Wharfedale EVO 4.2 HiFi Speakers Review
I recently undertook a group test on nine standmount HiFi speakers to try and find the best affordable standmount speaker under £650
Reviewing, by its very nature, is a subjective thing and lots of factors can influence perceptions. In order to minimise the external influences, my listening room is heavily acoustically treated with panels from GIK acoustics to manage sound reflections and the rooms behaviour. To take this a step further I use DIRAC Live to manage the frequency response of the speakers I am testing to undo what negatives effects their placement in my room may have. I also take this one stage further utilising Dirac Live as a tool to get the very best sound from the speakers.
I wanted to make this group test all about comparisons and the more speakers reviewed there more comparisons I was able to make, however the EVO 4.2 was the first speaker in the test to be reviewed, so what speaker would I compare them to .
I recently reviewed Wharfedale Linton Heritage speakers which while they cost more than the EVO 4.2 I felt they would be a great speaker to use for the initial comparison. I have been contacted by many viewers of my YouTube channel asking me the question of which speaker should they buy Linton or EVO so this could be a great way to give them more information to make the right decision for them
The Evo 4.2 is a modern three-way Slot Loaded Profile Ported (SLPP) speaker with an Air Motion ribbon tweeter and soft-domed mid-range driver, costing £599. The bass port is hidden in the bus plate on the base of the speaker. The sides of the cabinet are curved to minimise internal reflections. I would say that they are quite striking visually and not just another me too design. In stark contrast the Linton Heritage is a traditional square box design with an Air Motion tweeter, costing £1,099 with the stands included (£999 without the stands).
Both have magnetic fitting grills, high quality binding posts and are built to a high standard of finish. For those who have the desire to bi-wire or bi-amp the Evo 4.2s have the requisite number of binding posts.
The old and new designs carry through to the sound, in particular, the presentation, with the Evo 4.2 having a very broad and detailed, modern and deep, soundstage, with the Linton Heritage sounding much more homogenous, having the soundstage concentrated between the speakers. These things are very much a matter of taste and subject to your own preferences.
Wharfedale EVO 4.2 Frequency Response at my Main Listening Position
After I setup the EVO 4.2 speakers I measured their frequency response in my room at my listening position to see what the speaker was doing. What you are seeing in the graph is an averaged response of multiple measured points at and around my listening position to get a truer reflection of what the speaker is doing in the room.
There are a few key points here to note - the frequency response from the EVO 4.2 is extremely smooth and even which is very nice to see.
There appears to be some aggressive high frequency roll off which is the result of the vertical off axis performance of the AMT tweeter being a performance limitation of its design. We can take from this that setting the speakers at the correct height is extremely important and I think some toe in with the EVO 4.2 is a good starting point for their setup.
For speaker stands I used Atacama Apollo Cyclone 6 which cost around £100
Both speakers were positioned identically within the room and used the same cables and I used most of the same HiFi components. As alluded to in the previous paragraph the Lintons have a centrally focused soundstage with big elements created to the left and right yes, but predominantly speakers width.
The Evo 4.2s do not sound quite as big and full as the Lintons but create a sound with more soundstage width and space between the elements of the music.
In order to illustrate the presentation differences I grabbed the nearest thing that would allow me to manipulate it to how I needed and hence the #raisondiagram was born. I think its easier to explain the sound presentation differences with this visual cue
The mid range and vocals delivery from the Evo 4.2 also feel like they have more space to work in and are separated from their accompanying backing instruments or layers of the music, the Linton don't break music down in the same way
The Lintons have a very even sound with a smooth treble and good bass which measured better and performed better than the EVO 4.2. Working with DIRAC Live allowed to push the Evo 4.2 to be close to the Linton for bass delivery to reduce that difference. Applying the same kind of push to the Linton resulted in a thickening of the mid range and I think this is likely due to the major differences in the cabinet design of the Linton and EVO speakers
One of the big strengths of the Lintons are their very engaging vocals and mid range delivery which is very smooth and effortlessly large, the EVO 4.2 cant quite match the scale but the benefits of the soft dome mid range driver for speed means they have better vocal resolution.
The Air Motion ribbon tweeter in the Evo 4.2s are a folded diaphragm with a large surface area. The large area, requiring small movement makes for an excellent transient response and low distortion. The soft-domed mid driver is also fast and responsive with wide bandwidth and dispersion. This is again a highly efficient driver which matches perfectly with the AMT.
The AMT in the EVO has some advantages over the soft dome tweeter in the Linton, the EVO has a more refined treble delivery but both are smooth and very enjoyable to listen to.
I am not a speaker designer neither did I measure the speakers in a way where I can categorically say one is technically better than the other. In saying that I feel like the the Evo 4.2 is a "better technical" speaker than the Linton Heritage, in that it was more transparent, more invisible and created a sound more akin to what I am used to from other much more expensive speakers.
I feel like the EVO 4.2 dissected music for effectively breaking it down for the listener to be able to hear more deeply into the music. In contrast the Linton speakers disabled the analytical side of my audiophile brain which helped me relax into the music as a musical whole and this definitely stirs some deeper emotions and is a very foot tapping experience.
Choosing which of these two quite different speakers to purchase would not be easy because its very easy like them both a lot for different reasons, or maybe raisins. I hope my video review and this website review highlighting some of the main differences will help others to make the right choice for them, its hard as neither is a bad choice.
I did decide to buy a pair of EVO 4.2 to have as a review tool for comparison purposes, their sound presentation is more familiar to me and is more inline with the sound I enjoy from HiFi, however if these were to be my main and only speakers and the budget permitted I would have likely bought the EVO 4.4 because their extra bass driver and inevitable increased bass output compared to the 4.2 would better suit my overall listening preferences.
The results of my listening tests and then the comparisons emphasised to me that Wharfedale are really on a roll in 2020 and have done an excellent job with both of these speakers, both capable of making many audiophiles very happy for many years and later comparing the EVO 4.2 to all the other speakers in this group test you really do get a lot of speaker for your money, they represent exceptional value.
Sensitivity - 87db / 1m
Recommended Amp Power - 25w – 120w
Peak SPL - 105db
Nominal Impedance - 8Ω
Minimum Impedance - 4Ω
Frequency response - 54Hz – 22kHz
A Special Performer Award is Pursuit Perfect Systems highest accolade and is in recognition of exceptional product performance regardless of price