A brutal review of the Wilson Maxx

I enjoy reading this fellow (Richard Hardesty)


I scaned the review rather quickly and have to agree with him as I have never been impressed with wilson speakers especially the watt puppy 6/7's and the maxx's. They are built very well and the finish is excellent as is the components used in their construction. It is just that their sound has never impressed me. Maybe if I heard them in my enviroment with my electronics I would feel differently. But for now they are not my cup of tea. I can appreciate that some people love them and that's great. This hobby is after all what pleases the listener not what the media necessarily thinks.

Finally, someone who doesn't have Wilson in their pocket telling the truth. Stereophile and TAS are obviously interested in keeping the advertising $ rolling in.

I have the exact same feelings as Chuck. I don't know why but I never thought systems with Wilson speakers had much life to them - they are simply too sterile for me.

I see a bias in all reviews, whether Watch Dog or Stereophile. I trust my ears instead.
You mean a brutal review of the reviews of the Wilson Maxx. I'm not sure he even listened to the speakers much, since he only gives 2 sentences about his listening impressions, without any info regarding the circumstances under which these opinions were formed. I am not familiar with the speakers in question, so will not offer any judgement of my own regarding who's right, but it doesn't seem to me that he offers a serious subjective review of the speakers, only a critique of other reviews and the measurements mde by others.
I heard some crazy Grand slams or something from them in like a 70,000 dollar system and did not get it at all,,, I have heard 8,000 speakers that would smoke them... but some guys love Super pinpoint accurate flat sound, not necessarily musical sound that we are looking for, so I think that is the market that wilson is in, but again I'm sure someone will argue You need to have 20,000 dollar amps or just the absolute correct system synergy to make them go, but even then I would go about 1/4 the cost with other stuff and be quite happy.
I'm gussing that Wilson didn't send him any speakers for him to set up in his studio, therefore he had to listen to them somewhere else. It is unlikely he will be offered an audition from WIlson in the future! It is vitriolic, to be sure, however, no intelligent person will deny that advertising sells products to the public, and advertisers are pandered to by magazines. It is comical to me to see this played out since the price of Wilsons is beyond me, and I really could not care less. There are wonderful speakers out there in the $2000-$4000 range that will satisfy almost everyone. They are too numerous to mention and I will wager that in a blinded test, few of us would choose the most expensive speaker as our preference. But, to each his own! It can be entertaining!
The best thing to do on any review is trust your ears. Never buy a product without listening to it. Now I know everyone can't or won't do this. But everyone should. Remember there is no product made that everyone likes. If you like Wilson speakers and they are in your price range buy them. If you don't like Wilson speakers don't buy them. Remember the goal is to enjoy the music. Who cares what someone else thinks of your system. If you like it you will listen to it. If you don't you won't so buy what you like and forget about what everyone else thinks.

Just my 0.02 before taxes....
I agree with Honest1. Did he even listen? Doesn't seem so. But after reading the whole diatribe I can't help but wonder just what kind of speaker he would deem acceptable. He rags on ported enclosures, d'appolito designs, Focal drivers, dual 8" passive drivers.....he doesn't seem to like much. What the hell does he listen to music with?

He has a "measuring stick" that obsesses about 6db octave crossovers. No speaker manufacturer need apply without 1st order crossovers & good step response. "Set in stone" beliefs will always color perception. Like in the stereophile review, little of the text describes the sound. This a very large speaker & most set-ups & reviews I've seen (soundstage/stereophile)have the speaker in very normal sized rooms that I would think were much too small for the speaker...
I'm not a big fan of the Wilson sound either, and Hardesty doesn't SEEM to have an agenda. Who knows for sure, but I think he's just telling it the way he hears it. Only way to tell for sure is to listen for yourself. I thought the review was pretty well done, but in kind of an "expose" style. I've heard the Maxx2s a few times, and IMHO they're way overpriced for what they offer. But one man's turd is another man's gold nugget, so go figure . . . .
I am willing to bet that Audioperfectionist is a fan of time/phase correct designs (drivers aligned spatially to have an identical pathlength to a single point in space and utilizing 6 db/octave crossover slope). He also seems to require a small midrange and/or mid/bass driver (low mass/inertia and better dispersion). In other words, probably a fan of Vandersteens, Green Mountain, and maybe, Thiel.

