Review: Wilson Audio Grand Slamm Speaker

Category: Speakers

Since this is a site largely based on trading second hand products, I thought it worthwhile to share one man's experience with a sensational speaker that is much, much older...and fortunately much, much depreciated in value when I traded in for it! The theme here is do not bypass much older products just because they are older technology!

First, let me preface that i am not making ANY claims about "best"...only my own conviction abouy how things sound to ME and MY EARS. Now off to the review!

The Grand Slamms are 16 years (The original owner bought them 1994, listened a bit...then put them in storage when he moved countries...the plastic film on the piano gloss laminate was still on after 16 years when they arrived! The finish is Mint! The feet had never even been attached.)

With an ear that prefers my Zanden DAC, CJ pre-amp, Gryphon Antileon and Sonus Faber STradivari sound, you can imagine i like warmth (but also a fair amount of technical capability.)

IMHO, relative to every speaker (save Alexandria) the Wilson Grand Slamm produces the reference sound for my ears.

- Musicality. I will state i have never considered buying any Watt Puppy or Maxx I or II...not my cup of tea. I liked Sasha but still preferred my STrads by a margin.

I never associated them with musicality only accuracy...i have preferred even colored musicality (whatever that means!)

HOW and WHY?
- Effortless, effortless, effortless. Wilson to my ear achieves musicality by creating indefatiguable, inexhaustable, inert obelisques that allow sound to pass through them as if the obelisques were not there. Nothing phases these's just sound passing through
- Specifically to date, no sound, no dynamic, no cymbal brush, no whisper, no crash, no reverb seems to pass through with any edits.
- there appears to be no compression of sound
- the Grand Slamm also is able to allow for instrumental separation...not just delineation of instruments into their own space...but also their own rhthym, subtle volume contrasts between notes...each musician is playing separately through the speakers, and the speakers do not confuse any one musician over the other...creating internal musical cues which i'd never even heard before
- Seamless integration across the one area stands out. which means music again just passes through without emphasis of one area or another
- soundstage...lifelike. it is surprising when someone sings live in front of you how "big" they seem when you close your eyes. The Grand Slamm really does approximate this stunningly well even on choral masses, and certainly on good studio recordings of small ensembles, trios, etc
- this i mean sound passing through as it seems to have been recorded (not that i would know but it certainly feels that way based on comparison to live instruments i do know from either having played them for 12 years, etc.)...again, sound is just passing thru

Set up
- Smokes!!!!!!!!!! This is by far, by far, by FAR the most critical thing about these!
- And we are not just talking about scientic "art is science" placement.
- The distributor's top man came with the GM of the Dealership and spent nearly 8 hours in my home
- They even soldered in different resistors (twice!) for the tweeter in order to emphasize/de-emphasize the treble to accommodate the treble dispersion capability of my room. it is that sensitive to set-up.
- But once they finished measuring angles, taking into consideration side wall reflections, the shape of my living room, etc, and then tweaking the it went from great, to big to Smokes!!!!!!!!!!

If you look at the incomplete list of speakers i have had the fortunate opportunity to get know to a greater or lesser extent over 25 years, some are old and some are new. All are very, very good.

To me, the Wilson X-1,Grand Slamm is the reference to my ears.

Finally, i come back to the main point of this Review. In support of what many of us are here for (second hand), i firmly reinforce the notion that much older products can still be references in today's world when done well. In truth, one has to acknowledge that manufacturers are running a business...and they need to get consumers to buy new products, upgrade, etc...and they must therefore market the "newer is better" motto.

In many cases, this is absolutely true...but i think many of us have seen the benefit of the fact that depreciation sometimes is greater than the degradation of quality!!! A product that has depreciated in half is certainly not half as good as a new speaker...and in my own personal experience in this case, this much older speaker is still the greatest speaker i have had the blessing to hear and now own.

