Upgrade path from Wilson WattPuppy 7s? - seeking advice

I have a McIntosh system with a 275 tube amp, plus some PS Audio equipment. I play many different kinds of music - from Joe Bonamassa to Johannes Brahms.

I like the analytical quality of the WP 7's. They do seem to lack some midrange and do reproduce rock as well as some other speakers. So I previewed the following at Paragon Sound in Ann Arbor, and the price is a consideration. Here are my thoughts but am seeking advice:

(1) B&W 802 D3 - Better with rock, a bit mellow and not as analytical as the WP 7's. Better midrange than my current speakers.
(2) Wilson Alexia 1 - A bit pricey even with a hefty discount. Of interest, I found some of the higher resolution music files to be reproduced with too much complexity. The ability to discriminate transients, a feature of the WP speakers, seem to be diminished in the more elaborate sound provided by these speakers.

Any other suggestions? I do not want to spend a great deal of money, but have the ability if necessary.

Thanks in advance for any advice - Gerry
128x128Ag insider logo xs@2xgerryah930
You could try a pair of Zu Definition speakers.
They play well with tubes and are good with both classical and rock. 
they are also considerably less.-With the savings you could get a pair of Subdomination subs.
The 30 day trial period doesn't hurt.
Make sure you get a listen to the Vandersteen 7 series
 Try and do a little research on these.
 When they are tuned, and in your room, they should bring you what you have been missing with the above.
 Joe Bonamassa Live at Royal Albert Hall should be a unique experience,
 especially when all of their lofty drivers that you dont hear are more in time with the Mic
 Installed many pairs.
 Vandy Dealer
Keep looking. Your WP7 are as good as if not better than what you auditioned. When you hear something that much better you will know right away. The fact you are undecided after an audition means neither speaker was convincingly better than what you have.

B&W mid range is scooped so I don’t understand how you thought it better than your WP7 which has an outstanding mid range.
I have Wilson Audio Duette 2's that I am trying to sell on Audiogon.  I recently demo'd the Wilson Alexia versus Sonus Faber Amati Tradition.  I thought the SF were more musical than the Alexia's.  I also thought the WiIson's were a little bit more in your face.  I also demo'd Magico S3 and 5.  I  ended up buying the Sonus Faber and love the sound.  I am not of fan of the B&W sound.  
Out of left field: how about a nicely refurbished pair of Altec Valencia's? Plenty of impact and drive! Even when used with a low-power SET amp! 
I had the WP7 before.  While it did some things very well, I wanted more coherency/refinement and a more linear bass.  Went through a couple of other speakers before settling on the Vandersteen 7.  Must have been a few years ago and I have had zero urge to change speakers.  
Everyone is going to think I am crazy, but, here goes. Have you ever thought of something radically different? I use a McIntosh C50/MC275 Mk VI with a pair of refurbished 40 year old Gale GS401A speakers (www.vintagegale.com). The overall sound, via TT and computer audio, is about as good as it gets IMHO. Aesthetically, the system is simply beautiful, again IMHO.

My main system is a Krell HTS 7.1/TAS combination driving a pair of N801 speakers; I prefer the sound of the Gales. I went to Axpona this year and heard some very exotic/expensive systems and still prefer the sound of the Gales. See my previous post on this subject and building my TT/Tube system around the Gales.

I assume if you audition speakers at Paragon Sound you live in Michigan? I live in NWI if you want to hear the Gales.
Great advice from everyone here, and thank-you so much. Some thoughts:

1. The Vandersteen 7's seem of interest, but I am somewhat concerned with speakers containing a built-in amplifier (but I am not that knowledgeable), and like many speaker companies, their prices seem to have climbed a bit.
2. Although I am a former violinist, I find the Sonus Farber and B&W speakers to be too sweet and not as analytical as the Wilson WP7's. I am a scientist and tend to hyper-focus when I listen to music.
3. I am never opposed to looking at older speakers.
4. I am a big fan of speakers that are fast at reproducing transients.

Any more advice is greatly appreciated. I hope I am not being too selfish here. Thanks - Gerry
You like Wilson Audio. How about the Sabrina? IME they sound awesome with ARC tubes. (I have not heard the Alexia)
I’ve got countless hours with most of the D3 series and I find them to be overly analytical and sterile sounding with most sources and amplification. The Wilson Sophia 2’s I owned were much warmer and inviting compared to the 802 D2’s they replaced in my main system. Sabrina’s are beautifully balanced speakers worth listening to.
+3 for the Sabrina's.
Though I am a Vandy fanboy, I think the Zu's have more punch for 
Vandersteen deserves your attentive listen.   I too am a violinist, and Vandy's do it for me.   The subs mesh so beautifully you'll never know that there is a separate amp...only that it will make your amp run easier. ....had B&W's... moved to Vandersteen and happy I did.  Call John at AudioConnection in NJ...he knows and sells everything...certainly worth a call.....
With all this Vandersteen talk on threads I will have to get a pair sooner than later. 
Perhaps one the Magico's  would fill the bill?  I think their bass response is very quick and realistic and to my ears the upper frequencies are more pleasant than some of the Wilsons.
Try Wilson Sashas 1 or 2. Both provide a warmer (not in a bad way) and more realistic and refined midrange than the WP 7s together with better and more linear bass. The Sasha 2s have the newer soft dome tweeter which some prefer to the titanium tweeter in the Sasha 1. Prices on the used market for the Sasha 1 are criminally low.

