Wilson Benesch Act One Floorstanding Speakers

5/5 (7 Reviews) MSRP : $10500.00


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Reviews 1 - 5 (7 Reviews Total) | Next 15

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:4
Submitted by Ray Hunter a Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: February 12, 2001

Bottom Line:   
I have a stable set-up of:
Meridian 506 CD player,
Krell KRC III pre amp,
FPB 300 power amp
Wilson Benesch Act 1 Loudspeakers
Transparent Music Wave interconnects & speaker cables.

The whole system sounds just great, looks just great, and works extremely well together.

I originally went into the hi-fi shop looking for some replacements for my ancient ARC 101's, fully convinced that I would not hear a great improvement on my previous system. I had already listened to some fully active Meridian 5000 & 5500DSPs but thought they were thoroughly rotten. Unusual, I thought because I love the Meridian CD player.

I saw these Act One speakers ex. demo at an unbelievable bargain price. They had maybe one scratch on the wood finish, and I had several weeks of home use before I had to decide to buy.

The soundstage is frighteningly accurate. Things seemed to just appear in recordings that I previously thought I knew. The level of detail that was exposed even when normally it would be masked by other competing loud instruments was amazing. I kept on putting on old CDs and wanting to listen more and more.

Other reviewers have talked about lack of bass. Well that could be the amp or room, because I certainly have discovered an extra octave or so of low end. Just try Massive Attack or the Crystal Method to hear the effect.

I can honestly say I've never heard anything better.

Nothing this expensive can be worth a five out of five for value. IMHO Value in hi-fi stops at around five hundred dollars... invite your normal friends round one evening and play "guess the hi-fi price" with some of this esoteric stuff. Then you'll see what I mean.

I also can't recommend these speakers to those on any sort of a budget, or those with a partner who want some of those nice small white Bose speakers that can be mounted in the corner of the room.

But I won't even be looking for anything else or walk into a hifi shop for around another year or two.... no constant stream of upgrades for me.

In the meantime its a real pleasure every time I hit the "play" button.

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Used product for:   More than 1 year

Duration Product Used:   Audio Enthusiast

Product model year:   1998

Price Paid:    $6000.00



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Jim a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: October 8, 2000

Bottom Line:   
These speakers are very open and dynamic, the clarity is wonderful and the bass, though not the deepest, is well controlled and responsive. One of the best i've ever heard, in fact! (System was Chord Electronics SPM1600 range, which sounded wonderful with them.)

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   2000



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by David Antonelli a Audiophile

Date Reviewed: July 9, 2000

Bottom Line:   
I finally got to home demo these speakers after about six months of trying (thanks to the guys at tricell for bringing them down) and although I was prepared to be dissapointed I ended up being completely enthralled with what I heard.

I have an all naim system with CDS 2/52/250 and very fine Royd Albions. My dilemma was whether or not to go to super speakers first (and which ones as taste and system matching is always important) or to get a nap 500 and accept the limitations of the albions until I could get great speakers later. I thought on the basis of what I had heard over the internet and in private conversations that the ACT 1s would be a poor match with naim and would be difficult to drive. So I was more than pleasantly surprised at what happened.

When the speakers were first plugged in they needed about half an hour to charge up before they sounded smooth. After this half hour I was convinced that the mid range and trebble crushed that of the albions, already considered by many as having one of the best mid ranges below ten grand. At times it seemed a bit edgy, however, and the bass transients had a jumpiness and slam quality to them that didn't suit the music. So I moved them out from the wall by six inches and the bass receded and smoothed out. It was now quick and tight and had a great tunefullness about it. Things were much better integrated from the silky highs and subtle ebbs and flows of the music down to the grit and punch of the bass. They were much more detailed, yet more controlled, sweet, fast, and rich than the albions and had all the advantages of JM Lab mezzo utopias (although I heard these in the context of infereor Mark Levinson electronics - yes, inferior to naim in spite of their 85 K label) but they were more lively and sounded real as opposed to manufactured. At times, though, they were a bit too quick sounding in a way that was not quite musical.

Then my dealer suggested I try a new speaker cable. I was a bit reluctant as changing cable in a naim system is violation of the holy of holies, but he assured me that the cable was of similar specs only much higher quality. The new cable smoothed everything out and gave a redoubled effortlessness and fullness that solved the slight problems mentioned above regarding the all-too-sudden transients. It made the naim cable seem thin and brittle in comparisson.

As it was this was enough to convince me that a) I am buying ACT TWOs. They are said to have an even better mid range (approaching or surpassing that of a full blown audionote or quad system) while having improved dynamics, greater fluidity, and deeper bass along with a super revelator rather than the revelator on the ACT 1s.

I was also surprised that the 250 had such little trouble with them. I know ACT 1s are supposed to be a moderate load, but the 250 is said to struggle with quite a few non-naim speakers. I now know I am spending my money right and I may never even need to get the mighty nap 500 when the 250 does such a nice job with these. I know the 500 would improve things immeasurably, but when it costs as much as a nice car, one has to have a few doubts. For the cost of a 500 while keeping my limitted but OK albions, I could get ACT 2s and 135s and not have to worry about replacing the speakers later.

