Wilson Audio TuneTot loudspeaker

hfnoutstanding.pngWith the minuscule TuneTot, Wilson Audio returns to the speaker format that established the brand's appeal beyond the massive WAMM: the small true monitor

There is an inescapable poignancy permeating Wilson Audio's latest speaker, the TuneTot. According to Daryl Wilson, now responsible for design with the passing of his father this year, 'The TuneTot was the last product in development that Dad listened to in the R&D department and he loved it. There is a pair of TuneTots in my parents' bedroom and my Mom listens to them every day'.

It brings the brand's history full-circle, as Dave Wilson lived to see the realisation of the £700,000 WAMM Master Chronosonic, the ultimate evolution of his first-ever design, while Daryl's TuneTot returns to the other historically-significant extreme in the catalogue: Wilson's smallest speakers, recalling the original, standalone Wilson Audio Tiny Tot, aka the WATT, before the Puppy woofer system was developed. The TuneTot, priced at £10,998 perpair, is even smaller.

Flexible and customisable, the TuneTot is offered with a series of optional accessories. I reviewed it both à la carte and fully-loaded, the extras including the ISOBase platforms at £2398 per pair, the TuneTot Rings at £698 per pair, and the TuneTot Grilles for £335 per pair. The full set, then, is £14,429, but I would suggest that the ISOBases are the essential add-ons.

Flexible Set-Up
Designed to be used on sideboards, shelves and even desks, the TuneTot occupies a mere 377x219x259mm (hwd) and is a manageable 13kg. The ISOBases have exactly the same footprint, but height is dependent on how you set the slope via the adjustable spikes. With the bases, I would allow a fist-sized space above the TuneTots (if using shelf placement), to provide room for setting this.

As with all Wilson speakers, positioning is critical, and the manual guides you through near-field monitoring, which I used for most of the listening, with both the toe-in and the front-to-back slope addressed in detail. Recalling the irritation caused when I reviewed the Duettes positioned in free space [HFN Apr '14], despite being told emphatically that they needed near-wall placement, I asked Daryl what would happen if I decided to be naughty.

Taking The Rap
Said Wilson, 'The TuneTot can perform very well on a stand. It was originally designed to utilise the installation boundary for low frequency support, but music lovers want to enjoy high quality and accurate playback systems in more than just their dedicated listening rooms, which tend to have more space'. This concurs with the press release description of the TuneTot as designed to deliver Wilson's sonic standards 'in tight, awkward, acoustically hostile spaces around the home'.


As with all Wilson systems, the TuneTot features cabinets made from the company's proprietary, ultra-vibration-resistant 'X-material' and 'S-material' composites. The cabinets are effectively resonance-free, so a sharp rap with the knuckles delivers a satisfactory thud. At the front is a 5.75in mid/bass driver and 1in tweeter, benefiting from an asymmetric enclosure with no two internal surfaces being parallel. The aim is to eradicate what the company identifies as any 'sonically deleterious internal reflections'.

Stainless-steel spikes are supplied to isolate the speaker from its environment and provide time-domain adjustability, and these nestle in grooves in the ISOBases, if used. The superbly finished cabinets are available in five new 'WilsonGloss' colours created specifically for this speaker, including Quartz, Teak, Ivory, Carbon and Crimson, all applied in-house at the company's automotive-class paint facility.

As for the accessories, the ISOBase enhances performance if the speakers are placed on a resonant surface, such as a desk, shelf or sideboard made from MDF or hardwood. I didn't have an opportunity to try them on a nuke-proof shelf that would obviate their presence, but I can imagine that if one had concrete, granite or other ultra-dense shelving, their benefits might be minimised. This add-on is made from a sandwich of alloy and the proprietary composites used in the enclosures, and can be ordered in the same colours.

Match Your Decor
Made from acoustically transparent fabric with a frame milled from Wilson's 'X-material' composite, the TuneTot Grille is available in six fabric colour options. A choice of Slate Grey, Parchment Grey, Black, Blanco, Le Mans Blue and Mocha will complement or accent the speakers and match existing room themes. If the user opts for no grille – there is a slight taming of the top with grilles in situ – the TuneTot Rings, milled from 6061-T6 aluminium, will hide the mid/bass driver's mounting hardware. They can be purchased in Steel Grey, Clear, Red or Black. KH observed that the ring adds a 3kHz resonance [see Lab Report], but it was barely detectable in practice and might be mitigated if Wilson used more powerful magnets to hold the rings in place.

At the back is a slotted port – tuning plugs are supplied for this – and a single pair of multi-way 4mm binding posts. Measurements show that the bass performance is far more linear with the plugs in place, noted especially in near-field listening. While I did play with these in a variety of settings (and the TuneTots do sound amazing on stands), my remarks refer to them 1.6m apart on the ends of my desk, in near-field mode, or against the wall, 4m away.

sqnote.jpgTuned Up
So easy are these to drive that I tried them with amplification costing less than a tenth of their price, including the Quad VA-One [HFN Dec '16] and the Musical Fidelity M1-PWR, as well as bouts with an Audio Research REF 75SE and Nagra HD AMP. They are more deserving of the latter, so don't dig out your old NAD 3020. They love wattage.

Let's get one thing out of the way from the start. These are genuine Wilsons through-and-through, the real deal, and I can only come up with one analogy: they are to the Sashas [HFN Jun '14] and Alexias [HFN Mar '18] and the rest what Porsche's Cayman is to a 911.

Even with this in mind, one still adjusts one's expectations because your eyes tell you to do so. The TuneTots are not, to borrow from Dylan, going to shake your windows and rattle your walls as far as bass goes, though they will rock as loud as you like. That said, they proved deceptively satisfying in the mid-to-upper bass, with all the material I tried enjoying enough mass and substance to dispel any concerns of small-speaker-itis. If anything, the initial impression was of an LS3/5A-on-steroids, that subset of small speakers with added bass and an increase in maximum levels.

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