Von Schweikert and VAC | High End 2019

The Audio Company strikes again

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High-End 2019 show coverage brought to you by Core Power Technologies

Decided to start my coverage with a big room, one of those all-out assaults (or close enough); this is what Munich offers after all. You see, visiting Munich evolved in recent years, no more a plain consumer’s show and more of a continuous show off of what each manufacturer is capable of. The Audio Company had Von Schweikert (website) bring the … modest … version of their flagship speakers, which were covered a couple of years back from yours truly. Now, the Ultra 11 retail for $300.000 while these Ultra 9 cost “only” $200.000! A bargain?

New and rather different, as in out of the box different, was the Statement 450iQ integrated amplifier from VAC (website). If you have an idea of what an integrated amplifier looks like, then you are so wrong. This is a form follows function design, as Kevin Hayes explained to me, the input to output path follows a “J” pattern for minimum noise pick up and maximum efficiency when it comes to circuit topology. Up to here nothing special you might think but this is a behemoth, standing some 3ft tall and weighing in something like half a ton. The 450iQ is not yet listed on VAC’s page but the retail will be $150K, so yes, not exactly the integrated for an audiophile on a budget. Then again this is an all-out assault and you wouldn’t expect the gorgeous Von Ultra 9s to be paired with anything less than a stellar amplifier. On the bright side, with such an integrated you don’t need extra interconnects to run from your pre to the power amps and even more importantly there is a truly exceptional tube phono stage built in.

For this being a showroom, it was one of the best systems from this year’s show, with a very smooth yet detailed sound with no fatigue whatsoever. A typical Von Schweikert wide-open soundstage came together with enough bass to shake the room. The analog front end was an Acoustic Signature Invictus Jr turntable with Air Tight Opus 1 MC cartridge, another 100K there, while on the digital the guys were using Esoteric Grandioso mono DACs/ transport/ network player with Masterbuilt cables and finally Artesania racks.

All in all, we are north of $600K, so yes, this is a system designed to play in the big league and it does so by bringing one of the widest soundstages, a detail retrieval second to none and enough bass to shake even the biggest of the rooms.

What a start!

High-End 2019 show coverage brought to you by The LSA Group

About Panagiotis Karavitis 212 Articles
Doctor and Editor @ Part-Time Audiophile Publisher @ Audiohub.gr


  1. I am one of those people who buys one of these systems. In fact, I am buying essentially this exact system, except I am buying the VAC separates with VAC Reference level pieces substituted for the preamp and phono stages and the Statement Stereo IQ 450 amp, but getting MasterBuilt Ultra cabling for all interconnects, speaker wire and PC’s. I had to substitute the VAC Reference pieces for the Statement pieces because I am not a prince nor wealthy. I am a lifelong audio fan who as the editor says, diverted some of my retirement funds to buy my bucket list system that I have dreamed of since I was 10. (BTW, I turn 70 this Friday) I am going to work an extra year or two before retiring because this will make my retirement better.

    Am I certifiable? No. I just want to be able to experience whatever music I wish as if it is live in my room because as the VSA tag says “The Sound Of Reality” is exactly what this system will do. The fact that I have become friends with Damon, Leif and Kevin is a bonus–a big bonus.

    • Congrats on your purchase and soon to be system Russ. Damon and Leif are fantastic guys to hang around with, always a pleasure to chat with them in shows. This is a serious kit and it will bring a smile in your face every day you fire it up!

      • Panagiotis,

        Thank you for your kind reply. I am very excited. They will be coming to my house to help set up the system and advance our friendship. You are welcome to join us.


  2. No, I just think that million dollar systems are jumping the shark. Maybe it just offends my sense of proportionality. But I suppose one could make a formidable critique of capitalism from this example.

  3. Who buys these systems? I’d really like to know. The usual suspects: Saudi princes; Hollywood types; You Tube stars? It would be interesting to know. Maybe someday one of these buyers will step forth and explain it all.

    • Explain what-all, Tony? There are folks who have disposable income and choose to invest it all in an audio system, instead of in a 401k or a Porshe. These are not “The 1%”, per se, but more like “The 3%”. And while there are certainly some Saudi Princes and Chinese billionaires, I suspect most are not.

      Or are you making a more general critique of capitalism?

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