Speaker upgrade question - Wilson vs Focal


Hey audiogoners!

Thinking of upgrading and need the community/expert input.

Thinking of upgrading from a set of usher mini ones that I've had and loved for a few years.

I listened to a bunch of speakers, Focus Audio, Martin Logan, B&w, higher end ushers, Wilson audio, and Focal.

The ones I liked the most were the Wilson Audio Sasha DAW and the Focal Sopra 3. 

Loved the forward and detailed instrumentation on the Wilson's, especially the Sasha DAW, but liked the vocals slightly better on the sopras, though instrumentation on them was not as crisp as on Wilson's. But the two are very close.

Music is mostly jazz, classical, light rock, electronic and occasionally symphonic metal / European metal (night wish, sonata Arctica, dream theater). Mostly jazz though, vocal and instrumental. 

Trying to decide between getting the Wilson audio yvette, ( Sasha is too expensive and Sabrina's don't deliver enough) and Focal Sopra 3. Though I can wait a few years and get the Sasha then second hand.

I won't be considering other brands since I already did that research run around. These two brands work best for me and synergize well with my inwall home theater speakers (origin d87s).

I will be powering them using a McIntosh mc452 /C2600 for 2 channel, mostly LPs (McIntosh mt10) and tidal streaming and a anthem 1120 for home theater. 

What you guys think? Go for the Yvettes, wait for the Sasha's or go for the focals? 

Thanks.


mepstein10
Have you heard the Revels in the Focal price range??


Also, life is short. You really want to die knowing you waited several years to get the speakers you liked, or do you want to die knowing you spent those years listening to music with speakers you loved?


Best,
E
Have you heard the Revels in the Focal price range??


Also, life is short. You really want to die knowing you waited several years to get the speakers you liked, or do you want to die knowing you spent those years listening to music with speakers you loved?

I have heard the Revels, not my cup of tea. As I stated earlier I did most of the research already. Since everyone has different listening preferences, ears, sound interpretations, I respectfully ask that we not go down the path of "listen to this speaker," what one person may find incredible, someone else may find dull. Also, the revels will not synergize well with my D87s, so that was a no go for me.  

The ones I loved the best were Legacy Audio, Focal, and Wilson. Legacy won't work for me because the ribbon tweeter is very directional, but I did love its music reproduction. The focal's and wilsons matched my need for sound synergy and music reproduction, each having slight advantages depending on genre and recording quality (wilson is not forgiving of bad recordings or masters for instance), Wislon did incredibly well of instrument detail and separation while the vocals were incredibly forward (in a good way) on the focals because of the BE tweeter.   

I limited down to those two brands.
I also forgot to mention, the room is 22 x 26, though the music area is closer to 22 x 15 
Mepstein,

The Wilsons will match better sonically with the Origins which also use a soft dome tweeter. 

However, for a match with home theater both speakers should work. 

The othe puzzlement is that these speakers are all diferent price points, the Sasha DAW are $37k the Yvettes $25k the Focals Sopra are usually $20k for the comparable model to the Wilson.

Did you hear each speaker with the same gear? If not how do you know if you are really loving the speaker of the setup?

The Focals are exceptional in terms of offering a bit more detail and overall clarity without brightness. 

Wilson are very musical but are a bit more laid back vs the Focals. 

If I were you I would not limit myself to anything. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Yes, I heard the speakers with the same gear. Though the comparison is not a failure if one cannot do that, having the same gear is a big help in drawing A/B comparisons.

Anyway, for the Wilsons I heard the Sabrinas firsts, then the Focals Sopra 3, then the Sasha DAW. I was not able to listen to a set of Yvettes, but basically, everything I heard said it was maybe 75% of the Sasha DAW. I will try to find a pair to listen to before I pull the trigger but that will depend. But that's why it is an odd choice of comparison because I heard the Sasha DAWs and Focals against one another, but really seriously looking at the Yvettes vs the Focals and wondering if I will be kicking myself if I go for the Yvettes and not wait for the Sasha DAWs. The price just is quite severe afterall.  

I am not limiting myself, I just did the auditioning and liked what I heard from a particular manufacturer more than the other. 

I found specific parameters that I liked about speakers, heard those that I thought matched those, did a thorough comparison and limited it down to a couple of particular manufacturers.

Ironic. I was told that the wilsons are more forward than the focals, but I noticed that the Wilsons were more laid back, especially in the vocal projection. My suspicion is that it has to do with the tweeter.


