Review: Wharfedale LINTON Heritage Loudspeakers – It must have been in the early 1970s that my father was offered an almost complete stereo system at an anniversary, after which he went to buy the Wharfedale Denton, which had just been voted the best loudspeaker with the Consumer Guide in hand. For years they hung in the corners of the living room, not the most ideal place, he did not mind that. The name Wharfedale was therefore early in my system, just like Dual, Uher, Leak and Sony (the other components). Lately triggered by vintage models from JBL, Dynaudio and Elipson and lover of the classic BBC sound from Harbeth, Falcon, Sterling Audio or Spendor, the Wharfedale Linton Heritage 85 Anniversary was a must have to listen to extensively in the home environment.
The classic appearance of the Linton really appeals to me. In addition, I have discovered that many ladies often find the rectangular shape more attractive than a modern column, despite its dimensions. So that the music lover can suddenly put quite large speakers in the living room. When the finishing is done in real veneer and matching stands are offered, the bullet is quickly through the church. Even the price helps, because the Wharfedale Linton is surprisingly affordable, as are the accompanying stands.
Wharfedale LINTON Heritage Specifications
|General Description||3-way vented-box/standmount|
|Enclosure Type||Bass reflex|
|Bass Driver||8″(200mm) black woven Kevlar® cone|
|Midrange Driver||5″(135mm) black woven Kevlar® cone|
|Treble Driver||1″ (25mm) soft dome|
|Sensitivity (2.83v @1m)||90dB|
|Recommended Amplifier Power||25-200W|
|Frequency Response(+/-3dB)||40Hz ~ 20kHz|
|Crossover Frequency||630Hz & 2.4kHz|
|Height (on plinth)||565mm|
|Depth (with terminals)||(330+30)mm|
|Net Weight 18.4kg||18.4kg/pcs|
Wharfedale LINTON Heritage inside out
The Linton is a 3-way system whose history dates back to 1965. From that year, the Linton was marketed in various versions until 1980. Apart from the appearance, the use of three drivers and the dimensions, there is nothing left of the old models. The current Linton is a completely new development. From top to bottom we first see the 25mm soft-dome tweeter with a powerful ferrite magnet, placed just off-center so that a left and right Linton is supplied as a set. Underneath is a 135mm midrange driver with a cone formed from woven Kevlar. A 200mm woofer with also a kevlar cone makes it a three-way. These last two drivers received a rigid chassis that was cast from the factory. Quite remarkable in this price range where a pressed steel chassis is usually used. To support the woofer, two large bass reflex ports have been installed on the back of the Linton. It is a detail, but it shows how well thought out things have been, the ports are fitted with metal mesh on the inside, so that children’s hands cannot dump toys in the speaker.
With an efficiency of 90 dB at a nominal impedance of 6 Ohm (minimum 3.5 Ohm), the Linton is easy to control with any modern amplifier. Crossover frequencies are at 630Hz and 2400Hz, the frequency range would go from 40Hz to 20kHz with a -6dB point at 35Hz. The Linton has a hefty size of 565 x 300 x 330mm and weighs over 18 kilos net each. The cabinet itself is made from a combination of chipboard and MDF, then veneered with real wood in walnut and mahogany.
A dark front cloth is standard. This remains on the loudspeaker, because the treble reproduction is tuned to that and the shape of the frame also ensures a reflection-free distribution of the treble. The Linton should be positioned so that the tweeter is at ear height. This can be done very nicely with the stand to be supplied, made with the same types of wood and exactly fitting under the Linton. A position of your own choice is of course also possible, even a lower position but then tilt the Linton backwards so that the tweeter is tilted upwards in the direction of the ears. Since there is a left and a right speaker, the Linton should be set up so that the tweeters are centered and the logos face out.
To listen to the Wharfedale Linton 85 Anniversary, obtained through the website www.wharfedale.eu , my almost equally large Spendor Classic 2/3 speakers were taken from the Custom Design stands. Stands located on Townshend Podiums to completely decouple the speaker from the floor. The Linton’s are center to center measured two meters apart and measured at the center of the back about 35 centimeters from the wall.
The used power amplifier is a PrimaLuna ProLogue Four with EL34 power tubes, used because my own amplifier is far too far outside the price range of the Linton and use would be totally unrealistic. Interlink to the PrimaLuna and speaker cable are both Flow from Driade Systems. The speakers came new out of the box and sounded surprisingly good at first, but with a heavy bass. After about one week of playing, the performance had slumped, it was persistence and only playing as much as possible. By the time this story got on paper, de Linton had gotten to the point where you can actually speak of “played in”. As is often the case with playing in speakers, it is first to be happy with the new toys, and then after 50 hours of playing you ask yourself “what did I get into?”,
Incidentally, the Lintons play fine with a tube amplifier, taking into account the impedance connected to the 4 Ohm connectors of the PL. The small PrimaLuna is a real workhorse, quite neutral and affordable at its original price of 1,250 euros. Of course the Linton is not limited to tube amplifiers, any good amplifier will be able to drive the loudspeaker, class A transistor up to class D.
