Reviewed by: GAUDIOPHILE
Review Date December 19, 2009
Overall Rating 5 of 5
Value Rating 5 of 5
Used product for 1 to 3 months
Let me first start off by staying that I have used this site for years to get info on used/new gear.
Audiophile review is a great site for consumers to use as a gauge against Audio magazines, thanks to all the people that post here. Here you will find a wide range of opinions and long term use issues for gear. Quite frankly it is just not possible to hear everything that you may be interested in or found a good deal on.
So now I’m giving back to this site for all it has given me over the years. This is going to be a rather long in-depth review, of what I consider to be one of the best speakers I have ever had the pleasure to listen to.
The Wharfedale found their home in system (3). As music and movie lovers we currently have 3 systems set up in our home. We have what we call the “big rig” (1) which is our attempt at an all out audiophile assault system using reference components. A Home theater system (2), in the living room. Now the new budget System (3) in our family room.
What we set out to do was to assemble a killer affordable audio system that met the quality of the big rig just scaled down. Floor standing speakers were out due to lack of space & the speakers had to be real wood veneer no black ash. The finished system had to look nice & clean, use minimal components (no preamp & amp set up), minimal cabling and have a high WAF (Wife Acceptance factor).
The system was to be built using some of our existing gear with a (new to us) quality used integrated amp or receiver. The last part was the loudspeakers. The only thing we were thinking through this process was no matter what lets get the most speaker we can within our budget. We did tremendous research & reading on budget speakers before we got these.
First things first, remove the stock metal jumpers that come with the speakers and throw them back in the box they came in. Next get yourself a bulk un-terminated run of Paul Speltz Anti- Cable www.anticables.com. The bulk cable is cheap. (they do make jumpers, but they are more expensive) Buy enough to cut 4 pieces around 5-6” each, get a little extra when you buy just in case. Using the back of a knife scrape off the red coating on the wire all the way around about an inch on each end till you hit the bare copper (Note don’t scrape all the red coating off the entire wire just 1” from the end on both sides of the wire).
Then you can bend them in a “U” shape unscrew both binding posts & place the cable in the top and bottom holes on the right and left outsides and tighten down on the bare copper, then bend them gently back behind the speakers, the cable is stiff and will hold its shape. If using bananas place them in the bottom holes provided if spades, slip them in the posts before you tighten the bottom jacks with the Anti-cable.
The Wharfedale have great binding posts so it’s easy to tighten down the Anti Cables in the holes provided on the posts. These Anti cable Jumpers are by far the best I have tried, besting NBS, Cardas, Tara & XLO and the price is affordable. Very Easy to do, looks good and most importantly sounds great.
For the first couple of weeks we used the overachieving Belkin PureAV silver series speaker cable. Man talk about bang for the buck well made with good sound these are a steal at the close out prices they are going for now. We are a big fan of solid core copper cables and these are. The top end is excellent and the mids are warm where they lack is ultimate midrange transparency and in the deepest bass, but at the price they sell for its hard to beat them, and they look nice as well. In a home theater with a sub you would never notice it the bass issue. However, being the cable nuts that we are we could not help but see what the high priced spread could offer these magical speakers.
We removed the Harmonic technology Pro11+ speaker cable out of the big rig and tried them on the lil’ Wharfedale EVOs. WOW these cables sound amazing, I know they cost more than the current selling price for these speakers However with these in the system the bass becomes much deeper and the top end just sings. On the whole a fantastic upgrade.
Make no mistake about it the Harmonic Technology Cables are expensive. These cables are far greater than what most audiophiles at this level would use. But they offer great value for the dollar and when you compare them to what other cable companies charge for top end cables they are a bargain. There are recommended cables by TAS and Stereophile and they sound great!
The Harmonic Technology cables take EVO 10s to a completely higher level of performance, I consider them mandatory now, they are staying for good! Don’t get me wrong they sounded great with the Belkin, and I’m sure they would sound great with other cables, but the Harmonics are just at another level of sound quality.
Stands-We had 18” Target stands that were unused on hand and did not want to spend money for new stands. They would possibly benefit from 24” stands to increase image height, but with the height of the sofa we have it works fine. I highly recommend Target speaker stands and racks, but you gotta use what you have or what you like. Just avoid cheap speaker stands, these speakers deserve the best you can afford.
The EVOs are placed approx 8’ apart & about 1 ½ feet from the rear wall, with a slight toe in. Not as much as Wharfedale recommended, however they do need a slight toe in for best sound staging. Take some time with them to get the optimum placement. They are blu-tak(ed) to the stands. Wal-mart sells a product called Loctite fun-tak in the office section it works the same as blu-tak, is the same color and is cheaper. Don’t use too much just enough to do the job. About 3 small blobs per speaker & stand (2 pieces back, 1 in front) you don’t want to take a chance to damage that beautiful real wood veneer if you have to move them.
