You really want some validation to buy the WP8 that you prefer, don't you?
y. you've heard them twice, so don't let anyone on this board influence you. if you cannot afford the WP8s, at least you know you're not missing THAT much w/ the sophias.
if you can, salut!
(what i don't know is how the rest of your rig is: i'd always prefer to have lesser speakers w/ better ancillaries than better speakers that will sound bad b/c i can't budget for better ancillaries as i spent too much on speakers!)
I'm going to run the speakers temporarily with an old B&K TX4430 as I just sold my Pass X350 yesterday. I'm thinking of going for a pair of these new Class D amps like a Spectron or something down the line. I can afford the W/P 8's, it's just the more sensible part of me doesn't want to do it lol. In the two sessions where I listened to the speakers; with the first session listening to fast passed rock, I thought there was a little bit more of an immediacy with the W/P 8's than the Sophia2's. With the second session I listened to some slow jazz and except for the bass I didn't hear a difference in the mid-upper ranges. For a smallish room, the W/P 8's might be overkill.
Hi on any good speaker, and especially the Wilsons, your source and other components (pre amps, amps, cables etc) are so very critical.
You maybe better off with Sophia's and better source/amps/cables than WP 8's with lesser electronics. If you can get the WP 8's now and upgrade the rest later...then you know the answer as TVAD already noted...
In a smallish room, you would be able to drive the WP8 with a single Pass Labs XA-30.5 Class A stereo amplifier. Incredibly sweet, magical amp. Doesn't run incredibly hot.
You'd be surprised at what a single XA-30.5 can do, and you'd be even more pleased at how it sounds.
IMO, the honeymoon period with Class D amps, especially on speakers of the caliber of the WP8, would quickly be over as you became aware of the weaknesses of the amps.
Have you heard the Spectron Tvad?Nope.
I've heard BelCanto Ref1000, NuForce Ref9SE V2, Channel Islands D200.
I have heard the Pass XA-30.5 and XA-60.5.
These were all auditioned in my home.
My speakers are 93dB (similar to the WP8). The room is 20x16 and opens to a smaller 14x14 room on the rear "wall".
People who hear the new Spectron amps love them, but nothing has sounded as pure and musical as the Pass in my system (other than tubes).
I suppose I'm a purist, and when it comes to speakers of the quality of the WP8, I personally would want to power them with Lamm, ARC, Pass Labs or equivalent.
Pairing a class D amp with the titanium Focal tweeter that Wilson uses will soon have you selling either the amp or the speakers -- a recipe for nastiness.
What follows is off-topic -- sorry -- but if you like clean highs like that offered by Focal's beryllium tweeter and the knock-the-house down dynamics of Wilsons, perhaps you should consider the Escalante Fremonts -- I have been running a pair for about four months. Escalante is Thierry Budge's company, Thierry being the designer of Wilson's Grand Slamm, the WattPuppy III and the Whamm. They are 93 db. efficient and go loud as hell with a 30 watt amp, and if you've got it, can handle enormous amounts of power without distorting. They are also front ported, which makes them easier to place. Reviewers Greg Weaver and Dave Thomas own them, as does mastering engineer Steve Hoffman.
The look of the speaker requires a personal inspection -- I thought they were horrible / laughable in pictures, but when I saw a pair in Singer's room at CES 2007, I completely changed my take on them. The following picture gives a taste, but they are more impressive in the flesh, as the build quality has to be seen to be understood: http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue26/escalante_fremont.htm
Raquel, is John Atkinson off base with his measurements of the Fremont?
If good looks conferred equally good sound on a loudspeaker, the Escalante Fremont would be a winner. But while it offers both a very high sensitivity and well-defined, if ultimately lightweight low frequencies, its measured problems in the midrange preclude a recommendation, in my opinion.
