I liked the Sophias initially when I heard them, but after hearing the MAXX 3, I have to say you really need at least the WATT/Puppy 8 to really be able to justify that kind of price for Wilsons. The Sophias are disappointing in comparison, lacking that devastating slam and attack that Wilsons are famous for.
For that budget, you're much better off with B&W 802Ds, a superior speaker for less the cost. Wider soundstage, pinpoint precise imaging, voluptuous bass, incredible mid-range, sugary sweet highs, and a beautiful cabinet to boot. The Sophias have a more narrow, focused soundstage, if that's what you want, but unconvincing upper mid-range and treble performance. Not a bad speaker, but not as good as the 802Ds.
I have to disagree about the Sophias. Not because I own them, but because I have had a chance for a head to head comparision with the B&W800D (so a much more upmarket model than 802D) BEFORE I got the Sophias.
IMO, Sophias are much more transparent, much less coloured in the midrange and upper bass. In fact, I was very much surprised how much better they sounded.
And BTW - I would be very careful with the sugestion to get System 8 instead of Sophia II. The speakers sound quite different to each other (8s are more forward) so unless you are after a bass slam and max output, they not necesarly are a "better" speaker. To mz ears Sophia II is much more coherent sounding.
Just mz 2 cents.
Your on crazy if you think the 802D is better than the Sophia II or even the I. A store in Ann Arbor MI has both pair side by side and it's a joke to think the B&W sound better. The Wilson is better in every single way.
Yes the Sophia would be great on the Marantz Reference gear.
Not to keep beating the same issue, but I agree with the others in disagreeing about the 802D's over the Sophia's. Not only have I heard the 802D side-by-side with the Sophia's, prefering the Sophia's, I have owned the 802D's.
People's taste differ, but certainly anyone that introduces into the conversation terms such as "crazy" and "joke" knows little about speakers and even less about expressing themselves.
The WATT/Puppy 8 is, plain and simple, a far better speaker than the Sophia 2. Even David Wilson has admitted as much. What Wilson Audio does best is deliver a hyper-realistic soundstage with remarkable imaging, excellent micro-dynamics and accurate timbre, and considerable attack and slam, and these start with the WATT/Puppys and is improved with the MAXX 3, and ends ultimately with the Alexandria X-2 Series 2. I should know, I have demoed the Wilson range extensively, and would ultimately choose the X-2 Series 2 as one of the absolute best "all-around" speakers in existence.
The Sophia 2, unfortunately, was introduced for its price-point, to appeal to the "audiophile mass-market". It is a good speaker, but does not nearly come close to what Wilson built its reputation on.
The 802D, on the other-hand, is a fantastic speaker. It is, excluding the made-to-order 20 pairs a year Nautilus, arguably the second-best production speaker made by B&W, besting even the 801D in most reasonably-sized listening rooms. The 800D is better, with a fuller bass response and overall better tonal balance due to the use of larger woofers and cabinet, and superior cross-overs, but the difference is not as large as you say.
The Sophia 2's excel at providing a narrow and tight, believable soundstage. However, its soundstage is unmistakably small, and absolutely minuscule compared to the 802Ds. While the Sophia 2 might appear to be more "transparent", and it is a very revealing speaker, unfortunately that transparency is highlighted by a certain dryness that makes certain recordings almost unlistenable. Some may find that as a sign of excellent reproduction, so it's all a matter of taste and also what you enjoy listening to. If a considerable segment of your music collection is older or not well-recorded, the Sophias will emphasize these characteristics.
The Sophia 2 does excel at excellently recorded "audiophile" recordings, as does the 802D. I have no doubt that unless you are bringing in your own discs, any Sophia 2 demo conducted by the dealer will be using exclusively such material. But the true test of any speaker, at least from a pragmatic buyer's point of view, is how well it responds to not only all types of music, but all levels of recording quality.
The 802Ds are superior to the Sophia 2s in these regards, and overall, is a better speaker for most types of music and recordings. Again, taste is a factor, and what some people see as "color" in the mid-range, some hear as "musicality".
