I am always shopping for a bargain and seam to fall into the "right place at the right time",as I found my pair of VR 20 speakers in excellent shape at a large yard sale for only $30.I could not test them then and there,but figured for that price i would take a chance.That chance paid off as I got them safely home and hooked them up to my SAE system and was impressed with what I heard for a lower-end,but quality speaker.I then hooked them up to my old Technics SA-500,and again great sound quality,albeit with not as much punch as my Technics only puts out a modest 50wpc.I then connected them to my Nakamichi SR-4A(60 wpc of Nelson Pass/Threshold techno.)and they have been my mains for that unit ever since with some A/D/S L-300's on "b"speakers.Being an owner of Infinity Ref 1's and some Kefs,$550 original msrp still would be a bargaing to me,but luckily for me I scored Big time on this "yard sale " bargain and would not hesitate recommending these to anyone.Butyl surrounds,quality cones and magnet structure,decent tweets,all in a stable tower platform,as some top-loaded towers are top heavy and tend to be a bit wobbly because of this,the VR-20's do not.Do they sound as good as my R1's or Kefs,well of course not,but we are also talking about a massive difference in price,size and build quality.But for there price range and size you would be hard-pressed to find better.
I have owned these speakers for about five years now (bought them
new as discontinued for 350$). I admit I am not an AudioPhile, but
an enthusiast. I was imediately impressed by the "new" things I was
hearing in my old music, and even more impressed as they "Broke-
in" and became even more smooth. I noticed that the only poor review
they have recieved on this site is from someone that bought them
from a pawn shop (and that review wasn't even ALL bad). Not to be
missunderstood, I am not attacking the reviewer, I am mearly stating
that the source and history of his speakers are suspect. Soon after I
purchased the VR20's I began my search to complete my system.
I have since added the VR10 center (also an extremely good value)
and am searching for a compatible set of rears at a reasonable price.
I don't think that even today I could buy a better pair of speakers for the
price. If the sound stage is "off" try turning them at an angle (usualy in)
depending on the placement and room size. Also I have noticed that
they sound better (in my oppinion) if you rise them to a level that puts
the point where the tweeter and driver meet at the listening level. I
have not tested this theory in larger rooms yet (don't think it applies as
much), but in my 12' x 12' lr w/ 10' ceiling (typical boston apartment)
they do sound tighter. Finding a stable base that can handle the task
is a task in and of itself
Using a Sony ES 555 Reciever, I hooked these speakers up with some Monster Speaker wire and a Sony ES 400 Disc Player with the optical. I put these speakers on the A Switch, and stuck my current Speaker Labs on B. The speakerlab uses the same type of design, rear vent in the bottom, 1- 8" woofer, 1- 1" tweeter. I tuned them on one pair at a time using different types of music. Acoustical, rap, r+b and a little rock. This was in front of one of my friends who is not an audio enthusiast by any means. It took 5 seconds of comparing and even he noticed that the Bostons were good speakers. But I feel you can do a lot better for the original price tag of 550.00. The bass got sloppy at only 3/8 on the volume knob, everything flat. It didn't matter if the speaker was close to the wall, or away from the wall. The high end was clean, but just a little bright for me. But there was nothing in between, absolutely nothing to tie the tweet with the woofer. Almost bad enought to give a headache. I would spend a little more money, or even a lot more money, speakers don't go out of date. They either wear out, or blow, or get destroyed. I have looked at Snell, Monitor Audio, PSB, B+W, Keff, Speakerlab, Vienna, Klipshe and Energy. I would look closer at the PSB, B+W, Keff and Speakerlab. I am either returning the speakers, or selling them to a friend. I had expected a little better from Boston.
Having won some money in a few NCAA pools, I decided to spend the money on a new pair of speakers. When I came home from school during spring break, I went to Tweeter to start what I thought would be a long search for the right pair. I knew that speaker purchases should be very carefully made after extensive listening, and I brought a friend to try to temper my impulses. I wanted to spend under $300, as I am a college student on a tight budget. The Aiwa system I had been using previously cost me $369 in its entirety back in 1996. Anyway, I found a pair of Klipsch bookshelfs and the Boston towers and not much else for under $300. Both Klipsch and Boston had good reputations, as far as I knew, so I decided to give them a listen. I wasn't planning on getting floorstanding speakers, as I have to transport them to and from school each year.
