Wilson Audio Specialties WATT/Puppy 7 loudspeaker Page 4
Listening to familiar music
Because the WATT/Puppy 7s' image delicacy and pitch-black backdrops were reminiscent of the Rockport Antareses', I played some of the music mentioned in my August 2002 review of the Rockport to see how it would compare. The WATT/Puppies delivered Classic Records' 45rpm pressing of Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water on a wide, deep, transparent soundstage on which, out of black backgrounds, layered images appeared—one image might be as delicate and ethereal as a bubble, even as the one right next to it was hard and etched. The gradations of texture and tone were reminiscent of the Antares Experience (and that's saying a bank account full), but not quite as vividly and delicately rendered.
The bass harmonica on "The Boxer" once again "thundered in like a freight train, each puff of the player's breath creating an airy, eerie three-dimensional eruption," as I said in my review, while the background voices on "The Only Living Boy in New York" hovered almost magically, elevated at the very back of the stage. The triangle and panpipe in this song, which usually seem to be flattened against the front of the Avanti IIIs' speaker baffles, floated in three-dimensional space well in front of the WATT/Puppys.
Although it was somewhat easier to get a handle on the WATT/Puppy's overall tonal character than on either the far more expensive Rockport Antares or the far less expensive Audio Physic Avanti III, the ability of such a compact design to produce all but the very lowest musical notes with such notable clarity and control, and deliver it on an expansive, transparent, and coherent three-dimensional picture, is an impressive accomplishment. It helps explain why the WATT/Puppy has stayed in production all these years. Add to that the speaker's ability to play loudly without strain, deliver unlimited dynamics at both ends of the scale and the fine gradations in between, and its believable harmonic accuracy, and you have a relatively small speaker that does almost everything you could want, with minimal compromise. With the WATT/Puppy, even a space-constrained audiophile can have it all—or at least most of it.
The Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy 7 is a speaker you can both respect and love with ease. It goes low, plays loud, responds quickly, and sounds delicate, detailed, and vivid. It is rhythmically lithe and dynamically expressive, and it projects an impressively large, dramatic, room-filling picture. After the $41,500/pair Rockport Antares, the $22,400/pair WATT/Puppy 7 is the most open, least congested speaker I've heard.
I've been told that the various WATT/Puppy iterations over the years have vacillated between soulless perfection and soulful compromise, stopping everywhere between. I can't speak about the WATT/Puppy 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, but I can about the latest edition: The 7 has both soul, and, I'll bet, superb technical performance. While its frequency response appears to have been altered from strict flatness to add layers of love in the midbass and high frequencies, the WATT/Puppy 7 has so may positive attributes and so few negative ones that I do not hesitate to say that it's one of the finest-sounding and -performing speakers I have had the pleasure to evaluate. It does just about everything you could want from a speaker of any size. Is it "perfect"? No. But it's surely good enough!