Quicksilver amps an appropriate match for Wilson Sophia?


My Quicksilver mini mites work OK with Wilson Sophia IIs, but I'm constantly wondering how well the higher powered QS monoblocks would fare. Very interested in the V4, the Silver 88 or even the mid-monos. Which do you think would sound best, and why?

Listening to mostly vinyl in an 11 x 16 x 9 dedicated room. My VTL ST150 bests the QS mini mites (especially in low end impact), but not by much.
allison2
Looking at specs alone, the Mini Mites are ridiculously underpowered for Sophia IIs. If you consider the fact that double the power produces 3 more dB, the Mid Monos aren't going to make any difference from the Mini Mites. The Silver 88 and V4 will be a better match.

Years ago, I had a pair of Mid Monos driving Alon Model V's with similar efficiency to your Sophia's. The sound was wonderful at low listening levels, but I constantly battled the urge to turn up the volume which led to obvious distortion. I was frustrated with the situation and eventually sold the Mid Monos and bought 100 watt tube amps that allowed the Alons to open up. The Mid Monos whetted my appetite for tubes, but I made a bad decision matching them to inefficient speakers.
I expected the mini mites to be underpowered and sound terrible, but suprisingly, they sounded OK. I didn't notice increased distortion, but I also don't typically listen at extreme volumes either. Compared to the higher powered VTL ST150, the QS minis lacked a bit of dynamics, detail and soundstage. Between these amplifiers, not really a fair comparison, which is why I'm always wondering about how those V4s would sound. The Silver 88s are supposed to be well suited for difficult loads, for which the Sophia IIs may qualify.
What type tube are you using now? If you go with the 88 you must use a KT88 tube. The V4 and mid- monos will allow you to use different type tubes. Just remember there is a big difference in the type of tubes that are used. I have a QS Silver 70 and I like the option of using different tubes.
In the mini mites, I've got EL34s, though it does allow other types such as KT88, 6550c etc. The VTL uses strictly 6550C.

Didn't expect that tube swapping would make as much difference as changing QS monoblocks. I do like the idea of having options with the QS amplifiers. I thought the Silver 88 monoblocks could also use several different tube types?
No not enough power get a Pass 250.8.
The Mini-mites do seem underpowered on paper, but if they are doing OK (but not great) to your ears, then who are we to judge? So it appears that you are not looking for more volume, but more headroom, is that correct? Not sure how that translates to choice of an amp; perhaps some of our more technically knowledgeable members (just about everyone) could opine on that issue.
Tube swapping makes a big difference. A kt88 is a more powerful tube and has a brighter larger sound compared to the EL34. It all depends on what speaker you are using. If you go on the QS site you will see what tubes can be used with his amps.
I always enjoyed the Quicksilver V4's. At one pont I replaced them with a much more expensive tube amp. Perhaps synergy or lack thereof was involved, but I missed the V4's. I would think synergy with Wilson to be good. That is based on the tonal balance of Wilson and the QS, both of which I have heard, but not together.
Really appreciate all the responses so far. Even heard back from Quicksilver directly. I'm told that the silver 88 monoblocks would be the best match for Sophia II, but can someone explain this in simple terms? I figured the higher powered V4 would be best, but perhaps more watts isn't really the answer.
I have had lower power amps that were better than higher powered ones. It is not all in the power. Double the power and it gives you a mere 3 db of more power. What is the efficiency of the Wilsons? I use Harbeths that are about 82 db efficient.My room is 20x12x9 . A 50 watt tube amp gets them as loud as I would ever want.
Wilson Sophia II are 89dB and 4 Ohms.
Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia loudspeaker Specifications
Description: Three-way, floorstanding, reflex-loaded loudspeaker. Drive-units: 1" (25mm) inverted titanium-dome tweeter, 7" (178mm) paper-cone midrange unit, 10" (254mm) aluminum-cone woofer. Frequency response: 29Hz-22.5kHz, +0/-3dB. Sensitivity: 89dB/2.83V/m. Impedance: 4 ohms nominal, 3 ohms minimum. Recommended power: >12Wpc.
Dimensions: 41" (1042mm) H by 12" (305mm) W by 18" (457mm) D. Weight: 160 lbs (72.7kg) each.
Those are efficient speakers. In your size room you really don't need a big watt power amp. Since you already have the mini-mite you should get a pair of KT88's just to see if you like them better than the EL34's. If you are set on going to a bigger amp I think the mid-mono's would be fine. BTW,if you decide to try a KT88 you can get a pair of EH for under $70 at tube depot.
"Very interested in the V4, the Silver 88 or even the mid-monos. Which do you think would sound best, and why?"