I brought a selection of my own CDs, and liked both speakers about the same. They were in different rooms so it was impossible to do a direct A/B test. At 300 dollars, I decided the Bostons were too good to pass up, and I figured I had 30 days to decide whether I liked them. When I brought them home and hooked them up, I was immediately enthralled. Even powered by my Aiwa minisystem, they sounded remarkable. On "3 O'Clock Blues," Eric Clapton sounded like he was in my room.
Once I bought these speakers, I immediately got bitten by the audio bug, and started planning the rest of my system. All the while, I was worried that I rushed into the purchase, and that there were better speakers for the price. After about two months of agonizing, I came up with the best system I could put together for under $1000 - a Yamaha CDC 775 CD changer, a Harman/Kardon HK 3370 70Wx2 receiver, with Monster 550i interconnects and Z1 speaker cables. At the same time, I've made many repeat visits to Tweeter, where they've kindly let me demo all sorts of equipment and systems, and spent countless hours on the Internet learning the ins and outs of sound reproduction.
Thankfully, I've come to the conclusion that I made an excellent purchase when I picked up the VR-20s. For their retail price of $550, they would have been a good value. For $300, as far as I'm concerned, I got the deal of the century. These speakers faithfully reproduce the music contained on my CDs, and they sound very good to excellent. There are times, late at night, when my walls seem to melt away and my speakers disappear, and I am THERE. I've listened to a pair of Mirage Omnipolar speakers costing much more, and frankly, I like my Boston's better. They are very well-rounded, and for this reason they excel at many different kinds of music. I listen mainly to rock (radiohead, pearl jam, rem) jazz (miles, trane, monk, mingus) hip hop (the roots, talib kweli, mos def) - mostly small group stuff.
I think the mid-range is very warm sounding, and vocals, horns, and accoustic guitars sound particularly excellent on these speakers. Treble is good at moderate listening levels; if you turn the volume up too high, the tweeters can be very fatiguing. I think this is true of most aluminum dome tweeters, however. While Boston's claim that this tweeter is the finest available doesn't really fly with me, I'll agree that they are very good for the price. Bass is very tight sounding, not at all boomy unless you amplify lower frequencies on the EQ. Again, for the price and size of this speaker, the bass is very impressive and well articulated. The 7" woofer has enough thump for most hip hop and electronic music, but is detailed enough to reproduce a plucked double bass faithfully. However when the full jazz ensemble is playing, the double bass seems to disappear somewhat, and the lowest frequencies are obviously missing. I'm saving up to buy a REL Q-150, a sub that will be small enough for my dorm but very musical. Then, I'll have an unbeatable, full range system for under $2500.
After listening to a wide array of speakers and systems, I think I would have to spend at least 3x as much to have significant improvements in sound reproduction, namely in soundstaging. These speakers do produce a fair to good soundstage, but I find it is lacking in depth and is not as wide as I would like, either. There are inconsistancies in the soundstage which I find troubling as well. For instance, the distance between cymbals appears to be the full 8 feet between my two speakers, while the rest of the drumkit is usually in the center. These speakers would have you believe that that most drummers have extremely long arms and plenty of space to set up their kit! I believe that my speakers, and not any other part of the front end, are responsible for this discrepency. Too often, the soundstage breaks down into left, right, middle without much depth in between. But at other times, the soundstage does appear to stretch beyond the speakers and even beyond the walls. I think the room and listening position contribute this problem.
Overall, I am extremely pleased with my Boston Accoustic VR-20s, and I think they will keep me listening for years to come.
I am in the process of looking at a home theatre system and have always had just OK equipment - lower end, as I never have considered myself an audiophile of any sort, but I do listen to a lot of music with a wide range of styles. In looking at Front speakers for this anticipated surround system, I was shown the VR20's along with some other Boston surrounds etc. I liked that they were relatively inexpensive, and they sounded great when I demo'd them. Wasn't sure a two way speaker would have enough Bass without a sub, but figured since I was geting a sub eventually it couldn't be too bad. Although I'm not ready to buy the whole system just yet, I figured I'd pick these up before they ran out of them (discontinued model). Hooked them up to my lower end JVC receiver and played the Gladiator soundtrack CD to "test" them at home. WOW! I guess for $300 you can't go wrong - even on my "cheap" receiver they sounded much clearer, fuller, etc. than my 3 way low end speakers. Even the Bass was there but wasn't muddy and boomy. I didn't realize what good speakers can sound like. All I can say is that they sound great. I've been listening to even more music to see what I've been missing all this time with "junk" speakers. Now I can't wait to get a decent AV reciever to see what they sound like with a full surround/5 channel stereo system. No more "low end" audio equipment for me! Anyone interested in very reasonably priced speakers for any system I don't think can go wrong with the VR20's.