Review: Wharfedale Dovedale Bookshelf Speaker

Review: Wharfedale Dovedale Bookshelf Speaker - Experience the Wharfedale Dovedale: Where vintage elegance meets cutting-edge sound, uncovering a century of audio heritage in every note.


Introducing the Wharfedale Dovedale: A Sonic Journey Through Time and Technology. In the realm of audio enthusiasts, Wharfedale stands as a name steeped in tradition and innovation. Crafted to commemorate the brand’s illustrious 90-year history, the Dovedale seamlessly bridges the past and the present, meticulously recreating the magic of a bygone era while embracing cutting-edge technology. Join us as we unravel the captivating story of the Wharfedale Dovedale, a speaker who not only revives history but also defines the future of audio excellence.

Wharfedale has a tradition of reimagining classic speakers, and the Dovedale is the pinnacle of this endeavor. Previously, we saw the Denton bookshelf speakers for the 80th anniversary, followed by the Denton 85 and Linton bookshelf speakers for the 85th anniversary, all well-received in the market. Dovedale, part of the Heritage series, traces its roots to the Dovedale 3 launched in 1971, with historical ties going back to the W2 in 1959 and W2 in 1965.

The Wharfedale Legacy

Founded in 1932 by Mr. Gilbert Briggs, Wharfedale’s goal has always been to create products that bring music to life. Known for numerous innovations, including the world’s first two-way home-use speaker in 1947, Wharfedale has significantly contributed to the audio industry. Gilbert Briggs authored books on loudspeaker research, and a notable collaboration with Quad further cemented Wharfedale’s reputation. Today, Wharfedale’s headquarters and production base are in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, covering 25,000 square feet.

Wharfedale Dovedale Bookshelf Speaker
● Three-way bass reflex
● Woofer: 10″ black woven Kevlar®
● Mid-range driver: 5″ black woven Kevlar®
● Tweeter: 1″ silk soft dome
● Efficiency (2.83V @ tm): 89dB
● Recommended amplifier power: 25-250W
● Peak sound pressure (SPL): 112dB
● Impedance: 6 ohms, minimum impedance 3.6 ohms
● Frequency response (+/-3d8): 36Hz~20kHz
● Bass extension (- 6dB ): 25Hz
● Crossover point: 560Hz & 2.9kHz
● Dimensions: Height 660mm x Width 370mm x Depth (including terminals) (417+30)mm
● Weight: 26.2kg/support
● Special tripod:
Dimensions: Height 370mm (incl. brad nails) x width 370mm x depth 417mm
Weight: 9.6 kg/piece

The Dovedale Experience: Unpacking and Setup

The Dovedale comes with a beautifully printed manual, offering insights into Wharfedale’s heritage and the design philosophy by chief acoustic designer Peter Comeau. The accessory box includes foot pads and gloves, which are recommended for installation under the Dovedale-exclusive tripod.

Upon receiving the Dovedale, we were immediately struck by its attention to detail and the sense of occasion surrounding its unpacking. The unboxing experience felt like opening a treasure chest of audio history, with a beautifully printed manual offering us a glimpse into the heart and soul of Wharfedale’s heritage. Inside the accessory box, we discovered a pair of gloves and foot pads, a thoughtful addition for those who opted to install the Dovedale on its exclusive tripod. Each component exuded a sense of craftsmanship that hinted at the meticulous engineering within, setting the stage for an auditory journey that promised to be as rich and evocative as the history behind it.

Dovedale’s Retro Charm

Dovedale exudes a captivating retro charm, from the speaker to the tripods, all made in the UK. The tripod, designed by Peter Comeau, uses British carbon steel and premium damping materials, ensuring optimum performance. The original Dovedale wasn’t a large speaker, but the new iteration is larger to deliver enhanced low-frequency response. The goal was to achieve full-band reproduction capabilities, reaching 36Hz at -3dB and 25Hz at -6 dB.

Design and Construction

Dovedale employs a three-way, three-driver design with a sandwich-structured cabinet and reinforced internal structure to minimize resonance. Independent crossovers for bass and mid-treble reduce electromagnetic interference. Each driver’s rear chamber has been acoustically tuned with special fibers for precise sound production. The rear features double bass reflex holes, a single-wire design, and the Wharfedale logo on speaker terminals.

The design and build quality of the Wharfedale Dovedale speaker exemplify the meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail that are hallmarks of Wharfedale’s legacy. At first glance, the Dovedale exudes an air of timeless elegance, seamlessly blending a classic retro aesthetic with modern sensibilities. With its warm and smooth texture, the wood veneer finish adds a touch of sophistication to any room. The speaker’s lines are clean and tastefully executed, preserving its vintage charm while ensuring it fits seamlessly into contemporary home decor.

