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Legendary high-end speaker gets major face-lift

The Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy has been one of the world's most popular high-end speakers for nearly a quarter of a century. It's finally being replaced with a new model, the $26,900 Sasha W/P, and it sounds phenomenal.

Wilson Audio's latest, the Sasha W/P speaker. Steve Guttenberg

Wilson Audio Specialties didn't invent high-end speakers, but its original WATT speaker, introduced in 1986, changed the rules of the game.

Up to that point, state-of-the-art speakers were all large beasts, but the WATT was a comparatively tiny stand-mounted speaker. Its distinctive pyramidal shape went on to spawn countless imitations.

The WATT was soon joined by the matching Puppy (woofer), and over the ensuing decades the two-piece WATT/Puppy system evolved, culminating in the WATT/Puppy 8 in 2006. Well over 15,000 WATT/Puppys have been sold since 1986, but rather than move to the W/P 9, founder David Wilson decided to start afresh, so now we have the Sasha W/P ($26,900/pair).

Wilson Audio Specialties' director of sales, Peter McGrath, came to New York City to present the Sasha W/P to the press at Wilson dealer Innovative Audio last week. The new speaker's sweeping curves and refined shape make for the best-looking Wilson speaker of all time.

It's a three-way design, with a 1-inch inverted dome tweeter, 7-inch midrange, and two 8-inch woofers elegantly housed within the 197-pound cabinet. Build quality is off-the-charts impressive, and the 12-step automotive paint job is absolutely flawless. The tweeter and midrange drivers are identical to the ones used in the $68,000 Wilson MAXX Series 3 speakers. Wilson Audio just recently expanded its factory in Provo, Utah.

The Sasha W/P is a two-piece design. Steve Guttenberg

McGrath played a mix of music styles that night, but his own high-resolution classical recordings were the ones most breathtakingly rendered by the Sasha W/P. It was one of those rare, "you are there" audio experiences where you feel transported to the musical event. The Sasha W/P's ability to unravel massive works with ease is what separates it from merely excellent high-end speakers. The Sasha W/P can unleash uninhibited dynamic contrasts that belie its modest footprint.