Wilson Audio Specialties Yvette loudspeaker

Wilson Audio Specialties considers the Yvette ($25,500/pair) to be the replacement model for the Sophia Series 3. I would argue that the Yvette is an entirely different animal. There are obvious similarities between the Yvette and Sophia. Each is a floorstanding, three-driver, three-way design. Each comprises a single box with a separate internal chamber for each driver. The Sophia's woofer and midrange chambers are ported; the Yvette's are respectively ported and vented. The two models are about the same size and, from the back, look a lot alike.

There are equally obvious differences. The Sophia looks like two boxes, the Yvette like three. The Sophia Series 3 ($22,500/pair when last available) was the smallest, simplest, least-expensive floorstander Wilson then offered, and was designed to be most buyers' first Wilson speaker. Now that slot in Wilson's line is filled by the Sabrina ($16,500/pair), not the Yvette.

What's not obvious, and makes the Sophia and Yvette different animals, is that they were designed to meet different goals. The Sophia was intended from the start to be user-friendly, more forgiving, and easier to love than Wilson's other speakers. It embodied the Wilson DNA, but only where it aligned with the overall goal. Wilson hit the nail on the head—the Sophia was a huge success, bringing a large new population into the Wilson fold, and eventually became, as Wilson says, "a cult favorite." As erstwhile Stereophile writer Paul Bolin once told me, "Brian, the Sophia is a wonderful speaker."

The Yvette, on the other hand, is based on the same philosophy, and begins with the same design goals, as its larger siblings: the elimination of cabinet vibrations, and the precise alignment of its drivers' positions so that their outputs all reach the listener's ears at precisely the same time.

Enter the Yvette
When Wilson Audio's Peter McGrath and I opened the Yvettes' crates, I expected to see speakers that looked like Sophias. I didn't, and at first I was stunned. When my brain rebooted, it informed me that I was looking at a smaller, more graceful version of the Alexandria XLF. There was no trace of the Sophia's squat, R2-D2 boxiness. The Yvette is tall, slender, and aggressively angular in a way that obviously aims the drivers at the listener. Love it or hate it, there's no artifice in the Yvette's shape. It looked exactly like what it is: a stack of boxes designed and arranged to provide the best possible sound. Throw in the beyond-spectacular build quality and drop-dead-gorgeous finish, and the Yvette is a Wilson speaker through and through.

A bit of thought and a look at the Wilson timeline explained why I saw little connection between the Sophia and the Yvette. Wilson has always been great at using the technologies developed and the knowledge gained in designing and building a speaker into later models. In the case of the Yvette, the technologies were generated in a series of development programs involving speakers with multiple, individually adjustable cabinets. For example, the Yvette's drive-units comprise a 1" silk-dome tweeter, a 7" midrange unit with a cellulose/paper pulp composite cone, and a 10" paper-pulp-cone woofer, all originally developed for earlier models. The new tweeter and midrange drivers, for example, were developed for separate enclosures mounted so that their baffles were at different angles to the speaker's vertical axis. To accomplish this, the Yvette has to look like three boxes instead of one or two, No artifice, remember?


The Yvette's appearance also reflects the changes in Wilson's cabinet design that began when they started using a lab-grade laser interferometer to characterize cabinet resonances and their relationship to changes in design and engineering variables. This more precise measuring technique has led them to alter the cabinets' internal structures, in Wilson's proprietary X-Material construction medium, now in its fourth generation, and, most visibly, in more aggressively time-aligned enclosures. Put it all together and voilà—the Yvette looks more like an Alexandria XLF than a Sophia.

Beginning with the new speakers in the same positions my Sophias had occupied, Peter McGrath spent a few hours figuring out where the Yvettes needed to be: 10' from my listening position, a little less than 7' apart, about 24" from each sidewall lined with LP shelves, and with their front baffles 49" from a ¾-height concrete-block wall behind them, and 107" from the structural wall behind that. When I sat to listen, my ears were 39" above the floor, and 3–4" below the Yvettes' tweeters.

When I returned to my listening room the next morning, I reviewed McGrath's setup with fresh ears. I tried moving each Yvette ½" in each direction, but they sounded worse every time. I moved them back to where McGrath had left them.

A speaker's frequency response is like the color of a bedroom's walls. It may or may not matter to you, or it may turn out to be a significant element of the speaker's overall sound, but it's unavoidable. It's what you hear first, so it's best to just get it out of the way before trying to talk about how the Yvettes really sounded.

