Monday, October 24, 2005

Listening to Wilson Audio MAXX Series 2

I visited with my audiophile friend TL-Audio, a high-end dealer some 100 kilometers from Helsinki, capital of Finland. You can see some pictures of TL-Audio's quest for hifi here. The main attraction was to listen to Wilson Audio MAXX 2s in order to substantiate whether various reviews of which I reported earlier were correct.

The source was Audio Aero's Prestige SACD player, driving directly Audio Physic's Mono digital monoblocks. Audio Aero's output stage has sub-miniature tubes and a built-in IC ladder attenuator. The cabling throughout was Transparent's Reference MM, with PowerIsolator surge protection / noise filtration unit. Icing the cake was Velodyne's flagship sub, the Digital Drive 1812 Signature Edition. All this is a spacious, acoustically well-treated room, which absorption provided a perfect tradeoff between detail and liveliness.

I'm not going to bother you to death by running through a checklist of sonic characteristics, instead of that I'm simply stating that the sonic performance of this system was impressive. However, I would like to highlight some themes that I found beguiling during over 4 hours of listening.

First, my experience has been that regardless how good a subwoofer is, its integration with main speakers is never seamless. In this system, however, MAXX and Velodyne combo delivered consistent, tight bottom-end with huge dynamic expression. More impressively, the combo never overloaded the room and only with some tracks I was able to position the sub.

Second, MAXX and Audio Physics Mono amplifiers presented a huge headroom, extremely wide bandwidth and dynamic range, way outperforming my Revel Studios & Mark Levinson 334 combo.

However, the most enthralling was the wholeness of the sonic performance or should I say as my accompanying pal said - "The Live Sound". I have never listened to a system, which was as close to live performance as this one. The musicians were in the same room with us, playing in the same space, not in the artificial space called "soundstage". Slam was extremely convincing. The MAXX 2s disappeared as sources of the sound, leaving only the illusion of live concert behind.

I personally found some room for improvements. Occasionally extreme top end called attention to itself, which I suspect would be fixed with a super tube pre-amp like Audio Research Reference 3. Although I'm a resolution freak, MAXX's bogglingly transparent and state-of-the-art resolving capabilities were sometimes a tad too much for my pal, a Dunlavy IVA owner: "I've information overload".

One final note. We both felt that while the MAXX2 looks much better with its grilles on (in this case in Diamond Black with Gray grille cloths), it sounded more spacious with its grilles off.

Utterly rewarding experience.

Search Popdex: