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Wilson Audio Sasha V: first listen by JVH

Imacustica-Sasha V_side close up.jpg

 

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Imacustica-Lisbon is currently showcasing the impressive Wilson Audio Sasha Vs loudspeakers fed by a full stack of dCS Vivaldi components and powered by a Constellation Centaur II 500 amplifier connected by Transparent Audio Opus Gen VI cables.

Speakers typically require a break-in period for drivers to loosen up and crossovers to integrate properly. The Sasha Vs arrived less than a week ago and are still in the settling-in process, but they already sound superb.

I suggest bringing along some of your favourite CDs. However, with the convenience of an Innuos Zenith MkIII server connected to Tidal and Qobuz, you'll have millions of tracks at your fingertips, so you won't miss your CDs.

Nevertheless, in addition to my test discs, I also brought along the 30th anniversary SACD of Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon', which holds a special place in my library. This iconic album, now 50 years old, just like Wilson Audio itself, has been a part of my audiophile journey since I first listened to the LP in 1973; and so have the Watt+Puppies, since at least the late 1980s, the Sasha Vs now being the latest iteration

Yours truly with Dave Wilson and Peter McGrath at the original Sasha presentation in Munich (2009)

Yours truly with Dave Wilson and Peter McGrath at the original Sasha presentation in Munich (2009)

Listening to these loudspeakers fills me with a certain nostalgia as it brings back memories of events and people who have been a part of my life and who have sadly passed away, like Dave Wilson, who personally introduced me to the first Sasha, in Munich, May 2009.

In September 2009, I reviewed the original Sasha and wrote:

Note: The text has been revised

Sasha embodies (or rather, personifies, considering how human it sounds…) the new spirit of America, based on a dialogue between American and European culture under the aegis of a sincere wish to put aside the too often conflicting approaches to perfection in sound reproduction.

The upper bass bravado, the restlessness in the midrange and the treble that, by European standards, have allegedly afflicted earlier generations of Watt Puppies have been sensibly dealt with by David Wilson in his latest creation.

The Sasha W/P was brought up in a Viennese environment, so Dave tells us, and is now of a more amiable nature, having a more consensual attitude toward us Europeans than earlier Watt Puppies.

The proverbial Watt+Puppies Stentorian delivery is henceforth delivered with more eloquence, while the elegance of diction, perfect inflexion and intonation all lead to a new level of intelligibility. The seemingly impossible taming of the shrew that Dave had bravely put himself up to do was achieved with stunning success.

Mind you, this is not just another upgrade, but a totally different category and as such deemed worthy of ushering in a new speaker dynasty by David Wilson.

Impressive, outstanding, overwhelming - these are all worn-out terms that do not even come close to reflecting the wave of excitement one feels when listening to the Wilson Audio Sashas, created by their energy and sheer dynamism, conveyed so buoyantly and without any inhibition or compression.

To simplify an otherwise complex evaluation, let us say that it is not easy to decide whether to marvel at the amazing improvements in timbre accuracy, absence of colouration and spurious resonances, or the spectral coherence achieved by the cleverly balanced sound of this wonderful speaker system.

Even by the strictest audiophile standards, this is a magnificent achievement indeed. Listening to Sasha is a compelling, exhilarating experience: this is the closest I've ever been to a live concert without leaving home. The only diminutive I could find was in the name: Sasha (short for Alexandria).

The saga is not over yet. This is a never-ending story of passion and total commitment in the quest for the Holy Grail, and I hereby vow not to retire until I've reviewed the Sasha V...

Hificlube, September 11th, 2009

Wilson Audio Sasha II

Wilson Audio Sasha II

Since then, I have had the privilege of both professionally sponsoring and personally enjoying the subsequent iterations that Sasha has produced. These speakers have undergone significant improvements in their electro-mechanical components, acoustics, and overall design aesthetics.

Wilson Audio Sasha DAW

Wilson Audio Sasha DAW

Sasha II drew on this evolution, followed by the Sasha DAW, with which Daryl Wilson honours his late father as a tribute to his work and guidance.

And now, we have the Sasha V, which represents a final milestone in this remarkable lineage (or perhaps not, as the Watt+Puppies run through seven versions).

Well, I can retire now, as Sasha V has once again surpassed the original in the capable hands of Daryl Wilson.

It's worth noting that I and some other people have mistakenly assumed that the 'V' in Sasha V stands for 5, as it would indeed be the fifth iteration since Wilson also skipped the Watt+Puppies 4 due to cultural associations with death in China. Wilson Audio made a thoughtful decision to continue to respect this cultural belief.

Instead, V stands for 'V Material', Wilson Audio's stiffest and most inert material, which is now used on the top of the bass cabinet to provide a better interface with the upper midrange module; and on the base where the Acoustic Diodes isolate the speaker from the floor to eliminate unwanted vibration.