I owned a pair of Wilson Sophia 2s and now own a pair of Focal Sopra 1s.  I much prefer the Sopras.  Not a fan of the lower end Wilson’s.  I am running subwoofers with the Focals as I did with the Wilsons.
I’ve owned several Wilson speakers and Focal.  Focal are a tad dry and slightly colored.  Very subtle but that’s what I hear.  Wilson’s will give you a terrifically dynamic and clear presentation .  I would love to have my W/P 6’s back...they were and still are my favorite.
Mepstein, neither the WIlsons or the Focals' will 100% synergize with your Origins.

We have been doing surround sound for over 30 years, if matching your origins is a priority, then the Wilsons will be a much closer sonic match, as their tweeter is also a soft dome, so at least they are in the same family.

Did you hear both of these speakers on Mcintosh gear?

The Mcintosh gear tends to be rolled off in the treble vs other brands of electronics which are more neutral, Mcintosh products mirror a more tube like presentation,  which would favor the pairing with the Focals whose Beryilium tweeter does show more detail than the Wilsons, but then you are less close to matching the Origins.

If you are doing surround sound the most important loudspeaker is the center channel, the rest of the loudspeakers for back or surrounds the Origins will still work no matter which main speakers are chosen. 

WIlsons tend to image better with a more holographic presentation than the Focals which throw a wide but less specific soundstage.

Personally we would recommend that you keep looking and not limit yourself to just these two companies.

We heard some speakers at Axpona that combine many of the traits of both of these speakes in a somewhat similar price point. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ


What are you listening to now and can you live with them for the two years if you wait on a good deal on your first choice? If the answer is yes, patience is a vertue.
I think you know the answer already - you want the Wilson's. 

We audiophiles are used to waiting, and if you can wait I'm sure a decent pair of used Sasha's will turn up. 

Wilson audio make some odd looking speakers but the Sasha's or the Yvette's are not them.
Can''t help you with Focal, but I am auditioning Wilson now at home, with the Sabrina's, which surprised me for their imaging, clarity and presence, especially from such a small footprint. My room is likely too big for the Sabrina's, and I too will evaluate the Yvette's vs DAW's...knock on the Yvette's is they are a harder load to drive, lower sensitivity, and dip down into 2 ohms. I think they share the same tweeter and 7" midrange, albeit in different cabinets. One 10" woofer, vs two 8", but a big price point.
Have not heard folks comments on the improvement of the Sasha DAW vs Sasha 2's, because a used Shasha 2 is around the Yvette's price point. Would a Shasha 2 used meet your needs vs waiting for the $$$ DAW? I have not yet heard the Yvette, but will likely audition soon.
Good luck.
Bob
The Sasha DAWs are stunningly good. I didn't love the Sasha 2s. I like the high end on all the current models (Sabrina, Yvette, Sasha DAW, Alexia 2, Etc.) much more than the earlier ones. Other speakers ultimately bore me. If you can't get the DAWs, I'd go for the Yvettes. 
Hi, I have a pair of the Sopra No 2’s and I know that like mind you will never find the 3’s these fatiguing speakers with a very live sound.
The sasha daws are almost 2x as much as the Sopra 3’s. If yo can go another 4K, You should check out Kevin Deals upscale audio, he has a pair of black Stella utopias, (100k speakers) for 42k. 
I was looking at the Focal's, but just thought they were all bland.  Same with the Dynaudios.  I ended up with a used pair of Wilson Sasha's.  They sound terrific after I forked over $500 bucks to repair a defective driver that fell apart after 5 years (I have old cheap klipsch that did not fall apart after 30 years).  So, I guess I would say, want boring sound that is well built, get Focal.  Want excitement that falls apart, get Wilson.
Focals don't sound quite "Natural"

Wilsons will bore you to death.
These are the two you have narrowed it down to.

Doesn't your brother in law rep any other lines?

Like Vimberg for example??

What say yeah?
Mepstein, neither the WIlsons or the Focals' will 100% synergize with your Origins.

We have been doing surround sound for over 30 years, if matching your origins is a priority, then the Wilsons will be a much closer sonic match, as their tweeter is also a soft dome, so at least they are in the same family.

Did you hear both of these speakers on Mcintosh gear?

The Mcintosh gear tends to be rolled off in the treble vs other brands of electronics which are more neutral, Mcintosh products mirror a more tube like presentation, which would favor the pairing with the Focals whose Beryilium tweeter does show more detail than the Wilsons, but then you are less close to matching the Origins.

If you are doing surround sound the most important loudspeaker is the center channel, the rest of the loudspeakers for back or surrounds the Origins will still work no matter which main speakers are chosen.

