Wilson Audio WASAE Center Speaker Saves Space at a BIG Price
Although some stereo purists hatefor music, most home theater enthusiasts recognize that the center speaker is perhaps the most important speaker in a surround system. In this Quick Take, we’ll look at a new center speaker for a very specific kind of home theater customer. The Wilson Audio WASAE Center ($9,500) is for the high-end buyer with plenty of money, but limited space. (In my next Quick Take, I’ll look at the new $1,000 DALI Grand Vokal center speaker, which is designed for those with larger rooms, but less extravagant taste — or simply more limited budgets.)
Wilson Audio makes some of the most revered (and most expensive) loudspeakers in the industry, most of which are floor-standers costing tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. I think it’s fair to say that these larger speakers are what the company is best known for, and most are used in typical high-end two-channel systems. The Wilson Audio Special Applications Engineering (WASAE) team works on other, more specialized products, such as the the ($10,890/pair), a tiny 2-way speaker intended for desktop use, or for use in small rooms.
Now the team has created a new center-channel speaker called the WASAE Center ($9,500 - $11,500 each, depending on finish), also proportioned for smaller spaces, but promising the exceptional sound and build quality that Wilson is known for. The speaker’s cabinet is made from Wilson’s proprietary X-Material and S-Material composites, which provide “phenomenal vibration control and industry-leading settling,” according to the company. A rear-firing slot port assists the speaker’s pair of 5.75-inch mid-woofers — the same used in Wilson’s six-figure Alexx V floor-stander. That same driver is also found in the slender SabrinaX ($19,700/pair), which is Wilson’s smallest floor-stander, and a more realistic match for this new center speaker. The 1-inch soft-dome Convergent Synergy MK5 tweeter found in the WASAE Center was originally developed for Wilson’s cost-no-object WAMM Master Chronosonic, but has found its way into all of the company’s recent designs. As a result, the WASAE Center “delivers linear high-frequency extension and (the) beautiful harmonic nuance found in its larger siblings,” according to Wilson.
Though it weighs a hefty 57 pounds, the WASAE Center is small for a Wilson, measuring 7 3/4 inches high, 26 3/4 inches wide, and 13 3/16 inches deep, making it a perfect match for the TuneTot, which also uses a 5.75-inch mid-woofer. If I had the dough, I could squeeze an all-Wilson Dolby Atmos system into my girlfriend’s small living room, using the TuneTots and WASAE Center up front, supplemented by the wall-mountable Alida ($15,700/pair) for surround and height channels, and Wilson’s LōKē sub ($8,950 each). The center speaker’s 88 dB sensitivity means it doesn’t require insane amounts of power, as some Wilsons do. The aforementioned WAMM Master Chronosonic dips down to just 1.77 ohms, but the WASAE Center’s 4-ohm impedance rating is the real deal — its minimum is 3.9 ohms. Of course, nobody dropping tens of thousands on a Wilson speaker system is going to be using a typical AV receiver, but Wilson says the WASAE Center can sing with amps dishing out as little as 20 watts. The speaker only plays down to about 65 Hz (+/- 3 dB), but it’s sure to be used in systems that also include subs. Like other Wilsons, the WASAE Center features many made-in-house parts, from the substantial binding posts to the AudioCapX-WA capacitors, which are wound at Wilson’s Utah factory to extremely tight tolerances.