A visual giveaway is the open gantry architecture with magnetically-attached grilles, replacing the original’s filled side panels, but it remains so imposing that you have to consider the choice of finish with care. Add 5% above the standard colours for WilsonGloss, or 10% for the Premium Pearl, or talk to them if you want it to match your Bugatti Chiron…
Aside from input on one of the drivers by founder Dave Wilson, who passed away in 2018, the rest is all son Daryl’s work, along with his seasoned team in Provo. But there’s more beyond this being the watershed speaker in Daryl’s ascent, if I might regale you with a tale from Wilson’s history.
Once upon a time, there were two utterly disparate siblings. No, not like Cain and Abel, but like Arnie Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in Twins. The original Wilson WAMM – which turns 40 this year – and its immediate sequel, the WATT, could not have been more dissimilar, the latter created to satisfy those who wanted the primary virtues of the WAMM in a portable speaker, for, say, on-site monitoring.
But the WATT, a self-contained two-way speaker, lacked adjustability. Over the decades, it acquired the Puppy woofer section, allowing the mid/treble enclosure to be tilted, reflecting Wilson Sr’s focus on time alignment. The big floorstanders that followed the original, fully-configurable WAMM increasingly exploited the flexibility of the mid and treble units, each housed in their own mini-enclosures.
As of 2022, the Alexx V sits in the upper half of a range which starts with single-piece speakers such as the Yvette [HFN Feb ’17]. Each step on the Wilson ladder increases the number of driver modules – in the Alexx V, that skeletal gantry contains three modules, placing it somewhere in the middle of the catalogue.
A bare-bones description of the Alexx V tells you that it’s only an inch deeper and taller than the Alexx, with the same width, so it fills a space of 1610x400x680mm (hwd). They weigh 227kg each, hosting one 10.5in and one 12.5in woofer in the lower section, while the three modules contain, in ascending order, a 7in midrange, a 1in tweeter and a 5.75in midrange at the top. Set-up, a minimum two-person task by an experienced Wilson dealer, typically requires six hours. A detailed list of what distinguishes the Alexx V would run to several pages, the ‘V’ here not a Roman numeral 5 but the designation of its new cabinet material. Suffice to say, Alexx-to-Alexx V illustrates what Wilson Audio has been up to over the past five years.
The Alexx V’s gantry features two mini but solid alloy ‘staircases’, one for each midrange module, for precise time alignment of the drivers. As usual, the main speaker connections [bottom]are single-wire only
Trickle-down benefits remain a firm part of the procedure. For example, Wilson’s ‘Acoustic Diodes’ (pointy feet to me and you) enjoy their debut here. This brand-new spike system comprises a combination of austenitic stainless steel and V-material, and having heard them under my Sasha DAWs [HFN Mar ’19], wow, do they make a difference. And it is truly reciprocal: at the back of the Alexx V are custom-built Wilson Audio binding posts that first appeared in the Sasha DAW, and which accept banana plugs, spade connectors or bare wire.
This sharing of tech from model-to-model, as appropriate, is crucial to understanding how Wilson develops speakers, not just the Alexx V. Pretty much all of the upgrades to the Alexx V come from the WAMM Master Chronosonic and Chronosonic XVX, while the Alexx V offers back to the gene pool not only the Acoustic Diodes, but a completely new Convergent Synergy Carbon (CSC) dome tweeter with its 3D-printed, carbon-fibre rear-wave chamber.
Deep breath: the Alexx V uses the aforementioned ‘skeleton’ gantry structure for the upper modules to increase openness. The new V-material is used in ‘strategic locations’ with the primary X-material shell, notably in the top of the woofer section and in the gantry cross-brace. The XVX’s 7in Alnico QuadraMag midrange has been fitted to the Alexx V, while the WAMM Master Chronosonic’s cable management system is used here to achieve the ‘perfect length of speaker cable for each of the upper modules as they are adjusted for correct time-alignment’.
If you recall the XLF [HFN Oct ’12], you’ll recognise the clever reversible woofer port now applied to the Alexx V, which allows greater optimisation of the speaker’s woofer activity relative to wall boundaries, listening position and the rest. I’m surprised it hasn’t been copied by Wilson’s rivals as it’s such a boon to set-up and final tuning.
As for changes to the crossover, it now contains new Wilson-designed capacitors with gold lugs on the PCB as well as for the connector plate contact points, and resistor connections.
Listening took place in PM‘s room using a dCS Vivaldi One front-end [HFN Feb ’18] driving a Constellation Centaur II 500 amp [HFN Dec ’19], with Transparent cables throughout. After an initial burst of Fleetwood Mac just to acclimatise myself, and to which I deliberately didn’t pay close attention because their classic recordings are – to my ears – unusually bright, I turned to a regimen of tracks which I have played through at least a half-dozen Wilson speakers over the decades. I wanted to deal with the grandeur I assumed would be part of the experience, and looked to – fortuitously, as it turned out – Kodō’s Warabe [Sony SRCL4671; Japanese CD].