Wilson supply two different types of spikes for each speaker, one much longer than the other. Depending on the height of the speakers relative to the listening position, the longer spikes can be used at the front or the rear position to change the tilt orientation of the cabinet. This is fundamental to the Tune Tot’s performance as it allows for fine adjustment of the whole time domain. Just sit the speakers down and they will sound pretty good, but my advice is to take time to finely adjust the angle of the cabinets. When the time factor is aligned the Tune Tot really takes off. Alternatively, the spikes can be used directly onto the surface and Wilson provide a nice set of protectors should you want to avoid surface scratches. There is a useful reference starting point where you can visually adjust the front spike in relation to the front lower lip of the cabinet to get a rough time alignment setting and then the spikes can be finely adjusted and locked off with the splendid set of ratchet spanners in the included tool kit.
The rear slot port, while allowing for a fuller flow of air and a more extended bass, can also be blocked by the hard foam bungs and I tended to prefer those in place in just about every situation. Likewise the front grilles, constructed around a solid frame. No roughly hewn piece of ply with a grille cloth stretched across it for Wilson Audio. These are formed from a laminated composite, cut from a billet and the way the cloth is attached is both complex and probably very time-consuming. It’s details like this, the packaging, and the tool kit that reinforces Wilson’s attention to detail for me. They do nothing by halves. I tended to prefer them without grilles and Wilson can also supply a rather neat anodised ring, in several finishes, that covers the bass unit mounting hardware for those with fine aesthetic sensibilities. It is magnetically attached and I can hear no downside to the music when they are attached.
I used the Wilsons with the Vitus amplifier fed by a dCS Vivaldi streaming Tidal, all hooked together with some Nordost cabling and the results were stunning. Wilson have taken full advantage of the small reflective areas on the front baffle and as a result the Tune Tot has a unique sense of presentation and soundstage. The music appears in the air around the speakers. With little low frequency ambience to tie it to the cabinet the view is quite different. Time taken with time alignment pays off here and lends a clarity and extreme sense of focus to just about everything. The bass is obviously limited in extension but the response is fast, fluid and dynamic without ever becoming bloated or dragging. This is where quality small speakers can absolutely excel. They sail through even the most complex bass sections with remarkable coherence and always with good manners.
The Tune Tots’ overall tonal balance is superb and I would describe them as being rather smooth. There is tonal colour aplenty too. That tweeter installation produces a textural and nuanced performance that I have only heard flow from a couple of other speakers of comparable size but the Tune Tot’s wonderful ability to ‘throw’ their voice out into the room make them sound like a pair of tiny ventriloquists. It gives them space and a certain allure, especially on anything percussive. It is enormously attractive and musically beguiling. I particularly loved the way they tell the musical story and I will mention David Crosby’s album Here If You Listen[BMG] and the opening track ‘Glory’ as the perfect synergy between melody, production, and system. The way the interwoven harmonies creep around the room is fascinating.
Obviously the caveats are going to be well understood by anybody in the market for these Wilsons. But once you have come to terms with that I reckon you will be surprised at how good they are with horns and orchestral pieces. There is no sense that the music is being squeezed out of such a small box. No unwanted edge or tonal nasties from the cabinet. Even drums are enormously coherent and totally understandable as are pianos, often a real contentious proposition for such small speakers. This is due to the superb way they cope with the leading edge, or attack of instruments and voices. Vocals and solo acoustic guitar can be mesmerising. Don’t expect to feel your chest cavity resonate along with the Timpani though.
These tiny Wilsons completely live up to the reputation of quality, long established by the company. They are a niche product in so many ways. Designed to allow you access to very high quality music in situations where few speakers even begin to work. They take full musical advantage of all the great things that a small speaker can provide. Speed, lightness of bass touch, out of the box sound staging, and the ability to start and stop very, very quickly... these are all strong points of the Tune Tot and are vital to good music making. They have exceptional pace and pinpoint timing if your installation is precise and tonally they never stop surprising, even at surprisingly low levels.