Wisdom Audio Sage L100i In-Wall Speaker System Page 3

Row 7, seat 12 was mine for Diana Krall’s Live in Rio Bluray Disc. I was treated to John Clayton’s tight and deep acoustic bass and Jeff Hamilton’s spot-on drums, all complemented by Krall’s piano and sultry vocals.

A remarkable characteristic of the Sage speaker system is its dynamic range: It can play really loud. Still, its ability to play softly is equally impressive. It resolved subtle musical details and cues that are typically masked, such as cymbal brushes and fingers on guitar strings. Many speakers would likely overlook or mask Paulinho DaCosta’s wild assortment of percussion instruments (many I’ve never heard of), but the Sage system resolved them with pinpoint clarity and definition.

Deep bass you can feel in your bones is my kind of bass. Although few music sources contain truly deep bass content, Lyle Lovett’s “She’s Already Made Up Her Mind” from Joshua Judges Ruth is a notable exception and a recommended bass demo track. This multichannel music track starts with guitar in the front with a hint of reverb in the surround channels. Lovett’s palpable, emoting voice is in the center channel, lulling the listener into his sad tale. Unexpectedly, the bass kicks in—deep, extended bass from the Suitcase Sub that seems to roll in from the distance like thunder. It almost feels as if it’s flexing the floor like the surface of the earth during a quake. It’s remarkably deep, solid bass that you can feel before you hear it. It’s even more remarkable that it comes from two 5-by-7-inch drivers.

In the Heat of the Action
While the Wisdom system lifts a veil when you listen to music, it also creates a home cinema experience that puts you in the middle of the action. The final scenes in the movie Heat (DVD) convey it best. In this memorable scene, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino confront each other at LAX airport directly beneath the final approach to the runway. Amid gunfire, suspense, and tension-filled music, the not-so-subtle sounds of fully loaded jumbo jets flying 75 feet above completely envelop the listener. The soundfield delivered such a remarkable sense of directionality and space that it was effortless to visualize the planes approaching and flying overhead.

The real treat was the height of the sound image. There has been much talk about the need for height channels, additional front speakers placed high to create a sense of height for music and film sound. I’ve heard several convincing demonstrations of its effectiveness. There’s no need for separate height channels here. With the Sage system, the sense of height, space, and three-dimensionality was palpable, even when I listened to plain old Dolby Digital with lossy compression.

Watching a frantic driver careen recklessly through red lights while being chased by a killer is riveting enough on a small screen with an HTIB system. Watching a frantic driver careen recklessly through red lights while being chased by a killer with a 100-inch high-def image and the Wisdom Audio system is damn near like sitting in the passenger’s seat—white knuckles and all. No thanks in real life, but that’s a sample of the action in Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Blu-ray Disc), the intriguing story of a news reporter who’s willing to falsely implicate himself in a murder case in order to frame a crooked district attorney who’s running for higher office. The DA figures out the plan and stops at nothing to foil the reporter, including plotting a murder of his own.

When the killer finally catches up with his victim, the grinding, wrenching sounds of steel on steel seemed as though they could only sound more authentic if you were watching the events from the sidewalk. Arguably, steel on steel is hardly a selling point for detailed, transparent loudspeakers, but if realism is the goal, the Wisdom Audio system raises the bar.

The music adds to the film’s sheer fright. Sometimes it’s a deep, visceral bass growl that builds suspense. Other times, it’s a sudden crescendo that seizes the viewer’s undivided attention. Regardless of the content, this audio system puts you in the center of the action.

Conclusion
Few speaker systems define jaw-dropping, reference sound performance like the Wisdom Audio Sage Series L100i/C150i speakers and the Suitcase Sub. They lift a veil that separates live from reproduced music and set a high benchmark for home cinema sound. With music, the system opens a unique window of musicality, fidelity, and transparency. It reproduces film sound with stunning dynamic range, pinpoint clarity, and lifelike sound envelopment unlike any audio system I’ve heard.

The Wisdom Audio system clearly isn’t for everyone or every home. But serious music and movie enthusiasts with the budget to match their enthusiasm would miss an opportunity to own a top-class audio system if Wisdom Audio is not on their (very) short list.

There’s a price to be paid for this level of sound reproduction: $88,500 as tested, not including the surround processor, sources, video components, screen, and installation. You can do a lot of things with one hundred grand—a luxury car, a room addition, or an extended vacation. For my money, I’ll drive my old car a few more miles, live in a smaller house, and take a shorter vacation for a chance to own a superb home audio system that will deliver a lifetime of music and movie enjoyment. Nobody ever regretted buying the best.

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Wisdom Audio
(775) 887-8850
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