A simple, reversible upgrade for the Sasha (and some other Wilson speakers)
By Roy Gregory
I was recently informed of a simple field modification being carried out by Wilson installers. It involves the wiring harness that joins the bass module to the Head unit(s) on models like the Sasha and Alexx. As anybody who has looked at the backside of the WAMM MC or XVX will know, the company has instituted a set of ‘bollards’ around which excess cable feeding the head-units can be wrapped. This is more than just a cosmetic fix, although the range of movement available on the mid and treble modules demands considerable latitude in terms of cable length. Having that cable loose and flapping about would do nothing to help the sound, either in terms of ultimate performance or consistency, but I suspect that even Wilson were surprised at the degree of difference the cable dressing made. So perhaps it’s not surprising that they started playing with the cable dressing on the junior models, particularly Sasha and Alexx… Follow suit and it soon becomes apparent that the cables themselves are highly susceptible to induced mechanical energy, which is where you can make some performance gains.
Take a look at the back of either the Sasha or the Alexx and you will see umbilical cables lacing the separate modules together. I’m going to discuss the Sasha DAW here, as it’s the example I have on hand, but the basic principle holds good for the Alexx and any other similarly configured/equipped model. On the DAW the umbilicals rise from the central holes in a pair of acorn nuts/glands mounted on the top deck of the bass cabinet, These feed the separate head-units. In the case of the DAW, the cable on the left feeds the midrange terminals, that on the right the tweeter connectors. Each connection creates a loop of spare cable that allows for movement of the head-unit relative to the bass cabinet, as well as the necessary flexibility to make connecting everything as easy as possible.
What isn’t obvious is that there is also spare cable below the cable glands, within the bass cabinet itself. The nuts that seal the glands are finger tight and loosening them allows you to release the cables from their grip. In this instance and in seeming contradiction to the WAMM/XVX experience, the goal is to lengthen the exposed umbilical – thus reducing the loose cable contacting and therefore subject to the high levels of mechanical energy carried by the bass enclosure. Don’t worry, in the case of my DAWs, a firm but gradual pressure on the exposed cable drew around 5” or 125mm of extra length out of the bass enclosure. The stiffness of the cable means that length is easily dressed between the gland and the terminals on the head unit.
One size doesn’t necessarily fit all…
What you’ll also notice is that, as you draw the cable up, it brings a tapered collar and sleeve with it, the elements that seal the gland. Unfortunately, these are bonded to the cable so you cannot slip them and the nut back down the cable’s length to seal the connection. Instead, I used a collar of BluTak, but anything similar and removable will do the job. Once you’ve sealed the cable exits, check that the terminals on the head unit are still tight, sit down and take a listen. In my case, what I heard was a small but very worthwhile increase in mid-bass transparency, speed and focus, improved integration from bass to mid, improved dimensionality and spatial coherence. There was a reduction of grain through the broad mid-band and a broader, more natural tonal palette, crisper dynamics and a greater sense of musical intent. All of these things are in line with a reduction in grain and induced noise and whilst they might be subtle in individual terms, the difference in overall musical performance, presence and immediacy was definitely significant and well worth having. Given that presence, immediacy and dynamic expression are DAW strengths, these changes just further reinforce the speaker’s character and qualities.