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Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary Edition
Sound Quality
Conclusion
Measured Performance
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SOUND QUALITY

Wharfedale’s ownership has passed to the China-based IAG group – but that 80 years of experience means making damn fine loudspeakers is imprinted in their DNA.

I was initially expecting a period of readjustment with the compact Dentons, because they followed the large and seriously impressive Epos Elan 35 floorstanders into my listening room. That the period lasted less than five minutes tells you just how good this new Wharfedale is. IAG’s head designer Peter Comeau says he voiced the 2012-specification Dentons to reflect the sound of the original model: “Musical but with a touch of warmth.” And, in short, that’s exactly what you get.

Fire them up and the first thing you notice is the impressive timing and amazing amount of detail they manage to excavate. 

The Clash’s take on the reggae classic ‘Time Is Tight’ positively bounded from the speakers – and the Dentons had no difficulty delineating the occasional burst of saxophone buried so deep in the mix it can sometimes be barely audible. It’s this sense of detail that makes the Wharfedales sound significantly more expensive than their £500 price tag.

Elizabeth Fraser’s vocals on Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ are pitched just right while you can hear Nick Cave maliciously smacking his lips together with fiendish menace on ‘Song Of Joy’ from Murder Ballads. It's this detail that means dense, complicated tracks fare extremely well – the Dentons letting you follow individual instruments with ease.

Bernard Sumner’s little guitar flourishes from New Order’s Brotherhood collection are a case in point. Where these are glossed over on some similarly sized and priced speakers, they are clearly defined on the Dentons, adding a refreshing depth to the music.Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary edition rear

Integration between the mid/bass and tweeter is also exemplary. The high-frequency textile dome is extremely civilised with no hint of a screech. It all adds up to a package that has fine overall smoothness yet doesn’t miss any of the musical message, whatever is being played. Jazz, rock, classical – whatever your tastes the Dentons handle it all with a refreshing aplomb.

And if you’re perhaps harbouring any fears that recessed 1960s-style front baffle may restrict imaging then you can put them to one side immediately.

The Dentons do what modern small speakers are renowned for by delivering impressive out-of-the-box imaging. Stereo definition is precise and solid – anchored firmly between the speakers with admirable depth. Music really does seem to be projected well into the room with realistic height and weight.

On that note I also tried them with the grilles both on and off and couldn’t notice any significant difference – so left them on as, frankly, they look better that way.

So, what don’t the revised Dentons do? Well admittedly they don’t run deep (just not possible for a speaker this size). But that warmth Peter talks about does give the subjective impression of tracks having a little bit more bass than is actually there.

Luckily, though, it’s not the tuneless thud-thud-thud served up by some inferior models. Instead upper bass is tuneful and solid, meaning you never get the feeling anything is missing from the music.

It’s a very careful balance. The Dentons never give the impression they are emphasising one part of the music to the detriment of another yet still manage to avoid sounding overly dry and clinical. Instead they just make music sound fun – whether you want to delve deep into a mix or simply let it flow over you.

They are also fairly forgiving on positioning and power levels. Positioned close to walls the small port size means there’s minimal boomy bass. But yes, they do sound better with a little free space around them.

And they have no trouble being pushed hard. Wharfedale recommend amplifiers of 25-100 watts. I cranked up the volume with 80 watts of Naim amplification and it was only at unsociably loud levels that they really started to show any strain.  That’s undoubtedly a consequence of the quality of cabinet construction and drive units employed. Even pushed relatively hard they remain civilised.



 
Comments (4)
wharfedale denton 80th anniversary speakers
4Friday, 20 March 2015 16:32
robert baldry
I think it's a wonderful pair of speakers. The Denton's have a beautiful detailed and rich sound. The sound is full and full of depth. They sound much better than any others of similar price in my opinion. The retro look won't appeal to many but the sound is amazing and so revealing. A shame its a limited addition. Well worth searching for.
Thanks for the recommendation
3Saturday, 07 June 2014 08:39
Matt
Having spent some time looking for speakers that were to my taste came across your review.For the first time I actually bought a pair ''on faith'' for £300 , new, sold on EBAY as ''slight cosmetic seconds'' released by the manufacturers. I can only wholeheartedly agree with your comments.
A truly great set of speakers that combine the best of old and new. (and i really cannot find a cosmetic fault on them, wharfedales standards are obvously very high for this model)
Limited Edition ?
2Friday, 28 December 2012 05:45
Kenji
I was told the new 80th Anniversary Denton speakers are limited edition; and they only make 2000 pairs. Is this true?

Hi Kenji. At this moment I do not know: everyone is enjoying Christmas and / or recovering from the New Year celebrations so I cannot ask. But I am meeting designer Peter Comeau on 4th January 2013 and will ask him for you. I will post his reply here.
He did tell me traditional Wharfedales are popular in China and Far East markets, so it seems likely some form of Denton will continue. Noel Keywood

UPDATE 8/1/13
I met designer Peter Comeau last Friday and put your question to him. The 80th Anniversary Edition is not limited specifically by number produced, but it is by being current only over the anniversary year, so one year's production of this loudspeaker is all that will leave the factory. It seems to me this would amount to around 2500 pairs though, so your figure is probably not far off. Noel Keywood
Wharfedale
1Saturday, 17 November 2012 00:34
Marco
Finally – a good looking speaker not resembling a condom!

Er - yes, O.K. Marco. I don't know what loudspeakers you have been looking at. Were they in a brothel?

The Wharfedale's 'classic styling' appeals a lot to the Chinese market, as well as others not wanting unpleasant objects in their lounge (shall we say!).

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