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Wharfedale Linton 85th Anniversary speaker review & measurements by Erin's Audio Corner

thewas

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It seems he really likes them:


CEA2034 -- Wharfedale Linton 85.png
CEA2034 -- Wharfedale Linton 85th (Grille On).png
DSC03578.JPG
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Early Reflections.png
Estimated In-Room Response.png
MTON 80.png
MTON Full.png
SPL Horizontal.png
SPL Vertical.png
Wharfedale Linton 85 (Grille On) FR_Linearity.png
Wharfedale Linton 85 (Grille On) Impedance.png
Wharfedale Linton 85 (Grille On)_360_Horizontal_Polar.png
Wharfedale Linton 85 (Grille On)_360_Vertical_Polar.png
Wharfedale Linton 85 (Grille On)_Compression.png
Wharfedale Linton 85 Group Delay.png
Wharfedale Linton 85 Harmonic Distortion (86dB @ 1m).png
Wharfedale Linton 85 Harmonic Distortion (96dB @ 1m).png
Wharfedale Linton 85 Step Response.png
Wharfedale Linton 85th (Grille On) Horizontal Contour Plot.png
Wharfedale Linton 85th (Grille On) Vertical Contour Plot (Normalized).png


Parting / Random Thoughts​

As stated in the Foreword, this written review is purposely a cliff’s notes version. For details about the performance (objectively and subjectively) please watch the YouTube video. But a couple quick notes based on my listening and what I see in the data:

  • This is truthfully one of my favorite speakers so far. On sight, I half expected this speaker to sound quite colored and have resonances; an experience I had with the Klipsch Heresy IV. However, my subjective listening experience was the complete opposite. For the first time in a while I found myself going through an extensive number of songs and just enjoying the music. There were no “standouts” that bothered me and pulled me “out of my element”. Even upon additional listening sessions I continued to find myself more and more happy with the sound from the Lintons.
  • These speakers extend to about 40Hz in my room (50Hz anechoic F3) and play with plenty of volume if you choose to crank them up. There was no screeching at high level or no graininess to the sound with increased volume. And at lower volume levels the dynamics were still there thanks to the very neutral midbass to midrange transition that didn’t call attention to itself via resonance like so many rectangle speakers tend to do.
  • Construction seems good overall and I like that the midrange driver has its own enclosure inside the speaker. Not only does it have its own enclosure but the enclosure is round. Meaning there is less chance for standing waves compared to big rectangular speakers. There is also a liberal amount of insulation in the enclosure. Overall, I am really happy to see such thoughtfulness put into the build quality of this speaker.
  • The soundstage width is impressive. At about ±70° through the upper midrange, it is wide but not so wide that it results in a diffuse soundstage (at least in my setups).
  • Remember, the speaker performs best with the grille on.
  • Stay at tweeter level. If you go even 10° above or below the tweeter level, the timbre of the speaker is noticeably different and worse.
  • The treble can sound a touch bright. I played around with positioning and found that turning the speakers about 10° off-axis (firing out into the room; not cross-firing across the room) worked best to balance the HF with soundstage width.
  • There really isn’t much about this speaker I’d change. The only complaint I have in my notes is in regard to the snare not having quite the “attack” I’d expect. The data shows a dip through this region so I think that’s likely what I was hearing. Therefore, I might, might consider evaluating the crossover between the midrange and tweeter and bring that down a bit, if possible just to get better directivity matching in the 1-2kHz region. But this would be a pretty low objective on my list. I’d probably never get around to it. I’d just enjoy them for what they are.
  • The data shows a very linear speaker within about ±2dB above about 70Hz and an F3 of 50Hz, putting typical in-room extension to around 40Hz. Horizontal directivity looks really good until around 1-2khz where the tweeter crossover is. Sensitivity is about 85dB @ 2.83v/1m.
  • Something interesting and possibly (or not at all) related to my positive listening experience: this speaker has a larger than typical front baffle width. Which means it provides more directivity at lower frequencies than many bookshelf and tower speakers. This means that the speaker is mostly radiating in the front hemisphere at a lower frequency than its slimmer counterparts.
Overall, point blank, one of my favorite speakers to date and I think I’d have to put this as number one in its price range. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a better $1500/pair speaker I’ve heard to date. If I were shopping, these would be at the top of my list for speakers to demo in my home against others before I made the final decision. Make sure you try with the grille on and off and I suggest toeing them out by about 10° for best tradeoff between tonality, soundstage width and imaging.

