Wilson Audio Specialties Sasha DAW loudspeaker

There is change, and also continuity, at Wilson Audio Specialties, the company founded in 1974 by recordist and loudspeaker designer David A. Wilson. David's son Daryl Wilson was appointed president and CEO in 2016. David Wilson passed away in 2018. And in 2019, Wilson Audio Specialties released the Sasha DAW loudspeaker ($37,900/pair), designed by a team led by Daryl Wilson and named in honor of his father.

The Sasha model has a history of its own. Designed as a replacement for the company's successful WATT/Puppy two-box loudspeakers—these combined the Wilson Audio Tiny Tot compact monitor with a dedicated woofer enclosure called the Puppy—the first Wilson Audio Sasha W/P Series 1 loudspeaker was introduced in 2009; Art Dudley reviewed it for our July 2010 issue. A follow-up model, the Sasha W/P Series 2, was issued in 2014. The Sasha series retains a direct connection to those earlier designs within the expanding lineup of loudspeakers offered by Wilson Audio Specialties.

I told my editors that I could get two sentences out of the name connection, so here they are: Even though I am legally Alexander Matson, I have always been called Sasha, the Russian diminutive form for my given name. And there's a similar naming convention that runs through Wilson Audio's line of floorstanding loudspeakers, from Alexandria, Alexx, and Alexia all the way to their smaller sibling Sasha.

Let's review
The two-box Sasha DAW measures 44.75" tall without spikes, 14.5" wide, and 22.85" deep. These dimensions are slightly larger than those of the first Sasha model. Each speaker weighs 236lb. (The Sasha W/P Series 1 weighed 197lb.) Thus the latest Sasha is just 24lb lighter than the current Alexia 2 model, though the latter is a bit more than 8" taller.

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Why the weight gain? The lower woofer module of the Sasha DAW increased in volume by more than 13% compared to its immediate predecessor, the Sasha W/P Series 2; the thickness of its panels also increased. The upper module, containing the midrange driver and tweeter, gained 10% in volume, and those panels also increased in thickness. The Sasha DAW cabinets are constructed from Wilson Audio's proprietary composite mixes of resin and cellulose: X-Material for most of the panels, with their newer S-Material formulation used for the midrange baffle. Permanent bonding, not bolts, holds everything together. The exteriors of the cabinets, the many subtly beveled edges of which add to their sculpted look, hint at the complex voicing and tuning hidden within.

The binding posts mounted on the rear of the bottom enclosure—in light of Wilson Audio's lack of enthusiasm for biwiring/biamping, only a single pair is fitted—have been redesigned: Banana plugs are now accepted. While you're back there, you can admire the speaker's machined-aluminum "ultra-low-turbulence" reflex port: This hefty cabinet is not meant to be jammed up against a wall or into corners.

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Also on the rear, next to the handsome Sasha DAW logo, is a window that offers a view of the resistors mounted within. These function as fuse-like protectors, as well as providing the ability to alter the balance between the upper and lower modules in inhospitable room setups—an adjustment that I'm told is rarely needed.

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The specified frequency response of the three-way Sasha DAW is from 20Hz to 30kHz, ±3dB. In the speaker's bottom enclosure, twin 8" paper-cone woofers, fitted with ceramic magnets, are reflex loaded and wired in parallel; they both see the same signal. One can imagine how such less-than-enormous bass drivers, assuming ample excursion capabilities, could provide both bass depth and outstanding transient response.

The Sasha DAW's crossover is newly designed with all second-order slopes. No circuit boards are used: The wiring is point-to-point. Wilson Audio now makes their crossover capacitors in-house, and the Sasha DAW is their first model to use them.

In the speaker's upper enclosure is a 7" midrange driver with a paper-and-cellulose–composite cone: the same as that currently used in Wilson's flagship model, the enormous WAMM Master Chronosonic. Wilson designer Vern Credille described it to me: "The midrange driver motor has a secondary magnet, which changes the Thiele-Small parameters and gives more control. The midrange design is an acoustic impeded vent, similar to a vented enclosure but with a highly resistive port such that some characteristics of a closed box can be exploited."