The V4's would be a great choice. I still regret not buying them.
Quicksilver build quality and more importantly sound quality is excellent for the money.

On a total impulse buy, not even looking for an amp I picked up a pair of Mid Monos back in November from a fellow A-Goner close by. They are GREAT amps for the money... When I got them they had 6L6c outputs and they sounded good but after a tube went I replaced them with the original spec EL34 and they sounded even better.

When my daughter graduates I am going to buy a pair of Silver 88's. But for now I'm perfectly content with these little guys, they sound better than any 40 watt amp has a right to.
I don't expect that the entire line of QS monoblocks are essentially the same, save for increasing power, correct?

What are the specific sound qualities that improve as power is increased (other than volume)?

I think I've ruled out the mid-monos. All things considered, I don't expect they'd be significantly different than the mini mites. For slight changes, I can simply engage in tube swapping with my mini-mites.

Can anyone make a comparison between the VTL ST150 and the QS V4?

Also, still hoping to hear from someone who has matched QS monoblocks with Wilson Sophia loudspeakers.
Allison2,
just expressing some thoughts here - I don't know if the QS amps are suited to the Wilson speakers or not. I've not seen this pairing often but it does not mean that it won't work.

In power amps, the bass heft is, I believe, directly proportional to the size of the output transformer. The bigger, the better it is for bass reproduction. You see humungous output transformers on Audio Note Japan & CAT power amps. I don't think that is just for show or to make the owner's life difficult hauling those amps around; i think it is done deliberately for better/best bass reproduction. The QS amps just don't seem to have large output power transformers & simply based on this I get the feeling that their bass is going to be on the light side for a Wilson speaker.
At the 2013 RMAF i attended, Dave Wilson showed off his Alexandria speakers driven by VTL Siegfrieds (yeah, these are probably in the "unobtainium" region) & the sound was very good.
Looking at the VTL amp specs, it seems that, weight-wise, they are at least 1lb per 1W & it "appears" that this weight is in the output power transformers (I cannot confirm this). This seems to be better for bass frequencies.
Maybe it's better to save up some money & buy a better VTL amp such as a S-200 in, say, used condition?
Like I wrote at the start - just some thoughts based on my experience of listening to tube amps at shows & at my friends' place & at dealer show-rooms & the info gained by talking to some tube amp designers. Take it at face-value. Thanks.
02-11-15: Allison2
Wilson Audio Specialties Sophia loudspeaker Specifications
Description: Three-way, floorstanding, reflex-loaded loudspeaker. Drive-units: 1" (25mm) inverted titanium-dome tweeter, 7" (178mm) paper-cone midrange unit, 10" (254mm) aluminum-cone woofer. Frequency response: 29Hz-22.5kHz, +0/-3dB. Sensitivity: 89dB/2.83V/m. Impedance: 4 ohms nominal, 3 ohms minimum. Recommended power: >12Wpc.
I'm sorry but I don't consider the Wilson Sophia to be a sensitive speaker. I'd call it a medium-low sensitivity speaker.

