Wilson Audio SabrinaX Loudspeaker Page 2

Each loudspeaker weighs 51kg, so set-up, if not by the dealer, requires another member of the household because you don't want to scratch the gorgeous finish, yet you have to move these continually. Positioning is excruciatingly critical. I know: every speaker ever made has optimal siting, so that's a truism, but the SabrinaX responds to every millimetre of change.

By The Book
A Wilson tradition, however, is the inclusion of a comprehensive set-up guide, one of the best in the industry, which you must follow to the letter. Even though this is a single-piece model, less complex to install than those with separate, adjustable mid and/or tweeter enclosures, you don't get off lightly. The speaker's near-to-ideal sloped baffle deals with signal arrival times, but you can tweak it further by playing with the height of the spikes, tuning the slope relative to your hot seat.

I started with the enclosure's underside parallel to the floor, the spikes screwed into their mid-point to allow adjustment, ultimately adding 10mm height at the back via the spikes and lowering the front by 5mm. The degree by which the focus improved was as severe as the way that tiny changes in toe-in alter the soundstage, especially the sound beyond the outer edges. Even a centimetre too much toe-in narrows the stage width markedly, though you may find an increase in front-to-back depth.

sqnote Grand Design
EAT's E-Glo I integrated amplifier [HFN Oct '20] proved a sublime match for the SabrinaX, delivering a sonic sensation I can only describe as 'majestic'. I know I use that adjective too much, but here it was undeniably apposite, particularly in light of Daryl citing his inspiration as including the 'vistas throughout Utah' (the brand's home town). The Sabrina defied belief with a soundscape that belied its dimensions, encouraging me to write that 'It sounds as "big" as a speaker double its height'. The SabrinaX sounds even more grand.

It caused a listening frenzy that ran, initially, to eight hours, my wife appearing periodically with tea and bemusement. What rocked my world from the outset was the 1962 soundtrack to Show Boat [Columbia OQ487; open-reel tape], the overture so massive I thought there could be no more surprises until the chorus arrived. But then such recordings always sound huge.


No, what made the grandeur even more impressive was the air that remained even through quieter sections. I know from the outset this stage show has been controversial because of its subject matter, but hearing the depth of the male voice on 'Ol' Man River', followed immediately by a stunning delivery of 'Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man' (one of Jerome Kern's greatest masterpieces) rendered me dazzled.

Surely such less-crowded pieces beg for intimacy? Smallness? Absolutely. And yet there was a feeling of all-embracing atmosphere, of presence, of – yes, air on a colossal scale. It happened again with Nancy Wilson's Just For Now [Capitol Y1T 272; open-reel tape]. Her breathless, edgy take on 'That's Life' was made all the more real by details which attested to the Wilson (Audio) bloodline. I wish Dave were alive to hear what Daryl's design did with this 1967 treasure. You could sense the studio's space.

So far, so subtle. But I really needed something that wouldn't tax my tear glands, so I turned to the fabulous new release of The Crickets' 1970s canon, A Long, Long Way From Lubbock [Rollercoaster RCCD3075]. It contains that lost masterpiece, Bubblegum, Bop, Ballads & Boogies, with Glen D Hardin, Elvis' pianist, delivering the finest-ever cover of Huey 'Piano' Smith's 'Rockin' Pneumonia And The Boogie-Woogie Flu'.

Free Kicks
This boasted the most exhilarating, in-the-room piano sound I could have hoped for, with speed, clarity, attack and – crucially – low-end mass to add richness. Can a system swing? Spare me the 'pace-rhythm-timing' spiel of yore. The SabrinaX simply freed the recording. It was all there, unleashed. I sat stunned, for here was truly a half-pint Sasha DAW, which remains my reference.

But here's where we come to a crisis, as I'm painfully cognisant of 'audiophile neuroses' and those who suffer apoplectic rage when their 25-year-old preamps have been upgraded. If you own the Sabrinas and loved them last Tuesday, you will love them next Tuesday. They are still magnificent loudspeakers. You needn't rush to replace them.

If, however, you have £22k to spare, and you desperately need a floorstander that won't take over your home, while still delivering John Ford-scale panoramas, Daryl Wilson has a speaker for you.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
Wilson's Sabrina was, for me, one of the best compact high-end loudspeakers ever – delivering the scale of a behemoth from the form of a wee sprite. The SabrinaX expands the soundstage and extends the bass in ways that shock me, even when played side-by-side with its big sister, the Sasha DAW. So I leave you with an ideal analogy: the SabrinaX is to the Sasha DAW what a 4oz filet mignon is… to an 8oz. Delicious.

Wilson Audio Specialties
Utah, USA
Supplied by: Absolute Sounds Ltd
0208 971 3909