Wilson Benesch

Some of world's finest audio products utilising space-age materials and technology incl. Speakers, Turntables & Racks - Hand-Made in-house in Sheffield England
The FUTURE is CARBON

WILSON BENESCH was founded in 1989. Since then, all structural elements of every component it designs and manufactures has sought to push the boundaries of manufacturing and materials technology. 

From the world's first tapered Carbon Fibre tonearm, to the world's first curved Carbon Fibre loudspeaker, the novel Clamshell Isobaric tactic driver and the patented Torus Infrasonic Generator; Wilson Benesch has pushed the envelope of what is possible within Audio Engineering. 

Every component is manufactured using high precision tooling and advanced moulding technologies under one roof in Sheffield.

A fitting tribute to the illustrious engineering history of the city and its pioneers such as Bessemer. It is only standing on the shoulders of the great thinkers and engineers of this time that the modern world can look beyond the horizon of time.

A testament to Wilson Benesch's continued pursuit of perfection can be seen right through the product line Most notably in the Geometry series, and special entry level Square 2 Series.

"THE FUTURE IS CARBON"

THE ENTRY SQUARE II SERIES:
The Square Series II exists because of our belief that the companies design philosophy, technology and expert craftsmanship, developed though ambitious research and development for the companies reference line loudspeaker ranges, could be distilled in a beautiful, hand-crafted loudspeaker line based on a more traditional aesthetic and cabinet material choice.

THE GEOMETRY SERIES:
The Geometry Series aspires to be the evolutionary development of the time tested Odyssey Series that is now in its tenth year. This collection provides the summation of many years of considered thought and re-evaluation, encouraged in part, by new technologies and new manufacturing capabilities.

The Carbon Fiber A.C.T. Monocoque requires no additional bracing. Each element has been carefully selected and developed by Wilson Benesch. Once bonded, each element works to mutually self damp the other. As a result the Vertex has a relatively large internal volume to surface area ratio, with the lowest possible signal to noise ratio of any speaker cabinet design

The flagship series of the Wilson Benesch product range showcases the pinnacle of the company's extensive research and development in carbon fibre composites, advanced materials science and drive unit design. Deriving its name from the forms used to generate each component's architecture, each speaker in the range is presented to the highest qualities of fit and finish. signed, machined and assembled in-house at Wilson Benesch, each speaker  excels in dynamic, honest and clear sound reproduction.

From the 1960s, brands like KEF and Bowers & Wilkins pioneered the use of new materials in drive unit technology, but arguably no company pushes the envelope of materials science these days quite like Wilson Benesch....... Alan Sircom, Editor, HiFi+

All Products

Reviews

All Products

Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

WB 01 SM SQ1
NZ$ 4,500.00 pr (incl. GST)
"These speakers are amazing! They deliver superb music. Perceived quality is matched by the intrinsic quality and the care that has been taken in the design and manufacture of components, making the...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
WB 01 SM SQ1 STD
NZ$ 1,500.00 pr (incl. GST)
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
WB 15 SM VER
NZ$ 9,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
VERTEX S T A N D   M O U N T   L O U D S P E A K E R"From the 1960s, brands like KEF and Bowers & Wilkins pioneered the use of new materials in drive unit technology, but...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
WB 16 SM VER W
NZ$ 10,495.00 pr (incl. GST)
VERTEX S T A N D   M O U N T   L O U D S P E A K E R"From the 1960s, brands like KEF and Bowers & Wilkins pioneered the use of new materials in drive unit technology, but...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
WB 18 SM DIS
NZ$ 29,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
"Every Wilson Benesch product I’ve heard presents music with startling clarity. It comes at you with blistering speed from a velvety-black backdrop. Dynamics are incredible and the detailing always...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
WB 19 SM DIS W
NZ$ 30,495.00 pr (incl. GST)
"Every Wilson Benesch product I’ve heard presents music with startling clarity. It comes at you with blistering speed from a velvety-black backdrop. Dynamics are incredible and the detailing always...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
WB 20 SM DIS P
NZ$ 32,495.00 pr (incl. GST)
"Every Wilson Benesch product I’ve heard presents music with startling clarity. It comes at you with blistering speed from a velvety-black backdrop. Dynamics are incredible and the detailing always...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
WB 22 SM END
NZ$ 54,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
"The Endeavour turns accepted notions of the established audio swings and roundabouts on their head, surprising and delighting in equal measure. But most of all it succeeds in achieving that quality...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
WB 23 SM END W
NZ$ 56,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
"The Endeavour turns accepted notions of the established audio swings and roundabouts on their head, surprising and delighting in equal measure. But most of all it succeeds in achieving that quality...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
WB 24 SM END P
NZ$ 57,995.01 pr (incl. GST)
"The Endeavour turns accepted notions of the established audio swings and roundabouts on their head, surprising and delighting in equal measure. But most of all it succeeds in achieving that quality...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

Floor Standing

WB 02 FS SQ2
NZ$ 6,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
"Perfectly manufactured, beautifully designed, integrating very high quality transducers, the Wilson Benesch Square Two speakers suit perfectly any home interior. They deliver a musical message with...
Floor Standing
WB 03 FS SQ3
NZ$ 9,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
"Wilson Benesch’s new Square Three is a very special loudspeaker. Breathtakingly fast and dynamic, it’s tactility and visceral speed is remarkable at the price”….. Jason Kennedy, HiFi Choice
Floor Standing
WB 05 FS SQ5
NZ$ 19,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
"Its performance is so beautifully balanced, so unusually natural and expressive that even one listen should reveal its superiority. It really does deliver on the promise of trickle-down technology,...
Floor Standing
WB 25 FS VEC
NZ$ 17,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
"The Vector enclosure astonished us with it's transparency, it's speed is first class... A revelation, high performance yet very accessible.”…… Diapason Magazine
Floor Standing
WB 26 FS VEC W
NZ$ 18,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
"The Vector enclosure astonished us with it's transparency, it's speed is first class... A revelation, high performance yet very accessible.”…… Diapason Magazine
Floor Standing
WB 28 FS ACT
NZ$ 39,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
“The A.C.T. One Evolution is the distillation of all the engineering and materials science development that Wilson Benesch can throw at a loudspeaker… where the original A.C.T. One began ‘tabula rasa...
The A.C.T. One Evolution is a full range, 4-way acoustical, 2.5-way electrical, floor standing...
EXTENDED REVIEW: When Wilson Benesch stopped being ‘just’ a maker of turntables and started...
Floor Standing
WB 29 FS ACT W
NZ$ 41,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
“The A.C.T. One Evolution is the distillation of all the engineering and materials science development that Wilson Benesch can throw at a loudspeaker… where the original A.C.T. One began ‘tabula rasa...
The A.C.T. One Evolution is a full range, 4-way acoustical, 2.5-way electrical, floor standing...
EXTENDED REVIEW: When Wilson Benesch stopped being ‘just’ a maker of turntables and started...
Floor Standing
WB 30 FS ACT P
NZ$ 42,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
“The A.C.T. One Evolution is the distillation of all the engineering and materials science development that Wilson Benesch can throw at a loudspeaker… where the original A.C.T. One began ‘tabula rasa...
The A.C.T. One Evolution is a full range, 4-way acoustical, 2.5-way electrical, floor standing...
EXTENDED REVIEW: When Wilson Benesch stopped being ‘just’ a maker of turntables and started...
Floor Standing
WB 35 FS RES
NZ$ 69,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
CONSTRUCTIONPoly-alloy hybrid constructionHigh performance carbon composite A.C.T. monocoqueHigh tensile steel compression constructionBi-wireable terminal plateBass-Mid Chamber: High performance A.C...
Floor Standing
WB 36 FS RES W
NZ$ 74,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
CONSTRUCTIONPoly-alloy hybrid constructionHigh performance carbon composite A.C.T. monocoqueHigh tensile steel compression constructionBi-wireable terminal plateBass-Mid Chamber: High performance A.C...
Floor Standing
WB 37 FS RES P
NZ$ 76,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
CONSTRUCTIONPoly-alloy hybrid constructionHigh performance carbon composite A.C.T. monocoqueHigh tensile steel compression constructionBi-wireable terminal plateBass-Mid Chamber: High performance A.C...
Floor Standing
WB 40 FS CAR
NZ$ 129,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
 “The Cardinal represents the tip of a long and perfectly mapped development path, stretching back across multiple models. But the pace of advance isn’t necessarily even and the Cardinal...
Floor Standing
WB 41 FS CAR W
NZ$ 134,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
 “The Cardinal represents the tip of a long and perfectly mapped development path, stretching back across multiple models. But the pace of advance isn’t necessarily even and the Cardinal...
Floor Standing
WB 42 FS CAR P
NZ$ 137,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
 “The Cardinal represents the tip of a long and perfectly mapped development path, stretching back across multiple models. But the pace of advance isn’t necessarily even and the Cardinal...
Floor Standing

Home Theatre

WB 06 CS SQC
NZ$ 3,998.45 ea (incl. GST)
The Square Centre Channel weighs into deliver a staggering performance that is very hard to challenge. Discrete and understated it provides the perfect additional channel where a multi channel system...
Home Theatre
WB 06 CS SQC STD
NZ$ 1,500.00 ea (incl. GST)
Home Theatre
WB 45 CS FUL
NZ$ 7,500.00 ea (incl. GST)
A dedicated centre channel to compliment the entire Geometry Series shares in common with the flagship Cardinal state-of-the-art Wilson Benesch drive technology hand built, bespoke finish...
Home Theatre
WB 46 CS FUL W
NZ$ 7,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
A dedicated centre channel to compliment the entire Geometry Series shares in common with the flagship Cardinal state-of-the-art Wilson Benesch drive technology hand built, bespoke finish...
Home Theatre
WB 48 CS FUL STD
NZ$ 1,200.00 ea (incl. GST)
Home Theatre
WB 50 SW TORSUB
NZ$ 8,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Adding the Torus transforms the timing and integration of the instruments. The picked melody is more fluid... the snare more snappy... the space around the instruments much more apparent. Suddenly...
Home Theatre
WB 51 SW TOR AMP
NZ$ 5,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
Adding the Torus transforms the timing and integration of the instruments. The picked melody is more fluid... the snare more snappy... the space around the instruments much more apparent. Suddenly...
Independent frequency adjustment and gain controls Fully adjustable phase control Discrete Bipolar...
Home Theatre
WB 52 SW TORCOM
NZ$ 14,995.06 ea (incl. GST)
Adding the Torus transforms the timing and integration of the instruments. The picked melody is more fluid... the snare more snappy... the space around the instruments much more apparent. Suddenly...
Home Theatre

Turntables

WB 60 TT C25
NZ$ 4,250.00 ea (incl. GST)
In any design, ultimate high performance can only be attained when all the components have been optimised to work in harmony. Following this philosophy Wilson Benesch have taken all design and...
Despite the music industry’s struggles to maintain sales, the small but trendy world of turntables...
Turntables

Tonearms

WB 61 TA ACT
NZ$ 4,250.00 ea (incl. GST)
Launched to celebrate the company’s 25th Silver Jubilee, the A.C.T. 25 is a precision-engineered reference level tonearm. Constructed from carbon fibre composite, the A.C.T. 25 is one of the world’s...
Tonearms
WB 62 TA NAN
NZ$ 5,250.00 ea (incl. GST)
Using identical geometry to the A.C.T. 25 Tonearm, superficially the Nanotube THE FUTURE IS CARBON One appears almost indistinguishable. However, the Nanotube One derives its name from carbon...
Tonearms

Accessories

WB 63 TA STAND
NZ$ 1,500.00 ea (incl. GST)
Accessories
WB 64 TA CLAMP
NZ$ 450.00 ea (incl. GST)
Accessories
WB 70 RK R1 BASE
NZ$ 9,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
WILSON BENESCH R1 HI-END - HI-FI RACKEngineered to perfection - The R1 Hi-Fi Rack is a modular rack solution designed to provide optimal conditions for the operation of state-of-the-art digital and...
Accessories
WB 71 RK R1 SHEL
NZ$ 9,995.00 ea (incl. GST)
WILSON BENESCH HI_END HI-FI RACKEngineered to perfection - The R1 Hi-Fi Rack is a modular rack solution designed to provide optimal conditions for the operation of state-of-the-art digital and...
Accessories

Reviews

A.C.T. One Evolution are technologies that set the loudspeaker apart and create a new Wilson Benesch loudspeaker of stunning pedigree.

