Speaker extremes

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Tomorrow I want to move on to another way of dividing frequencies in speakers, the amplified electronic crossover. But first, let's wrap passive speakers up with a look at a very expensive one. Wilson Audio has always been among my favorites. Sure, every loudspeaker has its fans and detractors, but ever since the first day I met Dave Wilson and he encouraged me to sit in front of a pair of Watt Puppys, I have been a fan. They disappear nicely, always sound musical, leave me wanting for little. At $200,000 the pair, the Wilson Alexandria XLF ain't for the faint of heart. Imposing, full range and musical, this loudspeaker is arguably one of the best in the world. So, what's it look like under John Atkinson's measurement microscope? Here's a graph of its frequency response as averaged in reviewer Michael Fremer's listening room from a 2012 review in Stereophile. Wilson Alexandria XLF Not bad, right? Reasonably flat and in a room too. But reasonably flat isn't "flat". Each horizontal line on the graph represents 5dB, and while the average runs in a relative straight line, the particulars are all over the map. And I am not singling out this fine loudspeaker. It's one of the best, and that is the point. Loudspeakers are like unpolished children. You don't want to look too closely. A lot of forgiveness is what's needed.
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Paul McGowan

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