The first thing I heard with the Yvettes was a bottom end that had more impact and extension than I'd ever heard in my room. Any doubt I may have had was dispelled in dramatic fashion a few albums later, the first time I heard Jennifer Warnes sing "First, We Take Manhattan," from her Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (LP, Cypress 661 111-1) on the Yvettes. The word First was punctuated by a clear, powerful, superbly detailed low bass note I swear I'd never heard before. We'll see what John Atkinson's measurements tell us, but I'd guess that in my room, driven by my VTL Ichiban amps, the Yvettes' bottom end was good down to maybe 40Hz, with still-audible contributions down into the 30–40Hz range. In any event, bottom-end sounds had a realistic level of impact, with superb resolution of detail and definition of pitch.


The Yvettes' midrange was superb in every way, but a few things especially caught my attention. One was a feeling of overall solidity to, well, everything. Another was that I was hearing more clarity and detail, but without the music's flow being disturbed, which other components that reveal greater-than-usual levels of detail have often done in my system.

The biggest thing, however, was a level and clarity of impact much closer to live music than I'd heard before. For this aspect of the Yvette's sound alone, a lot of albums went from good to great. One that went from great to out of this world was Fingering, a compilation of two 1981 recording sessions that brought together pianist Monty Alexander, double bassist Ray Brown, and drummer Shelly Manne (LP, West Coast Jazz Today LA27-1013). This album has always sounded great, but because it's so hard to reproduce the impact of an acoustic piano or a drum kit, it was never quite there. The Yvettes had me yelling "Now this is what drums sound like!" and "Now this is what a piano sounds like!" Over and over.

A few times, I found myself puzzling over apparent response irregularities. For example, there occasionally seemed to be a little too much contrast between the killer low bass and the upper-bass/lower-midrange region, something that might suggest a peak in the former or a slight dip in the latter. At other times, I wondered if the Yvettes might have been rolling off the highs a little—but this usually changed when I moved my head.

What was it about the Yvettes?
Never had listening to recorded music been as involving, rewarding, and flat-out magical as it was through the Wilson Yvettes. Never had my system sounded so good. The Yvettes were doing something different from what I was used to hearing, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. When I finally did, I realized how simple and obvious it was—and that I hadn't ever heard it before.

Wilson Audio Specialties
2233 Mountain Vista Lane
Provo, UT 84606
(801) 377-2233

Lorton's picture

I am perplex at the fairly wide and deep suck-up between 1000hz and 1800Hz?
That can’t be good. What would cause that?

Axiom05's picture

The dip appears to fill in below the tweeter axis which seems to be the preferred listening axis based on time response. As a result the dip doesn't really show up in the room response.

FDPDK's picture

one thing is to read about this things , another is to actually sitting down and listening to a loudspeaker , i did that at a dealer using a Devialet and NordOst cabeling and can only say these speakers are to my ears amazing.
Have listened to Magico speakers several times , and they are not bad but somehow they just dont do it for me....i feel like the sound is inside and never really released.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Better value for the money than Alexia2? :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

Value for Money is not a descriptive applicable to any Wilson Product and never has been. I sold Wilson in 1980s

Wilson aspires to be an exclusive Luxury Product for Deep Pocket Social Elites. It's a Velvet Rope Company that coddles it's owners like the Chicago Rolls Royce Dealer took care of it's small fleet of exclusive ownership.

Wilson products will always place as Class A Recommended.

I kinda liked Wilsons but not for price/performance reasons.

They play well, or at least as well as the electronics in Front of them..

Wilson would demo them using Tape and the nicest electronics, they always sound "Good". I still preferred Magnepan instead ( as do most Audiophiles )

Got mucho dinero and wanna show it, buy Wilsons.

Tony in Michigan

ps. my 22 yr old Sennheiser HD 580s have nicer transducers and sound better !

ps. Infinity IRS has always crushed Wilson's performance. New PS AN loudspeakers are assuring even higher performance realizations.

eriks's picture

Got to listen to this speaker last month. It is bright and boomy and that's before I saw the measurements.

Glad I was reviewing an amp that had tone controls because I absolutely needed them. So far from neutral or well balanced.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Did you like their sound? ........ What were the associated equipment used, such as the amplifier(s) etc? :-) .......

eriks's picture

No. I was really happy to get the amp home and plug it into my speakers and hear everything get fixed.

