One of the most important attributes in a reviewer of anything is a spot of cognitive dissonance: you need to simultaneously be yourself and distance yourself. In the case of the Wilson Audio WAMM Master Chronosonic, that cognitive dissonance gets Grand Canyon wide. Here is a product that is at once the finest loudspeaker I have ever heard by no small margin, and a product that is worth roughly as much as everything I own. Currently, it would take me more than a decade of putting every single penny I earn into the kitty to buy a pair and I still wouldn’t have anything like the space required to house them. Even using my magic powers, and casting the ‘accomodatio discountiarmus’ spell, I’d still be looking at a figure greater than my mortgage. And yet, there are people who both can afford the $685,000 admission fee, and do so.
While a loudspeaker that costs more than many people’s houses might seem like a bit of a reach on the ‘significance’ stakes, the story – and the back story – make this statement more justifiable.
Back in 1980, Dave Wilson’s first loudspeaker sold to the public was the WAMM. It was first shown to the public in 1981 and immediately sold two pairs, despite its then eye-watering $32,000 price. The WAMM continued on through several revisions for the next two and a bit decades, but was finally retired when faced with competition from within, in the shape of the Alexandria XLF. Despite the high price (it was closer to a quarter of a million dollars at its close), Wilson Audio did sell 53 pairs of the original WAMM. And the idea never went away.
If the WAMM was Dave Wilson’s first loudspeaker as Wilson Audio, the WAMM Master Chronosonic is his swansong at the helm of the company, because earlier in the year Dave handed over the keys to the company to his son, Daryl. Dave Wilson has no intent of simply retiring, however; he is now the ‘WAMMbassador’, leaving his son to the simple tasks of designing loudspeakers, running the company, and the rest. In a way, the WAMM marks a true transition, as it’s as much Daryl’s first loudspeaker launched with him in the big chair (although technically, that’s the Yvette), and so much of the design work, testing, and listening have come down to Daryl Wilson.
The new Wilson WAMM Master Chronosonic might sound like a wristwatch, but the reality is those invented words are more than just there for show. ‘Chronosonic’ (‘time and sound’) expresses much about what is so (literally and figuratively) pivotal about the WAMM, as the mid-range and beyond is extraordinarily precisely time and phase aligned in the listening room, for the listener’s precise position. This has been a constant theme in all Wilson Audio loudspeakers from the Sasha upward for some time, but the level of precision in these adjustments is taken to a new level in this multi-way, basketball-player tall loudspeaker system, and the results speak for themselves.