thorough review needless to say. Your fingers ok? I don't type that much in a week. Any more comments regarding the VTL amplifier?
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Wow, what a review. Makes me want to upgrade from my WP 6's! But sounds like the most important thing is your wife. Wow, how lucky are you to have such a woman!
Question, I'm using Transparent Ref cables. How much better are the Opus MM's? I could almost upgrade from WP 6's to Maxx's for the price of the cables.
Good luck to you. Thanks for taking the time to write your review.
Jfrech - I've heard the newer Maxx II and I own WP7's.... Keep your Reference and buy the Maxx II's! I loved the older Maxx's but the newer Maxx II's are a wall of sound, I can't image how much better these X2's are that are reviewed! (once again system synergy is the key at this level)
You are right about my wife, not only is she my listening partner, she has a superb ear for sound quality and she allowed me to re-mortgage the family home to buy speakers! How’s that for incredible?
As to the Opus, unfortunately (because of the price) it is dramatically better than the standard Ref XL. Opus removes not just one but multiple veils between you and the music. Details emerged that I have never heard before. The soundstage increased 50% both side to side and front to back. The Opus is like a major equipment upgrade.
As to digital, I respect the views and musical choices of all, but to my ears nothing comes close to analog. I tried the SCD-1 modified. The sound was very good, but not in the same league as the vinyl with the Walker. Have never auditioned the EMM equipment though. Just have an inexpensive Denon player/recorder for background music and to make cds for the car.
The s-400 are VTL newest amps. They are an “affordable” descendent of their reference Siegfried monoblock. I heard the S-400 at the New York HE show and talked to Bea from Vtl at length. She claimed an amazing synergy with VTL and the X-2’s. Reportedly, David Wilson will be personally using VTLs to demo the X-2’s. Well, she sold me and I bought the show sample S400. Anyway, it is amazingly musical, transparent, fast with tremendous bass and incredible power. It also runs relatively cool. Although the Tenors are great amps, in a medium room they were miniature space heaters. We could not listen after three or four hours due to the heat. S400 is a “no hassle” tube amp – automatic biasing, and a circuit that continuously monitors tube condition and displays on a readout panel, any potential tube problem. Really neat…
Mmalin, nice review. And of course very nice system.
I don't think I'd call the X-2's elegant looking but they sure are racy and sexy. On the other hand, I would definitely consider the Kharma exquisites an elegant looking speaker.
I'm curious if you heard the VTL S-400 amp with any other speakers and what your thoughts are with the amp itself potentially being a major contributor to the perceived sonics you attribute to the speakers only.
Your thoughts are appreciated.
I first heard the S400’s at the New York HE show in May. They were powering JM Utopia Be’s (I believe). I was familiar with the JM sound. The VTL’s made the JM’s sound great especially for show conditions.
However, as good as the s-400’s are, I don’t believe they account for the X-2’s amazing sound. Prior to the VTL’s I had the Tenor 75’s with the X-2’s. They also made magic but you could tell that there was something slightly missing at the top and the bass didn’t have that slam.
The VTL’s helped to make a great sound even better.
Interesting footnote to X-2’s and amps. To break-in the X-2’s I played music non-stop for a week. Not wanting to put the hours on the tubes, I hooked up a $99.00 Radio Shack receiver and played generic cds on repeat. The magic of the X-2’s was evident even then. If you didn’t know better, and just listened, you would say Wow – with the Radio Shack.
This is not to imply that the S400 is great – it is and I believe that it a contender for State of the Art.
fantastic review Mike! i got a real sense of just what these babies can do. your reference to the strengths of the Tenor OTL's and Kharma Exquisite's gives me a sense of exactly what you are hearing.
i hope to hear the X-2's for myself soon.
btw, you might consider trying the Tenor 300 watt hybrids.....they may give you the best of the OTL's and the control and extention of the VTL's. that is what i feel i am getting from them now.
in any case, congrats on the dream speakers.
I too share your love of this speaker. I posted a response on your thread at Audio Asylum. It is truly the most incredible speaker I have ever heard.
