It may be the “smallest” loudspeaker system in the broad product range of the US high-end loudspeaker manufacturer Wilson Audio Specialties Inc., but it is nevertheless a solution that combines the DNA of Wilson Audio in every respect: the Wilson Audio TuneTot.
To call the Wilson Audio TuneTot a bookshelf speaker system is sacrilegious, even though this description is essentially correct. One could also speak of a so-called monitor loudspeaker system, because this description is also appropriate, even though it falls far short and cannot even begin to convey what one is dealing with in this solution from Wilson Audio Specialties Inc.
In fact, the Wilson Audio TuneTot is an extraordinary loudspeaker system in every respect, which is guaranteed by the manufacturer Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. and thus one of the most renowned high-end companies in the entire hi-fi world. The Wilson Audio TuneTot represents the compact entry into the very special world that the US company Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. has created over many decades.
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 being 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 convincing, in the truest sense of the word, 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 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’s founder David A. Wilson in 2018, who not only learned the tools for this task from scratch at his parents’ side, but also lives the philosophy founded by them. Korbin Vaughn is responsible for the COO duties.
Wilson Audio TuneTot – The entry into the world of Wilson Audio Specialties
If you look at the product range of Wilson Audio Specialties, you will immediately notice that most of the solutions are very powerful, some might even call them gigantic looking loudspeaker systems.
Products with a height of more than 2 m are not really special, nor is a weight of just under a tonne for a pair, as is the case with the remarkable Wilson Audio WAMM Master Chronosonic.
Rather, our test candidate, the Wilson Audio TuneTot, is the great exception, because according to the definition of Wilson Audio Specialties, this is the compact system of the Americans.
And the most exciting thing about it is that in view of the powerful loudspeaker systems that Wilson Audio Specialties can offer in their current line-up, it is the “smallest”, the Wilson Audio TuneTot, that leads directly back to the roots of Wilson Audio Specialties.
Wilson Audio TuneTot – Back to the roots…
The first commercial product from Wilson Audio Specialties was a so-called monitor speaker, a solution that is actually used in the field of music production and ensures the most exact possible presentation for an objective assessment.
This system was christened WAMM, an abbreviation that soberly stood for Wilson Audio Modular Monitor, but which, in contrast to the usual solutions in this field, turned out to be an extremely powerful loudspeaker system.
The special feature that distinguished this solution was a patented solution for adjustment in the time domain via movable modules. This capability, designed to provide the correct time delay for any installation, has been the basis for the design of every major loudspeaker system from Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. ever since.
Well, the Wilson Audio TuneTot lacks this special feature and is much more compact, so it is not directly related to the WAMM. But there is one thing that connects the two solutions, because the Wilson Audio TuneTot is also a loudspeaker system that, as described above, can strictly speaking be described as a monitor speaker with all the associated features.
Another exciting concept from the early years of Wilson Audio Specialties was the WATT, the Wilson Audio Tiny Tot, a compact two-way loudspeaker system that company founder Dave A. Wilson never actually developed as a product to be marketed commercially, but rather simply for his own use, as a reliable tool for the label he and his wife Sheryl Lee Wilson founded, Wilson Audiophile Definitive Recordings.
And it is precisely the WATT to which the concept of the Wilson Audio TuneTot ultimately refers directly, including the quite unusual shape of a small pyramid for the presentation of the WATT, which of course the current Wilson Audio TuneTot also picks up on, albeit not quite as distinctly.
Wilson Audio TuneTot – A Compact Two-Way Bass Reflex System
The Wilson Audio TuneTot is a compact two-way bass reflex system that, as described, is the entry point into the world of Wilson Audio Specialties.
As we said at the outset, it’s not really appropriate to refer to it simply as a bookshelf speaker system or a monitor speaker, even if both are accurate.
The fact that the Wilson Audio TuneTot is at least a very special representative of this genre becomes clear when you have to lift the speakers out of their packaging, because this requires a lot of strength.
With dimensions of only 37.67 cm in height, 21.87 cm in width and 25.88 cm in depth, this solution weighs an impressive 13.15 kg per unit.
To return to the roots of the Wilson Audio TuneTot, like the WATT from the 1980s, the Wilson Audio TuneTot also has a cabinet that tapers towards the top, although here the pyramid shape is not pursued quite as consistently, but only very discreetly in the approach. However, this asymmetrical shape is sufficient to prevent sound-damaging factors such as standing waves and reflections inside the cabinet. To achieve this, the front of the cabinet is additionally equipped with bevelled edges at the top and reliance is placed on an elaborate internal reflection management system. In addition, it is conspicuously inclined towards the rear, thus fulfilling a very essential task.