It was so bright and bassy I thought there was a crossover configuration issue. Is this one with adjustable levels? If so you'll have to be careful.

Associated equipment at the store was a Marantz SACD/DAC and Luxman 509ux playing Tidal. Had to turn bass and treble to around 10 o'clock to get it listenable.

If you like the B&W / Golden Ear / Focal top ends you may like this speaker though. It has that same treble "color" or lack of smoothness. If you prefer glass smooth treble like Magico / YG / Sonus Faber this is NOT for you at all. This is in addition to the level / brightness. The ragedness of the tweeter was made far worse by the uptilt. You are free to disagree with me, you'll know if I'm right or not in moments.

The published FR may very well be why I felt the Marantz had such a case of digititis. I really have not heard a DAC sound this badly in a very long time, but the Yvette made it screech.

FYI, my home system is a Mytek Brooklyn, Luxman 507ux and custom speakers here:


The dealer had a larger Wilson at 90 degrees in the same room driven by D'Agostino gear and Aurrender. My gods it was 20x a better system. The treble issues were gone, and the balance was spot on as is.

P.S. In case you are wondering why I bought the amp when the system sounded like hell, it was a super great discount and not available for home audition, because there were 3 people who would buy it already. It was the very last 507ux in the US. I took a chance, thinking I knew what I was hearing.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

The Stereophile reviewer used tube amp mono-blocks, for the review ........ That might have helped the sound quality, especially in the treble region, my guessing :-) ........

eriks's picture

I can totally see that, though that rising impedance means the treble output would rise even more with tubes.

I only listened with SS. Dear gods, how painful.

Robin Landseadel's picture

I remembering auditioning the little Wilson WATTS twice, once at Skywalker Studios, with a Redbook standard DAT as a source [horrible, horrible, horrible] and once in John Curl's living room with a Linn LP12 into a CTC Blowtorch [amazing]. I suspect that the Wilson Audio design philosophy results in gear that is unusually revealing of upper-frequency garbage from source components. Which makes sense as those WATTS were intended for monitoring recordings.

eriks's picture

They aren't "revealing" so much as ragged.

ok's picture

–very promising sounded also to me their Sasha DAW alleged culmination. I have never heard Yvette or Alexia 2 (the original was surprisingly boring though) both reviewed at Stereophile, so I can’t subjectively comment on their performance. I was most eager anyway to meet in person with universally glorified Sabrina Wilson model ;-} which finally proved to be one of the worst-sounding loudspeakers regardless of price and one of the main reasons I have stopped paying attention to all unanimously exalted audio reviews.

SNI's picture

To me it has always been a puzzle how Wilson ever became "High End".

Look at the impedance, not even the best amp of the world will perform better at these low impedances most often lowest in the area, where music contains most energy.

And then the time domain measurements. Midrange Driver units working in negative phase, lots of delayed energy.

It seems like Wilson only puts their attention to things that are visible from the outside. Heavy cabinets, expensive terminals and a lot of details with minor influence of performance.

A state of the art speaker should have a mostly even and not to low impedance, allowing the amp to perform at its best. And of course all drivers should be connected in phase, and should have a waterfall plot with absolutely no signs of resonance and as little delayed energy as possible. In most cases the dispersion pattern should be optimized off-axis, as the off-axis energy is dominant in the listening room. If so, most energy released will have the same frequency response.

Some of this should be logical stuff. But to me the measurements look pretty terrible, and I don´t really understand that Stereophile are not calling them by their name "Idiosyncratic"

Bogolu Haranath's picture

One example of such an almost ideal loudspeaker you describe is Revel Ultima Salon2 ........ reviewed in Stereophile ........... $22,000/pair :-) ..........

eriks's picture

In terms of the impulse response, I disagree that all drivers need to be coincident. There are a handful of makers who do this, Thiel, Vandersteen amont the most notable, but they are by no means the only makers of amazing sounding speakers, and a lot of us simply aren't moved as much by this as some consumers are.

Lots of speakers which are wired similarly sound better than the Yvette.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

True ,,,,, A lot of British loudspeakers are designed and engineered this way ....... ie. the woofers and the tweeters are connected in the opposite polarity :-) ..........

eriks's picture

It's American too. It's just the nature of multi-pole box speaker design. 95% of 2-way speakers invert the two drivers relative to each other. I designed a 2-way that did not and it was really pure luck.

