Wilson Audio Introduces SabrinaX Loudspeaker: A Mini Floorstander with ‘Flagship DNA’
Frequency Response: 31 Hz – 23 kHz: +/- 3 dB: Room Average Response (RAR)
Impedance: 4 ohms nominal / 2.60 ohms minimum @ 135 Hz
Sensitivity: 87 dB @ 1W @ 1m @ 1 kHz
Dimensions (H x W x D): 40 5/16” x 12” x 15 5/16”
Weight: 112 lbs each
When Wilson Audio introduced the original Sabrina loudspeaker back in 2015, the company hoped that its new architectural design, smaller size, and (relatively) lower price would give the Sabrina broad appeal. And indeed, the speaker has been a huge hit for the company, selling in large numbers to a wide variety of audiophile customers. At under 40 inches tall and just 1 foot wide, the Sabrina could go where other Wilson floor-standers never could; even listeners with small rooms could aspire to own a pair of Wilsons. The Sabrina was an obvious choice for older Wilson owners who were moving to smaller homes and needed to downsize their big rigs. At the same time, first-time Wilson buyers, who had never before been able to afford the company’s coveted speakers, saw the Sabrina as a more attainable option than the six-figure behemoths that grace the covers of audio magazines. At $15,900/pair, the Sabrina was certainly expensive in absolute terms, but for a Wilson floorstander, it was considered a good deal by plenty of happy customers. And for the wealthy audiophile, for whom money was less of a concern, the Sabrina was the perfect speaker around which to build a second system for the living room or vacation home. With so many different demographics embracing the Sabrina, the speaker quickly became one of the best-selling models in Wilson’s history. But the company has introduced several new (big, expensive) speakers in the last 5 years, and has conducted an awful lot of R&D along the way. Now Wilson has taken advantage of the technologies developed for those projects and trickled as much as possible down into an all-new speaker called the SabrinaX. At $18,500/pair, the SabrinaX is almost 20% more expensive than its predecessor. What do you get for the extra money? According to Wilson, you get “Flagship DNA.” That translates to: new drivers, a new enclosure, and upgraded crossover components, resulting in better bass-transient speed and improved overall resolution and transparency.
The last speaker that Wilson introduced before the SabrinaX was the massive Chronosonic XVX ($329,000/pair), which the company describes as its “most ambitious and complex production loudspeaker to date,” bettered only by the limited-edition WAMM Master Chronosonic ($850,000/pair including matching subwoofers). These products represent the ultimate expression of Wilson’s approach to loudspeaker design, but at those prices, you can bet that they’re not exactly flying off the store shelves. (As a side note, I once had the good fortune to spend a few hours listening to the WAMM Master Chronosonic, and the best word to describe them is ridiculous. It’s a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a pair of speakers. They are ridiculously big and would look totally ridiculous in my house. They also sound ridiculously amazing, and I want them.) In designing the Chronosonic XVX, which was released almost exactly one year ago, CEO Daryl Wilson and his team introduced more new performance and ergonomic improvements than during any previous design effort. And right after wrapping up the design of the XVX, they set out to rethink the Sabrina, with the goal of packing as many performance-boosting technologies as possible into the baby of the Wilson floorstander family, so that it could stand alongside much larger systems with its head held high. The SabrinaX, according to Wilson, represents “a rare combination of traditional Wilson hallmark attributes such as bass authority, dynamic resolution, midrange beauty and integrity, and a sense of inherent musical rightness.” These attributes enable the SabrinaX to offer the listener “a level of dynamic contrast and harmonic expression that is the defining character of Wilson Audio loudspeakers.”
The “X” in the SabrinaX name refers to Wilson’s proprietary composite X-Material, which is one of several custom-formulated materials that Wilson uses to build its speaker cabinets. In the original Sabrina, only the front baffle and lower spike plate were made from X-material; the rest of the cabinet was made from HDF (high density fiberboard). All of Wilson’s other floorstanders are built entirely from the company’s proprietary composites, but HDF was used as a cost-saving measure in the original Sabrina. As its name suggests, the SabrinaX is built entirely from (third-generation) X-Material, which “remains unbeatable for its rigidity, inertness, intrinsic damping, and extreme hardness,” according to Wilson. This upgraded enclosure reportedly enables the SabrinaX to deliver music from a darker background, with improved transient performance and clarity. Wilson says that the superior “silence between the notes” improves the speaker’s rhythmic timing. The part of the cabinet that houses the midrange driver is vented via a new, low-turbulence vent, similar to those designed for the midrange modules in the Chronosonic XVX. The vent is milled directly into the X-Material rear panel of the SabrinaX, and performs better than the aluminum vent used in the original Sabrina, thanks in part to a complex shape made possible by the intrinsic strength of X-Material. Wilson says that the new venting system “improves the musicality and the overall sonic presentation in the midrange.” The part of the cabinet housing the bass driver is “exceptionally inert” and has its own separate machined aluminum port, designed to reduce audible turbulence.
