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If one’s goal is to reproduce the sound of live music, logic suggests that at some point the designer must listen to his creation in order to understand how much (or how little) it sounds like the live event. Some designers in the industry maintain that making judgments on the success of one’s design through listening is subjective and unscientific. They believe that only through the application of the right theories, or the strict adherence to a certain set of measurements can one reliably approach the ideal.
Yet the history of high-end audio is littered with electronics and loudspeakers that achieve sterling performance on the test bench, and yet, to the ears of even the average listener, fail to produce life-like sound. They lack the ineffable sense of rightness that momentarily suspends disbelief.
When it came to designing the Series 2, every angle and curve was scrutinized, every structural element was considered, each of the metal components, large and small, were carefully examined for possible improvements. Nearly everything in the Alexia has been reworked for the Series 2 with an eye toward more elegantly following the underlying technological function responsible for the Alexia’s intrinsic musical rightness.
Alexx is the fourth all-new loudspeaker from Wilson Audio in as many years. It may be intuitive to assume the Alexx replaces the venerable MAXX, in that it is Wilson’s latest entry into the large speaker segment just below the Alexandria, but, in reality, the comparison with the MAXX begins and ends there. Instead, the Alexx is an altogether more complex and sophisticated loudspeaker. Alexx incorporates Wilson’s latest thinking on loudspeaker design in the areas of time-domain geometry, driver configuration, and driver development. It is the latest beneficiary of Wilson’s ongoing analysis of low-resonance cabinet strategies via laser micrometer. Alexx draws from both recent designs such as the Alexia and the Sabrina, as well as the WAMM—Dave Wilson’s up and coming Magnum Opus—with which it was developed concurrently.
Special Applications projects have a long and illustrious history at Wilson Audio. In 1983, Dave Wilson needed a small location monitor for the series of audiophile-acclaimed classical music recordings he was doing at the time. Finding nothing suitable on the market, he went into his garage and built the original WATT®. Its truncated pyramid shape, constructed from mineral-filled methacrylic, broke the mold of then-current loudspeaker design and has been widely copied since for one reason: it worked extremely well. Mated to its dedicated woofer enclosure, the WATT/Puppy, now called Sasha W/P, continues to be Wilson Audio’s longest running and best-selling loudspeaker.
With traditional loudspeaker designs, near-boundary placements wreak havoc on the performance characteristics audiophiles most prize. The soundstage collapses, dynamics are compromised, and a smooth, linear frequency response becomes a distant memory.
Mezzo is only the latest product from the Wilson Special Applications Engineering Team ™. This group of products recognizes there are situations where the typical floorstanding loudspeaker fails to adequately meet needs that fall outside the typical listening room/home theater environments.
Polaris—The North Star—anchors the rotating night sky as the immovable center above the North Pole. The task of a center channel loudspeaker is to provide the grounded, centered, aural point around which swirl the action, music, and emotion of the home theater experience.
The inspiration for Sabrina arose from two distinct and seemingly disparate sources: the original WATT/Puppy, and the Alexandria XLF. The WATT/Puppy was the result of Dave Wilson’s belief that a well-designed compact loudspeaker could outperform many of the much larger state-of-the-art systems of its day. Sabrina is nearly the same size as its 1980s progenitor. The XLF, on the other hand, represents the current pinnacle of Wilson’s three-decades-long quest to bridge the gulf between live, unamplified music and its reproduction. The XLF platform offers the world’s most precise time-alignment capability, custom-designed drivers, and cabinet modules constructed from Wilson’s proprietary materials, reducing cabinet resonance and coloration to inaudible levels.
The WATT/Puppy is perhaps the most salient and iconic example of Dave Wilson’s lifelong quest for the absolute sound. The WATT, the upper module of the combination, began in the mid-eighties as a utilitarian recording tool, a portable, ultra-high resolution location monitor for the recordings he was then making. The WATT was later paired with a dedicated woofer module—the “Puppy.” The WATT/Puppy combo became Wilson Audio’s largest selling product. The reason was simple: it was a truly compact, full-range loudspeaker that could fit easily in most real-world listening rooms while still offering the bass speed and extension, the dynamics, and musicality associated with much larger systems.
Subwoofers are de rigueur in home theater systems, but their history at Wilson Audio long predates theater surround systems. Dave Wilson's first commercial product, the multi-cabinet WAMM®, represented his effort to build a speaker capable of reproducing the full range of music, including those lowest organ notes.
Special Applications Engineering is a part of the founding DNA of Wilson Audio. The first product to fit that definition was the Wilson Audio Tiny Tot, or WATT®. Long before it became the upper module of the venerable WATT/Puppy® combo (the best-selling over $10k loudspeaker in audio history), Dave Wilson utilized the WATT as a portable location monitor for the series of audiophile-quality records he engineered in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Recordings revered to this day, and currently available on the Wilson Audiophile label.
The WATCH® system [Wilson Audio Theater Comes Home] was born out of the recognition that the same factors that greatly enhance the emotional impact of music reproduction are applicable to motion picture soundtracks. Some interesting trials validate a counter-intuitive thesis: when viewers were asked to rate the impact of two different home theater systems—one with larger, better quality video, but with a middling sound system, and the second with a smaller screen but a state-of-the-art audio system—they invariably chose the latter system as the more emotionally involving.