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The Computer Audiophile The Computer Audiophile
  • The Computer Audiophile
    The Computer Audiophile

    Wilson Audio Alexia V Full Review

     

     

    I purchased the Wilson Audio Alexia Series 2 in 2019 after months of extensive research and auditioning more loudspeakers than I can remember. Everything about Alexia, from the size, shape, and sound to the service and support from a company considered by many to be the gold standard in high end audio, was perfect for me. Over the last three years, I listened to several thousand hours of music through the Series 2. I knew the speakers inside and out, and loved every minute of music they delivered. I was as satisfied with the Series 2 as one could possibly be, and I wasn't really interested in even considering new speakers. That is, until I received a call from Wilson Audio to talk about the Alexia V. 

     

    My interest was piqued, but I was still in the "tell me more" inquisitive stage. I thought, why fix what isn't broken? After learning more about the Alexia V upgrade, and considering Wilson's track record, it was a done deal for me. I certainly risked throwing a wrench in my everyday work and listening pleasure, but the potential reward of a better loudspeaker far outweighed any so-called risks. If the Alexia V delivered, like I thought it would, then my work would be easier because of a better loudspeaker and my listening outside of work would be even more enjoyable. A visit from Wilson's Peter McGrath and Tyler Hall, to replace my Alexia Series 2 with Alexia V, was scheduled, and the anticipation started building. 

     

    Wilson Audio Alexia V System Front.jpgDelivery day finally arrived, Manny's Piano Movers delicately brought the Alexia V up to my listening room, Peter and Tyler worked their installation and setup magic, and I waited with bated breath. Watching those two work, from off to the side and out of their way, I got a taste of the loudspeaker. First, as they removed the frisk protecting the loudspeakers, the immaculate Silver Ice Pearl premium color wowed me. The color and finish are items that photographs will never communicate. Photos are certainly necessary, but not sufficient. The Silver Ice Pearl color is subtle at first blush. Quite opposite from my previous speaker color, Pur Sang Rouge. I loved the Rouge from the moment I first saw it until the day the Silver Ice Pearl Alexia V arrived. Now, every time I look at the V, the word that comes to mind is classic. Second, I received a tiny taste of the Alexia V's sonic performance as the speakers were being setup. Even off axis, listening to unfamiliar snippets of setup songs, my eyes were the size of dinner plates. That's how my mother-in-law describes enthusiasm and I think it's apropos of this moment. Tyler and Peter were raving about the bass, as I was in awe of not only the bass, but everything from the midrange and up as well. To this day, after listening to countless hours of music through the Alexia V, the feeling is the same and the word that comes to mind to describe this incredible speaker's sound is classic. 

     

    Tyler and Peter worked together, with far more patience than I'll ever know, to listen to the speakers in every possible position. A half inch here, a quarter inch there, and a final nudge into the right spot. After many hours of listening over a couple days, Tyler and Peter went on their way, and left me with these new gems. I've listened through the Alexia V for over two months straight, day in, day out. I've played so much music in this time, that I'm willing to bet nobody outside the Wilson Audio factory has a better handle on the Alexia V, and its differences from the Series 2, than me. I say that not in a braggadocios way, but in a way that should give readers confidence in my evaluation. The Alexia is MY speaker. I not only want to know it inside and out, I have to know it. 

     

    Cutting to the chase, for those who perhaps didn't see my enthusiasm for the Alexia V already, or those who tend to jump around within reviews, this loudspeaker is an instant classic both visually and sonically. It brings order where there is musical chaos. Among other improvements, the midrange is absolutely magical, and what I consider reason enough to leave the Series 2 behind. Comparatively, it's like picturing a color one has never seen. We don't know what it looks like until we see it, just like we don't know how much better loudspeakers can sound until we hear them.  My satisfaction with the Series 2 would no doubt remain very high, but now that I've seen and heard what's possible, I can't turn back the clock. Not only that, but who in their right mind would want to turn back the clock and accept anything less than the best? The Alexia V is easily the best version of Alexia ever produced, and the best speaker I've heard in its class. 

