Wilson Audio Sasha W/P
DescrizioneWilson Audio Sasha W/P
Succession is a fact of life in both royal dynasties and venerable audio products. It inevitably calls forth complex emotions, hence the resonance of the phrase above, reputedly first uttered upon the death of Charles VI of France, and thereafter part of the ritual of ascension in many European countries, including England.
For the past 23 years, no product represented the soul and history of Wilson Audio more than the WATT/Puppy. With well over 15,000 units sold since its inception, its place in the pantheon of great audio products is assured. Martin Colloms described the WATT in his landmark book, HIGH PERFORMANCE LOUDSPEAKERS, as the perfect enclosure. Its distinctive pyramidal shape has inspired numerous imitators.
The WATT was conceived of necessity. At the time (the early eighties), Dave Wilson was engineering a series of audiophile recordings and he needed an accurate location monitor. Nothing commercially available met his standards, so he decided to design and build his own. The WATT was in instant demand among Dave’s professional peers. Once it was combined with a dedicated woofer cabinet (the Puppy), its long reign as audio’s most successful over- $10,000 loudspeaker began.
From 1986, when the WATT was introduced at that year’s Consumer Electronics Show, to 2009, the WATT/Puppy system evolved through seven revisions. New cabinet architecture, new enclosure materials, new drivers, the introduction (with System 6) of Aspherical Group Delay—all of these changes came as Wilson’s loudspeaker technology progressed and found expression throughout the family of Wilson products—from Alexandria to Duette. The WATT/Puppy, as the paterfamilias, was never allowed to languish far behind Wilson’s state-of-the-art.
So why not a System 9? Why a new loudspeaker that embodies the spirit of WATT/Puppy, evokes a similar form factor, but which can no longer simply be called a WATT/Puppy? Why was it time for Sasha?
Throughout its evolution, the WATT was always a self-contained, two-way loudspeaker. It had its own crossover; the WATT always had the capability of being removed from the Puppy and operated on its own. MAXX and Alexandria, meanwhile, were multi-cabinet loudspeakers that integrated drivers through crossover modules mounted in the bass cabinet, a design strategy that has many proven sonic benefits. The WATT/Puppy platform itself became the obstacle to fully leveraging the latest advances in cabinet materials, crossover design, and proprietary driver design. Sasha makes all of those things possible, while maintaining the central position in the Wilson product line held by its illustrious predecessor.
Both the new midrange/tweeter module and the bass cabinet have greater volume than W/P 8.
The larger bass enclosure results in a 2Hz greater extension in the bass, and less congestion in the upper bass.
Increased volume in the upper module allows a new bracing architecture and sidewall construction for greater rigidity and lower resonance.
Sasha’s upper module utilizes Wilson’s newest proprietary cabinet material for its baffle, resulting in a lower noise floor and greater transparency in the critical midrange.
By removing the crossover from the upper module, less midrange energy is reflected through the midrange driver cone, again improving clarity and transparency.
Sasha incorporates both the 7” midrange driver and the tweeter from MAXX Series 3.
Sasha’s woofers utilize a new motor/magnet assembly with more magnetic force for the same cone mass resulting in improved dynamics and acceleration in the bass region.
The crossover is housed in the bass module, with resistor access on a rear panel. Custom wiring, hand-built at Wilson, connects all the drivers.
Dave Wilson began building WAMMs, his first state-of-the-art loudspeaker, in 1981. The cabinets were constructed of Baltic birch plywood and metal-hybrid baffles. By the time he had conceived and built the first WATT in 1985, Dave was looking for materials that could exhibit much better damping while achieving greater rigidity than wood, mdf, or aluminum. For the WATT, he chose a mineral-filled acrylic compound. The WATT was immediately acclaimed for its inert, low-resonance cabinet and uncolored sound.
The next challenge was to find a material that would work as well or better for bass enclosures. The arrival in 1992 of the X-1 Grand SLAMM marked the introduction of X material, Wilson’s first proprietary creation. As rigid as steel, but with superb damping, X material is a cellulose and phenolic composite. It has proved a versatile construction material for every part of Wilson cabinets except those housing midrange drivers, since X material’s resonant frequency lies at 1000Hz, within the midrange.
Having achieved such an impressive research payoff with X material, the next challenge was to create a composite more ideally suited to the midrange that could improve upon and replace mineral-filled acrylic.
The result of this endeavor was M material, a wood particle and phenolic resin laminate, which approaches X material’s combination of high rigidity and high damping, but with a specific hardness that coupled ideally with midrange driver frames.
M material was first used in the Series 1 MAXX, from whence it took its name. Its first appearance in a WATT cabinet came in 2002, with the introduction of WATT/Puppy System 7. The fourth generation M (M4), which is an epoxy laminate, is used in both MAXX Series 3, and Alexandria Series 2.
Sasha introduces Wilson’s newest material, which is a combination of natural fibers in a phenolic resin laminate. While precedent would suggest we call it “S” material, we’re frankly less concerned with naming it right away than with exploring its true potential. Within Sasha, it’s employed as the baffle material in the upper module, achieving a new standard for low coloration and midrange beauty.
Sasha uses the identical midrange driver employed in the MAXX Series 3. That unit is a slightly simplified version of the all new driver developed as one of the core components of the Alexandria Series 2.
The creation of the newest Alexandria was spurred by a musical experience Dave Wilson had at Vienna's famed Musikverein Concert Hall. What began as an auditory epiphany--the realization that the unique and treasured sound of the Musikverein (which many consider the world's finest concert venue) was a product of the way early and late reflections combined with the direct sound from the stage--soon led to a quest to create a driver possessed of such speed and low distortion that it could reproduce the subtleties of sound Dave had heard in Vienna. A detailed account of that process can be found here.
To accomplish the task, Wilson Audio formed a strategic partnership with an independent driver manufacturer to co-design a brand new, proprietary midrange unit. Commenting on the sound of the new driver in the MAXX 3, Marc Mickelson wrote in soundstage.com: “It is more lively and animated, more detailed, textured and expressive ...while never giving the impression that the frequency response, for instance, has been contoured or goosed. This wasn’t a matter of output as much as input -- the ability to convey important musical information from recordings, once again differentiating them from each other.”
The midrange is not the only driver inherited from MAXX Series 3; Sasha also uses the MAXX tweeter, a unit designed for lack of grain and distortion, along with a wide bandwidth.
The redesign of Sasha's bass cabinet, which has greater internal volume than the old Puppy enclosure, called for new woofers as well. The dual 8 inch units feature a new magnet and motor assembly, which signifcantly increases the magneic force relative to the cone mass, resulting in improved bass dynamics and acceleration.
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