Sounds like you failed to demo them b4 u bought. A big mistake when buying hifi.
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May I ask which Audio Research pre/power are you using?
I heard them through the more modern Audio Research gear (Ref 2 or was it ref 3 driving a VT 1X0 (forgot, sorry) )
and didnt like them.
Then I heard them driven by Melody 1688 (a very sweet 6SN7 based pre) and modified Cayin tube monos and then Canary 309s and they sounded good.
The Sophia I's tend to sound aggressive when driven by anything other than triode amps. But since its not as efficient as the WPs you need some power drive them.
I have a very similar system. Wilson Sophia I's, Audio research Ref 3 Pre/ Ref CD7/ and Audio Research VM220 Mono Blocks. If the sophias are not set up exactly correctly, they will sound hard in the upper mids/lower highs.
When positioned correctly in the room and have the proper toe-in, they will produce a much smoother fequency response. If your Sophias are new to you, work on set up over and over. Try toe in so they are aimed directly at you, withought either side visible from the listening position, spaced relatively widely apart. There are specific set up parameters that need to be observed to achieve smooth frequency response. The results are worth the effort.
A lot of times people tend to blame their setup's tendency to leanness, thinness and soundstage smearing to bad recording.
I was there when I had my Krells and Levinsons and some Audio Research (notably VT200).
So are all DG recordings from 1975 to 1990 bad?
They do sound horrible on systems with a false sense of detail and resolution such as the early 90s krells.
But play the same stuff in a well matched system of competent gear and you might find the sonics enjoyable again.
I am not talking about flea powered single ended amps with horns or OTLs into ESLs.
With good amps the Sophia 1s can be tamed to not make the not so smooth recordings sound terrible.
I don't often quote Peter Aczel (The Audio Critic, for you newbies)but I agree with him in that the most important element in the heirarchy of hifi is the recording. That doesn't mean not to listen to worthwhile music that is poorly recorded, but don't expect sonic bliss. For those who care (and I doubt many do at this point) Peter's next in line for most important is the speaker. Or maybe the room, I forget. One or the other. Anyway, don't expect miracles with bad recordings. You'll drive yourself nuts, if you're not already there.
Whoever think Sophia 1 is a high resolution speakers must have not yet heard what real high resolution speakers sound like. The sophia's got a overblown bass, topped with mid that is very much veiled. room placement/system upgrades may help improve sound but you will never get too far. MGGuy, you have very good ears and yes, I am sure you are actually hearing defects from Sophias. Before you put down any more money, think about changing your speakers. Think why they now have Sophia 3 in the new line up..really messed up. Sell your Sophia if you can, and try others in the market in similar price range that will offer you far better value/performance. It won't be too hard to find..FYI, back while ago, I auditioned Sophia 2 vs Thiel 3.7, KEF 205/2, B&W 802D, and Revel Studio's, and Sophia came dead last..and I am only mentioning few..I am sure there are more options. Trust your ears and go explore !
I'm not a Sophia owner or Wilson defender (or detractor), but I've heard the Sophia 1's many times and have found them to sound completely different depending on the gear. The first few times, I thought the midrange was terrible. Closed-in vocals, you name it. When I heard them matched with a different amplifier, I couldn't believe the change.
I was too quick in my judgement of Sophia 1. After further listening i have found that they can bring a solo classical piano right into the room. A small jazz group the same. Dynamics are very good. At low listening levels the best i have ever heard. Voices have feeling in them i have not heard before. That about says it for me.
For all of you that want to give Pkoh70 a hard time... He speaks the truth. I have auditioned the Sophia 2 and 3 (same system/ room as thiel 3.7). The 3 is a lot better but still behind the thiel 3.7s. I have not heard all the speakers Pkoh70 listed but his "reviews" are always spot on.
IMO the only selling point of the Sophia line is the big bold bass. It is bettered in all other aspects by other speakers in the same price range. I actually like the Sophias but not at their asking price, maybe used.