The WP7 is a somewhat tricky speaker to match with amps.  Although, on paper, it is a quite efficient speaker, it is a very demanding load that doesn't work well with some tube amps.  You should consider auditioning amps in your system.  A lot of dealers will allow a customer to borrow amps (speakers are rarely loaned because they are easily damaged in the transportation and set up process).

I don't know which 275 you have, but, I've heard the current model and it is, to me, a quite mediocre amp even when driving an easy load.  I can't imagine it working that well with a WP7.  

I’m not sure how much bass your looking for but you should look at Living Voice OBX Rw3 ( also the IBX, out board cross over for the OBX and Inboard for the IBX) these speakers for me have been the most musical I have yet found in a speaker line. they are very detailed but the music just flows from them. They are defiantly a keeper speaker. Only limitation is they don’t really go much below 30ish HZ but don’t let that be the only deciding factor. They voice all there speakers with tube gear, Kondo Audio Note Japan to be exact. These run at 94db and are very easy to drive look beautiful in the traditional way ( the Santos is my fav) I highly recommend them and they get gushing reviews all over.


Also the company in my experience have some of the best customer service in the industry.



If you really want scientific precision you should audition at least one pair of electrostats (and not hybrids).  Quads would be a good start.
You should give Von Schweikert a try - either the E3 MK II, E5, VR-44, or VR-55 depending on your budget. All of these are very dynamic and easy loads for your amps. They are a better value and performance than the Wilsons or Vandersteens (which I prefer over the Wilsons).
I just setup the Marten Bird 2 in my demo room. Truly outstanding on day 1. Still running the frequency sweep cd in between.

I have Egglestonworks Andras which I love and have enjoyed for many years. I had the upgrade bug and listened to a lot of different speakers without finding anything I liked better. Then I tried some different amps with my speakers, including the Mac 275 which I was disappointed with given the generally positive reviews. I upgraded to an Audio Research Ref5 SE preamp which made a huge improvement to my system and then a few months later tried some Audio Research Ref210 tube mono blocks which have been another huge improvement. I'm really amazed how much they improved everything without changing the character of  everything I liked about my existing speakers. I second trying some new electronics first if you are otherwise generally happy and I highly recommend Audio Research.
If fast transients are important to you, then I would suggest you audition a pair of Martin Logans.

Their top model, the Neolith, is a bit pricey ($80,000) but they have a very solid lineup to choose from.

I run their midrange Spires ($10,000) on 80 W tube monoblocks.

Hi Gerry
Some more options to consider -

DeVore - I like the Silverbacks, the Gibbon x is a great product as well.

Verity Amadis S

Tidal Contriva g2 If you want to splurge

I have a pair of the original Sonus Faber Cremona, they are dated. When I got the bug to upgrade but didn't have the scratch, I tweaked the speakers I had by
1. I put them on Isolator feet.
2. I switched out the driver screws with non ferrous brass screws
3. Added a pair of Rel B2 subs, one on each channel and performed steps 1&2 on them as well.

This took some time, and luck but definitely worth it.  I am truly realizing 100% performance out of my speakers. -The level of detail, and imaging in the midrange is euphoric.  All in the cost was no more than 3.5K with the siltek bassline, and Analysis Plus power cables.

Good Luck

Gerry we were long time Wilson setup guys and and owners.

The WP 7 is a good speaker but is bettered by today’s newer systems which are much more transparent, the Wilson sound is punchy with great dynamics. The newer Wilson are a bit more laid back in the treble since the switch to the new soft dome tweeter which you may or may not like as much.

We would recommend that you consider the new Paradigm Persona 9H they cost $20k less then the Alexia and actually outperform them.

The Personas are a $60-70k sounding speaker yet are priced at $35k
they were just awarded Loudspeaker of the year in Tone audio,


as well as receiving a similar accolade in the Absolute Sound.


When setup correctly the speaker has a totally holographic sound stage, is very transparent, and has remarkable deep bass. add to that 96 db sensitivity and built in subwoofer amplifiers powering four long throw woofers with dual 700 watt amplifiers and room correction to ensure that the speakers can work in any size room.

We have tested and listened to many of todays best loudspeakers including a $120k pair of Kharamas, the $32k KEF Blades, $70k pair of Polymer Audio Research MKX-S, the Dali Epicon $20k and a few others.

The Personas are the only reference speaker to offer the following advantages:

1: Pure Beryllium tweeter for stunning clarity
2: Pure Beryllium midrange so you have remarkable detail as well as complete coherency.
3: 96db efficiency and are easy to drive
4: 4 proprietary aluminium woofers aligned in a reaction canceling cabinet which offers true sub-woofer levels of bass down to 19Hz!
5: A rigid yet somewhat light weight cabinet designed by using 7 layers of HDF with a viscoelastic damping layers to eliminate cabinet resonances.
6; Dual 700 watt amplifiers 2 per speaker to power the woofers
7: Anthem Room Correction to apply room correction below 5k designed to align the speakers to achieve a flat room response on matter what sized room.
8: The service and support from one of the leading speaker manufactures in the world!