SNI's picture

As answer to you and also the others responding to my writing, I must say, that what the British do, is not necessarily right.
A lot of Britsh made speakers are absolutely idiosyncratic, amongst them Harbeth.
Also B&W have a very precise idea about how their speakers should sound. And they always do. Like it or not, but you can always count on the B&W sound. I do respect that, but I do not consider design like that as "High Fidelity".
It sells, B&W is to day the largest maker of high end passive speakers in the world.
Anyways none of the speakers mentioned by me produces impressive time domain measurements, They are heavily infected with delayed energy.
Any electric circuit behaving just slightly like shown, would be blamed for poor resolution and resonance, just as this should be too.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Active loudspeakers with built-in DSP, like the recently reviewed KEF LSX can correct for the time domain response and make them time-coincident ie. all frequencies arrive at the same time at the listener .......... Look at the measurements of KEF LSX ......... JA1 describes that phenomenon ....... Some of the favorably reviewed speakers like the passive KEF LS-50 and Spendor A7, do have the woofers and tweeters connected in the opposite polarity :-) ........

JHL's picture

A correction: DC driver polarity - the red and black tabs connecting drivers to crossover - does not determine acoustical phase, meaning that it cannot alone contribute either an in-phase or an out-of-phase acoustical condition. Transfer functions between drivers convolve phase - influenced by acoustical center offsets, or "time" - and as the measured results here show, crossover filters designed for specific transfer functions do an excellent job of it.

DC driver polarity is not acoustical phase. Inverted connections are perfectly fine and, as with non-inverted polarity, may just as easily provide a usable, even superb final response.

Ortofan's picture

... Wilson's Daryl Wilson and Harbeth's Alan Shaw?

Mr. Shaw asserts that his bespoke plastic formulation (aka Radial) is the ideal bass/midrange cone material, while Wilson continues to use some variation of paper.

Likewise, Harbeth keeps using decades-old BBC-derived thin-wall, lossy-jointed style wood cabinets, while Wilson has developed their proprietary X-material and S-material composite materials.

In addition, include a direct comparison between comparably priced speakers from each company - for example the Harbeth Monitor 40.2 versus the Wilson Sabrina.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Two other examples in the Sabrina price range are Revel Ultima Studio2 (reviewed in Stereophile) and Yamaha NS-5000 ....... NS-5000 was reviewed by many other audio journals very favorably :-) ........

Anton's picture

I have a friend who has a pair of one of the Wilson speakers that starts with an “A.” Alex? Alexia? Alec? Alicia? Anatoli? Anthony? Aoxomoxoa? Anyway, those babies do everything right.

The dynamic range they have feels unlimited. Best I’ve encountered.

That would be a great shoot out to have with the Revels!

I have listened to those Yamahas, almost as good as the NS 1000 speakers!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Do you remember what are the associated components your friend was using with the Wilson speakers, such as the amp, pre-amp, digital or analog etc.? :-) ..........

Also, how did the Yamaha NS-5000 sound? ..... good or not so good? ........ also, do you remember what are associated components used with the Yamaha speakers? :-) .........

Anton's picture

For the Yamahas, it was with the new Yamaha electronics.

I have some vintage (crossover components refreshed) NS 1000M speakers I use with a Yamaha C4 and M4 preamp and amp and an Oppo 205.

The old and new speakers are similar in size/shape/driver positions, so that alone may account for a lot of sonic overlap! Those old beryllium drivers are nice.

Both old and new have surprisingly good bass extension and detail with solid dynamics!

The Wilsons were listened to via...hmm...I am lapsing! Affordable solid state gear via a hard drive. I will owe you that info!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Thanks Anton, for the info ........ Don't you think Stereophile should consider reviewing the new Yamaha NS-5000, after reading your positive comments? :-) ..........

Anton's picture

If I were in the industry, I would love to review mods, vintage, and current gear vs it’s ancestors.

Oh, wait...my fantasy is to be Art Dudley!?!

Well, that’s fine, he rocks it.

I agree that a now vs. then Yamaha comparo would be cool.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You have to grow a beard, if you already don't have one ........ that is a job requirement :-) ........

Indydan's picture

Wilson VS Harbeth. Unfortunately, it probably will never happen.

tonykaz's picture

at the Cash Register.

Wilson has been winning it, continues to win it with Audio Magazines & Audio Shows Proclaiming Wilson the Winner.