For Wilson Audio Specialties, it is essential to compensate for the differences in the time of flight of the drivers in order to guarantee perfect timing at the listening position. What the “big ones” of the product line do with individually adjustable modules, the “small ones” Wilson Audio TuneTot do with the aforementioned angled baffle.
But that’s not all, another seemingly inconspicuous detail is an almost essential component here, namely the spikes on which the speaker system is enthroned.
In the Wilson Audio TuneTot, the spikes have the task of optimally aligning the tilt to the listening position, i.e. they also ensure optimal timing. It is therefore not surprising that the scope of delivery includes two different sets of spikes, namely “standard spikes” in a comparatively short version, as well as versions that appear to be very long. If the short spikes are screwed into the rear holes of the speakers with a fixed nut and the long ones into the front holes with a variable nut for locking, an individual angle can be achieved that optimally meets the respective requirements, if necessary even a comparatively strong angle, whereby offset threads on the long spikes serve as orientation for the adjustment.
Appropriate washers are of course included in the scope of delivery, in which the spikes are securely held even when “tilted” and there is no danger of damaging the furniture on which they are placed.
We’ve already mentioned that the Wilson Audio TuneTot have a massive chassis and that a conscious decision was made to use an asymmetrical design in conjunction with an elaborate internal construction to counteract internal reflections.
What we have not yet appreciated, however, is that even in this compact class, Wilson Audio Specialties does not rely on simple MDF as the material for the cabinet, but applies the same standards as for its larger and much larger siblings.
The company relies here on a very special, sophisticated mixture of materials, whereby they themselves speak of a combination of Wilson X material and Wilson S material, each of which is itself a composite material.
Wilson Audio Specialtis is not too forthcoming about this, merely stating that it is a combination of materials that has been optimised over many years and is considered perfect for the job.
The fact is that these are special plastic composites whose high density contributes to the fact that even the “small” Wilson Audio TuneTot weighs so much.
Over the years, the company has developed a whole range of different materials for the production of the enclosures, whereby for each new product, they decide in elaborate measuring procedures which combination they will actually use. For this purpose, prototypes are measured using so-called laser vibrometry in order to detect even the smallest vibrations in the enclosure and to be able to counteract them accordingly.
Remarkable attention to detail
While the low-midrange driver is of course immaculately but comparatively unspectacularly embedded in the baffle, the tweeter is mounted slightly to the rear and is also flanked by two felt pads: one that covers the entire tweeter recess over a large area, a second that is mounted directly around the tweeter and has been punched out in a star shape. This is to prevent cabinet reflections and diffraction effects on the baffle.
The rear of the speaker is of course equipped with connections in the form of high-quality screw terminals from WBT. By the way, this is one of the few components that Wilson Audio Specialties does not manufacture themselves and instead relies on components from a renowned supplier on the market.
What is striking here is that the connection panel is offset into the housing and is slanted, so even massive cables can be connected here without any problems and hardly protrude from the housing.
Directly above the connection panel is the bass reflex system of the Wilson Audio TuneTot, whereby this is not designed as a bass reflex tube, as is so often the case, but as an elongated, so-called tuning port.
By the way, a piece of foam is included in the scope of delivery, with the help of which you can close this tuning port in order to reduce the bass output a little, for example, if the speakers are placed close to a wall.
Directly above this, there is a solid metal cover on the back that bears the manufacturer’s emblem and the lettering of the loudspeaker designation.
The heart of the speaker…
Wilson Audio Specialties is surprisingly cagey about the most important components of a loudspeaker system, i.e. the actual drivers and the crossover.
The company only states that the driver technology is derived directly from the big siblings Wilson Audio Alexx and Wilson Audio Sabrina. Specifically, the Wilson Audio TuneTot’s woofer is a rear-vented 5.75-inch driver with a cellulose diaphragm, and it’s notable that both the diaphragm and the driver’s dust cap have irregularly spaced indentations that serve to prevent uncontrolled vibration of the same, which could counteract accurate imaging. The 1 inch tweeter of the Wilson Audio TuneTot is a silk fabric dome tweeter.
The company doesn’t say a word about the crossover’s construction and mode of operation, only specifies a sensitivity of 86 dB and a nominal impedance of 8 ohms as well as a recommended power of at least 25 watts per channel. The frequency response that the Wilson Audio TuneTot can cover is listed as 65 Hz to 23 kHz.
In a figurative sense, this reminds one of the often quoted statement about how much horsepower a Rolls Royce has, to which, as is well known, there is only one answer: Enough!
What Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. is building around the Wilson Audio TuneTot, namely the Wilson Audio TuneTot Ecosystem, also somehow fits in with this.
The Wilson Audio TuneTot Ecosystem
For a compact speaker, what the manufacturer calls the Wilson Audio TuneTot Ecosystem seems downright lavish, but for Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. it’s standard, even in this class.
