Wilson Alexandria XLF speakers
We got a chance to hear the Wilson Alexandria XLF speakers last week.
We listened to them in a nearfield position, I would say about 7 feet from the plane of the loudspeakers.
We heard them with Audio Research 750ish [:-)] amps, Lamm ML3 amps, Audio Research Reference Anniversary preamp, Lamm L2 preamp, Tara Labs The Zero Gold interconnects and speaker cables, Nordost Odin interconnects and speaker cables. Tara Labs Cobalt power cords and Nordost Odin power cords.
Source was a Basis Inspiration with their Vector arm and a Lyra Atlas. Phonostage from Ypsilon, with external stepup transformer. Everything was on HRS M3X platforms and MXR equipment rack.
Because we never heard the system in an entirely familiar configuration [there were always Tara Labs interconnects in the signal] and because we listened in quite a nearfield position to such large speakers, we cannot do an exact comparison with the previous model: the Alexandra X2 [2nd update] speakers.
But we can say a little something…
First, listening nearfield to such imposing speakers went quite well. The only issue, for me, was that the highs were always coming from the top of the soundstage and the lows from the bottom. Sitting farther away would help merge the two frequency extremes.
Second, the speakers do sound more integrated and the cabinet also more rigid – the only overt cabinet issue to my ears was that the bass frequencies tended to be drawn to the speakers [mostly noticeable only when sitting quite a bit off center from the sweet spot]. [the previous model had a preponderance of softness extending down from the midrange which sounded like the cabinet was robbing the sound of a lot of its energy – typical of speakers not perfectly rigid. For example compare the sound of aluminum speakers to ordinary speakers – with everything else being equal the aluminum speakers will have more energy and the midbass frequencies will be less likely to seemingly originate from the cabinet ]
The speakers do respond well to changes in upstream components which means one really can tailor the sound to one’s sonic preferences to a large degree.
It was a real kick listening to these this way – with the drivers exposed and staring us down it was like listening to really, really large monitors – or like a wall of speakers at a concert.
The Lamm ML3 amps are able to drive these speakers to louder-than-you-want-to-listen-to volumes without any apparent strain to any of our ears [and we were listening closely for any sign of weakness or hesitancy. This would be a fun test late at night :-)].
The speakers were back ported in this room and, although that is a little strange for such a small room with the speakers along the long wall, the speakers did not sound at all to us like they needed to be setup any differently [most listening rooms we see often need the speakers to be re-positioned to sound their best.]
Listening to the Alexandria XLF nearfield like this was a blast, but after listening to our system here (Lamm ML2.1 amps on Marten Coltrane Supreme speakers) in a similar nearfield position, and recalling other Wilson Alexandria systems, the Wilsons do sound their best in a larger room (if possible!).
I would say the XLF is an evolutionary upgrade, as opposed to revolutionary – but at this level, every last little improvement to the sound will be appreciated by avid listeners – so if you are a Wilson owner with the rest of your system such a configuration that you are [at least for the moment :-)] happy with it , you should by all means go for the XLF.