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Thread: Von Schweikert Audio/VAC/MasterBuilt -- Los Angeles Audio Show 2017 -- Best of Show

  1. #1
    Site Founder And Administrator Ron Resnick's Avatar
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    Von Schweikert Audio/VAC/MasterBuilt -- Los Angeles Audio Show 2017 -- Best of Show

    I visited the Von Schweikert Audio/VAC/MasterBuilt room twice: once during the day, and a second time for a private, after-hours demo Leif Swanson, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Designer at Von Schweikert Audio, generously arranged for us so I could play a couple of my own LPs.


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    I enjoyed listening at a friend’s house to the VSA VR-11SE Mk. II. See http://www.whatsbestforum.com/showth...-VR-11SE-Mk-II

    When I heard about the Ultra 11 ($295,000) I remember wondering what Albert, Damon and Leif at VSA could do to improve upon the VR-11SE Mk. II.

    In a report on my visit in May of 2016 to VSA’s office and my interview with Albert Von Schweikert I wrote “[s]ome of the improvements of the ULTRA 11 over the VR-11 as described on the VSA website, and as explained to me, are as follows:"

    Master-Built ULTRA Internal Wiring comes standard on the ULTRA line. Each signal path is individually shielded. The wire is designed and fabricated by leaders in the aerospace industry and is made with rare and precious alloys, combined with patented winding geometries to reduce quantum noise.

    All-new ceramic-composite woofers and midranges, Beryllium tweeters, and compound woven subwoofers are used in the ULTRA line (instead of the original carbon fiber 15” drivers and carbon-kevlar-cellulose aerogel midrange drivers and soft dome tweeters used in the VR-11SE Mk2). The new drivers have one-quarter or less of the distortion than our original drivers, enhancing clarity.

    Point-to-point hand-built networks and cross-overs are enclosed in a proprietary Faraday cage which protects cross-over parts and wiring from electrical noise contamination.

    Version 2.0 Aktive Cabinet Vibration Control eliminates cabinet noise with new materials and layering techniques which reduce the noise of the cabinet via the conversion of vibration into heat.

    The VR-11SE Mk2 consists of three modules stacked on top of each other: an M-T-M array module in the middle and a subwoofer module at the bottom and at the top. The ULTRA 11 is a one-piece cabinet. Albert says that his tests show that the one-piece cabinet manifests less resonance than the three stacked modules of the VR-11SE Mk2 due to less “wobble and roll” of the three stacked modules.

    Of course I was never able to compare the VR-11SE Mk. II in the same room and with the same system as the Ultra 11s. All I know is that the improvements engineered into the Ultra 11 make sense, and the geometric cabinet is a stunning piece of industrial design. If Albert, a living legend in speaker design, says the Ultra 11’s drivers are lower in distortion than the drivers in the VR-11, then I believe him.


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    We played ”Send in the Clowns" by Bill Henderson, Live at the Times (Jazz Planet Records/Classic Records) and ”I've Got the Music in Me" by Thelma Houston, I've Got the Music in Me (Sheffield Lab 2).

    When you are playing direct-to-disc vinyl on a state-of-the-art speaker system driven by top-of-the-line VAC tube electronics you expect to hear something amazing, and I was not disappointed! I heard life-like dynamic range and sound-staging, incredible transparency, and, as I expect with a loudspeaker as tall as the Ultra 11s, scale which leads to realistic grandeur. I would have been very happy to listen to this system all evening, but I did not want to monopolize Leif’s time.


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    The reproduction of these two favorite tracks of mine was as good as I have ever heard them. The Ultra 11 driven by tubes achieves a level of realism which I find very satisfying and which I would be happy to enjoy forever. This is what the highest end of high-end audio is all about.


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    The two best dynamic driver loudspeaker systems I have ever heard are the Rockport Technologies Arrakis and the Von Schweikert Audio Ultra 11. Unlike the Arrakis, the Ultra 11 has a great deal of adjustability to ensure a proper match to one’s listening room and to one’s listening preferences. The controls on the back of the Ultra 11 include: subwoofer level, subwoofer frequency, front tweeter level, super tweeter level and a rear ambience level control. I personally like the significant adjustability of this complex, multi-driver system. It is very comforting to me that I can turn a tweeter level adjustment knob to tame an overly reflective room or a bright recording if I so desire.

    A direct comparison between the Arrakis and the Ultra 11 is one of those numerous comparisons in high-end audio which is destined never to occur. It will be interesting to see if Andy Payor inverts a Lyra on top of another Lyra to create a next-generation Arrakis.

    Some speakers (and brands) generate both passionate praise and intense criticism. The Ultra 11 is not going to be one of those speakers. It is difficult for me to imagine someone honestly finding any significant sonic fault with this system.

    The VSA Ultra 11 is a truly state-of-the-art loudspeaker. I cannot envision how the team at VSA will ever be able to top this.

