Rick Walker was one of my best friends for a very long time. We were inseparable and started a company together back in the '80s called Audible Perfection, where we designed and built hi-end pre-amps, amps, and had one limited run of very nice speakers that absolutely blew stuff like Rogers LS3-5As away - they were close to the same size. Bill Sr. helped us a little with the crossover and sourcing the drivers, as we used the same Audax mid-range and tweeters from the WE-1/WE-1A speakers for our design. As I was in the industry, we sold them mostly to music producers, like Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, etc. Back in those days, when I wasn't working with Rick and AP, I was engineering and/or producing music, or on tour as a Front-of-House engineer/producer for many bands.
Eventually, our lives took us apart due to all my traveling. I only learned of his passing about 1.5 years ago. I was quite saddened by the news. He was a good and knowledgeable guy. I hope Steph and Sam are doing well after losing him.
I too had a pair of WE-1s (actually, mine were 1As) and used Levinson 20.5s to power them (as stated above, Rick used ML-2s.) After years of ownership, I conducted some crossover updates to modernize it and changed all the internal wiring to much better Levinson cable. It opened them up significantly more than they already were. I got Bill Sr.'s approval for the mods but he never actually heard them. Later, I needed $ to convert my listening room to more of a control room to work on mixes, etc. when not on the road and couldn't afford to have both consumer gear and pro gear in the same space - space-wise or money-wise. So I ended up selling the my rig consumer to fund the project. I now wish I had the WE-1As back. I'd love to own another pair.
On a recent (3/2016) visit to Watkins Stereo, I saw Bill Jr's pair of WE-1s sitting in a room but he won't part with them. I also saw Bill Sr. himself! He is older now and showing it a fair amount. He didn't even remember me, but to be fair it's been 20 years since we've seen each other and probably 10 since we last spoke. I'd only been at the store for about 15-20 minutes speaking with Bill Jr and Barry, and Bill Sr. kicked me outta the store because it was 4pm - closing time. Yelling to Barry, who works there: "You need to get rid of that guy.... NOW!!" LOL
Bill Sr. has ALWAYS been quite eccentric and socially challenged. Often funny, often grouchy, and always determined to have his way. So this was no different. I guess that's good - it means he's still himself. He's a VERY smart man. Eccentricity often accompanies high intelligence and Bill's a walking example of that. "Get out y're terlit paper!" LOL
Bill Jr's also quite a smart guy, yet a little more mellow than his dad. :-)
Anyway, they have a new, small speaker that they've put together and it sounds pretty good. It's worth checking out and giving a listen. Check their website for particulars (www.watkinsstereo.com
) if interested.
While I wouldn't mind having a pair of the new speakers, I still pine for my WE-1As. Mine were 4-checkmarks... If you know Bill and the WE-1s that will make sense to you; if not, it means they met Bill Sr's highest standards. I miss those speakers for pleasurable listening and will continue to hunt for another pair.
If anyone here has a pair you'd like to sell; please look me up! My pro speakers (Genelecs) are great for critical listening like tracking or mastering but they are way too clinical and direct for pleasurable listening. Extremely accurate - actually too accurate for pleasurable listening. As Bill has always put it, Watkins speakers are "Musical" which bodes very well for enjoying music as opposed to actually making it. Even by today's standards, the WE-1A is still a fantastic speaker system. If you can get a listen, do so!! They do require serious power (ML-2s not withstanding - you could still arc weld with the 2s!) though, so keep that in mind!