Here are links to my X-2 system
Here are my comments that I made over in Audio Asylum
I got wind of this thread and thought that I would add my $0.02
Like you I have done this hobby for over 30 years and have owned just about every high end SOTA speaker made. Over the past 8 years I have worked my way up the Wilson line from WP 5.1's, WP 6's, MAXX's and then X-1 Series lll's. Like you I thought that the X-1 was where I truly wanted to be until that fateful day last October when I got an invite to tour the Wilson factory and then to go back to Dave Wilson's house to hear a true A/B test X-1 vs X-2. John Giolas was my tour guide that day and after listening to the X-1's for 1/2 hour I didn't think anything could come even close until I "hit the toggle switch" which instantly switched from the X-1's to the X-2's. Suffice it to say I was blown away. Simply put, the X-1's sounded broken compared to the X-2. The X-2 had the largest, deepest and most natural sound stage of any speaker that I have ever heard. The rest is history. I placed my order Nov 11/2003 and took delivery April 20th. I have reached Audio nirvana. After delivery of the speakers I made Dave Wilson promise me that if indeed an X-3 is ever released he is sworn NOT to ever tell me.
For those interested, I have always had my Wilson's in his Diamond Gloss Black. I initially ordered in Grigio Titanio with Le Mans Blue grill cloths until I was at CES Jan 2004 and was at Dave Wilson's suite in the Mirage seeing the demos. There he had the new Maxx Series ll in Aspen Silver with Parchment Grey. I loved the color and was in time to change my color before it went into production
Here are some photo links to my room- see below as well
I recently took delivery of the MAXX 2's, having previously owned the Sophias and WATT puppy 7's+WATCH Dog. In terms of dynamic scaling, coherence, tonal balance, image structure and density, I am left a bit speechless to describe the degree to which the MAXX 2's impress me--and my wife. Having owned the 7's I expected a lot, yet still got much more than I had anticipated.
I have had many opportunities to listen with the X2's, albeit at dealers and a friends home. Clearly, the X2's take the design to the extreme and improve upon the MAXX 2's, but for my listening space, sonic wish-list and last but not least, budget, I can't imagine a better speaker system than the MAXX 2's (Grigio Titanio).
I think with the introduction of the 7's/Sophias, Wilson was nearing the end of an evolutionary design process that balanced and profoundly improved their speaker designs. For instance, I thought the 6's were great speakers, but not my cup-o-tea (forward in the upper bass and low treble). The MAXX 2's and X 2's are remarkably well-balanced and make any other speaker design I have experienced seem hopelessly compromised and compressed by comparison. The X2's are a work of art, and you accurately described their character and completeness. Glad to know there are others out there enjoying the new edition Wilson's as much as I am.
The Maxx ll's are a phenomenal speaker sharing much of the X-2 technology. Next up will be a Series 5 upgrade for the X-1's due out soon which also will possess much of the X-2 technology. Presently the Maxx Series ll's far and away best the X-1 Series lll.
Enjoy them........I have owned them all over the past 8 years.
i would humbly suggest that NEXT, wilson needs to build a 12 in. three-way speaker with a SOFT-DOME TWEETER-
(even cost-no-object they could do it for under $30k).
start with a clean sheet of paper. the hoped-for review would go like this- didn't need the dealer to set it up-sounded good from the start and just got better-my 100w/ch
ss amp sounded superb-my cds sounded good ALONG with my lp's-stopped wishing for better wire/components/room treatments and went out on a buying spree for more music.
i like (no, LOVE) the build quality of wilsons and the resolving of detail, but sonus faber/eggleston/jmlab/avalon however imperfect and coloured-sounding remind me much more of real musical instruments. now i need to audition the meitner gear before i have a audio-nervosa breakdown...
You mention being surprised at discovering the oft-repeated audiophile mantra that higher-fidelity, more-revealing systems make poorly-recorded music less listenable simply isn't true. My system is nowhere near the level of yours and never will be, but in my progression through the years I have consistently found - and stated on this forum - that my non-audiophile-quality recordings (which comprise 99.9% of my collection) always become more rewarding and easier to listen to as my rig has improved. If they didn't, I would have no reason to have become an audiophile. I've got my theories about why this is so which I won't go into here, but suffice to say that I smile at the thought of you enjoying The Monkees through such gear - that's music (and sound) I'll take anyday over the typical cliched audiophile fare.