What truly sets the Dovedale apart is its construction. The cabinet structure is a work of engineering precision, featuring a sandwich design that minimizes resonance, ensuring that the sound remains pure and uncolored. The internal reinforcement of the cabinet further enhances its structural integrity. The attention to detail extends to the rear of each driver, where special chambers are acoustically designed and tuned using high-quality acoustic fibers. This meticulous approach ensures that each driver operates accurately, resulting in a finely tuned sound profile.

The build quality of the Dovedale is impeccable, showcasing Wharfedale’s commitment to durability and longevity. The choice of materials is a testament to this dedication. Using Kevlar for the mid-range and bass drivers combines lightweight strength, ensuring the diaphragms remain rigid and responsive. Additionally, using ferromagnetic magnets in the tweeter, instead of neodymium magnets, contributes to a smoother sound performance.

The optional tripod, also designed by Peter Comeau, is a masterpiece. Crafted from British carbon steel and filled with high-quality damping materials, it provides stable support and complements the speaker’s design. The stainless steel foot cones at the tripod’s base add a touch of elegance while enhancing stability.

In summary, the design and build quality of the Wharfedale Dovedale speakers embody the fusion of vintage charm and contemporary excellence. From the carefully chosen materials to the cabinet’s structural integrity and the thoughtful tripod design, every aspect reflects the brand’s dedication to delivering a superior audio experience that will stand the test of time.

Speaker Components

Dovedale features a 1″ silk dome tweeter, a 5″ Kevlar fiber mid-range, and a 10″ Kevlar fiber bass driver. Kevlar combines lightweight strength, avoiding the stiffness seen in metal diaphragms. The 1″ tweeter, common in the Heritage series, uses ferromagnetic magnets for smoother sound performance.

The speaker components within the Wharfedale Dovedale are the heart and soul of its audio performance, meticulously designed and crafted to deliver a remarkable listening experience. Each component plays a critical role in shaping the sound signature and ensuring the faithful reproduction of music.

  1. 1″ Silk Dome Tweeter: The Dovedale features a 1″ silk dome tweeter, known for its ability to reproduce high frequencies with exceptional clarity and precision. Silk dome tweeters are favored for their smooth and natural sound characteristics, contributing to a more relaxed and fatigue-free listening experience. In the Dovedale, this tweeter is shared with the Heritage series. It employs ferromagnetic magnets (Ceramic/Ferrite) rather than neodymium magnets (Neodymium), which imparts a smoother sound performance, allowing for seamless integration with the mid-range.
  2. 5″ Kevlar Fiber Mid-Range: The mid-range driver is a 5″ Kevlar fiber unit. Kevlar is chosen for its unique combination of lightweight properties and high strength, making it an ideal diaphragm material. This choice ensures that the mid-range frequencies are reproduced with precision and accuracy. Kevlar’s properties also prevent the mid-range from sounding overly bright or harsh, contributing to a balanced and pleasing tonal character.
  3. 10″ Kevlar Fiber Bass Driver: The 10″ Kevlar fiber bass driver is handling low frequencies. Like the mid-range driver, the Kevlar diaphragm in the bass driver provides a delicate balance between lightweight construction and structural rigidity. This design choice allows the Dovedale to produce powerful and impactful low-frequency responses, effectively capturing the depth and richness of bass instruments and enhancing the overall fullness of the sound.

The use of Kevlar in both the mid-range and bass drivers is particularly noteworthy. Unlike metal diaphragms, Kevlar’s properties ensure that the diaphragms remain lightweight while maintaining structural integrity. This balance prevents undesirable coloration and distortion, resulting in a more transparent and faithful audio reproduction.

Using the Grille

Dovedale’s grille is recommended for use, as it contributes to a smoother frequency response and clearer image positioning. While audiophiles often prefer grille removal, Dovedale’s grille primarily serves for protection. Its presence can improve bass reflection when needed.

In summary, the speaker components in the Wharfedale Dovedale are carefully selected and engineered to work harmoniously together. The combination of a silk dome tweeter, Kevlar mid-range, and Kevlar bass driver allows the Dovedale to offer a well-balanced and immersive audio experience characterized by clarity, precision, and the ability to faithfully reproduce a wide range of musical genres with exceptional detail and depth.


