With the WATT/Puppy, Wilson Audio launched perhaps the most successful compact high-performance loudspeaker in audio history, as the thousands of units in use around the world attest. At the same time, Dave Wilson and his engineering team have constantly pushed the absolute boundaries of music reproduction in products like the Alexandria XLF. The musicality of the big Wilson speakers is due in no small part to their unrivaled ability to time-align the leading edge of waveforms from each driver for any specified listening position and ear height.
For WATT/Puppy and Sasha owners, this added dimension of performance has only been available by trading up to the MAXX Series 3 or the Alexandrias—a choice often rendered impractical by room size. Now, those constrained by their listening environments who crave the next level of musical realism have a new answer in the Alexia.
Cabinet and Geometry
The engineers knew from the beginning that the Alexia would be a clean-slate approach to the design of loudspeakers. It would require the deployment of new technology.
Propagation Delay refers to one of the least understood concepts in loudspeaker design. Extensive listening has confirmed to Dave that in order to maximize both Dynamic Contrast and Harmonic Expression, the leading edge of waveforms (especially transients) produced by woofer, midrange and tweeter (in a three-way system, for example) must arrive at the listener’s ear at precisely the same time. Recent research has confirmed that not only is the ear/brain mechanism more sensitive to timing errors than even frequency response anomalies, but also that ordinary people can hear timing errors on the order of less than 20 millionths of a second!
Every Wilson loudspeaker is time-aligned. In the case of the non-modular Sophia, it is correct at one typical listening distance and ear height. Sasha expands that to a range of four positions.
Aspherical Propagation Delay describes the ability of MAXX Series 3 and Alexandria to correctly time align all the drivers for literally hundreds of potential listening positions, as well as rotate the drivers on their polar axes to optimize the dispersion characteristics of the midrange and tweeter for the chosen listening spot. And now there’s Alexia—the newest member of that very exclusive club.
Indeed, the decision was made to put the Alexia project on hold while the Wilson Convergent Synergy Tweeter was readied for its unalloyed debut in the Alexandria XLF. Once the transformative qualities of this new driver were clear in the no-holds- barred context of the XLF, Dave Wilson knew a slightly modified version of it was destined for Alexia.
Wilson’s laser vibrometer provided fresh insights into cabinet thickness and internal bracing during the development of XLF’s patented dual bass port. Thus emboldened, Dave and his team recommenced work on Alexia in earnest in the early spring of 2012. For months, the design and engineering teams strove to find the right form factor for Alexia to meet its design objective: not merely a diminutive MAXX nor an enlarged Sasha, but an entirely new thing—a distillation of the highest Wilson ideals of musical realism in a universally sized loudspeaker.
With minor changes, this is the same silk dome tweeter developed for the Alexandria XLF. Unlike many modified off-the-shelf designs, the Wilson Convergent Synergy Tweeter was designed from the ground up to offer the extended bandwidth of many of the new exotic breed of diamond and beryllium tweeters, without the limitations inherent in those designs. The lack of power handling capacity endemic to exotics is absent in the Convergent Synergy, its performance further enhanced by an ability to play low enough in its frequency range to mate with the acclaimed Wilson Midrange Driver.
Since its debut in Alexandria Series 2, the Wilson Midrange Driver has served in several Wilson models, reproducing music’s most critical bandwidth with uncanny speed, resolution, and harmonic expression. Alexia sources its version directly from the Alexandria XLF.
Like its larger brethren, Alexia uses two different sized woofers—in this case an 8 inch and a 10 inch driver. Unique to Alexia, the drivers were optimized over an 18 month period to achieve bass extension extraordinary for an enclosure of this size, without sacrificing upper midbass detail or the explosive dynamic speed and contrast that are signature traits of every Wilson loudspeaker.