Frequency response-wise, the 802D is an average speaker, no question about that. If you want the ultimate "flat"-testing speakers, better look elsewhere, probably something by Harmon would suit you best. But if we go beyond what the charts tell us and listen exclusively with our ears, the 802D is a stunningly wonderful speaker, and one of the best values of any non-ID speaker at its price-point.
$14K is the 'mass market' for Sophia IIs?
I ain't too sure how much mass is in that market. in fact I'm not so sure there is any mass in speaker markets over $5-6K MSRP, with $4K being the wealth of the loudspeaker industry, by and large.
maybe it's for the penny pinching executive... not the mass (larger ) buying public.
I've heard both the 802N & Sophia II... both on Ayre & or Levinson or Krell. 801's as well on Krell 250 wpc mono blocks.
the Ayre & Levingson were 400 wpc and 150 wpc monos respectively.
I didn't care for any of them. Some seemed starved for power, ie., 801 on 250wpc with Meridian front end. or simply uninvolving. Stark imaging well set and solid, but just dry & unemotionally engaging.
Given the size of the power trains all were attached to, I would sure think about my own power trains abilities. All did seem to require more than oridnary power to do what they do... and again, for that kind of money, they failed to so much as leave me with any positive impressions, past the cabinentry they possess.
The cabinents were sharp! Very nice esthetic... and maybe if tubes and something other than Transparent cabling were used... then... maybe.
I ached for either the 802 or Sophias forever! Aimed to get some eventaully.... was excited to be able to hear them too.... then was severely disappointed with their prresentations on the whole.
I've heard better for much less expense.
But if you've heard them in your system and like them, by all means, buy 'em! Just 'member, they'll need power despite their specs, to get their best out of them.
$14,000, while a considerable expense for the average person, is basically "entry level" for the high-end market. Not to be confused with "hi-fi", mind you, there are many great "hi-fi" speakers for a fraction of that. With the emergence of fine ID manufacturers, that barrier-to-entry has come down even lower, and from a "value" standpoint, it's difficult to match a manufacturer such as Salk, for example, for dollar-for-dollar performance.
But as I carefully referenced "audiophile mass-market", my meaning was clear. The $14,000 price-point would be considered "mass-market" (in a relative, not literal sense) for "high-end" manufacturers, if they even have such a model. Magico floorstanders used to start at $25,000, before introducing a new entry-level model last month for $18,000. Kharma floorstanders start closer to $40,000. High Emotion Audio and Goldmund floorstanders start at around six figures.
And yes, Wilson Audio Specialties is a "high-end" manufacturer. If you are familiar with the company's history, you would know David Wilson first commercial speaker was the WAMM, which cost $30,000, in 1982! He was not able to sustain his business selling only "cost-no-object" systems, so he decided to create less expensive models, which sold better and was able to financially sustain his passion, which was to create the company's flagship models.
This isn't a knock on "entry-level" speakers, by any means, as one should never judge a speaker by its price (except when determining value). But the Sophia 2, while a good speaker, is nowhere close to what Wilson has to offer. To really get the "Wilson performance" that the company is famous for, in my view, that starts with the WATT/Puppy 8, which is an incredible speaker. Beyond that, once you get to the MAXX 3, there is almost no reason to consider anything else. It's only if you have more cash than you know what to do with and have the most discerning ear do you need to consider the Alexandria X-2 Series 2s, which performance is beyond superlatives.
But the Sophia 2s? Not so much so.
Thank God someone finally settled this purely objective debate. I can now sleep better knowing that Butter Pecan is clearly better than Rocky Road.
Due to this revelation, I called my buddy who just purchased the Sophia IIs (for his second system of course) and asked him why he didn't first ask Mr. Wilson what speaker to buy since Mr. Wilson would have told him to get the B&Ws. He replied "I DID call him but when I went to buy the B&Ws their manufacturer's rep said the Sophias were a superior transducer (particularly given their intended use in a second system). I asked my buddy how and the heck he resolved this baffling dilemma. He said: "Well, I asked myself 'What speaker can I buy where I can get all of the deficiencies of the Wilsons with all of the limitations of the B&Ws' so I did the only logical thing and I went out and bought JM Labs Utopias!!" Made sense to me.
