Having owned many speaker brands (Von Schweikert, B&W, Thiel, Totem, . . . .) and have listened to many, many more both in and out of my system(s), I have a pretty good feel for what I like in performance. I have owned 3 models of Wilson speakers (W/P 3/2, Duettes, W/P 5.1). I have owned many brands of amps (Krell, Levinson, BAT, CJ, Pass and others) and many more brands of preamps and source components than either amps or speakers.
The 5.1s can sound absolutely aweful, I would agree. However, if they do sound aweful it is the result of one of three things: 1: upstream components that don't match or are just not good enough; 2: inproper room integration/set-up; 3: the listener just doesn't like the type of sound that a detailed speaker delivers (by default, they will likely not like speakers from Thiel and several other brands as well that have a similar sonic characteristic).
In terms of value, these have been the highest value component of anything I have every owned (stereo system). I can't find anything at twice the price (used) that I paid for the W/P that I like as much. They are the longest standing component in my listening room and the one that is subjected to the least thought of upgrading or changing.
For the record, I think they are a phenominal value if purchased used, at the new price, they are too expensive for me (I did buy the Duettes new, but at a very good price). However, if you don't have $10K+ in other components, cabling, etc. . . or the space to properly position these in your room, you would be wasting you money to buy them. You are not going to be satisfied running these with some Denon HT receiver or some mid level amplifier. However, one should not complain about having to have excellent equipment to support $20K speakers either. That would be like taking your Ferrari to Jiffy lube for a tune-up and oil change or complaining about the insurance or the poor gas mileage. That argument carries no weight and can only be made out of ignorance.
What are the specific strengths of these speakers in my system: detailed without being bright, bass is tight (when they are properly positioned) without being bloated, mid-bass hump that many report is not apparent in my set-up but I sit in a quasi nearfield environment that alleviates this (I have heard this in other set-ups though). Sound stage depth, width, height and focus is very, very good. There is a lot of air and they do not get congested like many other speakers based on large scale recordings, when played very loud or are pushed too hard (assuming your amp is capable).
What do I sometimes miss by owning these? Every once in a while I will miss that tubey softness and lack of focus that can make the music sound beautiful (but when I really miss this, I can hook up my Audio Aero Capitole direct to my amps and get plenty of this type of sound - which to me grows old in a couple of days when I want to hear all of the music). They could go a little bit deeper, but I don't want that if it means loosing the bass speed and tightness (to me, there is nothing worse that a loose bass, again if I want that I can go with an all "traditional" tube system). I don't run a sub with these, but on occassions I have installed my Rel when I am really looking to pump out some extremely bass heavy music (not very often though).
Overall, my satisfaction with the speakers has been higher than with any other item in my system. I have in the past or currently owned $10K+ amps, $7K+ preamps, $10-15K+ digital front ends (fortunately I buy this stuff used and wisely). There are a lot of other speakers I like, but just none that I have found that I like better or better enough to justify spending the large amount more I would need to spend to get them.
I have listened to the 6s, 7s, and 8s and while I don't dispute that the 7s are possibly a hair better, I don't find them significantly better and certainly not enough better to justify the difference in price between my selling revenue versus the cost of the 7s.
Does Wilson overcharge? No more so than Ferrari. In fact, I am more suspect of GM overcharging and delivering less than Wilson/Ferrari overcharging and delivering more value.
Wilson service? I have spoken with various people at Wilson on multiple occassions, only once when I actually needed service. In every single instance I have received terrific support, opinions and never felt that I was a pain for their time. I once needed service for my Duettes (I overtightened the speaker binding post, using a socket wrench [I know, my fault, stupid method] and snapped it off). Called my dealer the next day, that afternoon I received a call from Wilson directly confirming my shipping/mailing address for all new binding posts (all 8, for both pairs of speakers) at no charge for the parts or the shipping. If that is bad service, I am confused. If you want bad service, call up Audio Aero in France - there is the definition of bad service! Wilson, I'll take any day. BAT, I'll take anyday. ARC, I'll take anyday. Krell, I'll take anyday. McIntosh and B&K, I'll take anyday. Wow, all are made in the USA, what a surprise and concidence.
I must be nut to buy this. I once listened to the Swan ??? which is an Watt Puppy rip-off (isn't that always from Swan?), and it is among the most crappy sounding speakers I have encountered.