Another thing, these speakers have the most natural and effortless musical presentation I have ever heard with a clarity and liquidity that make the albions seem strident and grainy. They truly vanish and there is never the sense that the speakers are even there or that the soundstage and imaging is un natural and taking the music out of the system as is so common with high end US stuff. And with naim speakers you get all the rhythm and control but an unnaturally narrow soundstage and dry shut-in quality that is at the end of the day just as heinous as the overblown US systems with their utter lack of musicality but pin point imaging and hyper-detailed sound.

They are also great on poor recordings (although I do have what many regard as the best source and preamp ever made, so be careful!) and I enjoyed the Live Birthday Party CD as much as I did my Bach or jazz

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Used product for:   Less than 1 month

Duration Product Used:   Audiophile

Product model year:   1999



Overall Rating:5
Value Rating:5
Submitted by Stephen a

Date Reviewed: May 26, 2000

Bottom Line:   
In 1998 I made a trip to Hong Kong and stop by a hi fi shop demonstrating a pair of WB ACT 1 speaker drive by a pair of 300B amp. Sound was very attractive especially the high and mid range, but bass was too lean and seems like not synchronized well with high and mid. At that time the shop manager told me that the bass unit was Scan Speak. Earlier this year, I went to Hong Kong again for a business trip and was wandering again around the area, I don't know why I stop by that shop again and look through the window glass. Then I saw a pair of new ACT 1 (solid Cherry wood finishing as compare to old Redish solid wood), it was so beatiful that I can't control myself to step in. The same shop manager was demonstrating to a few customers at that time. The magic came once I step in, I can't imagine that the tonal sound change so much compare to old version. The same 300B map drive it so well that all ranges are very balanced. The shop manager explain to the customer that the bass unti was a new version and not the Scan Speak any more, that is the major break through to improve the sound quality of the hi tech designed speaker. I almost missed an appointment I made with my boss after staying at the shop for 2 hours. I went out with a copy of my credit card slip and 2 weeks later the speaker arrived my apartment in Taipei....this is the best speaker I have ever used and it is not cheap at all when the credit card billed me NTD 268,000 (import tax bill to come).....with no regret.

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Used product for:   1 to 3 months

Product model year:   2000



Overall Rating:5
Submitted by Jim a an Audiophile

Date Reviewed: August 13, 1999

Bottom Line:   
It was by pure luck that I found these speakers since there are no Wilson Benesch dealers in Arizona. Someone traded them in after owning them for several months, for what other speaker, is a mystery.
I have auditioned many speakers including some of the newest like the Reval Salon, Reval Gem, Linn Keltik (Fully Active), Linn Kaber (fully Active), ProAC 2.5, B&W 801 Nautilus, Wilson Watt/Puppy 5.1, etc. In my listening experience, I have yet come across a speaker that has such pure delivery of music then these Act One's. There are much more expensive speakers out there but when I brought these home, I could not believe the accuracy of pure music that flowed through these speakers.

The key attribute to these speakers that sold me was the its ability to sound good with many types of amplifiers. Several other speakers that I have auditioned only sound good with specific types of amplifiers. I initially tri-amped this speaker with Linn Klouts using Tara Lab Ref Gen 2 speaker cables. Using the Wadia 9 dac with Wadia 2000 transport with P2S upgrade with Auro symphonic AT&T optical cable and Tara One interconnects. The sound was glorious in every sense of the word. The dimension of my room is about 20 feet X 34 feet with 15 foot vaulted ceilings. These Wilson Benesch Act One speakers filled the room and delivered all of the punch that I wanted. The speacial thing about this is that it delivered the large sound with accuracy and liquidity of the best small 2 way monitors (like the ultimate Gem or some of the extremely expensive european monitors), except it also has a lot of clear, tight bass. The best of all worlds.

Then I recently replaced my Linn Klouts with my new referance amps (Linn Klimax Mono) with Tara Labs One speaker cables and Kimber KS 1130 balanced interconnects. WOW!!! The sound stage was unbelieveable. The speakers absolutely disappears in your room. Almost like the speakers are not there. These speakers image so well that they need very slight toe. After experimenting in my large room, I have them 8.25 feet apart and 1.5 feet from rear wall, and 3 feet from right wall and 8 feet from left wall due to the walk way. These speakers do not have a tight sweet spot. I almost feel guilty because I picked these up at half of the cost of the new pair since they were used. I continue to go to my favorite high end shops and listen to thier best systems, and then come home to my Act One's and I feel that the Wilson Act One's with the setup that I have beats every high end the stores have on display. Which include the Reval Salons with ML33, Linn Keltik with 4 pairs of Linn Klimax (Fully active) using Linn Sondek CD12 and all using the same Tara One speaker cables and Tara One interconnects, Wilson Watt/Puppies using Jeff Rowland and Transparent XXL cables.

If you have not heard these speakers and are looking to spend anywhere from 7K to 20K, it would be wise to take a listen to these before shelling out the funds.

If you are interested in purchasing these speakers, you also want to drive them with ample power, at least 80 - 100 watt rated class A amps. But I have not yet heard anything that sound better then the Linn Klimax yet, but that is what everyone says about thier amps. One thing for sure there will always be a better amp next year by someone else. You can also read my review of the Linn Klimax, ML33, Wadia 9, Linn CD12 review as well on this site.

Like I always say, listen for your self and be your own judge.


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Duration Product Used:   an Audiophile




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