Anyone hoping for a Serious Loudspeaker Debate need only observe the Andrew Jones vs. Steve G. 2019 AXPONA Seminar in 3 Parts, it's brilliant.

Wilsons are sort of like a fully loaded Chevy Suburban or Cadillac Escalade

Harbeths are sort of like the Mini-Cooper S

I'm a ProAc Tablette lover ( for what it's worth )

Tony in Michigan

Ortofan's picture

... price-wise the Harbeth product line-up tops out where the Wilson product line-up is just getting started. Maybe the sales success of the 40th Anniversary limited edition models will make Alan Shaw sufficiently cynical to create his own $750K magnum opus speaker before he decides to retire.

Regarding Steve Guttenberg playing the straight man to Andrew
Jones at AXPONA, although he discussed tweeter materials, unfortunately AJ didn't get to talk about materials for bass/midrange drivers. The product literature for the ELAC Debut series states that the aramid fiber used is superior to paper or polypropylene. More expensive AJ-designed models use aluminum. I'd liked to have heard him expound on that topic.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Wilson speakers, in general, seem to work well with D'Agostino amps and pre-amps :-) .........

davidbosch's picture

Hi, is there any reason in particular the polar measurements shown in Figures 3 and 4 are always normalised to the on-axis measurement in your reviews? I always find it a bit difficult to read the polar measurements in relation to the on-axis this way, especially if the on-axis originally had a big peak or dip that smooths out in the polar ones but due to normalisation shows instead as an opposite dip or peak respectively. I think it is counterintuitive and can be misleading if you fail to notice the normalisation. You could just show the actual polar measurements and that would require no interpretation.

John Atkinson's picture
davidbosch wrote:
is there any reason in particular the polar measurements shown in Figures 3 and 4 are always normalised to the on-axis measurement in your reviews?

I have occasionally showed the un-normalized plots, but decided that for consistency's sake over the 30 years I have been publishing dispersion plots to stick with the normalized versions.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

beave's picture

Could you show both? That would be the best of all worlds for us readers who focus on speaker measurements.

eriks's picture

Per the Wilson Yvette manual, the midrange and tweeter levels are adjustable. Please keep this in mind when reading my previous comments, it is VERY likely the dealer had the midrange deliberately suppressed, as they were also playing out of phase when I first heard them.


JBLMVBC's picture

The reviewer, who has heard many speakers, claims he'd never found one in which he felt so naturally inside the recording space... At 86 dB/w/m sensitivity this seems quite an unlikely claim... Only gazillions VTL watts could make these $25,000 things move, but for how long? As for the lengthy "animal" box description and the foul language, and yet packing the "animal" back to its distributor, this review is quite unconvincing.

cgh's picture

I switched to the Sabrinas (from Focal) a couple of years ago. I mainly did this to simplify and move away from separates. I am driving them with a Pass INT60. The Focals were hard to drive too, but mainly in one region due, if I remember correctly, to their 4th order xovers. They were faster, a bit more analytical, and could be sibilant at times. I find the Pass drives the Sabrinas easily and the sound is a bit more relaxed. They definitely don’t have the definition of the Be tweeters in the upper registers. I am not sold about the way they look - one guest thought they looked like baby coffins. In all, this being a game of compromises, I am very happy with my switch to Wilson.

I do think there is much to legitimately criticize with Wilsons, and I rarely see reviews that are very critical. On the plus side, their cabinet construction is second to none. There are a ton of “high end” speakers that continue to use MDF and wood glue. Wilsons are rock solid and dead.

Ortofan's picture

... 508Hz, but the customary cumulative spectral decay plot derived from the accelerometer output is missing from this review, so we can't readily compare it to those for other speakers.

MhtLion's picture

I do not own Wilson speakers. I auditioned a few mostly driven by high-end tubes in well-controlled rooms. It was apparent to me they are very hard to optimize. I came to a quick conclusion that it would take electronics and cables 3-10x cost of Wilson speakers in order to sound truly great. My uneducated guess is - their tweeter just sucks!! Don't get me wrong. I am not saying they sound bad. Peakier treble than some, slower than some, hard to position than some, but Wilsons certainly do not sound 'bad' by any mean.