The A.C.T. One Evolution is a full range, 4-­‐way acoustical, 2.5-­‐way electrical, floor standing loudspeaker that incorporates the latest drive unit and cabinet construction technology derived from the company’s Cardinal loudspeaker.

Standing at 1.2m (47”) in height, the A.C.T. One Evolution is a combination of precision-­‐machined alloy baffle, alloy side panels and the Advanced Composite Technology ‘A.C.T.’ Monocoque. The A.C.T. Monocoque is a geometrically optimised carbon fibre composite structure that exhibits “industry leading” resonance damping and signal-­‐to-­‐noise characteristics. The inherent stiffness of the A.C.T. Monocoque allows the removal of complex internal bracing commonly used to control cabinet resonance.

Each A.C.T. One Evolution is fitted with three Wilson Benesch Tactic II drive units and a Wilson Benesch Hybrid Dome Technology Semisphere Tweeter. Every element of the drive technologies and the cabinet in the A.C.T. One Evolution has been designed and developed using Wilson Benesch’s 3D Dassault CAD/CAM systems. The degree of control over the design of every component, allows ground up optimisation of the A.C.T. One Evolution and has led to the development of unique drive unit topology and cabinet construction.

In the midrange, Wilson Benesch introduces technology taken directly from the flagship Cardinal loudspeaker. A two part cabinet construction sees a single 7” upper midrange Tactic II drive unit and Semisphere Tweeter operate in a volume-­‐optimised enclosure, allowing acoustical roll off of the drive unit. Directly below the Semisphere Tweeter in the main enclosure, a 7” lower midrange Tactic II drive unit resides -­‐ placing the Semisphere at the heart of the midrange design in a formation known as the Troika System. “The reduction in complex crossover elements translates directly into a highly articulate and natural midrange sound and marks a significant advance in the performance of the midrange to Wilson Benesch” says the company’s press release.

At the centre of the Troika System is the Hybrid Dome Technology Semisphere Tweeter -­‐ a highly engineered solution for high frequency sound reproduction. Wilson Benesch drew upon more than two-­‐decades of knowledge and expertise to create a hybrid diaphragm for the Semisphere consisting of carbon fibre and silk. The hybrid dome is a direct departure from hard dome technologies now used as standard across the industry for wide bandwidth tweeter design. “The natural sound produced by the Semisphere dovetails directly into the open sound of the midrange to create a highly integrated system, with stunning soundstaging and detail” .

The A.C.T. One Evolution bass frequencies are delivered by a 7” Tactic II Bass Drive Unit. Like the midrange drive units, it features a powerful Neodymium rare earth magnet encased in a motor assembly developed with the Sheffield University to optimise flux across its geometry. This exotic magnet design is combined with a streamline basket and a light stiff Isotactic Polypropylene cone to create a powerful bass drive unit. By installing the Tactic II Bass Drive Unit inside the 26-­‐litre lower enclosure of the A.C.T. One Evolution, maximum dynamics, deep powerful bass frequency response and precision are achieved.

The A.C.T. One Evolution is a distinctive Wilson Benesch design drawing direct references to the company’s A.C.T. loudspeaker lineage. Its sculptured, curved and sloped top is a direct descendant of the original A.C.T.

Despite references to a classic design before it, when distilled the design philosophy of the A.C.T. One Evolution is a clear descendant of other Geometry Series designs before it. Aesthetic cues can be observed in the foot design, where hand wheels and the partnering kinematic cups sit either side of the distinctive curves that form the A.C.T. One Evolution foot. Like the Cardinal and the Endeavour, the terminal is recessed underside of the foot; whilst upfront the baffle features the subtle machine finishing as seen in the Vertex and Vector loudspeakers. But the Geometric cues are more than skin deep and at the heart of the

A.C.T. One Evolution are technologies that set the loudspeaker apart and create a new Wilson Benesch loudspeaker of stunning pedigree.

What a way to honour the Wilson Benesch turntable legacy. This will undoubtedly become a firm favourite for years to come. Hats off to the good people of Falcon House, Sheffield.
Trond Torgnesskar - Norway,
SUMMARY: Launched in celebration of the company’s 25th Anniversary in 2014, the Circle 25 Turntable was re-engineered from the original classic Circle that attracted an almost cult like following due to its unique design and its totally different approach to suspension design that sees carbon fibre materials technology used in a cantilever design.
 
And herein lies, at least in my humble opinion, the genius that is the WB Circle 25.
It carries the torch of former WB turntables and has all of the qualities of the earlier models, but it also has a more insisting way about it. A bit more torque, so to speak. It literally leans a bit more forward, not in the sense of sounding forward as such, but in sounding a bit more alert, a little bit bigger and an ounce more dynamic, with more generous amounts of information, especially in the depths that the music might plunge into. And it handles it all with guts.
......Trond Torgnesskar, Fidelity Magazine, Norway,

This player of jubilee pedigree has more momentum and drive, not only than its cousins in the Wilson Benesch stable, but more than most of its competition. That quality, along with an ability to plunge into the deepest of signal-bearing abysses without losing sight of the music and said signal, makes this one hell of a player to enjoy, to cherish and to keep playing records on......Trond Torgnesskar, Fidelity Magazine, Norway

EXTENDED REVIEW: Since I actually use this players spiritual grandfather as my long time reference, I was naturally eager to listen to the new Circle 25 in my own set-up over a period of time. The standard WB Circle, insofar as such an iconic player can even be called «standard», is one of my all-time favourites in high end vinyl replay, and has even had its stint as player of choice in our magazines reference setup. It surfaced in the late nineties, but is now out of production, so the Wilson Benesch analog torch has been taken over by the Circle 25. A very thorough revision of a classic of The Circle's magnitude naturally takes both time and effort, simply because one would not like to leave a stone unturned, I should think. The classic design elements of the Circle are still very much the same, I am very glad to say… but the finish seem to have been taken further up a notch..
Arms and development

At first glance, there does not seem to be too many alterations done, actually. But then you look closer, only to realise that in such a product, there are both beauty and upgrades that are more than skin deep. The circular plinth itself is now made of a composite called POM, which is much more dense, a full 3kgs heavier and has better anti-vibrational properties than the former mdf..That translates into an altogether better base, even better at withstanding resonant- and vibrational energies, simply put.

The carbon fibre rods that form the sub-chassis together with the pontoon - like structures have also gained diameter, to better drain away vibration. The platter bearing is a even better version of the old phosphor bronze/steel one used in the original Circle, resulting in ultra low friction, noise and wear. This means gains in dynamics, absolute silence and the blackness between the notes, so to speak. The supplied ACT 25 arm is in fact a reworking of the old top-of-the-range ACT Two, and that says a lot about the ambitions of the C25-project. The old ACT Two is an arm of the utmost quality, capable of giving many of its «mega-buck-and then-some»-competitors a run for its money. It is my personal reference, and short of getting a Nanotube, I have never felt like upgrading. The fact that the 25 arm betters the old is nothing short of remarkable.

All the effort that has been put into the development of this arm are really easily appreciated. With such total control of the vibrational energies created by the cartridge and sent via the armtube, not to mention the bearing noise and the resonances of vinyl replay, you as a listener will undoubtedly find the sound to be free of haze and distortion, cleaner, more alive, vibrant, detailed and very natural. Like all Wilson Benesch pick up-arms, the 25 has a tapered carbon fibre armtube of ultra high rigidity, stiffness and anti-resonant properties. Granted, there are other manufacturers also championing carbon fibre armtubes, but a mere glance at the 25 arm tells you that what you see here is of quite another class and character. After all, Wilson Benesch started using and mastering carbon fibre long before the rest of the trade even knew how to even pronounce it.

Subtle? I think not. 

We are not talking subtle changes here, in other words. Another change is the fact that the Circle 25 comes without a cartridge, unlike its predecessor. The Benz-sourced, but carbon-fibre-injected WB Ply of earlier days is no longer in production, so a prospective buyer must choose another supplier of «needlework». Given the aforementioned qualities of the 25 arm, that should not be a difficult task. The newcomer was placed on my Wilson Benesch Triptych turntable stand, and equipped with my Koetsu Urushi Signature cartridge, its signals being fed into the riaa- stage of my Hovland HP 100 i

preamp. For some weeks of the review period, the Circle 25 was also connected to a PS Audio P10 Power Plant.

The Circle 25 is made in such a way that it is easy to live with and relate to. The instruction manual is virtually impossible not to understand, and the player itself is as «set-and-forget» as it is possible to be. Once you have set it up and found a place to put it, you do really not have to bother with springs, further adjustments or other things bugging you. On the subject of placement, there is actually a Circle turntable stand that makes the whole setup look even more futuristic and simplistically elegant, but I did not have the chance to try it. The material used for the plinth makes the C25 quite immune to vibration, and therefore not too critical when it comes to placement, but to make it perform its best and display what it can really do, care must be taken. There are differences!

A felt mat? Really?

Upon placing the C25 on my dedicated stand, I really had to think about the fact that the good guys of Falcon House really did not see the need to upgrade the felt mat. What is it with our friends in the U.K and their persistence when it comes to using felt on a turntable?? Could anyone please tell me? It does not seem to be an integral part of such a masterful design, but well, I will give it a chance, even though I have my thoughts. In my view, felt is ok used in slippers, Christmas decorations and on pool tables, but it has no place on a turntable, and certainly not on one of this calibre.

Wilson Benesch tells me that they are launching a series of upgrades to further enhance the inherit qualities of the Circle 25, the first one of these being a record clamp of matte black composite, with an aluminium tightener, complete with the company logo. Quite a beauty to behold, and in keeping with the players aesthetic qualities. Now, is a new and far better mat too much to wish for, Gentlemen? It makes a difference, you know! Since it is supposed so screw down on the centre spindle, this needs to be grooved, but for some reason, the grooves do not run down long enough to allow the clamp to be used if the felt mat is taken off. After having adjusted the setup, the first record to make this beautiful summer Saturday even better, was one that to me is quintessentially British. We are talking «Abbey Road», of course. And one of the finest songs of the last fifty years, George Harrison's «Here comes the sun» is first off.

