|Wilson Audio WATT Puppy v6.0 Loudspeakers|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Floorstanding Loudspeakers|
|Written by Jerry Del Colliano|
|Friday, 01 December 2000|
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WATT Puppies are very neutral speakers that are known for their speed and resolution. They have always been able to rock on the most dynamic and challenging of music. Some critics find WATT Puppies to be too revealing, but I have found them to be simply demanding in regard to the equipment you have upstream.
Once I broke my WATT Puppies in for about a week, I started hitting some of my reference CDs to get an angle on how good my new babies were. It was Rickie Lee Jones’ cover of the Jimi Hendrix tune "Up From The Skies" from the Pop Pop record (Geffen) that really highlighted what the new v6.0 WATT Puppies were all about. Rickie’s voice was warm, sweet and way in front of the speakers, especially when I added the Apogee Digital Pro DAC and the Mark Levinson No. 336 to my reference system. But what really shocked me was the incredible presence of the acoustic standup bass. I couldn’t believe how much the new Puppies improved the low end. The attack was faster and the notes were more resonant. I have heard this cut on many of the best cost-no-object systems in the world, and the WATT Puppies freaked me out even without my subwoofers.
Stevie Ray Vaughn’s "Pride and Joy" shows a similar effect without such amazing bass performance. On "Pride and Joy," you can hear not just the very present vocals but also every subtlety of SRV’s Signature Strat though his Fender Twin Reverb amp. Each strum was loaded with echoey goodness, midrange bite and bluesy soul.
I have been listening to Michael Jackson’s Thriller (Epic) a lot lately. In its day, I didn’t really appreciate the insanely good production values on this album. Of specific note is "PYT." Beyond Michael’s vocals and the very danceable bassline, "PYT" is filled with sexy sonic accoutrements. Most notably are Steve Lukather’s crazy rhythm chops. From back in the mix come R&B slides, clean chords and burning rhythm segments that I really never paid much attention to before – even with my last Wilson system. The resolution of detail is one element of the WATT Puppy’s value, but the real idea here is that you get closer to the emotion of the music. The Puppy enables you to hear more and more of the music in ways not possible on lesser loudspeakers.
I got a little carried away with the whole guitar icon thing and plunked in Van Halen’s 1984, my favorite record of all time, thus pegging the volume at 72 (way beyond reference) and punched up "Panama." Eddie’s legendary "Brown Sound" was present, much like Michael Jackson and Rickie Lee Jones’ vocals on the other cuts, with a characteristically accurate dip in the midrange. What I did hear was a bit too much of the higher frequencies. I tried to address this issue with more than my standard 1 dB low-pass filter. I dipped it to as much as 2.5 dB, but all this seemed to do was suck the life out of the recording. The WATT Puppies kept up with the volume, but couldn’t smooth out the digitally bright problems I heard on this beloved album.
The real potential of the WATT Puppies is highlighted on DTS CDs and DVD discs. With 20- to 24-bit resolution, you immediately hear the most silky smooth highs and even tighter, deeper bass. At the risk of sounding like an audio geek, I must admit I dropped in Boyz II Men’s Beatles cover "Yesterday" (DTS Entertainment) on a recent first date. We had gotten on to the topic of "what all of this gear is for" and I wanted to give her a brief sample. I dramatically dimmed the lights, special thanks to Lutron, and automatically closed my shades via remote. When the tune came on, the four-part vocal harmonies were just dancing in the air. The presence was beyond anything a non-enthusiast could imagine. When I brought lights up, she simply said, "Wow, that was just amazing."
As I mentioned in my review of the Wilson WATCH center loudspeaker, the WATT Puppies are more ready to handle feature film soundtracks than ever before. WATT Puppies have always been good for movie soundtracks because of their ability to resolve fine details, such as vocals and effects. Now, with a matching center, rear speaker system and modifications made to make the WATT Puppy v6.0 still more dynamic, WATT Puppies are even more valuable for a real home theater system. Wilson WATT Puppies were used to master a number of top-grossing feature films including, but not limited to, 1993’s Academy Award-winning ‘Jurassic Park.’ I found the WATT Puppy v6.0s coupled with the WATCH center to be able to resolve obscure details amidst motion picture soundtrack chaos. A great example of this is found in Chapter 5 of the newly- re-released ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ (Artisan Entertainment). In this sequence, there are two audio tests that are very hard for an AV system to accurately reproduce. The first is when the gang members attack the Terminator when he asked for their "clothes, boots and motorcycle." At that point one of the gang members breaks a pool cue over the Terminator’s shoulder. Between the WATCH and the WATT Puppies, you can clearly hear exactly where the parts of the broken pieces land on the ground.
Later in the scene, the WATT Puppies are tested again when the bar owner comes out with his double-barreled shotgun and lets off a warning shot. The blast is difficult enough for a loudspeaker to keep pace with, but the shotgun shell hitting the ground is a rapid-fire test of extreme dynamics and subtle sonic detail. I have never heard the scene sound better than with the WATT Puppy v6.0. That includes hundreds of demos on the Cello Reference Music and Film System, complete with $70,000 Stradivari Grand Master loudspeakers (97 dB efficient and 18 Dyn drivers in each speaker), along with 400 watts Class A power from bridged Cello Performance II amplifiers. The WATT Puppy v6.0 paired with the WATCH center speaker was more resolute, more dynamic and more believable.