Looking for some opinions on potential Wilson Benesch alternative

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by PatLondon, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. PatLondon


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    I am looking for some peoples opinions on speakers that would be good competitors to Wilson Benesch speakers (ACT, Chimera) as I would like to listen to a few more brands before buying. Unfortunately I find that most speaker reviews are very nice to read but totally lack comparison to other speakers and are of no real use to decide between different speakers.

    To begin this I must say I had the pleasure to listen to the Wilson Benesch ACT and Chimera, driven by a Gryphon chain using 2 Antileon mono amplifiers (bi-amping each speaker) as well as the Mirage pre-amp and Mikado CD Player for a good 4 hours last weekend. For comparison I also listened to B&W 802D on the same chain and to a KEF Reference 207/2 driven by an Electrocompaniet chain using Nemos.

    Now before I give my own opinion I must say the sound in all of these set-ups was very good albeit being somewhat different and may suite different tastes. All the speakers ticked the basic boxes at this price range, meaning they were able to reproduce instruments and voices credibly, had good dynamics, fast bass and could go incredibly loud without any sign of difficulty (one would hope at the respective prices of these components...).

    Nevertheless for me Wilson Benesch driven by Gryphon was the most impressive "soundperformance" I heard so far. I have come across Wilson Benesch for the first time a year ago, just listening to the smaller curves and was already then fascinated by how "live" it sounded. The main thing lacking back then was the bass which sounded a bit "thin". The base of the ACT and even more so on the Chimera is much better and extremely punchy. To clarify I dont think the WB speakers make instruments sound more "real" than the other speakers and they are a bit less analytical than the KEF. BUT the speaker just “disappeared” when playing, creating a great illusion, even the bass did not sound “boxy” (on the Chimera that is) but seemed to come from the soundstage. I read about many speakers that soundstage supposedly well and at this price I was very disappointed that one could "hear" the B&W and KEF far too easily. I found that the ACT and Chimera even sounded good with some pop music that was not recorded to "Audiophile" standards and created a still decent soundstage just by "disappearing".

    In comparison the B&W sounded a bit more "compressed" (this got explained to me as the B&W house sound...). More importantly I could still here the speaker itself though, while there was imaging, etc the sound clearly came from the speaker, some instruments in the deeper frequencies just sounded a bit "wooden"/"boxed".

    Similar to the B&W the KEF reference did not fully disappear (even though it did a better job than the B&W) once playing music. Something that annoyed me more with the Kef Reference was that they seemed to work like a magnifying glass meaning everything but well recorded classical/accoustic music sounded like total crap and incredibly flat (meaning no soundstage to speak off) - particularly current pop/rock or hip-hop music. Just as a concrete example Eminem sounded absolutely fantastic on the Chimera (also because the base can blow you away) and sounded terrible on the Kef, Amy Winehouse came across much more real on the Chimera, while Classical music sounded a little bit more detailed on the Kef in an analytical sort of way.

    To make it short for the pure “live-factor” (disappearance of the speakers), raw energy (through incredible base) and imaging the Chimera and also to a large extent the ACT are my favourites. I did not find the WB cool or analytical at all. This could obviously be due to the Gryphon chain which uses pure class A all the way up to 1Ohm at 1000MW...

    Speakers I would be curious to hear about are the larger Proac Response (D80 or D100), the much cheaper Monitor Audio Platinum, mbl, Dynaudio C4 or Evidence Temptation or others. Does anybody have some comparison to Wilson Benesch for any of these?

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