Letters

Alexx questions

September 16, 2017

Marc,

I just read your great review of the Wilson Alexx speakers. I had been eagerly awaiting your review as these are on my shortlist for future speakers, along with Vivid Giya Spirit, Stenheim Reference, Avalon SAGA, etc.

I wonder if I could ask some questions, given your extensive experience with these and other Wilson speakers.

1. How did Alexx perform at low to moderate volumes of say 60-75dB in terms of microdynamics,vibrancy, image height and retaining overall musicality and musical detail?

2. How far from front wall are they placed in your room and how far away is your listening seat? I have noticed that most Wilson speakers are set up relatively close to front wall, and I have never seen them set up in a more open field, away from the front wall, or relatively close to listening seat for a more nearfield position. This seems to suggest that their bass is tuned for this positioning. Is this your experience as well?

3. I notice you have an Audio Research Reference 75 SE listed in your equipment. Did you get to try this amp, and if so, what were your impressions? I believe Alexx is a more difficult load than Wilson's Alexandria XLF.

Any feedback you can share would be much appreciated. Thanks again for a very informative and helpful review.

Ash Varma

I'll answer your questions in sequence.

I do a lot of listening at lower volumes, often while I'm sitting in the near dark or at my computer in the next room, and the Alexx does as well at low volumes as any speaker I've heard in my room, including the larger Wilson models. The full palette of traits I note in my review were on full display. Because of all the work done on the cabinet and the corresponding inherent blackness the speakers convey, Wilson speakers sound at low levels just as they do a higher volumes. The music doesn't recede and shrink.

In my room, the Alexxes are roughly 52" from the wall behind them, and I sit about nine feet from them. However, because of their front-or-back port alignment as well as the design, which gets the time-domain performance right in any room and for any listening position, you don't really have to worry about placement with the Alexx, as you do with other similarly large speakers. The Alexx caters to you, not the other way around, even in rooms much smaller than mine.

Yes, I did use the Reference 75 SE with the Alexx, and it drove the speakers very well. In fact, it was with the Alexx that I really came to understand what the Reference 75 SE sounded like. I didn't find the Alexx to be a particularly finicky load, although I suspect that while a Reference 75 SE and a pair of Lamm M1.2s can drive the speakers incredibly well, more muscle, in the form of VTL Siegfried IIs, for instance, would certainly pay dividends. The Alexx will get the most from whatever amp(s) you use with it, even vintage amps like the Kenwood L-07M monoblocks I sometimes use. -Marc Mickelson

Reference 6 tweaks

September 11, 2017

Marc,

I noticed within your Wilson Audio Alexx review, in the associated components list, that you are using an Audio Research Reference 6 preamp. I, too, am running a Reference 6. I've found it to communicate an unsurpassed level of presence and three-dimensionality while remaining tonally neutral. Class A all the way -- with only some reservations in the high frequencies: a slight lack of richness and sparkle, most easily heard with piano.

I've found several tweaks, when used together, enhance the high frequencies of the Reference 6: first, a Synergistic Research Black Quantum fuse; and second, a Sain Line Systems Pure Current power cord. Those two tweaks on the power-supply side get you 80% there. As a final note, I swapped in a set of matched, cryogenically treated, low-noise 6H30 tubes from Upscale Audio and an NOS Winged "C" 6550C power tube. Now, class A ++, with no reservations.

John Leosco

Room treatments

September 5, 2017

Vance,

In "Facing What You Don't Know," you mention that Stirling Trayle completed his work in your room without adding room treatments.

Did that have to do with your room specifically, or because Mr. Trayle believed he could get the best sound from your system without resorting to treatments (which would be fine by me!).

David Salsberg

Great question! While Trayle does not oppose room treatments, he believes that they are frequently overused. In his experience, room treatments are frequently applied in an effort to overcome challenges like a skewed tonal balance, which would be better addressed by the proper setup of equipment.

One of the maxims Trayle stressed to me was to avoid "killing the natural energy and dynamics of the room." Trayle's ability to work with a room, as opposed to conquering it, is one of the reasons I (and others) find his work to be so exceptional. -Vance Hiner

Cable mixing

September 2, 2017

Marc,

I noticed that you are using three brands of interconnects and speaker cables: AudioQuest, Nordost and Shunyata Research. Do you use only one brand at one time to connect all of your equipment or mix them up in different locations to achieve a better sound?

Kelvin Tam

This is a very good question with a mundane answer. I use only full sets of all of those cables, because experience has taught me that the full-loom approach is the most direct way to achieving the best sound a system is capable of. It's difficult enough to match amps and preamps from different makers; cables are such a huge variable, given the signal and AC needs of an audio system, that mixing and matching cables from different manufacturers only complicates matters. -Marc Mickelson

Reader list

September 1, 2017

Marc,

Please add me to the reader list, and thanks for a really interesting read.

Rod Thorogood

You're on the list. To join TAB's reader e-mail list and find out about new articles first, send e-mail to rl@theaudiobeat.com. -Marc Mickelson

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