Layers upon layers 

There are many layers to be found in George Martin´s beautifully crafted production, and the Circle 25 really displays such an open and uncluttered window into the music making of the Fab Four that i really felt transported to the world's most famous recording studio on those summer days of 1969. I have had this recording since I was nine or so, but i still found details, rhythmic shifts and tone colours that I honestly can't say I have experienced before. The Circle 25 has such a tremendous grip on both rhythm and bass reproduction that it sounded like a layer of grit had been torn aside, exposing McCartneys bass work and the fluid quality of his playing like no record deck I have ever used, apart form my own. That is really saying something! The music just swings along, feet tapping, giving me, the lucky listener , first hand knowledge of

the goings on in the studio during the recording of one of the best records of all time. . Or at least that was what it all felt like. The music ebbs and flows, it feels so natural and right, giving goosebumps to all that came into the room. My girlfriend just stood there, totally amazed. This is one of her favourite records ever. The Circle 25 gives such tremendous insight, it delivers such uncanny openness, but it does this without ever sounding dry. It strikes a fantastic balance between openness and palpability, tone colour, naturalness and sheer rhythmic heft. There is nothing anaemic about the music coming off
the Circle 25. It has an openness and an insight that stretches down to the deepest abyss, telling the listener just what is in the signal. And what is not.

If you have been doing a fair bit of listening to recorded music, you probably know that getting this balance so right is one of the most difficult things a maker of stereo equipment can undertake, and one it seems that many do not fully master. That is why many components sound like hifi, and others, like the Circle 25, simply do not. They sound like music being played. That is quite another thing. Here, Wilson Benesch's knowledge of how to deal with a fragile signal becomes very apparent, especially when it comes to seeing that no harm comes to it by not submitting it to vibration and resonances of all kinds. But such insight would not really matter if it was not followed by just as deep a knowledge of the effects of interplay, timing, tonal shadings and instrumental qualities. In short, how making music on different instruments sounds like in real life. There is a profound difference in giving you as a listener an utterly believable experience of a recording of a piano being played and the experience of the actual sound of the piano. That is the kind of quality I am talking about.

The sheer size of the «three-dimensionality» of sound that the C 25 gives the listener is really rather remarkable. An airy, palpable, colourful, breathing, realistic sound-field with gorgeous tone colours and a really deeply rooted, utterly solid, but still almost transparent bass quality. This transparent way of going about the bass gives the C25 both a potentially thunderous, but also nimble quality not easily described. But trust me, it is there.

Furthermore, the Circle 25 has an insisting, eager quality to its music making that was not apparent in the more laid back older Circle. It has a faster way with its transient response, and seem to be on the altogether faster, snappier side. it also sounds larger and more generous, giving a more enveloping experience, like it is even easier to reach out and touch the players in the orchestra. I think that all translates into sounding a wee bit more «live». The classic Circle really had a way with making records sound more «real», and the 25 has actually upped the ante here. Musicians and their instruments are rendered with such generous helpings of both musical insight and sheer weight. Listening to the 25, you will not miss a single detail of what is on the recording, provided you are awake enough. But this tremendous amount of recorded detail is not hurled at you like fragments, but presented as a dynamic, natural and coercive whole, devoid of the signal break-up tendencies of lesser components, that often sound unnaturally detailed. Here, you get fluidity, rhythm, control and musical realism. The qualities of the abyss…and that of cardboard.

This player of jubilee pedigree has more momentum and drive, not only than its cousins in the Wilson Benesch stable, but more than most of its competition. That quality, along with an ability to plunge into the deepest of signal-bearing abysses without losing sight of the music and said signal, makes this one hell of a player to enjoy, to cherish and to keep playing records on. The sheer impulsiveness of its deepest bass, the fluidity of its playing and the amounts of information it transports back to the listener is nothing short of immense. When subjected to such colourful cascades of information, it is advised that you sit down, or else you might just fall over. Given that you have a system that can take it. The force and impulsiveness, the sound of air set in motion, gives you bass that is full of information, not one that is more akin to the sound of a frustrated man kicking a wet cardboard box. If the latter is more to your taste, you are kindly asked to look elsewhere. All this display of inherit qualities does of course demand a more than decent cartridge. You would be wise to look in the direction of Kiseki, Koetsu, Acoustical Systems, VdH or the upmarket Dynavectors. It really is that good. 

It really insists that you listen to what is being played, and that was very apparent on Rickie Lee Jones famous debut release of 1979, and on Bill Evans and Monica Zetterlunds utterly wonderful «Waltz for Debby» of 1964. The Circle 25 played both these two releases like there was no tomorrow, energy, colour and drive by the spades. Especially the latter was rendered in a way that really told us what was being played in an old movie studio in Gothenburg three magical days in July fifty-two years ago. The totally unforced shifts that the Circle 25 displays between laidback musings and full-force,

commanding dynamism is really uncanny, and not easily found at any price. Furthermore, it really is the backbone of naturalness. The Circle 25 delivers it all without seemingly even breaking a sweat. That is what is really impressive! And herein lies, at least in my humble opinion, the genius that is the WB Circle 25. It carries the torch of former WB turntables and has all of the qualities of the earlier models, but it also has a more insisting way about it. A bit more torque, so to speak. It literally leans a bit more forward, not in the sense of sounding forward as such, but in sounding a bit more alert. a little bit bigger and an ounce more dynamic, with more generous amounts of information, especially in the depths that the music might plunge into. And it handles it all with guts.

On Robert Plants masterful desert-rock epic «Lullaby..and the ceaseless roar», a recording difficult enough to make sense of regardless of equipment, the insight, colourful naturalness and open, unforced qualities of the 25 comes to the rescue, delivering a sea of sounds, structures, rhythms and musicality that transforms into a intoxicating brew that you just want to play again and again. The 25 really cuts through layers of fog and distortion, giving a much more coherent picture of the musical events. It gives you the masterpiece this record really is. Oh, how slow and sirupy many other decks tend to sound in comparison! The same thing happened when I played the track «Fifth of Firth» from my old Prog-rock heroes of

Genesis. More speed, drive, complexity and timbre than I am accustomed to, making the record sounding faster, but with the same amount of weight. The 25 really gives you the full picture, or circle, if you will. It lays bare the soul-wrenching heartache of Rickie Lee Jones´ «Rainbow Sleeves», just as it exposes her intense joy for all to hear in «Under the boardwalk», not to mention every ounce of angst in David Bowies personal requiem, «Black Star» I very much doubt you will miss anything with the Circle 25. You get the music of your records delivered to your sensory system with all the nerve, drive, timbre, emotion and colour there is. Some of it you probably knew about, but some will be a totally new experience. Making this kind of a record player is quite an accomplishment, but it strikes me as an even greater one given the price. And on the subject of the price, if you are considering the Circle 25, a word about the effect of the record clamp. Apart from the fact that it really looks the business, it makes the bottom end seem a bit fuller (not that you , being of sound mind, will ever miss the fullness if you use the 25 nee clamp…) and the sound-fields seem to stretch a bit further to the back. It adds a certain depth to the image, and imparts a certain calmness to the treble that might suit some types of music, but take the edge off others.

Since the Circle 25 has an acrylic platter, and acrylic probably is the chosen material due to its acoustical qualities being close to those of vinyl, some might want to use the 25 without the mat. I mentioned the fact that the spindle is not sufficiently grooved for the clamp to be used without mat to the good people at Wilson Benesch, and this is being looked into, and may well be sorted by the time you read this. 

Like the Circle of yore, even the 25 responds to different tweaks in a way that makes it relatively easy, if not necessarily cheap, to customise the sound, or even make it an even better player.For example, I know of no other player that respond to such a degree by changing the power cord to a more upmarket one. By going for one from Transparent, PS or  Wireworld, it sort of tidied up a bit, and made the sound even more dimensional, the contrasts becoming more vivid. It has such a wide open signature that you should be able to hear even quite small changes to the infrastructure. And when you use a player of this pedigree and caliber, why not go all the way?

We few and fortunate ones that call ourselves audiophiles, always searching for the lost chord, so to speak, are not known for listening with any sort of handbrake engaged. Our stereo setup tend to be the main piece of furniture, and it must be a revelation to be able to tweak or upgrade a turntable of immense quality in small increments, making it into a player that takes no prisoners at all. So, with all this in mind, what happens when you throw away the felt mat, my personal gripe?

Well, I ended up using the mat that I use on my WB ACT One TT. that two-piece little number from FoQ Components of Japan. One thin, rubbery mat with large holes, one thicker, plain one to be put on top. That resulted inn a bass quality of even more resolution and detail, and slightly more open and fluid midrange. Definite steps upwards, if you ask me. And in a sense, you do, don't you? You simply hear even more of what is there, or at least, it becomes even more vivid.

With these small adjustments (or without them, by all means!) the Circle 25 is in my opinion impossible not to take into consideration if you are looking for a turntable the of utmost quality, without braking the bank and taking out yet another mortgage. For what it actually is, the price of the C 25 is really a bargain. It, like its predecessors ACT One and Circle, really redefines the amount of quality available at a given price. This really is a piece of democratic high-end turntablery, no less.  I use the term «democratic» because this player enables the owner to enjoy qualities that stretches far beyond its price, and in a time when high end hifi are often priced in the extremes, this gives the C25 a certain «democratic» quality.

Taken my preferences into account, and the fact that I use the Circle 25´s spiritual ancestor as a reference, albeit with a better power cord and cables, upgraded PSU, a large PS power Plant and better mat, of course…), I can honestly say that I struggle to come up with a competitor that even comes close to delivering this kind of quality at anything near this price.
The Circle 25 turned out to be even more of an accomplished giant-slayer than the Circle. Time will tell what kind of resistance it can offer.

The Circle 25 is significant upgrade on what is one of Fidelity's all time favourite turntables. The 25 really is quite a lot better, and succeeds in showing even much more expensive competitors how it is done. What a way to honour the Wilson Benesch turntable legacy. This will undoubtedly become a firm favourite for years to come. Hats off to the good people of Falcon House, Sheffield.

You have really done me proud.
....... Trond Torgnesskar

 
The Full Circle follows a lineage chock-full of careful research..... the piano now dances around the soundstage with a syncopated swing, as the bass provides a steady underpinning in contrast to the flighty keys
Paul Rigby

SUMMARY: The vocals finally reveal the multi-tracked nature of the recording in clear tones, providing new focus to the delivery.  The upper midrange, supported here by the synth backing and guitar, is now calm and smooth, without a hint of brightness.  Superb instrumental separation also allows the ear to hear each instrument from different angles as each settles into the soundstage.

The bass offers a low-frequency tone and shade that extends the melodic range of the song, with the overall soundstage now showing a new depth and height.