Wilson pays more attention to cabinet materials than most loudspeaker manufacturers, but fancy enclosures won’t do you any good without well-engineered drivers. Here, too, the SabrinaX gets a big upgrade over its predecessor, starting with Wilson’s Convergent Synergy MK5 tweeter, which is the exact same tweeter used in the WAMM Master Chronosonic and Chronosonic XVX. This 1-inch tweeter (which is easily one of the best soft-dome tweeters I have ever heard) combines “ultra-low distortion, exquisite micro and macro contrast, and ultra-high resolution, all of which are accompanied by a sense of ease, accessibility, and supreme musicality,” according to Wilson. The 5.75-inch midrange driver has a flat frequency response all the way up to 2 kHz, allowing it to cross over to the tweeter at a higher frequency and lighten the sonic load that the tweeter has to carry. With both the midrange driver and the tweeter operating in their relative comfort zones, both drivers can deliver optimum performance. Like the original Sabrina, the SabrinaX is a 3-way design, so bass is handled by a dedicated woofer. Here the SabrinaX benefits from a trickled-down 8-inch woofer that was initially designed and developed for the bass module in , offering “intrinsically excellent dynamic resolution and transient performance.” When combined with the specially-designed X-Material enclosure, this woofer promises bass performance that is authoritative and rich, yet ultra-fast.
SabrinaX’s bass articulation, transient speed, and bottom-octave extension will demolish any preconceptions about the bass quality and accuracy that can be produced by such a small loudspeaker.
— Wilson Audio
Wilson Luxury In Every Aspect
Like his late father, Dave Wilson, Wilson Audio’s CEO Daryl Wilson is clearly in the “everything matters” camp of audiophilia. The folks at Wilson sweat over even the tiniest details of a speaker’s design, in part because they believe everything affects the sound, and in part, no doubt, because they know that the typical Wilson customer appreciates luxury and wants a speaker to exude quality in every respect, from the paint finish to the instruction manual. So while other speakers use plastic parts like bass ports and binding posts, Wilson ups the ante, both to achieve better results and to satisfy the expectations of the customer. Wilson says that while the company’s bass ports have always been so robustly built as to be “heroic,” the use of advanced technology has allowed the team to refine the shape of the ports, thus improving performance. The bass port on the SabrinaX is machined from a solid billet of 6061-T6 aluminum, and features a new geometry that further reduces the port noise beyond the already-low levels produced by the original Sabrina. As audio reviewer Steve Guttenberg might say, (not to mention the late American novelist Philip Roth), you will have no port-noise complaints about the SabrinaX. Meanwhile, the SabrinaX also gets the same binding posts as the XVX. These all-metal connectors are manufactured in-house, and were designed to be easy to tighten by hand, guaranteeing long-term reliability as well “sonic integrity for high-current connections.” The SabrinaX, which weighs in at about 112 pounds each, rests on the same spike/diode assembly used to support the 685-pound Chronosonic XVX. Wilson says that the spike/diode assembly “increases the mechanical impedance path and improves vibration draining.” Wilson also points out that the large spikes and diodes enhance “the physical presence and beauty of the design,” which is marketing speak for “they look cool.” Finally, like the Chronosonic XVX, the SabrinaX features premium electrical components in the painstakingly hand-assembled crossover, including a proprietary multi-wound capacitor that Wilson designs and winds in-house. The Wilson AudioCapX capacitor used in the SabrinaX was designed specifically for the speaker by engineer Vern Credille, and “significantly lowers the noise floor to even greater extremes, allowing the listener to hear more detail and resolution,” according to Wilson.
The SabrinaX is available in three standard finishes (Galaxy Grey, Quartz, and Carbon), and three upgrade “WilsonGloss” premium finishes (Ivory, Diamond Black, and Crimson Satin), which increase the price by $1,000. The included grille can be had in five different colors. If you want to get a behind-the-scenes look into Wilson Audio’s design and manufacturing processes (and you don’t mind a lot of marketing jargon), check out these promotional videos for the SabrinaX. The craftsmanship is truly impressive, as you’d expect for the price.
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