WIlsons tend to image better with a more holographic presentation than the Focals which throw a wide but less specific soundstage.

Personally we would recommend that you keep looking and not limit yourself to just these two companies.

We heard some speakers at Axpona that combine many of the traits of both of these speakes in a somewhat similar price point.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ

Matching the origin is not exactly a priority, I just do not want them to clash.

For music I generally do 2-channel, but since I have the theater setup already done and in the walls, no harm in also going that way.

Mcintosh only does the 2 channel for music, and powers the front speakers for the theater via passthrough.

The Anthem 1120 does the home theater. 

My setup is 70/30 for music/home theater.

No disrespect meant, but it does seem that you are quite seriously pushing against both Wilson and Focal with my setup. May I inquire into why? 

Which speakers did you hear at Axpona that combined the traits? Where they on par with the other two? Not saying I will switch my view but would be interesting to consider. 

I was looking at the Focal's, but just thought they were all bland. Same with the Dynaudios. I ended up with a used pair of Wilson Sasha's. They sound terrific after I forked over $500 bucks to repair a defective driver that fell apart after 5 years (I have old cheap klipsch that did not fall apart after 30 years). So, I guess I would say, want boring sound that is well built, get Focal. Want excitement that falls apart, get Wilson.

Which Focals did you listen to? I was not impressed with anything below the Sopra 2s.

Also, I don't want my speakers to fall apart :( 

Focals don't sound quite "Natural"

Wilsons will bore you to death.
These are the two you have narrowed it down to.

Doesn't your brother in law rep any other lines?

Like Vimberg for example??

What say yeah?

Not sure what brother in law you are referencing...

Agree, that Focal does color the sound a little

Have not heard of Vimberg before. I do like the looks of the cabinets, though I can't seem to find much information on them or dealers who have them to audition nearby. I won't be considering a speaker unless I am able to audition them. 
mepstein10 - I currently own Focal Sopra 2 speakers so my recommendation could be biased but would try my best to advise.

They’re really fine sets of speakers, especially non-fatiguing, vocal clarity, good mid-range, and good bass when pairing up with tube pre / power amps. Sopra 3 will definitely "do more." I mentioned pairing up with tube amps because when comparing with demos at dealer’s (they used Naims solid state amps), I found Sopra 2 abit too boomy to my taste, yet sound clarity and mid-range are superb. Hence I paired them with slightly "mellow, laid-back" Primaluna Pre / Power amps to get my best settings. I also demo-ed the Mastro Utopia, its sound characteristics differ from Focal and with superb headrooms for bigger rooms, but I still prefer the Sopras. If I had the money, will definitely go with Sopra 3.

I also listen to symphonic orchestra with diverse combination of instruments, but I found the best separation so far is B&W 800 D3 the top of the line speakers. B&W lower ranges (e.g. 802 and below) are "too forward" for my taste and could be due to drivers’ size with different frequencies response. When comparing to Sopra 2, my view Sopra still at times "mixing up" the cymbals, trumpets, and piano together slightly with no clear separation, but still better comparing to my old KEF700 speakers, plus other demo-ed speakers e.g. Sonus Faber, Tannoy, plus the lower range B&W speakers.

The B&W 800 D3 price is definitely out of my range and could be an alternative. In my case, Sopra 2 suited my requirements with good compromises, coupled with price / performance ratios plus good dealer’s support in my area. Have not demo-ed the Wilsons but from what I heard their Alexia range and above are quite well-known.

Hope it helps.
mepstein10 - I currently own Focal Sopra 2 speakers so my recommendation could be biased but would try my best to advise.

They’re really fine sets of speakers, especially non-fatiguing, vocal clarity, good mid-range, and good bass when pairing up with tube pre / power amps. Sopra 3 will definitely "do more." I mentioned pairing up with tube amps because when comparing with demos at dealer’s (they used Naims solid state amps), I found Sopra 2 abit too boomy to my taste, yet sound clarity and mid-range are superb. Hence I paired them with slightly "mellow, laid-back" Primaluna Pre / Power amps to get my best settings. I also demo-ed the Mastro Utopia, its sound characteristics differ from Focal and with superb headrooms for bigger rooms, but I still prefer the Sopras. If I had the money, will definitely go with Sopra 3.

I also listen to symphonic orchestra with diverse combination of instruments, but I found the best separation so far is B&W 800 D3 the top of the line speakers. B&W lower ranges (e.g. 802 and below) are "too forward" for my taste and could be due to drivers’ size with different frequencies response. When comparing to Sopra 2, my view Sopra still at times "mixing up" the cymbals, trumpets, and piano together slightly with no clear separation, but still better comparing to my old KEF700 speakers, plus other demo-ed speakers e.g. Sonus Faber, Tannoy, plus the lower range B&W speakers.

