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Wilson Audio Alexia / VTL - Room 2030





The system configuration included:

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Wayne's Impressions

Let's get this out of the way: This Wilson Alexia / room / equipment combination is the best system I have heard in my life. I say it with qualifiers, knowing I have probably heard speakers I would like better when set up and supported properly, even having heard better Wilson speakers at this show. There was another Alexia setup that did not sound as good. But all-in-all, hearing this system was the most near-perfect audio experience I have had. So far.

This system made up Disappearing Speaker Act #1 at the show for me - pure music and absolutely no evidence of loudspeakers as the source. Everything about them - soundstage, imaging, tonality, clarity, dynamics - was as near perfect as I have witnessed, and that was apparent before I even got into the prime listening position. The moment was as magical as they come.

That said, let's get real. A $48,000 pair of speakers and $169,000 for cables? Seriously? OK, if I had millions to burn, I would have walked in, listened a minute, and walked over to the rep with my platinum-gold-diamond-moondust-encrusted buy-anything-Express card and said, "I want the whole system, just like it is, where do I sign?" But having grown up with a sense of economic proportion about technology and audio and even a fun expenditure like a high-end audio system, I have to think thoughts like, "Would it sound any different with $20,000 worth of cables? How about $10,000 worth? Anyone heard of Monoprice?"

Lest I be beaten up by high-end audio cable thugs, let me say that I have no experience working with high-end audio cables to date. I might very well become a believer some day, it just has not happened yet. I am also a believer in understanding the technology, in trusting available measurements, in making unbiased comparisons, and in not automatically trusting my ears where subtle differences like cable sound are concerned, so I will not be an easy sell.

Back on topic, this system sounded absolutely perfect, no argument about that. It was the single biggest delight of the show for me, and made it difficult to be objective in the next few rooms that followed it.


Dennis' Impressions

Wayne and I visited this room together, and we both are in agreement. This is the best audio reproduction I've heard to date, and one of my top three favorite rooms of the show (the other two are waaaay less expensive). Even though most of our audition was analog LP, it did not matter one whit. With nary a pop or click to take away from the enjoyment, I have to state that this was also the best I've experienced from vinyl, as well.

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Wayne's Addendum:


10-28-2003 at 5:45 AM

The main Wilson Audio room at the nearby Hyatt Regency contained an imposing pair of Alexandria XLF speakers, priced a little under $200,000, accompanied by a pair of Thor's Hammer subwoofers. The demo was very structured - sit and listen. The room was large, with seating for 30 or so at a time. A representative talked about the system briefly, then introduced each demo track before it played. The results were very impressive.

The two standout properties of the Alexandria XLF system: Dynamics - WOW! One track included lots of close-up recorded drums, another a huge bass drum that produced a deep guttural thump, all with no sense of strain. The other standout property: tonal accuracy was simply flawless, totally true to nature. A trumpet and saxophone track offered lots of close-up detail, another featuring piano and violin, and one with a male-female duet - all were tonal perfection.

None of the tracks were right for a true demonstration of the imaging power of the Alexandria XLF's. Joe and I were shamelessly hogging the two best sweet spot seats and agreed that the speakers never quite disappeared in the room, and although the soundstage was broad and natural, the imaging was just not ever shown off like it should have been.





Another pair of Alexia's, one of them pictured above, was in the last room I visited for the weekend. Not a disappearing act like the first pair, but - as usual - tonally right on, nice soundstage, pretty good imaging but not properly shown off.

All in all, my introduction to Wilson speakers was very positive. An interesting side effect of tonal accuracy and flat frequency response is that expensive speakers sometimes sound bland, plain vanilla. Speakers that are "fun" or "exciting" are not totally neutral, although they may be close, even reference-grade. But a truly-flat totally neutral reference grade sound is not an exciting sound, it is - well, like no sound at all, you only hear the voices and the instruments. My impression of the three pairs of Wilson speakers I heard at RMAF is that their tonal accuracy was SO accurate that they almost seem bland, and that can make expensive speakers seem overpriced. Unless they are set up so well that they completely disappear in an a wide, deep soundstage with razor-sharp imaging - that is when they become exciting speakers, as exciting as they get.

