It was a once in a lifetime experience about 1.5 years ago when I got to sit alongside David Wilson in his inspiring listening room and hear the WAMM Master Chronosonic. I will never forget those precious minutes with David, nothing has gotten closer to being there. In a world where many high-end companies fade away when they lose their founder, one American company is breaking the mold and demonstrating that a new generation can deliver breath-taking products, namely Daryl Wilson who has taken the reins at Wilson Audio (website).
While David Wilson was working on his magnum opus the WAMM Chronosonic, his son and current Wilson CEO Daryl Wilson was leading the design of the Wilson Audio Alexx Loudspeaker alongside the WAMM. Following the development of the Alexx, Daryl continued his winning streak with the creation of the Wilson Audio Alexia Series-2 that took many of its cues from both the Alexx and WAMM.
Daryl’s momentum continues with the release of the Wilson Audio Sasha DAW loudspeaker. DAW stands for David Andrew Wilson and is a product that I firmly believe will become an important part of Wilson Audio history. The Sasha DAW is the first speaker that was created after the passing of David Wilson. It could be considered a book end on his career. Wilson’s rise to fame began with the original Watt Puppy loudspeaker developed by David Wilson. The Sasha DAW is an evolution (or more like a revolution!) of that original design and form factor. On the other bookend of the spectrum, the Sasha DAW takes endless learnings from the WAMM and brings them to the DAW.
Daryl Wilson & Wilson Sasha DAW
In the lead up to the October 25th, 2018 announcement of the Sasha DAW we had a chance to speak with Daryl to understand the in’s and outs of the DAW.
Daryl had set a new bar with the Alexia Series-2. He had taken the Alexia Series-1 that I felt was perfect and lifted it to a level of performance that I couldn’t really appreciate until it took center stage in my listening room over the last 12 months.
The Alexia Series-2 has proven itself to be the strongest component in my reference room, revealing the flaws and misgivings in every other piece of equipment and content in my room. It has become the ultimate tool for me to evaluate various changes to my system and equipment that has come and gone. It has established a bar of time accuracy, engagement through beautiful tonality and breath-taking dynamics, and beauty.
With Alexx and Alexia Series-2 behind him, I asked Daryl what were his key areas of focus for the Sasha DAW?
Daryl explained that he focused on three areas:
- “Primum non nocere” First, to do no harm
- To “Certify Chronosonic”, meaning to use the same protocol developed for the WAMM Master Chronosonic for precision in the time domain for the Sasha DAW drivers and new architecture (the tweeter and midrange drivers are now shared with the WAMM).
- Looking at every element and piece of the Sasha series 2 and determining if we can make that piece better, and if so doing so with excellence.
Daryl started working on DAW January of 2018, but there were a lot of distractions and obstacles to overcome including the loss of his father. Daryl explained, that in spite of the challenges he couldn’t be more proud of what he has created and how beautifully it serves the music.
As we discussed the Sasha DAW, one thing become very clear to me. The Sasha DAW is no longer a Sasha, or a Watt Puppy. The Sasha DAW is an Alexia / Alexx / WAMM in disguise in a smaller more approachable footprint.
Let’s dig in…
Sasha DAW Woofer Cabinet
The changes to the Sasha DAW take cues from the Alexia Series-2, Alexx and WAMM loudspeaker designs. Specifically:
New Woofer = Tighter more linear bass response
The Sasha DAW gets a new 8inch woofer which is a variant of the 8inch woofer used in the Alexia Series-2.
More rigid = Better Resonance Control
On the Sasha Series-2, the woofer cabinet had 5 sides (glued together) and a bottom that was screwed on with the crossover mounted to it. The Sasha DAW instead benefits from a 6-sided enclosure (all glued) with a cut-out on the bottom for the cross-over to go in, similar to the design of the Alexia Series-2. This results in a more rigid design that also allows for vibration to more easily drain out through the foot spikes more efficiently.
The Sasha DAW woofer cabinet was further improved by stepping up the interior bracing and by adding Wilson X-Material, similar to the design in the Alexia Series-2. The overall material thickness for the woofer cabinet has been increased and sculpted for better resonance control.
More volume and better air flow = Tighter bass
In Sasha-2, there is a chamber in the back of the bass cabinet where the wires route through. The cables go through a dead space and they come out looking visually clean on the top of the Sasha-2 enclosure.
The Sasha DAW leverages hardware development for the WAMM, that allowed Daryl to remove the need for this chamber by using a new gas tight-fitting.
This change was originally used on the Alexia Series-2, and removal of this chamber resulted in an increase of 11% in enclosure volume. This design change was applied to the Sasha DAW and resulted in an increase of 13.3% in enclosure volume for the woofer cabinet!
On the back of the woofer cabinet, Daryl explained that the rear port is now centered (as opposed to off-center) on the Sasha Series-2. The port has an increased radius and has been softened. All supporting more efficient air flow, with even pressurization inside the woofer cabinet and into your listening room. The location port change allows for symmetrical loading and also eases speaker placement.
Daryl has previously explained to me that this allowed the team the ability to tune the woofers differently and optimize air flow.
Better time alignment = Better integration between the woofer cabinet and the midrange enclosure
The front of the woofer cabinet baffle is also tilted back 3 degrees. This may seem small, but visually is significant. In person it makes the speaker appear to be much slimmer. Functionally it improves the time alignment of the woofer cabinet. Once again another improvement that was discovered through the R&D of the WAMM, Alexx and Alexia Series-2 loudspeakers.