Full review link: https://www.erinsaudiocorner.com/loudspeakers/wharfedale_linton_85/
 
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DSJR

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I'm SO glad these have been tested properly. This is more my price level as retirement looms ever closer (months now) and as the favoured modern Harbeth is three times the price and without stands (Lintons are £1250 inc. stands here), you can see why my hopes for this model were so high :)

I believe Peter Comeau designed these? I knew him forty odd years back in his Heybrook days (we were one of their largest dealers back then) and have always deeply respected his work.

In the UK, apparently they're not 'hip and trendy' enough looking (bloody Eye-Fi again) and don't sell hugely - our retro kick isn't as large as elsewhere in the world apparently, hence the relative lack of interest in JBL Synthesis models. I do hope reviews like the one above can get people shutting their eyes and start *listening* again.

Thanks Erin for the review and thanks to ASR Admin for allowing it to be posted here :)
 
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thewas

thewas

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I believe Peter Comeau designed these? I knew him forty odd years back in his Heybrook days (we were one of their largest dealers back then) and have always deeply respected his work.
Yes, he designed them, cool that you know him since then. :)

I really like their classic form factor, driver configuration and looks too and had heard them at an audio show and even arranged a listening session at my local dealer during the pandemic but both times they sounded too warm/mild to me, maybe now after this review and measurements I should bite the bullet and buy a pair to test in my home.
 

DSJR

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Yes, he designed them, cool that you know him since then. :)

I really like their classic form factor, driver configuration and looks too and had heard them at an audio show and even arranged a listening session at my local dealer during the pandemic but both times they sounded too warm/mild to me, maybe now after this review and measurements I should bite the bullet and buy a pair to test in my home.
I doubt he'd recognise me now, let alone place the face to his past, but he's easy to spot as he's very tall, even if his once dark hair is now white... Many years since I spent time with him though and latterly, that was a brief acknowledgement at shows...

I'm really excited about these at the price they sell for (so many of your US fave-raves don't come this way).
 

tifune

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So far, I'm not having much luck: is the 85th anniversary edition functionally different from 'regular'? Erin's affiliate links don't mention 85th, but I do see separate listings at various retailers for 85th and non-85th(?)
 

DSJR

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Very nice performing old school speaker.
It looks old school, but in reality is nothing like the smaller Linton 2's from my youth. I need to dig out the smaller old sibling Denton W20's from the loft and give them a whirl again - very 'nice' sound but slightly 'foggy' with it I remember.
 

Ciobi69

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Didn't expect such good performance for a vintage looking speaker in today's time
 

raindance

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So far, I'm not having much luck: is the 85th anniversary edition functionally different from 'regular'? Erin's affiliate links don't mention 85th, but I do see separate listings at various retailers for 85th and non-85th(?)
I think you've been looking at the Dentons.
 

Niko Malt

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I'm impressed, really didn't expect anything from these vintage looking wooden boxes
 

pierre

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This speaker is well optimised so I would not use an eq with it. Since it is doable, let's see what it gives.
If it optimise for a flat PIR:
filters_eq.png



or if it optimise for a flat LW:
filters_eq.png


Optimising the score goes in-between. Score is 6.0 and goes to 6.6 when optimising the PIR but compromise the LW and ON a bit too much.
Recommendation: no anechoic EQ.
 
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simbloke

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Really good to see their performance. Form factor reminds me a little of my dad's old Linton XP2s.
 

617

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Turns out adding a midrange driver goes a long way to improving performance.
 
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