On the fifteenth day
After two weeks, the heavy bass reproduction has largely disappeared due to playing in and even Patricia Barber’s CD “Café Blue” can be played on the Linton Heritage. The amount of energy in the low tones gave a bit of a problem immediately upon entry, to slow down by lightly filling the ports with Fiberfill, but you still want to keep the deep and full low. The Linton Heritage is therefore reminiscent of the golden years of audio in the last century. From the beginning and never changed, the Linton Heritage’s ability to let music completely separate from the reproducers themselves. Never, ever, has the music stuck to the baffle, the stereo image is exemplary in height and width, with the necessary depth. Could that have to do with the classic shape of the cabinet, wide and high instead of the modern narrow and high? I think so, the classic shape once disappeared under pressure from fashion trends, after which problems with radiation behavior have arisen that are difficult to solve.
The tweeter of this Wharfedale sees a flat plate around it instead of square edges, the Linton Heritage also has the advantage of the front cloth stretched on the optimized frame. People used to be doing really well and those who are old enough, like the English designer Peter Comeau of the Linton Heritage, still remember that and make use of the knowledge of those days.
Classic from heritage
New to my music collection is a Mozart CD released by pianist Marietta Petkova, a lady whom I have come to appreciate very much for her playing and for her excellent recordings. Her fingers frolic through the “Piano concerto no. 17 in G major, K 453” as if a grand piano had been specially made for her. The live recording brings freshness and although a grand piano is a difficult instrument to reproduce, the Linton Heritage holds up on all sides. More colored than on my favorite LS3 / 5a mini monitors, but with a pleasant coloring that makes the instrument live. Tones are clear, punchy fast and long lasting. The low tones complemented by the sound of the body of the instrument, the high notes with an emphasis on hammer and string. It is easy to imagine how microphones used to be, the stereo image is again exemplary.
A large instrument requires a large transducer in an average living room, not a mini thing with a built-in amplifier. Or there must be a subwoofer next to it. With such a statement I kick at sacred houses, I know, but give me volume in a cupboard as is the case here. The fact that the recording of Petkova is live is noticeable several times by the soft coughing of the audience, the shifting in chairs just before the start of the first note and of course by the applause at the end of the game. The noises give a good impression of the size of the room where the work was recorded. Complement the experience exactly, it is nice that the tonmeister has not polished them away and the Linton Heritage clearly shows them.
Larger orchestral work is carried in by Haydn, played by The Academy of Ancient Music. A 9-CD box with “Symphonies 35, 38, 39, 41, 58, 59 and 65” and more, as evidenced by the fact that the “Symphony No. 51 ”plays. Even playing very well, without a trace of sharpness in the high tones, a wonderfully enjoyable support of basses and cellos, clear violins, a beautiful placement in the room for me and unexpected vibrancy. How nice it is that I took the time to let the Linton Heritage play in well, so it did not come out of the box, let alone after about 50 hours of running. So be careful if you are going to listen somewhere, make sure they have been used extensively and have not stood as a wallflower among other reproducers.
In the meantime, the orchestra keeps on playing. Set up wider than the physical set-up suggests, it should be noted that I turned the Linton Heritage a little less far than the manual indicates. The tweeters don’t look at me but pass me by. Very often the right setup for my space. It is also striking how beautiful the sound balance in the Linton is, after all brass and woodwinds can be very hard on the ears if a strange resonance occurs somewhere or when a transducer is not properly filtered. Here too the design team has done its best, I do not get an abundance of information in certain frequency ranges, at the same time I do not notice a shortage with the music that I now know well. The balance in the frequency range and the course thereof are exemplary by ear.
Old and new Krall
Although it is no longer the Diana Krall that I once fell for, her latest CD “This dream of you” is acceptable after a few plays. Retrieved as a 24-bit FLAC file, the quality is very acceptable, with the exception of the bold bass tones. Purity disappeared when an orchestra was added, such as on “Autumn in New York” and Krall sings more than plays the piano. We just have to learn to live with the fact that a CD like “Stepping out” will never be made again. Well, it’s not a music review, it’s about the reproducers. Krall comes in violently, is completely soaked in the recording, but fortunately her voice remains at some distance and does not hit your face. “Almost like being in love” brings back some old glory with Clayton, Hamilton and Wilson in the band. That plays quite nicely on the Linton Heritage.
It is difficult to distinguish between bass drum and bass. There, either the amplifier or the Linton drops a stitch. Ultimately it is due to the Linton turns out when I later connect it to a high end transistor amplifier. The two ports at the rear require more distance from the back wall, which is impossible in many living rooms and the owner will have to use the Fiberfill anyway, I’m afraid.
Sparingly, do not stuff the gate, but make an airy roll of that stuff that can be bought for next to nothing and works much better than a plug made of foam rubber. The character of the Linton Heritage is maintained with Fiberfill, while a cap that completely closes a port makes a transducer different in sound. You didn’t buy the Wharfedale Linton for that.
