass power.

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?
At this point the reader will hardly be astonished that I recommend the VRS/1 most enthusiastically. It is beautifully built and finished, and outperforms some subwoofers selling for far more than its $1,495 price. Perhaps a much larger listening space would tax its output capabilities more severely, but at this price one could deploy multiple subs at a still manageable cost. I have been favorably impressed with all of the recent Von Schweikert designs I have auditioned, but the VRS/1 is in many respects the most impressive of them I have yet encountered.

 

Tonality
Sub-bass
Mid-Bass
Attack
Decay
Self noise
Fit and finish

Value For The Money

 

Specifications
Type: Powered High-speed mini-subwoofer with electronic crossover.
Cabinet Design: Sealed enclosure

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
Distortion: Less than 0.8% at full output
Input Impedance: 22 k Ohms
Input Sensitivity: 150 mV

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
Frequency Response: 20Hz to 100Hz (+/-2 dB)
Inputs: Stereo RCA jacks for processor, hi-level inputs and outputs with five-way binding posts.

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.

Price: $1,495

 

Company Information
Von Schweikert Audio
1040 - A Northgate St.
Riverside, CA 92507

Voice: (951) 682-0706
Fax: (951) 682-6701
E-mail: info@vonschweikertaudio.com
Website: www.VonSchweikertAudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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