EXTENDED REVIEW: You could save up what it would cost to buy yourself a Porsche Cayman S or a two-week holiday in the Bahamas, and still not be able to afford a set of Wilson Benesch’s top-of-the-range Cardinal speakers.  So when the British manufacturer offered its Full Circle turntable up for review, I was initially wondering just how many circles would be on the price tag—surprisingly, not many.  In fact, the Full Circle (complete with the company’s A.C.T. 0.5 tonearm and Ply MC cartridge) turned out to be a relatively low-cost, high-value bundle.!

And, while some decks look like they are all elbows and sharp angles, the Full Circle is all curves, once I got it out of the packaging and put it together.  The assembly took about 30 minutes.

The Full Circle follows a lineage chock-full of careful research.  The deck is a direct descendent of the company’s first turntable effort, which it released in 1990 as the first deck to feature carbon-composite structures and which Wilson Benesch soon followed with the world’s first hyperbolic curved tonearm.  To create the current iteration of the table, the company upgraded the motor and dropped the sprung suspension, which it replaced with a combination of compliant rubber and carbon-fibre cantilevers.

In terms of the chassis design, the Full Circle “is constructed of two component parts,” says Craig Milnes, Wilson Benesch’s Design Director.  “The lower part has the motor attached to it.  The upper part is where the vinyl is transcribed and so it has to be isolated from the vibrations of the motor.  The task was to link the two systems but isolate them at the same time.  Between the top sandwich and the bottom sandwich, you have rubber compliant feet that deal with the load frequency coming from the motor.”

A secondary system, says Milnes, tackles the high frequencies, utilising thin carbon-fibre rods that sit between three aluminium pillars, which are on top of the second sandwich.  A stainless-steel sub-platter features a phosphor-bronze bearing and also serves as the host for the belt.  A piece of felt lies on top of the acrylic platter.

The 0.5 tonearm sits on a carbon-infused steel rod and utilises an intriguing kinematic bearing system, which is formed by three captive ball bearings, with a fourth bearing dropped into the centre to locate the arm.  This system, says Milnes, is superior to a normal ball-race system, because it removes the stiction problems that require a force to change the bearing’s state from stop to go, and also eliminates the unipivot design, which can suffer from excess wear around the bearing tip.  “Even if the kinematic balls wear,” says Milnes, “the rate of change will be the same on every one of the balls and will have no effect on the centre of the point of movement.”

But perhaps the most integral feature of the tonearm is its carbon-fibre tube.  While carbon fiber is a popular design material, it is often poorly implemented, according to Milnes.  “Off-the-shelf carbon rods might be stiff, but they’re not damped,” he says.  “To do it correctly, it has to be optimised.”  For the 0.5, doing it correctly entailed creating a one-off tool that enabled the company to produce an arm with a homogeneous, integrated headshell and enhanced dampening by allowing the carbon fibre to flow in a twin-walled, overlapping, double-helix pattern.  “Everything about the tonearm is unique,” says Milnes.  “We went out on a limb to prove that the result was possible.  The headshell has to have different characteristics than the arm.  It requires super stiffness and super damping, but you also want it to flow naturally into the tube so that the energy that flows from the headshell goes into the rest of the tonearm, where it can be absorbed and damped.  This is the stiffest tonearm in the world and it’s the most highly damped tonearm in the world.”

The final part of the Full Circle package is the Ply cartridge, which utilizes a generator from Benz Glider.  Wilson Benesch then adds its own carbon-fibre body.

Sounding Off

There are two reasons to buy a Full Circle: to invest in a new midrange system, or to take the first step in a hi-fi upgrade.  For the latter, I wanted to find out exactly what a Full Circle offers, so I hooked up a Rega RP3 turntable, Rega Brio-R integrated amp and Spendor S3/5R2 speakers with Tellurium Q Blue speaker cables.

Mounting the Full Circle on its pedestal stand, I played “Tribal Statistics,” from Manfred Mann’s Earth Band 1983 album Somewhere in Afrika.  Attempting to replicate a bare-bones upgrade, I temporarily shunned a phono amp and plugged the Full Circle directly into the Brio-R’s phono section.  I immediately detect a dramatic reduction in distortion, an increase in clarity and an ordered, structured soundstage, while each instrumentalist now has space to manoeuvre.  The music flows, rather than sounding squeezed out of the speakers.  The bass is not necessarily weightier, but it is full of character and integrated within the mix, while synths have a textural, informative presentation.  The vocals prove to be nuanced and delicate.

I then add the Trichord Dino phono amp to better support the Ply moving-coil cartridge, and the music jumps from very good to spectacular.  The entire soundstage opens up, with the bass roaring from the Full Circle with both mass and authority, while the percussion provides a forceful rhythm that grounds the entire track.  The vocal performance is full and rich, and the midrange is dynamic, offering greater breath and reach.

Turning to Ella Fitzgerald’s “Bewitched,” via Speakers Corner’s reissue of the Rodgers & Hart Songbook, I find the smooth tones of the vocals both clear and free from stress, while the lazy percussion, which normally sits hidden behind the piano, is now visible, adding depth to the mix.  The piano now dances around the soundstage with a syncopated swing, as the bass provides a steady underpinning in contrast to the flighty keys.

So how far can the Full Circle go?  I integrate it with my reference system, replacing the Circle stand with a Decent Audio wall stand. Starting this time with Fitzgerald, I notice a new layering within her intonation changing the focus of the delivery.  The track’s guitar, which was almost unnoticeable previously, now emerges like a butterfly from a cocoon, providing added depth and complexity to the overall performance.  The piano also has a new grandeur that takes nothing away from its jazz tones but that does give the song added gravitas and weight.  Meanwhile, the bass offers a low-frequency tone and shade that extends the melodic range of the song, with the overall soundstage now showing a new depth and height.

When I move back to Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, the Full Circle almost pins me to the rear wall.  The bass is shatteringly powerful, pushing me to the rear of my chair with its drive, while extending the range of the lower frequencies.  The vocals finally reveal the multi-tracked nature of the recording in clear tones, providing new focus to the delivery.  The upper midrange, supported here by the synth backing and guitar, is now calm and smooth, without a hint of brightness.  Superb instrumental separation also allows the ear to hear each instrument from different angles as each settles into the soundstage.

Tweakable

The Full Circle proves that it is highly tweakable.  For example, I replace the supplied felt mat with an Oyaide BR-12 mat (approx. $140), which opens up the soundstage further, tightens up the bass, reduces the distortion and improves clarity, while adding focus to the overall presentation.

Topping the Full Circle off with an Oyaide STB-MS vinyl stabiliser (approx. $250) gives the music a sharp emphasis and adds to the weight of the lower frequencies, providing much greater stability to the overall presentation.  The whole delivery of the soundstage exudes control and solidity.

Elegantly designed, well made and easy to install, the Wilson Benesch Full Circle gives a typical hi-fi system a confident and commanding suite of lower frequencies, with an airy midrange that oozes detail.  Showing that it also responds well to tweaks and other improvements, the Full Circle will prove an ideal purchase for beginners as well as audiophiles and hi-fi enthusiasts.
......  Paul Rigby

A wonderful loudspeaker, if this were a sane and fair world, the A.C.T. One Evolution would be considered in the same breath as that handful of big names at the top of the audiophile tree. Very highly recommended.
Alan Sircom 

SUMMARY: The A.C.T. One Evolution is also extraordinarily detailed from top to toe. These are great loudspeakers for musical analysis, for listening into the music and extracting both a lot of information and – more significantly – a lot of fun......and the kind of thing that makes vocals and pianos come to life in normal domestic listening rooms. 
What the speaker also does extraordinarily well is create a good soundstage. There was greater depth and width that extended far beyond the limits of the room.
I don’t want to get carried away by the bass. There is a lot more to this loudspeaker than bottom end. It’s just that the loudspeaker does bass so well, and so deep: that unbraced cabinet makes it TARDIS like and far bigger on the inside than you’d expect and that means more cabinet volume and that means more bass – but the level of control the A.C.T. One Evolution has over that bass is insane

EXTENDED REVIEW: When Wilson Benesch stopped being ‘just’ a maker of turntables and started branching out into those transducers at the other end of the system, the company’s first and arguably most important design was the A.C.T. One. Using the company’s ‘Advanced Composite Technology’ monocoque, this floorstander hit the streets in 1995 and won a dozen awards. The A.C.T. One has passed through three iterations to date, including the ACT C60 and A.C.T. The A.C.T. One Evolution is a fitting name for a truly evolving design.

The A.C.T. One Evolution is the distillation of all the engineering and materials science development that Wilson Benesch can throw at a loudspeaker. Of course, 20 years later, there is a lot more loudspeaker history and engineering to throw around, and where the original A.C.T. One began ‘tabula rasa’, the A.C.T. One Evolution draws upon drive unit and high compression cabinet construction derived from two decades of loudspeaker design, which includes the company’s Cardinal flagship.

Like the Cardinal, the A.C.T. One Evolution is a four-driver, two-and-a-half way floorstander, featuring Wilson-Benesch’s novel Semisphere hybrid silk-meets-carbon dome tweeter with a series of Tactic II drivers. The hybrid nature of the 25mm company’s own Semisphere driver is a method of harnessing the speed of modern hard dome tweeters with the frequency extension and tonal accuracy of a classic soft dome. This innovative tweeter unit remains one of the jewels in Wilson Benesch’s crown.

The 170mm Tactic II is also unique to Wilson Benesch, a development produced in association with Sheffield University (its physics department designed a unique motor assembly encasing neodymium magnets that optimised flux across the geometry of the driver). The driver features a light-yet-stiff isotactic (hence the name) polypropylene cone in a streamlined basket.

Clever officially starts here: the Tactic II is a multi-purpose drive unit. So, the Tactic II driver in its own 26 litre chamber is built precisely for its function as a bass driver, while the one below the tweeter is devoid of any crossover and built as a pure midrange. Wilson Benesch class the Tactic II as a ‘multirole’ drive unit, rather like a multirole combat aircraft like a Dassault Rafale, but with fewer hard-points and gun platform options.

That last line wasn’t as throwaway as it might have first seemed, because Dassault – the group that includes the makers of the French fighter – developed the 3D CAD/CAM software that Wilson Benesch uses in the development of all its products, including the A.C.T. One. While CAD/CAM is not a new thing in loudspeaker design, it’s relatively rare for a company of Wilson Benesch’s size to use the technology so thoroughly. When you look at the design of the company’s speakers, you can see precisely why that design program is money well spent.

Nevertheless, the carbon-fibre monocoque design found in the original A.C.T. One is still a vital part of the new loudspeaker’s development. It means the loudspeaker can be completely unbraced internally, and yet retain the level of stiffness required of a loudspeaker at this level. And that means the internal volume of the cabinet is far larger than most loudspeakers of the A.C.T. One Evolution’s footprint, which spells deceptive amounts of bass for the size of speaker. It also uses Wilson Benesch’s ‘Troika’ arrangement of upper and lower midrange units flanking the tweeter. This is not a typical ‘MTM’ or ‘D’Appolito’ arrangement, because the upper driver sits in its own enclosure. This also acts as a lower midrange/bass unit, instead of another midrange driver, as befits the Tactic II’s ‘multirole’ use. The look also harks back to the original A.C.T. One, with its sculptured and curved lines, and sloping top, but there are also clear elements of the company’s other Geometry Series speakers at work here. A lot of this comes down to what other companies might dismiss as ‘trimmings’ but in fact are vital components of how the A.C.T. One Evolution is sited in its surroundings, with hand wheels, inverted cones and – if need be, cups – can be used for installation. The biwire loudspeaker terminals are set into the integrated plinth, and the rear panel just features two small rear ports for the upper and lower midrange chambers.