Just a guess.
Good guess Larry - I think Hardesty wrote for Widescreen Review which, if I remember correctly used Dunlavy V's in the biggest and best test rig.
My dealer was in business with Hardesty years ago and If Im not mistaken he mentioned that Hardesty uses Vandersteen 5As with Theta. FWIW.
I don't own Wilson speakers, never have, probably never will (too expensive for my budget). However, I have heard Wilson speakers on several occasions and found the sound quality, to say nothing of construction/finish quality, to be excellent. If you want to have a look at an interesting comparison of Wilson speakers versus other high end speakers read this thread: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?cspkr&1085320068&openmine&zzMgattmch&4&5#Mgattmch . A comparison of Thiel CS 7.2, Sonus Faber Stradivari Homage, Audio Physic Kronos, Focal-JM Labs Grand Utopia Be, Wilson Audio Alexandria X-2 and TAD-1 speakers under identical conditions in front of approximately 120 people at a time. I actually posted this thread. It would appear the vast majority of people who attended this high-end speaker demonstration found the Wilson speakers to be the best of the lot. The number of audition attendees make the data reliable, read unbiased. Richard Hardesty's review/opinion of Wilson speakers is definitely at odds with what most audiophiles think. I guess we are all entitled to our opinions.
No agenda...are you kidding?!! I haven't seen pissing in print like this since the great sniping contests between Absolute Sound and Stereophile in days gone by. How Mr. Hardesty can claim to have made impressions of systems (those of Fremer and Harley) that he has never heard is frankly absurd, if not idiotic. The guy is a crank.

Seems like a honest review to me. There are a lot of products out there that are overpriced and don't deliver the goods.

The trick is to find the ones with outstanding price/performace ratio as defined by you.

good listening,

I dont want to talk about personal tastes, but if one buys a speaker that cost more than a car the thought "the goal is to enjoy the music" sounds ludicrous.
For that price I want state of the art not a compromise. I want more, I want the real thing.
Just my 2 dollars.
Well, finally, an honest review of a Wilson product. I have listened to several versions of the Watt/Puppy, the Grand Slams, the MAXX and the Sophia and I have never been able to understand what the excitement is all about. It must be the cost because it certainly is not the performance.
bright yellow ones go nicely in any moderately sized listening room with a velvet painting of Elvis. even if they were what they are thought to be, cars should not be covered in wood veneer and loudspeakers should not be covered in automotive paint and clearcoat. long live the real stuff!
I remember Widescreen Review's reference system having the Mirage M1si speakers back in the mid 90s.

Czbbcl, You said it far more eloquent than I could have and the Wilson's have never been my cup of tea either. Cheers!
Not to beat a dead horse, but I too wish that he would have given more review of the speakers and less review of the reviews.

I heard the Maxx last year hooked up to a $20k Meridian cdp, and the top of the line Halcro pre/power, and with very expensive Transparent cables everywhere. Total system price was well over $150k, and it sounded cold and unbalanced - terrible regardless of the money.

I've only heard one person whose opinion I trust tell me of a Wilson speaker sound good, and that was the same person who heard the aforementioned abomination of a system with me. A few months later he was at the Heathrow hi-fi show and heard them with Audio Research gear, and was very impressed. I'm not going to go out of my way to try and hear that combo.

Funny how no one has mentioned how fugly they are... that would end it for me before they were ever plugged in.
even though its very refreshing to finally see a high end manufacturer get slammed instead of the usual audiophile ebonic a$$ kissing the review reeks of ulterior motives to me.

the review looks like a jealous reviewer trying to get back at wilson for not buying a review in his magazine more than it looks like a review of how the speakers actually sound or perform.

looks more like a hissy fit than a review to me.

One vote for Wilson here!!! I am a big Maxx and Sophia enjoyer. Wilson does DYNAMICS like no one else! This reviewer didn't even mention that because he was so caught up in theory. It reads as biased as any Sterophile review.

I have heard Maxxes very well setup with very compatible gear - and let me tell you they are outstanding. Midrange resolution like I've never heard. The best bass articulation I've ever encountered. Airy, natural presentation. I don't claim to have heard every other model out there, but I've heard a good number of them, the the Wilson sound (Maxx and Sophia) is my favorite
your guess is partially or even completely wrong.

Audioperfectionist's a fan of a correct values in the business and truth as well.
I beleve he owns Vandersteen 5A's.
I'm pleased to see a review that isn't just gushing.

Personally I've only ever heard WP6 / Sophia and now own Sophia. I disagree not with his arguement, but with his conclusions. Like many here have argued, I have listened, I did like, so I bought.

If an opposing view is stated by someone who doesn't have a stake in the outcome, then that's good for the debate. I can't remember last time I read a bad thing about any audio product unless it was written by an amateur, so hat's off to him for his boldness.

Often the best reviews are in the 'gon, except when they start to read like the pro's - probably deliberately.

It would seem that most reviewers would need very big homes since most things they hear are "unmatched in the all important (insert area of choice here) area". So they must own an awful lot of kit!

I would like to read more back to back reviewing - two products in the same system no other things changed.

