Wilson Audio’s Sasha DAW Speaker: A New WATT/Puppy Descendant
- Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 30 kHz, +/- 3 dB
- Sensitivity: 91 dB
- Nominal Impedance: 4 Ω (minimum 2.48 Ω at 85 Hz)
- Dimensions (H x W x D): 44.75” x 14.50” x 22.94”
- Weight: 236 lbs each
I tend to get most excited about high-value audio products — ones that I might actually own some day. And the law of diminishing returns is certainly on my side. I know that an $85,000 speaker won’t sound ten times better than GoldenEar Technology’s $8,500 Triton Reference, for example. But I can still appreciate the efforts of companies that strive to achieve the highest possible performance at any cost, creating aspirational audio products that deliver state-of-the-art sonics. And that’s why, back in 2009, I eagerly headed to my local hi-fi store (Music Lovers Audio in Berkeley, CA) to check out Wilson Audio’s Sasha loudspeaker. The Sasha was the 9th iteration of Dave Wilson’s iconic WATT/Puppy speaker design, which dramatically changed the high-end speaker market in the late 1980s and ultimately became the best-selling speaker of all time to carry a five-figure price tag. In May of 2018, David Andrew Wilson passed away after a battle with bone cancer. The first product released by his namesake company since his passing is the newest WATT/Puppy descendant, the Sasha DAW. The design of the Sasha DAW was overseen by Dave’s son Daryl, who has been president and CEO of Wilson Audio since 2016. Daryl has been responsible for some of Wilson’s most successful speaker designs, including both the six-figure Alexx speakers and the “entry-level” Sabrina. While he worked on those projects, his father Dave completed his own magnum opus, the tremendously large and expensive WAMM Master Chronosonic. When approaching the Sasha DAW, Daryl endeavored to incorporate all of Wilson’s most recent technological advancements while honoring his father’s considerable contributions to the industry, and the WATT/Puppy’s three-decade history. Ultimately he decided to do a complete redesign from the ground up, resulting in what Wilson calls “the largest upgrade in the history of the WATT/Puppy and Sasha platforms.”
Like the first-generation Sasha from 2009, and the Sasha Series-2 which followed in 2014, the Sasha DAW is a three-way design comprising two separate enclosures. The rear-vented upper module contains a 1-inch dome tweeter and a 7-inch midrange driver, while the ported woofer cabinet contains a pair of 8-inch bass drivers. As is typical for the brand, Wilson has gone to heroic lengths to control panel resonances within the new Sashas’ cabinets, and to ensure time-domain accuracy through the use of carefully sloped baffles and a user-adjustable angling system for the upper module.
While most speaker manufacturers use fiberboard, plywood, aluminum, or even carbon fiber in their cabinets, Wilson develops its own proprietary composite materials — each with different resonant properties — for its enclosures. Using a combination of empirical listening tests and lab-grade measurements with a laser vibrometer and other high-tech tools, Wilson has determined that no one material is ideal for all applications. Its woofers and tweeters sound best when mounted on the company’s third-generation X-Material, which Wilson says possesses a unique combination of “extreme rigidity, monotonicity, modulus of elasticity, and intrinsic damping.” But during the development of the Sasha, Wilson created a new composite called S-Material, to be used on the portion of the front baffle where the midrange driver is mounted. According to Wilson, this material provides the ideal “launch pad for cone excursions,” resulting in an increase of “midrange accuracy and beauty.” Wilson claims that the company’s “unprecedented effort to reduce enclosure-born colorations to historical lows” contributes a large portion of the Sasha DAW’s “unique blend of resolution, dynamic contrast, timbral accuracy, and musical beauty.” Compared to the upper module of the previous generation of the Sasha, the one in the Sasha DAW uses thicker panels (to reduce resonance), with a specially designed pattern cut into the inside of the enclosure to help control internal reflections. In order to increase dynamic range and efficiency, the internal volume of the upper module has been increased by 10.2%. The midrange driver and soft dome tweeter used in the Sasha DAW are identical to those found in Dave Wilson’s flagship WAMM Master Chronosonic, but they are blended together sonically by a newly-designed crossover.
Wilson says that the Sasha DAW “represents the largest leap in bass performance since the platform’s inception and resets the bar in the areas of transient honesty and impact, linearity, and timbral resolution.” In order to achieve this, Wilson developed a completely new woofer-module design, which houses two new 8-inch drivers based on the woofers found in Wilson’s Alexia Series-2 loudspeaker. The new woofer module is built from thicker (X-Material) panels, and has an internal volume that is 13.3% larger than that of its predecessor, resulting in a more authoritative bottom octave. On the top of the woofer module, where the upper module sits, there are redesigned “blades,” with openings engineered to reduce cavity pressure in the space between the two modules. The woofer module also features a redesigned, ultra-low-turbulence port.
Customizing the Sasha
Wilson’s unique cabinet shapes and proprietary materials definitely help the company’s speakers stand out from the crowd. But the folks at Wilson Audio have another obsession that dates back to Dave Wilson’s original WAMM loudspeaker in the early 1980s — accuracy within the time domain. Like Wilson’s larger speakers (and unlike the smaller, one-piece Sabrina and Yvette models), the Sasha DAW allows the customer (or more likely, the installer) to adjust the angle and position of the midrange/tweeter module, in order to provide the ideal time alignment for each installation. These fine adjustments within the time domain are achieved by a simple but carefully-engineered mechanical “ladder,” upon which the upper module rests. Depending on the layout of the listening room and the height of the listener, the user can select the ideal angle that will yield the correct alignment of the four drivers. The woofer baffle in the previous Sashas was perpendicular to the floor, but the baffle of the Sasha DAW’s woofer module is angled slightly backward, “which more correctly integrates the bass drivers with the upper module in the time domain,” according to Wilson. Other small improvements include a newly-designed binding post, a redesigned group-delay mechanism that can be adjusted without tools, and a removable, tempered glass resistor plate cover.
The Sasha DAW is available now, and can be yours for $37,900 per pair. Whether they justify their lofty price is up to you (and your Swiss banker) to decide. It’s some consolation to me, and surely to many others, that less expensive speakers provide better value for the dollar. But I’m not ashamed to admit that I’d give them a serious audition if I had that kind of money to spend. Because I don’t, I think I’ll swing by Music Lovers Audio and give them a less-than-serious audition, just for fun. Would you like to come along? Share your thoughts in the related forum thread below.
Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!