Von Schweikert Audio
LCR-15 Full Range Dialog Speaker
SRP: $749 each
Shielded two-and-one-half-way full range general purpose speaker system with Global Axis Integration Network crossover with 220 Hz and 2.2 kHz crossover points.
Response: 35 Hz to 25 kHz, -6dB point, in room
Sensitivity: 87.5 dB @one watt/one meter
Power Handling: 8 to 200 watts
Impedance: 8 ohms nominal (7 – 19 ohms range, SET-friendly)
Warranty: 10 years parts and labor
Weight: 28 lbs. shipped, 20 lbs. raw
Finishes: Black ash, dark red cherry, blonde maple, African Hazelwood
The LCR-15 is a diminutive version of the VR-2 Von Schweikert tower speakers which retains the same one-inch silk-resin dome tweeter and two woofers – one handling the midrange and the other the low end. Both are 5.5-inch heavy-duty drivers. But it necessarily has to eliminate the quasi transmission-line design of the VR-2 due to the small space – tho losing only about 10-15 Hz at the low end in the process. The savings amount to about $450 vs. the VR-2s and five of the LCR-15s would make a terrific home theater system for about $3700, although you would probably want to add a powered subwoofer such as the Von Schweikert VR-S/1.
I reviewed and use only one LCR-15 as my center channel speaker. I find the match to my left and right frontal VR-2s excellent and the three-channel SACDs I’ve been reviewing lately benefit from the close match of similar tweeter and woofers and overall design. (In fact the tweeter is identical, but the other two drivers are smaller than those in the VR-2s.) So although I wasn’t able to check out a pair of the LCR-15s my suspicion is that they share many of the fine qualities of the VR-2s, including being able to be separated some distance from one another on left and right and still generating a convincing phantom center image. What the LCR-15 gives up vs. the VR-2 is the modified transmission line in the bottom section of the tower which extends the low end down to 25 Hz. I have my LCR-15 cross over at 50 Hz to my subwoofer at my AV preamp so don’t feel I am losing any extreme low end since my surround speakers are also full range VR-2s. Von Schweikert Audio offers the System 20 Theater Package (illustrated above) which consists of the two pairs of VR-2s, the single LCR-15 center channel and the VR-S/1 powered subwoofer (which I may be tested soon) at a savings of $1485 – $5745 for the six-channel bundle.
Unlike many center channel speakers, the LCR may be used in either a vertical or horizontal position. I felt the vertical was a better match to the VR-2s on either side, putting the tweeter at a higher level to the ears, and the top of the cabinet still did not obscure the screen of my Pioneer 51” RPTV. I constructed my own base for it out of a maple chopping block and painted it black to match the black plinths of the VR-2s. The woofer cones are fabricated from cellulose acetate pulp impregnated with mica substrate and damped with a carbon fibre resin polymer. The materials were designed after much test and help to eliminate common peaks in the frequency and phase response.
The enclosure uses aperiodic cabinet loading, also referred to as a pressure release system. Instead of a conventional ported design, the LCR-15 has two “breathing tubes” at the cabinet’s rear; they decrease air pressure inside the enclosure and thereby increase dynamic range. The cabinet is fully stuffed with Dacron stuffing. The crossover also aids in allowing the speaker to be oriented either horizontally or vertically. (I have never heard a horizontal center channel speaker that sounds anything like its left and right front speakers.) I had my previous center channel speaker mounted vertically as well, but on top of my RPTV, and the LCR-15 at the floor level gives a much better soundstage across the front than the extreme triangular situation I previously had (and so many home theater fans now have.). The crossover is a steep-slope design intended to eliminate excessive driver overlap. It has very few parts directly in series with the drivers and is potted in resin to prevent distortion created by the transmission of vibration. I found the LCR-15 not as resonance-resistant as the lead-shot-loaded VR-2s. I attached a TeknaSonics vibration absorber to the exterior to handle his problem (a product you don’t hear about much anymore but is extremely worthwhile). The speaker is also much lighter than the VR-2s (especially when those are loaded with the lead shot), so there is not enough weight to press carpet-piercing spikes into the flooring beneath as with the VR-2. I merely put it on a Bright Star sand-filled Big Foot using Blue Tac, with a couple of old Mod Squad rubber feet at the front to point the LCR-15 upwards towards the sweet spot.
On the rear, the LCR-15 boasts audiophile five-way rhodium-plated binding posts. It is not bi-wireable as are the VR-2s. Being a smaller enclosure on the front panel than the VR-2s, the LCR-15 probably images even better, making it a good bet for a budget all-around surround system. Von Scheikert offers their TS-150 Dipole/Monopole Surround Speaker, but being a fan of strictly monopole speakers I would lean toward use of the LCR-15s as surround speakers, even if you wanted to use more upscale speakers for your left and right fronts. I believe them to be a true audiophile bargain. It’s unfortunate that Von Schweikert Audio doesn’t offer five of them plus their subwoofer as a bundled package along with their other multichannel packages. Their System 12 Package comes close in offering 3 LCR-15s plus a pair of TS-150s and their powered sub – at a savings of about $1000. Perhaps they could be talked into making a deal on an all-LCR-15 combination.
– John Sunier