Joe's Impressions

I only visited the larger room at the Hyatt for the Alexandria ELF / Thor's Hammers setup (and I added some pictures above), and I will say that the cabinet design had a very "robotic" feel to it and the finish was good, but I was not in love with the color.

As far as the sound, I was very impressed with the impact of the Thors - during the Boxenkiller track, I actually felt like I was being punched which was very impressive considering the size of the room. Instrument detail was very good - high hats and piano stood out the most for me as they sounded very smooth and pure. Vocals imaged dead center with a wide soundstage, but it did not feel like a live performance to me as it was not very deep and I could locate the speakers very easily - they did not disappear like I experienced in a few other setups. Vocals sounded fine, but they did not quite have the open, airy sound I personally prefer.

The system was pretty good, but a couple things detracted from the experience for me - the lack of a live performance feel and the fact that they made it like a show - each one lasted 30 minutes and you had to wait outside if you did not time your visit right and they had someone "introducing" each track which did not really give me a chance to settle in and just listen to the music.
 

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Cheap CHEAP CHEAP!!! You spent too much time in the CHEAP room!

And it wasn't quite $169,000 in cables... your math is off. :whistling:

Seriously though... hate I missed this room in one respect, glad I did in another. I just didn't plan out my room visits too well, but I still had lots of fun and heard some GREAT systems.

Of course I recommend everyone pick up one of these for their casual listening room, despite my not having heard it.
 

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Just out of curiousity, was there ANY DSP,EQ applied to this system ??
Not that was indicated, and the exhibitors were generally pretty up front about things like that. I should have made note of room treatments but did not - there is none in the pictures Dennis took, and I do not remember seeing any. A lot of rooms had some treatment, but a lot used none beyond the standard carpeting, curtains over windows, and dropped acoustical tile ceiling, which actually adds up to a fair amount of damping (not much help with early reflections). No doubt the Wilson folks spent some time on proper positioning, but they would have at the other two Wilson rooms too, neither of which came close to sounding like this one. There might just have been some luck involved. Occasionally (not often) chance works in our favor when setting up a listening room!
 

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There is a treatment behind the VTL amp, I'm thinking there were some more, but don't recall what kind or how they were positioned.
 

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Oops, missed that, thanks Dennis. There very well could have been more.
That was one of the first rooms we visited during the three day show, hard to remember, exactly. Except for the sound, THAT experience I will never forget.
 

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Of course I recommend everyone pick up one of these for their casual listening room, despite my not having heard it.
I was hoping this setup could be a giveaway at HTS. I'm even willing to donate one of my daughter's piggy banks to help fund it. It's not full so we may need more funds.
 

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Did you're hair blow back like in the old RCA adds?

That must have been an amazing system. One of the local shops just started to carry Wilson. Its been in my list if to dos to go give them a listen but now I think I'm going to have to push it higher up on my list.

What was your impression of the Thor's Hammer? Will it damage walls/break glass?
 

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I thought that the Thor's Hammer subs did a great job, filling the large room effortlessly with with very articulate bass. The imaging of that particular system (at the Hyatt) left a lot to be desired, I left before the closed demonstration was finished. Maybe a bit rude of me, but I wasn't hearing a reasonable facsimile of a live performance and wanted to move on, as the show was winding down and I still had a lot of rooms left to visit.
 

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Well folks I heard a demo of the Alexia's with Dan D'augostino amps and preamp. It had the DCS dac with an Apple computer running Roon. This was at a special show in Cleveland Ohio. They did have room treatments at first reflections and all I can tell you is I got so overcome with the quality of music I actually started crying. Not whimpering but actually sobbing. I had to leave the room 2 times so I could regroup. I would sit back down and listen for about 1 minute and then I would feel it building. Then I would start with the stomach gasp. Then the heart would be overcome with emotion. Then the tears. Then it was time to leave. Afterall I was amongst men. I couldn't let them see me balling like a baby. Lol

Sorry for the kind of off topic post. Just reading and wanted to share my experience with Wilson speakers.

It was the most awesome sound I have ever heard by a wide margin. And when you say it all just sounds real, that is how I described it. It didn't sound like speakers.

Sent from my SM-G925V using Tapatalk
 
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