Letters • May 2016

Alexx versus Alexandria XLF

May 27. 2016


I've read a number of comments regarding updated driver cones/materials, etc., being used in the Wilson Audio Alexx. Do you know if any of these technologies will make their way into an updated Alexandria XLF? Also, from your experience, is there a margin of performance between the Alexx and the XLF?

Larry Phillips

First, real details on the inner workings of Alexx are pretty sketchy right now. Second, loudspeaker development is a dialectical pursuit, so while the technology and materials that first appeared in the Alexandria XLF have trickled down to speakers like the Sabrina, Sasha W/P 2 and Alexx, the experience around their implementation has continued to develop and evolve -- to the extent that, in fact, I’d consider the Sasha 2 the first model in a new generation of Wilson speakers marked by superior integration and time-domain performance. Alexx is the latest model in this new generation and displays all the same hallmarks found in the Sasha 2.

Will there be an updated or evolved XLF? You’d have to think so -- in time. But the WAMM replacement comes first as well as a few other projects.

Is there a difference in performance between the Alexx and Alexandria XLF? The XLF has significantly greater weight and bandwidth, but I think the Alexx offers superior musical coherence, rhythmic integrity and expression. The XLF is undoubtedly better hi-fi, but I suspect the Alexx is the better musical communicator -- although ultimately time will tell. The Alexx is due for review, while the Sasha 2 review will be live very soon. -Roy Gregory

Reader list

May 23, 2016


I would like to be put on your e-mail reader list.

Paul Amies

Done! To join TAB's reader e-mail list and find out about new articles first, send a message to rl@theaudiobeat.com.


May 15, 2016


I presume you were at the Munich show. Please travel safely.

MQA: is it as good as proposed? The Mytek DAC seems to have this on board for under $2000. Any thoughts on or experience with MQA in Munich or elsewhere?

Sheldon Simon

I actually wasn't in Munich, but three of TAB's writers were, and we're almost finished with our coverage of the show.

I have had only one listening experience with Master Quality -- Authenticated (MQA), at this year's CES. One can never tell the true quality of something as sweeping as MQA from a single demo, and that is certainly the case for me: it sounded fine but undistinguished with the few cuts I heard. MQA is catching on, however, as the growing number of DACs that include support for it proves. As with any new digital process, only time will tell if MQA ever shows more than promise; for us audiophiles, success will be measured purely on the sonic outcome. -Marc Mickelson

"The Combo"

May 6, 2016


A couple months back, I got ahold of you. I was ignorant of new-school digital front-ends. I felt lucky to find that Berkeley Alpha Reference DAC. I told you the story.

Since then, I've been playing around and have arrived at a stellar combination: a PS Audio PerfectWave transport feeding the Berkeley Alpha Reference DAC through a Kimber Illumiations Orchid AES/EBU cable. Wow!

Technically, the PS Audio seems a bit, um, unreliable. Sometimes it skips. Occasionally it flat locks up, and must be rebooted to play. But, wow, when it plays. I've contacted PS Audio about all this. They say it's "normal." Flaws in discs and all.

This combo is better than any I've heard anywhere. Bar none. Tonight I played Miles Davis's Kind of Blue through The Combo. I compared it directly to the SACD from an Esoteric UX-3. There was no comparison. The CD sounded like it should be the SACD.

With The Audio Beat, it seems like you're more interested in finding the best of the best, as opposed to bargains. Listen to this combo, Marc. I dare you.

John Leosco

I actually have the dCS Vivaldi system here right now, and it has broadened my horizons for file playback, and it's equally mind-altering with physical formats. So I understand your enthusiasm for "new-school digital front-ends." Much more to come. -Marc Mickelson

Next speaker?

May 1, 2016


I am currently running Genesis 5.2 speakers with Oasis S200M amps, a PS Audio DirectStream DAC and an Aurender N100H server. I'm using Siltech 770i balanced interconnects and Genesis speaker cables. I have never heard Rockport, newer Wilson or Marten speakers. I'm not sure which models to start auditioning, but all three brands seem to get great reviews.

My room is 25' x 16' with a sloping ceiling that is 9' high maximum. The speakers are along the long wall about 7 1/2' tweeter to tweeter. I sit 13' from the speakers, which are approximately 36" from front wall to tweeters. I don't have much flexibility with placement, as this is a multi-purpose room with workstations on the outside of either speaker. I was running Genesis M60 tube monoblocks, which were very good, but these Oasis amps are fantastic.

I may be coming to NYC in early June. I'm originally from Long Island, but I am now retired in Hilton Head, SC, where there are no good shops to audition high-end good stuff! My music preferences are smooth jazz, female vocals, and classical. I grew up in 1960s and 1970s, but don't play much rock anymore. Listening is usually not too loud.

Jeff Glacken

I am familiar with various Rockport and Marten speakers only from hearing them at shows. In between them tonally, I think, are the Wilson speakers, and given the size of your room, you have a few choices. I just reviewed the Sabrina, so perhaps that's affecting my response here, but it would be at the top of my list. It sounds bigger, more authoritative and more coherent than its size and price would indicate. With you sitting 13' away, however, Wilson Sasha W/P 2s or Alexias may be better in your room, but if you're willing to move your seat forward a bit -- the Sabrina is optimized for a listening distance of 8 to 11 feet -- you can save some money and end up with a speaker that's truly special. -Marc Mickelson


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