The usability of the Wharfedale Dovedale speaker is a crucial aspect of its overall appeal, as it enhances the practicality and convenience of integrating these speakers into your audio setup. Wharfedale has designed the Dovedale with several user-friendly features that contribute to a seamless and enjoyable listening experience:

  1. Tripod Compatibility: One of the standout features of the Dovedale is its compatibility with an optional tripod. This tripod is designed for the Dovedale and elevates the speaker to an ideal listening height. It allows for precise positioning, ensuring the soundstage is optimized for your listening environment. The tripod is a functional accessory and a design element, adding a touch of elegance to the speakers.
  2. Flexible Placement: While the tripod is recommended for an optimal experience, the Dovedale can be placed on shelves, stands, or any suitable surface, offering flexibility in placement options. This adaptability makes integrating the speakers into various room layouts and setups easier.
  3. Grille Usage: The Dovedale has a grille that serves a dual purpose. While many audiophiles prefer to listen without a grille for an unobstructed view of the speaker drivers, the manufacturer recommends using the grille for improved sound performance. It reduces bass reflections from the floor, ensuring a smoother frequency response and clearer image positioning. This feature allows users to tailor the sound to their preferences and room conditions.
  4. User-Friendly Accessories: Including accessories like foot pads and gloves enhances the usability of the Dovedale. Foot pads help isolate the speakers from vibrations and can be particularly useful when placing them on certain surfaces. Gloves ensure that users can carefully handle the speakers during setup and adjustments.
  5. Detailed Manual: The Dovedale has a meticulously crafted manual that guides users through the setup process and offers insights into Wharfedale’s heritage and the design philosophy behind these speakers. This comprehensive manual adds to the overall user experience, making it informative and engaging.
  6. Balanced Sound Performance: The Dovedale’s well-balanced sound signature and versatility in handling various music genres make it user-friendly for audiophiles and enthusiasts. Its ability to provide an enjoyable listening experience for dynamic and subtle musical passages ensures that users can appreciate a wide range of music with these speakers.

In conclusion, the Wharfedale Dovedale speaker prioritizes usability by offering flexibility in placement, user-friendly accessories, and the option to use a grille for sound optimization. These features cater to different user preferences and listening environments, making the Dovedale an accessible and enjoyable addition to any audio setup.

Listening Experience

Dovedale delivers a harmonious and dynamic listening experience. A 10″ woofer and bass reflex provides substantial energy and depth in the mid-low frequencies. Vocals shine with excellent detail and cohesion, leaning slightly towards warmth, making it ideal for vocal-centric music.

Versatility in Music Genres

Dovedale handles various music genres adeptly. Pop music offers an energetic and impactful performance while maintaining a balanced timbre. It’s equally comfortable with lively pop tunes, providing a close, textured, and weighty sound.

Concert-Like Experience

Listening to more elaborate music, like Claire Richards’ “Euphoria,” Dovedale showcases its ability to create a grand, immersive soundstage. While vocals may seem distant, the experience resembles a live concert, offering an enjoyable audio journey.

Subtlety in Sound

Njomza’s “Forget Me” emphasizes Dovedale’s skill in balancing subtle and robust sounds. It captures delicate and robust moments in the music with clarity, highlighting every element with finesse.

Elegance in Simplicity

Closing with Elton John’s “Your Song,” Dovedale delivers detailed, balanced, and harmonious sound. Every instrument and vocal maintains its appropriate proportions and distance. It creates a beautiful, uncomplicated listening experience akin to enjoying music on a quiet, rainy afternoon.

Sound Test: An Audiophile’s Delight

When evaluating the Wharfedale Dovedale’s sound quality, it’s akin to embarking on an audiophile’s journey, where every note and nuance becomes a vivid experience. The Dovedale presents a finely tuned blend of sonic characteristics contributing to its outstanding sound quality, making it a true standout in high-fidelity audio.

Rich and Textured Mid-Range: The Dovedale impresses with its ability to render the mid-range frequencies with remarkable richness and texture. Vocals, in particular, benefit from this quality. As you listen, you’ll discover an engaging, lifelike quality to voices, with a palpable presence that places you near the performer. This richness adds layers of emotion and authenticity to vocal-centric tracks, making them an absolute pleasure to explore.

Balance and Cohesion: The Dovedale maintains balance and cohesion throughout the frequency spectrum. Each component seamlessly integrates with the others, from the silk dome tweeter to the Kevlar mid-range and bass drivers. This cohesiveness results in a harmonious soundstage where no single element overpowers the rest. The sound remains true to the source material, faithfully reproducing music as the artist intended.

Smooth and Extended Highs: The Dovedale’s silk dome tweeter reproduces high-frequency details gracefully and precisely. Its silk diaphragm delivers smooth, extended highs that add sparkle and airiness to the sound without ever becoming piercing or fatiguing. Cymbals shimmer, strings resonate, and vocal harmonies soar with clarity, enhancing your appreciation of intricate musical details.

