Positive Feedback Visit to Greg Weavers Part 1

Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
763
152
255
California
www.vonschweikert.com
The New Apartment Lounge: Two Memorable Winter Road Trips
06-15-2019 | By Maurice Jeffries | Issue 103
https://positive-feedback.com/audio...tment-lounge-two-memorable-winter-road-trips/

Back to the Midwest-SR
In late January 2019, over the MLK holiday weekend no less, I ventured north by northwest from Florida to the wilds of exurban Indiana to pay my close audio bud, Greg Weaver, a long-overdue visit. I made a similar trek a year earlier to hear his then reference setup, namely Audionet's Max monoblock amps and matching preamp, the stunning GamuT Zodiac loudspeakers, Greg's stellar Kronos Sparta turntable, a loom of Stealth cables, and a gaggle of other goodies. This time around, while the core source components that anchored his earlier system remained unchanged, Dr. Weaver had replaced the stupendous GamuT Zodiac speakers and Audionet electronics with the brand-spanking new and even more stupendous Von Schweikert Audio ULTRA 9 loudspeakers and Valve Amplification Company's (VAC) Statement 450i iQ Integrated Amplifier.
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The weekend began, much as it had on my last trip to Goshen (HERE), with a visit to the lovely Italian eatery Lucchese's. There, Greg and I again feasted on scrumptious home-cooked fare, guzzled fine wine, and gleefully swapped audio war stories before heading back to his place, a cozy abode that Greg shares with his wife Kim and three "horse-sized" dogs, Oscar, Aerie, and Luna. Let me state at the outset that the pictures that accompany this piece do not do justice to the size of Greg's canine "children," or to the equally gargantuan ULTRA 9 loudspeakers and VAC Statement 450i iQ amplifier that anchored his reference system back then.
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The ULTRA 9 loudspeakers are essentially scaled-down versions of the company's celebrated ULTRA 11 flagships, the 9s tipping the scales at nearly 600 back-breaking pounds per side and costing a bank-bursting $200,000 the pair. By the same token, the VAC Statement 450i iQ amplifier (offered at a paltry $150,000) can be thought of as a scaled-down version of the firm's Statement line and phono stages, here coupled to a modified version of VAC's stellar Statement 450S stereo power amplifier, all consolidated into a single, but certainly no less impressive, tower-oriented chassis. The rest of Greg's system is pretty much the same as what I reported on last year. You can read all about Greg's exceptional assortment of gear at his "audio analyst" website HERE.
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It should go without saying that these are reference-caliber components designed for audiophiles with big listening rooms, a desire to test the dynamic and low frequency limits of their rooms and ears, and the equally big budgets necessary to pull all of this off.

Shattering Ceilings and Re calibrating Sonic Boundaries

Those of you unfamiliar with Greg's work should know that he writes for three respected audio journals: PF, Enjoy the Music, and The Absolute Sound (where he serves as a senior writer). In many ways Greg and I sit at opposite poles when it comes to musical tastes and genre preferences. Greg is a classic power rock kind of guy. He inhabits the worlds of David Bowie, Santana, Supertramp, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and the like as passionately as I live in the modern jazz world. Greg loves Beethoven (so do I), but he isn't a big fan of the Berb, Schoenberg, Webern school (I am), and he just doesn't get Bill Evans, a fact he readily acknowledges. On the other hand, I share with Greg a love of Weather Report, David Bowie, and Santana, too. More importantly, although our choices in music differ, our core audio sensibilities very much align, and to a striking degree, particularly along four key vectors: tonal precision and timbral accuracy, micro-dynamic fluidity, sound-staging and imaging integrity, and overall musical coherence.

I continue to marvel at how closely our opinions track on the relative strengths and weaknesses of given components and systems, and how points of discord (rare) boil down to our different listening preferences, not wholesale disagreements about what we have or haven't heard objectively.