I find Brian's system was already optimized for Wilson. He simply swapped Sophia 2 to Yvette in a system which was built for Wilson. His amp, VTL, is known for a good pairing with Wilson. His old VTL Ichiban's are warmer sounding than the current generation, which must have helped with Yvette. In my humble opinion, for most people who drop Yvette in their current system should never expect such a praiseworthy sound. As an objective reviewer, I wish Brian had included other amps in his audition. As an objective magazine, I wish Stereophile did not assign a Wilson loving person to review another Wilson.

Anyway, Wilson looks gorgeous to my eyes. To me, they are a drool-worthy eye candy, which sounds 'good' out of the box - but is capable of sounding 'great' with careful pairings and a lot, A LOT, of efforts. However, doesn't that sum up the most high-end speakers? For the look alone I'd love to own a pair at one point.

briandx11's picture

I have owned the Harbeth Super HL5 Plus speakers for two months. I spent two hours today auditioning the Sabrina's and the Yvette's.

Cutting right to the chase, my Harbeths I hear, the Yvettes I hear and feel. What do I mean? To start with, the Yvette's are every bit as good in the treble and midrange as the Harbeths (I think the Yvettes reveal slightly better micro details). However, the Yvettes not only reveal a lot more detail in the mid-bass region, it actually creates something akin to a "compression wave" in the room. This is not to be confused with the bass is "boomier" or "thumpier", it is much much more than that.

With the Harbeths playing loudly in my family room I can hear the music clearly, but I'm missing the room actually reacting to the music. If you listen to live music in a small room you will know what I mean by this.

For example, if I strike a C1 note on my grand piano a listener can hear the note play, the Bass Effect, reverb and decay, and also the room reaction to the playing of that note. The Yvette's are the closest thing I've heard that replicates the third effect most closely with the real thing.

So.... As far as music accuracy is concerned across all frequency ranges, my Harbeth scores an 8/10, the Yvette's score a 9/10. But as far as "you are actually at the music venue" is concerned, the Harbeth's score a 7/10, the Yvette's a 10/10.

This rather obscure observation may not matter to most folks, which is perfectly OK. I've been listening to speakers in the $10-$25 range for 40 years, and only today did I hear this effect. Whether or not this justifies the large price for these speakers is not for me to say.

RH's picture

Good comment Brian!

I get what you are describing.

A lot of audiophile speakers create a sonic holography happening somewhere between and behind the speakers. But some speakers are better at recreating a sense of palpability - of the performers actually solidly there, moving the air in your room, directly connecting you to the sound of the music.

briandx11's picture

Thanks for your comments RH!

There was one other thing I noticed today during the speaker auditions that I can't quite explain.

To start with, when I auditioned my Harbeth's last night preparing for today's activities, I made sure that for the half-dozen tracks I selected for today, I used my Radio Shack Sound Pressure Meter to make sure I was peaking just below 90 db. At that level the speakers were LOUD but not unbearable in my room.

Today as I listened to the first track I adjusted the volume up to what I perceived to be the same loudness. However, when I checked the meter the Yvette's were peaking at 95 db. When I adjusted the volume down to a 90 db peak, the Yvette's were comfortably loud but not fatiguing or "close to the edge". In other words, the Yvette's could play louder with less fatigue or abrasiveness.

Not really sure why this would be. Just another observation....

Bogolu Haranath's picture

That is a very good point ....... That means that the speaker can play loud without compression during dynamic peaks ...... That means that there is good speaker engineering and good quality drivers (transducers) :-) .........

Ortofan's picture

... without incurring a financial penalty, you may want to try them with a REL subwoofer - or two - to see if that provides the sense of "room reaction" you're seeking.

OTOH, if your budget extends to the price of the Wilson Yvette, then you ought to audition the Harbeth Monitor 40.2, which has a larger woofer (and cabinet) than the Super HL5 Plus.

Other speakers you may want to audition are the KEF Reference 5, the Spendor classic 200 (and/or 100), and the PMC Fact 12.

Incidentally, what amplifier are you presently using with the Super HL5 Plus?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

KEF Blade Two, B&W 802 D3 and Revel Ultima Salon2 are also in the Wilson Yvette price range :-) ........

briandx11's picture

Thanks for your comments.

