Are Wilson Sophia 2's lean in the midbass?


I've recently auditioned Sophia 2's and found them to be very lean in the midbass (but nice speaker overall) and am wondering if this observation is typical or unusual.

Thanks.
madfloyd
I wonder if this is slightly or mostly room-dependant?Good luck,Bob
Do you mean in comparison to other Wilson's like the Watt Puppy?

If so then you can see on Soundstage measurement plots that is has a smoother bass response with less of a resonance peak. So perceptively it should sound leaner than WPs.
No, I meant in comparison to other speakers. Do they like to be positioned near the front wall?

I have them 39" out from the front wall and if I pull them out more I start to lose body quickly...
what other equipment are you using?
I have them 39" out from the front wall and if I pull them out more I start to lose body quickly...

That sounds about right for loss of mid bass - you will have a big suckout around 100 Hz - see the red curve.

That is why I soffit mounted my speakers - it is a universal problem but nobody seems aware of it.

You can move the speaker to shift the suckout to a part of the spectrum that bothers you less but it will still be there - unless you soffit mount.
Shadorne,

Could you explain what you mean by soffit mount? I think of a soffit as a projection between a ceiling and adjoining wall. In kitchens, cabinets are often hung from soffits.

db
I think you have them way to far out in the room.

It's a placement issue you have not a speaker issue. My wilsons are only 22" from the back wall. All rooms are different. Did you follow the wilson audio setup procedure? If not, you have much more waiting for you!
I'm driving them with Theta Citadel 1.5's, MIT cabling.

I'd also like to know what you mean by soffit mount.

As for the red curve, that should depend on the speaker, no?
Btw, when I say 39" I mean from the front wall to the front (woofer) of the speaker (not the back). The depth of the speaker is 18" so it is about 21-22" out.

Reason I ask is that with this positioning, there isn't any sense of depth to the soundstage.
Madfloyd,

This might help you.

http://www.mercenary.com/howdoitknbmo.html

It doesn't look like something you should do if accuracy and lifelike sound are your goals.

Shakey
"Are Wilson Sophia 2's lean in the midbass?"

Not at all, when setup well. You've probably got a room induced suckout. Have you tried other speakers in the same location?
I heard them for the first time at the Stereophile show a few years ago in NY and thought they were just plain lean, full stop. Used with LAMM Electronics. I was very disappointed, given the reviews and Wilson's reputation.

Neal
I own these speakers and they are not lean. Placement is the issue. If they were not voiced/placed by a wilson dealer you might consider paying them to do this for you.
I own these Speakers and have used them with Amplifiers from BAT, McIntosh, Krell & PASS and they have always sounded full-bodied and awesome - never lean - not even close.
Tusa - not to offroad the thread - but what amps did you find sound best with them? I have have them sounding fantastic on a sim amp with a hovland pre.
Lean? Uh, NO! In fact, they are one of the fullest most dynamicaly alive speakers around. My room has a suckout so I had to take my time and move the speakers about a 1/2" at a time forward and back playing known material with the appropriate frquency range reproduced. Less than an inch can be the difference between OK sound and absolute bliss:O)
It doesn't look like something you should do if accuracy and lifelike sound are your goals.

LOL. I suppose they are trying to make everything inaccurate and as lifeless as possible in places like the
Cello Studios Sunset Blvd Hollywood (all three principal control rooms have soffit mounted main monitors)

Here is a link to an acoustic architecture website who design rooms for high profile musicians and producers (check the private installation client list from Steve Hackett to Ron Wood to David Gilmour you'll find some familiar names). There are some fun pics too - you'll find a good portion of main monitors (full ranger speakers) built into studio walls for the reasons explained in the Genelec link I gave above and to improve imaging too (but it is mainly for bass response).
Shadorne,

Could you explain what you mean by soffit mount? I think of a soffit as a projection between a ceiling and adjoining wall. In kitchens, cabinets are often hung from soffits.

db

Soffit means the speaker is mounted in a wall with the baffle flush to the wall. It means that the speaker radiates only into half-space - 180 instead of 360 degrees.

It improves the bass response (which is omnidirectional below 600 Hz) by removing the reflection of the speakers from the wall behind the speakers.