New Spike System & Dual Casters = Better dynamics and Resonance removal
Daryl developed some supersize diodes and spikes originally for the Alexx. They are gigantic. When your speakers also arrive and you pull them from the crates you will see they are sporting some fancy heavy-duty dual casters. All of this awesomeness is now included in the Sasha DAW. Additionally Wilson S-material inserts have been added under all spike tracks.
Visual Changes = Beauty abounds…
Similar to the WAMM, Alexx, and Alexia Series-2, the rear of the woofer cabinet sports a clear glass door that covers the resistors. In prior versions of the Sasha, the gorgeous hardware and resistors were covered over by a solid metal plate. You can now look inside, akin to looking through the back window of a Ferrari and peering in at the engine.
The top of the woofer cabinet has a new cosmetic change that we haven’t seen before. The top wings on each side now have a cut-out. We assume this is for aesthetic reasons only, and we love it. It allows you to peer in from the side and get a glimpse of the Alignment Block hardware that allows you to dial in the time alignment for the mid-range cabinet. This reminds me of looking at the side of the WAMM where they show off all of its hardware. The Sasha DAW Alignment Block no longer requires any tools and can be loosened by hand. No need to look for your Wilson toolkit.
Other Hardware changes
All screws on the hardware on the top of the woofer are hidden to provide a cleaner look. The rear also sports new Wilson designed binding posts that have improved performance.
Sasha DAW Mid-Range and Tweeter Cabinet
Moving up to the Midrange and Tweeter cabinet, the Sasha DAW continues to take cues from the Alexia Series-2, Alexx and WAMM loudspeaker designs. Specifically:
New Tweeter = Better high frequency performance
The Sasha DAW receives the WAMM Convergent Synergy MK5 tweeter. This is the same tweeter that ships in both the Alexia Series-2 and WAMM.
New Mid-Range Driver = More linear frequency response
The Sasha DAW receives the new Wilson Mid-Range drivers that ships in the WAMM, XLF, Alexx and Alexia Series-2. More goodness flowing down all the way to the Sasha DAW.
More volume and better air flow = More open sounding, easier placement, symmetric performance
As described earlier, leveraging the WAMM hardware and wiring clamps, the rear chamber of both the mid-range / tweeter cabinet and the woofer cabinet has been removed. This change provides a 10.2% increase in cabinet volume.
On the Sasha-2, the design sported 2 ports on either side of the wire chamber. On the Sasha DAW, this has been updated to be a single large tuned port that is centered providing better performance. A similar design to the Alexia Series-2.
Better Diffraction / Standing Wave = Better all up performance
One of the hardest aspects of building a cabinet like this is addressing the back-wave generated by the mid-range driver. The additional space and geometry of the mid-range cabinet opened up some opportunities to better handle the back-wave. What’s new are edges that are cut into the side panels that break up the back-wave further similiar to what was added to the Alexia Series-2.
The finished speaker has a slighter higher impedance of 2.48 ohms at 85Hz and will thus be easier to drive than the Sasha Series-2. The Sasha DAW sports a sensitivity of 91dB.
The Sasha DAW weighs in at a hefty 236 pounds per speaker or an increase of 29 pounds of muscle over its predecessor.
WAMM Bringing it home
David Wilson delivered us a gift with the WAMM Chronosonic. It may be the best speaker ever produced and may be something most of us could never afford. I am incredibly excited to see so many of the things learned from the WAMM flow down into the Alexx, Alexia Series-2 and now the Sasha DAW.
Followers of Wilson know well that Wilson tests their speakers in mono. In the early development of the Sasha DAW, Daryl would listen and compare the Sasha-2 and the Sasha DAW. This didn’t last long as the DAW quickly surpassed the capabilities of the Sasha-2. From here Daryl spent time comparing the DAW to his reference the WAMM. Inch by inch, the DAW was tuned to approach the ultimate reference, the WAMM. The Sasha DAW shares a sonic signature with the benchmark WAMM, and that is an incredible accomplishment.
When developing the Sasha DAW, Daryl would compare the Sasha DAW running with their reference setup of:
• Spectral DMA-250 (very linear amplifier)
• VTL 6.5 Pre-amp
• Audio Research CD5
• Transparent custom cable calibrated for Wilson Audio’s R&D. One of kind.
To the WAMM also being run by the best of the best:
• Dan D’Agostino M400 mono amps
• VTL 7.5 Pre-amp
• dCS Vivaldi Transport, DAC, and Master Clock
• Transparent Magnum Opus cable
YES, this is absolutely not fair to compare, but it wasn’t about that…It was about using the best of the best as a REFERENCE tool and to create a goal post for what the Sasha DAW needed to aspire to.
In the end, Daryl did it again. The Sasha DAW isn’t a Sasha anymore. Its something new, something special and it carries his father’s WAMM DNA in it. Seeing the picture of him in his fathers listening chair gave me shivers. Daryl has proven that he is ready to take Wilson to new heights and we should all be excited.
In my last conversation with Daryl, I asked him what part of the Sasha DAW would his dad be most proud of?
My Dad gave so many gifts: time, knowledge, insights, example through action, and laughter (to name a few). I’m sure he feels joy seeing the Wilson Audio team use the precious gifts he’s given us all to keep his life’s work healthy and thriving.
Sasha DAW First Listen
In a series of events starting on 10/25, we will be able to give the DAW its first listen. I will be attending the Sasha DAW release event on November 3rd in Pasadena at Audio Element and again on November 8th in Seattle at Definitive Audio. Hope to see you at one of those launch events, and we will share our thoughts soon here on www.parttimeaudiophile.com.