     

    Let's dig into what makes this instant classic tick.

     

     

    Alexia V vs Alexia Series 2

     

    Series 2 vs V.jpgThere are very good reasons why the Alexia V is a substantial upgrade over the previous Series 2, and over the other speakers I've heard in its class. In my view, the most important of these upgrades is the Alnico (Aluminum-Nickel-Cobalt) QuadraMag midrange driver. This driver is special for sonic reasons of course, but it's also special for another reason. The QuadraMag Mid is the last driver the Wilson Audio engineering team worked on with company founder David Wilson, before he passed away in 2018. In a way, this speaker has one foot in the past and one foot in the present. This wide foundational stance however, has been built on many years of engineering research and development, culminating in the current Alexia V.

     

    Pairing the QuadraMag Mid with Wilson’s new Convergent Synergy Carbon (CSC) Tweeter, results in the top speaker cabinet as a whole being far greater than the sum of its parts. I certainly rave about the midrange, but without an equally stellar tweeter on top, the midrange has no shot at satisfying the listener. The CSC, with carbon fiber rear-wave chamber, is every bit the equal of the QuadraMag.

     

    Feeding the drivers in the Alexia V, is a crossover populated with Wilson's own AudioCapX-WA capacitors, wound and finished in its Reliable Capacitors manufacturing department. Another in-house development that was previously available as an option, but now is standard on the Alexia V, is the Wilson Audio Acoustic Diode spike system. I didn't have these on my Series 2 loudspeakers, so I can't honestly comment on the improvement they make over standard spikes, but the engineering of them and their raison d'etre makes sense to me. In fact, the Wilson Audio Acoustic Diode spike system is very different from other options on the market, which use approaches antithetical to Wilson's belief in how proper vibration management is done. 

     

    The size of Alexia has aways been perfect for my listening room. The engineering team managed to increase the mid enclosure's internal volume by 6.4% and the woofer enclosure's internal volume by 8.9%, without a visibly noticeable size increase to the listener. One addition to the top rear of the woofer enclosure that I really like, is the integrated bubble level. It may seem like a one time use feature, but audiophiles, myself included, are a meticulous bunch. It's nice to have the ability to easily double check, every few months, if the speakers are still level. A quick glance at the back of the speaker is all that's required. 

     

    There are many other improvements over the Series 2, such as bespoke binding posts, latest versions of X and S materials, improved impedance measurements, mass increases and decreases in appropriate areas, an improved and centered woofer port, etc... This is all great stuff, but probably better read on a spec sheet rather than weaved into prose, needlessly elongating the information. 

     

    As I did when the Series 2 arrived, I took measurements of my room after listening to the Alexia V for a bit. I never want to be influenced by measurements, when listening to any audio product. Thus, listening first, measurements second. After I measured my room, I sent the measurements to Mitch Barnett of Accurate Sound, who created custom 65,000 tap convolution filters for my room. Mitch's initial response was, "The new measurements and corrections are indeed an improvement (refinement) over your previous mains. Great job on Wilson!" I never ask Mitch for opinions on this stuff, as I don't like to put anyone on the spot. If he offers an unsolicited opinion, based on the objective data, it's always nice. Such was the case with the Alexia V loudspeakers. His opinion, based on the measurements, buttressed what I know the speakers sound like in my room. 


    Let's dig further into what this instant classic sounds like.

     


    Listening Through Alexia V


    I don't believe I've ever used a Led Zeppelin track in a review, but there's no time like the present. Led Zeppelin is one of my favorite bands of all time. In 1986 I was in 5th grade when my brother and his friends introduced me to Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti album. I was immediately hooked. 

     

    Wilson Audio Alexia V Side Angle.jpgMore recently, I've been listening to a ton of Led Zeppelin after introducing the band's music to my ten year old daughter. Isn't it every parent's duty to weave great music into the lives of children? Anyway, one track we've listened to numerous times is Fool in the Rain. I absolutely love John Bonham's drumming on this track, and just had to listen to it through my new Alexia V speakers. I set the volume to a skosh louder than my neighbors appreciate, tapped play, and bathed in this incredible performance.

