and Alexandria XLF
Wilson Alexx makes me very curious to see what will replace the
Alexandria XLF. Might be a difficult product to make given the high performance of the
December, John Giolas, Wilson's marketing director, said that a replacement for the
Alexandria XLF wasn't in the works but that it was likely the WAMM MC will sometime in the
future "inform an all-new speaker." That's still the case. The Alexx will
certainly make that a longer project to complete, given its wide-ranging performance. -
been seriously considering adding a subwoofer (or two) to my Wilson Sasha W/P speaker
system. Your article, Diamond Dogs, has pushed me into depression,
as I cannot afford that level of kit. Would I improve my sound by adding two JL Audio
fathom 12 subwoofers with one CR-1 crossover unit compared to no subwoofer? I also need to
factor in an extra set of expensive Transparent Audio Reference interconnects. I will use
my Sashas full-range as per your experience in "Diamond Dogs." Another less
costly option would be one subwoofer without any external crossover. Maybe an SVS Ultra
16, JL Audio or another brand?
am concerned that my present sound will be worsened by the above options as maybe only the
Wilson WATCH Dogs will sound better.
glad you enjoyed the "Diamond Dogs" piece -- even if it did leave you slightly
depressed. At the risk of deepening the gloom, theres a second piece to appear that
discusses the Alexx/Thors Hammer combination. I appreciate that in cost terms
thats even less attainable, but what it does do is set out to answer some of your
questions. In other words, although it is based around the Alexx and the Thors
Hammers, a large part (and the main purpose) of the article is to discuss the benefits of
bandwidth and your priorities in trying to achieve it, so please keep an eye open for it.
short answer to your question is that extra bandwidth is a good thing, as long as you
dont compromise the quality. In fact, most of the strategy you outline is exactly
what I would suggest. Your plan to run the Sashas full-range is definitely the way to go,
so the question then becomes, which subs to use and how to use them? I dont know
which amplifier you are using in the main system, but Im assuming its a
high-power, class-AB design. If not, that might alter the logic a little, but the guiding
principles will still be the same.
think the two guiding principles are that quality is crucial and that the electronics
(especially the amplifier) is a central part of that equation. A separate crossover and
identical amplifiers top and bottom are the ideal, but like most ideals in audio, such
hardware is also expensive. I would start by concentrating on a single unit and buying the
best you can afford (you can always add a second one later). Id look for a subwoofer
that is music-oriented (rather than for A/V) and if possible Id look for one that
uses a conventional linear amplifier rather than a class-D module. Given that integration
and continuity are crucial, the shift in spectral balance that all too often occurs with
class-D amplification compared to conventional class-AB designs generally undermines any
supposed benefits when it comes to power delivery. Having said that, the vast majority of
remotely affordable sub solutions will rely on class-D modules, so dont let that be
first choice (in ascending order of price) would be the Eclipse-TD 725 SW Mk 2. This
compact sub looks expensive at first glance (around $6000 in the US), but theres a
lot more to it than meets the eye. Specifically designed to match the musical speed and
articulation of the crossoverless, single-driver Eclipse satellite speakers, it is a
classic twin-driver, force-canceling design that produces fast, clean bass of remarkable
quality. It uses an internal electronics package based around a class-D module, but it
does offer specific modes for music and movies. Ive heard it used with considerable
success with Quad electrostatics as well as various box designs, and it represents the
most affordable, truly musical subwoofer option Ive used at home. There is also a
similar smaller and more affordable model, the SW 520, although I have no direct
experience with it.
I were able to stretch the budget (or wait a little longer), Id opt for the Wilson
Benesch Torus. This ticks all of the boxes, with an external electronics package, a
linear-power-supply amplifier and superb performance -- but all that comes at a price:
around $12,500 in the US, which is pricey, but still much more affordable than even a
single WATCH Dog/controller/amplifier package.
if I really wanted to skimp on budget, Id look at the KEF R400b. This uses the same
force-canceling topology as the Eclipse, but dispenses with the DSP control (and all the
associated latency issues) of KEF's Reference model. At around $1700 a piece, a pair of
these could work wonders -- if carefully set up. And theres the rub: when it comes
to subs, setup is everything and it will take time, care and ideally experience to get the
best results. Tiny shifts in position and especially height off the floor can have
profound musical effects. The first thing I would do when installing any of these models
is ensure that I had spikes or feet fitted that allowed really fine adjustment of height
and attitude, along with the ability to make really small, incremental lateral or
fore-and-aft movements -- not always easy on carpeted floors. With enough care and
attention to detail, Im sure that any of these options would add really worthwhile
musical benefits to your system.
top tips? When it comes to setting up a sub, remember that level and roll-off balance each
other -- so if you increase one, be prepared to reduce the other. And when making
adjustments, make them as small as possible. Most people start with the sub set way too
loud and then reduce it over time. As a rule of thumb, you shouldnt actually notice
a properly integrated sub until you turn it off.
not difficult to achieve a quick-and-dirty setup with a sub, but really getting the
benefits it can bring to the performance is an exacting and time-consuming exercise. But
as I suggested in the "Diamond Dogs" piece, it promises massive musical rewards.
praise of Gene Clark
There's one I will watch for! I've been a big fan of this
under-appreciated artist since the early '70s. His great album with Doug Dillard (The
Fantastic Expedition of Dillard and Clark) helped cement the direction of my musical
tastes as disco was rearing its ugly head. I have probably five of his solos, both Dillard
and Clark collaborations, and a couple where he joined with ex-Byrds, besides the Byrd
LPs. The only one I haven't run across is his first with the Gosdin Brothers (1967). I'm
glad to see him get any new light thrown at him.
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