Wilson Audio- The rest of the story

The rest of the story:
06-05-10 I posted my Wilson Sophia II right speaker had developed a razor thin crack in the cabinet between the top and bottom portion of the speaker. There was much debate within myself as to what course to take. My first option was to return the Sophia II’s and have the cabinets rebuilt with the same drivers. My second option was to return the Sophia II’s and pay additional money for the new Sophia III’s. I decided to return the Sophia II’s and I am now the proud owner of Sophia III’s.
Although originally disappointed with the development of the razor thin crack in the Sophia II, this experience has reinforced why I believe in Wilson Audio. My dealer and Wilson Audio have been above reproach during this whole ordeal. Wilson Audio arranged for the Sophia II’s to be picked-up and returned free of charge. The Sophia III’s were shipped 1 day early. There has been much debate over the cost of Wilson Speakers relative to their performance. I am not rich and it has taken me over 20 years as a music lover to get to this point. Lots of selling, trading, and saving to own Sophia III’s. I love the Wilson sound: the clarity, the pinpoint/life like imaging, and no other speaker I know of has the Wilson dynamics. With proper matching of equipment, the Sophia’s are simply magic to my ears (and my wife). The great news for me is the service matches the quality of the sound. I realize from my own experience and submit that we purchase high-end products for several reasons: sound quality, pride of ownership, expectation of outstanding customer service. Wilson Audio and my dealer has exceeded my expectations of what high-end should be! I’ve only had them for a couple of days, but here are my initials impressions.
Bass- tighter and significantly more impact
Mids- slight haze has been removed
Tweeter- too soon to tell
Overall I can’t see any current Sophia II owner not being extremely satisfied if they upgrade to the Sophia III’s. More to come as they break-in!
My system: Densen B-350 mono-amps, Densen B-250 preamp, Rega Apollo CD player, Kimber Hero interconnect, Clear Day double shotgun speaker cable.
Since you are so pleased with your dealer's service, you would probably do them a favor by mentioning their name.
Roxy, I second that!

I assume Wilson was reasonable on the upgrade price to the III...?
as much as i am blown away by the build quality of wilson speakers and the prestige of owning them, i have always found other speakers that far exceed them in musical presentation. so much so that it is unlikely i will EVER end up with a pair of wilsons, and with real disappointment deny myself the pleasure of admiring the glass-like cabinet finishes and colors. for example, how about a pair in ferrari-blue? talk about a gorgeous color scheme... OTOH,
the first time i heard a pair of Sonus Faber Extremas- well, i still have not picked my jaw up from the floor. and what about Maggies? Eggleston Andra's? Von Schweikert's- starting with the first pair ever made? add Focal Lab Mezzo Utopia's- VERY nice sounding speakers.
but maybe someday i WILL end up with the Sasha's or their sequel's, you never know. then i will get to admire them every day, and of course tell everyone that i have "you know", the best of the best...

There are in deed many fine speakers out there and it comes to personal taste. I never say I own the best of the best, I prefer a more humble approach. I do believe it's important to recognize when a Company goes above and beyond of ones' expectations!
Cool- great service !!!

Wilson was more than fair on the price of the upgrade!!! Well worth the additional cost.
IMHO it's a sorry state of affairs when we (the progeny of PT Barnum's prognostication) need to trumpet the customer service from a supplier retailing a $16,700 product grossing 4-500% profit.
The real issue here would seem to be why you needed to resolve a MANUFACTURER DEFECT to begin with ???
Glad to hear your satisfied with the outcome, I remember you were very disappointed when you discovered the crack. Let us know your impressions and the differences between the 2&3 when they brake-in, thanks.

French fries
What do your comments have to do with Wilson's customer service and Ricred1's feeling his expenditure was worth it!!! If you feel like pissing on someone/thing why not try your own leg!!!
Wpines, 4-500% profit? Nope. If the dealer paid around $8K for the speakers and sold them for around $16K that would be only 100% MARKUP, not profit. Gross profit $ would be 50% of the sell price-not 500%. For 100% profit the cost must be zero and it wouldn't matter if the sell price is $1 or $500-still only 100% profit. Then there's cost of doing business to be subtracted from the gross profit $ before arriving at the dealer's net profit. If the dealers were earning 500% profit there might still be a full fledged displaying dealer or two in Santa Cruz.
Ah, the overachiever in class with his hand up waving wildly. Okay, I'll call on you.
You are correct. I should have said 4-5 times markup from manufactured cost to end user.
I was speaking conceptually, but you knew that......

