Review: we go overboard for McIntosh and Sonus faber high-end Hi-Fi on luxury Wally Yacht

Wallywhy200 yacht creates a swell at sea

How do you improve a luxury motor yacht? You add high-end Hi-Fi

Wally Yachts is offering buyers of its Wallywhy200 the ultimate upgrade: a state of the art Hi-Fi and AV system designed by iconic Italian loudspeaker specialist Sonus faber and legendary audio brand McIntosh. 

A seaborne symphony of glass, teak and carbon fibre, it’s only appropriate that the Wallywhy200 is home to some of the finest Hi-Fi at sea.

Audiophiles will be more than familiar with Sonus faber and McIntosh. They’re renowned for their uncompromising loudspeakers and home entertainment electronics, both at home and in car, but this is the first time they’ve waded into the marine world. It was worth the wait.

To experience this luxury collaboration, I travelled to Pescaro, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, where a Wallywhy200, kitted out with luxury audio, was docked.

A seaborne symphony of glass, teak and carbon fibre, it’s only appropriate that the Wallywhy200 is home to some of the finest Hi-Fi at sea…

The yacht is a spectacular sight. Teak decking extends to the aft beach club and a hydraulic bathing platform. Behind the wings is a garage for tenders and jet skis.

Wally has a reputation as a disruptive innovator in the marine space. 

Founded by Luca Bassani in 1994, Wally has challenged the concept of cruising yachts with a series of advanced, architecturally innovative vessels. Part of Ferretti Group since 2019, its yachts combine the latest marine technology with sharp, contemporary design.

The Wallywhy200 we’re visiting here embraces that vision, effectively creating a new class of yacht defined not by length but volume. The result is a gloriously spacious creation that avoids the cost and complications that come with a superyacht designation.  

Wally Yachts’ motto is ‘20 years ahead.’  It created waves with the revolutionary Wally Power 118, a 37m stunner with a maximum speed of 60 knots. Although only one hull was produced, it remains a unique statement at sea.

The brand currently has four models (with variations) in production: the Wally Tender; the Wallypower58, which owes much to the aforementioned Wally Power 118; the Wallywhy200 and its upcoming marina-mate, the Wallywhy150.

A Wallywhy100 is due at the end of the year.

The Wallywhy200 isn’t a sports boat, its built for comfort. The engine room is right at the back, while the master cabin is 20m away at the front. The Wallywhy200 was conceived to go at low speed, 10 knots comfortably over a 1000 mile range.

“When you’re inside the cabin you can’t even feel your engines are on,” I was told. But it’s no slouch, able to accelerate to 24 knots, when required.

When you board, you can’t help noticing that this 27m marvel has windows everywhere, to maximise its connection to nature, I’m told. When doors are open you can clearly see from the back through to the Master Cabin.

Of course, precisely what makes this Wally yacht so special – the panoramic views and an abundance of natural light – conspires to make getting great sound a challenge.

A centre stairwell links the decks, so I take time out to explore, and even venture into the engine room where there’s a Volvo IPS pod propulsion system.

Stefano de Vivo, MD at Wally Yachts, says, “Our goal is to provide our owners with the best  innovative solutions on board, to ensure maximum comfort and pleasure. I am sure that the incomparable quality standards offered by Wally together with the ultimate experience provided by McIntosh and Sonus faber can fully achieve our ambitious goal.”

Roberto Gamba, Business Developer CI at McIntosh Group, says the idea was to bring the excitement of a movie theatre on a yacht, no easy task given the space and build constraints that a yacht poses.  

Let’s dive into the details of this exceptional installation. Not one, not two, but three home cinema systems are onboard. The Master Cabin, discreetly concealing its equipment until a control tablet is touched, features a pop-up 4k flatscreen and powerful 5.1 audio system. 

Surrounding the bed which looks out over the bow, are five Sonus faber Palladio PC662 2-way in-ceiling speakers, accompanied by a concealed Sonus faber sealed box custom subwoofer with a 12-inch driver. A McIntosh MX123 AV processor and MI347 seven-channel amp reside in a nearby cupboard, ensuring a predictably powerful performance.   

Moving to the Upper Deck Salon, I find the same impressive speakers and electronics. However, this space elevates the visual experience with a 65-inch Sony OLED that rises on request. Electric shades elegantly cloak the salon’s surrounding glass, ensuring optimal viewing. It’s a great place to listen to high-res audio or catch an action movie.

But the true AV star of the yacht awaits me in the Main Deck Salon, where the two Hi-Fi brands are truly able to push the boundaries. The system here is fronted by a pair of stunning custom 3.5-way Sonus faber towers designed to seamlessly blend into the walls. Aluminium dust caps contrasting with black paper cones are a sight to behold. 

Once again the use of window shades throughout is significant, helping to combat reflections from the glass.

Complementing the main stereo pair are four Sonus faber PC683 3-way in-ceiling speakers and discreetly integrated subwoofers, delivering a harmonious fusion of audio and design. The electronics consist of a McIntosh MX170 AV processor, MC255 five-channel amp, and a stereo MC312 amp, all housed in a custom-built AV cabinet.

As a Samsung 4k TV gracefully descends from the ceiling, positioned between the Sonus faber pair, I’m enveloped by an astonishingly potent sound that defies the yacht’s glass and uneven surfaces.

For our demos, an Apple TV box was used to stream content – “sometimes we use a Kaleidescape server, but this is the real experience,” I’m told. 

The Master Cabin provides an intimate listening experience, but the soundstage is larger than the dimensions of the cabin might suggest.

The Salon setup adds scale: we listen to Eric Clapton, grip our seats for a thrilling ride with Baby Driver, then thrill to the Aston Martin BD5 car chase in No Time to Die. Appropriate I thought, as this is just the kind of yacht you might expect to see in a James Bond movie. 

But, for real theatrics, you can’t beat the Main Deck Salon. Here those two large front left and right towers are complemented by a quartet of subs, and the result is suitably thrilling. Top Gun Maverick provides a stand out experience, and momentarily I forget I’m actually watching Tom Cruise hit Mach 10, on a yacht! Sonics are further tested by Lady Gaga in A Star is Born.

Of course, the big challenge with this particular space is there’s nowhere to place a traditional centre speaker. Slap bang between the front stereo pair is that central stairwell. The problem is solved by utilising a phantom centre speaker, created by the McIntosh AV processor.  

And the total cost of highh-res, high-end AV installation? It’s around €300,000 if you opt for the same three room configuration used on this Wallywhy200.

Given that the Wally Yacht itself is likely to cost you around €10million (depending on your final spec), why wouldn’t you opt for one of the finest audio systems ever built into a boat?

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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