And of course, I tried the poor-man's Wilson Watt Puppy: SOTA's own Time Domain speakers. The oak finish really turns the wife off, and the sound is so-so to a point I'd better buy Infinity (old) RS series instead.
So...........I spent $$$$ on an used Wilson Watt Puppy 5, knowing all the bashing going on here in Audioreview.com.
What many people said is true: This pair of speakers require very careful placement. Big deal. If you spend this amount of money, you'd better spend some time too.
But I don't find this bright, agressive, nor boxy as some people claimed. Even more so, I don't have issue with coherence (some people claimed this sounds like 2 speakers). There is definitely some coloration in the mid, and you need very careful equipment matches to get good bass.
I'd say this is NOT your reference speakers in terms of faithful reproduction. Go get the B&W 801 instead.
I did owned the 801. I hated it because it makes many recordings sound so bad. I just not planned to spend $$$$$ to upset my ears.
But......do you want to buy a pair of $$$$ speakers just to get the most faithful sound reproduction, or a pair you would *enjoy* the sound, and a great piece of furniture?
(stupid analogy question: do you wanna eat steak the most faithful way without any seasoning, or do you want to put tenderlizer and A1 etc)
I prefer to just sit down, and have a great time listening to *music*, not *equipment*. In this case, the Wilson Watt Puppy 5 is *the* best sounding speakers I ever owned, and something I could say an keeper (until I go broke and needs to liquidate.....)
(not going to repeat all those positive reviews before me)
KORA Kermes 24/192 DAC (heavy level1 mod)
KORA Equinox Preamp
Sony DVD7700 (heavily level 2 mod)
Jeff Rowland Model 5 amp (balanced version)
Welborne Lab Apollo monoblocks
All NBS cables
Actually, I haven't hooked up the 2+2 Meds yet, On thier way! I have been running the 6 Ft. tall model 3s. told thet were mod 3s when I bought them off a friend in the 80's. And love the clarity. Recently purchased a Klipsch rsw 15 sub to pair up in a home theater and stereo setup. The sub finishes what the acoustat's find difficult to do, Low Lows. Rattles the silverware upstairs! And it's on a carpeted cement floor! Killer. Can't wait to get the 2+2 meds for the front channel and move the others to the rear channels. Anyone have any info on the 3's for me? Saw a pic of three's on here and they were smaller? Makes me wonder? Looking forward to a very dynamic lower listening room!!! Actually, The sub in this post is the most annoying part of the setup, unless you, God forbid, Turn it down!
i own a pair of wilson watt and puppy , quite frankly the sound stage is wide and and the stereo imaging top class , however it requires carefully planned amplification- i am using audio research tubes-Vt100 and it delivers the highs with great clarity , but the bass is weak on lacks the punch
I never thought I would own a pair of box speakers again, having graduated from various Magnepans to Acoustats to Martin Logans. Hell, Gayle Sanders (ML) is one of my neighbors, and I love his work. I listened to these at the advice of a friend who owns Acoustat 2+2. I had Martin Logan CLS2Z's at the time. My friend and his wife were just blown away by the Wilsons, and I was thinking, yeah right, box speakers, oh boy. They were right on. We listened at first with Levinson equipment and there was definitely something there. Later, I went back with my trusted little Marantz 8b tube amp, hooked it up and WOW, magic. I also had a Audio Research amp, didn't even try it, as the Marantz produced a just-like-live-music emotional response with the Wilsons that made me weak in the knees. I wrote out the check straight away. Take my word for it, an EL34 tube in triode mode is heaven on these speakers. Are they perfect? No. They could be more efficient, although in my smaller listening room I just get by with 20 WPC triode. These speakers will just spank your ears if the setup isn't right (front end, cables, tube type used, grounding problems, etc). They are expensive as hell new (very reasonable used). The WATTS are much better than the Puppy's. To my ear the Puppy 5 bass is somewhat bloated and ill-defined due to a upper bass hump, even with solid state gear. It also missed the bottom couple of octaves entirely in the two rooms I've heard it in. No problem, I swapped the Puppy's for Gibralter stands and a separate subwoofer. I understand the latest model 6 fixes this with a larger enclosure. I've owned the WATTS going on a year now, and they STILL give me goosebumps. At one point I was severely tempted to go the next step to Avantgarde horns and actually put these up for auction to do this. Thank goodness no one bid, these aren't going anywhere for awhile yet! Those horns better be something special indeed...
My value rating here is for USED price, 3 stars otherwise.