The B&W 800 D3 price is definitely out of my range and could be an alternative. In my case, Sopra 2 suited my requirements with good compromises, coupled with price / performance ratios plus good dealer’s support in my area. Have not demo-ed the Wilsons but from what I heard their Alexia range and above are quite well-known.

Hope it helps
.
Thanks for the advice. I do a solid state amp with a tube pre-amp (both Mcintosh). I am not a fan of B&W. They are fine speakers, but not my cup of tea. 
One nice thing about several Wilson models is that you can adjust the tonal balance. I'm not sure how many know about this.


They have removable resistors in the crossover which can be accessed to adjust the balance to suit.

I am pretty sure I've heard at least one pair that was "juiced up" at the dealer this way. If you find the treble / mid / bass balance not what you are looking for you can probably adjust it.


Best,
E
One nice thing about several Wilson models is that you can adjust the tonal balance. I'm not sure how many know about this.


They have removable resistors in the crossover which can be accessed to adjust the balance to suit.

I am pretty sure I've heard at least one pair that was "juiced up" at the dealer this way. If you find the treble / mid / bass balance not what you are looking for you can probably adjust it.


Best,
E

This I did not know. That's actually really cool. Thanks for the info on that.
It's not on their site, but download the full manual and you'll see this hidden near the end. :)

Best,
E
Suggest an audition in your listening room to make a final choice.
In my search for a new pair of speakers I really tried to like the Wilson's but just couldn't listen to them for very long, before fatigue set in.  I ended up buying a pair of Focal Sopra No2's after auditioning just about everything I could find in that price range.

One of the salespeople I encountered in my journey asked me if I preferred "analytic" or "musical" sounding speakers, interesting way to put it.  I'd put the Wilson's in the "analytic" category.
Have had my Sopra 2 going on 3 years, after breaking in time, they continue to amaze me. Through many component and cable upgrades over the last 3 years the  Sopra’s continue to rise to the next level. Amazing speakers that continue to give return on investment. 
6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other. Blow yourself into a new dimension.
SoundLabs. 
6 of one, 1/2 dozen of the other. Blow yourself into a new dimension.
SoundLabs
Not sure I follow...
212-826-1111 N. American Distributor for Wynn Audio
just picked up Vimberg.

Mijo is suggesting you look into electrostatic/Planars
Excellent drivers, beautiful cabinets, so apart from the cost what is there to dislike about Wilson speakers?
"Excellent drivers, beautiful cabinets, so apart from the cost what is there to dislike about Wilson speakers?" It isn't about disliking, it's preference. Some will prefer Wilson's over Focal and others will prefer Focal over Wilson. 
Check out Doug White at "The Voice That Is" in Philadelphia (610) 359-0189. Doug is the sole US retailer for Tidal Audio, and Tidal is the parent company for Vimberg. Vimberg was introduced last year at Munich High End and Doug now has them available for audition.
Brskie, that is true, in terms of Tidal. VImberg will be at more dealers and they are a separate franchise. 

We are talking with Wynn Audio to be the New York/NJ representative for Vimberg. 

We would then have Legacy, Paraigm, Kef, and Vimberg as our top loudspeaker brands and would give us an advantage in being able to showcase more of the affordable models under one roof.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ 
Wilson speaker’s are for old guys with tinnitus or hearing damage.  They sound great!
Sfseay,  Wilson speakers the current iterations are sounding way better than previous generations, so really don't understand your comment.
We are concerned that the OP's Mac gear will not sound optimum on the Wilson's which tend to sound a bit more mellow in the top end vs the Focals.

The new Focals are very good, they still have a few issues but overall Focal's latest speakers are really good and the new Beryilum tweeters are really excellent.

We would think the Focals greater detail would be better with the softer sound of the Mcintosh gear.

This is why we are recomending the Vimbergs fantastic imaging like the Wilson with superb detail.
Dave and TroyAudio Doctor NJ not a dealer for any of the speakers under discussion.
If you like your Usher’s, I’m surprised you wouldn’t want to go with the Usher BE10’s or BE20’s. I had the Usher Mini Dancer II’s with the DMD tweeter and I listened to many speakers when I wanted to upgrade. The Focal’s were to thin sounding until you went way up in the food chain. I really like the Wilsons, but you have to spend more than 2x more to get the same sound quality compared to the larger Usher’s.
I went with the larger Ushers and don’t regret it 1 bit. Also, if you also consider the looks of the speaker (minor consideration to me) the Ushers are gorgeous.
Rbstehn, we were Usher dealers for quite a number of years the BE 10 and BE 20 were excellent, they would be outclassed by some of the newer loudspeakers currently on the market but boy were they good for the time. Part of the issue was the speakers size and weight.
Personally would take a set of Focal 3 over the BE 10 or 20 which would still give you lower bass response, but the newer Focal tweeter is a better overall transducer then the Usher's DMD tweeter.