Just my 2p
Wow just read it. Very interesting. Never heard the Maxx2 but did audition the Sophias and WP7s before settling on my Kharmas. The Wilsons were driven by Spectral amps at the time. At the time my impressions were largely in tune of what the reviewer is saying: I came away thinking incredibly good at transient attack but less so on decay, and mid range was somehow "bare" sounding. I was unsure whether it was really an issue of a poor match with the amps but the dealer obviously thought it was good match and they have been matched as at various trade shows in the past. I did think that one RH's conclusions when reviewed the Sophias rung true: they would be better served with tube amplification to get that mid range better.
Sounds pretty accurate to me. The review that is. NOT the speakers.
He is not the only reviewer that gave a luke warm review of the Maxx 2's. Martin Collom's from hi fi news gave them a luke warm review back in late 2003. This coming from a guy that had Wilson watt puppy speakers as his reference for over 10 years.
He owns Avalon now.
Perhaps he was turned down when he approached Wilson about advertising in his mag? Vitrolic? absolutely. Axe to grind? Perhaps.

In either case I have also not been overly impressed with wilson speakers on the few occasions I've heard them. Certainly not for the coin. They did have fine detail and pretty impressive soundstaging with the right equipment, but I didn't find them involving at all. They didn't captivate me, and for that money I would expect a speaker to have me bound and gagged on the sofa.

I respect, but I don't particularly like Wilson speakers. That said, the "review" was unusually biased. Hardesty clearly has preconceived notions of what constitutes a good speaker and he slams Wilson for not following his lead. His main points are that the MAXX is not tonally/phase accurate and that they represent a poor dollar value. I agree with his first point, but I don't see it as a fatal flaw since there are many truly great speakers out there that are not phase coherent and have a tailored frequency response (BBC monitors, Sonus Faber, Proac, Monitor Audio Studio Series, etc.) As far as value goes, unless you can afford them, you're really not in any position to judge whether the MAXX is a good value or not. His comments about Wilson catering to the carriage trade misses the mark. Personally I can't think of any speaker or electronic component over $10,000 that isn't aimed at that market.

I don't find it clearly stated in the "review", but how many people think Hardesty actually listened to the speakers as opposed to simply reading the other publications' reviews?
"unless you can afford them, you're really not in any position to judge whether the MAXX is a good value or not"

I can afford them. I have heard them. They're not good value. If I couldn't afford them, it still wouldn't make my relative value judgement less valid when there are several competitive products that provide higher quality on several attributes for less money.

Components over $10,000 that aren't aimed squarely at the Carriage Trade:

- Audio Research Reference series
- Totem Shaman
- Lamm
- Higher-end Avalon speakers
- The list goes on...
I don't mind if people don't like Wilson speakers, but I wonder how many of the people who bash them have heard them in their own room??? People who make claims about, or denegrate a product based on how they sounded in a SHOWroom or at RMAF or CES really don't have enough information about a product to make intelligent comments.

I have only heard Wilson products in those environments, so I have no opinion about them. I will reserve judgement until I can get a proper level of experience.

With no mention of context, comparison, system or anything remotely related to a frame of reference? What possible value to anyone can that review be?

9/10's of the "review" was his opinion of measurements someone else performed, and counter-comments taking issue with professional opinion. Taking well-aimed pot-shots at review opinion is a hobby unto itself for some, and Mr. Hardesty is simply trying to make a business out of it. He will definitely develop a fan-base with many forum participants that revel in promoting the idea of media corruption at every turn. Claiming advertising bias (without any knowledge of this) seems to discount the fact that Fremer _bought_ the speakers, although I'm sure Richard H., with all his "inside knowledge" will claim they were a "gift"....

I purchased the MAXX 2's after personal audition--in my home. I have formerly owned Audio Physic Calderas, Virgos and Avantis, and other "phase correct" "first-order" "small-driver" speakers.

I don't begrudge anyone who doesn't care for Wilson speakers, though the Wilson line has changed dramatically for the better(IMO) in recent years, starting with the Sophia. I did not care for the 5's, 3.2's etc.

Any speaker can sound bad or good at shows/dealers, it's really a crap shoot and almost totally dependent on system/room context and personal tastes/bias.

I wonder, how many Wilson-haters in this thread have actually listened carefully to them in their homes (maybe there are some, but I'm betting not many), or have they simply formed an anecdotal opinion from listening at a show or dealer?

I've heard Wilson's sound bad at shows and dealers, and can say the same for all the speakers I've heard at shows and dealers. Any speaker can sound hideous in a given context and glorious in others. Had I not taken Audio Physic speakers home, I would NEVER have purchased them based on how they sounded at my dealer.

Why did Hardesty so casually mention his listing impressions correlating to his overly dramatic technical spouting without ANY mention of where and with what system-- as if that had no relevance? Context is everything with speakers. He went into his rant (that was no review) with an ultra clear agenda, and played a connect-the-dot game with his unqualified impressions--all two sentences of them.

