Hands On: Wisdom Audio Sage Series Loudspeaker


Wisdom Audio Sage Series

Even in an unconventional listening environment, Wisdom Audio's in-wall series showed off its high-performance nature.

Jun. 22, 2009 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Demonstrating the true effect of in-wall speaker prowess can be difficult when your speakers aren’t actually in the walls. It’s a good thing Jon Herron carries a traveling kit to replicate the experience as best as possible when he brings around his Wisdom Audio products and associated gear.

Herron paid a visit to our Electronic House office recently to immerse us in Wisdom’s Sage Series—both musically and architecturally.

Architecturally, because the Sage Series isn’t your typical speaker. The planar magnetic driver array can be configured to stand anywhere from 20 to 76 inches tall, and the imposing L75i models (MSRP $8,000 each) that were on showcase in our listening room stood a foot taller than me.

No, not your average in-wall speaker indeed, but that scalability allows for performance to meet several budget points. The addition of multiple 6-inch woofers (the towering L150 includes 12) depending on your configuration ensures true bass reproduction despite a shallow depth. The Sage Series speakers are also bi-amplified (including dedicated low-frequency amps) for optimum detail across the board.

And that’s just the start of Wisdom’s ability to maximize the speakers’ potential in your listening environment. The Sage Series features active crossover and room correction, with model-specific equalization for every speaker created by the built-in Audyssey MultEQ XT software within Wisdom’s SC-1 System Controller.

The result, which we heard in our office, is nothing short of stunning sound that you’d not expect from in-wall speakers (especially provided that you were in a normal room and also saw them visually as in-walls rather than in the replica wall kit). The output and detail is more on par with top-flight floorstanding speakers that might occupy space in a well-heeled audiophile’s room.

And we weren’t listening through lofty CD/transport, SACD or vinyl sources either. Herron ran through several demo tracks stored in his iTunes (ripped in Apple Lossless format), aided by a Bel Canto DAC3 digital-to-analog converter.

Among the tracks were “Saint Agnes and the Burning Train” from Sting’s The Soul Cages, Peggy Lee’s 1959 recording of “Fever,” Gary Moore’s Parisienne Walkways and an interesting Scandinavian jazz recording of The Police’s “Message in a Bottle,” which included some dramatically loud drum pounds.

The jazz track showed off the dynamics of the L75i speakers foremost, while Lee’s dark and breathy vocals came across in full force. Bass proved to be incredibly detailed, tight and snappy, and other instruments highlighted the speakers’ musical transparency.

If your media room or theater can’t accommodate large floorstanding speakers, the flexibility and high-performance qualities of the Sage could be the capable alternative you’re looking for—obviously easier in a new-construction home, but the equalization will aid their addition in an existing room.

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