Roth VA4 active Bluetooth and phono speakers review
British audio company, Roth, have been around for a few years now and GadgetyNews has been asked to check out their active VA4 speakers. These may be of interest to those with not much space but want a compact set-up for their new turntable.
Having lived in London for over a decade now, I know how important space is. I have lived in some tiny flats as well as just renting a room in one.
The Roth VA4 piqued my interest as they have a range of connectivity options (including phono), a good price and look pretty cool too.
Roth VA4 design
The speakers come in a choice of gloss red, white or black frontage. The white ones I have here look rather classy I think.
The rest of the cabinet is finished in a dark woodgrain effect.
They come loaded with a 4-inch woofer and a 1-inch tweeter each.
Overall, both speakers weight in at 5.6kg and they are 22cm high x 14cm wide x 17 cm deep apiece.
Around the back, the VA4 is equipped with a switchable phono/analogue RCA input, so that you can just simply plug in your turntable.
Alternatively, the optical digital input or the 3.5mm stereo input can be used.
For those that require a contemporary connection, the VA4 also supports Bluetooth with aptX, enabling the streaming of music wirelessly from smartphones, tablets, computers or Bluetooth turntables such as the Elipson Alpha.
For larger rooms, the ‘Sub Out’ enables the connection of a sub-woofer.
Bluetooth devices can also be controlled with play/pause, previous, next and pairing.
Completing the feature set, a USB charging socket is also provided, allowing users to charge their devices as they stream.
Roth VA4 performance
The speakers dish out 2×40 Watts from its Class D amplifier. This should prove to be plenty for most rooms, especially if you live in London.
As with most active speakers, one of them is the master and the other the slave. The master not only has all the inputs at the rear, but is fitted with the infra red receiver and status lights.
Getting everything sorted is simple. Plug the mains lead in and run the bundled speaker cable from the master to the slave.
As I still have the natty Elipson I have tested the speakers both wired and wirelessly. There is a line level input dial at the back to boost the input signal to the Line in RCA if needed.
The remote isn’t fancy but does everything it should. When pairing Bluetooth remember to select Bluetooth on the remote, and then pair. Something that, in my haste, confused me a little.
The sound from both the Elipson Alpha and my Pro-Ject 1 Xpression are surprisingly detailed.
I am not going to compare it with my main rig but, if I had a choice between the VA4 + Elipson or my early 90s midi system, then the new kids would certainly win.
Having a USB charging point at the back of the speaker is a nice touch when streaming from your mobile.
Digital sources come through clearly, as expected. It was the addition of a phono stage though that really adds focus to where Roth are aiming these speakers.
On that score, they are plenty capable. They might not be a sure-footed as more expensive speakers, but that’s only to be expected.
They handled Helloween’s ‘I Want Out’ 12-inch single at a volume befitting of the German happy thrashers. Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ was treated with more empathy than I was expecting, to be honest.
The mids and highs were punchy and crisp, but the low-end seemed a little heavy-handed in places. However, this played right in to the hands of more dance and chart music.
Roth VA4 review conclusion
I realise that there will be those out there decrying having your analogue source bounced digitally to your speakers as this negates the whole point of vinyl. The thing is, some places I have lived I’ve had to run loads of speaker cable from my amp in order to get ‘regular’ speakers linked to my Hi-Fi. This is also an audiophile no-no. The thing is, most rooms not being designed as listening dens and if you’re renting, it’s just something you have to work around.
But the analogue sound is only part of the physical experience. The album art, sleeve notes, handling the media, having to flip it over at half-time. The sound of the needle when it first touches the record surface. All these factors are still in play. Even the crackles and pops.
The Roth VA4 are compact, potent, flexible and a great way to listen to your LPs and singles if space is an issue.
I can certainly see these appearing in bedrooms and bedsits alike.
Roth VA4 price and availability
The VA4 speakers cost £199 and are available direct from Roth as well as Amazon.
For more information, head over to the Roth site.