Philbert, you ALWAYS know what to do you wiley guy.
'It's only if you have more cash than you know what to do with and have the most discerning ear do you need to consider the Alexandria X-2 Series 2s, which performance is beyond superlatives.'
I think we all like to think we have discerning ear's , that's why we are on this site and spend more than the average person for your mega expensive highly frustrating hobby/passion. My system costs pennies compared to a lot of hi-fi hobbyists on here.
The Alexandrias only cost a piffling $145,000 so if nothing else, they had better be better than the average high end expensive brethren.
Heard the 802/classe combination, mega expensive, sound produced not worth the money being asked for my ears.
Have heard the Maxx II's also, they are a very nice sounding (and expensive) speaker and for me, if I could afford a pair would win hands down over the 802/Classe combo.IMHO.
Each to their own.
Ah, the show room fixture with a lack of means. They know all and recommend only the finest gear someone else's money can buy. Speakers are a personal choice. B&W makes a fine speaker, as does Wilson. The Wilson Sophia 1 and 2 have garnered the preponderance of the praise. I've owned several speakers from both companies. B&W's are current/power hungry and overdamped by design, which makes for a bit of a problem when it comes to micro dynamic contrast and bloom. They also have a tendency to throw a forward sounding mid band, thus reducing percieved depth. The Wilsons are better in this regard and offer excellent dyanmic freedom with fewer watts.
Another vote for the Wilson Sophia here - I shopped/auditioned the Sophias against the B&W 802D and Revel Studio2 - and much preferred the Sophia - they simply sound more like real music to me - I have them set-up in a large room - with no motivation to upgrade into a larger Wilson System - which I'm well-familiar with since my local Wilson Dealer stocks the entire line. I've auditioned more than 1/2 a dozen Amps with these Speakers, and they have always sounded great!
A very happy and satisfied Wilson Sophia Owner here!
Well obviously to each his own, and certainly as YOU are paying for your speakers, you are entitled to YOUR opinion!
The Sophia 2s do cost more than the 802Ds, and that unfortunately has an effect on many people when comparing the two. No doubt Wilsons are seen as more "exclusive" and "better", and why shouldn't they be? Wilsons "entry-level" is basically B&W's "reference".
On a whole, does Wilson make a better speaker than B&W? Of course! That's been my whole point. Wilson Audio started out as producing really only "reference" speakers and through the years, they have had to make some "entry-level" models for financial reasons. But they certainly are aimed at the "high-end audiophile".
B&W makes iPod docks and "entry-level" speakers that start at $150, not $14,000. There really is no comparison when you are talking about "brands".
But if you are talking about individual speakers, that's when it gets interesting. I have no qualms about people liking the Sophia 2s. It's all a matter of taste. Personally, I find its lack of slam and attack, and limited micro-dynamics compared to other Wilson models EXTREMELY frustrating. I know how good Wilsons can be, and the Sophia 2 falls flat for me, when compared to obviously the X-2s and MAXX 3s, but even the WATT/Puppy 8s.
If the only Wilson you have ever heard is the Sophia 2, then consider yourself blessed. You literally don't know what you're missing. And if you're considering the Sophia 2s and they are the only Wilsons that are within your budget, by God, don't listen to the other Wilsons!
I, unfortunately, have opened Pandora's box, and I won't buy a pair of Wilsons unless I buy a pair of WATT/Puppy 8s, at the minimum. Unfortunately, that is not possible at the moment and I'll see where I'm at in the future after this economy lifts itself from the gutter.
I did audition extensively many other speaker brands including many of the B&W speakers, and think the 802Ds are the best speakers I listened to within my price-range. Yes, better than the Sophia 2s. And impressing my friends isn't much of a concern since none of them know anything about speakers anyway. If I told them I got new Wilsons, they would think I got a new tennis racket! The key is to listen to the Sophia 2s for multiple extended periods (if your dealer lets you) with a wide variety of music. Any Wilson will provide a "honeymoon" period, but the Sophia 2s are the most likely to grow obese with a mustache and sleep with dirtbags at the gas station.
