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Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Review (Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 64 26.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 133 55.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 30 12.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 11 4.6%

  • Total voters
    238

don'ttrustauthority

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Rate This Speaker? WTF?? Since I'm guessing that no effort is going into verifying that voters have actually heard, much less measured, the speaker, what conceivable objective value does this vote have? What has happened to Audio SCIENCE Review?
Don't believe everything you read sir.
 

Remlab

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Physics dictate that anything larger than a 1" dome for high frequencies will suffer in the measurements department in one way or another(Especially high frequency dispersion). It's almost always a given. AMT's look exotic to an average Pseudo sophisticated consumer, so marketing is obviously a major factor in why these things are being used more and more by companies that should know better.
 

Streamc

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I have heard it. I liked the sound. But it really need subwoofer
 

Transmaniacon

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I wonder if Amir will review the Polk R200, seems like they would compete directly with the Evo 4.1.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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I wonder if Amir will review the Polk R200, seems like they would compete directly with the Evo 4.1.
If you help me sell the Evo, I will buy and test those. :)
 

beaRA

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Would you even have to read it?? It's like watching an old movie. You know how it will end. He can't recommend it...LOL!!!!
 

Maiky76

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Wharfedale EVO 4.1 bookshelf speaker. I purchased it new a couple of months ago thank to generous partial funding from a member. The EVO 4.1 costs US $799.

I chose walnut among the few colors it comes in:

View attachment 167019

As you see it uses AMT tweeter in a 2-way configuration. A passive radiator fires into the stand and air jets out the to sides. Back panel shows nice sized binding posts:

View attachment 167020

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Reference axis was the center of AMT driver (aligned by eye). It is getting colder with the measurement room temp at 15 degrees C.

Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

View attachment 167021

We see a rather stepped response. Bass is shelved down, then we get to midrange that is rather flat but then there is a wide and large resonance center around 3.8 kHz. Close up measurements of the radiating surfaces shows the reason for the latter:
View attachment 167022

Since it is in the crossover region, seems to me they could have pulled that down by adjusting the filter/crossover point but they chose not to do so.

Use of passive radiator means that internal resonances are not radiating out so good to see that.

Back to our spin graph, off-axis response rapidly drops off in upper treble which we can clearly see impacting early window reflections:

View attachment 167023

The tall AMT tweeter is beaming (surface too large relative to frequency being produced) causing that sharp drop off. This will be a recurring theme in measurements to follow including our predicted in-room response:
View attachment 167024

The resonance is quite prominent. But what is the effect of room reflections contributing up to 8 kHz but then sharply less so past that?

Let's quantify the beaming using our beam width graph:

View attachment 167025

We have reasonable directivity for a while but then physics takes over and beam width narrows logarithmically with frequency (shown as a line here since horizontal axis is in log). Below that beam width is a bit larger than usual so the imaging would be more diffused around the speaker (good thing in small speakers in my opinion).

Our contour map shows what we already know:


View attachment 167026

The AMT tweeter is taller than it is wider so beams even more in that direction:


View attachment 167027

With such a narrow directivity I would normally say "stay at tweeter axis" but in this case, I probed to see if any other response is better with respect to resonance and there is:

View attachment 167028

10 degrees is not much though so I am not sure it matters in practice.

Distortion is typical of speakers in this size and class:

View attachment 167029

View attachment 167030

Tweeter resonance seems to also be responsible for distortion in the 2 to 4 kHz. So would have definitely been nice if that was fixed in the design.

For fans of timing domain analysis, here are the impulse and CSD/waterfall graphs:

View attachment 167031

View attachment 167032

Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Listening Tests and Equalization
Once in a while it is good to have a "control" to see if these ears are operating to spec. I started playing the EVO 4.1 and was surprised that I heard no brightness at all! If anything there was good bit of bass emphasis. I walked up to the speaker and put my ear next to AMT tweeter and as I expected, it was not playing. In the process of moving the speaker from measurement lab to listening room and tightening the bi-wire post, one had moved out of position so tweeter was disconnected. The woofer plays high enough frequency that the tweeter not being there did not have an immediate effect. But man, did putting it in the circuit did. There was dramatic amount of high frequency content and brightness.

Let me say as always that this kind of "showroom sound" does have a short term preferential effect. The sound is hyper detailed and since it only impacts lower treble, it is not overly hissy and lispy. But you do "hear into the recording" like nobody's business. On female vocals the focus on their voice becomes extreme as if their face is poking through the middle of the speaker. It requires a lot of discipline and understanding the unnaturalness of this sound to get you want to tame it and tame I did:

View attachment 167033

Once I pulled the resonances though, I thought I lost some sparkle so dialed a bit back in upper register per hole in the frequency response. Tonality was now more natural but I kept thinking the sound was a bit tubby. Just didn't like the bass for some reason. I decided to pull down the upper bass with that broad filter and that fixed the issue. I was throwing away too much of the response so I pushed the overall level a few notches to improve gain.

Once there, the sound was OK and maybe fine but I just couldn't enjoy it. Maybe it needs more surgery with EQ. Maybe it is the directivity. Either way, I could get into it.

