Vanguard Scout Mini-Monitor Speakers- Written & YouTube Review

Last fall, I was enthralled by Veri-Fi Audio's Vera-Link Bluetooth Wireless Amplifiers. At that time marketing guru Mark Schifter, hinted to me that a matching set of small speakers were coming. While it took several months for me acquire a pair due to their demand, I've spent the past 6 weeks listening to them. Now I understand the Scouts popularity.

Even with their relatively low sensitivity, the Scouts had no problems delivering a very enjoyable presentation once given enough volume control above 75db. The diminuitive Vista Audio Spark, with its old school receiver sound embellished the already slightly warm timbres. While the WiiM Amp, even with its power drop away from 1khz, made for a wonderful pairing. The vacuum tube output of the Vista Audio i34 raised the midrange performance another notch. The classD GaN technology from Peachtree, with its combination of speed and clarity along with the power allowed the upper midrange and higher frequencies of the Scouts to shine well above their $299pr price point. Finally, the combination of the massive power of the Emerald Physics 600.2se at 600wpc, with its dual tubes in the preamp, may have been a bit of overkill, but stunning non-the-less.

The Vanguard Scouts are a true chameleon with amplifiers. Only the original PS Audio Sprout couldn't get them singing. Therefore, as long as you have honest, decent power (they are rated at 50wpc), you'll find the Scouts to be pleasant and engaging. 

Play The Music

The Vanguard Scouts took about an hour to find proper placement in my 11x10 room on sand-filled Celestion si stands, some 24 inches out from the front wall and 18 inches from side walls. Toe-in was set to each ear at my listening chair. Remember, everyone's room is different, as well as your taste in bass frequencies. Therefore, you may find closer or farther placement to the front wall more to your liking.

Dialing up Joni Mitchell's 1968 album Song to a Seagull on Qobuz, the Scouts nail her vocal pitch. The tracks "Marcie" as well as "Nathan" shows off Mitchell's vocal range, as well as the recording limits of the time during a few power phrases. The refinement and clarity of her vocals are not something one hears at the price point. The acoustic guitar is easy and slightly warm throughout the album. The classic song "Sisotowbell Lane" is midrange heaven with the occasion treble vocal peak.

The obscure Alan Parsons Project track "KtxP", with its dominate piano, is wonderfully recreated on the Scouts. Both the energy of the key strikes, and well as the clean, tonally pleasant notes show off perfectly how well focused the Scouts are to midrange and lower treble frequencies. While not as rich as my LSA Signature 80's (also designed by Dr. Nguyen), the necessary elements are there in a most auditory pleasing form.

Switching to the Doobie Brothers Minute By Minute album, it's easy to forget how sonically outstanding the album sounds. The entire record is chock full of auditory gifts. "Here to Love You" the instrument separation is outstanding with the Scouts, with mid-song saxophone soaring in the background, while bass guitar keeps the song moving forward. The clarity of Michael McDonald's vocals hovering just above the synthesizer in "What a Fool Believes", has no business being this good at its price. The Scouts avoid the nasal intonations that budget speakers usually fall into. It's what makes the Scouts just so damn enjoyable for hours on end.

Another recent discovery on Qobuz, is the folk group The Milk Cartoon Kids. Acoustically, their albums are stunningly good. The Scouts midrange skills are a perfect match for the natural harmonies and casual instrumentation. Since the Scouts don't try to do everything, this allows them to shine at what they do so well. The proof for me was how many evenings I lost complete track of time and ended up going to bed way later than I should have! "Younger Years" is a perfect example track. The harmonies blend effortlessly, while the acoustic guitars show off a wonderfully layered texture.

The only time I found the Scouts to struggle with vocals, is with those artists who tend to occasionally shout. Rod Stewart's "One More Time" being the most obvious offender. This, honestly was the only area of weakness with these budget stunners. The fact that the Scouts are designed to please the listener with what is realistically possible from such a small cabinet and budget is a testament to the designer Nguyen and marketing man Schifter.

Adding A Subwoofer

As impressed as I am with the Scouts on their own, it's no wonder that Schifter and Nguyen went immediately into creating a matching subwoofer with the Caldera. Though I didn't have that model for this review, I did add my Totem Dreamcatcher sub to the system. Setting the frequency level to 80hz took the Scouts to the next level of enjoyment. (I do want to mention that in my space, turning off the subwoofer didn't create panic or disillusion with the Scouts. The wonderful midrange and smooth tweeter kept me happy.) 

Recently, I've discovered the Alan Parson Project album The Sicilian Defense", an instrumental album that was done as a contract obligation in just a few days. The group considers it rough and incomplete, yet some tracks are insanely good. This album is really digs into bass frequencies, thus showing off how nicely the Scouts work with a subwoofer. When properly set with the room and gear, the Scouts perform seamlessly with the sub. the track "Kt-KB3" blends the synthesizer layers of both the midrange melody, as well as the bass foundation.

Song "P-Q4" does much the same, only using a solo piano with underlying bass keys, while the middle and upper keys handle the melody. The blending frequencies between the Scouts and the subwoofer isn't muddied, unlike previous personal experiences.

The imaging fun that happens in all of the Alan Parsons Project albums occurs in "PxP", as Parsons rolls the synthesizer from left to right in perfect rhythm, while bass keeps a clean, dedicated guiding pace.


About halfway through the review period, I was able to compare the Scouts to the highly regarded budget KEF Q150 bookshelf speakers. It did take a bit to level match in order to judge fairly using my Adcom speaker selector. While the Q150's dug deeper and threw a wider soundstage, the Scouts are much cleaner/clearer in the midrange, as well as a smoother, less harsh high frequencies. In a complete shock, I also found myself preferring the Scouts over my original Totem Model 1's. Once again the clarity of the Scouts won the day over the top end sparkle and chestier sound of the Totems. 

Final Thoughts

The Vanguard Scouts are a perfect example of Andrew Jones and Danny Richie effect on the budget speaker world. What used to be a slap it together and put it on the market approach to entry level speakers has shifted to "best bang for the buck" approach. While compromise is a natural fact at this price point, Dr. Viet Nguyen has doubled down on his design beliefs. Targeting a beguiling midrange and natural treble, instead of trying to create an everything for everybody approach. The result is a wonderful, small speaker gem that is never fatiguing and enjoyable in active listening. The Scouts may have been imagined for the lifestyle casual listening market, but they perform well into budget and journeyman audiophile world. The review pair have found a permanent home. The Vanguard Scouts are a five-star winner!

Manufacturer Website: Vera-Fi Audio

Review Gear

PS Audio Sprout, Peachtree Carina GaN, Peachtree GaN400, Adcom GFA545ii, Vista Audio Spark, Vista Audio i34, Emerald Physics 600.2se, WiiM Amp, Oppo HA-1 in preamplier modÄ™, Denafrips Ares II, Celestion si stands.