To understand why the Persona can do what they can do all you have to do is invest $4 million dollars and allow Paradigms engineers to run wild.

Only a large company such as a Paradigm or a B&W can invest this kind of money. The Persona’s have numerous advantages over the B&W such as bi-amping, self powered bass and of course state of the art room correction.

We have been in the industry for over 30 years, the Personas are remarkable and are a testament to how a large company can when they are committed can build one of the world’s best speakers.

They are a must audition. If you are ever in our neck of the woods we have the Persona 9H on display with the T+A gear from Germany which is also remarkably good.

Just tested a $35k T+A amp and power supply vs $90k a recently updated pair of Boulder 2050 mono blocks and the T+A actually had tighter bas,s the Boulders were a bit better but wow, the T+A were exceptionally and were nearly as good!

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

Sorry,best...try different amps before moving on with your Wilsons...and Tidal if given the opportunity. 
Ignore Audiotroy. He loves to invade Wilson (and other)  threads to tout Paradigms with the same long winded opinion of one whose pocketbook depends on the success of Paradigm Personas. But you sort of invited him in by asking for any other suggestions.
I have heard Paradigm Personas on 3 different occasions (including Audiotroy's setup at the NY Audio show last year). They are good for the money although a bit on the hard and bright side (he says transparent--wrong) for me. I'll take WP 7s, Sashas, Alexias and Yvettes and countless other more musically coherent speaker brands over the Paradigms.  
Audiotroy always talks about the alleged $ that Paradigm put into the Persona's development. Under that rationale, we should all be listening to Bose, Sony and B&W and not brands like Wilson, Magico, Rockport, Nola and countless other reputable brands with strong science and great individual ears behind the brand.
 When you purchase loudspeakers, you purchase the ear and talent of the creator. By all means, listen to all of the speakers you can, but don't listen to opinions of biased, hyperbolic dealers.  
I have Watt Puppy 7's which I moved to the theatre room. This pair of speakers replaced 6 Martin Logans and sound much better. I bought Sasha's for my main listening room, absolutely love them. Listened to many speakers over 15 months from Magico's to Vandersteen to many others and decided on the Sasha's. 
Ah there you are gpgr4blu, as usual another threatened Wilson fanboy.

Your negativity is disengnious, you are the one that should be ignored.

The Persona speakers or any speaker with superior resoloution can sound bright, Rahido sufferers from the same demanding setup requirements and too many shops that sell the Persona line do not have the setup gear that enables them to perform the way that they can when driven by the better brands of equipment.

A couple came to our shop after driving four plus hours after hearing the Personas under perform at another shop, they came away from our demo as proud new Persona 9H owners, along with a T+A amplifier.

I heard them at another shop and was also not impressed this shop was using a $3,000.00 Musical Fidelity integrated along with sub $1,000 cables and a cheapie dac because they didn’t have the matching ancellory equipment. I listened through the demo and determined the speakers had potential and took the plunge even though the demo was sub par I came away intrigued.

As per taking WP 7, Sashas, or other Wilson’s I have heard way too many Wilson demos at shows and walked away with thinking nice musical  speakers, but hardly a fully natural or neutral loudspeaker. I owned the WP 3, and WP 5 and I personally sold more WP then almost anyone ever associated with the brand. Lets face facts Wilson uses good commercially sourced drivers for the majority of what is in their speakers except for their new tweeter, their drivers that are hardly the leaders in the pack for the price they charge so why the high prices? Great cabinets yes, but much of the cost of a loudspeaker is in the performance part of it and Wilson uses very inexpensive drivers compared to the total cost of the loudspeakers.

And Musicfix I would also take WP 7 over Martin Logans for a theater, the Wilson will work much better as a theater speaker. It is possible if you heard our demo with the T+A gear and the Personas you may have chosen the Personas over the Sashas Our Persona setup throws a gigantic and completely holographic soundstage which the Wilsons also do, we beat them in terms of coherency, detail, speed, and deep bass as well as flatness in room response the issue with the Personas is getting them to sound smooth on the top end as they have incredible resolution and thus are more sensitive to setup and matching gear. I have almost never heard an offernsive Wilson demo. 

I would take a Rockport any day of the week much better drivers that they make themselves, and an equilly inert cabinet. I find Magico’s to be too dry for my taste but again they make all their own superior technology drivers and also have a fantastic intert metal cabinet.

Just like the T+A gear we champion which is another brand quickly estalishing its reputation in the US just like the rest of the world as being amoung the best gear out there.

Grpgru the validity of what we say is mirrored in the press. our setup at the 2016 New York Audio sounded amazing, what we accheived in that small hotel room was an awesome sound.

If you look at Tone Audio this month you will see Jeff Dourgay who is a big Wilson fan pronounce the Personas as one of the best speakers available at any price.


to quote from the review:

Paradigm has created one of the world’s finest loudspeakers the right way, by applying what they’ve learned from decades of research, design and manufacturing know how to produce a speaker with no compromises. There’s nothing they don’t do, nothing they won’t play and from what I can deduce, nothing they won’t partner with regarding electronics.

