Wilson Maxx3 vs Avalon Isis

I am looking for an upgrade from my Kharma 3.2.2. The Maxx3 and the Isis both similarly priced, are on my list.
Can anyone who have heard both give some comparisons of the two.. in terms of musicality, dynamics, refinement, soundstaging, and importantly demand for amplifier power?

Just curious,..what about the Kharmas dont you like?
My kharma is just too small for my new room (17' x 21'). Not enough scale.
HiFi+ has a review of the Isis by Roy Gregory that is fairly accurate. The Isis are detailed, coherent, holographic, and provide heft at the lower end to give music some body and presence.

They need special attention to component matching, and some may find them overly detailed or dry. Finding a good amplifier was actually a bit of a challenge. I'd want at least 300 watts, and if considering tubes, think of something with a large transformer.
If you want music get the Isis,if you want demo hi-fi get the wilson.Its as simple as that.

From what I read, Maxx3 is more flexible with a wider range of amps...even some SET tube amps will do. Isis is more demanding in this regard. Which SS amps would be a good match? and which tube amps will be a good match, without toasting my room?

The three mono amp sets I have tried that worked exceptionally with the MAXX 3's are the Luxman 800A bridged to mono,the ARC 210's and the Berning 200w Quadrature Z's --currently. I would also recommend trying the more powerful VTL amps based on my listening at shows.

As usual with poll's like this you will get polarizing opinions from people that do not mention context or specifics. I am sure the Isis are exceptional speakers, and if they are on your short list I would find a way to listen with them. They will likely be harder to find for demo than the MAXX 3's, which are at a number of dealers.
You sure have a great set up. And I bet those big tube amps are hot. Have you tried your Isis with SS amps?
There is a thread on amps for the Isis.

For tubes, I think you got CAT and VTL to consider. BAT may not have enough power in your room, but it may be worth a try. I am not sure if you could hook-up 4 BAT monoblocks together, but that will certainly be warm.

For SS, I would be afraid that Dartzeel and Lamm would not get the lower half of the speaker to work properly. You need something with power and a full/warm midrange. I am currently working with Karan amps and a BAT preamp. Gold cables also help.
Hi,the Isis sound better with high quality tube amps,finding one to drive them is another question.The Cat has the sonics and the guts to drive the Isis better than any tube amp I know of,even higher powered ones.The Maxx3 is a fine speaker but Wilson does have a family sound and if you like it that is the speaker for you,the Isis is transparent,detailed and throws a huge soundstage and just sounds like real music.I have owned them for 3 years and could buy any speaker I want but have no intention of changing.
Honestly if you want music get the Isis if you want Demo or shock Hi-Fi get the MAXXIII. It really is as simple as that.
I have heard both Maxx3 and Isis in dealer room recently, both driven by SS amps....Goldmund Telos 200 and Pass labs 350.5 for former, and Ayre MX-R for later. With the amps used, Maxx3 had more slam and weight and scale, Isis was more refined and holographic and sweeter treble extension.
I would guess both should sound better with tubes. But for Isis, the need for big, powerful tube amps and the heat and all that would be something to consider.
I heard the Max 3 at a dealer recently.What I noticed is that the speakers are still a little slow sounding to my ears. Perhaps due to the fact that Wilson persists in using what I consider to be outdated drivers.
I haven't heard the Isis but at least they appear to be more advanced in their driver technology.
Hey Alec,

Rtn1 referred to a review of the Isis in HiFi+, which was done by Roy Gregory, (my favorite audio magazine, and my favorite reviewer, btw.) It is a very good article. He also names the Isis as his speaker of choice for that year.

Also, just be chance, Roy also reviewed the Maxx 2 (not the Maxx 3, but I would imagine that they are probably very similar in sonics). That was a really interesting article in some of the things that he brings up.

Have you had a chance to read either review?
If not, and if you don't have access to those issues, (Numbers 46 and 48 I believe), drop me another line, and I will scan both as pdf files and send them to you.

Good Luck in your search.
Hi Rob,

Yes indeed I have read both articles. Thanks.

I auditioned the Isis again yesterday and for fun brought my Lamm ML2.1 SET amps (18w) along. Not surprisingly, the Lamm was insufficient power for complex music. However, when we cranked up the pre-amp (Ayre KX-R) all the way to within 80%-90% of the maximun, the Lamm was as loud as the Ayre MX-R (a 300 watter), and harmonically richer even though bass was flabby. And on simple vocals, there was no comparison..Lamm ML2.1's did better. Obviously, driving the Lamm this hard will shorten tube life, and not recommended. But the Isis dealer took his hats off to a 18W SET.

After two rounds of listening, I feel the Isis has a lot of potential, but associated equipment need to be well matched as well as top rate in order to bring out the true magic of these speakers.
Hi, Kurt_tank:

I have owned maxx 2's and now maxx 3's. They are pretty different speakers with the maxx 3 having more beauty, more resolution, more coherance, wider deeper stage and (much) more transparency.

Janeb: certainly everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But I would never chartacterize the Wilsons as slow...really any model. I have a good fried in Dallas, with Dali Megalines with 6 foot ribbon tweeters as point of comparison. Wilson still has state of the are treble, regardless of the "time of technology" they are currently using. The new Maxx 3 is really close to the Alexandria series 1. It's really the comparison to make on this speaker...
Alectiong: If you have Lamm ML2.1's the Maxx 3's are much easier to drive than the Maxx 2's I owned the Maxx 2's and now have Max 3's. My Lamm ML2.1's didn't cut it on my Maxx 2's, but they work much easier with the Maxx 3's.

Drag your Lamm's to a Wilson dealer that has Maxx 3's.