These speakers are beautiful to look at the real wood veneer is excellent and the curved style is head and shoulders above the traditional square box normally found that this price point. Rosewood was sold out so we got the cherry and are more than happy with them. These speakers look the business as they say.
And finally, the sound…
We lived with a pair of Harbeth LS3/5A’s (made to Rodgers original spec) probably the most famous mini monitor of all time for over 10 years as our sole speaker system. At that time I had a pair of Cary Audio mono block tube amps and a Audio Research SP9 MKII tube preamp. The LS3/5A speakers taught me how music should sound, they had no deep bass to speak of but what they did have was pure magic in the midrange. I still own them and love them as much as the day I bought them, and while the ARC and Cary have come are gone the Harbeths will be with me forever. You can see what these speakers sell for even used and it is a testament of a good design that has stood the test of time. I would add these EVO 10s to the list of audio components that I will keep forever.
I’ll tell you straight out of the box the EVO’s do not very sound good at all. They need to be broken in, The Kevlar driver is tight and takes a while to relax and seat itself. I used the XLO/Reference Test & Burn In CD track 9 at a low volume level. Just put the cd player on repeat for this track when you leave for work or go out when you are breaking in new cables or components. Your family might think space aliens are landing, but it works. After about a week the speakers start to develop a sound that will leave you awe struck.
The first thing that grabbed us was a complete lack of grain in the treble this tweeter has a sweet open quality rare in speakers particularly at this price. I have to admit they bested my beloved Acarian Alon’s in this regard.
This is not a hard metallic driver sound that splits your eardrums open but an open airy quality quite extended but never ever bright in the slightest way unless the recording is bright and even then completely listenable.
The midrange is warm and open, vocals sound very real fleshed out, they live. Jazz and classical just blooms
Bass is as extended as you could want in a speaker of this size but it’s the detail and tunefulness in the upper bass and to a limited extent the lower bass that surprises. It doesn’t have that lil’ mid bass hump the LS3/5a have to fool your ear into thinking there is more bass than there really is.
The laws of physics haven’t been changed; you still need large drivers to get deep bass, however there is real bass here and enough that I don’t feel the need for a sub.
We’ve come to expect great imaging from monitors and here the Wharfedale does not disappoint while they don’t have the cavernous life size images of my large speakers they are more intimate and better suited in a smaller room.
Be advised these speakers need power to thrive, a stable 100 watt amp or more would be best they are a perfect mate with the knock-out Rotel RX-1052 receiver selected for this budget system . They might be ok with less power but I suspect it would have to be high quality/ high current power, as they are somewhat inefficient at 88db/6ohm.
With all this glowing praise surly there must be a nit? I must add one complaint though and that’s the grills. I broke off two of the little pegs in the first 2 hours of taking them off and on. They look good on but they are not well made at all. As most audiophiles will want to compare the sound with and without the grills, make sure you take the grills off gently and straight, not say right to left but straight off, as not to break a pin.
When you look at the overall quality of this speaker it seems hard to imagine they missed the boat on the grills. I’ve owned a lot of speakers in my audiophile life and these grill pins are the worst ever.
While the grills are not a reason for passing up these wonderful jewels, I would not be doing my Audiophile duty if I did not mention this annoying point. Personally I don’t like listening to speakers with the grills off as I find the speakers don’t disappear as well for me into the soundstage.
The Wharfedale EVO 10s has taken me back to that glorious time of a simple system that just plays music. Whatever Wharfedale has discovered in the design of this speaker, particularly the tweeter at this price is flat out mindboggling. The sound is world class with fantastic imaging and pure musicality. I find very few faults in this design and while dynamics are limited; bass is not as deep as what you would get in a larger floor model, what you get on the whole is a speaker that stands proud and produces a sound that stands next to monitors $1500 and higher without the slightest excuse, not a one. What I don’t understand is why you rarely read about them in the USA audio rags but I guess Wharfedale is selling enough speakers that they don’t need the press.
This little speaker has impressed us so much that we will no longer be considering the Avalon, Wilson Audio or Magico loudspeakers as future upgrades for our Big Rig system and will buy the Flagship Wharfedale Opus 2-3 loudspeakers…..yes the Wharfedale EVO 10s are that good.
Wharfedale is making music with their designs and in the end that’s what counts most.
Give Mike at Sound & Vision (STO) a call he was great to work with and get a pair of these great speakers. You can buy these speakers for a limited time shipped for under $400 this has to be the best deal going for a new pair of high end loudspeakers at this level of performance. Hurry before this deal is gone!
Pioneer CLD-D704 Laserdisc player as CD Transport
Musical Design DAC-1 Signature Digital Processor
Rotel RX-1052 Receiver
Harmonic Technology Pro-11 Plus speaker cable
Custom House Flagship Interconnects
Black Mountain Pinnacle Digital interconnect
Signal Cable Digital Reference power cord (DAC)
Signal Cable Magic Power Cord (Rotel)
Target 18” Stands
Black Diamond Racing Cones
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