[P.S. - In my VTL MB-185 Sig's, I found I prefered the presentation after switching from the SED 6550C's to Electro-Harmonix KT-88EH's; IMO these tubes just sound cleaner, clearer, and more tonally natural from top to bottom, with significantly greater bass weight and control, superior extension at both ends, more space'n'air, and better transient/dynamic expression everywhere. I've gleaned that these new VTL amps are supposed to be somewhat differently-voiced, but the swap might be worth investigating if you're curious.]
I have never seen these speakers in the flesh. I have seen the Wilson size comparison picture, but don't quite get the perspective - are there pictures of the alexandria on the web with someone stood next to them? I'm sure they make my sophias (I think they are big) look like ants!!
Nice review - thanks for putting the time in for our benefit!
I have listened to the X2 & Maxx II a few times. Except that the equipment was not as good as yours, your review is spot on. Kind of changed my entire audio direction. It is a waste of money to spend tones on equipment when the speakers will be the weak link until you step into the Maxx II or higher. As you said, even a cheap receiver will show the strengths. I almost feel that a nice integrated w. CD for about 5K w. the Wilsons will be better than similar priced systems with big $ amplifiers etc. Needless to say I am following your direction but in the Maxx II guise. I was wondering about chaning my amps down the line due to the heat factor (VTL 750s) but I will wait a while to make the decision. I have a feeling I can get close w. much less heat & less power. Do you ever feel you need a subwoofer? I am wondering whether or not to keep my watchdog.
I have the XS with my X-2's and never use it for music but now only for LFE in my HT
The low end on these speakers is incredible
You will love the MAXX ll's. They are a superb speaker with much of the X-2 technology. I doubt that you will need your Watchdog.
As for amps, I use the Lamm ML 2.1's with my X-2's and at 18 wpc they can play at ear bleeding SPL without clipping.
The ML 2.1's have also been reviewed extensively with the MAXX ll's by Marc Mickelson at http://www.soundstage.com. They are a great match
I just read the review. Thank you. I want to get a chance to listen to them on Wilson speakers. I have a friend purchasing the WP7s w. the sub. I was thinking of keeping the sub but need the money for the Maxx II purchase. Based on your indication will probably sell the package. I keep my speakers 6 feet out into the room & sit in the midfield (just outside or nearfield) . I was thinking the sub is necessary to facilitate better speaker placement.
My X-2 Series ll upgrade is on order. It is field upgradeable and involves new mid range drivers as well as a new forward firing tweeter. Also involves replacement of crossover modules. The only thing which cannot be upgraded is the glass door on the back of the new Series ll speaker. Price of the upgrade is yet TBD and will ship after November when the new speaker itself begins shipping
If the X-2 is due in DEcember figure one year for the Maxx II. I am willing to put money on it. Call Wilson and find out. I wonder how they charge for the updates. The Maxx IIs are so much better and to enjoy them for a year. Wow!!!. Just do it. It is only money. We spend too much every day on parking tickets and other things.
Well, it's not been quite a year since the above post, but the Maxx 2's must be pretty good because Wilson Audio hasn't felt the need to update them yet! :)
What was the final decision- Dgad, did you keep your subwoofer in the system? Personally, I like a subwoofer with my Maxx 2's (M&K's MX5000), and am actually looking for another one to 'even out' the nodes in my room.
I'm wondering about the logic of owning such revealing speakers...they require such high-end front-end componentry and interconnects because they are unforgiving of anything less. My "cheap" Tannoy D-700's added a nice "bloom" to everything, and although not as precise as the Maxx 2's, I didn't have to spend so darn much on front end equipment to develop a pleasant sounding system. It's definitely been a 'diminishing returns' experience after the first $100K...and the Maxx 2's started it all.
I am still using my sub. My room is incredibly huge. That should explain it easily. There is no limit on what we can spend. In that regard, I am also pretty much getting close to done for now. That last few changes really brought me to the good enough point. I do find cables to make a difference, but my electronics are good enough. The last round of changes weren't for the better immediately. It took more changes to get the improvement. I am being much more careful from now on.
I’m not sure of your question concerning the age of the gear. If you are asking about the VTL S400, it was one of the first produced, however it has since been sold. As to upgrades, the S400 is a single box stereo amp, and the Siegfrieds are individual mono-blocks. I am positive that the S400 cannot be upgraded to Siegfrieds as they are two different products. As to my system, the description in this review is out of date. The current pictures and room description is detailed in this review: http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/theroom/1.html