I had the fortunate experience to audition the Harbeth Monitor 40.2 this past December for a few hours. They were fantastic as I expected, with more lower-end extension than the Super HL5 Plus. Based on what I heard yesterday however, the 40.2's did not have quite that "OMG" factor that the Yvette's revealed. In all honesty, had I started from scratch as far as upgrading my then under $2K Paradigms I might select the Harbeth Monitor 30.2's (Stereophile Class A under $7K) with a decent pair of stands. I would then have to find a sub that could deliver that "sonic wave" low end. With a budget of $2K for a sub woofer I'm sure that could be done.

Having said that, after thinking about this for 24 hours I'm very comfortable with my decision to purchase the Yvette's.

I have learned however in the past four months that my return to quality two channel analog stereo requires a significant investment in the proper speaker setup. In my 40 years in A/V I had never owned speakers over $2K a pair until this year.

My amplification is Rogue Audio's Pharaoh integrated amp. So far I am thrilled beyond words, and to buy from a local Pennsylvania company that makes such quality products at fair prices makes it even sweeter.

Ortofan's picture

... you might want to inquire from where the vacuum tubes and power amplifier modules (among other parts) are sourced.

briandx11's picture

On Monday I re-listened to several tracks that I had auditioned on the Sasha's and Yvette's last Saturday.

My initial impressions were confirmed, as the Wilson speakers had every bit of the treble and mid-range clarity and presence that my Harbeth's are famous for. The difference that makes the Wilson speakers more realistic ("the you are there experience") is everything else below the mid-range.

Re-playing Donald Fagan's I.G.Y. from "The Nightfly" showed me how much better the Yvette's convey that sense of realism. The difference between my Harbeth's and the Yvette's is astounding in that regard. I don't want to parrot what the reviewer said above, but now that I've heard the Yvette's there is no going back.

Side Note 1: While my speaker buying decision process was going on, the head installer from Wilson Audio called me and spent an hour walking me through the ultimate setup of the Yvette's in my room (I sent detailed pictures) and how (or if) a sub might be needed. If that's not a great example of customer service I don't know what is.

Side Note 2: Not that it makes any difference or is anybody's business, the speakers I just purchased are trade-ins the dealer received a few months ago. Wilson speakers are extremely expensive, but looking around there are good deals to be had on either show-demos, trade-ins, or discontinued speakers. In my case, the warranty is three years and as far as I can tell these speakers are cosmetically excellent and sonically perfect.

briandx11's picture

They were setup by the folks at JS Audio in Bethesda. I participated in the WASP process; it was amazing to hear how moving the speakers one inch backward or forward made an audible difference.

Eventually the speakers were setup about 34 inches from the back wall, toed-in about 20 degrees. Listening distance was about 11 feet, which is 1.5 times the distance between the tweeters.

It was very impressive to see this process in action. In all my salesman and his installer were at our house for almost three hours.

I'll save my initial impressions for another day. Needless to say the sound was spectacular; I'm completely satisfied.

briandx11's picture

My admiration for these speakers has actually grown from my initial impressions. I have probably listened to about 50 recordings (FLAC, CD, LP) so far and in each case I hear micro-details that I have not heard before now. Most of these recordings I have had around for 30+ years so I know exactly what they sound like in my home.

There is one point, however that I need to make. No speaker is perfect and the Yvette's have one minor issue that I am grappling with. I know exactly what the reviewer was hearing with his "holy shit" comment. At a certain listening level (above 90 db peak) these speakers take you to the performance; you actually feel the "sonic wave" so to speak. However, in my listening room 90 db is too loud (for me, my wife and my cats). About 85 db is my limit. So, I am experimenting with adding a sub to see if I can get a bit more low end at a lower listening volume. Wilson tries to dissuade owners from doing this (probably rightly so), but it's my house.

One other slightly negative thing I can say; I now think my amplification is not quite up to the task of properly driving the Yvette's to their peak sonic quality. I am in the process of looking for something that might fulfill that goal without breaking my budget.

RH's picture

I have a number of speakers at the moment. Those include some old Thiel 02 speakers (not a lot smaller than the Harbeths) and some bigger Thiel 2.7 floor standing 3-way speakers. A sense of strain definitely sets in on the smaller thiels than the larger theils, when turning up the volume. I notice the big speakers being played louder (because there is little strain) vs the smaller ones.
(And the even bigger Thiel 3.7 speakers I had earlier sounded even less constrained by volume than the slightly smaller 2.7 version).

BTW, not too long ago I owned the Harbeth SuperHL5+ speakers just like you!

