By Don Lindich
Week 50, 2019
Q. I have a pair of vintage Electro-Voice EV-4A speakers that I love, but my wife thinks they are too large. We tried a Sonos set-up with two Play Fives and a subwoofer, but they lacked the EV-4A’s presence and fullness of sound so I returned them. I like to listen to both rock and classical music on vinyl, sometimes at moderately high volumes, in a large room with good acoustics. Can you recommend speakers that can match what I have now, but in a smaller package? I spent $1,200 on the Sonos system and am willing to spend that much or more, if necessary.
-W.W., Pittsburgh, PA
A. Boxy speakers from the 1970s like the Electro-Voice EV-4A definitely have a sonic character that many modern speakers cannot duplicate, especially with rock music. I have two recommendations for you that take their inspiration from the past and bring you the best of both sonic worlds, vintage and modern.
The Wharfedale Heritage Edition Linton speakers are old school in form, resembling a slightly smaller version of your current speakers, but manufactured with modern technology and materials. They make an impressive visual statement, and the high-grade wood finish and retro style of both the speakers and the stands make you think of expensive mid-century modern furniture from Herman Miller. The stands also double as record racks to hold your vinyl. I can’t remember the last time I reviewed speakers that impressed me as much visually as the Wharfedale Lintons with the matching stands.
I try not to say that speakers are “good rock speakers” or “good classical music speakers” because to say a speaker is good at one thing often means they are deficient in other respects. The best speakers sound good with all kinds of music, and those are the speakers I try to recommend. Though the Lintons do sound good with all types of music, I am prepared to break my own rule here and say they are good rock speakers. Actually, they are not just good rock speakers, they are really great rock speakers, some of the best I have ever heard. Playing L7, Journey, The Pretenders and Asia really brought out their best. That fullness you love in your EV-4A speakers is there, and combined with the bass impact, richness, detail and effortless dynamics, you get a speaker that really rocks, especially when you turn up the volume.
I probably have you salivating by now, so we need to see if they are enough of a change compared to what you have now for your wife to think they are a step in the right direction. The packaging size-wise is somewhat smaller than your EV-4A speakers, but with the stands they are going to look far better. I would lobby her to compromise and get the Lintons with the stands. The Wharfedale Linton speakers are $1,198/pair and the stands are $300/pair for a total of $1,498, and for both the aesthetics and sound quality the stands really are mandatory with these speakers. If you get the Lintons, you get the stands, period!
If the Lintons are out, then the $899 Wharfedale Heritage Denton 85 speakers sound similar, but with less bass due to the smaller size. They are said to still sound satisfyingly full, though obviously the larger Lintons will be better. Please note the Denton 85 is different than the Denton 80, which is still available in some places but sells for significantly less. Both speakers can be seen at wharfedale.co.uk and can be ordered in the USA from musicdirect.com.