I’ve heard way too many six figure loudspeakers with caveats attached. There are no caveats that apply to the Paradigm Persona 9H speakers, other than the fact that you probably can’t lift them without help. That’s it. This is a world class, zero compro - mise loudspeaker for $35,000/ pair.

This level of excellence and execution wasn’t even available ten years ago, and if Paradigm didn’t build everything in house, along with the scale of econo - mies they enjoy, they couldn’t achieve this either

The Paradigm Persona 9H will be our Speaker of the Year for 2017. It’s one of the finest speakers I’ve had the pleasure to listen to at any price

as well as receiving a similar accolade in the Absolute Sound.


Along with Legacy, Paradigm is one of the two manufacturers I’ve found that can really do room compensation well. Its Persona 9H is truly flat, goes very deep, and is still quick and detailed in the bass. Its low end is matched by a superb new beryllium midrange and tweeter with a great deal of life and resolution but no hardness. With excellent driver integration and something much closer to a point-source presentation than most complex speaker systems, the 9H provides some of the best imaging and soundstage performance around.

As per your other snide comment if Bose decided to build the world’s best speakers they could easily out build and out design Wilson or Paradigm or anyone, so can Sony or Apple or Google or anyone with the cash reserves to do so.

As per invading Wilson theads dude if you think that a $58k Wilson Alex is a better speaker you should get your ears checked. The Persona 9H is a better, more technologically superior, and greater performing set of speakers, and a much more practical product for $23,000.00 less money.

Lets just wait and see how the market reacts so far two esteemed reviewers are saying the same thing that we are saying, how many more before you will learn we know what sounds good and we know value.

Here is another wake up call for you, we just did a demo with $35k worth of T+A gear vs $90,000.00 Boulder amps, and the T+A a stereo amp plus outboard power supply had tighter bass then the Boulder amps, the Boulder did sound a bit more transparent and had a bigger sound stage, but considering the almost 3 times more expensive price point the T+A gear was a fantastic perfomer. and perhaps if we had the mono block setup the T+A would have outperformed the Boulder setup.

Fact is the Audio Doctor team we know our stuff, and consistantly pick some of the best sounding products at the time and will continue to do so as technology and fair pricing guides us to what we pick along with fantastic sound.

Oh and our track record on products we champion Conrad Johnson Art and Gat, Scaena loudspeakers. T+A, Paradigm Persona, Usher loudspeakers, Legacy loudspeakers, Nuforce, Running Springs, every one of these brands has received accolades at the time as being stellar performers.

Dave owner
Audio Doctor NJ

I heard the WP7's run with the Lamm ML2 triode at only 18 watts and thought the sound was outstanding.  I would consider trying different amplifiers. 
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I just love great music.  I personally don't care what speaker or amps are used to achieve it. Right now I'm into Vandersteen big time as they are the only one's on the market for MY EARS and ROOM that are coherent, tonally on, disappear and throw a huge stage etc...  The bass is turnable in the room, which is so important as I have a brutal room IRT bass as it's an open loft.  I am shocked at the quality I'm able to get now.  Johnny at Audio Connection set them up and he really did a great job. I've had many others in the room, that were set up by dealers or even manufacturers and they just didn't sound as good.  Thats' just me.  I also like the Tidal speakers a lot.  No need to type about other speakers that dont' do it for me as this thread is about the OP and wanting new speakers.  Go out and listen. Dont' listen to teh dealers sales pitches, listen to the music with your ears and go from there.

I love it when dealers post on threads as long as they don't become commercials for their gear.  Troy, I"m sorry, but it doesn't matter what thread you are on, you sound like a commercial and so many are sick of it.  Yes, you change gear often based on following your store and what you have is always the best and the best buy.  I'm happy that you set things up better than others do.  If the Persona's are so difficult to set up, then that could be difficult for many.  To my ear, they are tipped too much at the top like other Paradigm's including ones I've owned in the past.  They have the room correction that, I was told by their US sales VP I believe his title is, makes them the easiest speaker to set up as it fixes everything.  Not sure why dealers who are trying to sell them can't set them up correctly.  I wonder if they can sound decent with Ayre, Jadis, Boulder, Aesthetix, Audio Research or any other top amps? Just sounds like a commercial to me.  

JOhnny has posted in this thread too, but he just mentioned Vandy 7 mk 2 that HE sells.  He doesn't go into much else and he hasn't talked about why the Vandersteen's sound better than the Wilson's.  To many, they won't.  

OP, go listen to a bunch of speakers.  Check out the coherency, tonality, size of the soundstage and if it changes with each album as all are recorded differently.  You know the drill or you wouldn't be looking at the prices you are.  I personally drive 3 hours to purchase my and electronics from Johnny at AC as do many others on the net.  I also guy from Ralph at Take 5 in New Haven.  I have purchased Paradigm's from Bernie at the Audio Store in Newington CT.   Lot's of great dealers out there who are willing to help you out and that even includes Audio Troy folks.  Glad I came across this thread.  I'm sure Troy will come back with something slick to discredit my post, but that's fine to as I'm not selling stuff and they are, so there's that.  Keep letting us know what's up with the search.
I am sorry Yogiboy, Harbeths are not considered in the same league as the Wilson products. Allan Shaw's designs favor articulation and naturalness in the midrange, and lack the dynamic punch, deep bass and overall dynamic range  of the Wilson speakers. They are also much less exciting then the Wilson's. So you have perhaps a more neutral speaker over a more exciting one. 