The 1" textile-dome tweeter employs a neodymium magnet and is loaded with its own sealed box. For the first Sasha W/P model, the choice was a titanium inverted-dome design, but over the years, Wilson Audio has auditioned various other materials as tweeter diaphragms, including Kevlar, diamond, beryllium, and carbon fiber. (As I understand it, some materials yield great results way up high but are less suited to the tweeter's lower range, and thus have trouble mating well with the midrange driver. And as David Wilson observed, a good tweeter "has to be a team player.") According to Wilson Audio, the Sasha DAW's midrange driver crosses over to the tweeter at about 1kHz, the latter driver being flat on-axis out to 34kHz.

Daryl Wilson described the design priorities this way: "The two fundamental elements we always focus on at Wilson are dynamic contrast and harmonic expression. And there is one more element that I've added the more we dug into it: micro detail. We are getting more resolution than we did ten or twenty years ago."

Long day's journey into setup
You should have seen the mournful expression on the face of the Air Cargo guy as he handed me the packing slip: He wanted me to see the total weight of the shipment. I helped him trundle the three seriously well-constructed wooden crates up the driveway and into the garage. When the crates were opened, the woofer cabinets rolled out on double-wheeled casters. The Sasha DAW model incorporates a clever new design element: The formerly solid fairings on the top edges of the lower cabinet are now open and function as handles. This reduces pressure between the upper and lower modules—and helps a lot in the setup process. Once the Sashas were roughly in position in my listening room, I laid down the woofer modules and swapped out the casters for spikes, included along with tools and other parts in two nicely done boxes.

Initial setup concluded with placing the upper module on top of the lower and connecting the exposed spade-tipped signal leads. It is at this point that things get uniquely Wilsonian. "Time-Alignment" is the term used in the setup manual, although "Time-Calibration" would also seem appropriate. The idea: mating the upper enclosure's rear spikes to specific positions on an adjustable "stairstep" support, said spikes and positions selected with the aid of a calibration chart—itself based on the distance between the speakers and one's preferred listening position—in order to synchronize the arrival times of upper frequencies. The Sasha DAW is now the lowest-priced model in the Wilson Audio hierarchy that offers this capability. Does this make a difference? You bet it does. If you change the positions or use differently sized spikes, you will hear it.

Once the Sasha DAWs arrived at my house and after some juggling of schedules, Peter McGrath, Wilson Audio Specialties' sales manager, traveled to upstate New York, and I went to fetch him from Albany airport: Whether you're a customer or a reviewer, installation comes standard with the purchase of any Wilson Audio speakers (although not always by McGrath himself).

COMPANY INFO
Wilson Audio Specialtie
2233 Mountain Vista Lane
Provo, UT 84606
(801) 377-2233
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Bogolu Haranath's picture

There it is ..... The classic BBC dip .......... There is a -5 db BBC dip from 1 kHz to 5 kHz :-) .........

JRT's picture

Adding the Puppy bass bin to the Wilson Audio Tiny Tot (WATT) was a very good idea.

Kii audio now has the BXT bass bin for the Kii3 (the combination is depicted below).

I would like to see active bass bins offered for the Dutch and Dutch 8C and for the KEF LS50.

AaronGarrett's picture

The Grimm LS1s dmf is the best bass I've heard, and a bin added to the LS1. DSP when properly done -- in this case via feedback -- is where it's at.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Vandersteen Quatro Wood CT speakers (recently reviewed by Stereophile) come with matching amplifiers, and have powered woofer sections ....... Total cost including matching amplifiers, $32,000 :-) .........

jeffhenning's picture

I understand the need for the BXT with the Kii3 system since they add a tremendous amount of headroom to it's low end and allow the cardioid bass system's radiation pattern to go a bit lower.

With the Dutch & Dutch and LS50's, subwoofers are much more beneficial.

I use a pair of Rythmik servo subs in stereo with LS50's to great effect. I'll be adding another pair of subs this coming year.

JRT's picture

Multi-woofer bass bin certainly provides much more swept volume. But it also spreads out the diaphragm surface source in the vertical while moving some of that source nearer the floor, which serves to ameliorate interference from reflection off of the floor, while also spreading excitation of the floor-ceiling room mode fundamental and harmonics.

The Dutch and Dutch 8C has two 8 inch woofers on the rear baffle, and the design intent places those in close proximity to the wall behind the loudspeaker providing as much as +6dB increase in excursion limited SPL from the boundary coupling, essentially equivalent to doubling the swept volume of the woofers. So the D&D-8C does not need a bass bin for more SPL in high double digit frequencies, but could benefit from spreading the source vertically as mention above.