But the V doesn't just stand for the aforementioned 'V Material', as the new Sasha has also inherited the midrange driver (Alnico QuadraMag) and tweeter (CSC, Convergent Synergy Carbon) from the Alexx V and Alexia V, which features a 3D printed carbon rear chamber. An absolute first is the use of copper capacitors in the crossover, which from now on will be found on all other top-of-the-range models.

These changes alone are enough to justify an increase in price of around 10% from the already steep €54,000 price of the DAWs (it includes the diode set, which was previously sold separately). But there are other structural, mechanical and cosmetic changes:

  • The bass cabinet, which is now an inch deeper and half an inch higher, has 25% thicker walls made of X-Material;
  • The side flaps on top are larger to facilitate airflow and better visualisation of the ladder adjustment (and work as handles for transportation: 55 kg weight).
  • The time alignment ladder and front spike on the top module are now also more precise and versatile, making it easier to adjust.

The Sasha V comes in all the colours of the rainbow. You can view the beautiful Medio Grigio colour with the Crimson Red grille in the accompanying photos and video.

Wilson Audio Sasha V as demonstrated at Imacustica - Lisbon

Wilson Audio Sasha V as demonstrated at Imacustica - Lisbon

First Listen

Halfway into my listening session, Pedro Duarte, of Imacustica, kindly joined me and suggested some tracks to listen to, although we both enjoyed listening to the Pink Floyd SACD that I had brought in my bag.

It's fascinating how a 50-year-old album like 'Dark Side of the Moon' can still resonate with younger listeners who may now prefer other genres of electronic music with synthetic rhythms and programmed harmonies by Daft Punk or The xx, which can also be heard in the video below.

The Sasha V has evolved to become a versatile speaker that can reproduce all types of music, from classical to jazz, pop, rock and folk with aplomb. The bass is even deeper and more articulate while the midrange is full and creamy, yet expansive and informative as in the Alexia. Although the treble still needs some 'burn-in', the CCS tweeter is a significant improvement over the Focal concave hot tweeter fitted to the old Watt+Puppies (and the original Sasha) in terms of extension and timbre purity.

The Sasha Vs could happily cope with a wide range of music genres, including electronic music which is great for testing the power and tension of the bass. However, to test the stereo image, I listened to excerpts from Dvorák's Serenade for Strings and Handel's Entrance of the Queen of Sheba. The soundstage was wide and deep, with rich instrumental specificity.

When I first heard the Alexx, I nicknamed the V 'Victory'. In the latest Sasha, the V stands for 'Velocity' - not only in the reproduction of transients but also in the amazingly fast formation of solid, defined images on the soundstage, depending only on the creativity of the musicians and music genre.

It made me realise how perilously close Sasha is now to its bigger sister Alexia

During my listening session, the Sasha Vs simply vanished, and I was transported from the popular Portuguese singer Jorge Palma's 'Bairro do Amor' to the gothic voices of Hildegard of Bingen in a medieval cathedral. It was a surreal experience that made me realise how perilously close Sasha V is to its bigger sister Alexia.

Constellation Audio Centaur II 500 Stereo

Constellation Audio Centaur II 500 Stereo

To be honest, the associated system contributed a lot to this outcome. The dCS digital setup alone, which consists of a Rossini CD player + Vivaldi transport, upsampler, DAC and clock, costs over 100,000 euros. The Constellation Centaur II 500 amplifier and the Transparent Opus cables (you don´t want to know the price) also add substantially to the cost of the whole system.

The dCS digital setup alone, which consists of a Rossini CD player + Vivaldi transport, upsampler, DAC and clock, costs over 100,000 euros.

The dCS digital setup alone, which consists of a Rossini CD player + Vivaldi transport, upsampler, DAC and clock, costs over 100,000 euros.

However, if you're an audiophile looking for top-of-the-line equipment that can deliver exceptional sound quality and cannot afford the Alexia V, then the Sasha V is definitely worth considering. And there's no better choice than listening to Pink Floyd's 'Money' in this context:

Money

It's a hit

Don't give me that do-goody-good bullshit

I'm in the high-fidelity first-class travel set

And I think I need a Learjet

(or a pair of Wilson Audio Sasha Vs)

Note: The 4K images were taken with a Samsung S23 Ultra mobile phone and the sound with a Nagra SD portable digital recorder (courtesy of Ajasom).

For more information and audition bookings: IMACUSTICA

Imacustica Sasha V side close up

Yours truly with Dave Wilson and Peter McGrath at the original Sasha presentation in Munich (2009)

Wilson Audio Sasha II

Wilson Audio Sasha DAW

Wilson Audio Sasha V as demonstrated at Imacustica - Lisbon

Constellation Audio Centaur II 500 Stereo

The dCS digital setup alone, which consists of a Rossini CD player + Vivaldi transport, upsampler, DAC and clock, costs over 100,000 euros.


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