Does anybody else think Dylanhenry needs some couch time?
Its all about perspective
your perspective as to what comprises HIGH END and my own simply differ.
You are a proponent of Wilson, referring to them as the best speakers in the world. Fine by me. Wilson, just like any other brand has its own sound. I dare say it doesnt appeal to everyone. Nor do I suspect some recent objective gathering has since crowned them as the sole principal in the industry. The only definitive statement I can make about Wilson is that they are expensive
and as I said, perhaps over valued as well.
Another one could be, thay have too much cantaffordium or unobtainium used in the materials list.
I assure you my own rig sounds more palpable, and musical than that which I experienced at the dealership listening to the Sophias.
And as usual the orig poster asked for others to subjectively mention the likely synergy between his Marantz int and the Sophia IIs.
My stance from hearing them and seeing what they were paired with for that level of performance I realized on the spot, is that more power than his integrated amp will supply, will likely be needed to get the best out of them.
Others said go B&W
and as well, I noted again, these two are power hungry units. More so than their specs reveal them to be.
Im a proponent of great sounding systems. Cost is part of it all, but Im not dismissive of components due to their price points. Neither have I read anywhere articles which have outlined the pricing guidelines declaring what is and what is not, high end. Consequently, Id not proclaim that whatever expense would be needed to surmount the least level.
That phrase is as subjective a thing as any other discussed around here. Its also a phrase some cling to for sheer affluent effect. I find it disdainful to indicate $14K as the entry level price point for loudspeakers comprising the high end realm of audio recreation. By intimating such a thing submits to all others in this hobby who have thrown tons of duckets at their rigs, that they are still muddling their way along in a less than enterprise. It implies yet greater separation amongst the throng of avid enthusiasts.
By my reckoning, Id venture to say 90% or more, of the consuming public at large would submit other criteria for the phrase high end
and isnt the majority just another word for mass? I think aside from mere terminology, high end has a larger berth than you will concede. Maybe adding something more definitive such as ULTRA to preface the phrase is in order
. Probably more to your liking as well
The other subtlety I was transmitting to the orig poster was, given the state of items on hand there were many other fine choices for less money
and there are in fact. Truth be told, Ive found far more often than not, those rigs wherein the greater body of the investment lays in front of the speakers out perform those where the investment is the other way around, laying largely on the loudspeakers.
Its disconcerting at the very least to spend 6K on an amp, 9K on a pre, 8K on speakers, 4K on a sub, 10K on conditioning & cabling, lets not speak of the accessories
. Then to be told you are of the mid fi or mass fi market, or worse yet
below the entry level threshold of high end audio. Doubtless, other loudspeaker and device makers would argue it as well.
. Or maybe just the choice of words being used which casts at times, a pall of diminishment & separation. Ill take issue with it routinely, as Im more aligned to share and be a part of though.
No worries, your opinion is welcome and respected. As for clarification of when I said $14,000 is "entry-level" for the "high-end", I'm referring strictly to that class of manufacturers where $14,000 really is the entry-level and barely buys you a ticket for admission.
Am I saying any speaker under $14,000 is "bad" or even "not as good"? Absolutely not, and in my previous posts, I've actually stated the opposite. One can find a lot of incredible speakers for much more "value" than you can with most "high-end" speakers.
It's the same as if I said $200,000 was "entry-level" for "high-end sports cars". That class would be Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bugattis, etc. Would I be incorrect? Sure, there may be some examples where you can find a new Porsche for less than $200K, but not many.
At the same time, that doesn't mean that any cars less than $200K are "bad" or even "not as good". Some would argue a new Corvette or Supra is just as good or provides "more value". That's certainly their prerogative and I wouldn't necessarily be inclined to disagree, at least on the value part. But I wouldn't classify them as "high-end sports cars". Again, just my opinion.
