[SoundStage!]Paradise with James Saxon
Back Issue Article
September 2000

Setting Up the Sixes: A Pictorial Essay with Words

Wilson Audio Specialties of Provo, Utah is a classy organization. Not only did they approve my application to become a Wilson Audio dealer on the tenth try, but they also volunteered to send a representative to la casa Saxon to set up the first Wilson loudspeakers in Paradise, the newly designated WATT/Puppy 6 (hereinafter "Sixes"). Such service is unprecedented. None of the other audio companies I have dealt with over the past decade has sent a representative to help with a product introduction.

Wilson sent their number-one road warrior, Matt Tucker, a young man with years of experience in making loudspeakers fit the room. As a bonus, Matt is a fine public speaker in both English and Spanish and conducts a first-rate seminar on the virtues of his company’s products. I was also impressed to see he knew me from my SoundStage! column. When I picked him up at the airport, he greeted me by saying, "You’re shorter than I thought you were." It’s flattering to think I write "tall."

As I learned while photographing Matt at work, setting up the massive Sixes requires great physical strength and the courage to use it without asking for help. In fact, Matt suggested several times in a nice way that I "get away" from the speakers during set up. I admired his rigidity in this matter, especially since I sweat profusely just watching work occur. Matt even went beyond the call of duty by re-installing all the electronic equipment that makes up the demo system, about a thousand pounds of gear! The guy’s good.

It would be wise to stop here, but ego compels me to admit that I did participate in fine-tuning the Sixes at the last minute. Actually, it was twice in 15 minutes. After manhandling the speakers into their ultimate location, Matt asked me to help him install the spikes that anchor the Sixes to the floor and also tighten up the bass performance. We installed the spikes and had a listen. The sound was perfect.

However, at 5:15, only minutes before guests were due to arrive, I realized the system was missing something. I casually plugged into the wall outlets a pair of Quantum Symphony molecule alignment-devices and switched on Monica Naranjo’s Minage compact disc. We heard a sonic boom around 80Hz -- too much bass. Matt was puzzled; I was shocked. If anyone doubts the impact of the Quantum Symphony product, I invite him to audition a unit or two in my system.

Showing grace under pressure, Matt did not advise me to remove the Quantum Symphonies. Instead, he suggested we needed taller spikes under the woofer modules. Once again, I served as a leaning post for the Sixes, while Matt changed spike heights. No sooner did we lower the speakers onto the higher spikes than the doorbell rang. The first guests had arrived, music in hand! Fortunately, Matt’s suggestion worked. Firing up the system once again, the WATT/Puppy Sixes sounded glorious. I’ve never heard a loudspeaker perform so flawlessly, right out of the box or otherwise. The people who were invited to audition the Sixes seemed to agree. The seminar, which began at 5:30 PM, ended to raves and oles! at 10:45.

Setup photographs

The listening room awaits mastery. Hostile concrete walls surround a "zone of neutrality," as Wilson Audio calls it. Crooked wall lights show the power of standing waves that flood the room.
Well-placed Tube Traps are intended to mystify and delay non-audiophile burglars from coming through the garden doors.
The rear of the room contains a half-ton of audio equipment that eventually re-locates to the zone of neutrality, courtesy of Wilson’s road warrior!
Matt Tucker arrives, Rolex still with him. Who would dare take it? The man dwarfs room treatment devices; estimates of his height range from seven to eight feet.
Gettin’ to it: Within moments of arriving, Matt begins to explore the boundaries of the zone of neutrality by talking to himself and walking forward. He is looking for a spot where his voice sounds natural, free of echoes and resonance.
Zone of neutrality is found in four seconds. Matt marks the area with masking tape. The Sixes will home in a lot closer to the front wall than previous designs.
Projecting his voice against the opposite side wall, Matt listens for slap echo.

This tale continues with more Setup Pictures...


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