When Wilson Benesch stopped being ‘just’ a maker of turntables and started branching out into those transducers at the other end of the system, the company’s first and arguably most important design was the A.C.T. One. Using the company’s ‘Advanced Composite Technology’ monocoque, this floorstander hit the streets in 1995 and won a dozen awards. The A.C.T. One has passed through three iterations to date, including the ACT C60 and A.C.T. The A.C.T. One Evolution is a fitting name for a truly evolving design.
The A.C.T. One Evolution is the distillation of all the engineering and materials science development that Wilson Benesch can throw at a loudspeaker. Of course, 20 years later, there is a lot more loudspeaker history and engineering to throw around, and where the original A.C.T. One began ‘tabula rasa’, the A.C.T. One Evolution draws upon drive unit and high compression cabinet construction derived from two decades of loudspeaker design, which includes the company’s Cardinal flagship.
Like the Cardinal, the A.C.T. One Evolution is a four-driver, two-and-a-half way floorstander, featuring Wilson-Benesch’s novel Semisphere hybrid silk-meets-carbon dome tweeter with a series of Tactic II drivers. The hybrid nature of the 25mm company’s own Semisphere driver is a method of harnessing the speed of modern hard dome tweeters with the frequency extension and tonal accuracy of a classic soft dome. This innovative tweeter unit remains one of the jewels in Wilson Benesch’s crown.
The 170mm Tactic II is also unique to Wilson Benesch, a development produced in association with Sheffield University (its physics department designed a unique motor assembly encasing neodymium magnets that optimised flux across the geometry of the driver). The driver features a light-yet-stiff isotactic (hence the name) polypropylene cone in a streamlined basket.
Clever officially starts here: the Tactic II is a multi-purpose drive unit. So, the Tactic II driver in its own 26 litre chamber is built precisely for its function as a bass driver, while the one below the tweeter is devoid of any crossover and built as a pure midrange. Wilson Benesch class the Tactic II as a ‘multirole’ drive unit, rather like a multirole combat aircraft like a Dassault Rafale, but with fewer hard-points and gun platform options.
That last line wasn’t as throwaway as it might have first seemed, because Dassault – the group that includes the makers of the French fighter – developed the 3D CAD/CAM software that Wilson Benesch uses in the development of all its products, including the A.C.T. One. While CAD/CAM is not a new thing in loudspeaker design, it’s relatively rare for a company of Wilson Benesch’s size to use the technology so thoroughly. When you look at the design of the company’s speakers, you can see precisely why that design program is money well spent.