I don't understand why so many people see things in this hobby as black and white, bad or good, a great value, or hideously overpriced? Why are so many ready to condemn others for making a calculated personal choice at a given price? When it comes to the selection of a loudspeaker there are almost as many opinions, variables and biases as there are customers!

Offering _judgment_ about any speaker's _value_ or someone else's personal choice, or how much they should or shouldn't spend, or whether that disqualifies them as a music-lover, or makes them a moron--all suggested in this thread, seems rather pointless and shortsighted. But hey, that's just my personal opinion, and because I bought the speakers, that makes me almost as biased as Mr. Hardesty. :)
Thanks for taking me to this well written review of the Wilson Maxx2 speakers.

What do guys like RH, MF, MC know about audio?

I am hoping that some of the Wilson Maxx2 speaker owners will see the light and sell their speakers for a good price. I would love to own a pair!

Now I'm off to clean the carriage.

Hmm from my experience with the Wilsons, which is very limited, once again it all comes back to room and system. The reviewer likes the Sophias but the system i heard them in was unmemorable to say the least. They sounded like bodyless boxes. I didn't spend much time with them because there was zero happening with that set up i could like. The maxes on the other hand blew me away but they were in a very nice home theater type display room (which had no seat located in the sweet spot...tooo odd). They were driven by enough electronic bucks to buy a lot of peoples houses (halco amps at about 30 large, transparent opus at about 15-10 k for an 8 ft pair, VTL 7.5 pre and some high dollar CDP at over 10k). It sounded awsome. the sence of room generated from the recording was better than anything i have heard to date.

Second in line for soundstage presentation was the Audio Video Logic room in Des Moines where i auditioned the Dunlavy Athenas with and ARC vt 100 and a Wadia 850 CDP direct into the amp. There is a huge cost gap between those two systems. In the Max set up was it the speakers, the electronics, the room, the well chosen demo disc than made everything so cool? Given the differences between my experiences with the Dunlavys in the AVL room and in my room i have to put in a huge vote for the room.
Lets try it this way, No Wilson Slamming here, but fact is anybody can pretty much buy the Scan speak kits, and there are many Clones out there of actual wilson speakers as well, All parts are available, AND no way even in a modest but reasonably built enclosure sound much different, nor do they do anything engineering wise that can not be rivaled for the cost of parts.. So for what its worth Fact is they are overpriced for what you get, but that does not mean they don't sound good in certain situations.
I have to say that I didn't have Wilsons in high regard (I have heard over the years X-1, 5.1, 6 all in show conditions driven by Krell electronics and didn't like the sound at all) until last month, when I heard a Maxx II driven by ARC electronics (CD, REF 3, 610T) at the HiFi Show in London.

That demo was very good indeed. And I'm saying that as an Avalon Eidolon owner.

IMO Wilson has changed dramaticly the voicing of their speakers, for the better.
Splaskin: "I am hoping that some of the Wilson Maxx2 speaker owners will see the light and sell their speakers for a good price. I would love to own a pair!"

Well Put! Go ahead and please contact me directly to get rid of you Maxx 2's because of a review... I buy based on what I heard, not reviews.. I learned that the hard way about buying based on reviews and hense sold a lot of gear on Agon.
Some of you guys really don't get it - Absolute Sound, Stereophile, etc. are old-fashioned hucksters, plain and simple. They are big businesses that have no agenda other than selling adspace - NONE. The fact that Fremer and pals can write reasonably well, know a modicum of theory, and a lot of jargon, does not make their ears any better than anyone elses, including the average Audiogon'r - and it certainly doesn't make their ethics any stronger. If you actually read Hardesty's publications you will see that he has no ulterior motives, other than making a living by giving advice on how to achieve excellent audio reproduction. If Wilson's were great speakers, in his opinion, he'd say so.

The irrefutable reality about Wilsons, and a lot of the newer crop of speakers, is exactly what Hardesty says. They're not designed to reproduce the original recording faithfully, but to EQ it in such a way that people with more money than ears take the bait. The "boom and sizzle", as Hardesty calls it. And as he also points out, you can like "boom and sizzle" AND the Wilsons, and there's nothing wrong with that - but THEY ABSOLUTELY CANNOT REPRODUCE THE RECORDING ACCURATELY, period! No argument. Because they don't even attempt to - it's demonstrably inherent in the design. Which doesn't mean they won't impress your buddies with sizzling cymbals and slammin' bass.

So the question comes down to what you consider to be the "audiophile" quest:
1. the pursuit of absolute purity in reproduction OR
2. Impressive Sound, which in our younger days we'd get by pushing in the "Loudness" button.

What Hardesty, and many others, are saying is that the Wilson style of speakers simply has the Loudness button built in and flipped to "on".