The range of customisation options and enhancements available to the buyer of a Wilson Audio TuneTot is nothing short of remarkable.
Colourfulness according to individual preferences
It all starts with the colour, because the manufacturer offers a selection of standard variants, but also offers any customisation on request. Galaxy Grey, Carbon, GT Silver and Quartz are the standard finishes, although it should be noted that the lacquering of this loudspeaker system is a particularly elaborate process, which ultimately corresponds to the standards to which the automotive industry also works, if not more…
Each cabinet is painted and polished several times until a truly flawless finish is achieved from all angles. When you consider that sometimes lacquers are used that have a metallic finish, you can appreciate how critical this step is.
The four colours mentioned are, as described, only the “basic equipment”; twelve further colour variants are available as WilsonGloss Upgrade Colors for an additional charge, plus five further lacquer finishes as WilsonGloss Premium Pearl.
And if that’s not enough, you can order your own individual version of the Wilson Audio TuneTot with any RAL colour.
Trim Rings for Wilson Audio TuneTot
But that’s not all: the US company offers so-called Trim Rings for the Wilson Audio TuneTot. These are metal rings that can be attached to the baffle by means of magnets, thus framing the low-midrange driver, and come in four different colours. It should be explicitly noted that this is not a sound-relevant component, but merely an optional design feature.
This also applies to the customisable metal cover made of aluminium on the back, although this is indeed a sound-decisive part that can also be used by the user to customise his Wilson Audio TuneTot.
Tweeter level adjustment by means of optional resistors
The cover hides the option to adjust the tweeter level with the help of interchangeable resistors, which the manufacturer provides as accessories. Of course, the user can make this adjustment himself at any time; the appropriate tools are, of course, included in the delivery and the necessary steps can be completed within a few minutes.
Optional loudspeaker grill in various colours
The optional loudspeaker grill, which also helps to protect the diaphragms, is of course very practical. This Wilson Audio TuneTot grille is not held in position by magnets, but rather by metal pins and is available in six different colours.
Wilson Audio TuneTot IsoBase
A very special accessory for the Wilson Audio TuneTot is the Wilson Audio TuneTot IsoBase. This is a platform that is actually “slid” under the Wilson Audio TuneTot when it is placed on a lowboard, sideboard or actually on a shelf, or even on a desk.
As with the speaker enclosure, the company also relies on a special combination of different materials to guarantee particularly effective decoupling, which, depending on the surface, can actually result in a massive improvement compared to placement with the help of spikes alone.
Wilson Audio TuneTot Stand
Probably the best way to place a compact loudspeaker like the Wilson Audio TuneTot in a room is, of course, once again to place it on a stand optimised for the system, and of course Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. offers this, in the form of the Wilson Audio TuneTot Stand.
Designed by the Wilson Audio Special Applications Engineering Division, this stand foot is designed from the ground up for the Wilson Audio TuneTot, so it’s also a perfect visual match for the speaker system and is available in a variety of colour options. The most important feature of this solution, however, is that it is a particularly stable stand, as the manufacturer states, so that no resonances are to be feared and it is also designed so that the speakers radiate optimally. Once again, the manufacturer cites perfect timing as the primary goal in the development.
The Wilson Audio TuneTot Stand measures 63.45 cm in height, 28.26 cm in width and 31.75 cm in depth. What is really remarkable is the weight, which is stated at just under 31 kg. A stand could hardly be more solid.
From the practice
A speaker as compact as the Wilson Audio TuneTot invites you to place it in various places around the house; it’s the great advantage of compact speaker systems that they can be placed almost anywhere.
So that’s exactly what we did, and used a wide variety of electronics as playing partners.
We started with the Ayon Audio Spirit V, a stereo integrated amplifier in tube technology and a “modest” two times 40 watts in power triode mode, which we love very much. The Wilson Audio TuneTot was placed on a lowboard, where the long spikes described in detail came in very handy for optimal alignment.
Already then it became apparent that it really pays off to pay a lot of attention to the optimal placement of the speaker system. The speaker system sounds remarkable without thinking about its correct placement, but once you have found the right angle and the right alignment by angling the speakers towards the listening position, you know immediately what enormous potential you would be wasting without these steps.
Even if you have to turn the Wilson Audio TuneTot comparatively generously inwards to really achieve the ideal, it is still astonishing how wide the stage is that you can build up in front of you, and especially that the so-called sweet spot is not as narrow as suspected, quite the contrary. The Wilson Audio TuneTot are by no means speakers where you should not move your head a few centimetres out of the sweet spot, but rather you can sit comfortably on the couch and enjoy music in perfect quality even with two people.
