As a by-product of the tremendous efforts Wilson places on its enclosure construction, the Sasha weighs a substantial 89.5kg—thank God for the supplied castors! Yes, a nice touch: piano castors come factory installed (something this lumbago’ed writer would have loved in previous versions). So although your Wilsontrained dealer will personally install and tune the Sashas to your room, you will still be able to wheel the speakers around to experiment further. (Or out of the way if you need the room… Editor) Once the final position is attained, the castors may be replaced with the Paws. Oh… and do knock on the sides of the speaker for a fair representation of the sound of knocking on the side of Fort Knox.
A note on aesthetics; the Sasha W/P certainly looks different to the usurped WATT/ Puppy System 8. The new speaker now has a much refined, softer, almost organic form that contrasts the angular severity of previous versions. It’s visually a far more attractive speaker that invariably draws complimentary comments from both audio and non-audio visitors chez the Kramer’s.
The fit and finish, as has especially been the case since the last version, is superb and the WilsonGloss automotive paint finish (a kaleidoscopic palette of colours is available) is absolutely mirror-like. Actually, the overall package exhibits an attention to detail that’s almost fanatical; there’s the beautifully- machined metal work, the extensive accessories and quality tools, the over-thetop metallic plate atop the woofer module which depicts the propagation delay table, the jewel-like binding posts, the comprehensive and informative leather-bound user manual, and much more. All these excellent individual elements add up to a whole product that inspires faith in its engineering and results in undoubted pride of ownership.
Listening—The Pleasure and the Pain
Having owned and experienced most of the WATT/Puppy versions places me in the fortunate position—in terms of this review—of having various historical reference points for comparison. Having said that, the superiority of the WATT/Puppy System 8 over its predecessors was such it would have to serve as the main point of comparison against the Sasha.
So after some experimentation, I ended-up with the Sashas in roughly the same spots the System 8 occupied; then the serious auditioning started… and two attributes were immediately perceived as major departures from the System 8’s sonic signature.
First, the bass. Ooh yeah… the bass. The Sasha builds on the already superb capabilities of the mighty System 8. It’s a low end of the thump-to-the-gut and Bruce Lee one- inch-punch type I’m talking about. The bass registers from top to bottom are far tighter, deeper, more nuanced and rhythmical than its predecessors.
Large orchestral crescendos are a devastating force of nature that can almost pin you to the chair. The tympani strikes in Lawrence of Arabia’s Overture soundtrack are scarily real-sounding; the Sasha’s extraordinary transient attack immaculately recreates the initial strike of the hammer and follows by faithfully presenting the drum’s body and preserving its decay. Similar attack, faithfulness and harmonic richness are reproduced with electric and stand-up acoustic bass, kick drum, organ, etc. But the control is so absolute (given the appropriate amplification) that the bass is only profoundly there in spades when needed… at times the low end seemed almost lean compared to System 8’s bloom and fullness. Sasha’s low end frequencies are faster, more rhythmic and, ultimately, more accurate.
Second; the midrange. Well, let’s just say the new midrange unit is one hell of a driver; it’s resolute, dynamic and is extremely timbre-faithful—and yes, very musical. Here is a case where Wilson’s promotional spiel declaring ‘midrange beauty’ actually lives up to the reality. There really is a timbral and harmonic beauty, a drive and verve to the new midrange that draws the listener into the music and takes the mind away from hardware trivialities. Where the System 8 dissected the entrails of the music exposing all manner of audio engineering blunders, Sasha treads a line that would seem to be paradoxical. Play a badlyengineered recording and you’ll still know it’s crap… but somehow the Sasha makes it all the more listenable. This is especially the case with brutally compressed recordings where the take-no-prisoners System 8 exposed the limitations of congested and dynamically crippled recordings. Sasha does not totally repair the damage but manages to separate the instrumental layers and extend the dynamic envelope considerably, providing the recording with a more open sound with more breathing space, less constriction.
Give Sasha a good recording and you’ll hear… well I’ll refer to my listening notes, ‘chills up my spine for the first time in a long while…’ The midrange presence can be startling and the facsimile of reality is unique. Another element that aids to create this uncanny presence is the Sasha’s tonal/ timbral palette. Where the System 8’s tonal palette was made up of dazzling primary colours leading to vivid secondary mixes, the Sasha introduces a further tonal range with more subtle shades and hues. To this writer, who fanatically values tonal colour, detail and dynamic range above all, the new speaker is a blissfully ecstatic listen.
No better example can be given than the Renaud Garcia Fons Trio’s Arcoluz release.
Sasha renders the acoustic bass with that aforementioned timbral truth but also with a palpable sense of body and image density. Close your eyes and picture the bass in your room—aurally it’ll be there. Conversely, with ambience-rich live recordings, you are transported to the concert venue by the tweeter’s ability to re-create the air and atmospherics of a large space.