Just to put in my two cents, I auditioned both of these and they are great speakers. Each has their strengths and both can be bought used for about half the price you list. I decided to go to Avalon Eidolon Diamonds. Now these used are about 20K and new about 26K. So I think these have better value in that they retain their value, and in my opinion are supperior speakers.
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My gosh, they are so different. The 3.2 is a very limited but beautiful speaker. I prefer it to the WP7 in some ways, but the WP7 goes much deeper and has much great macro dynamics. Two totally different animals.
You might want to consider something in the Von Schweikert line (Disclosure: I am a dealer). I used to be a dealer for Kharma and prefer the Von Schweikerts in every way to them.
The little 3.2's(I don't own a Kharma,or "MTV" Wilson)are overpriced,and indispensible,when communicating music.They are a truly stunning design,without the sub(which might make some happy,but steps on the magic)!You really have to dismiss notions of disco sound,and just let these gems flow through your soul.Which they can do,with a great amp.
The Avalon Diamond(I own an Avalon Ascent,a classic,easy to drive design)is a superb system,but as correctly stated in "Audio Federation",too difficult a load to be allowed to display it'e magic.Add a very high powered amp,and you add complexity.The high sensitivity Kharma allows greater freedom for less complex amps,as I'm sure the new and seemingly stunning(not too overpriced,compared to Kharma btw)Verity Parsifal Ovation would as well!!
Best to all!
Honestly, you can't ask this question. you need to listen for yourself. They are so different in sound. It will be a matter of personal taste. Mine obviously is for th WP7. The Kharma's weekness' were to bothersome to ignore. I even think hearing both speakers in a stereo show is good enough to get an idea for the differences. Don't spend without listening or it will cost you more money if you are wrong.
For what it's worth, I think even about 2 years ago the 3.2FEs retailed at $21K. So for what it's worth, the 3.2s have in some ways become a better value in the past 2 years rather than worse.
I own a pair of 3.2FEs so take my comments with a grain of salt. But I think that for the things they do well, the 3.2s are unmatched at essentially any price point or definitely not at a lower pricepoint. I was looking hard at the WP7s before buying the 3.2s as well. But most people I talked to believed the Kharmas to be the better speaker. In terms of value, I think it depends on how you look at it. The 3.2s are a great value compared to the higher models of the Kharma line, while the same thing can be said about the WP7s in relation to the rest of the Wilson Audio line.
I think you need to decide how important the bass response is to you first. If it is not worth sacrificing any mid-range or treble to get good bass response, than I would pick the Kharma. If bass response is a must, than the Wilsons are the one I'd choice between these two. (If those were the only two choices, I would probably pick the Wilsons, but it would be a tough choice, as both are good speakers, IMHO.)
Howeer, if it were me, I would go along with some of the others and check out the Avalon Eidolons. (The diamonds if you can afford them, although I think you would have to buy them used at that price, or if buying new, than the Avalon Visions.) The old Eidolons are some of my favorite speakers.
Ejlif: "What is the least expensive VS speaker that you think compares equally to the WP 7 Or 3.2 Kharma?"
Hey Ryan, in many ways, the VR4jr's are better than both the WP7's and the Kharma 3.2's. For example, I had leant a number of customers VR4jr's to tide them over while they were waiting for their VR9SE's. They had all traded in either Kharma 3.2's, Midi Grands and Midi Exquisites. All characterized the VR4jr's as much more fun to listen to with more body, much deeper bass and much bigger dynamics. On the other side of things, I would say that the VR4jr does not have the last bit of resolution of the Kharma 3.2, but there are always sacrifices.
The VR4jr has a more natural sound and is equally as dyamic as the WP7's. Totally differnt style.
My feeling is that the VR4SR's, to my tastes, clearly equals or beats the WP7's and Kharma 3.2's in every way.
I owned Wilsons (3/2) for 14 years before moving to Kharma 3.2 FEs. The musicality, coherence and seamless blending of all but the lowest notes, with a magical midrange and superb highs all make the Kharma a better fit to my ears than any Wilsons I have heard. So I would vote very heavily for the Kharmas.
Thanks for the responses. I did have the WP5.1, then the WP6 and was happy with both speakers matched with either SET or solid state amps. Then I switched to the Eidolon Diamonds -- these were the best sounding speakers I've heard (driven by a Rowland 302). I had to sell the Diamonds due to the fact that I'm moving to a smaller listening room and hence need smaller speakers. I've heard both the 3.2FE and the WP7 and they both sound great -- I can live with either of them.
