KJ West One - Connoisseurs of Sound - Est. 1965
KJ West One - Connoisseurs of Sound - Est. 1965
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When you've been in the Hi-Fi industry as long as I have, you get to go on a lot of training days and just as many factory tours. It's always interesting and a good day out, but when I got the call from Pedro at Absolute Sounds that I was being invited to Utah to visit Wilson Audio, I was very excited to say the least.

Knowing Wilson speakers like I do and knowing how well they are manufactured and sound, I was hoping that this would give me a good insight into the level of detail that goes into a true high-end speaker. Of course, I snapped Pedro’s hand off at the opportunity. He's since had it re-attached, by the way :-)

Everything was booked and we were on our way to Utah!

It was a long 11 hour flight to Salt Lake City, so I was pleased that the first day had been set aside for sightseeing and a bit of tourist stuff around Salt Lake City. Stepping off the plane I was taken aback by the heat, it was 35 degrees C and felt like I had walked into a sauna.

Salt Lake City is a beautiful place, set in an amazing landscape of lakes and mountains, very clean and well kept, with some stunning buildings. The most impressive to my mind was the Capitol building, where the state congress is held. It is a grand and classically American looking building that you might be fooled into thinking was The White House!


 
This was a fantastic day out, but the real reason we were there (and I am sure the reason you're reading this) was the tour of the Wilson facility that would begin the next day, fresh and early, at 7am!

After breakfast we headed over to the factory. From the outside it looked large but not out of the ordinary. We went to the boardroom for the first training session and it was a real thrill that David Wilson himself, with his wife, began the talk. He gave a very engaging speech about the history of Wilson Audio and what they believed in and strove to achieve. It's quite rare to hear somebody talk about their company so passionately. It was obvious that his love for music and drive to push the industry forward were key ingredients to the company’s success.


 
The rest of the training session was carried out by Wilson’s Mechanical Engineer, Blake Schmutz.

Blake started by explaining how much emphasis Wilson put on their unique materials technology. If you're already a Wilson fan you'll know that they're extremely secretive about their materials and give them just a letter instead of a name to protect their identity. They use X (first used in the X1 Grand Slam), S (first used in the Sasha) and now W (the new material used in WAMM) to build their cabinets and parts. Each material has a different set of properties and they apply them to different parts of their loudspeakers. We would learn more about this when we later got to see the manufacturing for ourselves.

Blake went on to discuss further the Wilson brand, the new Alexia 2, and introduced what they call WASP (The Wilson Audio Setup Process) which gives you guidelines about how to set up a Wilson system. He interspersed his talk with brief demonstrations of the Sabrina and Yvette. Both are fantastic speakers and it was great to hear them in Wilson's own demo room, but, of course, these are both speakers we have at KJ and I've heard them hundreds of times before.  The real reason I'd come all the way to Utah, apart from the training sessions, was to hear the new Alexia 2 and, especially, the flagship WAMM loudspeaker! 

Read part 2 of this blog here.

Read part 3 of this blog here.