The Wavelet’s Key Features
The new Wavelet provides a far more flexible and capable package of electronics than the combination of the Aeris and the Wavelaunch electronics that I reviewed in Issue 235. The Wavelet is a full-featured outboard analog and digital preamp. It also provides automatic setup, including adjustment of the levels for its electronic crossover and channel balance, and far better room compensation than the earlier Wavelaunch—compensation that helps eliminate the coloration from unwanted room reflections.
The Wavelet includes two pairs of XLR and two pairs of RCA stereo inputs, and USB, RCA, and optical digital inputs for connection to an excellent 24-bit/96kHz DAC with switchable apodizing filtering. There is also an Ethernet port to keep the unit’s software and firmware up-to-date. Wi-Fi operated remote-control software can be loaded into a iPad or smartphone, and provides precise volume and balance settings as well as a number of other features most modern preamps lack.
Features also include easy switching between room-controlled and uncompensated sound, and settings for normal and reverse-stereo or mono operation. The unit also has four different settings for dynamic expansion, and one of the most practical equalization settings I’ve encountered. You can adjust playback as required to suit your taste or individual recordings. There are now four faders for bass-frequency contours centered at 50Hz, 100Hz, 150Hz, and 300Hz, a spectral tilt control hinging at 1kHz, and a brilliance control at 13kHz. The faders are visible on-screen at your remote and their effect is audible in real time. These controls are far more practical in compensating for the real-world differences in recordings than all but the most advanced parametric equalizers. The latest software update allows the user to store/recall up to eight different contour settings.
The Wavelet’s New Approach to Room Correction Software
The Wavelet does retain several important software features that were in the Wavelaunch.
Built-in software uses an algorithm to divide the left and right inputs with a customized high-pass and low-pass network to form a stereo two-way crossover. The transfer function for each loudspeaker is pre-programmed at Legacy for linear output from each driver, correcting minor anomalies inherent in the combined array. The output side of the matrix is factory configured for Aeris, the input side (left side of the matrix display in the software) is for you or your installer to make adjustments in your room.
Software includes an empirically derived algorithm that is integrated into the speaker design to compensate for the losses in low-frequency separation in most listening rooms by increasing the ratio of difference information in bass frequencies to more closely approximate half space (free space with ground plane).
What is radically different about the Wavelet, however, is that it debuts Bohmer acoustic processing. This is a system that can optimize the loudspeaker/room acoustic-transfer function in both the frequency and time domains. It uses a new set of algorithms, and starts with a psychoacoustically based measurement method with the provided calibrated microphone.
Alignments are then individually optimized within an unprecedented 40ms window by way of a setup using a calibrated microphone and wireless iPad, smartphone, or computer. The result is audibly improved transient response that allows the Aeris to operate accurately and consistently in any listening environment.
And here, let me stress a set-up feature that I failed to give proper emphasis in my review of the Legacy V. You do not put the mike at the listening position and try to average out what can often be serious variations in response in the bass with minor differences in microphone height, or if you rely on one seating position for setup, or try to create average settings over a wider area of listening positions. Instead you set the mike on axis with the Aeris’ tweeter at a distance of 48" and then move it twice per channel—once to check phase and set the crossover and balance and once for room correction. I found the end result worked well with a wide range of speaker and listening positions, and produced consistently accurate measured results, where other units I’ve tested that place the mike in or around the listening position sometimes produce strange settings because the mike just happens to be in the wrong position. Moreover, no amount of tweaking the settings on the Wavelet to their extremes presented digital processing problems—something that can happen with room-correction devices that have more features than processing power.
The only limits I find to the Wavelet’s features that will have an impact on most audiophiles are first—like virtually every preamp now on the market—it does not include a built-in phono section. Second, it uses Wi-Fi for remote operation, and while it works well with a decent Wi-Fi system, I prefer to use a computer with a wired connection.