It is also remarkable how opulent the Wilson Audio TuneTot can perform with so little power, even if the partner, as described, is a comparatively restrained tube amplifier.
The bass is punchy and concise, with an intensity that one would not expect from such a compact loudspeaker system. At the same time, voices are clearly defined and conjured up in the room with all their nuances. We were particularly surprised by the Wilson Audio TuneTot’s attention to detail in the upper frequency range.
That the Wilson Audio TuneTot also reward every increase in power with an even richer, more powerful performance, we discovered when we placed a Cambridge Audio Edge Series preamplifier and power amplifier combination in our designated listening room as the next station of the test, i.e. the Cambridge Edge NQ Network Preamplifier in combination with two Cambridge Audio Edge M Monoblock Power Amplifiers.
A curious detail: in this combination, the electronics are in the same price range as the loudspeaker systems, but next to the tower of electronics, the loudspeaker system seems almost lost…..
But when it comes to performance quality, the Wilson Audio TuneTot is at its best with this kind of support – that’s the class in which it really feels at home.
It is remarkable how powerful and yet detailed the reproduction is, even at higher levels than usually permitted by good long-term relations with the neighbourhood.
There is one statement that always makes us itch to put it to the test, and that is the one that is all too often used in our industry: Music is reproduced exactly as the artist intended.
Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. also makes this statement several times with the Wilson Audio TuneTot, more than that, it is even the DNA of the US company from Utah and should therefore also apply to the smallest in the portfolio.
In order to test this statement for its truthfulness, we like to fall back on recordings that we had the luck and pleasure of actually being present when they were made.
And there it was again, that wonderful moment when after just a few bars you simply know that it has to sound exactly the same and nothing else! Perfect!
In this respect, the description of the Wilson Audio TuneTot as a monitor seems almost perfect to us, because it can easily fulfil exactly this task: To present music in such a way that you have the feeling you are listening to exactly what the artist recorded on tape or hard disk in the studio. Compared to many other studio tools, the Wilson Audio TuneTot’s playback is never too analytical, which always carries the risk of overtaxing the ear during prolonged listening, making you tired instead of relaxed, and making bad recordings simply annoying. Music presented through the Wilson Audio TuneTot should always remain a pleasure, and that’s exactly what the speaker system accomplishes effortlessly and with flying colours.
Getting to the point
In the introduction we refused to call the Wilson Audio TuneTot a compact speaker system or even a bookshelf speaker system, even though these terms are just as accurate as the description as a compact monitor.
The reason for this is simple, so let’s be frank: the Wilson Audio TuneTot is the entry into the world of Wilson Audio Specialties Inc., but ultimately it is a loudspeaker system that is and will probably remain unattainable for the majority of even ambitious hi-fi enthusiasts due to its price.
The Wilson Audio TuneTot plays in a price range that one simply does not normally associate with “bookshelf speaker systems”. But again, that’s exactly what it is, and at a level that can be described as high-end, even absolute reference in this class.
In this respect, the Wilson Audio TuneTot earns a clear recommendation as the reference in the class of compact monitor speaker systems. It may well be that many hi-fi enthusiasts have already reached the end of their search for the perfect loudspeaker system with this speaker system, despite its compact dimensions.
True size of the Wilson Audio TuneTot is not measured in centimetres, it is based on decades of expertise of the developers, the design on the highest technical level and a production free of compromises concerning quality.
In this sense, the Wilson Audio TuneTot can, nay, must be described as a true high-end loudspeaker system that unites the DNA of Wilson Audio Specialties Inc. in its most compact form.
|PRODUCT||WILSON AUDIO TUNETOT|
|Price||Wilson Audio TuneTot Standard € 12.000,- pro Pair|
Wilson Audio TuneTot Upgrade € 12.600,- pro Pair
Wilson Audio TuneTot Custom € 13.900,- pro Pair
Wilson Audio TuneTot Premium € 16.600,- pro Pair
Wilson Audio TuneTot IsoBase € 1.050
Wilson Audio TuneTot Stand € 1.850,-
Wilson Audio TuneTot Trim Ring € 490,-
|Manufacturer||Wilson Audio Specialties|
|Distribution Austria||Audio Reference GmbH|
|More about this manufacturer at HIFI BLOG|
True size is not measured in centimetres with the Wilson Audio TuneTot, but rather is based on decades of expertise of the developers, the design on the highest technical level and a production free of compromises regarding quality. The Wilson Audio TuneTot embodies the DNA of the traditional brand down to the last detail.
- Enormously versatile, adaptable to individual ideas
- plenty of accessories for upgrades
- concept free of compromises
- remarkable build quality
- amazingly detailed, powerful performance
- clearly staggered and deep stage imaging
- flexible electronics
- Requires some attention for optimal set-up
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