April 14, 2016
On April 6th I was lucky enough to fly down to Salt Lake City in Utah to visit the fine folks at Wilson Audio. I took some shots on my phone documenting some of the things I saw. It was a highly informative trip and shows the truly exceptional level of craftsmanship this company reaches.
Arriving at the Wilson Audio Building in Provo Utah. Peter McGrath from Wilson was our chauffeur and gracious host.
Sheryl Wilson's Jaguar with license plate HIFIGAL and David Wilson's BMW with license plate HIFIGUY
Korbin Vaughn, Chief Operating Officer starting our tour of the Wilson factory while Sheryl Wilson, Sutil Merchant ,President of Sunny's Components in Pasadena and Lenny Bellezza President of Lyric HiFi in New York, look on.
Raw reference cabinets - Alexx, Alexia and Sasha 2. X Material for the majority of the cabinets and S material for the Midrange drivers
S Material and HDF bracing with X Material cabinets. S and X Material are made from a proprietary composite of phenolic resins and manmade fibres to give a heavly damped, rigid, monotonic cabinet material.
The CNC programmer and operator walks us through the process of machining the parts to make a Wilson Speaker. Wilson Alexx top wings are being produced.
Hand assembly of a Sabrina cabinet. After this it is cured for 72 hours 120 C in a massive curing oven.
Partially assembled Alexia cabinets waiting for sanding
Hand sanding a woofer cabinet before its trip to the paint booths.
Hardware kit for the top section of a Alexia. All materials are Stainless steel and aircraft aluminium.
Wilson Audio carry replacement drivers for every speaker they ever made including this stock of WAMM spec Kef B139s.
All Wison Audio speakers are sprayed with Gelcoat in one of their four paint booths.
The speaker enclosures are stored for 5 days while the Gelcoat cures. Then the are hand sanded to a porcelain like finish. Why do these images remind me of Star Wars Storm Troopers?
Biarritz White Alexia cabinets drying in the paint booth.
Carmon Red Sabrina cabinets curing. Each cabinet cures for 6 days between each paint finish. Hence the reason it takes 6 weeks to make a pair of Wilson speakers
Literally hundreds of different finishes available or they can paint match to you favourite colour.
Three of the four Paint booths.
Hand sanding wet and dry process between coats starts at 600 grit and goes up to 2000 grit achieving a mirror like finish. No orange peel here!
Final cabinet inspection is handled by a team of guys that take attention to detail to the next level. These people would give some British Coachbuilders a run for their money.
Driver soak testing area. Each driver is tested for 8 hours or more on the end of eight Bryston 4B amplifiers. Some drivers are fed 15VAC at 28Hz for eight hours or more. Talk about soak testing!
This weird jig is a laser interferometer. This allows Wilson to measure how each material behaves mechanically. They gave us two hours of materials engineering training including descriptions of MLSSA waterfall plots showing the behaviours of plywood, MDF, HDF, Aluminium, X, S and W materials
Standing with a selection of Wilson speakers from over four decades.
The venerable WHAM from the 80's beside an original Alexadnria.
Two decades Watt Puppy speakers.
Wilson's first product was not a speaker but this highly modified AR turntable with an SME 3009 arm.
Grammy and Emmy award wining sound engineer Trent Walker gave us a guided tour of The Church of Latter Day Saints Conference centre and concert hall.
An impressive 21,000 seat theatre, which is filled every Sunday morning for a CBS radio live broadcast world wide. Wow!
One of four Sound studios which do all live monitoring in 5.1 using of course Wilson Sasha 2s.
One of two organs in the temple complex. Sporting 16 foot pipes!
Peter McGrath chatting with Trent Walker in one of the Sound Studios. Trent describes monitor speakers as tools that can highlight the flaws in the recording which in turn he can then fix. He passionately believes Wilson Audio are the best speakers for this task.
We listed to some live recordings done in both the conference centre and the Mormon Tabernacle concert hall including a recording with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Bryn Terfel. Oh my what a sound!
Now this is a recording studio!
This was a fabulous trip that covered material engineering, manufacturing, R&D. Private demos from David Wilson. Product design descriptions from Darryl Wilson. Four hours of Wilson Audio Speaker Placement techniques (WASP). Demo tips and of course we broke bread every night.