Stereophile Test Measurements of the Escalante Fremont
Atkinson's measurements: yes and no. My initial set of measurements reflected the general frequency response shape seen in his anechoic measurements, but the aberrations were less severe. I measured with the speakers set up on sliding glass doors (not a good idea, but listening positions in my listening room are very limited). The speakers were also powered by my VAC 70/70, which is a triode tube amp that I run with zero feedback and which can thus be expected to measure bizarrely due to impedance interactions. I reported my measurements in the following thread:
For aesthetic reasons, the final position for my Fremonts is on a solid wall and they measure quite differently there. I run them with either a VAC 70/70 or a darTZeel. With the darTZeel, the midrange measures flat within 2-3 db. from approximately 200 Hz. to 6,000 Hz., with only one exception: Atkinson measured a bizarre suckout of 25 db. centered at 4,000 Hz. With the darTZeel, I measured a suckout of approximately 5 db. near the same point. Atkinson also measured a dip of approximately 10 db. at 200 Hz. With the darTZeel, the response was down approximately 5 db. from 160-200 Hz. Atkinson measured a roll off above 4,000 Hz. of approximately 5 db., both anechoically and in Larry Greenhill's listening room. With the darTZeel, my response is down 3.5 db. at 3.15 kHz., but otherwise basically flat to 8,000 Hz., with a gentle rolloff from 12,000 Hz. to 20,000 Hz. My measurements with the VAC 70/70 and the speakers on the solid wall are pretty similar to the darTZeel-powered measurements, but ultimately a bit less linear.
While the frequency response measurements are what they are, many argue that other measurements are far more important than frequency response, and I subjectively prefer the Escalantes to the Salons, Dynaudios, V.A. Mahlers, Dunlavys and Ultimate Monitors that I owned previously. The Fremont is a complex design and I leave it to "Audio Oracle", who worked at Singer and Innovative in Manhattan for many years and who as a result has probably heard, sold and installed as much gear as anyone, to describe their strengths and weaknesses in the above referenced thread.
My sincere apologies for the diversion, but I recommend the Fremonts in good faith - I cannot hear their foibles, while I can hear (as can many others) the problems with the titanium tweeter in the WattPuppy and Sophia.
Thank you, Raquel. Have the Fremonts replaced the Zu Audio Definitions which you also own(ed)?
My only experience with the Fremonts was at a couple of audio shows in 2006. I recall they were used in Modwright's room when Dan was introducing the LS36.5 preamp. At that time, several glowing reviews of the Fremonts had recently been published. I couldn't understand what the fuss was about as I thought they sounded quite average. But, that can be the nature of audio shows.
...I ownd a W/P 8 for a almost a year. The Sophia2's will give you 90% of the W/P 8's and in some areas, are more pleasing and enjoyable. The W/P 8's needs a powerfull amp or one with high current (ARC Reference 110 wasn't sufficient and couldn't control the Puppy's).
The Sophia2's can play music to a very high level with integreted amps such as Naim Audio SuperNait. I think that the Sophia2's are excellent buying. You can also consider Thiel 3.7 or Revel studio 2.
i auditioned at length both the sophia2 and w/p8.
i would agree with jfrech's comments. the sophia2 is more forgiving than the w/p8 with mating and synergy issues upstream. i found the sophia2 had a more even-handed top to btm coherence and shines with small ensemble performance that doesnt require nuance and tactile umph at the extremes. the sophia2 is an LF speaker, but at its bottom, it presents with speed and clarity. however, IMO, it is clearly no match at the bottom end for the w/p8. similarly, the top end of the w/p8 excels over the sophia2 with acoustic instrumentals (i dont listen to electronic music, so i have no opinion there) though the wp8 requires MUCH greater care in set up and component synergy. i found the wp8 gave an overall larger tactile and "live" experience, speed, nuance, finesse etc, but i, like many, am caught in the realization that you indeed need the entire system to be of high caliber with wp8s (i am not there yet).
re: amps - i recently spoke to pass labs about the new xa-pt5 series, they suggest the xa100.5 to fully realize the potential of the wp8, though i imagine in a small room, less class A wpc is workable. i would assume the xa30.5 is more suited to the sophia2 which is easier to drive than the wp8. i fully agree with tomer that the arc ref110 is not sufficient to control the w/p8. my x350.5 exhibited much greater command.
perhaps you will have to weigh your patience with a 2-3 year upgrade path if you go with the wp8s because you will be living with speakers that may show off a variety of ills in your present system until all moves up to the wp8s level.
the sophia2s + purchasing higher quality components+cables this year will net a wonderful system to live with now.
depending on the overall budget in a 1-3 year time frame, for $40-50g total (just a $ range from the air) you can certainly assemble an excellent coherent system with sophia2s, but a system with potential frustrations if the wp8 were in a system of the same size budget.
other: the room size should not be the issue. the wp8s will not sound like their hands are tied behind their backs in a small room. they present superbly at low volume levels, IMO better than the sophia2 for the reasons i mention above, provided the wp8 are part of a system helps them realize their potential. cheers.