What I'm trying to evaluate at this point is the economic aspect (i.e., original price vs. resale value) of one vis-a-vis the other. I tend to move equipment around every couple of years so resale value and demand are important.
Any other thoughts?
Wilson has the best resale value of almost any speaker. This is due to them having a very strict policy on dealer discounts & the support a dealer must give them. Wilsons also are heavily advertised in many consumer magazines & lifestyle magazines - more than Kharma- thereby increasing their demand & resale for certain. Kharma, are often found discounted. Wilson have a high WAF considering their paint can be easily ordered to match and they are small. I know I sound very pro Wilson but I also consider resale a major part of any speaker as Audiophiles tend to change speakers quite often.
Now on to a big question. The WP7 is probably is at the end of the its "life cycle" and will probably be discontinued shortly. It has been around for a long time. That in itself would make me hesitate or try to find out how much your cost would be to upgrade in the future.
If you live in the US, Wilsons are US made & manufactured, giving them "local" service which is a nice advantage & would facilitate an easy but costly upgrade. I am not sure about Kharma.
While I love the WP7s I honestly never liked the 6s. I honestly don't feel anyone can judge the WP7 fairly based on the earlier "Wilson house sound".
Get a beautiful custom color and if it is in demand on resale you will be "exclusive" with the custom color and have the ability to command a high price.
Given this additional info about your previous speakers and preference etc. I would say the Kharmas are much more like your Avalons. If you prefered the Avalon to WP's, I think you would be happier with the Kharma's. I have listened extensively to the VR4jrs and I will stick to my Kharmas. Yet, I would love to hear the higher level VSA speakers, strictly out of interest.
To me,"house sound"is actually the sound of YOUR amp/speaker/room interface.All speakers mentioned are obviously fine choices.
Surprisingly I have to give Jtinn credit,as he really seems to be fairly open,and honest in his assessments,even though he is a dealer(nothing wrong with that,btw,and I'd have no problem dealing with him).Yet there IS an agenda!
My take on speaker/amp/room interface(that'e the ONLY way to assess this)is sort of like the following-------
When you are invited to a catered affair(hopefully good food),and you and your significant other are picking up the place cards,to see where you will be seated,are you happy to be seated on top of the band?Or at a reasonable distance?
This really correlates to the type of Amp/speaker/room interface we wind up with,if we can have our druthers(hope I spelled that right)!
I have a fairly complex, reasonably large and dynamic set-up,that I've spent years refining.I truly love it!!I have,also,heard just about everything,and I think my tastes are(need)changing.This is really,only,because I have #1-gotten to middle age,and have sewn my "audio oats",and #2-I have heard enough really good stuff to decide how I want to listen,to my music collection,in the future.NOT how I'm told I should listen,or what some other "reviewer dude" likes.
I no longer care about "bringing down the house",and have come to appreciate a simple set-up,like the Kharma 3.2 driven with the simply incredible Lamm 18 watt mono blocks(I don't own either of these gems,btw,and am only a hobbyist).WITHOUT the sub!!!Darn good dynamics in a little two way.And they are still overpriced at 21 grand.I'll bet they kept that price because they felt that was what the market would bare,what with all the good press.I'll also bet they outsell all the other models,in the Kharma line combined!!That seems to be why the price has remained stable.They want to sell them,and won't risk another price increase.Just my opinion,btw!!Yet they are still great.
Recently I was lucky enough to hear the Nola Exotica Grand,driven by the ASR EMMITER.All Nordost cabling with S.O.T.A.digital(big bucks) front end componentry.In a superb room(important,as you know already).Truthfully,though the sound was everything I felt the press described them to be,I got tired of them in a half hour.BIG BOLD DYNAMICS!Very seamless(except the very low bass,which has always been the achilles in this speaker).Open,extended,detail to spare,believeable!Excellent tone color!Yet I could not really enjoy them for a long session!Sorry!
Sounds like I must be nuts,but my listening preferences have been altered,due to my own experiences in the hobby.Ten years ago I would have cut off my right arm for this sound.Yet now that I've basically heard it all,I want a more personal,intimate and flowing organic connection.Yeah,the "Von big boys" are superb(even with all those drivers),but this is all only my opinion.Nothing more!
Personally,I'm tired of being seated near the band!!
Ca2284, if you decide to pursue a pair of Kharmas and are watching your value proposition, take a look at the demo pair Lloyd Walker (Walker Audio) is selling. They are his personal reference speakers that he has tweaked. I've listened to them many times and they sound superb.
