A few issues ago I looked at (and was seriously impressed by) the Wilson Duette/Watchdog combination, a “double the price – more than double the performance” outgrowth from the original two-way stand-mounted design. Now comes the Wilson Benesch Trinity/Torus system, a threebox solution which, quite literally, extends the concept even further. But before getting into the specifics, let’s just pause for a second and clarify what it is we’re dealing with here.
Traditionally, sub/sat systems that combine a pair of small satellite speakers with a separate sub-woofer to augment their limited low-frequency output, have been sold on the basis of their lower domestic or visual impact when compared to conventional floorstanders of equivalent bandwidth. It’s a marketing strategy that’s been taken to ever-greater extremes by the A/V crowd, with the satellites decreasing in size as they increase in numbers, and “site anywhere” subs getting smaller too. Of course, any sub/sat set up enjoys the benefits of reduced size, but that’s not what drives systems like the Trinity/Torus combination. This is a pure performance based approach that seeks to outperform more conventional designs at similar (and in some cases much higher) prices, by exploiting the benefits that come with the separation of their cabinets. So, a speaker like the Trinity can be optimized for its specific frequency range, exploiting the stiffness of its small cabinet and the choice of materials that opens up. It can also be placed to best advantage, without having to take bass nodes or balance into account. The same is true of the low-frequencies, where separating them means that approaches that would be difficult or impossible to implement in a conventional floorstanding design become possible – certainly true in the case of the Torus. Then there’s the ability to optimize placement of the sub(s) as well as build the complete system in a series of bite-sized chunks rather than as a one-time capital purchase. This combination of practicality with the ability to functionally specialize each element is what gives these systems their potential performance edge – as long as the designer gets it right.
Time then to look at the specifics. I’ve dealt with the unique design of the Torus in the preceding interview with its designer Craig Milnes, so let’s concentrate on the Trinity. Essentially a small two-way design incorporating a hemispherical gold-plated ceramic super-tweeter it could easily be mistaken for the company’s similarly sized (but far more affordable) Arc. But the Trinity is a far more ambitious design, developed specifically in response to the performance gains offered by the Torus. As we have frequently observed (and demonstrated) whilst adding a subwoofer to almost any system will offer sonic advantages, to really exploit the benefits you need to extend the bandwidth at the opposite extreme as well, adding high and low-frequencies in balance. The sheer sonic quality of the Torus makes this even more apparent; hence the search for a satellite which could match the new sub-woofer for clarity and transparency as well as extension. So, whilst the Trinity is superficially similar to the Arc, it represents a far more sophisticated realization of that basic design concept.
Let’s start with the cabinet. This is a complex, composite structure created from a range of different materials. Mechanically speaking, the key elements are the side cheeks that flank the baffle. Profiled aluminium extrusions, their smooth exterior curve helps minimize diffractive effects, but internally they are shaped to lock the various cabinet elements together. They are joined at the front by a 4mm steel plate that engages firmly with their extruded grooves. This is joined with a visco-elastic peripheral gasket to a precision milled 10mm aluminium plate that forms the front of the baffle and allows the three drivers to be positioned as close together as possible. The side and rear walls are constructed as a single unit from Wilson- Benesch A.C.T (Advanced Composite Technology), a carbon/glass sandwich with a high compression core. The curved walls and concave rear create an incredibly stiff but well damped structure, while the top and base plates are constructed from Perspex bonded to steel sheets. Extrusions aside, all machining and the extremely sophisticated composite construction is carried out in-house, ensuring consistent tolerances and performance.
Having taken all that trouble to create a carefully controlled, nonresonant structure for the cabinet, it’s not surprising that the care and attention to detail extends to the fixing of the drivers. Rather than simply bolting them into place, which creates pressure points and thus resonant nodes within their structure, Wilson-Benesch employ steel/aluminium plates to clamp the drivers in place, helping to spread the fixing load more evenly. A composite coupler and U.D. carbon-fibre tube brace the rear of the bass/mid driver to the back of the cabinet, terminated by the large steel boss that carries the serial number and model designation. The dedicated stand bolts directly to the steel bass plate of the speaker, allowing the use of twin, downward firing reflex ports – something of a W-B trademark. The two-part aluminium column is inherently selfdamping and also houses the crossover, removing it from the mechanically hostile environment within the cabinet itself. The W-B designed bi-wiring terminals are located at the base of the pillar, and will accept 4mm plugs, spades or bare-wire. The stand is supported on three sharp steel spikes, the rear two being adjustable from above and lockable using substantial nuts below the thick steel base-plate. You even get a spanner to fit both these and the terminals.