I would take a pair of WP 7 over the 40.2 I think you will find very few Wilson guys moving into Harbeths.  I read the Paul Seydor review and as a long time Quad owner, that ship has sailed. I went from Quads to WP 3/2 and then to 5 and never looked back, WP sound much more alive and sound much more like live music then Quads. 

The issue is would the OP prefer some of the newer loudspeakers that are on the market and these would include the new Wilson speakers and other market leaders, we like the Rockports which are a bit more midrange centric than the Paradigm Personas which are our favorites. 

As per electronics the Lamms are very fine amplifiers and of course would produce very good sound on a set of Wilsons. Lamm and Wilson have been showing together for years. 

The OP might want to upgrade his electronics over the Mcintosh Mc275 as well. The WP 7 is from 2003, loudspeaker designs and driver technologies  have advanced considerably. 

It really depends on how deep the OP wants to go.

I do find some of his comments to be a bit off kilter

I found some of the higher resolution music files to be reproduced with too much complexity what does this mean? Does this mean that the greater clarity of the newer Wilson speakers appears to separate musical instruments too precisely rather than creating a musically involving more coherent sound?

Our recommendation would be to go visit a bunch of dealers and see if newer systems and newer components would be satisfying while improving on what the OP likes about his current system.

Hope this helps

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Cstooner, i am sure a lot of people feel you are a commercial for Vandersteens.  We sell many great brands including Legacy, as well as the Personas, we also sell PSB, Dali and many others. 

Cstooner, you have never been to our shop and have not heard our Persona setup so you do not know if you would prefer our setup to yours.

What you failed to understand is that Paradigms room correction fixes bass issues only it does not compensate for poorly matched systems nor does it fix any issues with the upper octaves. The Personas use room correction to fix bass boom or bloat which is what happens with room positioning or room sizes which are not ideal. 

The Persona room correction affects bass only, so for example if you still have an echo box for a room, or poorly matched components, or bright cable etc they are not going to magically compensate for any of those issues.  Only Legacy which uses a full range room correction system will have any hope of fixing or ameliorating any of those issues.

We are also not saying that we are the only ones that can make the Personas sound good, they are incredibly transparent and are therefore much more sensitive to what you use with them. 

This is the same issue with any suitable high resolution speaker system but is compounded with a system which uses Beryillium drivers for both the midrange and tweeter, the Persona's don't hold anything back which is both good and bad. 

If you look at both the Tone review and the Absolute Sound review of the Personas both reviewers obviously had great components. 

I am willing to bet dollars to donuts that their are Persona dealers who do not have good matching components, or the right rooms, what might have worked with one brand of loudspeakers may or may not work ideally with another and unless you sell multiple lines of gear you may or may not be able to create a musically satisfying results. 

So the issue is go with easier more forgiving speakers which there are tons or properly setup a superior high resolution set of speakers which enable you to hear everything and spend the time and money to find the right matching gear.

Cstooner if you want to hear one of the most remarkably life like systems on the East Coast, just give us a call, you may end up being very surprised at what you will experience. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
You produce more words than an online dictionary. As for your claim to have sold more WP than anyone associated with the brand, I can't wait to hear where and when. Was it when you were a lowly salesperson for Sound By Singer who me and many of my friends avoided because you always and still do talk too much to the point where we just wanted you to leave so we could make up our own minds about what was "the best ever" and what was just average. (Usually what you said was the best ever wasn't even close)  By the way, why did Andy lose the Wilson account?--
  Yes Yes We know you are blown away by Beryllium drivers (you once told me Ushers were better than Wilsons at 1/2 the price)--so I guess you really do love Beryllium--and people who go to Audio Doctor and buy them may as well. Good for you and them. But let's let the market for high end audio be our guide. We'll see where audiophiles who can afford speakers up to 60k and go out listening put there $. The Personas, despite their marketing and alleged superior technology will maintain a small share of that market. Wilson, Focal, Magico, B&W and others in the Persona range and above will continue to outsell Personas--and that's not because most audiophiles are either foolish or uninformed.
As we've discussed many times, I currently own Wilson but I am by no means a "fanboy" (Is that high school or college slang?) I've owned Focal, B&W,JBL,Quad, Reference 3As and others.  I have no skin in the Wilson game other than I think they make extraordinarily good loudspeakers in their respective price ranges as do more than a handful of other manufacturers.
And I really don't care if others agree with me. But when you and Troy go on your long Persona promotional tours here on Audiogon, you get me going--especially when you compare them to Sashas, Alexias (or as you once did-- Marten's 100k+ speakers) in which case IMHO they fall far short in musicality, coherence and dynamic expression.
 Funny--no one else on this or any other forum I'm on bothers me the way you and your sidekick do. Maybe if you two stop with the rank salesmanship. Then again, that would be impossible--like the Scorpion in "The Crying Game" --you can't help it--it's in your nature.
Let me see. Whas has not been mentioned yet?.. Got it ! What you really want is Kharma. Powered by Lamm electronics it is one of a very few dream systems. Focal's better Utopias will be quite good with tubes too.
However, as someone said, and I almost entirely agree with it, you might want to consider different amplification. It may not change your impression but perhaps is worth a try. I think, Wilson recommends ARC and VAC electronics. What if they are right, as unlikely as it may sound ?

