A Son’s Homage to His Legendary Father

Nearly 33 years ago, Dave Wilson, co-founder of Wilson Audio with his wife Sheryl, designed a loudspeaker that he never intended to sell. It was not a response to a market need or the result of a focus group. A recording engineer at the time, Dave simply needed a loudspeaker he could take with him to recording venues — a location monitor that would work as well as the esteemed WAMM reference monitor. So he set out to design the speaker he wanted to own.

He called it the “WATT” and it had cabinets made from materials that had never been used before in loudspeaker applications. Its time-domain accuracy was the result of the research Dave originally conducted for the WAMM. The drivers were selected to meet Dave’s demands for dynamic and harmonic expression — and to work well within the physical constraints of his other design choices.

In the late 80s, the WATT made its entrance into the marketplace as a happy accident.

The best-selling speaker that wasn’t meant to be sold

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January of 1986, Dave demonstrated the WAMM’s capabilities in the main room of the Wilson exhibit. Meanwhile, in an adjoining room, Sheryl used a pair of WATTs to play Wilson Audiophile records while attendees waited for their turn to demo the WAMM.

Her goal was to sell records, not promote a new Wilson loudspeaker. However, dealers and distributors were ready to buy the product that Sheryl wasn’t even selling. Sheryl had to explain that the WATT wasn’t actually available — it was just Dave’s location monitor.

“Since I designed the WATT for my own use and for my own quite specialized purposes, I was completely surprised at people’s excitement surrounding the WATT, and was simply astonished when they wanted to buy it,” Dave said in a quote on Wilson Audio’s website. “This was the first time I truly understood the concept of ‘Authentic Excellence.’ I designed the loudspeaker I wanted to own, and was delighted when others wanted to own it, too. “

Eventually, Dave agreed to build and sell the WATT to select high-end retailers. And, from there, Wilson Audio’s second product was born.

Moving high-quality sound to a single-unit design

Later, the WATT was coupled with a companion woofer, which Dave and Sheryl affectionately named the “Puppy.” It was a truly compact, full-range loudspeaker that could easily fit into most real-world listening rooms or homes, while still offering the bass speed and extension, the dynamics, and the musicality associated with much larger systems.  The WATT/Puppy combination went on to become the best-selling, high-end loudspeaker priced at more than $10,000in the history of audio.

“It’s like people hearing reproduced music differently than they had ever heard it before,” Dave explained. “And even though they readily could recognize the shortcomings, they loved what it did well. I think it also illustrates the prime importance of asking the right questions. The right question being, “How can I develop a speaker that makes music sound more alive?”

Fast forward to 2009, when Wilson Audio debuted the Sasha W/P, a descendant of the WATT/Puppy. Instead of the two-speaker approach of the WATT/Puppy, however, it introduced a new, sleek single-unit design. It proved that high-quality sound could still be produced by a compact loudspeaker, which expanded the possibilities for people who loved music, just as Dave did.

Honoring the man who started it all

After fighting a long battle with cancer, Dave passed away on May 26 of this year. But his legacy carries on through his wife, four children, and 15 grandchildren — not to mention the groundbreaking contributions he’s made to the high-performance audio industry. As a personal friend of many at Definitive, we are saddened by his absence.

As a tribute to his father, his son, Daryl, decided to give the Sasha — then in its second iteration — the ultimate upgrade. Alongside the Wilson Audio team, he would create a speaker that would give a nod to his father’s achievements, while still bringing its performance to the next level.

The Sasha DAW, which stands for “David Andrew Wilson,” is a son’s homage to his legendary father — the man who started it all.

One of the biggest upgrades in the history of the WATT/Puppy and Sasha platforms, the Sasha DAW doesn’t share any actual parts with the original Sasha. Daryl approached the loudspeaker as though it was brand new, while still drawing from what worked well in past products, including the Alexia Series-2 and WAMM loudspeaker designs.

The woofer module was completely redesigned, for example, but drew inspiration from the 8-inch driver in the Alexia Series-2. You’ll see the Sasha DAW is really a Alexia-2 in disguise, providing a much smaller and approachable design.

In the original design for the Puppy, Dave prioritized speed and dynamic impact, in addition to optimizing the bass extension. Bass performance was also important to Daryl and his team, who used thicker X-material panels to reduce panel resonances. Enclosure volume was increased by 13.3 percent, allowing for greater bottom-octave authority and reduced distortion.

There’s also a new upper module, which uses thicker panels to reduce resonance. A new pattern was cut into the inside of the enclosure, which helps to limit internal reflections. Enclosure volume was increased by 10.2 percent for increased dynamic range and efficiency.

Other enhancements include:

  • A new blade vent, which reduces cavity pressure

  • A new time domain ladder that can be adjusted without tools

  • The ability to be configured for any installation, ensuring time-domain accuracy

Specifications:

  • Enclosure Upper Module: Rear Vented Midrange, X&S-Material
  • Enclosure Woofer Modul: Rear Ported Woofer, X-Material
  • Woofers: Two – 8 in.
  • Midrange One – 7 in.
  • Tweeter: One – 1 in., Dome
  • Sensitivity: 91 dB (one watt at one meter at 1kHz)
  • Nominal Impedance: 4 ohms / minimum 2.48 ohms @ 85 Hz
  • Minimum Amplifier Power: 25 watts per channel
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz –30 kHz +/- 3 dB room average response [RAR]
  • Overall Dimensions: 44 3/4 in. x 14 1/2 in. x 22 15/16 in.
  • Sasha DAW Weight Per Channel: 236 lbs

But it’s not the new parts that make the Sasha DAW so unique. It’s the spirit in which it was made.

“We can talk all day long about the nuts and bolts, what the enclosure is made of and why we made the decisions from a technical perspective,” Daryl said in a video about the Sasha DAW. “But really, we are serving that healing nature of music. We’re serving that empowering nature of music.”

Sasha DAW at Definitive

For decades, Definitive has carried Wilson Audio speakers. We’ve witnessed how Dave and his team set the bar for the industry as a whole — and then raised it with every new product they’ve introduced. The Sasha DAW speakers will certainly become a special chapter in Wilson Audio’s story — both of its past and its future.

“There is no doubt Dave is a legend in our industry,” said Mark Ormiston, CEO at Definitive “He continuously raised the bar and was one to rely on scientific research combined with his own ears. Daryl has done a phenomenal job with the Sasha DAW.”

The Sasha DAW speakers start at $37,900 a pair and come in a variety of colors— including a special Ferrari finish, Grigio Titanio. In fact, that’s the same color we chose to display in our showroom, as a tribute to our friend Dave, who chose this color for his own Ferrari, as well as office speakers in the same finish.

You have the unique opportunity to see — and hear — the Sasha DAW in all its glory. Reserve your spot today for a very special listening session.

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