Wilson Benesch loudspeakers present a relatively easy load (89dB sensitivity, a nominal six-ohm impedance with a four-ohm minimum and no evil phase angles in the impedance plot) but they do like being driven hard. Good, solid-state power and plenty of it is the order of the day. They were in their element on the end of a Devialet 250 and this suggests a brute force amplifier that can deliver enough current to drive an arc welder is not as important as an amplifier with good power delivery. The function of a beneath the plinth cable entry system precluded significant cable playtime, and perhaps not surprisingly the A.C.T. One Evolution seemed perfectly comfortable on the end of a squillion pounds worth of Nordost Odin 2.

Positioning is key with these speakers, although not perhaps as ‘millimetre-sensitive’ as some of the Geometry Series seem to require. The A.C.T. One Evolution is surprisingly room tolerant, working well in big and small rooms. Naturally, the more you can nuance the system in terms of installation, room acoustics, and precise adjustment, the better. This is a loudspeaker that always gets to ‘good’ but with some fine-tuning can easily get to ‘great’. The one caveat to the small room demands is it does need some free-space at the rear in order to deliver bass properly. Put it less than a metre from the rear wall and those two ports begin to interact with the surroundings.

I’m very fond of Wilson Benesch loudspeakers. They are extremely focused and precise. That doesn’t mean they constrain the life out of music, however. They are just dry and sophisticated, like a really good Martini. They are also extremely dynamic when correctly partnered; not in the writ-large style of Wilson loudspeakers, or horn designs, but more than capable of showing precisely what dynamic range is in your recordings. But I understand that this combination is not for everyone, and some would like a bit more bottom end authority to match that mid and top. Yes, that powerful bass comes with the Cardinal and when using the company’s Torus not-a-subwoofer Infrasonic Generator, but in some respects the gusto of cheaper models like the Square Five is hard to find in the brand’s top models.

The A.C.T. One Evolution changes that. It has the perfect combination of extraordinary control and deep, primal bass: not in a wild way, this is no rabid, Jekyll and Hyde speaker, more a classical guitarist who plays bass for Iron Maiden in his spare time. The A.C.T. One Evolution has all the cerebral, sophisticated properties people have come to expect from Wilson Benesch loudspeakers, but these are harnessed to a deep, potent, powerful bass line that could easily be set to threatening levels. What is truly inspiring here is these two elements combine naturally in the way Guinness and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate do: it’s the kind of combination that shouldn’t work, but does… and does magnificently. Try it!

In the case of the Wilson Benesch A.C.T. One Evolution, the precision of the midrange and treble do not seem like comfortable bedfellows with that much bass, but the level of clarity and control into the deepest recesses of the loudspeaker make for an excellent loudspeaker. ‘Dayvan Cowboy’ from Boards of Canada’s The Campfire Headphase LP [Warp Records] is a deceptive slice of mid 2000s electronica – there doesn’t seem like much bass going on at all, except that it completely underpins the treated, distorted, synthesised sounds and tremolo guitar, making everything seem less of a swirling, cacophonous mess and more like a slice of post rock brilliance.

I don’t want to get carried away by the bass. There is a lot more to this loudspeaker than bottom end. It’s just that the loudspeaker does bass so well, and so deep: that unbraced cabinet makes it TARDIS like and far bigger on the inside than you’d expect and that means more cabinet volume and that means more bass – but the level of control the A.C.T. One Evolution has over that bass is insane. But, let’s move on. What the speaker also does extraordinarily well is create a good soundstage. That requires some space around the loudspeakers that my tiny room generally precludes, but even here it was clear the loudspeakers were doing something remarkable to the soundstage. There was greater depth and width that extended far beyond the limits of the room: so deep in fact, I kept expecting passers-by to be hit in the face by an invisible tympani player!

The A.C.T. One Evolution is also extraordinarily detailed from top to toe. These are great loudspeakers for musical analysis, for listening into the music and extracting both a lot of information and – more significantly – a lot of fun. Play something like Bach’s Art of Fugue [Emerson String Quartet, DG] and you need to hear both the cerebral and the visceral. This should be extremely precise and very clearly a string quartet, but it should also come with a sense of musical joy and vivacity, taking the birthplace of modern music and making it their own. Less detailed loudspeakers fail at one of these two aspects, either making the precision or the fun-factor disappear. Wilson Benesch’s A.C.T. One Evolution combines both elements of the recording with lithe elegance. Paradoxically though, what the A.C.T. One Evolution doesn’t do is pretend to be a studio monitor. If you want that stark, flat sound… look elsewhere. By comparison to that monitor-like sound, the Wilson Benesch has a slight zing in the upper mid to treble. Not much, and the kind of thing that makes vocals and pianos come to life in normal domestic listening rooms. Ultimately, I’d prefer this presentation in the home to a flatter, more dreary sound.

Some of the reason why this isn’t a monitor sound is the A.C.T. One Evolution appears more dynamic than many monitors. This is perhaps excusable in monitor loudspeakers (that close to the real instruments, dynamic range is something studio monitors ‘tame’ rather than ‘exploit’), but the Wilson Benesch loudspeakers do present an effortless, and easy dynamic range.

The A.C.T. One Evolution also go loud. OK, so not as loud as that other Wilson product line, but for real world users who aren’t looking at using their £20,000 loudspeakers in endless party mode, they will play ‘La Grange’ by ZZ Top [Tres Hombres, London] at air guitar levels quite, quite happily.

In short, this is a great all-rounder. You could happily spend hour upon hour sitting in front of these loudspeakers loving every minute. Alongside the analysis and the soundstaging and all the other great aspects of this loudspeaker, that ‘sitinfrontability’ (a poor neologism, I know) is all important. This is a loudspeaker that simply works for long term listening.

The interesting thing with loudspeaker buyers is sometimes we have a taste for the exotic. This means UK high-enders often buy products from far away lands, and ignore home-grown devices, where our international counterparts will consider a UK based loudspeaker on its own merits, because it has its own taste of the exotic if you are on the other side of the world. While ‘designed and built in the UK’ has significant traction outside of the UK, many British people may well skip over the A.C.T. One Evolution because of its local origin, and it’s very much their loss. This is a wonderful loudspeaker, capable of great subtlety at the same time as deep bass wigging out. If this were a sane and fair world, the A.C.T. One Evolution would be considered in the same breath as that other Wilson loudspeaker brand, as well as that handful of big names at the top of the audiophile tree. Very highly recommended!
........Alan Sircom 

7 OWNERS REVIEWS = 5 ★★★★★ / out of 5

 7 REVIEWS - 5★★★★★ / out of 5

Dlam Audio Enthusiast

STRENGTH:

Very neutral! easy to drive, top end sweet, full body of mid range and deep bottom end. Easy to position in a room slightly toe in. Very transperant and musical. Not as much ingradient as sonus faber but all round singer. The string music is still excellence!

WEAKNESS:

very expensive for new but good retain of value for 2nd hand market

I have the wilison benesch act 1 mk2 speaker for one year. Very good match with my goldmund CD player and modified old model NAD3130 amp.Thin silver plated speaker cables and standard copper interconnect cable. 

The amp is modified by a master of sound engineer. Very dynamic, very good balance of full range of sound. The excellence control of bass is unbeatable. The high range is also very sweet and transperant. I compare it to the e new version ACT 2 and ACT, the ACT 1 is sweeter in high and mid range. More musical indeed. 

The stereo image is excellent. Lots of detail! The speaker suitable for all kinds of music! Very neutral! I like the system very much!

OVERALL RATING5 - ★★★★★

VALUE RATING5 - ★★★★★

 

Jim Audiophile

STRENGTH:

Clarity, responsiveness, open, smooth, controlled, dynamic

WEAKNESS:

Lowest bass response, but the cabinet shape minimises internal volume available

These speakers are very open and dynamic, the clarity is wonderful and the bass, though not the deepest, is well controlled and responsive. One of the best i've ever heard, in fact! (System was Chord Electronics SPM1600 range, which sounded wonderful with them.

OVERALL RATING5 - ★★★★★

VALUE RATING5 - ★★★★★

 

David Antonelli Audiophile

STRENGTH:

Seamless integration, timbral accuracy, clear imaging, musicality, tonal richness, easy to drive

WEAKNESS:

None, but must make sure speaker is placed correctly to get right bass

I finally got to home demo these speakers after about six months of trying (thanks to the guys at tricell for bringing them down) and although I was prepared to be disappointed I ended up being completely enthralled with what I heard.

I have an all naim system with CDS 2/52/250 and very fine Royd Albions. My dilemma was whether or not to go to super speakers first (and which ones as taste and system matching is always important) or to get a nap 500 and accept the limitations of the albions until I could get great speakers later. I thought on the basis of what I had heard over the internet and in private conversations that the ACT 1s would be a poor match with naim and would be difficult to drive. So I was more than pleasantly surprised at what happened.

When the speakers were first plugged in they needed about half an hour to charge up before they sounded smooth. After this half hour I was convinced that the mid range and treble crushed that of the albions, already considered by many as having one of the best mid ranges below ten grand. At times it seemed a bit edgy, however, and the bass transients had a jumpiness and slam quality to them that didn't suit the music. So I moved them out from the wall by six inches and the bass receded and smoothed out. It was now quick and tight and had a great tunefulness about it. Things were much better integrated from the silky highs and subtle ebbs and flows of the music down to the grit and punch of the bass. They were much more detailed, yet more controlled, sweet, fast, and rich than the albions and had all the advantages of JM Lab mezzo utopias (although I heard these in the context of infereor Mark Levinson electronics - yes, inferior to naim in spite of their 85 K label) but they were more lively and sounded real as opposed to manufactured. At times, though, they were a bit too quick sounding in a way that was not quite musical.

Then my dealer suggested I try a new speaker cable. I was a bit reluctant as changing cable in a naim system is violation of the holy of holies, but he assured me that the cable was of similar specs only much higher quality. The new cable smoothed everything out and gave a redoubled effortlessness and fullness that solved the slight problems mentioned above regarding the all-too-sudden transients. It made the naim cable seem thin and brittle in comparison.

As it was this was enough to convince me that a) I am buying ACT TWOs. They are said to have an even better mid range (approaching or surpassing that of a full blown audio-note or quad system) while having improved dynamics, greater fluidity, and deeper bass along with a super revelatory rather than the revelatory on the ACT 1s. 

I was also surprised that the 250 had such little trouble with them. I know ACT 1s are supposed to be a moderate load, but the 250 is said to struggle with quite a few non-naim speakers. I now know I am spending my money right and I may never even need to get the mighty nap 500 when the 250 does such a nice job with these. I know the 500 would improve things immeasurably, but when it costs as much as a nice car, one has to have a few doubts. For the cost of a 500 while keeping my limited but OK albions, I could get ACT 2s and 135s and not have to worry about replacing the speakers later.