In simple layman terms - imagine the wall behind your speakers as a mirror. Now you see FOUR speakers from your listening position and that is exactly what you are listening to in a normal free standing speaker setup: two real speakers and two "image" speakers that are reflected by the wall directly behind them (what you actually hear is called a "comb filter" or a series of sharp suckouts in frequency response gradually decreasing up to around 600 Hz, at which point the speaker only radiates forwards and the problem goes away).

Now imagine the speaker baffle is built flush into the surface of the mirror just like these are flush with the wall Soffit Mount - now you hear only TWO speakers as there is no reflection.

Now you should have an inkling why as little as 6 INCHES of speaker movement in a free standing speaker setup makes a HUGE difference in the bass - this is because the reflected speakers move position and this changes how they reinforce or diminish the sound coming from the real speakers - in essence the teeth of the comb filter move around as you change speaker position. The important point to observe is that is does not matter where you sit - the interference from the reflected speaker will affect the bass response over the ENTIRE ROOM. All you can do is try to mitigate this effect by employing other reflections that are also occurring in the room to try and even things out a little. The comb filter suckout effect is made worse in that it is harmonically related which can really kill certain notes moving the fundamental AND the partials....
notes moving the fundamental AND the partials....

I meant REmoving - sorry my typing is always so bad...
Shadorne said, "Now imagine the speaker baffle is built flush into the surface of the mirror just like these are flush with the wall Soffit Mount - now you hear only TWO speakers as there is no reflection."

Yes that is true. But you still hear the reflections from all of the other walls, including ceiling and floor. Therefore bass and broadband absobtion is still necessary.

Bob
I've never heard any Wilson speaker sound lean. I'd agree with the room issue crowd. The same room issues may affect different speakers differently, explaining why Wilsons seem "leaner" than others in the same room.

Other speakers may excite the room differently, because they load it differently. IME, you'll usually find significantly elevated reponse in the half octave above 70hz to 100hz (above the 1/4 wave suckout mentioned by Shadorne) in most rooms. The specific frequency combination of suckout and "hump" differs from speaker to speaker (and placement of the speakers) and determines the perceived nature of bass anamolies for that speaker/room combo. That's why the Wilsons may sound "lean" while some other speaker sounds "thick".

If you don't want to soffit mount your speakers, you might want to think about Hemholz resonators (bass busters) and/or room correction/EQ'd subwoofers. Ironically, by absorbing bass (below app 125hz, the real problem area), bass busters can actually cause some speakers to sound a bit "fuller" as the mid to upper bass comes back into balance.

Good Luck,

Marty
Yes that is true. But you still hear the reflections from all of the other walls, including ceiling and floor. Therefore bass and broadband absobtion is still necessary.

Bob

Absolutely! Great point.

However, in the particular example I gave, the "symmetry" is what makes it one of the more severe or dominant reflected effects in most rooms.

Floor reflections were studied years ago and it is one of the reasons that down firing subwoofers are recomended (to try and get rid of that midbass suckout from reflected energy cancelling the primary bass signal). FWIW: if you have a subwoofer then an asymmetrical placement may prove best - it is the symmetry that will give you the sharpest and deepest suckouts...
I thought the Sophia 2 sounded lean when I heard them at the dealers who had them supposadly set up properly.

I also did not like the Watt Puppy 8's for other reasons.
Ironically, by absorbing bass (below app 125hz, the real problem area), bass busters can actually cause some speakers to sound a bit "fuller" as the mid to upper bass comes back into balance.

I quite agree. Let me be clear - Soffit mounting is far from the ONLY solution to the problem - to many people it will seem like using an overly expensive sledgehammer approach. Moving speakers around by small amounts to find a good spot is the most sensible solution becuase it costs nothing!

I found GIK Tri-trap's improved the lower midrange clarity slightly - especially when positioned in the corners of the room behind the listener. It also tightened up the image a little. I expect is helped reduce some of the masking effects from reflectios in the bass.
I had my speakers setup by a Wilson dealer, but admittedly he used an approach different from the official Wilson method.

I have a couple Real Traps in the corners and I was thinking of removing them to see if I'd get more bass, but some of the posts above seems to suggest that you can improve midbass with absorption of bass, so I'm no longer sure.

