Speaker synergies and the Wilson SabrinaX

These are brilliant speakers upgraded my original Sabrina’s which were very good to the Sabrina X. Sound absolutely amazing.
Well worth the upgrade. Also just recently upgraded my NAC 252 to a 552. A superb pre amp. Cheers

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Yeah wish I had the space for those beauties…

So happy to see a Wilson and Naim thread!

The newest issue of Hi Fi Critic features the Chronosonic XVX on the cover. They understandably earned a “no way” rating from my wife.

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The 500DR and SabrinaX have arrived! Still running in but already sounding fabulous. The 250DR was no slouch but the 500DR is fantastic. Having said that the real star of the show is the SabrinaX, so pleased with them!

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Great combo. Expect to hear further expressions of awe.
Enjoy!

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Looking also forward to hear you further reports.
As I understand the Sabrinas are rear ventilating speaker.
How far from the back wall do you have placed them?

Yes they are. They are about 60cm from wall to rear of speaker.

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This month’s HiFi News (uk) has reviewed the Alexx V. Their verdict is “It’s dangerous to say these words but here goes … the Alex V is the best damned speaker I have ever heard”.

Congratulations, you have my envy!

With 500DR, very musical

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Would love to hear the Alexx V. But maybe best not to - not that I could go there!

Sabrina X is great and you will enjoy 500DR. Speaker position is very critical for Wilson speakers.

Then, enjoy lot of music !

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Interesting thread. Thanks guys.

Things have constantly progressed at both Naim and Wilson over the decades.

It was unthinkable to be pairing the two together in the past as they weren’t a synergistic match particularly with the Olives. To be honest, I could never find a Naim-Wilson pairing here for an audition - this suggestion frowned upon by both respective dealers who advised against it and understandably so. The Watt Puppies in earlier iterations needed real muscle with their infamous impedance dips at that time, not that the bigger Naim amps were in any deficient manner for most systems. I suspect a brace of 135s would have driven them, even a 250, but to what extent and if it’d sound any good at all especially in the control of the nether regions - is anyone’s guess. The way the Wilsons were then voiced, only the Krells and ML gear, huge tube amps and really beefy muscle amps would take them more “comfortably” on.

Unfortunately, even then - and I’m sticking this thin neck of mine out here on the Forum - I never quite heard them sing with a musicality that connected to my ears - they were good hi-fi but they didn’t reach out and grab my b*lls or move my feet to tapping-mode in an emotive way. I would leave my auditions shortly, feeling underwhelmed and uninspired. I just honestly didn’t connect with their sense of musicality the way I did with my olive Naims. The Watt Puppies 3-2, then the 5s were never short on slam if the huge amps driving them were fed adequate juice, and while bass play was reasonably tight and deep some of the time - their ported bass gave me the creeps. Their metal tweeters meant highs were piercing at higher volumes. I suspect the room in which they were in, or just their XO points never quite got their bass or mid-bass performance on point somehow. It got worse with the larger speakers. For the expense of those speakers, and the size of my smallish room, and those in a friend’s larger living room, there was no way I would have entertained the idea of such a Naim-Wilson pairing then. Despite both being in the fast, dynamic, PRaT and slam categories with equally healthy doses of lovely mids but sometimes screechy highs on the metal domed tweeters - it was never going to be a synergistic pairing, period.

Fast forward to today, to my ears, Daryl Wilson has understood feedback from customers and dealers alike over the past decade, and spearheaded changes for the better, sonically. I was saddened with the demise of Dave Wilson when I learnt of his passing, in 2018 - he was an icon in his own right - and made significant contributions to hi-end sound with his time-aligned principles and undaunting pursuit of inert material science for his speakers. Nothing of any real consequence comes affordable, but I am happy that today, with the line up of smaller Wilson speakers, Daryl is honouring his father’s legacy with iterations where much more emotion has been imbued into the sonic with his refinements, while keeping to the more established hi fi aspects well and intact.

Being a Naim enthusiast myself, it’s near blasphemy for me to be writing this about Wilson Audio’s sonics - but I reminded myself to keep my oft bias-es quiet and in check, and my mind open when listening.

So I went and was looking to hear the Sasha DAWs, which are the present successor to the Watt Puppy iterations, but a brand new from ground-up redesign from past iterations. Daryl meant this iteration as a tribute to his father, so he poured all his design know how into the speaker “that started it all” for Wilson back in the heyday. The DAW being out of stock, I heard a pair of Alexia 2s instead, which are current in the line up. They were driven by a pair of Goldmund monoblocks and a musical French transport-DAC system whose brand name was unknown and I can’t quite recall unfortunately.

