I go way back with Wilson Audio speakers, I sold lots of them when I worked as a high-end salesman. I loved the sound, but couldn't afford a pair for myself. Instead I would come in early, before the store opened, so I could listen to Wilson's then popular Watt/Puppy speakers on my own time. The bass, dynamics and imaging were the best I'd heard from a relatively small floor standing speaker, and I never got over the Wilson sound.
The company has maintained its stature as one of the world's leading high-end speaker manufacturers, and Wilson Audio still designs and builds all of its speakers in Provo, Utah.
When I heard New York City dealer Lyric Hi-Fi & Video had a pair of Wilson Audio's new Sabrina speakers, I called and made an appointment to hear them. I brought music with me, and started with SMV's "Thunder" album, which has a trio of master electric bass players (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten), and the very texture of their basses shined through. Definition and pitch accuracy were superb, and the sheer power of the three basses left no doubt about the Sabrinas' potency.
As I listened to jazz and classical music, the effortless clarity and poise of these speakers took me by surprise. Lyric has four or five listening rooms, with the Sabrinas playing in an apartment-sized room similar to where I'm guessing a lot of these speakers will be used in. Wilson Audio offers a range of much larger speakers, but Sabrina is destined for more intimate spaces.
The Kronos Quartet's music lit up that little room, the sound of each string instrument beautifully rendered and palpably real. What's more I could hear the four instruments filling the recording venue's acoustical space, it was a "you-are-there" experience.
As I recall, some earlier generations of Wilson speakers ruthlessly revealed the faults and harshness of some recordings. However Sabrina handled less than stellar recordings like Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" well, without highlighting the irritating aspects of it. The sound was seductive and sweet, with excellent resolution of fine detail.
The speakers were partnered with a Simaudio Moon Neo 260D CD player, Audio Research LS27 preamp and Reference 75 power amp. Sabrina's 38-inch (965mm) tall cabinet weighs a hefty 94 pounds (42.6 kg) and features a 1-inch (25mm) dome tweeter, 5.75-inch (146mm) midrange and an 8-inch (203mm) woofer. Impedance is rated at 4 Ohms, and the speaker has two bass ports on its rear end. The discreetly curved cabinet is hand-assembled, glued with proprietary adhesives, hand-sanded, gel coated and painted with multiple layers of automotive-grade paint. Fit and finish are exceptional, even by high-end standards.
The Sabrina is Wilson Audio's least expensive floor stander, running $15,900 per pair in the US and £14,999 in the UK. That's still expensive, but if you can afford a pair it might be the last high-end speaker you'll buy. It's that good!