One of the reasons I'm asking is that a friend of mine who was present during the setup commented that every time he's seen Sophias setup they were always close to the wall.
Goatwuss > From what I have auditioned at Home and heard from in-Store demos on "Wilson Audio" Speakers - My favorite Amplifiers have been the PASS X.5 & XA.5 - with Krell Evolution a close 2nd - I haven't had the opportunity to listen to Simaudio, but would like to. TAS has been all over these PASS Amps for the past 2-years, with their highest recommendations - at this time - PASS has set the bar for other SS manufacturers to follow - if they can...
Tusa,

What models of those Pass lines have you tried - or specifically how many watts?

I'm wondering if I should try different amps (currently using Theta Citadel 1.5's).
Madfloyd - within my budget and for my listening room - I tried the PASS XA60.5 mono-blocks and X250.5 stereo amp. both sounded great through the Sophias - the XA60.5 has an estimated 120 Class A watts into 4-ohms, and the X250.5 has an estimated 30 Class A watts into 4-ohms/500 Class AB watts into 4-ohms. I went with the X250.5 for the extra power - though it stays in "Class A" for most of my listening (the meter is usually steady). The Sophia is a fairly easy Speaker to drive - to realistic sound levels - in an average size listening room, so I didn't find it necessary to go any further up the PASS line.
Madfloyd,
I upgraded my XA160 to the new XA100.5. They have much better control of the bass on my Eggleston Rosa (87dB,4ohm min) and drive them to satisfactory levels in my smallish room (200watts at 4ohms). You may want to read a review on the Pass website by Dr. Peter Poltun comparing the XA.5 to the XA. The Vienna Archives uses Pass and Wilson WP8. The XA.5 are truely special, but I'm biased.
Madfloyd,

Don't bother changing your excellent amps, I used Citadels on my WP7's and Maxx2, and they are not lean, I did however find my older MIT cables output more low bass and sacrificed some of the upper mid bass (but that was 8 years ago and I'm sure MIT has resolved that), and now I run transparent. Switching to Pass amps is not the answer, as this really is a setup issue.

Sophia's are not mid bass lean and it sounds like your speakers are puttting your listening position into a bass null zone. Look at your wilson manual or google "Wilson WASP" setup and use painters tape to mark where your dealer setup your speakers so you can return it there if you don't like it and then start voicing within the zone (which will be closer to the wall).

If you are having imaging and soundstaging issues then you have exceed the equation for setup of 1.1~1.2 times the distance between the tweeters is where your listening position is. When you are sitting in the correct location you should be able to barely see the inside rear corner of the Sophia's as they should be toed pretty directly at the listening position. This minimizes the 1st order reflection points.

Your Realtraps will tighten up the bass so you can try removing them but they will get rid of the boom.

Have you spiked your Wilsons yet? If you haven't the soundstage/detail will be soft as will the bass.

If that position doesn't work, try moving the speakers in the zone you marked out during the process so that you can move your listening seat either forward or back and hopefully out of the bass Null.
Bottom line is you need to play around with them and put some time in evaluating the response until your happy! The Wilsons should be about 10 to 12 ft apart and need not be aimed completely at your head. As you rotate them out you will open up the soundstage and increase dynamics...do so until you maximize these aspects and still have solid imaging and centerfill. Overall your soundstage will expand in all dimensions and low level dynamics will bloom more easily. Soffit mounting IS used for the Pro market ala engineers, musicians, studios etc... Pro sound is vastly different from the typical listening experience us audiophiles require or expect. Pro sound is more direct and in your face for purposes of evaluating a mix hwile free standing speakers maximize dimensionality, ambient and spatial cues along with proper scale and imaging. Two dimensional vs 3 dimensional really.

I have found the Sophia's to be quite cable dependant
and critical of room placement , I experimented with several cables and found the Harmonic Tech Pro 11's to be the best synergistic match , rich and detailed without being at all coloured or exaggerating any part of the spectrum , you also need to devote hours with set up and positioning as per the manual , but your Dealer should have done most of this . I have found that there is a good reason that some of my source material sounds crap through the Sophias , because it is crap and these speakers don't lie or hide warts ....
Try the series 3....it's even better!!
agree about them leaner in the midbass than british speakers of the likes of harbeths.
Not so sure if that leaness can be compensated with warmer sounding cables or something tubes in the chain.
i wonder if the sophia 3 version would have the same fate.
Other than the leaness in the midbass, which is a minor quibble, its a great speaker overall. I love the bass and dynamics!