The predecessors of the Wilson SabrinaX, which we tested a good five years ago, were owned by a colleague, but they met my listening taste so well during the hearing check that I kept toying with the idea of buying them as work loudspeakers, which would save a lot of money. Especially since the weight class was right, as a tester who notoriously moves equipment, one is happy about every pound that shines through absence. The Generation X Sabrina (24,600 euros) has around eight kilograms more per channel, but still has nothing to do with the heavyweight class – and technically it has grown quite well.
Class instead of mass – if I understand Wilson Audio correctly, the smallest floorstanding speaker in the house is not seen as a qualitatively scaled-down “entry-level model” anyway. But as an uncompromising speaker for specific purposes. These are: small to medium-sized rooms or larger rooms in which, for acoustic or optical reasons, you don’t want to accommodate sound-sounding properties. Incidentally, the recently tested AudiaZ Cadenza pursued very similar goals.
Important, since it is relevant to the sound, as I found out: After installing the spikes and final, wobble-free positioning, do not just tighten the nuts by hand, but with minimal effort! – with the open-end wrench from the enclosed spike and tool box. Among other things, it also contains a key and bit for tightening the driver screws – very nice. Here, too, the following applies: Please be careful and never rock-solid! For torque wrench owners: Wilson factory bolts the drivers to 35 in-lbs, which equates to 3.95 Nm.
I had already commented positively at the beginning about the weight of the Wilson Audio SabrinaX, which is comparatively easy to handle for a high-end floor-standing loudspeaker. To then find out in the listening room that the SabrinaX don’t let any big pushing and shoving break out: The two guests felt just as comfortable in the marked standard positions and aligned almost “on the axis” (with tweeters aimed at the ears) as I did also know from the vast majority of other loudspeakers. That the sound of the Wilson loudspeakers reacts to even the smallest changes in position, as I have read here and there in English-language articles on the Internet, I cannot confirm – at least in relation to my listening room.
Let’s try to grab the Wilsons at the low end first – the bass end. Because there are clear announcements to be made here. The first: With spikes just a meter high and armed with a single 20-centimeter woofer, speakers like the SabrinaX aren’t able to work miracles in terms of low bass pressure. The deep black electronic impulses on the first beat for a short time every two bars on “Am I” by Kode9 & The Spaceape (Album: Black Sun) are delivered less powerfully than I do, for example, from my Sehring 903 know. Yes, even in the under 10 kilo euro class you will find many floorstanding loudspeakers that make more inferno at the very, very bottom: I think my listening room walls still vibrate after visiting the Nubert nuVero 170 … But that wants or can too not everyone. Similar to the Audiaz Cadenza, I therefore consider the bass tuning of the Wilson SabrinaX to be more of a concept than an inadequacy: it is also suitable for small and medium-sized rooms.
The second announcement: The quality of what the Wilson SabrinaX gives the best underneath is the burner. Absolutely quick to start, extremely clean in the swing-out behavior and tonally (also in itself) extremely balanced. So it’s hardly surprising that the first thing that catches my eye on the track “Our happiest days slowly began to turn into dust” is the electric bass that wanders lightly over different registers, although the real eye-catcher is the post-rockers Red Sparowesbut the ubiquitous pedal steel guitar is. This purity of the tone, the effortless, undelayed tracking of gradations, yes: the transparency of the bass range make the Wilson my personal passive speaker reference at this point. Especially since – and this is perhaps the best thing about it – nothing seems superimposed. In my opinion, for example, “dust-dry-precise” isn’t really the right word, because that would be a certain “taste”. On the bass side, the Wilson Audio SabrinaX put themselves wholeheartedly at the service of the music, without even being extravagant.
Very sympathic. But not unconditionally: The SabrinaX scale more with the amps that fire them than I normally hear: The above listening description basically also applies in combination with my Norma Revo PA 150, but even more so with my Bryston 7B³ . The Wilson show me the differences between the amplifiers, especially the greater control, the more energetic stability of the Bryston blocks, which deliver twice 600 watts. On the one hand, this speaks for the sound level of the loudspeakers, on the other hand it is certainly due to the fact that their predecessors were electrically demanding, especially in the bass range. Performance and load stability are Sabrina’s favorites here, with or without the X.