I was seeing if I could downsize from my Thiel speakers a bit and I love the Harbeth sound. Ultimately I sold the Harbeths because I felt they couldn't replace my Thiels - the Thiels seemed to do pretty much everything the Harbeths did - organic richness combined with clarity etc - but better - more palpable, cleaner and more realistic, more precise imaging while having larger soundstaging, etc.

Still, once the Harbeth sound has bitten you it's hard to forget it.
I'd still love to have a pair of Harbeths in a second system or something.

I'll have to hear one of the newer Wilson speakers at some point.
Wilson used to be far more controversial, a real love-hate, with a lot of hate "they are dynamic but sound like analytical studio monitors, and not even neutral at that!" But these days the Wilson sound seems to be wooing far more people. I infer that Wilson's newer speakers have combined power with organic nuance and smoothness, at least from what I've read.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May I suggest another speaker, if you haven't already purchased the Wilson Yvette? ....... If there is a dealer near you, you may like to audition the new Dynaudio Focus XD-60 ......... XD-60 are active speakers, about $16,000/pair ......... no need for an amp(s) ......... You could save a lot of money on speakers and amp(s) with XD-60 :-) ...........

kuibee's picture

Hi, Can someone explain me what's the "Minimum motion notch" with details ?


John Atkinson's picture
kuibee wrote:
Hi, Can someone explain me what's the "Minimum motion notch" with details?

In a reflex-loaded loudspeaker, this occurs when the back pressure from the port resonance prevents the woofer cone from moving. All the sound at that frequency comes from the port, not the woofer.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

SpeakerScott's picture

"The Yvette, on the other hand, is based on the same philosophy, and begins with the same design goals, as its larger siblings: the elimination of cabinet vibrations, and the precise alignment of its drivers' positions so that their outputs all reach the listener's ears at precisely the same time."

No. They don't. Your own measurements show they don't. In a non-coincident speaker this is possible at only one spot in space if done correctly. There's no way that happens at any reasonable listening position for the speaker in the measurements.

echo's picture

Thanks for such a great write up. Stereophile as a mag is one of thew few sources I read which i can trust. I would love to know if the sound of the Yvette's specially in the mid ranges are that much better than the Sabrinas. IU have tried to do a side by side comp but have not been able to get the dealer to set up both. I would love to hear what folks think? As much as sound is subjective, i do hope one can be objective and say yes/no - one sound was definitely a lot better than the other. ANything less in my opinion would not justify the 10K price diff.

Greg Hogle's picture

Brian! We share a long appreciation and respect for Stereophile reviewers and JA's measurements. Background: Wilson Watt Puppy 6 for 20+ yr: so satisfying, but eventually wished for more midrange clarity.
Then: purchased Sabrina X new: clearer midrange but missed low frequency harmonics; the low harmonics improved with the Isoacoustic footers, as did the image size and depth, but still frustrated.
After several months, having updated to higher end components/cables over the prior several years, I sold the speakers back to the dealer and searched for used Yvettes: Found a pair outside LA, flew in, met a an audiophile friend, rented a Chevy Tahoe (just big enough), and road tripped back to Denver, and added Wilson Acoustic Diodes.
Set up by Wilson's WASP technique, then 8 months tweaking (yes, 2" changes get down to 1/2" increments if you have an open wall next to one speaker). Now, three months later, SO satisfying for me in every regard. A larger Wilson speaker would just be too big for my listening space.
My personal observation for the comments criticizing Yvette/other Wilson speakers is that Naim was correct: Garbage in, garbage out.
The input sources referenced in comments above, of course, are not garbage; however, unless the input is quite sophisticated, Wilsons will diappoint. That is, one needs equipment similar to the level of Brian Damkroger's. That is, $60k+ total expense for input sources, including an excellent line conditioner, is necessary.
My excursion to this point began in 1966 with a Magnavox turntable/receiver/speaker system. It's been the revelation of hearing music that I could not appreciate until it was better reproduced, which led to joy in better understanding of jazz, blues, classical, world music; the better the quality of reproduction, the more my chest has been filled with uplift and thankfulness. The decades of upgrading one component at a time has provided pleasure at nearly every step. I certainly have no regrets now.

briandx11's picture

OK I am very perplexed by the latest Recommended Components rating for this speaker. First off, they have the Sabrina as Class A, and the Yvette as Class B? Huh? Plus, the reviewer mentioned in the Yvette's listing was Robert Deutsch. Mr. Dampkroger, this was your review correct?