Classic British Style: The Wharfedale Linton's
You know there is much to be desired from firing up an old vintage sound system from the 1960s or 70s. Perhaps enjoy a glass of your favorite beverage, sitting back in your beloved listening chair, and allowing the music to take you to another world, a different dimension.
Sounds fantastic, right?
The warmth of a classic amplifier, your turntable spinning your favorite record, and filling the room with incredible sound through the diaphragm of the driver of your choice loudspeakers.
You want that back, don't you?
Who wouldn't? That was the golden age for audio.
However, companies are starting to realize a massive opportunity for a consumer thirsty for nostalgia. The 70s kids who grew up around this great HiFi eat it all up. For the younger generations, it's a matter of the coolness factor. Everything old is new to them, and most deem the vintage market a fad they should be involved with. Just take a look at the Vinyl resurgence; just the other day, I saw a couple of teenagers sifting through a box of vinyl at my local record shop. We are all aware that if something is trending, companies will jump at the chance to capitalize on the movement financially. Several manufacturers have adopted vintage aesthetics for loudspeakers like JBL, Eltac, KLH, Tannoy, and Wharfedale.
What I think is unique about what Wharfedale has done here is they've re-imagined a legacy design which is a nod to a unique heritage of the past and the simple and humble beginnings of an audio company that would last the test of time. The original Linton has been around since its first launch in 1965. I believe you get the best of both worlds with this massive stand-mount speaker, all the strengths of a beautifully crafted classic style British-made loudspeaker, and the integration of today's advancements in speaker and component technology and engineering.
The Wharfedale Linton is an intriguing 3-way loudspeaker featuring a Kevlar woven 8-inch Bass Driver, a 5.25-inch midrange driver, and a one-inch soft dome tweeter. The drivers were designed exclusively for this speaker line so that you won't see them on any other Wharfedale speakers, which is appealing because I love exclusive. The rear panel features two large bass ports and a pair of nice-looking binding posts. The enclosure is constructed from a medium-density fiberboard/chipboard sandwich cabinet. Wharfedale claims you get a cleaner sound from the speakers with this type of enclosure. It's a bit hollow sounding, not as solid as a heavier MDF would have been. But that's being nit-picky at this point because it does weigh 40 pounds, so it's not like it's flimsy or anything. And you get a natural wood veneer, not the vinyl you see on other speakers out there. You choose the color; you can buy them in black, red mahogany, or walnut.
Peter Comeau designed the Linton's enclosure to work best with the grills on. I don't particularly care for this practice since I love seeing the drivers flex when I play my music nice and loud; however, these are nice pairs of grills with Wharfedale branding. They are a bit tough to take off; however, I only take them off when I clean or take photographs of the speaker. I could imagine the reasoning behind the grills needing to be on has to do with the protrusive lip around the front of the enclosure, causing a little bit of diffraction from the sound reflecting off the sides. The grill is cut to get a better frequency response and dispersion.
The Linton's retail for $1,799 on Crutchfield, and that price includes the stands that fit your vinyl underneath, which is brilliant both in design and functionality. You shouldn't buy the speaker without the stands.
I streamed from Qobuz using the Cambridge EVO 150 to stream and amplify when evaluating these speakers. The Impedance of the Linton's is rated at 6 ohms, so I felt the EVO 150 could handle the load just fine. I played a few vinyl records through the U-Turn Orbit and tried out the EVO 150's Phono Preamp on the analog side. I used speaker cables from World's Best Cables, the Mogami version, which, compared to other cables, I felt accentuated the bass just a smidge, so that's why I like using them.
So how did it sound to me?
Well, this is a speaker that made me smile upon the first listen. I love a smooth v-curve when I listen to music, and I felt like the Linton's provided an abnormally deep bass response that I absolutely loved. They demonstrated detailed mids without sounding tinny and loud; some speakers have a very pronounced midrange that can quickly fatigue the listener. The Linton's were delightful, on the other hand. The warmth of the Tweeters was highly pleasing. I felt they voiced these speakers more for modern music, which tends to be mixed somewhat louder than older recordings. I was so satisfied after my first listening session, especially with the bass. I am a huge proponent of using a subwoofer with almost every application, and when I played these, I didn't feel the need to plug my subwoofer back in.
Now, they aren't as intense as the KLH Model Fives, which I felt had a bit more midrange clarity. Probably because of build size and how they were engineered. However, the Model Five's weren't necessarily as smooth as the Linton's in the top end and surprisingly not as aggressive in the low end. Which surprised me, mainly because the Model Fives have a ten-inch driver. Perhaps that's the magic of positioning ported speakers correctly. However, the Model Fives did have a more natural sound, and the sound itself can be manipulated with an attenuation knob in the rear of the speaker.
The Linton's were instinctively voiced in my favor. Along with a beautiful tonality, the imaging and overall soundstage were a bit more dynamic than I expected. I felt they sounded a bit better toed in a bit, providing a more immersive experience. I tried a variety of musical genres with these speakers, and I have to say, these speakers absolutely adored electronic music. However, they did perform quite well when I played the Social Network Soundtrack. The onboard phono preamp of the EVO 150 did not disappoint.
Overall these speakers were awe-inspiring. They performed far beyond expectations, and of course, it's an entirely subjective opinion; however, I feel the REW Measurements backed up my views quite well. You can find the REW Measurements on the YouTube version of this review.
I feel the Wharfedale Linton's look fantastic, sound incredible, and overall feel terrific to display within my system. If you purchase these speakers, I would confidently say that you won't be disappointed. You will probably send me an email thanking me for pushing you over the edge to buy these speakers in the first place.