     

    Right from the start, John Bonham's polyrhythmic beat, using hi-hat triplets, ghost notes on the snare, and a swung half-time shuffle on bass drum and snare are mesmerizing. Listening to this track through the Alexia V, it was taken to a level of quality I hadn't previously experienced. The Alexia V reproduced air and space around Bonham's hi-hat and snare, much better than the Alexia Series 2. The level of sonic quality, organic feel, and impeccable midrange gave me a picture in my head of the three weeks in November and December 1978 at ABBA's Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, when Fool in the Rain, and the rest of the In Through the Out Door album were recorded. The sonic illusion was so real, it nearly had a smell. Perhaps it's a good thing the smell of that studio in 1978 didn't emanate from the Alexia V loudspeakers. 

     

    Continuing along the 6:10 of sonic bliss that is Fool in the Rain, I usually get distracted at the 2:30 mark of the track because it's a bit chaotic. However, listening through the Alexia V, all the percussive chaos had order. Bonham's workout of his complete drum set comes to a head at 3:40 with a drumroll and a sense of calm, leading into Jimmy Page's filthy sounding electric guitar groove. Page's tone has such a rich texture through the Alexia V, that I can virtually feel it while rubbing my thumb, index and middle fingers together as I listen. The Alexia V offers midrange magic that is right on the money.


    Many members of the Audiophile Style community know that I recently installed a 7.1.4 12 channel Wilson Audio system for Atmos music. Yes, music only. No screens allowed in my listening room. Atmos music opened me up to a world of fantastic recordings from the 2L record label. One of those recordings is the album Lux by TrondheimSolistene. Fortunately, all 2L recordings are available in stereo as well as immersive mixes, and I listened to the stereo mix for this review. 

     

    One song on this album stands out to me, as a piece of music that will stop one right in his/her tracks. No matter what is happening, when this track is playing, one can't help but sit up and listen. It's magical on so many levels, and made even better through the Wilson Audio Alexia V. 

     

    Track 6, Requiem V. Hymnum Canentes Martyrum features Trygve Seim on the saxophone, Ståle Storløkken on the organ, and vocals by Nidarosdomens Jentekor. To me, the star of this show is Seim on the sax. His performance, captured beautifully by Morten Lindberg, is stunning. From start to finish, Seim's improvisation on the sax sounds ethereal at times and powerfully smooth, yet raw at other times. Every texture, idiosyncrasy, and ounce of talent is on display through the Alexia V. These loudspeakers reproduce the entirety of Seim's performance from quiet pre-note breath entering the mouthpiece, to the full range of frequencies launching out of bell of his instrument. Listening to this track through the Alexia V gave me the impression that Seim had absolute control over his sax, playing it with ease, just as the Alexia has absolutely control over the drivers, reproducing this sonic splendor with ease. 

     

    Wilson Audio Alexia V Front Side Angle 01.jpgIf my love of the new Alexia V's midrange hasn't shown through enough yet, please allow me to expound on it and how much better the V is than the Series 2, through which I listened to the following album nearly one hundred times. Nat King Cole's The Very Thought of You is a favorite album of mine, that I'd never heard prior to the Analogue Productions reissue several years ago. The music is great, the sound is great, and Nat's voice is legendary. It's the voice that built Capitol Studios in Hollywood. 

     

    On the title track, the Alexia V presents Nat's voice on a silver platter, in three dimensional space, about one foot in front of the speakers, but dead center between them. Gordon Jenkins's Orchestra is a fine sounding supporting cast, but Nat's vocal is the stuff of which musical dreams are made. What I hear in Nat's voice through the V, that I didn't hear through the Series 2, is a front to back depth and dimensionality that's a bit hard to explain. It's as if Nat is standing at the famous Neumann microphone at Capitol, and he's looking right at me from between the speakers. As he sings, the sound flows from his lips to my listening chair, with a trail of frequencies in between us. It's as if the Wilson Audio Alexia V has given me synesthesia. I virtually see his vocal as a waveform, coming toward me. This sounds strange, I get it, but the listening experience is incredibly realistic. 

