All of which placed me in a quandary. Mere seconds before, I was sitting there marvelling at the X-1. With the flick of a switch, I was suddenly confronted with sound that bettered it . Which reminded me of my favourite hi-fi adage, coined when a certain school of idiot reviewer declared new 'world's bests' on a monthly basis: if something is wonderful on Monday, it's still wonderful on Wednesday, . So, by any measure, the X-1 is the same magnificent beast it's been since 1994. Only now there's something better.
So I scratched my head for a perfect analogy and came up with this one, alas automotive. Imagine the Porsche Boxster S, a car so capable, so loved, so respected that most car nuts wonder, 'Why spend more?' It handles like a dream, it's built by Germans, it looks great. It is worth every penny. Then, you get the keys to the 911 Turbo. Same badge. Same nose. Similar layout. Three times the price. In comparison, the Boxster's a dog. But in reality? The Boxster is still an astounding vehicle,
Anyway, for four hours, I raided my CD wallet. 'Assassin Of Love' acquired a majesty I'd never heard, with richer, more fluid bass and a sense of physical scale that provided a much larger playing field for the wondrous 3D effects within. Decay on all notes was more authentic, smoothly transitional without any overhang. And when bass transients hit, WHAM! They stopped with a finality I have never associated with such massive, non-servo'd woofers. The treble? It made me think of the X-2 as a WATT 7 on steroids. Industrial strength, disgraced-professional-athlete-on-the-lam steroids.
Willie Nelson, whose through-the-nose intonation illustrated the X-2's refinement over the X-1, regaled us with 'All Of Me' and other standards, opportunities to hear some fine guitar, pedal steel and piano. Uncharacteristic of Wilsons in general, given the quest for arch neutrality, was a warmth, a luscious, life-like 'woodiness' that spoke of real instruments. With Ella and Louis on vinyl, the vocal textures - hers like fine crystal, his like fine gravel - yielded one of J. Gordon Holt's in-the-room-realism frissons. Dino, Frank, Lou Rawls, Louis Prima - a continuing series of little shocks, plenty of those otherwise rare moments of being lulled into the illusion that the event was real, in front of you. But instead of one of these 'frissons' every month or so, it was a decade's worth in an afternoon. Even the mono seemed to take on width and depth.
So consider this: when I visited Wilson Audio in mid-May, the company had already sold, sight unseen and sound unheard, enough pairs to create an eight month waiting period. Retailers customers had placed orders solely on word-of-mouth, for few were those who got see - and I mean see, not even hear - the prototype behind closed doors in Las Vegas last January. And Deedra and I were the first people outside of Wilson Audio actually to listen to the X-2.
Thus we have a situation where at least 32 music lovers have, on faith alone, placed firm orders for a speaker costing around US $125,000 per pair. I'd like to tell them that their faith will be rewarded. Not necessarily in the afterlife, mind you, but certainly in the here and now.
Wilson Audio X-1 vs X-2Without any frame of reference, i.e. the two speakers side-by-side, only the most fanatical of Wilson-spotters can tell a Grand SLAMM X-1 from an Alexandria X-2. And yet the only part they have in common is the main tweeter. Here, for easy reference, is a point by point list of the ways they differ.
SPECIFICATIONS X-2 Alexandria X-1 Grand SLAMM
Woofer loading: Ported, front-slotted; ceramic Ported, milled
phenolic resin aluminium, rear
open-back vent; not frequency-tuned
but impedance curve tuned mid-section
Bass drivers: 1x15.5in,1x13in Focal 1x15in, 1x12in Focal
Midrange: 2x7in Vifa (proprietary to Wilson) 2x6in Dynaudio
Tweeter: 1in inverted dome Focal (built by Wilson) same
Supertweeter: 1xScanspeak 2xHarman
Frequency response: 18-22.5kHz, -2 dB 19.5-22.5kHz, -3dB
Crossover points: NA (proprietary) NA (proprietary)
Impedance: 8 ohms same
Sensitivity: 95dB@1W same
Dimensions (HWD): 72 (variable)x17.5x26.75 72x16.5x25.25
Weight ea: 750lbs 600lb
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