ALBERT VON SCHWEIKERT: Portrait of an American speaker artist
AQ magazine explores with a new series of journal and magazine articles on the craft of audio made-in America today. No better place to commence than with the exceptional loudspeakers by Von Schweikert Audio.
Albert von Schweikert
“All about the emotions of the music”, Albert Von Schweikert
Albert von Schweikert, a musician, a Cal-Tech trained engineer, founder and driving force behind the eponymous named speakers brand Von Schweikert Audio, has for four generations innovated the very notion of what the ideal loudspeaker can ideally be no matter the cost, affordable or state of the art, as with the groundbreaking VSA recent Ultra series.
The aesthetic value or ‘sonic mission’ behind VSA is for a speaker to transport you as close as possible to the romantic possibilities of as Albert describes; “to close your eyes whilst listening to recorded music, to experience the raw emotions, to be immersed by the 3D sound – the three-dimensionality of his speaker’s performances”. Albert, states that the fun of music in its joyous sense is his goal with VSA loudspeakers. The key difference is the concept and execution of a sense of VR, a virtual reality of music where the sound is not beamed at you in the narrow stereo field but an immersive more projected sound field similar to the ‘Omni-mic but in reverse.’ Albert explains that this is an important and true difference to his speaker’s performance to that of any other brand. There are key engineering reasons and science behind this approach but we will explore in-depth at with later editorials.
Numerous critics eulogise about the life-like quality to VSA. Indeed VSA has frequently been awarded best sound at audiophile shows for the calibre of their setups. VSA has made headway into Europe with demos and a dealership in Germany, IBEX AUDIO that AQ will collaborate with on a special report for AQ. We encourage more music lovers to explore and audition the VSA loudspeakers to hear the performance as we will.
The designs of Albert are now more available to the British and European markets and his vision of speaker design is a good idea and an important consideration for an audition for any music lover who seeks an engaging and immersive true-to-life sound fidelity. Without the conveyance of emotions in music, we are missing out on the product of Alberts’ sonic mission that becomes realised more so with the new cutting-edge speakers such as the ULTRA series or the trickle-down Endeavour SE floor-standers that AQ will feature in our coming up edition.
We had the opportunity to speak to Albert transatlantically for an hour about his legacy and the current Ultra series that is making waves at the high end of audio. His enthusiasm to keep pushing the envelope of what a speaker can be and his passions for high-technology and the artisan craft of the making of VSA speakers was evident from the way he spoke.
Established in California, VSA are handcrafted made to order loudspeakers made to a meticulous quality. Alberts states that VSA works with artisan makers in a close-knit synergy, utilising ultra high tech drivers from Europe to their specification. Albert was keen to mention the very high level of the finish due to the work of the highest quality paint shop achieving a ‘lacquered glass’ effect. Albert is now semi-retired acts more as a consultant to VSA, which is now partly led by his son Damon who is responsible for the industrial design of the stunning ULTRA 11 loudspeakers three years in the making.
VSA is as much a portrait as a legacy to the four decades of work by Albert in speakers design and manufacture. VSA is artisan-made products as they are state of the art, which is more understood by their cross over technologies where the speaker’s units act as one true source.
The Ultra Series now creates a new challenge to push this envelope further of the vast sound quality achieved by Albert by his son and his engineer and partner, Leif. This is very much a team in the image of Albert taking VSA to new heights of performance and validated by their receptions at shows.
Not resting on their laurels, a smaller scaled-down version of the Ultra range a new Ultra 7 is in the making. A less imposing design but captures the same ‘vast sound quality’ that Albert mentions. The team at VSA are very progressive and have the same bold approach Albert to all things audio. Having spent much time taking to his son Damon, who is not only a talented industrial designer with flair as the Ultra 11’s show but has the passion to engage with music lovers and culture is there.
Unlike Wilde’s novel, this portrait becomes more virtuous. More lifelike with time.
I asked Albert could he have archived his legacy without having to be a musician? He spoke about making tape recordings of his own 1901 vintage piano to test playbacks for his speaker tests and technical development. Alberts found failings with the normal standards of speakers that have a narrow sound field. Recordings him did not sound right. So he set upon making the speaker more invisible with his cross over technology. As a musician, all he wants to hear is the music and not the speakers. All his designs at VSA from $8000 to $500,000 are set out to achieve that ‘sound mission’. All the speakers are American handcrafted and all have the artist hand of Albert. His portrait is the emotions and fatigue-free sound of his VSA loudspeakers.