Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. is, it can be stated quite clearly right from the start, a very special company. Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. is a very special company. One can list many features that are characteristic for manufacturers in the field of high-end hi-fi, such as a special philosophy, a very unique approach to tasks, a remarkable attention to detail and the endeavour not to make any compromises. Michael Holzinger, editor-in-chief of sempre-audio.at, came to this conclusion when he was invited by Mansour Mamaghani, managing director of Audio Reference GmbH, to visit the company in Utah, USA.
Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. – A company like no other
Anyone who deals with high-end hi-fi systems will sooner or later come across Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. when it comes to loudspeaker systems. The company was founded in 1974 by David A. Wilson together with his wife Sheryl Lee Wilson, and from the very beginning with the clear intention of being able to reproduce music as if it were performed live in front of the listener.
This aspiration is of course the driving force behind many developers, so far this would not represent anything special. For the company’s founder David A. Wilson, however, as a proven music lover, this meant that he was not prepared to make any compromises in his solutions and was guided not only by his devotion to the passionate enjoyment of music, but also by a deep technical understanding of the matter.
And as it happens, when a developer sets to work with passion and dedication to turn his ideas into products, is not prepared to make any compromises and, from a technological point of view, is satisfied with nothing less than the best, you inevitably end up in an area that is not always compatible with the market in terms of sober economic aspects.
This was also the case at the beginning of Wilson Audio Specialties. From a garage in Novato, California, which initially formed the company’s headquarters, it took years of persuasion in the truest sense of the word to convince people that what they were doing really did have a hand and a foot, that the products had to be designed precisely in order to actually achieve the desired goal, and that this perfection had its price. It was a good thing that David A. Wilson had his wife Sheryl Lee Wilson at his side, who had the necessary vision and business skills to master these early years and not have to change anything in the chosen strategy.
In fact, Wilson Audio Specialties can still claim to be one of the most exclusive loudspeaker system companies on the market today.
However, Wilson Audio Specialties has succeeded in a congenial way that nowadays it is no longer necessary to discuss whether the prices charged are actually justified, one knows that the systems from Provo in Utah, where the company has been residing for years, are indeed among the best that the market has to offer in the field of high-end loudspeaker systems.
In fact, Wilson Audio Specialties’ product range begins where many other renowned manufacturers in the industry have long since reached the end of the line. Products from the Americans can therefore be called luxury, but in the best sense of the word.
Loudspeaker systems of the calibre of a solution from Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. do not follow the trend that has unfortunately been observed more and more often in the industry in recent years, namely that an imposing price tag alone should be synonymous with exclusive high-end, without there actually being corresponding added value behind it.
The DNA of Wilson Audio Specialties is based first and foremost on the fact that the company not only pursues unique concepts, but always strives for the maximum of what is technically feasible, and if this means manufacturing a lot of things themselves because the OEM range cannot meet the high demands, then that is simply what they do.
Wilson Audio Specialties is therefore, as described, a company that plays a very special role in the market, and whose management has been in the hands of his son Daryl C. Wilson as CEO not only since the death of the company founder David A. Wilson in 2018, who not only learned the tools for this task from the bottom up alongside his parents, but also lives the philosophy founded by them. Korbin Vaughn is responsible for the COO duties.
In the here and now – Broad product range
Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. is unique in comparison to many other manufacturers in the high-end segment in that it can point to a very broad product range. This ranges from the compact Wilson Audio TuneTot, the Wilson Audio SabrinaX, Wilson Audio Yvette and Wilson Audio Sasha DAW to the systems Wilson Audio Alexia V, Wilson Audio Alexx V and the powerful systems Wilson Audio Chronosonic XVX and Wilson Audio WAMM Master Chronosonic. In addition, there are solutions for the home cinema segment such as centre speakers and subwoofers, whereby the company is also alone in the absolute high-end segment.
The Right Timing – No Resonances and Vibrations
A distinctive characteristic of all loudspeaker systems from Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. is that they always pay attention to absolutely perfect timing, the sound of all drivers should reach the listener’s ear exactly on the dot. According to Wilson Audio Specialties Inc., this is the only way to achieve the goal of a reproduction as close as possible to the original.
In order to achieve this goal, no compromises are made, so that the company relies on quite unusual constructions, which have long since become a trademark of the company.
Most of the loudspeaker systems from Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. resemble true sculptures and are therefore particularly complex to manufacture. Especially since the speaker cabinets are made of various materials, another essential feature of all speaker systems from Povo.
Different materials are used for the various tasks, which Wilson Audio never describes in detail, but only calls X-material, V-material or S-material.
State-of-the-art manufacturing for almost all components
According to Wilson Audio Specialties Inc., it is particularly important for the company to be able to produce as much as possible under its own control.
According to Daryl C. Wilson, immense investments have been made in production over the past few years, and indeed, Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. has one of the most modern production facilities in the world.
While the production of the enclosures is outsourced by many companies, Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. is able to do this themselves, using state-of-the-art CNC machines and finishing with brand-new painting stations.