Personally, I'd rather have absolutely flat, phase and time correct speakers as a starting point. Without that, how can you possible call it "audiophile". You can call it High End, you can enjoy the Bling, your friends can say WOW, but it ain't audiophile in my book.

It's not that "flat" is what I enjoy all the time either. There are electronics which can be added into the chain (such as DBX 5BX, EQ, and even subharmonic synth.) to pump up or tone down certain recordings or media, a little or a lot, on demand. And believe me, the electronics can do it with far more effectiveness and versatility than a Wilson Sophia.

So I also disagree with "audiophiles" who say that processing the signal to make it more enjoyable is unacceptable or "wrong". If I enjoy it more, I win. But having a fixed version of it built into the speaker makes no sense.

So I very much agree with the Hardesty camp that Flat, Time and Phase Correct HAS to be the holy grail, at least as a starting point, for serious listening.
Just an opinion that I find hard to dispute after listening to the speakers and the man behind them.

"David Wilson’s speakers aren’t accurate transducers
but you can’t fault his business acumen. He sells a
line of products, which are all essentially 7-inch two way
satellites sitting atop passive woofers in fourth order
vented boxes, for exorbitant prices and he has
managed to enlist the major magazines to aid his

Mr. Wilson is the same fellow who exclaimed in an interview recently in Stereophile that speakers are the item to drop the largest amount of money on first, in an audio system. So much for his credibility IMHO. Oh that's right, you sell speaker for a living! As Ivor Tiefenbrun responded in the same article "where is my medicine?"

I have read this thread with much amusement. Look, choosing a speaker is like choosing a mate. They are all different and most of us cannot understand anyone else's tastes, with a few exceptions. Fer instance: I don't find Angelina Jolie all that hot, so what? That's my taste. Who's gonna argue and why bother?

EVERY speaker is "colored." Every single one. Go to a hifi show and skip room to room. They all sound different. Some are less colored than others and some are just plain bad. They sound and measure so. And guess what? Every recording and every mastering job is "colored" one way or another. Speaker design like recording, is part art and part science. Always has been, always will be. If you fixate on either one, you'll probably end up with a bad design because the recordings aren't perfect. There is no standard as there is in say television.

That said, some of the posts here are intelligent, and some are truly idiotic. The ones claiming that I or any other reviewer is somehow 'interested' in who's advertising in the magazines for which we write, or that somehow what we write is 'tainted' by the advertising, are truly imbecilic and insulting. I don't give a rat's ass who's advertising in the magazine and who's not. When I read that, I think back to VPI on the cover of Stereophile with "product of the year." VPI has never spent a penny advertising in Stereophile. As for the poster who called us "hucksters," you buddy, are an IDIOT. I'm not trying to sell anyone anything except the fun or being in this hobby. We need more people in it not fewer.

My capital is my reputation and that is what I protect, not the magazine's advertisers. Any poster who who thinks otherwise about me, or any other reviewer in this is an IDIOT. PERIOD. I don't like being called corrupt by some IDIOT who doesn't know me.

On the other hand, no doubt we are people, and people make friends in a very small industry and it is very important to be able to separate the two when writing a review. For instance, I am friendly with the owner of Musical Fidelity. I don't hide it. And I own his products. I BOUGHT THEM. I could buy whatever i want and get the same reviewer accommodation from any company. But I reviewed these products before knowing the guy and was impressed. I still am. I still own them. That didn't stop me from writing that Krell's Standard SACD player SMOKED my MF Tri-Vista, or that MF's CD Pre-24 digital preamp downconverted 96k/24 bit inputted digital. I was the only reviewer in the world who found and noted that. I didn't have to write that, since no one else noticed, and the guy is MY FRIEND, but I DID write it, because it's the truth and it's what I found.

That's the kind of honest professional I like to think I am. I try. So when I read some jerk-off questioning my honesty, I don't like it. Question my hearing? I don't care. I am just a guy listening to hi-fi just like you. I make no pretenses about having "golden ears" or better ears than anyone else. I do have a great deal of listening experience live and recorded and I try hard.

As for the MAXX2s, I bought them. I love them. I didn't buy them to kowtow to Wilson or Dave Wilson. I bought them because they blew me away and they still do. My wife INSISTED I buy them, she liked them so much--and even at at accommodation price, they set me back plenty. I haven't heard any speaker deliver the bottom end extension or dynamics that they do, and the rest sounds pretty damn good too. Perfect? No. And that's what I wrote. I've heard better HF resolution and air, and somewhat better imaging. In fact, until a speaker I just finished reviewing, I'd not heard better imaging than what I heard from Audio Physic Virgos, which cost 5 grand. Yes, I gave something up sonically to own MAXX2s, but I got some other things no other speakers deliver.

