|Wilson Audio WATCH Center Loudspeaker|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Bookshelf/Monitor Loudspeakers|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Wednesday, 01 November 2000|
Page 1 of 2
Are you insane for investing $6,590 for a center speaker and speaker stand? The unenlightened might say "yes," but now more than ever, a timbre-matched center speaker is of the highest importance. You've likely heard that that as much as 80 percent of a movie's dialogue comes from the center speaker. That's great, but does it require a $6,500 investment? It depends on your system and how you use it, of course. If you've got Wilson MAXX or Grand SLAMM loudspeakers and/or a very serious big-gun video system, then the answer could be "yes."
Realistically, most Wilson clients, current and potential, are looking at investing in Wilson CUB IIs or WATT Puppies v6.0s for front speakers, which are priced between $10,000 and $20,000 per pair. How can these clients justify building up their system with WATCH peripheral loudspeakers for center and/or rear channels? These are the requirements of DVD-Audio. While Wilson loudspeakers have long been used in mastering Academy Award-winning film soundtracks, the majority of Wilson clients, present and past, are music enthusiasts first and film enthusiasts second. Staring November 7, 2000, high-resolution audio will be commercially available on a DVD-A disc, which will enable record companies to release not just 24-bit two-channel remasters of their catalogue records, but also to add in a 20- or 24-bit 5.1 mix for music. If you haven't heard 24-bit 5.1 yet, you may not be with me on this argument, but take my word for it. You won’t want to listen to just two channels any more – you certainly won’t settle for 16-bit two-channel sound.
About the WATCH Center speaker
The WATCH series of speakers from Wilson is designed to be a real solution for music and film playback in surround. The WATCH center speaker is a formidable product with many trickle-down technologies from Wilson super-expensive products. The WATCH center speaker is 12.5 inches tall, 20 inches wide and 16 inches deep, weighing a hefty 70 pounds without a stand. The WATCH is a four ohm speaker with a 94 dB efficiency and a frequency response of 55 Hz up to 22 kHz.
The WATCH center speaker is made of a phenolic resin product that, unlike MDF (a plywood-like product that is found in nearly all high-end loudspeakers), is extremely dense and inert all the way through the cabinet. MDF is somewhat hard on the surface, but it is not nearly as dense beneath as the WATCH’s poured resin. The difference has sonic importance, because when a cabinet is made of extremely dense material, the cabinet itself has very little effect on the overall timbre of the speaker. The designers call the sound the cabinet gives a speaker its "cabinet signature." The WATCH Center speaker does everything possible to reduce its cabinet signature, thus allowing you to hear more music and film soundtrack and less speaker coloration.
In a perfect world, you would be able to place your WATCH center speaker perfectly aligned between your two Wilson front loudspeakers. In the real world, this isn't always the case. This is why Wilson designed the WATCH center speaker so that its PDC (Phase Delay Correction) technology is similar to what you'd find on the Grand SLAMM loudspeakers. The PDC technology allows you, with exacting accuracy, to position the tweeter in perfect alignment with the front edge of your front speakers.
While Wilson doesn't manufacture or sell the product, they will provide you with technical drawings for a hefty bracket that allows for a WATCH center speaker to be mounted on your ceiling. If you decide to go for the ceiling mount, you will need to hire a metal shop to assemble the bracket for you. You may also may want to have the paint matched, which could require a trip to your local body shop. Obviously, this project requires lots of work and extra cost. However, it may allow you to use a high-performance center speaker in a venue that would have physically been impossible any other way.
The majority of WATCH center speakers will be placed on the floor between the front speakers. The big question is, will you invest in the Wilson $1,390 color-matched, super-inert stand? It looks great and it bolts onto the WATCH perfectly, but it is still a $1,390 stand for one speaker - no small sum. The WATCH without the stand comes equipped with the Puppy Paw feet found on WATT Puppies, which allow for the WATCH to be properly angled upward and elevated from the floor. I didn't opt for the stand. However, I could see that, with the stand's extra height, if your screen would allow it, the additional advantage of lifting the WATCH's tweeter much higher than it would be on the floor. This is desirable as it enables you to create a more seamless soundstage across the front of your imaging.
The WATCH drivers include two Seas 6.5-inch woofers on the lower section of the loudspeaker. A more familiar Focal tweeter is found on the top of the WATCH's cabinet. Strangely, it is not the same tweeter that is used in the WATT v6.0, MAXX or Grand SLAMM loudspeakers, but it is similar. The same excellent gold speaker connectors are used on the WATCH as those you'll find on the WATT Puppy v6.0.