Some people are going to slam the WP7s, I'll bet. Just let me put in my two cents ahead of them: they are NOT like the 5.2s, which I had, and from what I understand, better than the 6s. That said, room setup is critical and so is what you feed them with - so I am certain some have heard them in less than optimum situations.
Heard both speakers very often:
WP 7: Fast, dynamic and focus presentation, music presented in a very precised, controlled and detail manner. Unforgiving and transparant to the source and room accoustics.
Kharma. 3.2FE: Smooth and coherence musical pleasure combine with tonal purity, excellent image palpability and soundstage.
Choose your poison carefully because both use focal titanium tweeters: but the treble sounds very different between Wilson and Kharma! Trust your own ear.
Extemely different speakers. Maybe even opposite ends of the spectrum.
Wilson WP 7: Very dynamic, detailed and good depth in bass. With proper setup and amplification, good imaging, soundstaging and sense of space. Can sound mechanical, bloated and slightly etched. Musicality is something you have to really work for.
Kharma 3.2 FE: Excellent coherence, inner detail, imaging and soundstaging. You should expect as much from a two way speaker. Good musicality although sometime a bit dry and lean. Depth of bass and dynamism is definitely it's weakness. Adding a subwoofer hurts coherence and does not add dynamism, only adds to depth.
I would say that depending on room size, musical tastes and accompanied equipment would make a suggestion on my part easier.
Sebastian has summarized the differences very nicely. Also listen to the Sophias; irregardless of their lower price, they combine some of the virtues of the 3.2 FE's with those of the WP7 and may be the most appropriate Wilson speaker to compare sonically to the smaller Kharma.
I will provide some additional information about my system. My room size is about 22' x 22' with a 20' high ceiling. Accoustics are difficult, due to several open walls leading into other rooms and windows. Equipment is Classe CA-401 amp and Mark Levinson CD player. My musical preference is jazz, but I also listen to some classical and some blues. I plan to upgrade the amp, source equipment & speaker cable shortly.
I have read that the dedicated Kharma sub integrates 'seemlessly' with the 3.2's to help on the low end. Perhaps this is not so. In that case, would a larger model of the Kharma provide the bass I need, or the bass a WP7 can provide? Or, would I loose something from the 2-way design of the 3.2? Thanks.
Jtinn, your description makes me believe that I wouldn't want to own either of them.
I think the 3.2s are nice, but no bass for over 20k would make me pause.
I listened to both, in depth, in several different systems, over several months a few years ago. These were the current versions of both speakers at the time. I don't know what their designations were.
I found both designs to be extremely pleasant to listen to. Although, I agree that the WP7 seems to fall victim to improper setup with greater frequency, I found both to be easy to listen to over a prolonged period, my first criterion for ownership.
I found myself most sensitive to the differences in the dynamics of these speakers' presentations. Orchestras, solo voices, drumkits and lutes, which span the full gamut in terms of their dynamic envelopes seemed more convincingly portrayed by the WP7s. As a result I felt more connected to the musical flow, be it rhythmic, melodic, etc. While there was never anything abruptly discontinuous about the Kharmas presentation, I didn't quite feel the sensation of being "permeated" by the music as I did with the WP7s, and at live events. Their musical radiation pattern seemed to stop short of wherever I was. This is not to say that the soundfield of the Kharmas was in anyway curtailed. In fact, I've seldom felt more immersed in the sound than when listening to these speakers.
There are many other differences between these speakers, any of which may be more important to you than anything I perceive as being particularly important. So, go listen. They are both astoundingly good, and deserve your full consideration.
Personally I think Jtinn is right on the money,in his description(especially regarding the Kharma sub,addition).I have heard both,on many occassions.I've even a/b'd both,in differing electronic configurations.The watt/pup's are a great MTV set-up(not a criticism,but you get the point).The 3.2's can do damn good bass.It MUST be set up right.Not deep,but when set up correctly,with proper amp/pre,like the LAMM stuff(please Jtinn,don't go on,about the virtues of the "Darts"),they are "ALL ABOUT IMMERSING YOURSELF IN MUSIC"!I can't put it any other way.BTW--I don't own LAMM or Kharma,but I know what moves me.Just my opinion,though.
Thank You All. . . for the Very helpful information.
A mention was made regarding the "Proper Set-up" for the Wilson WP7's. (?) If I purchased a used pair on-line, would I be out-of-luck with "correct" set-up? What are the proceedures required to set-up the WP7's for optimal performance?
proper setup for wilsons?
patience & a good ear.
also, IMO the rives setup methodology (found on AA faq) is the best way to get them right.
"I will provide some additional information about my system. My room size is about 22' x 22' with a 20' high ceiling. Accoustics are difficult, due to several open walls leading into other rooms and windows."
You may want to look into the new Focal SM11's or SM8's with built in DSP may be the best choice as the modestly priced 8's ($7500/pr) have a Beryllium tweeter and these speakers redefine neutral, but play louder and have better bass and clarity than either of these two over laquered wannabe's. The 8's would wear out the similar Kharma's in every possible category and the Kharma's still can't be eq'd to correct room problems. W-cone Focal and Beryllium tweeter, versus old school tioxid and ceramic?