No company or manufacturing process is 100% perfect regardless of cost! There are problems with million dollar homes, expensive cars, and yes expensive speakers. It's my understanding the defect was the result of faulty glue from a supplier. It's impossible to know what the profit margin is, because I don't know the manufacturing cost, research, advertising, and other intangibles expenses that go into producing Wilson products. There are many companies that build expensive products with horrible customer service. My point is that Wilson Audio provided outstanding customer support to me and it was important for me to recognize their efforts, just as I recognized the defect!
A true test of a manufacturer is not when everything is going well, but how they react when something goes wrong. It looks like Wilson did what was needed, and turned an unhappy customer into a very satisfied customer. Maybe even more so then if nothing had gone wrong.

I think it is great that Ricred1 took the time to follow up and share with us the outcome.

"I think it is great that Ricred1 took the time to follow up and share with us the outcome. "

Yes I agree, and attitudes like French_fries only hurt this forum. I have no problem with different opinions but the Ricred1 was not asking for them.

Congradulations on your new speakers! I have a demo of the Sophia 3 set up for next tuesday that I am looking forward too.

How do you feel the resolution in the mids on the Sophia 3 compare to Magico V2? I know is another post you commented that the V2 had a good bit more detail in the mids than your Sophia 2 (my biggest complaint about the Sophia 2).

Are you saying that the 16,700 Wilson speaker cost the company 3,340.00 to build?

It has been a while since I have listened to the Magico V2's, it would be easy to BS you, but I don't want to give you bad feedback.

Compared to the Sophia II's, the III's offer greater bass impact, more texture in the mids, and a slight haze has been removed that enables the listener to hear more details and see further into the soundstage. In a couple days I will provide further analysis.
I should have said 4-5 times markup from manufactured cost to end user.
That's pretty much standard I believe.

Thanks for the information. I am interested to hear you coments after they break-in.
When I ordered my Sophia 1's about 6 years ago, they came delivered with a crack between the upper and lower sections on one of the speakers. It looked like a thin white line from front to back.

I was obviously dissapointed. Without a second question, they took back both speakers and arranged for shipment of two ones. They arrived perfectly. My dealer then drove 260 miles to my house and helped me set them up.

Yes, I paid alot (retial) for the speakers, but now I have had 6 years of music bliss... I agree that the sign of a good company is how they manage mistakes and problems. Wilson did right by me.

Manufacturing markup is usually around 5 times the cost of building for almost all products as Drubin said. But some charge much more than they should.
If markup is usually 5 times the cost of building for almost all products, why even make the original statement about mark up in regards to this speaker company. If the product was not worth the price, than the company would not have survived this long.

It makes no sense to think that the majority of people who buy Wilson speakers are making the purchase just to say they have the most expensive speaker. Do you know how many of my friends or collegues know about Wilson speakers. Zero.

Paired with my VTL amp and pre-amp they sound fantastic! After 6 years, I have no regrets on the money spent.
To be honest I would not be surprised if Sophia III speakers cost about $4000 to $5000 to manufacture. but a company wants to make a profit. Needs money to develop new products etc etc.

The the distributor of the speaker wants to make some money and finally the shop owner wants to make some money as well.

I don't think anyone is getting rich, yes they do make a living but I don't think it will get them in the quote 500.

An iPhone is €1000.- if I buy one in the shope. If I were to guess to would cost less the €100 to make one.

I agree with you, none of my friends are familiar with Wilson Audio. I've been into music since I was 12 years old and I just hit my 45th birthday. I've owned many speakers (Klipsch, DeVorve, Artemis, Audio Physics) and I just love the sound of Wilson Audio. That dosn't mean there aren't other great speakers and I'm fine knowing that some hate the sound of Wilson. Wilson's aren't the most expensive speakers and I doubt very seriously that any logical person would purchase a speaker just to say I own it considering most people don't know what they are. I hope I have my Sophia III's for the next 10 years or more.
So I live the USA. We're in a free market economy. You are free to buy and sell at whatever price you want with your money (depending on gov't regulations where they exist).

