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Wilson Audio Sophia 2 Loudspeaker Reviewed

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HTR Product Rating

Performance
5 Stars
Value
4 Stars
Overall
4.5 Stars

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Wilson Audio is one of the few manufacturers in the ultra high-end space that truly needs no introduction. For the past twenty or so years the WATT Puppy (now the Sasha WP) has literally defined the high-end audiophile loudspeaker. The WATT Puppy was an expensive speaker, making it all but unobtainable by mere mortals, which only added to its mystique. As the price of the WATT Puppy grew from around $10,000 to close to triple that today - there was a gap in the Wilson product line and a sector of the marketplace that many manufacturers had shifted their focus to in order to get around having to compete with the WATT Puppy: the sub-$20,000 arena, more specifically speakers priced right at or below $15,000 a pair. Wilson Audio didn't have a floor standing speaker in this specific price range prior to the introduction of the Sophia.

When the original Sophia launched it was a huge success in the press and with audiophiles alike. Wilson had finally done it; they built a little WATT Puppy for those of us who couldn't afford the "real" thing. Personally, I loved the original Sophia. For the better part of three years it was my favorite speaker and arguably the best speaker Wilson Audio made pound for pound. It was priced right, easy to integrate into seemingly any system, beautiful and compact and sounded smoother and more refined then the WATT Puppy. I simply loved it. Well, the original Sophia has been with us for a while and Wilson Audio felt it was time for an upgrade, introducing the Sophia Series 2.

Additional Resources
Check out a review of Wilson's massive Thor's Hammer subwoofer from HomeTheaterReview.com.
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On the outside the Sophia 2s look just like the original Sophias; however their internal enclosures have been redesigned with stronger, more inert materials for better dampening and rigidity. The driver compliment remains the same, a single one-inch tweeter mated to a single seven-inch midrange driver resting at a slight angle above the large 10-inch bass driver. The one inch inverted dome tweeter is new for the Sophia 2 and uses several technologies, mainly its Anti-diffraction system, borrowed from MAXX Series 2. The crossovers in the Sophia 2 have also been reworked and employ what Wilson Audio calls their Anti-Jitter technology, which reduces the interaction between the drivers and lowers the speaker's overall noise floor. The combination of these changes, according to Wilson Audio, makes the Sophia 2 a much more dynamic, holographic and smoother sounding speaker than the original.

On paper the Sophia 2 has a reported frequency response of 21Hz to 22.5kHz. The Sophia 2 is fairly efficient at 86dB into a nominal four Ohm load, which means it can be powered on as little as 25 Watts per channel. Wilson Audio's founder Dave Wilson believes that you should build a system around the speakers which is why his speakers have always been two things: easy to drive and voiced to sound as good with high end gear as they can with mid-fi or entry level gear. In fact when the Sophia was first introduced to the press Dave Wilson demoed them on a stack of Parasound Halo separates with an iPod as the source. To put that into perspective the price of the Halo components and an iPod was less than $3,000, yet it was mated to a pair $14,000 speakers at the time. Speaking of price, the Sophia 2s, like many revised Wilson Audio speakers, get a price bump to $16,700 a pair. That's a five thousand dollar increase over the original Sophia's $11,700 asking price.

But what does the Sophia 2 sound like? The Sophia 2 sounds just like the original Sophia except everything the original Sophia did right the Sophia 2 does just a little bit better. Five thousand dollars better? That's for you to decide, but there is no question the design is better today than with the first version. The tweeter on the Sophia 2 does seem to be the largest improvement, possessing more air, transparency and speed. It's not quite as laid back as the original Sophia, adding a bit more focus and sharpness to the Sophia 2's overall sonic presentation. The midrange feels and sounds largely untouched which is a good thing, while the bass sounds firmer and a bit more agile. Overall the Sophia 2 doesn't sound like an all new speaker, but it definitely sounds like it's been upgraded.

Read about the high points and the low points of the Sophia 2 on Page 2.

continue to page two
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