Striking and mishmash
A few things were noticed during the listening period. For example, the Linton Heritage has been frequently used on a TV, via DAC and amplifier, whereby the intelligibility of speakers was very good and in films the deep continuous bass provided an extra experience. The dynamic range and the uninhibitedness of the player contribute to the experience, with films and with music. The created stereo image does not make me long for a surround setup in that case, which will have to do with the genre of films (many detectives of Scandinavian made) where surround spectacle is missing and it is more about the dialogues and background sounds. Better, because the Linton Heritage has no center, surround or subwoofer in the same line.
Wharfedale LINTON Heritage is truly a stereo system for the music lover. Moreover, much has been listened to internet radio, often at a low volume level, much lower than when I listen to music from my own storage, and even then the Linton does not fall through the basket. Understandability remains, the pleasant representation remains, the representation is always complete. I also think that the relatively large woofer in the large cabinet contributes to this. My own storage contains a nice jazz CD by Sarah Lancman, a French woman whose home base is the city the CD is named after. Except for one track by Edith Piaf, “Parisienne” only contains own work, in English and French. You would attribute a track like “Tokyo song” to jazz greats and it really comes from her hand. Where I previously had trouble distinguishing the bass drum from the bass, it is now much easier. Cymbals have retained a metallic sound, bass lines are multi-toned and no lump of indefinable energy. Piano is crisp and Lancman’s voice clear and clean. Jazz and classical are perhaps the genres that the Linton Heritage can handle. Were it not for the fact that there was more pop on it than what I mentioned. De Linton invites me to look for some gems in the collection and simply enjoy music without frills.
At the end of a long listening day, I gather some much-used test material that has become a solid core over the years. Infected Mushroom’s “Avratz” is one such track. Electronic and unrelated to anything, it is nice to feed the enormous stereo image of the Linton, how broad that goes! This rarely works without using extra super tweeters. Bas has power, we already knew that, but it will be proven once again. Deep and thumping enough for the enthusiast. Alicia Olatuja’s “No Ordinary Love” blows the last bit of dust off the woofers. With fine percussion and a few wonderful voices. Hitting a drum really sprays across the room. Beautiful. Jane Monheit with “Over the rainbow” to find a remnant of resonances, which are not there in the Linton. Jane even stays free from the piano and is not in it, which sometimes happens. Her voice remains clear, even when she lashes out, sometimes I am really amazed at the quality of the Linton, even if I don’t even count the pricing, because if you add that, then this is definitely an adult bargain.
Nice audiophile closing with Nik Bärtsch and his “Modul 29-14” which contains so many sounds of percussion. Starting with heavy thumps on a big drum, it goes deeper than you would expect given the size of the Linton Heritage. Later in this “Modul” it becomes clear once again that the Linton Heritage has a considerable resolving power and detailing, especially in this price range. Details that fortunately do not make Van de Linton a fillet knife by keeping musicality of paramount importance.
Bargain in size
At the end of the day, making decisions is perhaps the most difficult task for a reviewer. When is something advisable, when is it a bargain, how does the product stand in the market compared to the enormous competition in the loudspeaker field. After a few weeks of intensive living with the Wharfedale Linton Heritage 85 Anniversary, it is clear to me that the buyer gets a lot of quality for 999 euros per pair. Quality that can only come from China for this money, in Europe or the USA it simply cannot stand for what is offered. The tendency to look for errors, imperfections, poor finish and so on quickly arises, there must be something wrong? I can’t figure it out, even if the Linton Heritage is perfect like no speaker. The finish is beautiful with the real wood veneer.
The tonal balance is fine, although the Linton is a bit heavy in the bass regions. You have to be careful when buying. The dimensions are hefty, strangely enough very acceptable in a living environment and the retro look is not only fashionable, but also completely functional. So functional that this road should be followed more than switching to the eternal design pillars. Other, especially English brands, have been successfully pursuing this philosophy in their niche market for some time.
The Wharfedale Linton Heritage also has its limitations, just like any loudspeaker, related to the price range in which the loudspeaker is located you will really have to look for a system that is able to perform better on all fronts. That is certainly not going to be easy. Last and only warning, it takes 100 to 200 hours to play the speakers. Take the time to do so, then the reward for years of listening pleasure is close by.
Wharfedale LINTON Heritage – Conclusion
With the Linton Heritage, Wharfedale has put a very beautiful loudspeaker on equally beautiful stands. This transducer is a bit retro in everything, just not the sound. Here he really goes out of his way and plays on the level of many significantly more expensive speakers. The Linton is wide, looks neat and is a real bolide for a bookshelf speaker. The large volume of the case ensures an all-round expressive sound. If you are looking for the optical charm of the old days and want a really good sounding speaker, you have found your goal here. From my point of view, this speaker is a very hot recommendation!
positives of Wharfedale LINTON Heritage
- View without tiring
- Value for the money
- Finishing with real wood veneer
- Attractive retro look
- Functional design
- Stands available inexpensively
- Suitable for many types of music
- Neutral tuned; worthy of a modern classic
Negatives of Wharfedale LINTON Heritage
- Large dimensions
- Some in-depth detailing does not hurt
- The bass reproduction may be too loud in the listening room
- Only available in walnut and mahogany