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

Associated gear
Oppo 83 Blu-Ray, Upgrade Audio Modded
Zanden DAC
Gryphon Antileon
Transparent Ref IC/SC
PAD Dominus/Ann Contego PC
Transp Ref Conditioner

Similar products
Wilson Alexandria
Rockport Merak/Sheritan
YG Acoustics Anat Prof
Hansen Prince
Martin Logan CLX
Sonus Faber Stradivari
Thiel 7
B&W 800/801/802
Wilson Maxx II, Watt 6,7,8, Sasha
Hey sounds like some big changes ! Those are great speakers...assuming the tweeters helped a bit to ...better resolution but a more natural portrayal? Just a guess...
Hey Jfrech,

Thanks! Yes, you got it...more natural treble. I know the Wilson has its limitations in treble and is not standard setting...but set up well, it is excellent. And I admit it has been absolutely fascinating to take components I really like...and isolate each one mechanically and also in terms of grounding. The chance to do a custom job for the X1s now is good fun.

Gotta find a pair of 2nd hand Opus SCs!!
Hi All,

As above, I have described 3 tweaks/mods I made to my X1s which continue show great improvements after all these years (Latest Focal Tweeter, Entreq Vibb Eaters on top of Upper Modules, Ultra 5s. I have discovered another which tentatively I consider a success.

Transp Ref Jumper Cables

At the bottom of the X1s are 3 sets of binding posts: 1 for the amp, 1 which is connected internally via Transparent Audio cables to (I think?) the crossover, and 1 where the 2 binding posts are connected to each other via a 1/4" thick copper plate. It is this last one where I did some experimenting.

Just because I had Transp Ref Jumpers from my old SF Guarneris, I pulled them and decided to try them in 3 ways and settled on one:

1. Replace the copper plate with 1 Transp Ref Jumper.
Copper Plate Wins. The TA Ref Jumper smoothed things out and 'quieted'/'stilled' some images in the upper mids and treble which was nice, but I lost sharp dynamic attack and decay, as well as detail around the strike of piano notes. The piano sounds more real with the copper plate. But I could not forget how nicely images stilled and somehow individual notes seemed more distinguishable with the lack of shimmer.

2. KEEP Wilson copper plate, ADD 1 TA Ref Jumper
Better than just Wilson Copper Plate. The sharp dynamic attack, detail and decay all returned...but now the stillness of upper mid on complex, loud piano had more stillness to it, more the way I hear it in real life (i studied piano for 12 years...was surely not gifted, but i definitely heard the piano keyboard up close and personal 5-7 days a week for 12 years).

3. KEEP Wilson copper plate, ADD 2 TA Ref Jumpers
Because the Wilson binding posts take spades and bananas, (and my TA jumpers are spade to banana)...i decided to connect 2 TA Ref Jumpers to see if it was 'too much' or more improvement.
It turned out to be the latter.

In addition to the above improvements (which did improve in terms of quietness/black background) i got the following improvements:
- MICRO dynamics improved greatly, where suddenly teeny tiny nuances and inflections in violins, softer piano key strikes became fully infused with nuances, pauses, gradations of force...and they are now quite obvious where before there was simply a note or a note with some volume change
- the MIDBASS has now become MUCH more is the best word i can think of. It is every bit as powerful as before, but suddenly the dexterity of the upper/mids which is expected in good speakers today is now much more matched by an equally mellifluous bass, with texture, nuance, and decay...decay in powerful bass is tough in my system due to the room. It can boom, stop/start...but gentle and nuanced decay not so much. Now it has made a very nice leap forward in this, and it adds a real musical element to all my bass which is a joy to listen to.

I used to enjoy the bass for its beat, power, rhythm and yes detail...but not so much for the cues, nuances, i can.

I honestly cannot say if it is anathema to Wilson or not, but i can say (perhaps because they are TA Ref jumpers and the speaker is wired with TA cabling?) works quite clearly to these ears/taste.

All for now...but more to come...
Good review. Think about it, the laws of physics have not changed, only our way of interpreting them, that is with 'new' speaker designs. Yes, material science has improved but not to the point it overcomes great designs. Ask Paul K. His products still thrill, and its been eighty years. Now if I could get my hands on a original K horn, in Brazilian rosewood, I would be in heaven.
Thanks! I did not know about those speakers. You learn something every day. Sounds like quite the innovation well over 60 years ago! And still so,etching to hear today, by the sounds of it. Guess my speakers are practically new by comparison!