Wilson Audio Duette / Custom Crossover Upgrade


Stereophile review from 2012:

Specifications: Two-way, reflex-loaded bookshelf loudspeaker with separate crossover enclosure. 
Drive-units: 8" cone woofer, 1" silk-dome tweeter. 
Sensitivity: 90dB/W/m/kHz. (Note: Look at this spec compared to the measurements below from Danny at GR-Research)
Nominal impedance: 4 ohms. Minimum impedance: 3.96 ohms at 3.1kHz. 
Recommended amplifier power: >20W.
Dimensions: 18.4" H by 9.4" W by 13.75" D. Weight: 39 lbs.
Finish: Automotive paints in non-metallic black, Diamond Black, Dark Titanium, Desert Silver, and Argento Silver Twelve.
Price: $13,900/pair plus $1795/pair for matching stands. Approximate number of dealers: 50.
Manufacturer: Wilson Audio Specialties, 2233 Mountain Vista Lane, Provo, UT 84606. Tel: (801) 377-2233. Fax: (801) 377-2282. 
Web: www.wilsonaudio.com

"Overall, however, the Wilson Audio Duettes produced a sound that allowed all the music I listened to during my visit to communicate very effectively.—John Atkinson"


I own a pair of Wilson Audio Duette speakers. I found a pair after hearing them at a buddy’s home, who also owns a pair of Wilson Audio Alexia. I thought they were different, cool... sounded BIG. I like 2-way speakers... why not?

Living with them... the Duette are extremely "resolving"... so much "resolution" that I found I needed to listen to them way off axis... speakers spread far apart / pointed straight ahead. With it being a 2-way with 8" woofer, it’s unique. It plays BIG, and is well made... except for the crossover, and the fact that it wants to melt my face.

So, what to do? Well, I sent one of them to Danny Richie at GR-Research. I’ve dealt with Danny before and it’s been a pleasure. One thing Danny will do is measure the speaker you send him, tell you what’s wrong with it, and design a new crossover for it - for Free. There’s no fee for that... you just buy the parts from him and you get a schematic. Fair deal, no doubt.

What Danny found with the Duette is eye opening. The reason the speaker sounds so forward is because the crossover was designed with no baffle step compensation. See the measurements below and the big variance between the low end up thru the midrange volume / highs and explains why they sound so FORWARD and IN YOUR FACE.

So, a new crossover was designed... here is how that has turned out, so far. One issue with the front baffle of the speaker is actually the foam on the front, that is meant to "help". The circular cutout for the foam (not the felt around the tweeter) is contributing to some diffraction / unevenness. I’m going to play with building up the area around the tweeter to smooth that "step" on the front baffle. I’ll measure the difference and see if it helps.

New Measurements for the crossover designed by Danny Richie:

Old Vs New Crossover Measurement


New Crossover Driver Response

Spectral Decay


Issue with the foam around the tweeter...

Another "Interesting" thing... there are 2 different umbilical cords for attaching the external Novel crossover to the Duette. The manual states the following about their use, and threatens warranty coverage if not used properly:


Umbilicals in Question... one for use with "Free Space" resistors and the other for use with "Near Wall" resistors. Different resistors are provided to adjust tweeter output.

So, Danny measured the 2 different umbilicals, to see whether there was a difference. Well, at least in terms of sound... there was ZERO difference.

The language in the manual and this measurement was disappointing, to be kind.

So, on to new crossovers. They are currently being built. I am going to make a custom enclosure for them as they will remain external from the Duette enclosure, like the original design. There will be significant differences in how they connect to the Duette, their orientation, etc. Here is the progress:





Steady on there OP. John Atkinson measured them in-room and was quite clear about that. I've heard lots of Wilsons of that generation though not Duettes and I'm quite familiar with how Wilsons of that generation were voiced. I've never suggested that I dispute your subjective experience. The speaker is lean in the lower mids - moreso if used in free space. What's what makes it sound bright.

If misread the intention of your comments, then I apologize. The speaker bites my head off. We're trying to fix that. Revised crossover work is almost done. I’ll share more pics, maybe this evening / tomorrow. 


If some of you spent more time understanding the DIY community or listening to some of the top DIY designs, you would gain a better understanding of how speaker design works and why you don’t necessarily need the resources of the Wilson Audio’s of the world to turn out top speakers. 

Yep. And if you learn just a little bit, you can tweak things to taste. And if it’s something Danny has done, he’d be glad to tell you what to swap / try.  When I hookup the revised crossover, if there is some quality I’d like to tweak, I have no doubt that with a simple email or phone call he will tell me “try swapping in X value such and such”. That community enjoys sharing with one another, and my interactions with Danny have been a pleasure. I shipped the Duette in a crate to Texas and he did exactly what he said he was going to do. He charged me nothing to measure and design a new crossover for it. I bought the parts from him and I’m having a ball. 

@Jim 2 - No problem. I really do look forward to hearing how you get on with the redesigned crossover.

Final Wilson Duette crossover board. I will make an acrylic enclosure for this and it will lay flat at the rear of the Duette stand, where the current Novel crossover sits. The board is sized to fit in that space. I plan to make it out of acrylic / lexan, because I think it looks cool, and I want it to be visible. The parts will not be hidden / potted in the enclosure, like the original Novel crossover. Output wires from the crossover will exit thru the rear and out of the top of the enclosure thru a grommet. They will run up the column for the stand, under the stand shelf, and up to the back of the Duette... instead of hanging out of the rear of the crossover in free space, like the original installation setup. The output wires from the crossover will connect directly to the Duette - no connectors in between the amp inputs and outputs to the Duette. There will be one set of connectors on the enclosure for inputs from the amp.