The Evo 900s demonstrated one of the joys of the Sasha; no limits imposed. With nigh on a Krellowatt being pushed up its speaker terminals, the Sasha has the throat needed to roar, but does so with subtlety as well as gusto. That means you can play at the sort of levels that cause rimshots and massed choirs to leave your hearing relaxing between notes and yet allows you to hear the springs beneath the snare resonating and lets you pick out individual singers in the mix. Normally, this is an either/or situation; either you get the full-blast sound, or you get the subtlety. Here, you get both.
It’s also a bigger speaker squeezed into a Sasha-sized box. Those who know their way around the Wilson portfolio are in for a surprise here. “Hey, where did you hide the MAXX’es?” will likely be the stock question. It’s got most of the bass dynamics, bass depth, almost physical solidity and power of the MAXX models – as well as its utterly transparent midrange and soaring top end – but in a smaller package. You get more from the MAXX, but the gap has closed considerably with the launch of the Sasha. In fairness, much of this is based on exposure to the MAXX 2; I’m pretty far from instrument rated on the new model.
Recently, I highlighted a step-change in audio, that I called the difference between ‘Hummers’ (big and bling) and ‘Humblers’ (forget the speakers, the music impresses first and foremost). The Sasha is very much on the Humbler side of the equation. It scales beautifully – swap a Big Band sound for a fey girl-with-guitar and the soundstage accommodates accordingly. Now move from breathy songstress to full-on dub reggae then to large-scale orchestral work, a jazz trio, live rock at full tilt and all points in between and the Sasha adapts beautifully. You don’t get eight-foot tall singers or an inch-high second violin… everything played has an appropriate sense of scale. Wilson has been moving the W/P design further from the enlarged sound of the footie score models (WATT 3/Puppy 2, Caledonians vs Queen of the South… match abandoned due to catastrophic pie failure) for some time.
A lot of this comes from the work done (both in the cabinet and the use of that MAXX driver) to improve the midrange. The W/P always had a good, clean and extended treble (it’s got better, cleaner and possibly more extended in the Sasha, but the improvement is more like a developmental progression than a jump) and has been well-respected for its big, powerful bass (once again, a developmental improvement), but the midrange was always a big part of the Wilson character. And the move to the Sasha brings the Wilson midrange in line with the MAXX above and the Sophia below. It gives the Sasha something of an electrostatic-like transparency to the midrange.
That beacon for audiophiles – imaging – is excellent, but curiously it will take you some time to notice this. Because your attention is focused elsewhere, like on the dynamic range, the solidity, or even the sheer exuberance of the sound, that reference-class imaging passes almost unnoticed. Part of this is because the overall performance is so very, very natural – the ‘holographic’ cliché doesn’t apply here, because the sounds are too controlled and solid for that.
We’ve supposedly been ticking off all the boxes for superlative loudspeakers for some years now, and the Wilson WATT/Puppy ticked them all a long time ago. What’s left on offer and what makes this one so much better than what went before? Along with the bigger speaker in a smaller box and the more open than ever midrange, the Sasha does something very, very few loudspeakers can do, irrespective of price. It manages to reconcile the world of the audiophile with that of real people. Audiophiles choose – and design – products in adherence to Harry Pearson’s benchmark of the sound of live, unamplified music occurring in real space. However, there are people (a lot of people) who do not possess a single piece of live, unamplified music and typically find systems designed for audiophiles to sound ‘boring’. Products – especially loudspeakers – that reconcile the two are extremely rare. The Sasha is one of the very few exceptions.
The reconciliation process is not perfect – play a compressed or badly-mastered recording and the Sasha keeps it distinctly in the sow’s ear region. But what it does well is exactly what the predecessor was praised for, only more so. The studio sound that Wilson tried for with the WATT/Puppy is here in full effect. Play the Sashas and you are in the control room, listening to the sort of sound the producer and engineer always wanted you to hear.