You need to get your facts straight, Andy was the number one salesman for the shop, I was number two, hardly lowly. For most of my tenure at SBS and for the three years I worked at Innovative I had the consistently highest sales numbers, why, because I cared, and I listened and compared components, and lastly I was not afraid to work and often moved components from room to room to assemble a system for my clients that sounded magical, when too many other sales people would just play what systems were setup.

As per brands I promoted as the best Vac, Cat, Conrad Johnson, Wilson, Focal I guess these are also lowly brands?

As per you and your friends avoiding me perhaps you preferred Andy’s deft touch? Andy was all about finding the most expensive gear imaginable and if there was another setup for 1/3 the price that was 90% as good, i am willing to bet you Andy would be running the other way.

I think you actually agreed with me that I found that at the time the Bel Canto Universal player with a Shunyata cable on an HRS or Black Diamond base sounded nearly as good as a $40k DCS stack yet cost less than 1/4 the price.

Andy lost Wilson when Dave Wilson was paranoid about Eggleston and Focal being a threat to their sales position and Andy was told choose us or them, Andy to his nature told Wilson that nobody tells him what to do and they then allowed Innovative to sell them in NYC.

As per Usher being 1/2 the price as a Wilson and being as good, I never said that, what I said is that the Usher can compete with speakers that are much more expensive and they do use superior driver technology and cost much less, Kind of similar to what we value in the Personas, advanced technology at a lower cost, Wow I must be a bad person for finding products that consistently perform at a very high level yet actually cost less.

We were the first US dealer to find and promote the Auralic Vega which at $3,500 sounded nearly as good as a $7,000 Meitner MA 1 guess which one we sold more of and which one we told our clients to purchase?

The Ushers Be 10 and 20 were remarkable loudspeakers and sounded amazing for the price. It has taken years for the market to produce a set of speakers which is really better. We stopped selling the line as Usher USA folded and it was not clear who would be representing them, the other issue was their incredible weight the BE 20 weighed 300 lbs.

As per annoying who, if you actually paid attention to many of my comments we are telling people to examine a lot of different products and not just ones that we sell. You are the one who sounds like a broken record.

As per all the brands you mentioned outselling the Persona lets see where the market leads, right now Personas are starting to sell and are consistently getting rave reviews by every reviewer who hears them, and they haven’t even started really promoting the line they only started shipping the product less then a year ago.

It has taken Wilson 43 years to build their reputation as an uber speaker maker, only now has Paradigm released a reference line of speakers so I am willing to bet Paradigm will do it quite a bit faster.

Please stick to your Wilson speakers, and enjoy them. As I said I owned Wilson Watt Puppy 3/2 and 5 and have setup Maxx 3, Wp 7, and many others.

I would purchase a set of Vivid G1 or G2 or a set of Rockports over almost any Wilson product, and the Persona’s are a flat out steal for their sound quality, build quality, advanced room correction and flat out good looks, and they are selling really well by the way!  You may think that I hate Wilson I don't I like their speakers I just find that they are getting way too expensive for what the customer is getting, I would take a pair of Wilson's over the Magicos  as I find the Magico are too sterile sounding for my taste.

As to  the reason I post is to hopefully spread some of the knowledge I  have gained in 30+ years as doing this for a profession. I promote brands to get more people to know about them and hopefully save them money. 

I am constantly learning and I have a friend who runs an audio magazine who is constantly turning me on to the latest tweeks. 

I always knew about T+A but it wasn't until I read the Absolute Sound review where Allan Taffel compared a $18k T+A integrated to $120k worth of CH Precision gear did I want to hear the line. I thought to myself if a $18k amp sounded similar to $120k worth of state of the art electronics that would be something great. 

You would be surprised that most dealers don't think that way. 

I would take a pair of Person 9H over a pair of Wilson Alexia any day, and be rejoicing in my flat bass response, greater efficiency, and superior resolution, and I guess you can purchase a really nice dac or amp or preamp for the $20k less expensive price point, but I guess you have more money then brains so we will leave it like that.

You remind me of many of the know it all customers that would often come to the store, and the sales people would all laugh at them once they left as their lack of knowledge was staggering and they often kept buying new gear over and over again because they didn’t understand synergy.

The reality of this industry is the real magic only happens when you can create a combination of components that really work well together and over the years I have seen and heard way too many systems that just sounded awful, I wonder if yours would be one of them?

You fail to understand that we have a reputation for making fantastic sound and doing it for less money then other dealers because of my testing and always evaluating new and better products.