You are right, I love Wilson speakers. I just don't love the Sophia 2. Not a bad speaker, but not nearly as good as what Wilson is capable of. For that price-point, the B&W 802D is better, in my view, for the reasons I've already stated.
Got it. Yes, no prob. it's simple words.
High End encompasses the whole of things from those things usually not within the confines of "Mass Fi" B&M stores, to the Rockports and other such Uberexpensive products, IMO
High End also can be subdivided, again IMO, into popular High End, Mid High End, and Ultra High End, and likely more or with other tags.
According to my friends I'm in the Crazy End of High End audio, as they all say you are nuts to spend that kind of money.
Yes also, I'm not a big fan of the Wilson Sophias either... though not due to what lays beyond them in the product line..... just their cost to performance ratio. Listening to them sure made some other speakers appear to have far more value thereafter.
I would say also if I were yet in the "lots of watts camp", and could find a preowned pair in superior cond & my choice of color for $5000, I'd buy 'em myself. At their usual of over 6500 though, they are no longer attractive. too many others including my own pair come too close or excell past them in areas I prefer to consider them given the pricing disparity between them.
$6500 - $7500 in the preowned speaker mkt sure buys one a heap of loudspeaker performance, even excluding BW & Wilson.
What people are missing here is the Sophia is a much more forgiving speaker for your upstream gear. Easier to drive and easier to match. Based on looking at your current system I would keep your Transparent Cabling and your ARC CD3 player (skip the Marantz or at least head to head test them).
I'm not sure if the Marantz Integrated will sound as musical as you are use to with the Pathos integrated. You might consider an Accuphase Integrated instead, then it will be more musical and better built. Pretty good combo with the Wilsons.
I'm not sure Accuphase is better built than Marantz. Have you handled and/or looked inside any of their new stuff?
I have and it's very impressive. Typical Japanese i.e. almost overbuilt; terrific fit and finish.
Disclaimer- I handle neither line.
I've heard both extensively, and I feel that the Sophia is the better sounding speaker comapared to the WP8.
I have heard the Maxx and the Alexandria as well...
So, I completely disagree about the whole Sophia not being good enough relative to the WP8. They are different sounding speakers. There is a reason why the Sophia has so many excellent reviews and "best of" awards. It's because it's a really, really good sounding speaker. 1000%> better sounding than the 802D IMO, which to me sounds disjointed and tinny on the top.
So Dylan, you are welcome to your opinion, but it is an opinion, and not fact.
Thanks Blindjim, yes I agree, there are definitely sub-genres even within the narrow confines of "high-end".
To me, there are some companies that are EXCLUSIVELY "high-end", such as Rockport as you mentioned, and Wilson, Magico and Kharma, for example.
Then there are many other brands that have SOME "high-end" speakers, and some (if not most) that are not.
B&W, Focal and KEF would fit in these categories, amongst many others. No reasonable person would deny that the Focal Grande Utopia EM is not a "high-end" speaker, or the B&W Nautilus. Yet few people make that claim about the Focal Chorus 726V or the B&W CM9, even though they are both very fine speakers, and certainly relative to other lines of their respective brands, very good value.
And of course there are many companies that don't deal with the "high-end" end of things, but are outstanding manufacturers. There are too many to mention, but I know if I had only a fraction of my budget, I would still be very happy with what's available in the under-$5,000 range, or even less.
Some ID speaker brands come to mind and they seem to offer the best "bang for the buck" these days. Speaking of which, I have heard some people praise the Salk Veracity HT3 as being superior to the Wilson Sophia 2, which doesn't surprise me.
And with the Salk Veracity HT3 priced at under ONE-THIRD of the cost of the Sophia 2s, you have to wonder if the Sophia 2s would ever sell if they didn't have the Wilson name. Certainly there are many others that agree with you that the Sophia 2s offer poor cost-to-performance ratio.
Like I said before, Wilson is a great speaker manufacturer. But part of what makes them great is their focus on the "ultra high-end". The speakers they make are certainly "cost-no-object", even for the manufacturer, and for consumers in that section of the market, such high prices aren't as much of an issue as it would be for those buyers looking at speakers at the "high-end entry-level". As a result, the Sophia 2 was designed to meet a restrictive price-point, unlike Wilson's "cost-no-object" speakers.
