Home Theater Review

 

Wilson WATT Puppy Version 8 Loudspeakers Reviewed

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HTR Product Rating

Performance
5 Stars
Value
4 Stars
Overall
4.5 Stars

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wilson_watt_puppy_v8.jpgThe Wilson WATT Puppy is the most successful and sought-after loudspeaker in audiophile history. At the whopping price of $28,000 per pair, well-heeled and audiophile clients still reach deep into their pockets to own these legendary speakers. Historically, the Wilson WATT was designed to be a very accurate studio monitor for David Wilson's recording work in the mid-1980s. Today, thousand of pairs of have been sold and the speaker has developed into both a floor-standing reference loudspeaker, as well as a designer-friendly speaker with audiophile soul.

Additional Resource
• Read many more floorstanding loudspeaker reviews from the staff at HomeTheaterReview.com.

Wilson has developed, reinvented and improved the WATT Puppy speaker system into its current version 8 status. The newest WATT Puppy speaker sports the tweeter from the larger and much more expensive MAXX speaker system. Wilson has always been a leader in loudspeaker cabinet design leaving them always looking beyond traditional MDF plywood, which is the building material for most speaker cabinets. Wilson speakers are made of a special resin that is far denser and more dead, thus making the accurate Wilson sound. In the version 8 of the Wilson WATT Puppy, David Wilson and his design team used two proprietary materials to make the speaker, including "material X" and "material M," which Wilson reports has improved midrange characteristics. They also improved the cross-bracing of the speaker, thereby refining the sound of an already successful loudspeaker.

Wilson has been the industry leader in custom finishes and they continue with their developments in the Wilson gloss finish. While other high-end loudspeaker companies increasingly outsource the cabinet making to China and end up with finishes that look like it, Wilson can and will customize a pair of speakers to whatever color you like. If you have a collection of Ferraris and want to have a pair of Wilson WATT Puppies to match in Fly Yellow, all you have to do is tell Wilson exactly which car or color you want and you are set. Buyer beware, however. At these prices, if you order a crazy color for your speakers, you'd better be looking to keep them forever, as their resale value can dip drastically. Wilson does offer some of the best-looking car paint colors for their standard finishes and, while they don't openly mention car brands, it's easy to see the color similarities to Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Ferrari and Aston Martin.

The appeal of a Wilson WATT Puppy loudspeaker system is very deep. From a wife acceptance factor (WAF), the small footprint of WATT Puppies has always been appealing when compared to other speakers. The custom colors also help to get these audiophile speakers parked in real-world living rooms. The efficiency of the speakers is another draw. When it comes to using juice from your power amp, Wilsons are about as miserly as you will find. At 92 dB efficiency, you are unlikely to skimp on buying that big Krell or Mark Levinson powerhouse, if that is what you want. At the same time, you could also power up your speakers using a more esoteric tube amp simply because you can, thanks to the gaudy efficiency number.

Let's put all of the foo-foo designer points aside. The reason every audiophile owns, has owned or dreams of owning Wilson WATT Puppy speakers is the WATT Puppy sound. The speakers lack sonic color and are impressively fast-sounding. Some say the highs are bright, but that is a matter of taste, as there are without question high-end speakers in this price category that sound softer in their highs. WATT Puppies do not excel at any single kind of music, as they can reproduce the depth and detail of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or play back Rob Zombie and ultra-low synthesized bass at 110 dB with equal facility. The WATT Puppies' ability to image is legendary. Side imaging in the right room can be as good as you will find anywhere. The front angle on the WATT portion of these speakers creates a taller-than-expected sound. Note: WATT Puppies are able to be fine-tuned with a vast collection of provided hardware. Their dealers and do-it-yourself audiophiles can tinker with subtle changes in the hardware to make the most of the legendary Wilson sound.

High Points
• The footprint and custom colors of the Wilson WATT Puppy speaker system often closes the deal for people who have wives and/or interior designers keeping them from putting coffin-sized speakers in their living rooms. While this might seem like a compromise, there is no concession being made in terms of sound.
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