Another thing, these speakers have the most natural and effortless musical presentation I have ever heard with a clarity and liquidity that make the albions seem strident and grainy. They truly vanish and there is never the sense that the speakers are even there or that the soundstage and imaging is un natural and taking the music out of the system as is so common with high end US stuff. And with naim speakers you get all the rhythm and control but an unnaturally narrow soundstage and dry shut-in quality that is at the end of the day just as heinous as the overblown US systems with their utter lack of musicality but pin point imaging and hyper-detailed sound.

They are also great on poor recordings (although I do have what many regard as the best source and preamp ever made, so be careful!) and I enjoyed the Live Birthday Party CD as much as I did my Bach or jazz

OVERALL RATING5 - ★★★★★


Ray Hunter
Audio Enthusiast

STRENGTH:

Stereo focus

WEAKNESS:

absolutely none (of course you have to buy quality components as companions.)

I have a stable set-up of:
Meridian 506 CD player,
Krell KRC III pre amp,
FPB 300 power amp
Wilson Benesch Act 1 Loudspeakers
Transparent Music Wave interconnects & speaker cables.

The whole system sounds just great, looks just great, and works extremely well together.

I originally went into the hi-fi shop looking for some replacements for my ancient ARC 101's, fully convinced that I would not hear a great improvement on my previous system. I had already listened to some fully active Meridian 5000 & 5500DSPs but thought they were thoroughly rotten. Unusual, I thought because I love the Meridian CD player.

I saw these Act One speakers ex. demo at an unbelievable bargain price. They had maybe one scratch on the wood finish, and I had several weeks of home use before I had to decide to buy.

The soundstage is frighteningly accurate. Things seemed to just appear in recordings that I previously thought I knew. The level of detail that was exposed even when normally it would be masked by other competing loud instruments was amazing. I kept on putting on old CDs and wanting to listen more and more.

Other reviewers have talked about lack of bass. Well that could be the amp or room, because I certainly have discovered an extra octave or so of low end. Just try Massive Attack or the Crystal Method to hear the effect.

I can honestly say I've never heard anything better.

Nothing this expensive can be worth a five out of five for value. IMHO Value in hi-fi stops at around five hundred dollars... invite your normal friends round one evening and play "guess the hi-fi price" with some of this esoteric stuff. Then you'll see what I mean.

I also can't recommend these speakers to those on any sort of a budget, or those with a partner who want some of those nice small white Bose speakers that can be mounted in the corner of the room.

But I won't even be looking for anything else or walk into a hifi shop for around another year or two.... no constant stream of upgrades for me.

In the meantime its a real pleasure every time I hit the "play" button.

OVERALL RATING5 - ★★★★★


Bora Hatanaka
an Audio Enthusiast

I'm not sure what sort of reception the ACT ONE's have had in the states, but they have become a fairly popular high-end choice in Japan as well as Europe.They are not a light purchase, and the most expensive audio component I have yet owned. But I must rave that in my many years of listening experience I have never been so totally captivated by an audio product.My previous speakers have run through Martin Logans, Quad's, Ensemble, ProAc response 3.5 most recently and finally on to the Newcomer Benesch. Where all these speakers have shined in particular areas, only the ProAc's came close to the ACT ONE's integrity, but lacked that little extra magic that makes the Benesch so complete. And the ProAc's speed and dynamics are far behind the ACT ONE's, as one one expect with the ACT ONE's total Carbon Fibre design. The newer ProAc response 2.5 with the carbon fibre bass/mid is better in this are than its 3.5 big brother, but 3.5 makes that up in granduer and integrity of sound. 

The Benesch has the best of both worlds and the result is stunning, nothing can quite explode with sudden power like carbon fibre drivers. 

The scene in The John Eliot Gardiner version of Don Giovanni on Archiv where the Don is dragged down to hell burst forth with such ferocity and clarity on the ACT ONE's compared to my old Pro Ac faves that I seriously wondered if I wasn't witnessing the birth of a new era of loudspeakers! 

Well, I came back to my senses later and realised there are much higher price ranges of speakers which no doubt excel the ACT ONE's, but in my long listening experience I safely repeat that nothing has touched these gems. 

Again, integrity is the word that comes to my lips. A deep rarely achieved integrity that allows a unique naturalness to the sound. Enough said for interested parties to inquire further on their own.

All in all then, a gem of a product and wonder of wonders, a speaker that looks almost as good as it sounds. For further info, check out the Wilson Benesch web site
OVERALL RATING5 - ★★★★★


Brian Edwards 
an Audiophile

I first heard these speakers at Bora's recommendation and now own them. They have purity and grace all their own. However I went through *a lot* of ancillary components before I was happy with them. They need a lot of power, are exceedingly sensitive and will show up any harshness of ancillaries in a very revealing way.

The cabinets are finished on the outside in beautiful wood in a design reminiscent of the BW 805 Nautilus, but much slimmer and more elegant. In fact I'm sure B&W pinched the sloping top design from the ACT ONE's. However the cabinets themselves, rather than MDF, are 80% carbon fibre panels. This material is extremely inert meaning two things

1) This speaker is so pure it will knock your socks off. There is absolutely *no* smearing or smudging, even way down into the bass. This is the single most important aspect of the design I think

2) Those inert cabinets need a lot of juice to get vibrating. This is why these 89db speaker really need powerful amps to sound good. The problem is that amps with lots of power that sound totally smooth in the upper registers are very expensive. I was not happy until I got the LAMM m1.1s, magnificent amps that match the ACT ONE's perfectly yes, but 15000$ OUCH! 

Overall the ACT ONE's presentation leans slightly towards cool--I think this comes from all the carbon fibre. I would definitely not pair them with cool sounding ancillaries. Again I recommend the LAMM's as the absolute reference. That is after going through a huge range of amps, two of which I bought and sold again after several months because the ACT ONE's exposed them.


But give them a lot of warm musical power and you will be gifted with the most incredibly pure presentation imaginable. After hearing lots of music on the ACT ONE's then going to most other speakers you will miss the palpable clarity, the freedom, the lack of smudge, especially from the lower mids down. Others have praised the upper reaches, finding them electrostatic like in upper midrange integrity.

Their overall balance is very neutral, perhaps slightly too delicate on top and some slightly over impressive slam in the bass. This slam is particularly impressive because it is so pure.

But like all high end works of art they have a definite character which you may or may not like. As I said before they might be too cooly intelligent for some tastes. But those who hate romantic speakers yet love musical speakers may find their holy grail in them. Certainly have a listen if your budget is around 10000$.

Oh, they look gorgeous, another plus.

Wilson Benesch ACT ONE speakers, bass/mid/treble triwirable
Lamm m1.1 monoblocks
Lamm L1 linestage
Audio Note Anvz interconnects Anspz speaker cables, two runs with jumpers
Mccormack DAC-1 deluxe, Denon D1 transport
Nirvana digital cable
Magnan reference power cable/conditioner

OVERALL RATING5 - ★★★★★


Jim
an Audiophile

It was by pure luck that I found these speakers since there are no Wilson Benesch dealers in Arizona. Someone traded them in after owning them for several months, for what other speaker, is a mystery.
I have auditioned many speakers including some of the newest like the Reval Salon, Reval Gem, Linn Keltik (Fully Active), Linn Kaber (fully Active), ProAC 2.5, B&W 801 Nautilus, Wilson Watt/Puppy 5.1, etc. In my listening experience, I have yet come across a speaker that has such pure delivery of music then these Act One's. There are much more expensive speakers out there but when I brought these home, I could not believe the accuracy of pure music that flowed through these speakers. 

The key attribute to these speakers that sold me was the its ability to sound good with many types of amplifiers. Several other speakers that I have auditioned only sound good with specific types of amplifiers. I initially tri-amped this speaker with Linn Klouts using Tara Lab Ref Gen 2 speaker cables. Using the Wadia 9 dac with Wadia 2000 transport with P2S upgrade with Auro symphonic AT&T optical cable and Tara One interconnects. The sound was glorious in every sense of the word. The dimension of my room is about 20 feet X 34 feet with 15 foot vaulted ceilings. These Wilson Benesch Act One speakers filled the room and delivered all of the punch that I wanted. The special thing about this is that it delivered the large sound with accuracy and liquidity of the best small 2 way monitors (like the ultimate Gem or some of the extremely expensive European monitors), except it also has a lot of clear, tight bass. The best of all worlds. 

Then I recently replaced my Linn Klouts with my new reference amps (Linn Klimax Mono) with Tara Labs One speaker cables and Kimber KS 1130 balanced interconnects. WOW!!! The sound stage was unbelievable. The speakers absolutely disappears in your room. Almost like the speakers are not there. These speakers image so well that they need very slight toe. After experimenting in my large room, I have them 8.25 feet apart and 1.5 feet from rear wall, and 3 feet from right wall and 8 feet from left wall due to the walk way. These speakers do not have a tight sweet spot. I almost feel guilty because I picked these up at half of the cost of the new pair since they were used. I continue to go to my favourite high end shops and listen to their best systems, and then come home to my Act One's and I feel that the Wilson Act One's with the setup that I have beats every high end the stores have on display. Which include the Reval Salons with ML33, Linn Keltik with 4 pairs of Linn Klimax (Fully active) using Linn Sondek CD12 and all using the same Tara One speaker cables and Tara One interconnects, Wilson Watt/Puppies using Jeff Rowland and Transparent XXL cables. 

If you have not heard these speakers it would be wise to take a listen to these before shelling out the funds. 

If you are interested in purchasing these speakers, you also want to drive them with ample power, at least 80 - 100 watt rated class A amps. . Like I always say, listen for your self and be your own judge. 

OVERALL RATING5 - ★★★★★


Stephen

STRENGTH:

Clean, clarity, very focused image, detail, warmth

WEAKNESS:

None

I made a trip to Hong Kong and stop by a hi fi shop demonstrating a pair of WB ACT 1 speaker drive by a pair of 300B amp. Sound was very attractive especially the high and mid range, but bass was too lean and seems like not synchronised well with high and mid. At that time the shop manager told me that the bass unit was Scan Speak. Earlier this year, I went to Hong Kong again for a business trip and was wandering again around the area, I don't know why I stop by that shop again and look through the window glass. Then I saw a pair of new ACT 1 (solid Cherry wood finishing as compare to old Reddish solid wood), it was so beautiful that I can't control myself to step in. The same shop manager was demonstrating to a few customers at that time. The magic came once I step in, I can't imagine that the tonal sound change so much compare to old version. The same 300B map drive it so well that all ranges are very balanced. The shop manager explain to the customer that the bass unit was a new version and not the Scan Speak any more, that is the major break through to improve the sound quality of the hi tech designed speaker. I almost missed an appointment I made with my boss after staying at the shop for 2 hours. I went out with a copy of my credit card slip and 2 weeks later the speaker arrived my apartment in Taipei....this is the best speaker I have ever used and it is not cheap at all when the credit card billed me .....with no regret.