On the mezzanine
On to the next floor. Via a perfectly designed stairwell: because the connection between the low and medium frequency levels is superbly homogeneous, without even a single, small step provoking stumbling. I think I rarely write about this aspect otherwise. Or at least only if there’s something to criticize during the transition. With the Wilson SabrinaX, however, the bass, fundamental tone and lower mids are effectiveso conclusive, so consistent that I keep noticing it positively over the weeks. Admittedly, I find it rather difficult to describe this subliminal trait with a “hard” musical example. It still feels strikingly “right” when listening – for example when guitar and bass are in close tonal contact or toms and bass drum are wildly vying for attention.
Roller coaster ride to happiness
Bright, glassy, thin. But also soft, reserved, comfortable. All of this applies to the mid-high range. I’m sorry, what? Yes, you read that right, but fortunately that only applies in phases and only over the first 500 operating hours, the SabrinaX arrived brand new. Incidentally, my Spendor D9 had similar strong rashes, although “only” for the first 250 hours or so. My Sehring 903, on the other hand, certainly took as long as the Wilson SabrinaX, but the roller coaster ride was less winding.
Nevertheless, as a listener you are immediately fascinated, curious and right in the middle of it all. In any case, if a) the ability to differentiate/transparency are at the highest level. Via a whitewashed, soft-focus rig, this song’s intro comes across as entertaining as looking into a lens-clouded kaleidoscope. And b) by no means is there even a touch of “analytically sharpened” chain at the start, which would inevitably subject the eardrum to a sandpaper treatment with this title.
Not the smallest veil on the lens, not even a scrap of sandpaper anywhere: the Wilson Audio SabrinaX draw you into the action as a matter of course right from the start, it sounds exciting, complex and catchy at the same time. The silky, finely atomized, tonally, in case of doubt, even more minimally restrained than cheekily tuned treble of the Wilson is worth an extra applause. Last but not least, when I read Ralph Werner’s report from 2016 , our current SabrinaX should actually achieve an even higher level of quality than its predecessor.
Why actually Sabrina – and not Reiner?
But be that as it may, the degree of purity not only of the highs but also of the mids is enormous either way.
Speaking of mid-high and Audiaz Cadenza: Their ceramic drivers are very similar to the Wilson SabrinaX in terms of undistortedness, purity and immediacy – with high musicality/long-term suitability: Both converters also have in common that they work out voices wonderfully and in a fascinating way ” free”. I remember the Oberbayern a bit more airy and shimmering, but the mids are a little lighter tonally, less padded than the SabrinaX, which is exemplary from head to toe and therefore (comparatively) more sonorous.
The two loudspeaker concepts also differ spatially. The spatiality of the Audiaz Cadenza also works outside of a narrowly defined sweet spot and has an open, spacious charm that is difficult to resist. The Wilson Audio SabrinaX takes a more classic approach and will appeal to fans of coax systems and broadband speakers, coherent two-way systems and high-quality studio monitors: In terms of localization sharpness, depth gradation (which I don’t usually catch in my listening room) and plasticity, the SabrinaX are true masters, just like their predecessors. With an exemplary blackness behind and between the instruments and voices. Last but not least, it is commendable how beautifully absorbing the image is in the direction of the listener. And how stable and coherent transients – such as whipping snares – or voices are formed exactly in the middle of the stereo. When it comes to the stage, the Wilson deliver a performance that has never before been achieved in this quality in my listening room by any loudspeaker that I would recall. Even my former Thiel CS 3.7 with its coax drivers couldn’t keep up by far. The freshly revised
Actually, it should be sufficiently clear in the paragraphs above that the best values are achieved in terms of dynamics: With my combination of Funk MTX and the extremely powerful Bryston 7B³ at the front, what is offered reminds me of what the best active loudspeakers are otherwise able to do in terms of gross dynamics. If you disregard the fact that the SabrinaX, as I said, doesn’t exactly shovel super low, more “bass mass” on the shovel is certainly possible. And finely dynamically on high-end ribbons or AMTs – garnished with a pleasantly silky touch.
