Wilson Audio WATCH Dog Subwoofers – Now at TSE
The Sound Environment made the decision to bring in the Wilson Audio WATCH Dog subwoofers in early April. Somewhat surprisingly there is only one other dealer in the country that demos these woofers – located in California. Finally, in early June we have the Dog’s satisfactorily setup and dialed in. Gale and Todd have done an amazing job. I say somewhat surprising because a WATCH Dog Subwoofer system consists of many components that must be carefully chosen and assembled by the dealer. Proper setup is a long task that requires a good ear tuned to music and long careful work similar to our Speaker Room Integration process. Most dealers don’t want to bother.
The performance is spectacular but it is a steep learning curve. We have collectively spent many hours experimenting with the very complex Wilson Activ XO that is part of the system. The woofer itself is passive, just a driver in an enclosure. We have always recommended stereo subwoofers for best performance as do Wilson and REL. See earlier news on stereo subs.
The Activ XO is a stereo controller that allows micro-adjustment of all aspects of each woofer individually, including continuously variable phase. Wilson’s best speaker system, the WAMM includes two Subsonic woofers and the Activ XO. The Subsonic is the big brother of the WATCH Dog. Both woofer systems use the same driver. The Subsonic uses three drivers. The WATCH Dog uses one.
The WATCH Dog excels at bringing the sense of space to any recording made in a concert hall or other live venue. Many recordings made in studios also have this sense of space. I believe that this ability relates to the extremely deep reach of this woofer, down into the 8Hz region. This sense of space enhances the illusion of listening to the artist live – a bit hard to explain but when you listen with and without it you immediately appreciate that it makes the presentation more realistic. The artist seems more immediate like they are playing or singing for you.
The WATCH Dog is superb in ultra-low distortion reproduction of high level, very low bass such as pipe organ and electronic musical instruments. In addition, the Dog reproduces the impact of concert bass drum and kick drum very well which is an essential part of live music. No main speaker system and no other woofer that we have had at our showroom has that capability.
The Dog is passive, so you need the Wilson Activ XO with appropriate input and output cables, a very substantial amplifier, and speaker cables. It is a complex system. The minimum assemblage we have designed is about $30,000 (This assemblage includes stereo (two) subwoofers. You can do one single WATCH Dog for $10,000 less). That price includes installation by the TSE team with any main speakers you may have. We can incorporate amplifiers and cables currently owned by a customer, if appropriate into a WATCH Dog system. The minimum amplifier required needs to be a high current amplifier capable of at least 200 watts into 8 ohms. More is better. 400-600 watts would not be unreasonable.
The Dog is not very large for the achieved performance being 26″ high, 18″ wide, and 25″ deep. A Dog weighs 211 pounds. The cabinet is made from the very sturdy but inert Wilson Audio proprietary M material for the cabinet and internal braces. The front baffle is X material. The continuously variable phase control allows substantial flexibility in placement.
As always, the proof is in the listening. We invite you to stop into our Omaha location for an audition during store hours or by appointment.
The WATCH Dog system is currently being used with the Rockport Cygnus speakers. The Rockport Cygnus/Watch Dog system in our estimation is the most spectacular, most accurate speaker system in its price range, about $93,000 in total. This system can be built in stages. Ask our consultants how to accomplish that. The Dogs make a great system with less expensive main speakers as well such as the Wilson Audio Sasha DAW $37,900/pair, or the Rockport Avior II $38,500/pair.