And get your facts straight we tested the Personas vs a $120k set of Kharmas Grand Exquites and they were lovely just not worth the four times great amount of money for a speaker without the advantages of the Persona and just because a set of speakers or an amp or a dac is really expensive doesn’t make it better. We liked the Kharma DB 9 which were lovely but did not have the advantages of the Personas.

Normally I would end a rant like this with a personal invite to my shop but I wouldn’t want to extend an invitation to someone who is beyond help and professes to know more than a 30 year veteran.

Dave owner
Audio Doctor NJ


I appreciate all the advice. I have listened to the lower-priced Vandersteen Quatro CT speakers, which I liked a great deal for their musicality, though maybe because the room was not quite right, they did not seem to have the same "separation of instrumental voices" provided by the Wilson WP7's. I call this sound "analytical", but that may be the wrong descriptor.

My rant and my apologies - It seems that all of the audio manufacturers are trying only to capture market share from the wealthy. I grew up listening to custom-made Bozak speakers (from Ed, who was a friend of my fathers) and hung out in New Haven, CT at a now defunct shop called David Dean Smith (high-end audio). Back then (the 1960's), the highest priced audiophile components were still affordable by the middle class.  Now the list price of the Vandersteen MKII speakers is $62K, the Wilson Alexandria XLF is $210K, the Sonus farber Aida is $120K. I have listened to all of these, and they are not worth these prices even if I can afford them. 

The margins must be very large for these audiophile manufacturers. By comparison, my wife and I have owned and raced 15 different Porsches (from $60K for a 1992 911 S2 Turbo, $200K for a 1994 993 GT Evo and $400K for an RSR - more for engine maintenance and race set-up). Porsche makes some of the largest margins among automobile manufacturers, but the experience of driving and racing these cars cannot be experienced in other ways. However, I can listen to Joshua Bell and the NY Philharmonic in person and he sounds better than any recording played on any high-end audiophile sound system. I don't get it.

Back to reality - here is what I have decided to try:
1. An Audio Research tube amp instead of the McIntosh 275;
2. A used or demo Wilson Sabrina, Sasha or Yvette if I can find any of these for sale at a discount - I do not like the sound of the higher-priced Wilson speakers - I find their sound to be too diffuse and melodic;
3. Possible switch to another DAC - MQA or Bluesound is possible, but not likely;
4. I also going to listen to Paradigm speakers, but I am not sure there is a local distributor here in Ann Arbor, MI.

Thank-you all very much - I learned a great deal. Gerry
It makes sense to approach things the way you are doing it: limiting the comparisons to just a few models/brands.  I would note that Audio Research tube amps are quite the opposite of the 275 in terms of sound and are quite lean for tube amps.  If they are in the ballpark, but, you want to hear something slightly different, VTL should be relatively easy to find.  If you are looking for something harmonically richer and full sounding, VAC and Jadis might fit the bill.

If none of the speakers you audition are quite right, I would suggest, given the description of what you are looking for, that you try to hear Acapella or YG Acoustic speakers.
Classic Stereo in Grand Rapids has Paradigms. Little bit of a drive for you. 
I would like to say that the Wilson Audio Alexia Series 1 is an amazing deal now. With the new Wilson Alexia Series 2 which is much improved, I feel that the Alexias dialed in for your listening pleasure will be appropriate. Optimizing your system by a skilled dealer who has some setup skills will help you greatly. You can toe in toe out, rake in rake back and about 40 other minuscule adjustments to make a speaker dial in for your personal benefit. T+A, Audio Research and other Electronic mfg companies make great gear. We are dealers for Wilson Audio and I do install a lot of Wilson speakers. You can ask me any question you have www.sunnyaudiovideo.com


Good plan. Keep checking things out and listening. Since you like Wilson then try to also audition any of the larger ATC. You just might discover Joshua Bell and NY Phil in your room.

Some listeners are sensitive to timbre and some are not. The quality of the timbre in Wilson is extremely good in the mid range - this may be why you are drawn to Wilson even if they are highly priced compared to competition. Despite all the advantages of the fancy modern ceramic and metal drivers, these cones do NOT have the same high level of internal damping inherent in a pulp paper or doped fabric cone. I can hear much more of the musical timbre from a cone that imparts the least of its own characteristic resonances on the music. It is easy to understand - a cymbal is a hard metallic disc and so is a ceramic dinner plate or a cup - obviously they impart their own sound to any vibration impinging them. Tap a book and you get very little except the tap itself. This is the difference between inherent damping and materials that ring! Just imagine stacking plates in cupboards or books on shelves - which activity is going to create a lot of noise that drowns out very soft sounds like a small bird chirping outsude at the end of your yard....

Gerry, the best advice we can give you is to come to New York for a weekend.

New York City is one place in the country with an abundence of brick and morter audio dealers and over a weekend you can hear properly setup systems with alot of choices in terms of electronics and digital options which is something you will not get a a regional audio show, you will also hopefully get a chance to hear systems which have been dialed in properly.