    For me the Von Schweikert Audio/VAC/MasterBuilt demo room was Best of Show at the Los Angeles Audio Show 2017.
    Mono and Stereo - Senior Contributing Reviewer

    turntable: American Sound AS-2000; tonearms: SME 3012R, Schröder LT; cartridges: ZYX UNIverse Premium X-SB2, Air Tight Opus-1; tape: Studer A820 Mk II; phono stage: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 power supplies; line stage: VTL TL-7.5 Series III; amplifier: VTL Siegfried Series II; loudspeaker: Gryphon Pendragon; cables: MasterBuilt Ultra; stands: Herzan + Taiko Tana + Evo LPS for Io, custom for turntable, Stacore Basic+ for amps; power: Benjamin Electric subpanel, JPS in-wall wire, Furutech NCF outlets, Torus AVR60BAL; room: 19' wide X 24' long X 14' tall; acoustic treatment: SoundSense A.T.I. + Lumitex drapes + Vibramat, ASC IsoThermal Tube Traps; tweaks: Shakti Stones, Shun Mooks, self-propelled sound-absorbing cocker-poo

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    Site Founder And Administrator Steve Williams's Avatar
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    Totally agree Ron

    Nice report

    My favorite as well at the show
    Steve Williams
    aka oneobgyn
    There's ALWAYS another Steve Williams BUT there's only "oneobgyn"
    USA Dealer of Center Stage Feet and owner of PitchPerfect Sound (www.pitchperfectsound.com)
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    [WBF Founding Member] Addicted to Best! JackD201's Avatar
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    Ron hopefully next year you and Tinka will be able to visit again

    Imagine if you get to do it at the same time as Steve and Cathy!
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    Co-Founder and Managing Director PureSound PH - Exclusive Distributor (Philippines only) of Lamm, Von Schweikert Audio, CH Precision, Light Harmonic, Valvet, Townshend, Critical Mass Systems, EERA, KR Audio, Ambience SS, TechDAS, Master Built, Stromtank

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    Site Founder And Administrator Steve Williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackD201 View Post
    Ron hopefully next year you and Tinka will be able to visit again

    Imagine if you get to do it at the same time as Steve and Cathy!
    Im in Jack

    To hear that speaker in your room will be a revelation.
    Steve Williams
    aka oneobgyn
    There's ALWAYS another Steve Williams BUT there's only "oneobgyn"
    USA Dealer of Center Stage Feet and owner of PitchPerfect Sound (www.pitchperfectsound.com)
    Dealer Lamm Electronics
    My System

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    [WBF Founding Member] Addicted to Best! JackD201's Avatar
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    You come, I cook!
    Disclosure of Industry Participation

    Co-Founder and Managing Director PureSound PH - Exclusive Distributor (Philippines only) of Lamm, Von Schweikert Audio, CH Precision, Light Harmonic, Valvet, Townshend, Critical Mass Systems, EERA, KR Audio, Ambience SS, TechDAS, Master Built, Stromtank

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    I will be doing my write-up later but fully agree that this system was a notch above anything else at the show. It stood alone as a statement loudspeaker at this show. Well done to VSA folks.

  7. #7
    Agree with Ron and Steve's observations. Spent almost an hour in the VSA room and these speakers are amazing. Unfortunately, I spent too much time talking with Albert ( sorry about the noise Leif). I believe that the VAC set up also helped these speakers shine.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JackD201 View Post
    You come, I cook!

    I'm coming too (with wine).

  9. #9
    Site Founder And Administrator Steve Williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holli82 View Post
    Agree with Ron and Steve's observations. Spent almost an hour in the VSA room and these speakers are amazing. Unfortunately, I spent too much time talking with Albert ( sorry about the noise Leif). I believe that the VAC set up also helped these speakers shine.

    you should be coming with us to Manila to hear these in Jack's room. I bet they will be amazing
    Steve Williams
    aka oneobgyn
    There's ALWAYS another Steve Williams BUT there's only "oneobgyn"
    USA Dealer of Center Stage Feet and owner of PitchPerfect Sound (www.pitchperfectsound.com)
    Dealer Lamm Electronics
    My System

  10. #10
    Site Founder And Administrator Ron Resnick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JackD201 View Post
    Ron hopefully next year you and Tinka will be able to visit again

    Imagine if you get to do it at the same time as Steve and Cathy!
    That would be wonderful, Jack!

    Thank you, Steve!
    Mono and Stereo - Senior Contributing Reviewer

    turntable: American Sound AS-2000; tonearms: SME 3012R, Schröder LT; cartridges: ZYX UNIverse Premium X-SB2, Air Tight Opus-1; tape: Studer A820 Mk II; phono stage: Aesthetix Io Eclipse with 2 power supplies; line stage: VTL TL-7.5 Series III; amplifier: VTL Siegfried Series II; loudspeaker: Gryphon Pendragon; cables: MasterBuilt Ultra; stands: Herzan + Taiko Tana + Evo LPS for Io, custom for turntable, Stacore Basic+ for amps; power: Benjamin Electric subpanel, JPS in-wall wire, Furutech NCF outlets, Torus AVR60BAL; room: 19' wide X 24' long X 14' tall; acoustic treatment: SoundSense A.T.I. + Lumitex drapes + Vibramat, ASC IsoThermal Tube Traps; tweaks: Shakti Stones, Shun Mooks, self-propelled sound-absorbing cocker-poo

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