I tested for sub-bass response. While many speakers in this class don't play it, the EVO 4.1 does but severely distorts it at medium to high levels. So best to use a high-pass filter.

At this point I stood back pondering if it is me that doesn't like the sound as the overall response is not that bad. So turned off EQ, listened for a few minutes but then quickly switched to Revel M16. Oh wow, what a revelation. The sound was so much warmer yet I could hear nice high frequency detail. The improvement was dramatic and not what I had expected.

Conclusions
Expectations are high when you go up from a few hundred dollars and are dealing with a small bookshelf speaker. I am afraid Wharfedale seems to have gone for marketing sound here rather than high fidelity. There is no excuse for that resonances in treble other than to please people in short-term listening and showroom setting. It is a shame as I think they could have corrected for it.

There are some positives in the form of the passive radiator that keeps internal resonances inside the box. And decent directivity index allowing equalization.

I can't recommend the Wharfedale EVO 4.1.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Hi,

Here is my take on the EQ.


These EQ are anechoic EQ to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 4.7
With Sub: 6.8

Spinorama with no EQ:
  • Not that flat
  • weak LF
  • Smooth directivity good for EQ
  • Some resonances
Wharfedale EVO 4.1 No EQ Spinorama.png


Directivity:

Better stay at tweeter height (yes despite the resonance, if you proceed to EQing because of DI concerns)
Horizontally, better toe-in the speakers by 10/15deg and have the axis crossing in front of the listening location, might help dosing the upper range.
Wharfedale EVO 4.1 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png
Wharfedale EVO 4.1 LW Better data.png


EQ design:
I have generated one EQ. The APO config file is attached.
Looking good after EQ!
Large boost LF so be careful with playing loud, you have been warned...

Score EQ Score: 6.3
with sub: 8.3

Code:
Wharfedale EVO 4.1 APO EQ 96000Hz
November222021-155602

Preamp: -4.5 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 47.97,    0.00,    1.30
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 77.60,    1.12,    0.81
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2213.58,    3.64,    1.41
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 2082.84,    -3.04,    6.98
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 3785.90,    -3.67,    1.28
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 8203.91,    2.43,    3.15
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 17789.30,    4.44,    1.82

Wharfedale EVO 4.1 EQ Design.png


Spinorama EQ Score
Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Score EQ Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal
Ascending ON after EQ because of the rising DI.
Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Regression - Tonal.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Nice improvements
Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Radar.png


The rest of the plots is attached.
 

Attachments

  • Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Vertical 3D Directivity data.png
    415.6 KB · Views: 43
  • Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Horizontal 3D Directivity data.png
    401.4 KB · Views: 37
  • Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Raw Directivity data.png
    Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Raw Directivity data.png
    457.9 KB · Views: 63
  • Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Normalized Directivity data.png
    Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Normalized Directivity data.png
    318.8 KB · Views: 45
  • Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Reflexion data.png
    Wharfedale EVO 4.1 Reflexion data.png
    149.5 KB · Views: 41
  • Wharfedale EVO 4.1 LW data.png
    Wharfedale EVO 4.1 LW data.png
    144.6 KB · Views: 38
  • Wharfedale EVO 4.1 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    Wharfedale EVO 4.1 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    260.9 KB · Views: 43
  • Wharfedale EVO 4.1 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    Wharfedale EVO 4.1 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    460.5 KB · Views: 43
  • Wharfedale EVO 4.1 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    Wharfedale EVO 4.1 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    466.2 KB · Views: 49

Robbo99999

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Too expensive to vote "Not Terrible" given the problems of this speaker, so I voted it "Poor". EQ can't fix the narrow directivity above 6kHz, and you almost certainly need the spinorama data to partially salvage this speaker.
 

Gurkerl

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Kinda dissapointing results, I was expecting more based on the excellent results of previously measured wharfedales. The Evo 4.1 seem like the odd duck out in the Evo line, being a small 2-way. The Evo 4.2 looks to me like a more attractive option, being a 3-way for only a small increase in price. Sadly, no measurements are available for those.

The Evo 4.4 tower speaker, however, looks better:
wharfedale-evo-44-lautsprecher-stereo-61376.jpg

62292-Wharfedale-Evo-4.4-lab1.jpg


The first image is from hifitest.de, the second from audio.com.pl
 

zeppzeppzepp

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Isn't the marketing segment for this kind of very small speakers to be used as satellites for home theater? ;)
 

BostonJack

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Thanks for the clear explanation of the beaming effects caused by the AMT tweeter. Super intuitive once you pointed it out. I owned a pair of Heil AMT (mini towers?) back in college and I loved the clarity of the mid to high end. Even then my roommate and I recognized that the bass driver integration was flawed.
 

Geert

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LOL!!! The hits just continue here...It's entertaining.
Don't blame Audiosciencereview.com, it's Wharfedale who designed the speakers.
 

MarkWinston

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Disappointing. Lesson here? Get the cheaper Diamond 12.2. Fanbloodytastic speaker.
 
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