The KEF LS50 has only the one small 5.25 inch midwoofer to provide bass and midrange. While crossing to a subwoofer to provide much more capacity for volume-velocity at low frequencies certainly helps, I think performance would be further improved with the addition of a bass bin with a pair of 7 inch to 10 inch woofers (for DIY, I would suggest pairs of Dayton Audio RS225-8 wired in parallel, the bottom one not too close to floor to reduce excitation of the pressure node at that boundary) to bridge the gap between the little midwoofer and the subwoofer(s), preferably a multiple subwoofer low frequency subsystem augmented by one to several active interference sources such as PSI Audio AVAA C20 active bass traps.

Note that for a driver on an ideal infinite baffle operating at constant SPL (flat frequency response) at lower frequencies where the diaphragm is behaving pistonically and is small relative to wavelength, there is an inverse square relationship between SPL and swept volume, 4x the swept volume at 1/2 frequency (one octave), 100x the swept volume at 1/10 frequency (one decade).

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You may like the new Revel Performa F328Be, $15,000/pair ......... They have 3, 8-inch woofers each ..... Less expensive than Wilson Sasha DAW or Kii Three with BXT or Joseph Pearl3 :-) ........

supamark's picture

Intentional or happy accident? Regardless, liked the review.

Ortofan's picture

... bring on the Dynaudio Confidence 60.
https://www.dynaudio.com/home-audio/confidence/confidence-60

If the less expensive Confidence 30 speakers could induce JVS to enjoy the music of Diana Krall, then who can predict what feats of magic the model 60 might be able to conjure up.
https://www.stereophile.com/content/dynaudio-confidence-30-loudspeakers-and-simaudio-moon-electronics

Peter2520's picture

I agree. What Dynaudio has created with the new Confidence serie is unbelievable. I bought Confidence 60 in maj, and I´m going to a concert every day since.:-) The facilities with Dynaudio´s Jupiter is incredible. I have seen it myself. The new tweeter is far more open and precise then the Esotar 2.

dial's picture

Probably the best built loudspeakers in the world, look a little like old Goldmund with several boxes.

jeffhenning's picture

I've never thought that Wilson's products are poorly built, just poorly conceived and of incredibly poor value.

When it comes to this latest offering, given that it's only around $30K, it's lack of performance to cost ratio is a few magnitudes of order lower than several other of it's more obscene offerings.

Again, I'm not stating that their speakers don't sound really good. It's just that their value for the dollar is incredibly poor (even more so when you can buy all of the drivers from Madisound). And this is regardless of what ever voodoo they claim to do with their cabinets.

I'm much more impressed by Rockport Technologies designs when it comes to cabinets and drivers.

A friend of mine owns a very rare Bentley (1 of 30). He loves that car, but admits that he might consider auctioning it if Bentley comes out with an electric version. He's 82 years old.

In the next months, my system will include the LS50's I've had for a couple years and then have each sitting atop two, stacked Rythmik L12 servo subs (already have a stereo pair with the LS50's on stands). A Benchmark AHB-2 drives the KEF's and 1,200 watts of UCD amps will power the subs.

Forgetting the raw power spec for the subs (with their much greater output ability & that they can go much deeper and do it cleaner than probably any Wilson), I'm fairly confident that this system, at a sane level and for way less that these Wilson speakers, would be judged as good if not just a hair better... or more.

The drivers that Wilson uses have around 4-5dB greater output for the mids and highs so they may be able to offer a bit higher SPL performance in that arena, but I rarely listen to music over 95dB average @1kHz. The subs I'm using will be pumping out a good bit for the right music, but then this system already laughs at low bass levels like that (over 100dB under 100Hz). Adding two more subs will only make the sub bass even better. And it's fully correlated and temporally aligned with the rest of the speakers (I use Dirac Live). You cannot achieve that with ported, passive speakers.

So, the tally:

• KEF LS50 pair - $1,100
• Rythmik L12 subs (4) - $2,200
• Benchmark AHB-2 - $3,000

Total: $6,300

That leaves a lot of money to figure out how to do the active crossover between the mains and subs. Of course, you do need to know how to do that. If you do not, throwing a ton of money at the problem with passive speakers rather than learning something about audio engineering will not necessarily produce a better result (if at all).

Given the difference in price, you could spend a few grand to have a person design your system and be way ahead. Take your pick of great stuff that costs way less. I offered my list as a point for comparison.

