First Listen to the New Wilson Audio Modular Monitor (WAMM)


First Listen to the New Wilson Audio Modular Monitor (WAMM)

Turning to my own LPs and SACDs, I found that the WAMM presented music with a seamless coherence that belied the large number of drivers spread out over the system’s stately 7' height. In many ways the WAMM had the coherence of a single-driver speaker, but without the limitations of one—the system had extension at the frequency extremes and the ability to play loudly. In addition to this top-to-bottom tonal continuousness, the WAMM had a striking transient fidelity across the entire spectrum that was manifested as a sense of immediacy and realism. I’ve never heard drums reproduced with such speed, impact, and transient precision.

I had an unusual experience that highlights the WAMM’s almost spooky sense of lifelike realism. About a minute into a track of an a capella group singing in unison, one of the vocalists came in with a solo part in the center of the soundstage. So lifelike was her voice that I had an autonomic physical reaction from the reptilian part of my brain that startled me by the sudden and unexpected apparent manifestation of another human being near me.

The bass extension, power, and transient fidelity were also astonishing. The WAMM has the same output level at 23Hz as at 1kHz. It’s not rolled-off by 3dB at 23Hz, but absolutely flat to 23Hz. Wilson demonstrated the bass extension with a thunderous E. Power Biggs organ recording.

The WAMM’s spatial presentation was stunning. The large enclosures simply disappeared, replaced by a deep, richly layered, and intricately detailed representation of the instruments within an acoustic space. And the way that instruments and voices hung in three-dimensional space, separate from one another yet part of the coherent whole, was breathtaking.

As well-rounded and complete a loudspeaker as the WAMM is, I’m reluctant to single out any one aspect of its performance. But there was one area in which the WAMM so far exceeded any other loudspeaker I’ve heard—the clarity of individual instrumental lines, as if the WAMM had “de-homogenized” the music. For example, on the Sheffield direct-to-disc The King James Version, I had never heard the individual timbres of each instrument in the brass and woodwind section with such crystalline clarity. On every other speaker through which I’d heard this record reproduced, the baritone sax blended in with the other instruments while adding tonal warmth to the brass and woodwind section by virtue of its richness in lower-order harmonics. But through the WAMM, the baritone sax was a fully independent instrument rather than just another sound within a continuous sonic fabric. This precision with which the WAMM reproduces music was apparent on every piece of music I heard. Yet despite this massive resolving power, the sound was anything but analytical or clinical. Overall, my brief listen to the WAMM is one that will remain for me a landmark in my life of listening to and evaluating music-reproduction systems.

The WAMM will begin shipping in March. Incidentally, I wouldn’t be surprised if elements of the WAMM become the basis of a new platform for several models of Wilson’s upper-end speakers in the future. Stay tuned.