Valve Audio Company (VAC) and Von Schweikert

Hanging at the bar at the Hilton Twinbrook, one hears stories of audio deals gone bad, an actor absconding with a $500,000 system to an unknown Mexican destination, or sordid tales of a peeved player spiting bile at an unknowing colleague. Then there's show organizer Gary Gill, whose upbeat, generous persona is a prime contributor to the success of the Capital Audiofest.

Another valued player, who possesses a sense of inner calm I wish I could generate, is Valve Amplification Company President Kevin Hayes, one of our industry's good guys since his company's founding in 1990.

Hayes brought several new products to CAF 2023 including the new Essence series: the Essence 80 Monoblocks ($9900 each), Essence Line Stage ($7000), and Essence Phono Stage. To quote the press release, "the Essence Line Stage is entirely class A, and features triode audio circuits, metal film resistors, silver contact switches, an Alps analogue RK27 volume control, regulated heater supply, and mu metal power transformer shielding." A remote control, four line inputs, two sets of outputs, and one 12AU7 and two 12AX7 twin triodes are part of the Essence Line Stage package. Each Essence 80 Monobloc uses a pair of Gold Lion KT88s and a 14lb power transformer. Two 12AU7 twin triodes operate in class A; rhodium-plated binding posts provide connection for nominal 4, 8, or 16 ohm speaker loads. Also new is the Signature 202 iQ Musicbloc ($22,000).

The Essence series was on static display, while in the listening room, four VAC Signature 202 iQ Musicblocs (100Wpc in stereo, 220W in mono) biamped a pair of Magico loudspeakers for total live action. This system also contained the VAC Statement phono preamplifier ($80,000), VAC Statement line preamplifier ($80,000), Esoteric K1 Grandioso CD player ($21,000), Esoteric N-01 XD streamer ($20,000), Aurender W20SE music server ($25,000), Aurender MC10 master clock ($16,000), Transrotor Rondino turntable with TR5003 tonearm ($23,200), and an Airtight PC1 Supreme cartridge ($11,000). Critical Mass and Artesania Audio racks, and Masterbuilt cables rounded out the rig.

I listened to Madonna's "Vogue" and Roger Waters's sound-effects bonanza, Amused to Death as Von Schweikert designer Leif Swanson explained the room setup. The music had excellent pulse and texture, and played waaaaaaaaaaaaay outside the speaker boundaries. Impressive and mind titillating.

Elsewhere in the room, the Von Schweikert Endeavor Special Edition speakers ($27,000/pair) were playing with a pair of Shockwave 12 subwoofers ($15,000/each).

Tom Gibbs's picture

"four VAC Signature 202 iQ Musicblocs...biamped a pair of Magico loudspeakers...I listened to Madonna's "Vogue" and Roger Waters's sound-effects bonanza, Amused to Death as Von Schweikert designer Leif Swanson explained the room setup."

Leif Swanson explaining a setup with Magico loudspeakers???

LS Designs's picture

Hi Tom, I would not want to do what these guys/gals have to do to cover these audio shows. That is a lot of notes to keep track of lol. So often does someone glance at the Von Schweikert Speakers and see our Diamond Graphite High Gloss finish and think we have an Aluminum speaker enclosure(Magico). But
you will not see me explaining set-up for a Magico room lol. I am surprised this hasn't been edited though. I will send a message. Just to clarify...Magico was not in the VAC/Von Schweikert Room and it was my Endeavor Special Edition floorstanding little speakers(VSA) that were playing with the four VAC 202 Music block amplifiers with each amp in a mono configuration. Kevin's new amplifiers are absolutely amazing as always!

Happy Holidays music lovers!
Leif S.

Tom Gibbs's picture

Leif, I've covered the VSA/VAC setup many times for Positive Feedback, and Ken and I are acquaintances. I knew it was a mistake, and my response was simply to have a bit of fun with him -- I just didn't think it would take this long for it to get corrected. No worries!