Wilson Audio recently announced its forthcoming model the SabrinaX. This announcement got me thinking about my own Wilson speakers, the Alexia Series 2. It's been one year since Wilson's Director of Marketing John Giolas was here to properly setup the Alexias and put me in a position to hear my favorite music again for the first time. Over the last year I've played more music than ever before and spent well over one thousand hours listening through these loudspeakers. Here's my take on the Alexia, one year on.
Prior to purchasing the Wilson Audio Alexia Series 2, I spent many months researching and talking to friends about speakers and the companies that manufacturer speakers. The only speakers worth considering, for me, were those from blue chip audio companies. Life is short, I choose to do business with good companies who stand behind their products and deliver world class support. Everyone reading this article understands that stuff happens. When it does, it's great to have a blue chip company in one's corner. Wilson Audio is that blue chip company.
There are few things, in this wonderful hobby of ours, as enjoyable as getting new speakers dialed in and putting on one's music of choice. Hearing new details in old music is incredibly fun and the stuff of which audio memories are made. Since the Alexia Series 2 speakers were installed and dialed in, I've had some fabulous listening sessions. Sessions that not only revealed new details, but also transported me to another place and time. In addition, the Alexia speakers enable me to do my job, evaluating audio components, at a higher level than any other speaker I've heard in my system.
My previous pair of speakers were the TAD Compact Reference One. I happily used them for several years. The TADs, designed by Andrew Jones, are terrific speakers. I absolutely loved the beryllium tweeter and midrange drivers in a concentric configuration. When the time came to make a change, I was very hesitant to purchase speakers without at least beryllium tweeters. It's what I'd come to know and love, and it's what so many people consider the best material from which to make a driver.
The Alexia Series 2 loudspeakers, like all current Wilson Audio speakers, contain a silk dome tweeter. Moving from stiff beryllium (TAD) to soft silk (Wilson) was a major concern of mine. I had all the armchair engineer unfounded illusions of silk reproducing mushy music that lacked detail. Even though I'd heard this exact tweeter many times, and it sounded spectacular, I still had a little anxiety. The only way to alleviate my worries was to get the speakers in my own room and spend some serious time listening.
I've now spent serious time listening and can unequivocally say that this silk dome tweeter is fantastic. Listening to all types of music, I hear nothing but what I consider to be a human sound. The Wilson silk dome sounds real, organic, and natural whereas the beryllium assault in the TAD speakers now sounds a bit over the top and mechanical. My worries about losing details with a silk dome were also unfounded. I've played Reference Recordings' HRx albums at 24/176.4 and heard incredible detail. The delicacy of soft violin strings, on a recording with a dynamic range score of 25+, is truly something to behold through the Wilson silk dome tweeter.
I've seen photos of Dave and Daryl Wilson comparing different tweeter materials in their speakers, and I now understand why they selected the silk dome.
I'm a fan of music. All music. In fact I don't know anyone who likes music more than I do and I don't know anyone who likes more types of music than I do. I'm not boasting, rather just laying some groundwork. I need speakers that can play any of the 30,000,000 tracks available from streaming services or my 10 terabyte local collection. I want Taylor Swift to sounds like Taylor Swift just as I want Tool to sound like Tool and Tsuyoshi Yamamoto to sound like Tsuyoshi Yamamoto. Notice I didn't say I want all those artists to sound great, even though they absolutely sound great through the Alexia Series 2. I want speakers capable of delivering exactly what's on the recorded album, no matter if that album is classical, classic rock, jazz, or heavy metal.
The Alexia Series 2 has delivered spectacular sound in my listening room, no matter the genre. I've had an entire year to find music that doesn't work on these speakers, but I've come up short on that mission. I like electrostatic speakers as much as anyone, in fact I used to own MartinLogan ReQuests, but the shortcomings of them now scare me away from spending hard earned money on something that can't do it all at the highest level. There are also plenty of more traditional speakers that only work for certain types of music. Look through our Audiophile Style forum and one can read about it first hand from people around the world. The Alexia Series 2, and most other Wilson speakers except the smallest frequency limited models, can handle anything thrown at them and keep their composure.
As many readers know, I'm into Japanese jazz, especially that from the Three Blind Mice label. Playing albums from the new Three Blind Mice Supreme 1500 collection, through the Alexias, has been like planting myself in a Tokyo jazz club. Sure the Alexia delivers tone, delicacy, and superb double bass, but it also delivers the most critical aspect of a live event, dynamics. I urge readers to find a copy of the Terumasa Hino Quintet's album Live! (TBM-17) and listen to all three tracks. This recording should put one in Yubin-Chokin Hall in Tokyo on June 2, 1973 and the trumpet should nearly assault your ears if played at a high level. Through the Alexia speakers, the realness and dynamics of this recording are legendary. The only thing left for Wilson to make this more realistic is to offer a smoke machine that fits into the rear port of the speaker. I can imagine there were a few cigarettes lit up in jazz clubs of the 1970s.
The speed and dynamics of the Alexia speakers make me think about Dave Wilson using Spectral amplifiers over the years and Spectral's Rick Fryer using and recommending Wilson speakers as well. This combination must be truly special. I wish I would've kept my Spectral DMA 260 stereo amp because I'm sure it would've made the Alexias sing. That said, my Constellation Audio Inspiration mono amplifiers drive the Alexias incredibly well. I've thought about upgrading the amps to Constellation's Revelation or even Performance series, but I'm honestly so happy with what I have now that I'm in no hurry to make a change. I've put the Inspiration mono amps up against serious competition and they've never disappointed.