Believe me, when speakers parade through your room almost monthly , you come to understand that they are ALL colored, and all are compromised one way or another. One friend of a friend was dying to visit my room so I let him come, having the feeling that he was there to "prove" that my system was no good. I had WATT/Puppy 7s then---the first Wilson speaker I liked. After five minutes he said "Your system is COLORED!" I replied "Of course it is! So is yours!" "OH NO," he replied, "I have NAIM speakers. They are not colored." RIGHT!!!!!

Anyway, the Wilson MAXX2s do NOT have "sizzling" highs, and yes, they do have "slammin'" bass, as in, it's what I hear live. I'll take that over flabby, anemic bass anytime. That's my preference.

I found it interesting that one poster says he heard the MAXX2s driven by Halcros to sound drab and uninvolving (or something to that effect). I couldn't agree more! But driven by ARC or Musical Fidelity electronics they sound anything but, as another poster wrote. That's one reason I bought them. I consider them a useful reviewing tool. Perfect? No, but the inroom response measurements proved to me that they make a reliable reviewing tool while being endlessly enjoyable to listen to.

I just spent three days driving them with a $600 Outlaw Audio stereo receiver!

I wish people here would stop making absolute rules and regulations for others, and engaging in smear campaigns against people with whom they disagree. As for Hardesty's diatribe, I found it dripping with contempt and hatred. How can anyone find that review "objective," even though it was littered with "objective" ideals?

I responded to Mr. Hardesty's review with this:


I enjoyed reading your review of the MAXX2s. I especially liked the way you put quotes around the sarcastic words "mystical and mysterious" to describe the cabinet materials, when I don't think anyone used those words except you of course, nor did the reviewers mentioned imply that there was anything about the materials that were the least bit "mysterious" or especially "mystical" other than the marketing expression "X" or whatever Wilson calls it, which I care little about.

Then, of course, in the next sentence you acknowledge that the accelerometer measurements showed "pretty good performance" from the cabinets (an understatement, of course).

That's just one example of your hardly "objective" "review." It wasn't really a review at all. You don't talk about where you even might have listened to the speakers or how actual music sounded on it. Or how that music differed from what you hear live. But that's okay because the tone of your review was so off the chart that no one reading it could possibly find it objective. So in the end you just hurt your own cause whatever that might be.

I can tell you that in my room, the MAXX2s sound more like what I hear at the symphony, which I attend once a month at Avery Fisher Hall (no need to dump on the hall here) than any other speaker I've had in my room and that everyone who's come down to listen---audiophile and non audiophile--- loves them. "Accurate"? There are none. All speaker have colorations of one kind or another as do all recordings as do most rooms.

In the real world, there's a reason people respond to the MAXX2s at hifi shows and in store demos and in homes. It has nothing to do with the "carriage trade," or with them being not as well informed as you. It has everything to do with high performance in many areas, perhaps some compromises in others, which all speakers have, that happen to work out very well in the case of the MAXX2s. Speaker design, and indeed recording music, has always been and probably will always be a combination of art and science. I'm not sure you recognize that.

People recognize the sound of music..they are not deluded. Your attitude is very poor and it sinks your cause, whatever it might be....


Michael Fremer
Realize a Wilson speaker is just the run of the mill Audiophile design ie. Scan speak, dynaudio, focal kit style drivers which are all great in there own right, but can be had in a million different configurations from 90% of the high end manufactures and Kits... Its a Basic 1-2-3 design, D'appolito, with phase inverted mid-bass drivers, running thru over complex yet not the highest quality filters(crossovers), this approch has more or less dominated audio for the last 15 years and it sells, thats IT!!

Its not that it is a bad speaker, but you are simply paying wilson for an Over-elaborate cabinet with Ferrari finish, and to some this what they feel is high end, and have had this design driven into their heads, 7" drivers, dome tweeter, 24db slope(linkwitz), 6db slope, dome tweeter, 13" multimagnet Focal driver blah, blah... Thats fine, But if you want true inovation and Truly your moneys worth that you can not buy or have designed by "Madisound" for 1/10th the cost check out Zu Cable's Definitions.... They are from the GROUND up a DUAL 10" Full range drive system, covering all the Frequency bands with ZERO crossover in front of them, a Super tweeter, and 4 count'em 4 10" Active woofers in addition to the 2 10" full range drivers, the materials, Drivers and everything are High quality, built to blow you away, Very simple design and all the money is into true inovation of a specific design and quality components, NOW don't get me wrong there are many out there that are great speaker companies, and in NO way am I saying ZU cable is the only one With Full range drive systems, crossoverless covering the Entire Audio range from 16hz to 25,000khz, but they are putting it into a resonable cost and Quality package, Yes I have heard them and Yes they blow away the Congested restricted Feel of the Snobby type audiophile speakers, including the wilsons in my opinion... Get what your money is worth, but if you have it to burn buy all the Krell, Wilson and however else can sell you the most impressive looking package your heart desires..