Dave and TroyAudio Doctor NJ
I disagree. I haven’t heard a Focal speaker that I could listen to for any length of time that didn’t cost $40k or higher (utopia series). Of course I haven’t heard all of the Focal speakers but the non-utopia focal speakers that I have listened to all needed a sub (2) to sound decent. The focal utopia series starts around $40k which is 2x more than the Usher BE20’s. On the other hand, you get full range sound from the lower priced Wilson’s and they keep getting better the higher up the food chain. Same goes for the Usher’s, full range sound starts with the Mini Dancer 2’s on up. The usher dmd tweeter is awesome and has got great reviews. I used to have the older usher compass speakers with their silk dome tweeters and the dmd tweeter is far superior. That’s 1 of the reasons the ushers sound so good, it’s the dmd tweeter.
In that price range I would give a pair of

Vimberg Mino

a try. I have never heard better implemented ceramic
drivers than done by Tidal/Vimberg.

I checked out the BE10 and BE20, due to prodding from our community, which were magnitudes better than the mini ones. Didn't hear a huge difference between BE10 and be20. Unfortunately that the BE10 and replaced with a higher end unit soon, but that should not be a big factor in my consideration.

Also it seems everyone thinking I'll be getting these at full price. So let's fix that misconception.

The ones I'm considering are demo units. I can get a demo Yvette for 15.7k, a demo Sopras for 13k and an usher BE10 for.8.9k. 

Though consideration in order right now are Yvettes, BE10s and Sopras. Though the Mac deal is something worth considering, though I did hear plenty of people who powered Wilsons with McIntosh with no issues. 


mpstein there is no issue with Mac powering Wilsons, Mac will power any speaker, the issue is sonic matching.

With Mcintosh the Focals or Ushers would sound more lively.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
mepstein10 - The BE10's will blow away the focals and YYettes. No need for subs with the BE10's. I bought a pair of the Usher X-Towers a few months back. It has a little bit bigger midrange than the BE10 and they are 2 piece speakers so you can swivel the top part a little. Still 200 lb speaker. the bass module is 150lbs by itself. It was a toss up between these and the BE10's. To better compare the Usher BE10 to the Wilsons, you need to start with the Sasha's nothing lower in their line. The Usher's will give you a fuller bass than the Sasha's.
I drive my Ushers with a Macintosh C47 preamp with a new PS Audio BHK 250 signature amp.
I just purchased Sopra 2’s a few weeks ago and love them!!
@mepstein10 - don’t base your choice on electronics you have today! You can always change - Mac gear sells easily. I used to have a c2300 and it was under classing my Sophia 3.  - sold it in a jiffy. Life is short - get the Yvette- you’ll be happy! 
I put Focal's in my Airstream Interstate. They rock. In the mornin' you go gunnin' for the man who stole your water....
Mepstein10...
Which legacy audio speaker did you like? You never said.
Mep;

You have good choices there

One of the responses noted Sopra 3 and comparison to the Stella Utopia for $40 k or so

A buddy of mine, had a 2 & went to the Utopia 

There is a BIG step up in sq 
just like DAW from Yvette 

all are good choices 

good luck 

jeff 
Although the focals are certainly a very good speaker, I find the Wilson's are more natural. I've never been a fan of Berylium tweeters. Dave wilson fought off all those peer pressures to switch to exotic tweeter materials, and I believe he was right. Also my feeling is that Wilson's have better resale value and following. Made in the USA. Focal's presence in the US is not as widespread. The business aspect of this has to be considered, since the buy in stakes are very high indeed.
Might want to consider looking at some of the previous generation big Wilsons, which are probably a tad less in the used market than the DAWs. Maxx3, or even Grand Slamm if you came across them.  The drivers for the Sasha were taken from the Maxx3......
I bought Sashas for my large room. You have a large room. Wilsons are hard to blow!!! You know the right answer!!!!
Get the Focals..
Spend the $15K you save over the Wilsons on a better Amp than the Mac..
I recommend Pass Labs or PS Audio..