I never cared for either the synergy of the Goldmund and surely not the boring Pass gear with Wilson Speakers. If you want smoother sounding solid state Theta Citadel's (more transparent and limitless current for bass control) or Ayre MXR (warmer on top, less on bottom) If you feel Wilson speakers are hifi sounding you should look upstream at the gear powering it, if you don't have the patience to pick gear that's synergistic buy another speaker.

The Maxx 3's are more similar sounding to X2.2's than to Maxx 2's.

Enjoy your listening sessions while making your decision, whatever works for your ears is what's best for you.
Hi all,
With full respect, both the Maxx 3 and Isis are both GREAT speakers. They cater to different personal preferences.
At the end, I went for the Isis for my own taste.
Thanks for all your opinions.
Alectiong: Congrats on the Upgrade!
Are you keeping your Lamm ML2.1's to power the Isis or changing amps? Just curious?
Hi Cytocycle
I am changing amps. The ML2.1's are truly GREAT amps. But not the right match for the Isis. Would be doing injustice to both.
If I may add sth to this interesting discussion - I have owned Avalon Eidolon Vision, now own Wilson Audio speakers, and I do not consider them hi-fi sounding. Quite on the contrary.

IMO both are capable of stunning results, but require careful system matching.
Hi, on a different subject..I have always read that the Eton Nomex/kevlar woofers take a long time to break in. Now that i am breaking in my new Isis, i am experiencing just that. Does anyone know what is so special about this nomex/kevlar woofer that some manufacturers like Avalaon and Kharma continue to use them even though they know it takes forever to break in. And when broken in, still doesn't quite have the bass slam of more conventional material woofers used in e.g. Wilson speakers?
Try Boulder amp's and you will be in heaven. Avalon speakers don't work all that well with tube amps because the Ceramic midrange need a very high dampening factor to control it. I know the Lamm 2.1 is not a tube amp but it doesn't have the power to control the Isis. I find the Boulder to be a match made in heaven with Avalon.

IT's not the woofer that is not giving you the output but the crossover controlling it. You would not have the midrange you have if they let that woofer fly free.
Alectiong: It is an interesting thread. Both the MAX 3 and ISIS would be close contestents. I have heard the big Wilsons but not the ISIS (I own the Avalone Ascents though. But my main system is based on the Apogee Fullrange, which is a whole different ball game).

For a serious listner and you souund like one, the best strategy is to listen to both yourself and see whcih one suits your taste. One thing you want to consider is that it is the amp-speaker combination. Different combinations can sound very different. I guess you own the Lamm and want to keep it? Then you will need to ensure which speaker works better with the Lamm.

Personally, I pay no attention to reviewes. Hear them yourself which you did. I would be curious to know more about your own comaprison.
Hi Mtdking & Gallant diva,
I have bought the Isis, and my amps will be the Karan monoblocks. My question was about what is so special with the Eton nomex/kevlar woofers that some brands like Avalon, Kharma, Adam, etc like to use them.
Alectiog: Congrats.

About the woofers, I do not know the answer. May be it is the price.....just kidding.

By the way where is that dealer located, the one that carries both the Wilsons and the ISIS?

Happy listening.
Only Avalon can answer that question. They had to pick a woofer and it was the Eaton. I'm sure it has to do with speed because of the ceramic midrange is a very light weight and fast cone. Eaton also makes some of the best drivers.

BTW all woofers take longer to break in because of the web is much bigger so it takes some time to loosen up. Don't about break in and just sit back and enjoy them.
In my country, Wilson and Avalon are sold by different dealers.
Just curious: Do you find the Karans to be better than the Pass that was used in yoru auditioning? Thanks.
I auditioned the Maxx3 with Pass labs X350.5, while the Isis was auditioned with Ayre amps. There was no direct comparison. Having said that, I lived with Pass Labs XA100 driving Kharma 3.2 for over a year and found that was a decent match, though not great. When I had the bigger Kharma 3.2.2, I tried it briefly with a Karan 270 and I was very impressed.
Pass labs are highly regarded by many people. But for me living in warmer climate, the heat generated by Pass labs amps is a consideration.

I am, of course, guessing in regards to what Dave Wilson and Neil Patel are thinking. However, it probably comes down to:

1) The overall goals of how the speaker should be voiced. Avalon has always prioritized a coherent and clear sound that excells in imaging and nuance.
2) Integration of all drivers and cross-overs so that the speaker works as an organic whole, and the drivers 'disappear'.
3) Consideration for cost. Go ahead and add-up the drivers on the Isis. You have $4000 per 1" diamond tweeter, $600 x 2 for the 13" kevlar woofer, and $250 per ceramic driver. Add any modifications, plus cross-over R+D and manufacturing. It adds-up quickly and one realizes that these speakers are expensive to design and manufacture.

The Isis bass is very appropriate, and very detailed. The detail comes from proper integration of the tweeter and midrange. That's how one can hear the bow pressure, stroke length, stroke speed, and amount of resin on the double-basses to the right of the stage.

There's a new puppy coming to town...with a new body and tail:O)
Hi Rob:

I am considering getting Isis But the amp match is an issue. Am considering the pass labs and the karan. I live out here in HK. How 's your take on which is a better match for isis.

Source is Dcs scarlatti and power conditioning is NBS and power cords are gutwire sp11.1 , Synergistic Research Tesla and PAD anniversary for power cords. Speaker cables are Cardas Clear beyond.

I would greatly appreciate your first hand experience and advice!!!

Hi Mark,

I'm very happy with the Pass, and it is a keeper for me. The Avalon synergy surprised me, because no one suggested it. The only other amp that I'd like to hear on the Isis is the new BAT Rex amp.

I can vouch for a Pass XA.5 160 or 200 with the Isis, along with the Tripoint Troy. After that, you can try to audition several balanced, tubed, preamps.