Review: Wilson Benesch Vector Loudspeakers
I remember getting the call from the publisher saying “Come over to my place to grab the Wilsons, you need to review them.” “Wilsons?” I asked. “Yes the Wilson Benesch Vectors” Ah, I had thought it was going to be a speaker by Wilson Audio, whose products I know reasonably well. I have to say that I was slightly excited at the prospect. Sadly, I have to admit not knowing very much at all about Wilson Benesch. All that was about to change, in a very positive way.
I started off by researching Wilson Benesch on the internet and corresponded with their head office. Wilson Benesch was founded in 1989 and last year they celebrated their 25th Silver Jubilee Anniversary. They are a family owned business, with members of the family sharing a common passion for creating great sounding, highly technical designs. Based in Sheffield, England, the company has benefited from their city’s remodelling as an engineering and manufacturing technology powerhouse. The transformation of Sheffield followed the closure of traditional industries such as coal and steel, which by the 70s and 80s had mostly disappeared. Sheffield has an international reputation for metallurgy and steel-making. Today Wilson Benesch collaborate with the city’s two leading Universities and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, which is home to companies such as Boeing, Rolls Royce and other major centres of research.
First and foremost Wilson Benesch is a manufacturing company. Rather than spending large amounts of money on aggressive marketing strategies, they choose to reinvest their profits in manufacturing. That is perhaps why many of us have not heard of Wilson Benesch. They spend the money on things like carefully developing a totally unique range of true high tech products.
Wilson Benesch makes a number of audio products including turntables, tonearms and loudspeakers. They were the first in the world with a carbon fibre sub chassis turntable. Their website explains: “In retrospect, one can now see how the knowledge acquired during the turntable sub chassis and subsequently the tonearm development, gave rise to a fundamental understanding of the how sonic borne energy effects the perception of sound. It was this work that would eventually lead to the world’s first curved carbon fibre loudspeaker design that would be seen for the first time in 1995.”
Today, the Wilson Benesch design and engineering team is fully integrated within the design and build of every product. They use the very latest Dassault 3D CAD / CAM systems. New parts can move from a sketch pad to a CAD drawing and directly onto the bed of a machine within a day, allowing rapid prototyping and development of state-of-the-art high end audio components.
Luke Milnes, Media and Communications Manager for Wilson Benesch told StereoNET:
It is only when you have control over design in one hand and manufacturing in the other that a closed loop exists and it is then that something remarkable can be achieved.
The subject of this review is the Wilson Benesch Vector loudspeaker with a RRP of $16,990 in Australia distributed by Absolute Hi End. The brand has been sold in Australia since 2009. They are a 2.5 way, utilising 1 x 170mm (7”) mid-range unit, 1 x 170mm (7”) bass unit and 1 x 25mm (1”) tweeter. All of the drivers are custom made by Wilson Benesch.
The drivers are housed in a precision CNC machined enclosure that is designed as floor standing, approximately 900mm tall, which is not particularly tall for a floor stander. They sit off the ground upon a large metal plate that ensures stability and has provision for metal spikes underneath the plate. It is a vented design with the port at the rear. The front grills are made with a solid metal frame and are removable.
The Vector is part of the companies’ reference line, Geometry Series. This range of products is constructed from carbon fibre composites, steel, aluminium and a range of advanced polymers, 90% of which the company has manufactured in house from raw materials. Today the company moulds all carbon fibre composite components on a range of Advanced Resin Transfer Mould (RTM) machines and it also machines aluminium, steel and polyoxymethylene components using a fleet of CNC machines.
The Vector consists of an Advanced Composite Technology or ‘A.C.T.’ Carbon Monocoque, two Wilson Benesch Tactic II Drive Units, one Wilson Benesch Semisphere Tweeter and an alloy baffle and foot. Every single component has been designed in house, and all alloy, carbon composite and steel components have been machined in-house.
The Vector can be finished in a range of polymer and bespoke high gloss and satin natural wood finishes which have been applied by Bentley Motors trained craftsmen to ensure the finest quality wood veneer in the industry. Remarkable.
Starting his first audio consultancy business in the early ’80s whilst also working professionally in the electronics industry, Mark now splits his time between professional reviewing and AV consultancy.