Floor-standing Speakers

Wilson Audio Sophia 3 Floor-standing Speakers


Design and Setup of the Wilson Audio Sophia 3 Speakers

Wilson Audio manufactures but one component: loudspeakers. Hence, they've figured out the best way to deliver and set-up their product.

The Sophia 3s, packed in solid wooden crates, arrived with easily removable casters on the bottom of their cabinets. When the covers of the crates were unscrewed, the speakers rolled right out. They may weigh 165 lbs. each, but it was a snap to roll them into preliminary position with hardly any effort.

For any Wilson customer, set-up by a qualified Wilson Audio dealer is part of the package. In my case, Peter himself did the honors. After taking a short listen to the Eficions, which enabled him to get a sense of my system and what I was looking for, he took over. Once he was able to hook up his own equipment and play some of his reference recordings, he invited me to head out to the cottage and take a nap.

Two hours later, after moving the speakers many times and taking detailed measurements, Peter invited me to choose between two possible speaker positions. The one we preferred was virtually the same distance from the front wall as my Eficions, but thankfully much farther apart. (The Sophia 3s throw a wider and taller soundstage than the Eficions). Once the speakers were wheeled into place, casters were removed, and Wilson's own custom-made spikes, which the company prefers to after-market supports from a host of other companies, were installed.

All my subsequent listening was accomplished with grilles removed. During set-up, Peter and I experimented with the Bybee Golden Goddess Speaker Bullets and Stein Speaker Matches that I had used on the Eficions. He liked the combination, and thought they enhanced the already fine sound. Both have remained on the Sophia 3s during their stay, with the addition of an inverted Stein Magic Diamond on the top of each speaker.

My room is also treated with a host of Synergistic Research Acoustic ART devices, four Stein Harmonizers, and a number of additional Stein magic Diamonds, all of which have been positioned by Ted Denney and Holger Stein. My cabling set-up, all Nordost Odin save for Synergistic Research Synergistic Research Element Tungsten and Element CTS Digital AC cords and a Synergistic Research Power Cell for my upgraded-by-Demian Martin G & D Transforms transport, is enhanced by the presence of Nordost's Quantum Qx Power Purifier, QBase Power Distributor, and Qv2 AC Line harmonizers. None of these admittedly pricey refinements is required to enjoy the Sophia 3 in all its glory, but their presence in my particular space greatly enhances bass control, three-dimensionality, transparency, and "truth" of presentation.

In a video on the Wilson website http://wilsonaudio.com/product_soph.shtml, Dave Wilson says that he designed the Sophia 3 to work well with a modest set-up. I'm afraid my system, which also includes Pass Labs XA 200.5 Class A monoblock amplifiers, is not exactly modest. Yet in a system whose amplifiers and cabling cost far more than the loudspeakers, the Sophia 3s did not leave me wanting for anything other than more time to listen.

The Sophia 3 combines the same 7" cellulose/paper pulp composite midrange driver and 1" titanium tweeter as found in the more expensive Sasha and MAXX3 with its own 10" aluminum woofer. The enclosure is composed of Wilson's proprietary X-material, which is about inert as you can get. Both midrange and tweeter have S-Material baffles. Tweeter compartment is sealed, while both midrange and woofer are ported. As for the sound, please read on…