I know the VRD's have been discussed at length in the forums before, but i have to add my 2 cents worth for anyone who owns a pair of Klipsch heritage speakers and has ever considered getting a pair or is on the fence about getting a pair of VRD's.
I will get to the VRD's in a moment, but here is a little background on how i got addicted to Klipsch speakers in the first place which eventually led me to VRD's. A friend bought some Heresy II's back in high school and i remember he would have parties and turn up the music so loud and there would be zero distortion. The louder he played them the better they sounded. I had never heard anything like that and felt like i was at a rock concert every time i went to his house to drink a few beers and play pool.
For one reason or the other he decided to sell the Heresy II's and i was first in line with money in hand just before i went off to college. This was probably the best decision i ever made in regards for money spent versus returned enjoyment. $500 for 5 years of audio bliss. Not a bad deal. If that was the best decision, the worst decision was selling the Heresy II's when i needed some money when i was about to graduate college. That was the end of that chapter and about a year ago i decided to get back into Klipsch speakers and after much research i figured the Cornwall III was a can't miss choice although i never heard a pair before.
Now, i figured the CW III must be an improvement on the CW I and CW II and definitely the H II, so i bought a brand new pair and started searching for the right amp to make the CW III's make the magic i remember from my H II's in college. After saving some money i got the newer Mcintosh MC275 V figuring it would be a can't miss combo with my CW III's. Boy was i wrong. I was so disappointed with muddled sound quality and distortion at medium volume levels (i remember the H II's cranking so loud and clear and i could barely turn up the CW III's without hearing muddy distortion). i made the mistake of selling the CWIII's thinking that the speakers were the problem (how could it be the brand new McIntosh gear right???). After hearing the next owners setup with his vintage gear i knew right away the speakers were just fine, it was the McIntosh gear that was the culprit. Now i wish i could have those CWIII's back with my current setup. I bought a pair of Forte II's to replace the CW III's and had them tricked out by Bob Crites with every mod (new crossovers, titanium diaphragms and new wiring). Hooked up the Forte II to the MC275V and my music still sounded like sh&%. Double confirmation the MC275V was crap.
I then thought i would give a vintage McIntosh amp a shot and got a MC250 after doing some research. I must say this is an amazing amp that is built like a tank and pairs well with Klipsch speakers. My Forte II's finally starting singing the second they were hooked up to the MC250 and i cursed that damn MC275 that was making my music suffer the whole time. The MC250 definitely blew away the MC275 V as far as sound quality. It is SS but it sounds like a tube amp. I believe Mcintosh made and makes some great products, just not the MC275 V re-issue.
Now lets talk about the NOS Valves VRD's that I ordered last month and arrived a few days ago. After letting them warm up for about 15 minutes i played one of my favorite reference tracks and that was it, end of story, the search was over, this is the amp that sounds like the sound i have been chasing for almost a year. It blew away the MC275 and was a solid improvement over the MC250. I have never heard an amp sound this smooth and balanced. It is a match made in heaven with my Forte II. I can't wait to get a pair of LS or KH or Jubs and hear their full potential, but one thing is clear, this is the best value amp out there today and i would have paid twice what i paid for it if i would have been able to audition it in advance and hear what i am hearing. If you are in the market for a new amp the VRD's are the way to go if you own Klipsch Heritage speakers. They are worth more than Craig is charging. They blow away the new McIntosh stuff.
If I had to do it all over again i would have done this setup and called it a day. No telling how much time i wasted searching for the right combo, but i think this is heaven.
1) Get a pair of NOS Valves VRD tube monoblocks
2) Get a Juicy Music Peach or Blueberry tube Preamp
3) Get a good DAC like a Benchmark DAC1 USB so you can have option to play music from your computer if needed
4) Get a Pair of gently used Forte II, Chorus II, Cornwalls, LaScala's or Khorns with Bob or Al's mods
5) Get a tube CD player (Jolida JD100A) and a good value turntable
6) Get some good interconnects and speaker wires just to be safe and you have done all you can do
Any improvement over this combination would be minimal at best and the law of diminishing returns would kick in not to mention you would spend needless amounts of money and waste the time trying to get a better sound that might not ever exist. That is my 2 cents worth. Just don't want any others to waste the time or money I did by making the same mistakes. Get the VRD's and a good pair of Klipsch speakers everything else will fall into place, promise. Hope this helps someone find the sound they are looking for too.