Zu definition.... 101 db efficient, 6 10" drivers, 2 supertweet's... Cost 4500.00 each, thats worth the pile of parts alone, check them out.. this is not an advertisment but a serious wake up call when I heard and saw the attempt they made with this speaker system...


extended review and update :)
I'm glad to see Michael Fremer weighing in and weighing in strongly. I think it's quite unfair to him to assume that his positive evaluation of a speaker is because he is corrupt. It's so unfair, and it's unfair precisely because it's a non-rebuttable allegation. It's too blanket.

The inescapable madness of discussing this hobby is that people can't even agree on the meaning of a term like "accurate." And even if they can agree IN WORDS on what "accuracy" in a speaker means, their ears often don't agree when they sit down at the same time to listen to the same speaker. (So forget about listening to the same speaker with different associated equipment, in different rooms, with different musical preferences and different listening histories to compare the present speaker against. And totally forget about it if I don't agree with your definition of "accuracy" or if I don't rank "accuracy" that highly among my preferences.)

And by the way, when did all these audiogoners become socialists such they are so quick to charge corruption whenever commerce is involved?

Just because Hardesty runs no ads in his mag does not mean he's more "objective." He could have his own quirks and biases and limitations that are present even without commerce figuring in.

Hardesty would be much better off acknowledging his preferences and biases in sound (we all have them) and then explaining why his preferences are the way to go.

Michael Fremer is honest enough to say that every speaker is "colored" or flawed. For that, he wins a lot of credibility from me.
Interesting response by Mr. Fremer, but he doesn't address any of the specific criticisms made by Mr. Hardesty of the build quality, choice of materials (e.g. the choice of a rather large 7" midrange "woofer") and the problematic measured performance of the Wilson speakers.

Instead he seems to say that "ALL speakers are colored" and "choosing a speaker is like choosing a mate". And he basically repeats things like this over and over again in a variety of different ways. The unfortunate thing is that Mr. Fremer is a high-end audio reviewer and not a casual listener. I would hope that he is experienced and knowledgeable in ways that the casual listener is not, and would therefore be better able to address the specific issues raised by Mr. Hardesty, point by point.

I do not blame Mr. Fremer for lashing back at those who claim he is a "huckster" or somehow swayed by the manufacturers who advertise his magazine. If he is the honest man he claims to be, and I believe he is, he has every right to defend himself against such reckless charges.

It is interesting that Mr. Fremer talks about his relationship with some of the manufacturers and the difficulty of being "friends" with some who he has to write product reviews for. I would imagine all reviewers deal with that same issue.

At the same time, Mr. Hardesty is a high-end audio reviewer as well. Mr. Fremer, along with some of the other posters here, have called Mr. Hardesty's Watch Dog piece "a review". I don't find any indication that Mr. Hardesty himself considers his Watch Dog column a review. On the contrary, his Watch Dog column is often a response to another journalist's review of a given product. I also don't doubt that an experienced reviewer like Mr. Hardesty has had countless opportunities to listen to many of the Wilson speakers in a wide range of system configurations and rooms over the years including shows, manufacturers listening rooms and customers or friends homes. God knows, I am not a reviewer and I have heard Wilson models so many times that I couldn't even begin to count them.

It is therefore not valid to respond to Mr. Hardesty's comments simply by assuming he is somehow unqualified to make those comments. At the very least, anyone is qualified to look at the measurements of a Wilson speaker (including the measurements included in the Stereophile review in question) and point out significant problems. It is also perfectly valid for Mr. Hardesty to ask how a 7" Scanspeak woofer is able to provide the kind of midrange resolution and detail that is expected of a $10,000, $20,000 or $40,000 speaker system.

Lastly, the debate over the issue of steep-slope crossovers and time/phase distortion one is an interesting one for the whole industry. Mr. Fremer doesn't seem to have much interest in addressing Mr. Hardesty’s well documented statements about the consequences of this kind of speaker design to the integrety of the waveform. I think it is at least worth discussing.

Wilson speakers are unusually expensive and therefore deserve to be held to a very high standard. Mr. Fremer is a high-end audio reviewer for one of the two most respected audiophile journals and should also expect be held to a higher standard. His response to Mr. Hardesty seems to fall far short of this high standard. If “all speakers are colored” and “choosing the right one is just like choosing a mate”, then why would anyone need to read reviews from people like Mr. Fremer or Mr. Hardesty?

My post was not meant as a personal attack on MF, whose unique motives I cannot possibly know. His is simply the name that comes up most often when discussing "reviewers". And indeed, the fact that he purchased Maxx2's (regardless of the discount) means that he really, truly likes them.