Wilson employs american workers, builds their goods in the USA, pays heathcare, benefits, wages and has a r&d and sales/marketing cost as well. Cost of parts is only one factor in markup.

If you don't like their product, fine. Go buy something else. If you like their product, buy it. Ranting on profit margins is best left to our free market system, free to move to other countries/economic systems or take it up with US Congress. (Gosh knows, maybe they'll pass a Wilson Speaker Consumer Protection Act)

Until then I'll love my Wilson's and won't loose a wink of sleep on the price I paid or the great service I get from them and my austin based dealer. Of course that sound is pretty damn good to and my toes are tapping to the tunes as I type this...

Ricred1, congrats on your purchase and a very very fine set of speakers!!!
Glad all things worked out. The level of service from Wilson has always been exemplary. Granting the prices they charge, it would only be reasonable if they offer such !

I just checked out your system and the many different types of Wilson's you have owned. Bravo on your system, and I think you are a good source for commenting on the speaker line and commitment of Wilson to their customers.

It is great to hear of companies that do the right thing. Thanks for taking the time to let us know. Info like this sticks with me.
Ricred1-- congratulations on your purchase and it is nice to hear of companies doing things the right way.

I had similar experience last year when I purchased my w/p 8. Wilson told me they were replacing with Sasha. This was in feb or march. Offered w/p8 at lower price with option to buy sasha for diff. Wilson would pick up all shipping and the dealer had to instal twice. BTW my dealer is same as jfrec.
leaving Price/performance aside, how much it costs to make is irrelevant, IMO. It's how much the average 2nd hand selling price that matters.

Congrats on you new Sophia 3, great to hear that Wilson stood by their product and made it right for you...

I coundn't agree with many of the comments about people being ignorant about Wilson speakers. Absolutely ZERO of my friends have any idea what speakers I own, or god forgive have any idea what they cost. I would think there are very few audio fans who buy expensive gear to impress others, talk about a shallow point of view. I listen to my system 99% of the time ALONE. I do get a kick when one of my friends drops by and is blown away by the sound, however. THey of course just think the sound is the speakers, not the whole system. It's always, "wow...those are the best speaker I have ever heard!" (and they know they are expensive, but in their minds it's like 2k expensive). The last thing I want them to know is that I spent a pile of money on them. Non audio folks are not impressed, generally, by audio addicts and how foolishly in their minds we spend money...why on earth would I adverstise, what I know they would think is foolish behavior? I buy my equipment for myself.
It’s been a couple of weeks and I’m amazed with the Sophia IIIs. Instead of using audiophile terms, let me sum the differences between the Sophia II’s and III’s. The III’s are just more musical! To me there are no better words to explain the differences between Sophia II’s and III’s.
Has any other Sophia I or II owners compared them to the Sophia III’s? If so, I’m curious as to what your impressions are?
i will take this a bit off topic, but hope to stimulate some thinking for owners of older wilson products.

i have the WP6s, which i'd characterize as highly dynamic, but disjointed, aggressive and a bit grungy...like a lot of high frequency trash is riding in the upper midrange & treble.

2 things corrected that: kubala emotion speaker cables (midrange emphasis, slighly rolled on top & bottom), and walker audio HDLs on watt posts (which removes the grunge & cleans up the treble).

frankly they sound a lot different than when i started, and i am quite happy w/ them as a result. would encourage users who own older wilson products to experiment, esp w/ the HDLs.
Would't something on the speaker posts be removing grung that is happening /created in the system before the speaker?
no, think of it as the hash associated w/ that iteration of the tweeter (i have the 6.1s, which means its the tweeter in the WP7). i never liked the metal inverted dome tweeter, esp compared to a good ribbon tweeter or a soft dome like the one used in merlin's VSM's & rockports. the inverted dome is just too grainy & whitish, tipped & overemphasized. why wilson persists w/ the inverted dome is beyond me, but suspect its related to power handling. shame it sounds like crap in its original state.
no, i've not heard the sasha's or any of the new iteration of wilson products.
Hi Rhyno, I am also wondering about this (old) Focal tweeter for years. My best friend owned the WP6, 7 and 8.
While I regard all of them as 'fantastic' in the rest of the fr. 'spectrum' from 3 Khz on they are unbearable to me.
No wonder that I regard my Usher BE-20 as a much better speaker for much less money.