Happy Anniversary

Veteran speaker designer Albert Von Schweikert (left) has every reason to smile. To celebrate two anniversaries—the 50th year since he built his first kit, and 30 years in the business of high-end audio—he is releasing the VR-4A Anniversary Model. Shown in prototype form, with the final product expected at the 2008 CES in January, this completely redone, much improved VR-4jr replaces that speaker's Mk.II version. Although it plays well in large rooms, the Anniversary Model was specifically created for folks who have smaller rooms. Featuring denser cabinets and the highest-quality parts, the speaker will be available in a standard version with Hovland caps ($6000/pair) and Signature Edition ($7500/pair) with special finish and Mundorf caps.

This is a very different baby than what we've heard previously. All drivers have been changed, and are sourced from Europe rather than China. Most important, they have all been manufactured to perform at the same 89dB sensitivity (up from the original speaker's 87), which allows Albert to use a simplified crossover, with fewer parts in the signal path.

Dusty Vawter of Channel Islands Audio (CIAudio, right) was displaying a lot of exciting, economically priced gear, some of which was already packed up on the last day of the Show to allow Dusty to fly home for his wedding anniversary. Thus I missed hearing the new VDC.SG upgrade power supply for the Slim Devices Squeezebox ($259), which is said to eliminate noise caused by the standard switching supply. When connected to the VDA-S/VAC.1 external DAC, CIAudio claims that you can create a wireless digital audio source that "competes with some of the world's most expensive CD players."

I also missed the D-500 500W class-D monoblocks ($4500/pair), but greatly enjoyed the D-200 class-D monoblocks ($2299/pair), new PLC-1 Passive Line Controller full-function remote controlled preamp ($899), VDA-2 24/192 DAC ($599), and VAC.1 Upgrade Power Supply ($179). Paired with the Von Schweikerts and an Oracle CD player, this hardly burned-in system exhibited fine depth, good snap, a very solid midrange, and a large soundstage in which some sounds moved forward in a most captivating way. Few systems equipped with such relatively inexpensive components can reproduce piano overtones as well as this one. I look forward to hearing everything in completely finished, broken-in form.