So, when Greg reported that the VAC/VSA combo rocked in ways he had yet to come to terms with, I knew I had to hear this setup for myself. For those of you who instinctively jump to the end of pieces like this to read the review/preview summary, let me simply say this: in no small measure, the Von Schweikert Audio ULTRA 9/VAC Statement 450i iQ integrated amplifier combo reproduces music of all genres as convincingly, realistically, and captivatingly as any high end system I have ever heard, period. In my estimation, the ULTRA 9s are the most realistic transducers I have yet encountered, and in the right space, exceed the performance of the stellar ULTRA 11 towers in one key area: overall coherence, at least to my ears.
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Say what you will about the ULTRA 11's nearly unrivaled capacity to reproduce in totally unfettered fashion music's full dynamic sweep, scale, and impact, the 11s sound, again to my ears, not entirely of a piece, at least under the show conditions where I have heard these behemoths play (for his part, Greg strongly disagrees with my assessment here). Not so the ULTRA 9s, and certainly not when playing in Greg's listening room, driven there by the stunning VAC Statement 450i iQ integrated, and fed by the same stellar sources that so tickled my audio fancy a little over a year ago. To my ears, the 9s offer much of the power, scale, and impact of the mighty 11s, but add to that heady mix improved inter-driver coherence, better image focus, and superior overall musical articulation.

So, on a musically compelling work like Domino, from Polish trumpeter Tomaz Stanko's 1999 release From the Green Hill (ECM), the VSA/VAC combo possesses the almost preternatural ability to place old man Stanko, bassoonist, and saxophonist John Surman, and the rest of the stellar lineup literally in the room where they "materialize" as living, breathing, flesh-and-blood musicians. Additionally, the 9s do what few other speakers in my experience can: size naturally and realistically instrumentalists, vocalists, and ensembles within the listening space. Refreshingly, what one won't hear are 12-foot wide pianos, miniaturized acoustic basses, or vocalists occupying multiple spaces within the soundstage at the same time, that is, unless such aural anomalies are embedded in the recording.
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On the other hand, what one will hear are performers within the recorded sound-field that are realistically sized in and of themselves, and in relation to the other performers in the ensemble. In this sense, the 9s reproduce the full gravitas and weight of the actual performance in a given listening room, and do so without sacrificing the speed, coherence, air, articulation, and overall intelligibility of smaller models, particularly top-flight two-ways.

Nor is the ULTRA 9 a musical one-trick pony. As good as it sounds reproducing small scale jazz and classical works, it laughs its proverbial head off when asked to reproduce meatier fare like symphonic blockbusters and power rock played back at near concert hall levels. What the 9s deliver so damn well is near horn-like dynamic scaling (along with a great horn's ability to output massive sound pressure levels with little to no discernible noise artifacts), near panel-like transparency, you-are-there presence and projection capabilities, superb speed and musical articulation, and industry-leading coherence. Center-of-the-earth low end reach and grip, and class-leading upper octave frequency extension, smoothness, and detailing almost seem like icing on the proverbial cake here.
 

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Al M.

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Sep 10, 2013
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Thanks for the report, Leif, very interesting. What are the room dimensions?
 

Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
763
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California
www.vonschweikert.com
Hi Al,

His room is 13' wide x 45' long with 7'2" ceiling.
I was terrified when I first saw his room but quickly learned just how fantastic it was. He has another room almost the exact same dimensions that runs parallel to his audio room. There are two different entrances that join these two rooms and they work fantastic for pressure relief. I was completely blown away. Waling around his room there was next to no noticeable dips and peaks in the bass response.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
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Thanks, Leif. I would feel more comfortable setting up such speakers in a room that is significantly wider, but at least Greg seems to have taken care of some side wall reflections. The great length of the room is definitely a plus, and will help with the bass. It is good to hear that there were no obvious room nodes. Hard to tell from the picture, but I assume the distance from tweeter to listener's ear is greater than 10 feet?
 