One special feature at the end: The Wilson Audio SabrinaX conveys even at high volumes and massive impulses – such as the toms, the bass drum and the electric bass in “Harper Lewis” by Russian Circles (Album: Station) – the feeling of not leaving any energy behind, but firing it in the direction of the listener in an unshakeable, focused and powerful manner. Which, when listening to it loud, gives rise to a feeling of “iron sovereignty” that is difficult to describe, but somehow cool. A feeling that is certainly not least due to the mechanics and therefore to the case, which has been further improved compared to its predecessors. Yes, in the bass and overall in terms of musicality, the SabrinaX has developed further compared to the somewhat “stricter”, “more ascetic” Sabrina, in my opinion.
Wilson Audio SabrinaX – Conclusion
The Wilson Audio SabrinaX do not offer a deliberately presented analytical approach. Nor can it be said that the SabrinaX sounded even the tiniest bean or warmed up. Hm, maybe the treble is tonally a homeopathic jar more subtle than the strictest teaching would be, but that’s more academic than relevant to hearing. The deep bass expansion of the SabrinaX is more relevant to hearing: If you still want to have an alarm far down in the south, you will be better served by many speakers in the price range under 10,000 euros. But if you own smaller and medium-sized rooms (from 20 square meters it can already work) or room acoustically critical, larger rooms up to roughly 40 square meters or simply don’t want to bombard your neighbors,
Either way, the Wilson Audio SabrinaX are among the “most correct”, most balanced, yes: most plausible loudspeakers that I know of. Last but not least, special praise goes to the purity/low distortion and “background blackness”. Listeners who love to bathe in details will appreciate them just as much as those who like it above all organically and musically or those who want to be particularly gripped by dynamics. Or stand on being sucked spatially into the action. Such excellence across the board is not a matter of course, even in this high-end price range. Especially since many loudspeakers are consciously trained for a certain tendency.
Speaking of taste: In terms of my testing activities and listening preferences, the SabrinaX hit the mark in such a way that I really couldn’t help but buy them and let them enrich my work from now on. If you have also become curious and would like to try out the SabrinaX, make sure you have adequate amplification – the performance and load stability appreciate the Wilson Audio SabrinaX audibly.
The Wilson Audio SabrinaX are characterized by…
- a sound image that is as transparent, precise as it is musical and suitable for long-term use.
- a consistency and coherence that immediately connects the listener to the music, which is otherwise more familiar from smaller two-way loudspeakers.
- Textbook-like neutrality, at most the treble is a touch reduced on the level side.
- a spring water-like pure sound, not least tone colors and the famous black background benefit from this.
- a fascinating subtlety, tones are traced with exemplary clean, fast attack and accurate, full-bodied sustain.
- an exceptionally fine-pixel, more silky than ostentatiously analytical high tone.
- a midrange that is as organic as it is informative with fascinatingly authentic voice reproduction.
- an exemplary, differentiating, dynamically wonderfully energetic and powerful bass. When it comes to depth and thrust, floor-standing loudspeakers can often do even more.
- a three-dimensionality that passes as a benchmark for many other systems: Last but not least, the clean, stable stereo center and the perceived “blackness” behind and between the instruments and voices, which can be clearly located, are worth mentioning. Only the stage height could perhaps be improved for such a top speaker.
- a very high-quality workmanship (housing, terminal, driver screw connections, spikes) with minimal rusticity in detail (felt on the baffle, inner edge of the baffle is not absolutely straight at a small point).
- Model: Wilson Audio SabrinaX
- Concept: passive three-way floorstanding speaker (bass reflex system)
- Price: 24,600 euros, Ivory test version: 25,600 euros
- Dimensions (with spikes) & Weight: 30 x 39 x 102 cm (WxDxH), 50.8 kg/each
- Standard finishes: Carbon, Galaxy Gray, GT Silver, Quartz; Further “Upgrade Colors” are available as an option and at an additional cost
- Efficiency: 87dB/1W/1m
- Nominal Impedance: 4 ohms (minimum at 2.6 ohms at 135 Hertz)
- Guarantee: 5 years upon registration