But what the problem is with a company like Wilson making a speaker like the Sophia 2, which costs about 1/13th of the price of their Alexandria X-2 Series 2, is that Wilson, despite being described as "the most successful high-end speaker manufacturer in the world", simply does not have the economies of scale to produce a value-competitive product at this price range.
While undoubtedly successful in the "high-end" world, no one would ever claim Wilson has the economies of scale to rival those of popular speaker manufacturers such as Paradigm, Energy or Definitive Audio. And if any of these speaker companies were to release the Sophia 2, with their economies of scale, the Sophia 2 would cost closer to $4,000, not $14,000.
Jeepers Dylanhenry, could you please list all of the amazing gear and speakers you have owned? Gee, that sure would be nice. Maybe then we could have a little peak at the man behind the knowledge:)
As much as I've been recently informed of greater speakerage providing great realism, it's quite doubtful I'll realize any level of loudspeaker mfg. whose retail is beyond 10-12K.
that's pretty real for me. So I just stay out of those rooms & places that have top tier models all fired up and playing... and now & then, I'll transgress and stick my nose in there anyways, just to add to my frustration or see how the folks on other side of the tracks live.
Dylan, there is nothing wrong with you being convinced of your opinion, you are just unwilling to accept any other that disagrees with you. You have relentlessly put down the Sophia with the same arguement over and over, not all people agree with you.
Wilson is a great speaker manufacturer. But part of what makes them great is their focus on the "ultra high-end".
Some would say it is that focus that allows them to have trickle down affect to make a great speaker like the Sophia at its price point.
There is plenty of room for more than one great speaker manufacturer in this hobby and for us to prefer differences.
You state as if a fact the 802D is better than the Sophia, this may be for you; I have already stated above that I owned the 802D, I did so for a year and a half and I tried them with several different amps and in my opinion they never sounded great. Now maybe it was my room or some other factor, but having heard the Sophia side-by-side with the 802D, and my past experience, I would take the Sophia without hesitation, which I already stated.
I like nutt'n better than to get down to my yellow tank top and stretch out on the lawn to get some good ear time on my Wilson's. Only thing better is to listen while sippin on a Old Milwaukee that's been coolin in the crawl space and soakin my bad toe.
Hopes y'alls got's da yeller wilsons ta match dem dar tank tops Bjesien...say's, ar ya from swedin er somtin? Yer name shur sounds swedish.
Hansen sells their 3 way for $39,000 vs Wilson's Sophia for $15,000...now that's value:) What happened to my Swedish friend?
I have owned the Hansen Prince speakers for just over a year now and to my ears they very well may be the best sounding speakers I've ever heard. One cannot judge a speaker solely based on the number of drivers or the size of the cabinet. If you have not already heard the Hansen's, you owe yourself the treat of hearing them in a proper listening room. While I respect the whole Wilson line, I love the Hansen's.
I have great respect for Hansen, but I was comparing their offering vs the Wilson lineup on a cost basis. At some point I draw the line...a three way, three driver speaker should not cost more than the Sophia, which is already pushing the bubble. The Sophia has almost a cult like status with reviewers and audiophiles alike. The Hansen Prince is enjoyed by many as well. It all depends on what you want, expect and /or wish to afford:O)
As I have posted on another thread the w/p 8 are in the low 20's now and I strongly urge you to check out if you like the sophia.
So now that you've had some time with that setup, how do you like it? I have the SA-7S1 feeding a Krell stack (KCT and 400cx), and am looking at the Sophia's (probably the 1's for the price). I'm thinking that the wonderfully warm, smooth quality of the SA-7S1 will mitigate any hardness in the speaker (the 1's were reviewed as just a little hot in the upper mids). I've also read that your amp is very polished, but can be a little on the 'polite' side (as is the SA-7S1), so wonder if by using both Marantz pieces you might be missing a little bit of slam that the Sophia's a reputed to deliver so well. What's the verdict?