But since MF wants to get into it name-calling I'll indulge him another opportunity just this once:

First off, as consumers, we have every right - and every reason - to question the credibility of those who recommend big $$$ purchases and receive very valuable $$$ consideration from the manufacturers they are recommending. "Questioning" is not "Indicting". Questioning your motives is indeed our responsibility. There is an outrageously clear POTENTIAL conflict of interest that we'd be idiots NOT to consider. The fact that so few reviews in the mainstream media mention a flaw serious enough to reject a purchase is evidence, in and of itself, of a very strong bias - the standard industry arguments which you don't need to repeat, notwithstanding.

That Fremer angrily and relentlessly berates with name-calling (see Arthur Salvatore's website if you want some real examples) those who even "dare to question" brings to mind Gertrude's, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." It also makes me personally doubt that his motive is always the altruistic goal of introducing people to the fun of this hobby. The two personality traits do not seem consistent to me.

Calling someone an idiot four times in one post doesn't make it true, and defending your integrity with a fusillade of insults followed by one or two anecdotes of honesty from a long career probably doesn't convince the heretics.

Again, no reader can possibly know a particular reviewer's motive in a particular case. All we can know, keeping "buyer beware" in mind, is that precious few negatives have ever been mentioned in the Audio Mags about major advertisers.

In this case, there is absolutely no reason to doubt that MF likes the Maxx's very much, but that doesn't negate Hardesty's opinion as to Wilson's entire speaker line. Or the fact that many experienced audiophiles hear it the same way as Hardesty. Or that Wilson's measure out as fairly colored speakers. Since all speakers are apparently so colored, why bother even doing test measurements? Is that the next logical media revelation?

Hardesty (and I with the huckster comment) may have over-stepped the bounds of courtesy, but I can't think of any logical reason to doubt his knowledge of what goes on inside the industry, inside speakers or his integrity. And I have absolutely no axe to grind with either of these guys. What I do know, is how Business works, how Marketing works, and how employees subservient to a corporate entity MUST work, unless they don't really want their job. Does this apply to Audio Reviewers - I dunno, I'm an Idiot - you decide.
Way off topic, but I own the Definitions and they defy understanding or categorization.

Back on topic, the hostility and conspiracy BS that has become prevalent among the communicating public (us) has gotten way out of hand. I for one really appreciate the work it takes to do a review and these guys aren't getting paid big to do it. I assure everyone Mr. Fremer did not fund his Wilsons by writing about audio gear.

Having dedicated audiophiles with a talent for writing provide us with foreknowledge of available products is INVALUABLE. Yes, foreknowledge. They are not making up our minds for us nor determining which companies succeed.

Sure, it helps a company to get a good review and a bad review would hurt, but a good review won't keep a company afloat for long if their product is poor. Imagine if there were no reviews - where would we even start our diligent research? Yes, there are good companies who don't advertise or get reviews and do succeed, but we would all be the poorer without them.

And, since these folks aren't making bags of dough off this, I would imagine reviewing is somewhat a labor of love. Who would love crafting something in the best way they know how only to have it criticised openly based on half-truths, non-truths, and suspicious assumptions?

I don't doubt there is at least some consideration for companies that advertise. But, the reviews Are Not Making Your Decisions For You. Don't we use them as a starting point, finally deciding with Our Own Ears? And, for those pathetic sheep that we accuse of buying solely on the basis of reviews and a 10-minute audition with someone else's music - are we trying to save them from the vagaries of the Evil Review Empire? Isn't it their own decision to make? Freedom to decide does not require Your Understanding.

Sorry for the caps, but there is so much suspicion nowadays and it drives me nuts.
This is a pretty silly description of the MAXX2s or any other speaker. It's like responding to an expensive car review by saying "It's just 4 wheels, a suspension and an engine." I realize the analogy is not perfect but look, if I take a given engine and put it in a frame made of noodles it's not going to perform as well as one that was super-rigid. Denigrating the MAXX2's cabinetry as "over elaborate" is pretty foolish. Speakers parade through here all the time and NONE in 20 years of reviewing have achieved the bass performance of the MAXX2s. That's just a measured and listened to fact. I get 20Hz response in my room, the quality of which is unsurpassed in my experience. The accelerometer test proves that the cabinet is anything but "over-elaborate." As with Rockport's Antares, going to extreme lengths to build a non-resonant platform for woofers pays big dividends. Getting really deep, tight, well defined bass costs $ and takes up a good deal of space to get it. Making these cabinets out of this difficult to machine material costs $$$. I saw how they are made. It is a time consuming labor intensive process and the auto paint finish is not what you're paying for.

So then after trivializing the MAXX2s, you change gears and write advertising copy for the speaker you like. Fine, have it your way. but I can't take what you've written seriously because it is transparently ludicrous.