Athens 2014: Wilson Audio Sasha II dancing with the Devi(a)l(et)


hes-2014If there is one speaker that made Wilson Audio famous among audiophiles for delivering best bang for the buck in the almost affordable high-end range and has seen the most evolutions in the company’s huge line of high-end transducers, that is the Sasha WATT/Puppy and on display we had the new Series-2 which improves over the S-1 in several ways. With the use of a new laser vibrometer the latest generation of Wilson Audio speakers seems to offer an even better cabinet design with less resonance, thus more clarity in the demanding passages. The tweeter is a modified version of the highly acclaimed Convergent Synergy Tweeter from flagship Alexandria XLF speakers, redesigned to work in a two driver cabinet. The WATT cabinet has been redesigned in terms of materials too, with Wilson’s proprietary X and S materials used for the tweeter and mid-range baffles respectively. As with previous versions the two 8inch woofers dominate the Puppy bass enclosure.

All this requires power, and two Devialet amps bridged in mono for a total of 800 Watts each took care of it with the resulting sound being dynamic and crisp like very few other systems in the show. Devialet is more than just raw power, it also offers some of the best measured performance when it comes to THD, S/N ratio and negligible output impedance. On top of that the little French devils offer some of the most convenient features like streaming up to 24bits/192Khz PCM signals, built-in Texas Instruments DACs and my favorite of all, “on the fly” adjustment of phono cartridge loading through the computer’s monitor. Yep, you got it right, despite being pioneer devices of the digital era the Devialets can handle MM and MC cartridges egregiously, with both capacitance and resistive loading configurable with the touch of a button. The Sasha-S2 are included in the list of speakers that Devialet studied and offers the Speaker Active Matching technology (SAM) as a preconfigured DSP option.

The analog front end included JC Verdier “La Platine” turntable, Moerch DP-8 tonearm and Ortofon’s PW cartridge. A Symphonic Line CD player acted like a transport while the power cords and speaker cables were Nordost Valhalla II.

A refined speaker paired with what many consider as top choice among new generation Class D amplifiers translates into music? In the classic Smooth Operator by Sade (LP, Epic) I was able to admire the time coherence and faithful timbre of her voice, a difficult test as the class D amps generally speaking suffer in this regard. Joy Division on FLAC sounded articulated, focused and ballsy. I was not able to find any flaws on this set up despite the hotel room and complete lack of acoustic treatment. Devialet must be really up to something with SAM and Wilson’s new Sasha 2 will remain an audiophile classic for years to come, no doubt about it.