The SM11's ($20K) are unbelievable for such a small package and with the room correction built-in to the effects of your cubed room could be minimized, especially since you can sit near-field on these monitors. The 11's can match the Wilson in every positive way....the only reason I bring this up is your room is a cube and I suspect it has big windows etc, so no matter what speaker you buy your room is a big ugly acoustic monster that must be dealt with and considered.
Personally I think both the Wilson and the Kharma's are weak choices at this price point and if they are so tricky to setup, you can forget it in your room. Also the Focal speakers are designed for near-field listening so you can cozy up to them to further eliminate room effects.
If you're looking for sonic value for $20K, you may want to look elsewhere, although pride of ownership is very high for both these models, the fact is an ATC Anniversary 100's can put the smackdown on Maxx's and Midi Exquisites at $26K (ie high value, but no braggin' rights), you may want to consider the price of entry to the Kharma/ Wilson club and what you're paying for. Have to remember Focal tioxid tweeters are $20 and the Accuton/Scan speak mids are $175. So what are you paying for really?
Well I guess that's off topic enough to make some people angry at me. But buying difficult speakers and placing them in a difficult room seems like a difficult time to get "musical" results.
What do you think?
Have to remember Focal tioxid tweeters are $20 and the Accuton/Scan speak mids are $175. So what are you paying for really
I'm not contesting the point you're making & I second the usefulness of Focal's built-in DSP.
However the point about pricing applies all around; while the ceramic drivers alluded to are slightly more expensive than you note, the Focal "W" driver are similarly priced. For that matter, the standard ATC drivers are only slightly more costly. The beryllium tweet OTOH, is VERY expensive (or was -- focal doesn't seem to want retail sales anymore).
But, it's good to ask ourselves the last question every now & then: "What are we paying for?" The design (choice of units, xover, cabinet design) & box maybe? When a manufacturer hits upon a "good sounding" design, the price escalades fast regardless of component cost maybe?
Can anyone expand the topic and tell me if you have experience with Kharma vs. Sonus Faber (Stradivari or Amati?) I'm in the process of deciding between those speakers, and am afraid I will lose a degree of musicality if I go for Kharma (midi exquisite) vs Stradivari.
"However the point about pricing applies all around; while the ceramic drivers alluded to are slightly more expensive than you note, the Focal "W" driver are similarly priced. For that matter, the standard ATC drivers are only slightly more costly. The beryllium tweet OTOH, is VERY expensive (or was -- focal doesn't seem to want retail sales anymore)."
Well if you buy 50pcs. (like I have in the US, 178.95ea but maybe I got as real good deal cause if remember $220 might be the regualr number.)
but the real point was the SM8's are approx. $7500/pr and the ATC's which are $4K more than the WP7's and in a whole other class of performance with amplification built-in. I really didn't want to use the ATC's directly in comparison to the speakers listed 'cause I'm a dealer. But since no one is a Focal Dealer, I could express myself more freely.
I realize that driver cost is not the clearest indicator of the final price especially when considering the incredibly expensive boxes the WP7 and Kharma's use. But in my educated opinion, Kharma's import arrangement and limited production is likely their biggest handicap in their final pricing and I believe the Wilson simply charges more because they are no longer a performance product but a prestige lifestyle product. A position cleared for them by excellent marketing and consistently good products from the known beginning of high end audio as a real industry.
Focal, and other manufacturers pulling of the cutting edge driver technology off the DIY shelf will begin to create a gap between "factory" teams and independents. I believe it already has as the once "build great drivers but not good speakers" comment has faded from the forum of conversation and the performance of Companies like DALI reflects the improvement a manufacturer can make when closely helping one of their "factory teams" perfect a focused product based on a focused platform concept. But then I go on.
Focal doesn't want to share its technology with the market they prefer to sell their own speakers at retail as every "basement/DIY" manufacturer" who uses Focal drivers as amarketing/status symbol and "steals" a sale or a potential dealer from the real McCoy is hindering market growth and possibly creating a negative perception about the technology. As the tioxid tweeter is not "bright", but many "sub-standard" implementations of it is. Fact is what makes Kharma's edgy and slightly bright at times is the Accuton driver's breakup peak at 4-6khz not the tweeter. So the tweeter is victim of misplaced blame. That peak is the 2nd edge of the sword of using their drivers. I know a guy who sold his Grand Ceramiques because this was not understood, thus his surrounding "experts" kept trying correct a tweeter problem not a midrange one. :(
Sonus Faber, About as technically imperfect expensive speaker you can buy. Undoubtably gorgeous and built with an extraordinary amount of TLC. The use of the word musicallity to me has become an excuse for imperfection but still sounds good, on some material.
Amati struggles against $4000 loudspeakers not good $80,0000 loudspeakers.
Well said in a cohesive, organized and logical presentation. Therefore, if one is accepting of your argument, Wison's becoming esoteric, Amati's as visual works of art and Kharma's with their own issues... what then would you recommend as a decent speaker design (?) -- Accepting that a reasonable, but not outrageous, amount of money could purchase? (I guess "Value" would be a good word.)