Powerful and Controlled Bass: The Dovedale offers a powerful and controlled bass response thanks to its 10″ Kevlar bass driver and well-engineered cabinet design. The low frequencies are characterized by their depth, impact, and natural tonality. Whether you’re enjoying a symphonic orchestra or electronic beats, the Dovedale’s bass presence is immersive and authoritative, capable of easily handling complex and demanding passages.

Soundstage and Imaging: The Dovedale’s soundstage is expansive and immersive, allowing you to feel enveloped by the music. It creates a three-dimensional sonic landscape where instruments and vocals are precisely placed, enhancing the realism of your listening experience. The imaging is precise, offering pinpoint accuracy in instrument placement, making distinguishing individual elements within complex arrangements easy.

Versatility Across Music Genres: The Dovedale’s adaptability across various music genres is a testament to its versatility. Whether you’re exploring classical compositions, jazz improvisations, rock anthems, or electronic dance tracks, these speakers effortlessly adapt to the unique demands of each genre. The Dovedale invites you to rediscover your favorite music with fresh enthusiasm and appreciation.

In summary, the Wharfedale Dovedale elevates sound quality to an art form. Its ability to reproduce the mid-range with richness, maintain balance and cohesion, deliver smooth and extended highs, provide powerful and controlled bass, and create an immersive soundstage with precise imaging makes it a truly exceptional speaker. With the Dovedale, you don’t just listen to music; you experience it in all its glory, making each listening session a captivating journey into the heart of your favorite compositions.


In audio excellence, the Wharfedale Dovedale is a testament to the enduring pursuit of sonic perfection. Its remarkable sound quality, marked by rich and textured mid-ranges, smooth and extended highs, and powerful, controlled bass, sets a new standard for audio enthusiasts and music lovers alike. With a heritage dating back nearly a century, Wharfedale has artfully blended vintage charm with modern innovation in the Dovedale, creating a speaker that honors its storied past and embraces the future of high-fidelity audio.

The Dovedale’s thoughtful design, including flexible placement options, tripod compatibility, and the choice of using a grille, adds to its usability and makes it a versatile addition to any listening environment. Whether you’re savoring the delicate notes of a classical composition or immersing yourself in the thumping beats of electronic music, these speakers reveal the nuances of every genre with finesse and clarity. While price considerations and space limitations may be factors for some, those who seek an extraordinary auditory journey will find the Wharfedale Dovedale to be a worthy investment in their pursuit of audio perfection. It’s not just a speaker; it’s a piece of audio history, a work of craftsmanship, and an invitation to rediscover the magic of music in all its glory.

Why You Should Buy the Wharfedale Dovedale:

  1. Exceptional Sound Quality: The Dovedale delivers a rich, balanced, and immersive sound experience, making it an ideal choice for discerning audiophiles and music enthusiasts. Its ability to faithfully reproduce music across genres is a testament to its outstanding sound quality.
  2. Heritage and Craftsmanship: Wharfedale’s legacy of nearly a century in audio engineering and craftsmanship is embedded in the Dovedale. This speaker represents a blend of vintage charm and modern technology, making it a piece of audio history that you can proudly own.
  3. Versatility: The Dovedale’s versatility shines in its adaptability to different music genres and room environments. Whether you’re a classical, jazz, rock, or electronic music fan, these speakers will perform exceptionally well, adding depth and clarity to your listening experience.
  4. Thoughtful Design: The Dovedale’s design is both elegant and practical. It offers flexible placement options, compatibility with an optional tripod, and choosing to use or remove the grille based on your listening preferences. The attention to detail, such as the cabinet construction and materials, further enhances its aesthetic appeal.
  5. Immersive Soundstage: The Dovedale creates an expansive and immersive soundstage with precise imaging, allowing you to hear the subtleties of your music in great detail. It provides a captivating listening experience that brings your favorite tracks to life.

Why You Might Not Buy the Wharfedale Dovedale:

  1. Price: High-end sound quality often comes at a premium, and the Dovedale is no exception. If you’re on a tight budget, these speakers may be beyond your financial reach.
  2. Space Constraints: The Dovedale’s size and optional tripod may not be suitable for small rooms or spaces with limited placement options. Ensure you have adequate room to accommodate these speakers and the tripod if you choose to use it.
  3. Personal Sound Preferences: Sound preferences are subjective, and what appeals to one listener may not resonate with another. If you prefer a different sound signature or have specific sonic preferences, you should audition the Dovedale before purchasing to ensure it aligns with your taste.

In conclusion, the Wharfedale Dovedale is a compelling choice for those seeking an exceptional audio experience with a blend of heritage and modernity. Its remarkable sound quality, versatile performance, and thoughtful design make it a valuable addition to any high-fidelity audio setup. However, budget, available space, and personal sound preferences should be considered before investing in these speakers.

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