SeagoatLeo

Well-Known Member
Feb 24, 2015
39
22
213
I noticed that you have a pair of hallographs at the rear corners of your room. Ben Piazza had me place my front pair directly to the left and rear of my speakers (and the rear pair had to go in the opposing corners). They are used with Legacy Focus speakers (they need the Hallographs to focus the sound). He indicated that they should be placed as close to the rear of the speakers as possible. Do you really need them with the Ultra 9s?

My listening room is entirely different then yours with an extreme built in bass trap, 16" thick multi-layered/chambered walls/doors, no other openings designed by Acoustic Fields, 15' X 19'6" X 10' with 6" suspended acoustic foam panelled absorption and 4" acoustic foam panelled side walls. I use Synergistic Research HFTs on the walls, primarily the front wall with 12,, 4 on the rear, one ceiling and 6 on the side walls. There are also a pair of HFT speaker kits. After hearing the Ultra 11, my wife and I decided that the Ultra 9 would be the finest speaker made to fit in our room, cost prohibitive at this time. Do you think there would be any benefit to using the HFT speaker kits on the Ultra 9, or even an Ultra 55?
 

JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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Manila, Philippines
If you already have them, there's no harm in trying :)

There's a new model coming out that just might fit the bill Leo. Shhhhh. You didn't hear it from me :D
 
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JackD201

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
11,766
779
660
Manila, Philippines
Hi Al,

His room is 13' wide x 45' long with 7'2" ceiling.
I was terrified when I first saw his room but quickly learned just how fantastic it was. He has another room almost the exact same dimensions that runs parallel to his audio room. There are two different entrances that join these two rooms and they work fantastic for pressure relief. I was completely blown away. Waling around his room there was next to no noticeable dips and peaks in the bass response.

Ya know what they say... best bass trap is an open door or window :D
 

SeagoatLeo

Well-Known Member
Feb 24, 2015
39
22
213
My Listening Room Construction It is custom but not SOTA materials - Overwhelmingly superior to my prior listening room
Floor-Poured steel reinforced to 12” 3000 lb. PSI concrete floor
Walls-
1” MDF
1/8” thick Acoustiblok vinyl sound barrier
¾” MDF
3 x 12 vertical studs, 14.5” on center
Staggered 12.6” wide 2 x 12 and 4 x 12 per vertical stud channel
13” X 4” X 48” 72lb. 4 chamber activated charcoal absorption filters staggered vertically up/down/up/down
4” Rockwool insulation over vacant stud channel area adjacent to filters Flexseal all joints
¾” cherry plywood
Doors-Same construction as Walls 17" thick swinging 84" & 96" high
Side Walls -
5X 4' X 2' X 3" wood framed acoustic absorption panels
Ceiling
4' Sound Absorption Blankets
4” Rockwool
2 x 8 horizontal beams
5/8” X drywall paneling Flexseal all joints
1/8” thick Acoustiblok vinyl sound barrier
¾” cherry plywood
Ceiling - 6X 5' X 3' X 6" wood framed acoustic absorption panels
Recessed 9 BR 40 65 Watt LED floodlights
2 Ton HVAC split system, low speed, high volume
90+ oz. plush cut pile carpeting
Power-Separate Sub-panel for audio only outlets, 10 gauge wiring, 20 amp breakers. Nothing special.
Synergistic Research Blue Outlets, twin paired per breaker. Two Perfect Path Omega E+ Mats on Power Panels, and Four on Bryston BIT-20 Isolation transformer (power amps excluded).
No other openings or windows.

I recognize my audio system is not as good as most of the posters (speakers in particular) here but with this room, it is 35% as good as the VS Ultra 11/VAC showroom I've heard. No bass problems whatsoever and plays -3 db to 25 Hz.
 

QuadDiffusor

VIP/Donor
Apr 3, 2017
198
122
250
Hong Kong
Are the dates on the first few posts / articles correct? I thought Greg only received his Ultra 9s in 2Q-2020? Episode 6 of the Audio Analyst (the Ultra 7’s debut) was posted on YouTube on Jun-15- 2020. Were the first few videos undergoing deep cryogenic treatment?
 
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