OVERALL RATING5 - ★★★★★

VALUE RATING5 - ★★★★★

CH PRECISION C1, D1, A1 AND WILSON BENESCH A.C.T. ONE EVOLUTION

SUMMARY: you could argue that this model is more music oriented. Instead of listening from a certain distance, the listener gets closer to the music and involvement is increased...... the presentation of the high frequencies has a softer character, totally devoid of hardness or false accents. Together with the fuller mid bass presentation, this results in a - so eloquently called by a colleague from The Absolute Sound - ‘bottom up’ balance. In other words a characteristic which is full blooded and rich instead of shrill, thin or threadbare. And yet, this character never veers into colouration and is in essence close to the sound you can perceive in concert halls. 

EXTENDED REVIEW: In the first part of my story about these special and ground breaking products, I explained the ideas and thoughts of these two totally different - but in a way connected - companies through the means of two interviews. CH Precision with its historic and heroic Goldmund background and forward thinking Anagram Technologies experience and Wilson Benesch as the innovator and pioneer in the use of carbon fibre in their products. In this second part my available space will be dedicated to a thorough review of the most recent designs of both parties involved. Products that made me wonder if they would be innovative not only technologically, but sonically as well.

CH Precision 
After some deliberation with Garmt van der Zel from Audio Ingang - distributor for both brands, we decided to choose an illustrious foursome for this particular review. A combination in which the C1 D-to-A convertor with built-in streaming facility served as the nerve centre and two ‘small’ A1 stereo amplifiers - bridged to mono - would take care of power amplification. The last candidate in the system was to be the very prestigious and most of all very weighty D1 SACD/ CD transport/player. This might seem a strange and in this case expensive choice in an age where streaming audio is the default, but as a supporter of the still unbeaten control simplicity and typically engaging sound quality of the different existing disc media, I find this type of high end products still enormously captivating. 

C1 ‘D/A controller’ 
On first acquaintance with CH Precision, these products turn out to be the most solid, weighty and different audio products I have ever had the privilege to meet. Although the looks are not alike, both the choice of materials and certain aspects of their implementation make me think of another well-known Swiss brand: Soulution. In both cases, the enclosure of thick and beautifully machined aluminium ooks as if it is one single part and the pricing for both is also comparable. Additionally, both Soulution and CH Precision design for almost endless (power supply) stability and the widest possible bandwidth / shortest rise times. That’s where similarities between both companies stop and it turns out their design methodology, functionality and musical approach are very different. Despite earlier encounters with CH Precision during shows, I must confess being surprised by the substantial weigth of the C1 when lifting it from the box. No thin metal sheet, no tolerance in the fit of the controls and no visible screws or other imperfections... Just a simple but elegant design that feels like it is made out of a single block of solid aluminium. With dimension 44 cm wide, 12 cm high and 44 cm deep, its dimensions are not out of the ordinary. The looks are though... It’s beautifully curved fascia featuring only one big two-part turn/press dial and a big AMOLED display looks very balanced and uncluttered. 

A beautiful and subtle detail is the red LED in the second ‘leg’ of the ‘H’ in the CH logo that shows operating status. By turning and pressing the two-part dial, most of the functionalities of the C1 can be controlled. A very complete set of options can also be accessed through a specially developed Android App. For an owner of very conventional high end products, this really was an eye opener! Apart from configuring display info and sources, a vast amount of other options can be changed. To keep this short, I would like to point to the first part of this story, where these possibilities are detailed. A very solid all-metal remote is also included for the most basic functions. This handsome device is felt-lined on the bottom and can be attached to the side of the C1 by magnetic force. What a great detail! Simple but clever is the mechanical coupling present in each CH Precision product. By using adjustable spikes hidden within the structure of the enclosure, the devices can be easily stacked. Not only does this sound better, it looks fantastic as well. Very smart and practical!

A1 stereo power amplifier 
In the next two boxes, both A1 stereo power amplifiers are packed and these turn out to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. Not because they look so much different from the D/A Controller, but the weight has been increased from 24 kg to a back breaking 43 kg! Just as the C1, the A1 is a token of elegance. Not the least because next to the big AMOLED display, only five very tiny round knobs can be found. Although a networked CH Precision system can be fully controlled with a tablet, it is comforting to have a way to control the devices from the front panel.

The A1 can be used in a number of ways: as a stereo power amplifier, bi-amped (both passive and active), bridged or mono (with double power supply). For maximum control and grip on the Wilson Benesch A.C.T. One Evolution, the A1’s were set for bridged operation. A big advantage of this is an increase of the nominal 2 x 100 W (8 Ohm) power to 1 x 350 W. But don’t let these numbers fool you, because in use I have found the A1 to be the most stabile and powerful power amplifier that has ever graced my listening room, regardless of its configuration!

D1 (SA)CD transport/player 
Although I am used to (I might even say, spoiled by) high end audio, the D1 (SA)CD transport/player still makes a deep impression from the very first moment. Not by its looks, which are mostly identical to the C1, but by its 32 kg weight. A mass which is to my knowledge only surpassed by the famous Japanese manufacturer Esoteric with their Grandioso models. Speaking of Esoteric: CH Precision makes use of their beautifully constructed Esoteric VMK-5 VRDS-Neo in the D1. A mechanism right in line with the amazing touch that makes the World’s best turntables such desirable objects. In this case, it is almost a shame the user is unable to see the beautiful insides of this machine, except enjoying the smooth and silky movement of the solid aluminium tray. The extremely stabile and musically convincing presentation however leaves no doubt! 

A state of the art optical transport is of course just one (although very important) shackle within a digital disc player’s chain and other aspects like mechanical decoupling, construction and digital/analog engineering are just as important. Like mentioned earlier, CH Precision takes great care in the mechanical construction of its products. Other aspects of it’s design are just as accomplished however, thanks to the combined Anagram/Goldmund background of its designers. The D1 is a completely modular device, like the other models. This means a very wide choice of output options, including high end surround! As expected, extreme care has been taken to ensure extremely low jitter by means of a VCXO (Voltage Controlled Crystal Oscillator). If this is not enough, a possibility also exists to buy an optional synchronisation board. When combined with a similar board in the C1, all clocking will be externally controlled by the C1. To be able to transport uncompressed DSD streams for ultimate performance from the D1 to the C1, CH Precision developed encrypted ‘CH Link’. Icing on the cake are the completely discrete, zero feedback, fully balanced circuits, completely biased in class A. 

WILSON BENESCH A.C.T. One Evolution speakers
The full meaning of the acronym A.C.T. is ‘Advanced Composite Technology’ and refers to the carbon fiber technology that started Wilson Benesch as a venture in 1989 and made the company known and famous. A.C.T is also the name of the first loudspeaker - actually, it was called A.C.T. One - Wilson Benesch made in 1991. The fact that designer Craig Milnes and his team again have chosen for this historical, almost ‘sacred’ name, adding ‘Evolution’ to point to the new technologies inside, says a lot about the significance of this new Wilson Benesch model in the line-up.

The sloping top, which is so typical for this model has been present in every incarnation of the A.C.T. and the One Evolution version is no exception. Nevertheless, together with the comparable dimension of earlier models, any similarities end. Not only is the Evolution a much taller speaker with it’s majestic 119 cm height, it’s 2.5 way bass reflex driver layout with three independently tuned internal compartments is completely different. Apart from the lowest woofer, the main trio of drivers form the Troika system: a concept for optimal tonal coherence and linearity of phase in the very important midrange for a more natural rendition of the original recording. As you may have gathered - Troika is Russian for ‘group of three’. The upper 17 cm bass/midrange unit is completely unfiltered and plays uninhibited, while the two other Tactic II units are only filtered by a first order crossover. The ‘Semisphere’ tweeter, also made in house by Wilson Benesch, has an upper range limit of 30 kHz and is filtered below 5000 (!) Hz by a second order high-pass. In tandem, these drivers are responsible for the completely natural presentation which is so typical of the Geometry series, according to Wilson Benesch. Specifications are quite normal (apart from the weight of 50 kg): frequency range is quoted from 34 Hz - 30 kHz +/- 2 dB and sensitivity is a highish 89 dB. Nominal impedance is 6 Ohm, with 4 Ohm minimum. In theory, it should present a benign load. The A.C.T. One Evolution easily competes with the International elite regarding concept, design and choice of materials.

CH Precision listening test 
Although I was completely unknown with the CH Precision brand before this review, I wasn’t with Wilson Benesch. Not only have I been playing for more than 10 years with the ‘Arc’ monitor from the ‘Odyssey’ series in my second system in the living room with total satisfaction, I also have tested several models from this lovely and technologically advanced 66tested NEXT company during the last decennium. If I had to describe the sound of all these earlier WB models, it would be characterised as composed, without any exaggerated edges or frills and with a very spacious sound completely free from the cabinets. Tonal balance is usually very even and combines a slightly warm touch with very controlled bass and open sounding treble. Wilson Benesch speakers generally are not bought to go through life jumping on the beat, but for deep and conscious musical satisfaction. One of the main reasons for the described sound characteristic with basically all WB models is the extremely low degree of cabinet colouration and smearing, thanks to the stiff and resonance free carbon fibre enclosure.

Because the A.C.T. One Evolution was delivered a few weeks later that the CH Precision equipment, it was the ideal time to explore the operation and sound of the electronics hailing from Switzerland. The first round of listening begins with streaming audio from the C1 through the means of a separate Synology NAS running Minimserver, supplied to me by the distributor. During the complete evaluation, the unit was used in its complete form, using the built in volume control. It can also be used as a DAC/streamer with the volume at a fixed level. 

Although the range of musical expression of these Swiss components almost reaches into the extreme, I found the rated album ‘Electrified’ by Yello cofounder Boris Blank (Polydor 4708870) to be extremely well suited to these electronics, especially because this very tastefully produced electronic music spans the complete creative gamut of Mr. Blank. Played back through a system that starts and stops the music as perfectly as this one, musical information - hidden on most systems - is brought to the fore almost as transformed. The rendition of tiny sounds in the stereo image - in focus and out of focus and especially the reordering of chaos both in tonal colours and transients always remaining completely in line, makes for extremely compelling listening. The influence of the adjustable amount of feedback in 20% steps in the A1 power amplifiers can also be traced very vividly with this type of music. The CH Precision components show all the typical solid state virtues from the first moment. Not a cosy emulation of something resembling tubes or fake behaviour trying to confuse the listener. Instead, I immediately hear a very high degree of definition, extreme ease and drive and near perfect control over the loudspeakers connected. Never does the playback have a ‘dead’ or mechanical character - it remains realistic and relaxed at all times.

Extreme current delivery 
How powerful, even and stable the qualities of these CH Precision components truly are, was quickly evidenced when I received the very impressive YG Carmel II loudspeakers during the review period. As my own Master Contemporary C loudspeakers or the A.C.T. One Evolution were dissipating a ‘mere’ 140 W during peaks (the track ‘Amuseum’ from ‘James Newton Howard & Friends’ - Sheffield Lab CD 23), the YGs were coping with very real extreme levels of 1200 W power, as read from the A1 display. Ouch... That is intense and a testament to the extreme undistorted (!) performance on musical peaks from the bridged A1 power amplifiers with their 350 W (8 Ohm) rating. Just when you were wondering if I might be crazy playing so extremely loudly... I can tell u that these extreme peaks in the music were short and not perceived as overly loudly. Fortunately however, the performance of these amplifiers entails so much more than mere brawn! Generally, they are not flustered or impressed by any single genre, dynamic jump, loud or soft passage - no matter how extreme. I would describe the total tonal signature as ‘fast transistor realism’ without any frills or false accents.

