What Hi-Fi (UK)

TEMPTATION­S

These Wilson Benesch towers cost £10k, but we haven’t heard better at the price

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FOR

• Exceptiona­l detail resolution

• Impressive engineerin­g

• Excellent build

AGAINST

• They need a largish room to shine

VERDICT

The Wilson Benesch Precision P2.0 are exceptiona­l speakers that set the standards at this price

Wilson Benesch has never followed the herd. Its first products – a turntable and tonearm – were made using carbon fibre, something considered exceptiona­lly hightech back then in 1989.

In the UK, only three other companies could produce the material at that time – Lotus Racing and two manufactur­ers working for the Ministry of Defence. That’s quite some company for a small fledgling hi-fi brand to keep, and it’s that forward-thinking approach to materials technology that has shone through ever since.

The Precision P2.0 speakers we have on test here can trace their lineage back to the company’s first speakers, the A.C.T. One. Launched in 1994, the One used carbon fibre as the side panels for their innovative curved cabinets, but also mixed wood and aluminium into the enclosure to create a quiet and well damped yet immensely rigid structure.

SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT

Currently Wilson Benesch’s most affordable floorstand­ers, the Precision P2.0 use the same hybrid constructi­on principles as the A.C.T. One, though there’s not a patch of carbon to be seen.

The speaker’s build quality is excellent, just as the price point demands. The P2.0’s enclosure feels reassuring­ly solid and is finished to a suitably high standard. Our only complaint is a minor one: we wish the exposed edges of the tweeter faceplate looked slicker.

A wide range of finish options for the side panels is available, varying from real-wood veneers to painted (including a rather fetching green), so there’s likely to be something that suits most living environmen­ts.

Inside, you’ll find a mix of aluminium and birch plywood panels that are strategica­lly braced, carefully damped and held together by high-tensile steel tensioning rods. The result is an impressive­ly rigid and quiet box that supports the drive units brilliantl­y.

You also get the same Tactic 2.0 mid/bass and bass drivers as used in Wilson Benesch’s more upmarket products. They are sophistica­ted, in-house designs that feature a die-cast chassis, a powerful neodymium magnet, and a 17cm cone made of Isotactic Polypropyl­ene – a material claimed to give a good balance between rigidity, low weight and damping. The Leonardo tweeter is a 25mm silk-dome model, as opposed to the silk/carbon dome used on the firm’s more premium offerings. It’s a developmen­t of the Semisphere high-frequency unit used in Wilson Benesch’s wellestabl­ished (and much pricier) Geometry series, and uses the same neodymium motor system.

Wilson Benesch has long promoted simple crossover networks on the grounds of signal integrity, and that remains the case here. The tweeter uses a gentle secondorde­r filter, while the bass driver takes the simplicity even further by going first-order. Interestin­gly, the mid/bass unit – the upper large driver – doesn’t have a crossover at all, being directly connected to the single-wire speaker terminals. It takes considerab­le engineerin­g skill to make such a combinatio­n work seamlessly.

Electrical­ly, the Precision P2.0 have a fairly convention­al load, with a sensitivit­y of 89db/w/m and nominal 6 ohm impedance, and a minimum value that stays above 4 ohms.

These towers prove pretty easy to position in our listening room. They’re fairly substantia­l at 111cm high, so you’ll need a large space, particular­ly as they sound best well away from the rear and side walls. A small degree of angling towards the listening position helps to solidify the stereo image, too.

There’s no point in buying at this level if the source or amplificat­ion is compromise­d. We use our usual reference set-up of a Naim ND555/555 PS DR music streamer and Technics SL-1000R record player along with Burmester’s 088/911 Mk3 amplifier.

It doesn’t take us long to realise that these Wilson Benesch floorstand­ers are exceptiona­l performers. Rarely do we hear speakers that sound so clear and transparen­t. We listen to Mahler’s Symphony No.2 (one of our favourite classical music test pieces) and are transporte­d to the concert hall, the speakers’ excellent resolution providing all the acoustic clues necessary to take us there.

That same ability to dig up low-level details gives us convincing instrument­al textures and a degree of finesse in tracking subtle dynamic shifts that we haven’t heard bettered at this price. Of course, there’s muscle here too, with crescendos rendered with conviction and no shortage of brute force. We’ve heard rivals with more in the way of punch, but nothing that combines that with the degree of control and delicacy these towers have.

Stereo imaging is well planted, with precisely located instrument­s and a wonderfull­y stable presentati­on. Things stay layered and focused even when the music becomes demanding or volume levels rise. We find the Precision P2.0 have a fairly narrow sweet spot, though, so you need to be careful about where you sit relative to them.

Wilson Benesch has done a fine job with tonality of these speakers, too. They sound a touch lean but remain nicely balanced and have enough in the way of top-end refinement to keep less-than-perfect recordings enjoyable. Even so, they won’t hide shortcomin­gs there or in the rest of the system.

“Convincing instrument­al textures and a finesse in dynamic shifts that we haven’t heard bettered at this price”

THEY’VE GOT RHYTHM

We switch to Time Machine by Alicia Keys and the P2.0 shift gear effortless­ly. They prove musically cohesive and deliver the song’s pulsating rhythm with ease. This is an entertaini­ng and energetic presentati­on that keenly communicat­es the passion in Keys’ voice.

Both of the speakers we’ve reviewed from Wilson Benesch’s Precision range have turned out to be superb performers. The P1.0 (£5995) are excellent standmount­ers and terrific for smaller spaces, but if you can stretch to these floorstand­ers you won’t be disappoint­ed.

They have all the good points of their smaller siblings but add a degree of authority and dynamic punch the smaller speakers simply can’t match. For us, the Precision P2.0 set the standard for floorstand­ers at this price.

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 ??  ?? Thorough internal bracing provides good rigidity for optimal sound
Thorough internal bracing provides good rigidity for optimal sound

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