In terms of timbral accuracy, the speakers performed very well. On the “Old Italian Violin Test” (see the Magico S1 Mk II review in Issue 270 for details) the E-5s get a solid B-plus—there was no problem distinguishing a Stradivarius from a Guarneri del Gesù, and some parsing of different examples of the two instrument makers’ fiddles was possible as well. Female voices were richly characterized. A belated discovery for me is the singer/songwriter Sarah Jarosz. In addition to the emotional acuity of her songs, another reason I like her, I think, is because she sounds more than a little like a young Emmylou Harris. The Endeavors told me what was similar about their voices, and what was different.
The E-5s excelled with the presentation of spatial information, typically a forte of minimonitors. Swanson attributes this to several factors, the narrow baffle and the height of the speakers included. “In many concentric array speakers, the overall image size can be huge. The complicated part is getting the voices and instruments to be reproduced to scale, as well as in their accurate positions.” Swanson has evidently figured it out. The soundstage for an orchestra extends continuously in front of the listener: On the PentaTone SACD reissue of Kurt Masur’s reading of the Brahms Serenade No. 1, woodwinds were precisely localized and the second violins were clearly sitting interior to the firsts. I’m used to listening to the Mickey Hart cut noted earlier in multichannel, and the sense of an atmospherically vast space was apparent with just two Endeavors.
I enjoyed my time with the Von Schweikert Audio Endeavor E-5s immensely. The E-5s meet their design objectives and offer a majestic, full-scale representation of complex and dynamic musical material. Although they will most certainly perform well in a large space, they manage the feat in a more typical, less capacious domestic listening environment. The pack of contending high-end loudspeakers begins to thin when you reach the $30,000 price point, and the VSA Endeavor E-5s should definitely be on the short list for anyone with $30–$40k budgeted for speakers.
As for the Dominator MX-10s in Ruthless People, following Ken’s tour de force of salesmanship, the young headbanger declares, “I want it!” But then the customer’s plainly dressed pregnant teenaged wife walks into the demo room, and Ken, good soul that he is, conscientiously takes the couple instead to hear something much smaller and less costly. But, presumably, that’s not you. Give the VSA Endeavor E-5s an audition. You could be living large.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Three-way, vented box enclosure
Driver complement: One 1" beryllium dome tweeter, two 6.5" Kevlar cone midrange, four 7" aluminum cone woofers
Frequency response: 27Hz–40kHz, +/–2dB
Impedance: 8 ohms
Recommended minimum amplifier power: 60 watts
Dimensions: 9" x 66" x 15"
Weight: 135 lbs.
VON SCHWEIKERT AUDIO
1040-A Northgate St.
Riverside, CA 92507