To get back to the car analogy Sasha alluded to, the Wilsons are a Bentley, but it's one that will spell the end of the company as their rich clients die off, DSP becomes ubiquitous to improve loudspeakers and gear lust becomes much less of a thing (equipment as status symbols) amongst more tech savvy youth. They care about performance with ROI as a metric (when they care about performance at all).

Even my Bentley-owning friend likes driving his wife's fun, little, Toyota convertible around town. He also loves that the service bills are 1/10 his Bentley's.

Wilson is Bentley, but without the governance of VW and devoid its forward thinking. Personally, I'd love a C8 Vette with a 200kWhr battery and a supercapacitor as a supplement. That could actually be a thing soon.

By the way, why finding the proper place for these speakers in the room is problematic is because of their innate design flaw: a rear firing port. Not that a forward firing port would be a panacea, but it would help slightly with this design. Wilson's decided to bolster the low end by using the proximity effect of the front/side walls with the port firing towards them, but that also means that the summation in the low end with the relatively in-phase woofers and the inherently out-of-phase rear port (for much of its output) becomes very problematic. It also means that the bass is probably only really smooth at at the ideal listening position. Ported speakers, by design & for efficiency, sacrifice temporal fidelity for low frequency response.

Unfortunately, to gain a perceived flat frequency response and lower distortion around the port resonance, Wilson ceded all other aspects of low end quality with a port design and most especially with a rear port.

If these woofers transitioned a bit higher to the port, it might be less problematic with it being rear firing. That would, then, not offer as much "in-room" bass. No free lunch.

Personally, I'd rather have more powered subs playing with better fidelity in all realms.

Wilson makes no trade-offs when it comes to build quality, but makes a bunch of them when it comes to in-room performance, ease of installation and bang for the buck.

While I'm here, a question: does each one of these things weigh 236lbs or is that the pair? So, another set of Wilson speakers that takes a team of people to install or even get in the house? I guess the upside is that you don't need to knock a giant whole in your mansion for a forklift or crane installation.

georgehifi's picture

"The 8 ohm tap of the MC462 has the lowest output impedance"

Can someone JA? please explain this to me how is it possible, the only thing I can think is that there is much more feedback on the 8ohm than the 4ohm, then what's the use of the 4ohm if not for better bass damping factor (control)?? Won't even mention the 2ohm tap!!!!!!!!!!!

Cheers George

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Higher output impedance = lower feedback = lower damping factor = more tube like sound :-) .......

JRT's picture

A comparison of these Wilson Sasha DAW to his Joseph Audio Pearl 3 might have been both fun and informative. Regardless some superficial external similarity, these are very different loudspeakers due to design choices in drivers and crossovers.

Anton's picture

"To my way of thinking, a more apt analogy for the Sasha DAW would be to a really fine musical instrument, which musicians can and do find a way to have in their lives."

"I have never heard music recreation in my own home like this before. The Sasha DAW has rocked my listening world."

I have to be your enabler on this. They will make your life better.

To paraphrase The Fabulous Fury Freak Brothers: "The Wilsons will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no Wilsons."

Think of them as that fine musical instrument you mentioned.

Sasha Matson's picture

Greetings Anton,
Thanks for your proactive advice here. Other have asked me if I was keeping the 'Sasha DAW's? When they first arrived, I told Wilson Audio I would not discuss any possible purchase until after I filed my review- that just seems the ethical & professional way to go. I did that, and then I indeed did have that discussion. They are here to stay, and they continue to amaze me!
Best Wishes,
Sasha M.

Anton's picture

It was obvious you were meant for each other!

Hearty congratulations!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Anton ..... Daryl Wilson is waiting for your call ........ He is gonna hand deliver your Sasha DAW and Peter McGrath is gonna set them up in your listening room :-) .........

dravera's picture

Curious if you hooked the Sasha DAW up to the MC275 and the result? My Sasha DAW (in Blue) are arriving next week! I have a pair of MC275's running in mono currently on the Sabrinas. We have very similar systems as I also use a c2300 preamp!

Sasha Matson's picture

Sorry I missed your question until now. I am confident you will have heard great sound with the MC275 / Wilson combo-- right? I did try that, but that description was cut from my review for word count reasons. It sounded great! As John Atkinson and Vern Credille of Wilson both pointed out- the 8 ohm tap off the Macs is a better way to go than using the 4 ohm. Life is full of little mysteries!

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