It’s funny most people think that ‘fast’ amplifiers sound analytical, thin or even shrill - in other words: unmusical. In practice, the opposite is the case most of the time. Anyone fortunate enough to have a listen to the latest generation amplifiers from Spectral Audio, Soulution, Constellation Audio or - for that matter - CH Precision, will realise that the sound instead becomes more fluid, softer, more informative and accurate. Where the confusing may come from, is the fact that all these brands - despite their individual sound signatures - in a way sound very neutral. No excess fat, vagueness or ‘blowing up’ and no exaggeration of harmonics. The latest generation of Spectral Audio amplifiers for example tend to be tonally saturated with a beautiful and infectious combination of ambience and musical realism. The latest Soulution products are tuned richer and more powerful than their predecessors, with extreme bass definition and performance, irrespective of volume level. Constellation Audio has very different priorities and combines a remarkable softness with extreme levels of delicacy and very airy ambience. With CH Precision, aspects like sobriety, endless ease, almost limitless dynamic contrasts without any form of exaggeration and a natural direct form of communication come to the fore. Although each of these brands have their own positive traits, it is CH Precision that forms the most beautiful package of qualities in these products tested. Together with the super solid construction and almost endless tuning/configuration possibilities, I have met a brand that in my opinion belongs in the top echelons of High End audio. Not bad for such a relatively ‘young’ brand!

C1 versus D1 
Personally interesting for me is the ‘battle’ between the disc based versus streaming audio. As more or less expected in this price class, I immediately hear the extreme composure and stability that also comes naturally to the top Esoteric players, with which the D1 shares its mechanism. The extreme care taken with the retrieval of information makes the following data handling an easy job and this is what clearly can be heard. In practice, a very even tonal balance without disturbing dissonance can be heard with the D1 and beautifully fleshed out powerful tonal colours. The stereo image is placed ultimately stable and rock solid before, behind and outside of the speakers. Streaming the exact same music, the presentation changes subtly. You could call it more finely pitched and clean, but in absolute terms also less grand, less colourful and in my experience also a bit less emotionally involving. Not less in quality, but ultimately, my preference tends to be (like usual) the physical disc medium. 

Listening to Wilson Benesch ACT ONE EVOs
In this second and last listening report, you can meet the beautifully formed Wilson Benesch A.C.T. One Evolution. Beautiful in a way that made me subtly but blatantly greedy when these beauties were gently towed into my listening room.

Wow, these loudspeakers look truly beautiful! Just the right use of materials (in my opinion), dimensions and design befitting a pair of loudspeakers costing € 28.500,-/pair. Not particularly ‘cheap’, but you get a lot in return, like with the CH Precision components.

Besides being partnered with CH Precision, the A.C.T. One Evolution was evaluated with a large array of top amplifiers from the likes of Accuphase, T+A HV series, Constellation Audio and Zanden. And although the differences were at times big between these amplifiers, the general impression of this Wilson Benesch remained surprisingly comparable.

The first thing that struck me, when compared to its predecessors and other WB models, was the much greater power and drive especially in the lows and lower mids and a much ‘softer’ tweeter presentation. Where earlier generations could sometimes be described as somewhat ‘static’ and less involving, the same could not be said about the One Evolution. Stated differently, you could argue that this model is more music oriented. Instead of listening from a certain distance, the listener gets closer to the music and involvement is increased. I did have to get used to the somewhat shy high frequencies. Not that it can be called reticent or even dull, but the presentation of the high frequencies has a softer character, totally devoid of hardness or false accents. Together with the fuller mid bass presentation, this results in a - so eloquently called by a colleague from The Absolute Sound - ‘bottom up’ balance. In other words a characteristic which is full blooded and rich instead of shrill, thin or threadbare. And yet, this character never veers into colouration and is in essence close to the sound you can perceive in concert halls. 

Trying to describe the sound of this speaker with typical audiophile parameters is of no real use because of the almost 1:1 sense of scale and rich live experience. Everything is there and everything is in perfect balance. Just like it needs to be, but is seldom experienced with hifi. To further illustrate my take on the musical presentation of the A.C.T. One Evolution, I would like to let the great American composer David Maslanka describe it himself through his ‘Garden of Dreams’ (Reference Recordings RR-108) album. This album is full of mysterious music full of sweet promise. The sound comes on at once, can be enormously layered and triumphant, to end again in silence. The tonal colours of this album, it’s enormous stereo image and the suspenseful atmosphere are brought fully alive by the CH Precision and A.C.T. One Evolution system, by virtue of its qualities that perfectly match the sound of the album. Together, music and system form a wonderful unity and it makes me think this is how high end music playback should be sounding, totally forgetting all technicalities and be one with the music.

Conclusion 
The system tested here has been the most expensive one to have ever graced my listening room. It is truly a top notch system however that never ever puts a foot wrong and especially shares a lot of common ground with real music. The best thing is that this time the theoretical backgrounds beautifully match the hard reality. Both the CH Precision as Wilson Benesch components share a common and clear vision: a solid and matured design as a basis, moulded together into a completely natural and self evident unity with knowledge and craftsmanship. In the first phase, I was very much busy trying out all of the equipments’ settings and possibilities – as an example, playing with the amount of global feedback within the A1 amplifiers, 0% of feedback turned out to be the most natural in my room (the distributor had found different values to be applicable for other loudspeaker designs, rooms or tastes, quoting 40% as the most chosen). But during the course of the review I found myself relaxing - and in the end totally giving in to - the grand musical scale, communication and grandeur. Again, the total cost of the system is quite high and for less it also possible to find musically satisfying products. If you however search for technological, technical and musical perfection in one complete single package, this system scores extremely high. Despite the ambition of both Wilson Benesch as CH Precision to make the best they can make, the best thing is that both companies remain very modest and sober and let the products speak for themselves: beautifully built pieces of art with a deeply rooted vision of quality, but without the false (commercial) bling that typifies so many other brands of the same breed.

Despite the music industry’s struggles to maintain sales, the small but trendy world of turntables continue to surge in popularity.
Robert Archer

Despite the music industry’s struggles to maintain sales, the small but trendy world of turntables continue to surge in popularity. Not too long ago, Audio Reference, a high-end audio New Zealand based importer / distributor added the British turntable and analog product manufacturer Wilson Benesch to its product line.

Serving the high-performance audio category for decades, the U.K. company recently announced that it is celebrating its 25th anniversary with the release of its Circle 25 Turntable and A.C.T. 25 Tonearm.

According to the company, like past Wilson Benesch products, the turntable and tonearm utilize carbon fiber for the rigidity and lightweight properties the material offers, as well as other materials to support its goals of state-of-the-art performance. Starting with the turntable’s plinth, Wilson Benesch says the Circle 25 features a plinth made in-house from the material homopolymer that is said to provide the table with a stiff and dense plinth with high levels of damping across the audio band.

Wilson Benesch also points out that it has made improvements to its turntable designs in the area of its bearings. The company says its latest bearing has been redesigned with a multi-element construction that it says reduces friction and noise levels.

Looking at the A.C.T. 25 Tonearm, Wilson Benesch claims its carbon fiber-based solution is the world’s lightest and stiffest tonearm, offering 10 times the stiffness of titanium and half the mass of aluminum. The company adds the tonearm’s kinematic bearing features three 1mm carbon-chrome ball bearings that are held in place by a brass ball cap that is located at the end of the arm stem. A fourth ball is retained by a brass mount located in the egg-shaped housing at the end of the tonearm.

Summing up the Circle 25 Turntable and A.C.T. 25 Tonearm, Wilson Benesch notes that more than 90 percent of the products are manufactured in-house from raw materials.

They've since gone on to produce some of the world's finest products utilising space-age materials and technology.
Marc Rushton

U.K manufacturer Wilson Benesch started in 1999 with just £10,000 in the bank and a £15,000 overdraft. They've since gone on to produce some of the world's finest products utilising space-age materials and technology.

The latest release, the R1 HiFi rack is no exception. Modular in design, Wilson Benesch make no claim this is a cheap rack. It's sole design and purpose is for ultra high-end, state of the art digital and analogue audio equipment.

The R1 was designed and engineered to achieve core principles:

  • to provide stable and robust positioning
  • to transmit energy away frmo highly sensitive components, including CD lasers, analogue cartridges and internal electronic circuitry, and subsequently absorb energy within the racking system
  • to isolate components from energy generated by loudspeakers in the listening space, transferred through the structure of the racking from the ground
  • to isolate each component from energy generated by other audio equipment installed on the racking system

Craig Milnes, owner and director of Wilson Benesch told StereoNET:

In these respects, we believe that the performance of the new Wilson Benesch R1 system is superior to any other product currently available today.

Using laser scanning vibrometry with Sheffield Hallam University and extensively live tested using some of the world's finest digital and analogue products, the R1 is a statement. It attests to quality and British engineering excellence. Put simply, the R1 forms the perfect partner to the world's finest high-end audio equipment.

Precision machined in-house, each upright of the R1 rack is assembled from multiple sections of polyoxymethylene (POM), a dense high-performance engineering polymer. With a crystalline structure that results in a material hardness equivalent to aluminium, however unlike aluminimum POM has an inherently high damping co-officient.

Each tier of the R1 rack uses two multiaxial carbon fibre tubes acting as cross members between the uprights to form a key structural element of the racking system. The cross members role is critical in dictating the flow of energy both from each audio component into the surrounding and vice versa.

The calculations speak for themselves, each carbon fibre tube weighing just 200 grams, is capable of withstanding a theoretical axis load of 5 tons, or 25,000 times it's own mass!

Wilson Benesch use multiple material with different damping characteristics for good reason. Each material works in harmony to absorb and damp the natural resonant frequency. The addition of a 14mm steel bar at the centre of each cross member clamps the carbon fibre tube. This further damps the resonant frequencies.

The result is a phenomenally stiff structure constructed from several materials that mutually self-damp one another. The ensures that any structural borne resonance within the R1 structure is not transferred to the high-end components residing within the audio system.

And it doesn't stop there. The R1 is referenced to the ground with four threaded steel spikes which each hold a captive ball bearing. Each tier is seperated by four 500 gram chrome steel spheres that couple and locate kinetically with four sockets on the adjoining level to restrict all six degrees of mechanical freedom.

Multi-layered Birch ply is known for it's naturally innate and broad bandwidth damping ability. That's why the shelving itself was an easy choice for Wilson Benesch with the R1 rack and sits atop the carbon fibre cross members.

Two components make up the R1 rack system. A base level, and the desired number of standard levels.

     Base Level - (120H x 700W x 480D mm). Weight 22kgs.
     Standard Level - (260H x 700W x 480D mm). Weight 33kgs.

The Wilson Benesch R1 rack was premiered at the recent High End Show in Munich, and full production has now commenced.