Ohm Walsh 5.5000 Upgrade
I recently purchased a W5.5000 upgrade from Ohm Acoustics for my 1998 vintage Walsh 5LE speakers and wanted to share the experience with you.
In a word: WOW!
I don’t know what the folks at Ohm did to make the driver improvements but they surely did knocked it out of the ballpark with the changes.
First, the expansion of the soundstage is remarkable. The speakers have simply disappeared in a sonic sense. All I hear now is a wall of sound in front of me. There’s no hint at where the speakers may be.
Secondly, the improvement in midrange clarity is striking. I can easily pick out individual instruments and details I never heard before. Vocals are crisp, clear and utterly transparent.
Third, I can now easily pick out where individual elements are in the sound field where before they were somewhat indistinct.
Fourth, the improvement in the low end is great. I’ve been able to substantially dial back the level of assistance from my subwoofer. Low bass was always there before but it lacked a palpable component that I used the subwoofer to provide. You could hear the low bass but not feel it very distinctly. No more. The bass is now tight, palpable and crisp from the 5s without any assistance or supplement.
Moreover, I can now even hear the distinct differences in audio mixing and engineering between various CDs and SACDs which is a totally new facet of listening to the 5s. And I’m getting all this without the drivers being fully broken in yet. They have nowhere to go but up.
The best part is that I’m getting an emotional thrill out of listening to these updated speakers because they reproduce music in such a fantastic way. Listening to them sends a tingle up my spine - a good thing to be sure.
About the only downside to this upgrade was getting it installed.
Let’s just say the 5LE cabinets were built to last, which is a good thing. But that substantial construction made installing the upgrade a challenge. I ended up destroying the crossover and switch panels getting them removed from the cabinets. They were glued and stapled in place quite well. But once I got them out of the way the rest went pretty easily. Jockeying the new terminal boards into place before the hot glue set was something of a challenge because there isn’t much to grab on to in order to hold them in place while the glue sets. But I managed it.
Ohm recommends using hot glue to mount the new terminal boards however, using a moderate bead of a construction adhesive like Liquid Nails instead may work as well or better. Just be sure to use a continuous bead of the adhesive of choice to guarantee an airtight seal.
After that, the rest was pretty straight forward and a totally plug and play effort with the new drivers fitting right in place of the old drivers.
The last issue was that the original W5LE speaker grills didn’t fit around the new drivers. Specifically, they didn’t clear the driver can mounting flange on the driver mounting board. However, I discovered that the grills on my F300 Omni rear channel speakers did fit. They had the scallops taken out of the base frame to clear the flange. I ended up swapping the grills since the W5LE grills fit perfectly on the F300s. So, if you decide to tackle this upgrade to your W5s be aware you’ll probably need a new set of grills to go with the upgrade unless you’re equipped to modify the grills you have. Fortunately for me I didn’t need to.
If you're reasonably handy, and have basic tools and a hot glue gun you can probably do the upgrade. The upgrade came with the drivers, terminal boards wired and ready to go, and a port plug to re-tune the cabinet for lower bass. As mentioned above you may need to order new grills as well.
In the end, the upgrade was worth all the effort and every penny I paid.
I’m glad Ohm came up with these new drivers and even more grateful that Ohm offers upgrades to older speakers when it would be just as easy to try and steer customer into buying new. That alone sets Ohm apart from a lot of the competition. Factor the new Ohm sound into the equation and Ohm simply rocks.