Wilson Audio Specialties Alexandria XLF loudspeaker Page 3

Have you heard Roberto Gerhard's cantata The Plague? Better to hear it than buy it. This 1973 performance, with Antal Dor†ti conducting the National Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (LP, Decca Headline HEAD 6), recorded at Constitution Hall by an engineering team led by Kenneth Wilkinson, is a gruesome affair that is every bit the horror show its title suggests. But what a recording! The timpani thwacks sound great through the MAXX 3s—but through the XLFs they went deeper, were better controlled and far more transparent, and lacked a slightly hard leading edge that I now know is a coloration produced by the MAXX 3s. I'd never heard this record sound so powerful, so spatially coherent, so tonally convincing. The XLFs' ability to reproduce an illusion of depth, despite being placed so close to the walls, never failed to amaze me. And both the chorus and the narrator, Alec McCowan, sounded eerily real, with the best balance I've heard of vocal sibilants and body.

Unlike the bass output of most large speakers, which tends to soften and lose shape at low SPLs, the ca 94dB-sensitive Alexandria could be played at whisper levels with no loss of bass structure or rhythmic integrity. The cleanness and precision of the XLF's ability to start and stop at low frequencies and low SPLs was unique in my experience.

Not that I specifically listen for such things. I notice them only when my wife screams from upstairs for me to "Turn those effing things down—you're shaking the whole house!!" Otherwise, I'd always want to listen at realistic SPLs!

A $200,000/pair speaker capable of such robust bass does need to pass certain tests—such as hearing if bottom-end weight clouds the lower registers of female voices. I played Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall, Joan Baez, and some of the deeper-voiced jazz singers, such as Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone. When bass was not supposed to be present, it wasn't. When one of these chesty singers reached down to the lower end of her range, only the appropriate low-frequency energy appeared: focused, of proper size, and in context—not as general, otherwise unidentifiable "bass."

I have an original pressing of the superb recording of Canteloube's Songs of the Auvergne, by the late soprano Netania Davrath with an orchestra conducted by Pierre de la Rouche (LP, Vanguard VSD-2090), said to be the definitive version of this cycle of orchestral folk-song settings. It's the only one I've heard, but it puts Davrath in a warm, large-sounding space that has never been more apparent than it was through the XLFs—yet her voice, floating magnificently between the speakers, never mixed with it. I had never heard her small-scale dynamic vocal gestures so clearly delineated.

The XLF's harmonic presentation was as fully realized as its performance in every other parameter of sound. The full ranges of instruments in well-recorded symphonic music and orchestral film scores were reproduced with rich, full palettes of colors that would surprise skeptics who regard the Wilson "house sound" as overly lean and analytical. The XLF was anything but. Yet instrumental attacks were naturally fast and clean, sustain generous, and decay into blackness complete.

Despite its wide bandwidth and complex design, the XLF's top-to-bottom integration of its drivers' outputs was masterful, surpassing that of any speaker I've reviewed. From the very bottom, which Wilson claims goes down to 19.5Hz, to the very top, a claimed 33kHz, the speaker produced vast, seamless pictures or delicately drawn, equally unified miniatures, as appropriate.

The most familiar recordings—at least, those that I had time to play—expressed subtle, occasionally dramatic, new, and often profound musical information in just about every performance parameter. Listening to music through the Wilson Alexandria XLFs was a transformative experience. And that's the least you should expect for $200,000.

Conclusions
Can a pair of loudspeakers possibly be worth $200,000? Can an automobile? Can a diamond? In all three instances, the answer can be Yes. Value is in the ears, hands, and eyes of the potential purchaser.

But a loudspeaker costing $200,000/pair should represent a fully realized concept that produces the ultimate expression of every performance parameter related to musical accuracy. It should reproduce the full audioband, from 20Hz to 20kHz, and do so while seamlessly integrating the outputs of its drivers to produce exceptionally linear frequency response from bottom to top across a usefully wide listening window, along with stable, well-controlled power response in the upper frequencies.

It should set a very high standard of very low coloration and distortion, particularly in the difficult-to-reproduce low-bass frequencies. It should have unlimited micro- and macrodynamic authority, and be able to play at very high and very low SPLs and everywhere in between, and sound equally good at all points along that volume scale.

It should set new standards of transient clarity, transparency, and purity. It should accurately express the harmonic structures and timbral and textural characteristics of musical instruments, limited only by the quality of the recording.

It should take to new levels the focused reproduction of three-dimensional images, as well as soundstage width, depth, and height.

It should do all of these things in a balanced, seamless way to produce a transparent loudspeaker that gets more out of the way of the music, than other speakers.

It should be sensitive and relatively easy to drive, and be designed in such a way that its performance can be optimized for a wide variety of real-world rooms both large and small, and under difficult acoustic conditions.

Finally, it should be built to the highest standards of fit'n'finish inside and out, and look great as well—although, of course, form must follow function, and tastes will differ.

And, technically speaking, it should sound amazing, get your heart racing, and set your audiophile hair afire each and every time you sit down to listen.

For all of those reasons, and probably a few I've missed, the Wilson Audio Specialties Alexandria XLF is worth $200,000/pair.

COMPANY INFO
Wilson Audio Specialties
2233 Mountain Vista Lane
Provo, UT 84606
(801) 377-2233
ARTICLE CONTENTS
Share | |
COMMENTS
NMMark1962's picture

WOW, what a load of TROLL CRAP here.....some people here need to get a life and if you hate Wilson so, then get the hell out of here....you will NOT convince one person with the anti-Wilson spew.....I agree with others....build us your own XLF and prove that Wilson is building garbage or perpetrating a fraud....

When your fabulous speaker is built, let me know so I can buy your wonderful effort and save myself tens of thousands....

To some of you.....quit feeding the idiotic trolls who shit all over these and other forums....i guess that these trolls were run out of the asylums for audio elsewhere...

By the way, for you Wilson haters....I am planing an ultra high end system for late this year...the XLF's are on the list...for the turd here who claims to be able to build an XLF for way less, let me know and I will add it to MY list....hehehehehe...and I bet it will sound oh so sexy.....

GO DAVE WILSON!!!!!

MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Cheers,

ABCDEFG's picture

Perhaps it would be enlightening for some here to consider the genuine economics of this situation.

Mr. Fremer did not pay $200,000 for his XLFs, whatever their cost of construction or subjective worth. In fact, it is very likely that he received a discount considerably greater than Wilson’s 40-45% retail margin.

Considering the dealer cost, it is likely that Mr. Fremer paid less than $100,000 for his pair.

Add a payment plan directly financed by Wilson Audio and a future resale value greater than the accommodation price and the picture of Mr. Fremer’s purchase snaps into focus with remarkable clarity.

Michael Fremer's picture

Is your obtuseness. Guess what? I can buy just about any loudspeaker known to man at an accommodation price. In fact, were I like some reviewers I could get a "long term loan" for just about any speaker known to man and just have them here for as long as I like.

However your libelous comment that there was a "payment plan directly financed by Wilson Audio" is where I tell you with no due respect to go f...k yourself.

The money came from Bank of America, not Dave Wilson or Wilson Audio.

Pages

X
Enter your Stereophile.com username.
Enter the password that accompanies your username.
Loading