     

    Stepping back from the aforementioned, admittedly esoteric, explanation of the title track, I heard more detail and tiny cues when listening to But Beautiful through the V, than I did previously through the Series 2. The micro details and tiny cues I heard on this track gave me a sense of the expression on Nat's face and the shape of his mouth as he delivered each verse. This is one of those things that's a uniquely human experience, and that personifies the voice coming through the speakers. Tiny things that we notice every day in real life conversations, but very rarely do we experience them when listening to a 65 year old recording. The Wilson Audio Alexia V presents real life to the listener, in a way the previous versions can't match.

     

    Wrapping up my listening, I put on Pink Floyd's The Wall. The entire album is obviously beyond reproach. But, isn't this what we do when we get new speakers? Listen to all our albums again for the first time. When Another Brick in the Wall, Part 1 started, I admit to turning up the volume to a level that made me unjustly nervous for my gear, but also got me excited. As the guitar on this track lulled me into a false sense of comfortability, the helicopter started circling and it was game-on. 

     

    The Happiest Days of Our Lives began with a bang. The Alexia V had absolute control over the drivers, as Pink Floyd pounded my chest with Nick Mason's kick drum. Roger Waters' powerful but precise bass notes started and stopped with absolute exactitude, as did Nick Mason's cymbals as he hit them and grabbed them in quick succession to stop them from ringing out. As Happiest Days concludes, the Alexia V again brings order to a chaotic scene, with Mason banging on his drum set and numerous sounds coming from all over. Everything was delineated and originated from its own space in the soundstage. When Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2 began, Waters' foundational bass lines emerged from the Alexia V's lower cabinet, as tight as I've ever heard them and forceful enough to ripple my tea, if I'd had a cup next to my listening chair. The Alexia V can pound one's chest, pressurize a room, and pull each instrument out from the whole as it makes the whole grater than the sum of its parts. 

     

     

    Conclusion 

     

    cash@2x.png The Wilson Audio Alexia V is an improvement over the Series 2, and other speakers in its class, on so many levels. There are objective reasons for this improvement, but the bottom line is drawn between one's ears. I owned the Series 2 for three years, and now I've listened through the Alexia V for two months. The V is unequivocally superior to the Series 2 in every way. The Alexia V manages to bring order to musical chaos, in a way that I've never heard in an Alexia speaker, or anything in its class. Hearing a solo female vocal is one thing, but hearing the same detail, delineation, and texture from a full orchestra is something completely different. This is the order from chaos that sets Alexia V apart. 

     

    The Alexia V has more than enough slam and attack to pressurize a room and pound the listener in the chest, should the music call for it. That's a hallmark of Wilson speakers, that I know my friends in the music business appreciate and will enjoy even more through the V. What really grabbed me immediately when listening through the Alexia V, was the midrange. It's just magical. The midrange is liquid in the way that mercury is liquid, rather than an undefined globule of water. Mercury has delineated edges yet a smoothness and an unmistakable appearance. The Alexia V's midrange is also unmistakable and will present one's favorite music, on a platter, again for the first time. 

     

    I couldn't be happier with my new Wilson Audio Alexia V loudspeakers. The look of the Silver Ice Pearl premium finish is stunning and the sound quality is second to none. It feels good to own an instant classic.  

     

     

     

     

     

    Product Information:

     

     

     

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    Complete Audio System Details - https://audiophile.style/system

     

     




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    1 hour ago, Allan F said:

     

    Would you care to offer a translation in plain English? 🙂

     

    Know your self. Is it plain enough?

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    Awesome speakers and super good brand, lucky who can offer to buy this...:) 

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    Quote

    Fortunately, all 2L recordings are available in stereo as well as immersive mixes, and I listened to the stereo mix for this review.

    2L would have recommended the MQA release (the only one that has been authenticated)

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    Since you like Norwegian Jazz:

     

     

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