Bellevue, Washington: On Wednesday and Thursday, Nov 13 and 14, Definitive Audio in Bellevue hosted multiple by-invitation showings of Wilson Audio’s just-unveiled Chronosonic XVX loudspeaker ($329,000/pair). Designed by Daryl Wilson, the XVX was envisioned as a smaller version of the late Dave Wilson’s magnum opus, the huge WAMM Master Chronosonic ($850,000/pair with Master Subsonic subwoofers). The XVX is intended for music lovers who lack a space big enough to allow the WAMM to shine. It will remain in production indefinitely, while the top-of-the-line WAMM is limited to 70 pairs.
“The challenge for a large loudspeaker is to not sound like a large loudspeaker,” Daryl Wilson said on Thursday evening of the 73 5/8″ H ✖′ 16.5″ D ✖ 33″ D, 685lb. loudspeaker. It’s even taller on spiked feet. “One of my goals was to achieve proper scaling to size.” During the 90 minutes I spent with the XVXX, every instrument and voice I heard, ranging from the trio of cellist Yo-Yo Ma, mandolinist Chris Thile, and bassist Edgar Meyer through Mick Jagger & the Rolling Stones to the Los Angeles Philharmonic doing John Williams, seemed realistically proportioned.
The XVX’s 10.5″ and 12.5″ woofers are identical to those in Wilson’s Alexx and WAMM. The woofer enclosure is more like the WAMM’s than the Alexx’s. The smaller (4″) upper-midrange driver also derives from the WAMM. The two 7″ Alnico midrange driver has its origin in Dave Wilson’s last project, with Vern Credille, and was brought to its final form by Daryl and Vern. There are two 1″ silk dome tweeters, one of which is rear-firing.
Without subwoofer augmentation, the Chronosonic XVX claims a room-averaged frequency response of 20Hz30kHZ ±2dB. Sensitivity is 92dB, but the speaker’s 4 ohm nominal impedance includes a challenging dip down to 1.6 ohms at 326Hz: The XVX needs an amplifier with good grip.
The Chronosonic XVXs used in the demo were Definitive Audio’s own pair. Their Cranberry Pearl finish ($27,500/pair extra) would make many an Afghan carpet jealous. I found the color, and the graceful curves of the speaker’s side panels, attractive.
Joining the speakers were Dan D’Agostino’s Momentum M400 mono amps ($65,000/pair) and Momentum HD preamp ($40,000; review forthcoming). The source electronics were dCS’s Vivaldi DAC ($35,999), Upsampler ($21,999), and Master Clock ($14,999), and the dCS Rossini CD/SACD Upsampling Transport ($23,500). Everything was connected by a combination of Transparent Magnum Opus speaker cables and interconnects, Opus interconnects, Opus power cords, XL digital cables, Premium ethernet cables, and XL and Reference Power Isolators (approx. $200,000 total). Equipment support was courtesy of an HRS VXR rack ($63,025). (Definitive Audio is one of the largest Transparent Cable dealers in the world, and is in the running to become dCS’s Dealer of the Year.)
The speakers had only had 25 hours on them when I arrived. They were just beginning to open up, their various drivers starting to cohere. The lack of break-in, combined with the challenges of a heavily damped 16’ x 21’ listening room, makes a responsible report of their performance impossible. I could hear perfect articulation of guitar strings on Rickie Lee Jones’ “Coming Back to Me” and appreciate the strong bass on a track from Mickey Hart’s Mondo Head. But I’ve learned from covering shows and demos for close to two decades that the sound of insufficiently broken-in equipment can differ greatly from the sound after 200 or more hours.
I look forward to Definitive Audio Seattle’s annual crowd-drawing Music Matters event, scheduled for March 5, 2020, where the Chronosonic XVX will strut its stuff in a far better acoustic environment, in the company of D’Agostino Relentless monoblocks and, I believe, the same preamp, digital front end, cabling, and rack(s). Please stay tuned.
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