Also note that the spec says "89dB/2.83V/m. Impedance: 4 Ohms". Usually, the industry "standard" is to measure the speaker sensitivity using 1W into 8 Ohms at 1m away.
If the speaker is 8 Ohms, the RMS voltage works out to be 2.83V & one is feeding the speaker 1W.
If the speaker is 4 Ohms & one still uses 2.83V, then one is feeding the speaker 2W (not 1W). So, the Wilson Sophia has an artificially elevated sensitivity simply because it's being measured using 2W of input power (not 1W).
So, subtract 3dB from the Wilson Sophia sensitivity - that makes it an 86dB/1W/1m speaker.
Hence my saying it's a medium-low sensitivity speaker.

When you are sitting, say, 10ft from the speaker, the SPL at your listening chair will be 10dB lower due to volume drop-off by the square of the distance of speaker & you + some absorption of sound by the room, furniture, carpet, walls, etc.
So, you're really going to be hearing 76dB SPL for 1W fed (by your amp) into the speaker.
You say you don't listen very loudly - that's a bit nebulous if you don't give a SPL number. Let's ASSUME that you don't allow the average SPL to get any higher than 86dB at your listening chair. That means you would need 5W/ch - this would give you an 83dB SPL at your chair + 3dB due to stereo/using 2 speaker for a total of 86dB SPL.
Then you should allow another 10dB for dynamics - sudden elevations of SPL due the program material. So, you'll have peaks hitting 96dB SPL. Or, 20dB higher than the 76dB SPL you were getting with 1W into the speaker. 20dB in power is a factor of 100. So, you'd need a 100W/ch amp to ensure good dynamics when you limit your average SPL to 86dB.
In reality a lot of music would feel restrained if the SPL was limited to just 96dB for the peaks. Classical music is just one genre. There are many genres where peaks hit a much higher SPL if allowed by the amp & allowing these peaks adds to your overall music listening pleasure. So, requiring a 150W/ch or a 200W/ch is very much within the norm.
You can see if you want free-flowing music i.e. music that does not sound restrained, you need quite a lot of wattage very quickly. Something many people do not keep in mind.....
Needless to say, unfortunately, the amp cost goes up exponentially....
This may explain why I've only been able to find reviews and comments matching the Wilson Sophias with fantastically high powered tube or solid state amplifiers. In my space, I mate every amplifier I own with new speakers, just to see (hear) what happens.
No, no, no. I have owned the MiniMites, and with 88dB, 8-ohm speakers, they reached a dynamic ceiling at below what you would want with Sophias. I liked them but did not LOVE them like I do my Pass M2.
BTW, EH EL-34s in my Mini-Mites sounded brittle and splashy as did the Chinese 12AX7s (RCA 12AX7A's were WAYYY better). IF you go for 34's, seek out SEDs.
Just picked up a pair of mid monos and they seem to work well with the Sophias. Haven't yet had a chance to A/B/C the MiniMites, the MidMonos and the VTL ST150, but that'll be happening real soon. So far MidMonos aren't shy with detail, dynamics or bass. Enjoying the music while I cool down from all that amplifier lifting.
Still no examples of quicksilver amplifiers with Wilson Sophia? I would have expected these fairly common brands to cross paths at some point. Still working my mid monos whilst I save up for the Silver 88s!
Allison2, the Silver 88 has just recently been discontinued to be replaced by a 120 watt amp using the Kt150 tube. I understand the price is lower as well. The advantage of the Silver 88 is it's lower output impedance which should work more evenhandly with speakers with greater impedance swings. My understanding is the new amp has a higher output impedance. I totally agree with everything Bombaywalla said. I am currently auditioning a pair of dealer 88's with the KT150 output tube but with a much more efficient speaker and they are just sublime in everyway including bass. I would really think that the V4s or the new model might be a good fit but maybe not the BEST fit. You may want to call Quicksilver with details about the Sophias and ask him for his opinion. He might be able to help with your decision.
Bombaywalla- the Sophia 3 was measured by JA at 88.3dbs, actually higher than its specified 87dbs. Its impedance curve doesn't look particularly demanding either.

I ran my old Sophias with a BAT-VK75SE and it was a superb combo. I've never heard a Quicksilver.