Only in NY City can you visit so many good dealers and sample

Wilson audio at Innovative Audio, along with Dynadio and Spendor
Personas at Audio Doctor, along with KEF Blades, KEF Reference, Legacy, Dali, ATC, PSB, Polymer and many others
There are B&W on display at Lyric also with Nola and Focals and theyare also Wilson dealers.
Singer sells Rhaido and a few other lines of speakers.
Vandersteen is on display at Audio Connection along with Proac and B&W in NJ which is where we are.
Ears Nova sells Kharma
Rhasody sells Magico and others

Just the tax savings alone will make the trip worthwille and I am sure you can find demos products that many dealers will be willing to deal on as floor demos usually get rotated once a year due to small scratches, and dings which occur whenever you have to move around your displays.

New York City is one of the few places in the world of audiophilia that you can quickly sample 4-5 major dealers and when you add in NJ you can listen to almost all of the major brands which unfortunately something that is not possible in many parts of the country.

As per hearing the Personas in Grand Rapids I checked out that dealers website and they are a large custom installer rather then being a more dedicated home audio dealer, their cable listed were Tributaries and Clarius, didn’t see any Dacs on their website either other than Mcintosh, so I would doubt even if they had the Personas you would get a good demo.

We have the Personas with T+A electronics which are among the best sounding high end electornics on the market and they range from a $11k integrated to $50k plus seperates.

We sell most of the best digital front ends from Lumin, Aurender, Emm Labs, T+A, Naim, Mytek, Rega and a few others.

We sell cables from Enklein, Wireworld, and are going to demoing a few others.

We sell power conditioning from Audience, Isotek, Audio Magic and we sell a wide range of electronics aside from the T+A, Naim, Electrocompaniet, CJ, Synethis of Italy, Manley, Micromega, Anthem, Nuprime, Parasound and others.

So you can see our focus is on high end two channel although we are also known as a great home theater store, music is our passion.

The rest of the stores I listed are also dedicated music stores as well with fantastic ranges of products.

So again take a nice trip see the big city take in a show, have a great diner, and just go to audio nirvanah. You can sample the wares of many of the best area dealers and if you then decide to get a system I am sure any of these dealers us included could get you what you want.

By the way we are not saying that local dealerships shouldn’t be your first stop it is just

Hotels in Jersey City are plentiful and less expensive than ones in the city and Newark airport is 15 mins from our shop. So if you wanted to vist wether or not you purchase anything from us is fine, we would arrange for you to be picked up, taken to a good hotel, and have the audio weekend of your life.

We would make the same offer for anyone here. What this thread has brought to the forefront is the difficulty that many music lovers face in this great country, which is the difficulty to actually demo a range of components properly.

If you ever want to reach us directly

Audio Doctor NJ
our out of date old website www.audiodoctor.com new one coming

here is a link to our actual store this was short 1.5 years ago before the Personas, Light Harmonic Davinci and T+A electronics



+1 audiotroy

Excellent suggestion.

I would also add that you must take several test CD and compare a variety of music genres (not just audiophile well recorded stuff). The best setups will make everything sound fantastic - ALL genres and especially older less high quality recordings. Just try to steer clear of very heavily compressed pop music as this will sound harsher on a revealing setup.

Avoid the setups that only work with certain genres like acoustic small group jazz. Avoid setups that sound really good with one particular track!

A good setup should handle everything from the heaviest rap or metal to Mahler to Mozart to big band swing to a lone Blues guitarist to a Sheffield Labs drum track. Variety is very important to gauge what a setup can do - play rock loud and softly - it should sound great when played at a reasonable level for the style of music.

Also avoid taking all music that sounds good on your setup. If your setup is not flat in response then it will work best with music mixes that are commensurately the reverse - therefore going only armed with your favorite demo discs for your setup can be a mistake.
That you seem to have no intention of auditioning Zu’s makes me think that you only are interested in speakers with 5-6 digit prices.
That being said, go to Audiotroy. I am sure you will find something you will find worthy of consideration. While you are in the area, check out Audioconnection. Johnny sell other speakers besides Vandersteen. I listened to a pair of Pro-Ac that might be your ’cuppa’.
I actually do have more experience than you in listening carefully to hundreds of amplification and speaker components for many years--more than you have been in the industry. I have built amplifiers and speakers. I have been invited to review for prominent audio magazines.
You sell stuff. Some things, you are not permitted to sell so you go to the next best thing and try to promote it as the best. But, unlike you, I have no skin in the game for any brand. I buy what I like whenever I like. I am not wedded to Wilson and I never said  or believed that you hated them. But I am so tired of your salesmanship and your comparison years ago between Usher and Wilson (you did tell me you thought Ushers were better at less cost) and today where you claim Personas are better than Alexias. It would seem that you have a Wilson issue as you compared the only two speakers you ever tried to sell me in person to Wilsons without me ever bringing up the name and without you knowing that I owned them. You are doing the same here on Audiogon.
 You are simply not as good as you say. I'll speak to Andy and Elliot and see if they agree that you were a great salesman for them.
 I give you credit for your observations re BelCanto and Shunyata with HRS base and some of the brands you currently carry including T&A and the Personas which I have said many times are good for the money but not the world beaters you claim them to be. If you some day learn to stop overselling, you might actually become believable. But you can't and won't.