DGAD, good point about the potential "end of life" of the WP7s. If I purchased them at full retail now and the WP8 is released (or announced) soon after, that would cause an instantaneous decline in value. If I go with the WP7s, I'll probably get them in the silver or titanium finish, which are considered fairly neutral finishes for Wilsons. I haven't seen (new) Kharmas discounted though -- have you?
RUSHTON, I checked out Lloyd Walker's 3.2s and they look tricked-out which could be a double edged sword. Although I don't mind modded units (by highly regarded individuals such as Mr. Walker), others prefer stock or factory spec'd. units. I do like what he did with the SDSS' feet though -- they look more robust.
OANHU, I'm sure the VR7s are great speakers but they're just too big for my new listening room. They're probably bigger than the Eidolon-Ds.
Thanks again for sharing your opinions. Regards.
I owned WP6s for a couple of years and switched to the Kharma 3.2s. I still have the Kharmas and I am happy with them. I had the Wilsons (with a Pass X350 amp and ML No. 32 preamp) and could never get the midrange & highs to sound right (they were too etched and tizzy). Maybe the WP7s are smoother up top, but I can't say. The scratchy highs did not appear on some recordings, making me think the Wilsons were just too ruthlessly revealing. Maybe different upstream equipment would have helped.
The bass of the WP6s was just about perfect: resolute and "just there," never calling attention to itself. The Kharma bass is actually more prominent, and almost as deep, and I would describe it as a very fast, warm-and-friendly bass, far superior than my old Aerial 10t bass, which was kind of one-note and pumped-up.
The Kharma bass, I think, comes from the rear port, which kind of serves as a phantom woofer, so the 3.2 acts more like a true 3-way speaker.
The Kharmas are great on all classical music, really making instruments come alive but still sounding natural.
Piano is rich and fast with just the right amount of "clang" with perfect decay but no weird overhang. Most popular music is fine too, but the Kharmas also tend to be revealing and can be a little etched on heavily equalized rock or close-miked vocals. (But this problem is nowhere near as severe as with the Wilsons, which sounded this way on almost every popular CD.)
On the other hand, the Kharmas make older music (50s or 60s rock and pop) sound gloriously real, like you've entered the time tunnel, and you're in the studio with Grace Slick or Janis Joplin a few feet away, ambience included. It's a real trip. I think some of the modern stuff (post 80's) is recorded pretty horribly, with a pumped up midrange and a harsh sound that is meant to sound good in a car or on an Ipod. (If your still reading this, thanks for reading my rant...)
So I would go with the Kharmas, unless you want to wait for Dave Wilson maybe to put a nice ribbon or Revelator tweeter on a WP8 in the future, and maybe take a hint from Albert Von Schweikert on getting the highs right like he has in the VR9SEs, but that's another story...
You just have to be crazy comparing the VR4jr to the Kharma. There is no comparison. While the VR4jr is a terrific speaker for the money it just doesn't have the musicality, clarity, dimensionality, and the purity of the Kharma. It's like comparing a Mazda RX-7 to a Ferrari. The Mazda may be fun to drive, but once you go to the Ferrari its hard to go back.
RGS92, well said. Thanks. I agree that the WP6s had a somewhat "hot" tweeter but was able to tame that down to a tolerable level with the addition of a good tubed preamp (I used to go direct from CD to amp). The WP7s seem to have a bit smoother top end than the WP6s. Glad you're happy with the 3.2s. Are you still driving them with the Pass 350?
I now use an Edge NL12 amp(a late model one with most of the upgrades that are in a 12.1, such as the 12.1's power supply). I think it is a very good match for the 3.2 and can recommend it. I actually think the sound at all frequencies is better and smoother than the Lamm hybrids I listened to (especially the bass, which, no exaggeration, is really of astounding quality--I would never believe there was no woofer). I don't see myself changing amps for a long while.
I use a Shunyata Anaconda Alpha power cord on the Edge; it also does a great job, much better than my previous TG Silvers or Kimber PK10 Palladiums.
By the way, with the Kharmas, it lays to rest any argument about the significance of cables, IC, AC, or speaker cables. ANY change I made to cabling is readily heard. I'd recommend that any reviewer testing cables use the Kharmas to hear what's really going on.
Another good tweak for the Kharmas is to replace the Kharma feet(black discs) under the spikes with Harmonix footers (HF300s, I think, for about $300). They add a touch of warmth. I read this in a Positive Feedback review and tried it and it was well worth it.