Friends, things have certainly changed some for the Wilson sonic. I finally found some emotion with them, so somewhere down this road from the past, if we found a good, synergistically matched, well-run-in and set-up pair, do give them a listen without past bias and you might see them in a different light, as I did.

I’m happy to read feedback that the brutish 500DR will happily drive the DAW and even Alexx Vs with good aplomb - and that finally the two giants might perhaps offer a good glimpse of how they could be put together and really sing. Haven’t heard this myself but it’s nice to read positive feedback here - I hope not far removed from the truth. Ownership bias is something we all contend with. ha ha.

Like some of us here, I was also very skeptical about pairing the very best of UK sound to American sound - a big no-no in the past for me as they were just cats and dogs with different parameters, but that line is now being blurred from the Wilsons I have recently heard, a good thing. Being more “purist”, I’m still inclined to go all UK, or UK-European sound, or all American for that matter, but before I get lambasted here for spouting “single marque - single continent” hogwash, it seems in this day and age, we are mixing and matching even much more - with some success.

I’m looking to hear more black box Naim and Wilson pairings and suspect this pairing today holds a better promise now than it did up to 20 years ago. I could well be wrong. But for now, my ears are open, though the allegiance is still very much disposed towards Naim sound as it’s just my cup of tea. It doesn’t look like that’s gonna change, but I do hope the Wilsons will offer yet another promising alternative match. Some friends still swear against the pairing, but till we have heard and lived with the pairing, as some of us here already are, I’m not so sure it’s negative this time.

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Great post Phil. Are you US based?

I’m in the UK and I didn’t know anything about Wilson Audio until my dealer suggested having a listen to them. So I didn’t have any preconceived ideas except maybe a question in my mind why I hadn’t read about them on this forum!

I guess there are lots of reasons for that. To add to your points I guess it is a small dealer network here in the UK and even smaller number of dealers doing both Naim and Wilson. Of course there is also cost - their cheapest floor stander is over £20K! And, yes, a possible historical bias here against US Hifi gear.

The only Wilson speakers I’ve heard are the SabrinaX so can’t comment on anything else but as I mentioned above, I auditioned them with a 250DR and am now using a 500DR. Sure, the 500DR is better but the 250DR was easily up to the task.

I think it’s a good thing that we are now allowed to mix Naim with something other than Linn :wink: Although I’m not sure that that acceptance stretches to cabling so I should keep quiet about my Transparent Audio interconnects and speaker cables and Shunyata power! :blush:

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Just out of curiosity, do you use Innuos Sense app with your Nd555 and Innuos Statement?

Yes I use the Sense app. Innuos enabled the experimental Ethernet support for me which works fairly well. A few glitches but I can live with it until they bring out full support.

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Plus, US-manufactured speakers can end up “over priced” in the UK due to exchange rates and the cost of shipping.

I’ve owned Magicos for some years now, and whilst they are expensive here they seem particularly preciously priced in the UK. I assume Wilsons are the same.

The converse happens with UK-made speakers here in the States. They can be quite pricey.

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Thank you, Delta.

I’m from Asia.

Price is always a factor in hi fi.

The black box 250DR had big shoes to fill over the classic olive 250, and Naim have succeeded comfortably by some margin while building on the predecessor’s track record.

lol… since when were we ever “disallowed” to mix Naim…? ha ha. Many have tried, as part of our hobby - natural inclinations to explore for fun and to learn but particularly with the olives, those trials came at some cost, and eventual realisation that any changes to the chain would just come at some compromised detriment to the classic olive Naim sound.

Today’s Naim seems more forgiving and a little more “universal” in partnerships with other marques but for me I prefer to keep it as Naim-based as possible. Happy with it.

Interesting you use TA interconnects and speaker cables with your Naims… hope your 500DR doesn’t run warm when pressed and that you’re happy.

I will stick with all Naim cable for mine when it comes, till later if the itch comes to try substitutes. Even then, it would be very sparingly, if at all.

Cheers

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Cest la vie!

Hey Bart… good to see you here.

Cheers

Phil P

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Sadly you’re right about that!

There is an audio urban legend, very likely true, about the late Dave Wilson being interviewed and asked why his speakers are so hard to drive.
He’s said to have answered: Have you ever heard a pair of Sabrinas driven by a Nait 5I?

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