One challenge, however, is the special material used at Wilson Audio Specialties Inc., the so-called X material, which has outstanding properties for the construction of the enclosures, but is also particularly difficult to process. For the CNC machines, this is similar to constantly processing the hardest steel; the wear on the milling machines is therefore immense, with each milling head costing several hundred US dollars.
After the individual components of the housing have been manufactured by CNC, they have to be glued together, whereby the subsequent hardening of the glued joints takes several days. Only then does the finishing touch take place, in the truest sense of the word, in which not only the glued areas are brought into shape, but also the traces left by the milling machine disappear on the enclosures, so that a gel coat can then be applied, which in turn forms the basis for the final lacquering.
Painting is done in state-of-the-art stations, with Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. emphasising that essentially any colour can be applied, whatever the customer desires. Finally, polishing takes place, whereby only absolutely flawless surfaces are accepted, so the quality is always at the highest level.
The Crossover – A Sealed Monolith
As open as the explanation of almost the entire production process is, the production of the crossovers is very reserved. All that is revealed is that it is a point-to-point wiring of the highest quality components, some of which are manufactured in-house, such as capacitors. In this context, it is particularly important to Daryl C. Wilson to point out that the crossovers of all loudspeaker systems are equipped with the same high-quality components, so there is no difference between a Wilson Audio TuneTot or a Wilson Audio WAMM Master Chronosonic. To achieve the highest quality, that is what Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. is all about.
The basic construction of the crossovers, which become a massive block when the entire construction is cast in synthetic resin, seems almost mighty. Of course, this measure primarily serves to prevent sound-damaging vibrations, but a positive side effect is that it also preserves the secret of how the crossovers are built at Wilson Audio Specialties Inc.
The company also manufactures its own cables, whereby the highest value is placed on using the optimal solution for each task. The stock of cables alone consists of several bulging shelves.
The only exception – loudspeaker drivers
As much as Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. strives to use everything from its own production, one essential area is the big exception, namely the loudspeaker chassis.
It is far too complex and thus simply far too expensive to build up this area to the level that the demands placed on loudspeaker drivers would ultimately require, as the company unapologetically states.
Over the years, Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. has built up a very trusting partnership with selected manufacturers who produce loudspeaker drivers exactly according to the specifications required by Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. and with whom they can jointly drive development forward in order to constantly improve.
It can therefore be said that Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. also devotes itself to the development of drivers, and does so very ambitiously, even if the actual production is then outsourced.
A loudspeaker grill as an example of the highest craftsmanship
The attention to detail that Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. pays to every detail of a loudspeaker system is shown by the grill.
For many customers, the speaker grill is an addition that is hardly paid attention to. Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. is aware of this fact, but nevertheless, they are handcrafted with a lot of effort, paying attention to all features for optimal sound. To name just one example, they deliberately do without magnets and rely on specially damped metal pins, because in the opinion of the developers, this is the only way to exclude any negative influence on the performance.
And it is precisely this obsession with paying attention to every detail that runs through the entire development and production process; it is impossible to list them all, as it would go far beyond the scope of this article.
Employees as the company’s most valuable asset
A little over 60 employees currently work for Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. in Provo, and the most remarkable thing is that many of them have been with the company for decades. On average, the staff of Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. has been with the company for over eleven years, according to Daryl C. Wilson in an interview with sempre-audio.at. 15 years, even more than 20 years are not unusual. The company is aware of the fact that highly trained staff with many years of experience is one of the most important foundations of the company, and after all these years, they often feel a family-like bond with their employees.
Incidentally, the extent to which the employees are connected with the products they manufacture is shown, for example, by the fact that every employee in production signs the components he or she produces. Of course, the customer does not see this in the final product, but the numerous signatures are there, inside the speaker.
Close connection to the music
As already mentioned in the introduction, it has always been the declared goal of Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. to develop products that enable music to be performed as accurately and in as much detail as the original. Of course, many manufacturers make such a claim for their products, but the Wilson family has a particularly strong connection to music, as evidenced by the countless photos that adorn the walls of their offices.
It is above all classical music that is the Wilson family’s special love, and so photo after photo of famous singers and conductors of world renown is lined up here, always with a personal dedication. And yes, many of them are also loyal customers, as the manufacturer proudly points out. One of the very special customers was a Scottish actor, as can be seen from a photo of him with his Wilson Audio speakers, which bore the serial number 007. A certain Sean Connery, for those who may know him….
Getting to the point
Framed by mighty mountains and thus an impressive backdrop around the metropolis of Salt Lake City, more precisely in the small town of Provo in the US state of Utah, resides at first glance an almost inconspicuous loudspeaker manufacturer in the high-end hi-fi segment with state-of-the-art production, namely Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. At the invitation of Audio Reference GmbH and thus the German distributor of Wilson Audio, sempre-audio. at was invited by Audio Reference GmbH and thus the German distributor of Wilson Audio to get an idea of what distinguishes the company’s solutions, and that is clearly the impressive attention to detail and this claim to create nothing less than the best, which is not only embodied by Daryl C. Wilson at the head of the company, but actually lived by his entire staff every day in development and production.
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