Currently I also have integrated amps from Boulder (866), Constellation (Inspiration), and Parasound (HINT 6) in my listening room. Each of these amps has so far driven the Alexa Series 2 very well. While not the final word in amplification, these integrated units are great matches for Wilson speakers in general. In fact, I'd love to hear any of them on the new SabrinaX.
I mentioned earlier that stuff happens. Yes, master of the obvious I know. But, people often put on rose colored glasses when purchasing goods and tell themselves that stuff only happens to other people. Sadly, this isn't the case in the real world. For example, my Alexia Series 2 speakers arrived with a blown driver. The speakers measured perfectly before leaving the Wilson factory, so something happened during their journey from Utah to Minnesota.
I didn't want to be "that guy" who demands special treatment, so I contact my friend and Wilson dealer Maier Shadi of The Audio Salon in Santa Monica. Sure I could've contacted Wilson directly or even my local Wilson dealer, Audio Perfection, but Maier is who've I've dealt with for my audio purchases over the years. I called Maier in the early afternoon on a Friday, to report my issue. The next morning I had a replacement driver in my hands directly from the Wilson factory. That's the kind of service both Wilson Audio and its hand picked dealers provide. There was zero talk about what caused the blown driver and nary a finger was pointed in any direction.
Note: In real world circumstances the Wilson dealer handles all aspects of all issues, from procurement to replacement. Given my unique situation I asked if Maier could talk me through the driver replacement over the phone on that Saturday morning. He virtually held my hand through the process and we had my system up and running in no time.
In addition to stuff happening, I must also mention that Wilson builds its speakers so stuff usually doesn't happen. What I mean by that is these speakers are nearly bullet proof. I know this from experience. I frequently test many crazy configurations of digital gear in my system. On several occasions this has lead to loud buzzes, screeches, pops, booms, and white noise bursts from all four drivers in each Alexia. Every time this happens I think about a friend who has blown several TAD beryllium drivers in similar circumstances, as I jump up from my chair to hit mute on my amps. My Alexias haven't blinked in the face of several potentially disastrous sonic assaults. Another reason I'm satisfied with the Alexia and Wilson Audio.
After a solid year with the Wilson Audio Alexia Series 2 loudspeakers, I couldn't be happier with my purchase. The speakers sound as spectacular as I hoped they would, the pur sang rouge color looks as amazing today as it did one year ago, and I can sleep well knowing that Wilson and its network of dealers has me covered in the event that something happens.
I honestly have no desire or itch to upgrade or switch speakers. The Alexias are so satisfying in every way, that I wonder what took me so long to finally get into the Wilson ecosystem. Now excuse me while I put on The Raconteurs' Consolers of the Lonely. If the kick drum on this album doesn't hit one in the chest and the guitar doesn't get one going, then it may be time for a pair of Wilson speakers :~)
- Source: QNAP TVS-872XT, Aurender W20SE, CAPS 20
- DAC: dCS Rossini, EMM Labs DV2, Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC RS3, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil
- D-to-D Converter: Sonore Signature Rendu SE (optical), APL HiFi DNP-SR, CAPS 20.1, Berkeley Audio Design Alpha USB
- Amplifiers: Constellation Audio Mono 1.0 / Monoblock Power Amplifiers
- Preamplifier: Constellation Audio PreAmp 1.0
- Loudspeakers: Wilson Audio Alexia Series 2
- Digital Signal Processing: Accurate Sound, HQPlayer
- Remote Control Software: Roon Remote, JRemote, Aurender Conductor
- Remote Control Hardware: iPad Pro
- Playback Software: Roon, JRiver,
- Network Attached Storage (NAS): QNAP TVS-872XT
- Audio Cables: Transparent Audio Reference Interconnects (XLR & RCA), Transparent Audio Reference 110-Ohm AES/EBU Digital Link, Transparent Audio Reference Speaker Cables, Gotham GAC-4/1 ultraPro Balanced XLR Audio Cable (40')
- USB Cables: Transparent Audio Premium USB Cable
- Power Cables: Transparent Audio Reference Power Cables
- Power Isolation: one 4kVA and one 5 kVA 512 Engineering Symmetrical Power Source
- Ethernet Cables: Transparent Audio High Performance Ethernet Cables
- Fiber optic Cables: Single Mode OS1-9/125um (LC to LC)
- Acoustic Room Treatments: Vicoustic Diffusion and Absorption, ATS Acoustics Bass Traps
- Network: Ubiquiti UniFi Switch 24, Ubiquiti UniFi Switch 8-150W x2, Ubiquiti UniFi Switch 16 XG, Ubiquiti UniFi Security Gateway Pro 4, Ubiquiti UniFi AP HD x2, UniFi FlexHD AP, Ubiquiti FC-SM-300 Fiber Optic Cable x2, UF-SM-1G-S Fiber Optic Modules x6, Commercial Grade Fiber Optic Patch Cables, Calix 716GE-I Optical Network Terminal, CenturyLink 1 Gbps download / upload