Given the firm near-wall placement recommendation, I was pleasantly surprised by the spatiality the TuneTots were capable of. A good example was an older Telarc recording of Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances from David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The sense of a large ensemble playing in a large space came across well, especially when a silence followed a loud orchestral exclamation. The impression that the solo alto saxophone was positioned behind the large string section was quite convincing.
These small transducers weren’t thrown by complex material. With the high-octane arrangements on Lyle Lovett and His Large Band, a sustained organ note deep in the mix was easily discernable. Likewise, all the subtleties of the orchestrations for Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, featuring soloist Olga Kern on a Harmonia Mundi SACD, were there to savor through the TuneTots. Sure, if your musical taste runs to solo piano, small group jazz, folk, and chamber music, the TuneTots are less likely to disappoint. But you won’t necessarily feel the need to steer clear of power music with these smallest Wilsons.
The potential for the TuneTots to excel in a true near-field application seemed obvious, and I experimented with a setup that approximated having the loudspeakers on a desktop in, say, a home office. At this closer distance, issues of dynamics and low-end weight receded further and my involvement with music of all stripes was profound.
At the end of the review period I took the forbidden path of actually putting the TuneTots on stands, positioned out in the room like a typical mini-monitor. I brought the ’Tots to my usual 15' x 15' listening room and placed them on the only stands I had on hand, a pair of 36" sand-filled Pangeas. I sat on a pillow to get my ears to the Wilson-sanctioned height. With Songs of the Police, the baby Wilsons sounded great—clear and uncolored, with plenty of quality bass (having the foam port-plugs inserted was still the preferred way to listen.) With symphonic music, though, there seemed to be a flattened sonic perspective and less detail. On the basis of this limited experience, I must conclude that the TuneTots will indeed perform at their best when used as the manufacturer recommends.
The TuneTot will undoubtedly become a top loudspeaker choice for the well-heeled music lover who inhabits a small apartment, or perhaps deployed in the living room of that individual’s upscale beach house. But many ’Tots, I suspect, will be purchased by audiophiles who already own larger Wilson loudspeakers and are devoted to the company’s sonic philosophy and superior manufacturing standards.
It’s fitting that the TuneTot came to market when it did. During the time I was getting to know the speaker, David A. Wilson passed away. Wilson Audio Specialties was born when Dave Wilson needed a near-field monitor for his own recording projects—that loudspeaker became the WATT, Wilson’s first commercial product. Forty years later, the company has introduced another loudspeaker intended to deal with a specific situational challenge. Whether or not the TuneTot is what you need for your listening environment, to address your particular set of audio compromises, there can be no denying that this deeply considered and versatile speaker achieves what it sets out to do.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Two-way, rear vented
Driver complement: 1" doped silk fabric tweeter, 5.75" paper pulp woofer
Frequency response: 65Hz-23kHz +/- 3dB
Impedance: 8 ohms; minimum 6.61 ohms @ 172Hz
Minimum amplifier power: 25Wpc
Dimensions: 8.61" x 14.83" x 10.19"
Weight: 29 lbs.
Price: $9800 (Quartz, Carbon, Teak), $10,500 (Crimson, Ivory); ISOBase, $2100/pair; TuneTot ring, $649/pair; TuneTot grille, $299/pair
Wilson Audio Specialties
2233 Mountain Vista Lane
Provo, UT 84606