Dave Wilson conceived and built the first WATT loudspeaker in 1985. He needed an accurate and portable location monitor for the series of audiophile recordings he was making during this time. In a way, Dave began the project out of frustration; finding nothing satisfactory in the market, he went to his garage and came out with the Wilson Audio Tiny Tot (WATT). News of his creation quickly spread through the audiophile community as Wilson used the WATTs to demonstrate his recordings at trade shows. Dave was soon inundated with requests to commercialize the product. Since the WATT featured exotic and expensive cabinet materials (mineral filled acrylic) and hand-tuned and hand-built crossovers, Dave knew the WATT would be a very expensive speaker to build. He was skeptical the market would accept it. Demand persisted and Wilson began production of the WATT. This marked Dave’s transition from preeminent recordist to fulltime speaker manufacturer. Despite it’s price – nearly twice that of its next most expensive competitor – the WATT sold moderately well.
The real breakthrough, however, came with the introduction of the Puppy – a dedicated woofer module for the WATT. Together, the WATT/Puppy was a formidable – and very compact – full range transducer. Over the years, the WATT/Puppy evolved through several iterations, taking full advantage of Wilson’s materials research, driver developments, and crossover evolution. With the Series 6, Wilson introduced adjustable propagation delay – a then-patented strategy to time-align the drivers for a variety of installations. Wilson incorporated technology developed for its other speakers – X-1 Grand SLAMM, Sophia, and ultimately the Alexandria X-2. The latest iteration, the WATT/Puppy System 8 was the most refined and complete WATT/Puppy to date.
Since its introduction in 1987, Wilson Audio’s WATT/Puppy has rewritten audio history. With nearly fifteen thousand units sold, it was an unprecedented market success in this price range. However, Wilson is not one to rest on its laurels; we knew that the time had come to rethink the WATT/Puppy concept.
When it comes to a loudspeaker’s architectural design, Wilson’s philosophy is driven by the notion that a loudspeaker’s form is inextricably tied to its function. The unique aspects of correct propagation delay, modular construction, and attention to cabinet resonances have, for decades now, given Wilson loudspeakers their “look.” We believe there is an intrinsic beauty that comes from an honest relationship between technology and aesthetic ideals. It is no coincidence, therefore, that many Wilson loudspeakers begin as sculpting clay in Dave’s hands; he is an artist, his medium the loudspeaker. This tradition of art following function continues with the Sasha W/P. When it came to preconceiving the WATT/Puppy, the design team had some clear goals. But care was needed; the shape of the WATT has become so well-known over the years, it has literally become iconic – CES has used the WATT/Puppy-in-profile shape in it’s signage designating the high-end portion of its show.
Improvements in milling techniques and technology at Wilson have enabled us to build more sophisticated enclosures with improvements in both performance and longevity. In the Sasha design, special attention was given to the upper module. While it pays homage to the original classic truncated pyramid emblematic of the original WATT, the Sasha is an all-new design. It is a dramatically beautiful departure from the original W/P concept, and yet Sasha will be instantly recognized as the WATT/Puppy’s lineal descendant. From an engineering standpoint, the primary goal was to further reduce the already very low resonant enclosure of the upper module. To this end, the X-material side panels of the upper module are up to three times thicker. A new internal bracing strategy also contributes to the upper module’s performance by lowering resonance-borne colorations. The crown jewel of the new cabinet is a new enclosure material designed in conjunction with the Sasha W/P project. In combination with X-material, this new midrange baffle material reduces measurable and audible noise and coloration in the midrange. This achievement is all the more remarkable given that Wilson’s proprietary M4 material established the previous benchmark for midrange performance. The crossover previously located in the WATT has been moved to the bass module in a configuration very similar to that of the MAXX Series 3. The engineers were thus able to focus on the geography behind the midrange driver, where the crossover was located in the WATT, improving the back-wave performance of that driver. The bass module is larger and has greater volume: the extension in the bass has been improved and now is -3dB at 20Hz (Room Average Response – RAR).
New Midrange Driver:
The Sasha W/P features a simplified version of the remarkable new cellulose fiber/paper composite midrange driver developed for the Alexandria X-2 Series 2. During development of the Alexandria upgrade, Dave immersed himself in the study of the experience of live music. He was not just focused on the sound of live music, but also the numinous emotional experience felt when listening to music. It is through a disciplined and rigorous comparison of the live musical experience to music as expressed by Wilson loudspeakers that has driven many technological breakthroughs at Wilson. The Alexandria midrange is a case in point. In the Spring of 2006, Dave was fortunate to attend a rehearsal of the Mahler Symphony Number 2 in the Musikverein Concert Hall in Vienna, Austria. In the second movement, massed pizzicato strings dominate a passage. Dave was suddenly struck by what he was hearing. The music was not loud, but he noticed how the sound leaped from the strings with alacrity he had not heard in reproduced music – including from his own loudspeakers. The dynamic shadings of attack and decay were palpable. He could hear the resonant fullness of the wood of the cellos and double basses. The moment reminded him of how beautiful music could be – and where all loudspeakers Dave had heard fell short, including the current Wilson speakers. This transcendent moment became the inspiration for the development of the new Alexandria midrange. The midrange is now employed in a simplified version in the Sasha W/P.
Sasha employs the tweeter from MAXX Series 3. As often happens, each new project becomes a platform on which new ideas are built and then used in subsequent projects. Thus, the tweeter evolution that began with the WATT/Puppy 8, followed by the Sophia Series 2, refined in the Alexandria Series 2, and ultimately in the MAXX Series 3, has come full circle to the Sasha W/P. The team has focused on new technologies and strategies that address time-domain distortions generated by the back wave behind the tweeter diaphragm. All tweeter diaphragms are partially acoustically transparent. Any out phase or time-delayed reflections that make their way out of the front of the diaphragm is heard and measured as noise and distortion. Wilson’s tweeter topology dramatically reduces this distortion. The Sasha tweeter, which comes directly form the MAXX Series 3, uses much of the materials and configuration of the Alexandria tweeter. Proprietary materials in combination with proven mechanical configurations are extremely effective at reducing these time-delayed reflections behind the inverted dome, preventing them from corrupting the primary wave. This reduces measurable and audible in-band “noise” heard as artificial texture or grain.
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