What do you do when you go from a medium sizes, 25m2 living room to a pretty large, 60m2 one? Right! You get some new speakers. The trusty Bowers & Wilkins 686s1 bookshelf speakers are not enough to fill the new space and will have to make way, but for what? The most important criteria in the search are; room filling sound, high WAF (wife approval factor), easy to place because of difficult space, budget friendly and finally they must grow with better quality components. Meet the Wharfedale Evo 4.3.
First up is the Kef R500. During my listening session it becomes clear that they pass everything except the point of budget and placement. The Kef’s need to be placed fairly far from the walls in order not to become overpowering in the low end. Although I am almost in love with the coaxial mid/tweeter I will continue my search. Perhaps the Bowers and Wilkins 603? Price is still an issue and that bass port on the back doesn’t help with placement.
What speakers then? Suddenly there was the Wharfedale evo 4.3!
With a retail price of 649 euros each, if you look online, sometimes even less, this is within your author’s reach. So what about the placement? Thanks to technology from the Wharfedale Elysian reference series, the Wharfedale Evo 4.3 have a downward-facing bass port (SLPP – Slot Loaded Profiled Port) making them less prone to difficult and weird placement in a room. The wife gets to choose the color (which one that will be you read below).
Room filling sound? My previous experience with AMT (air motion transformer) tweeters leads me to suspect that this will be fine. Finally, do they grow with the system? Unfortunately, at the time of writing there is no store in the Netherlands where the Wharfedale Evo can be seen, heard or experienced. I decided to just collect all the courage and make contact with Mika (the importer in the Netherlands). And guess what? They have a returned pair of the Evo 4.3 (customer who sent it back opted for the larger 4.4 variant eventually). For 850 euros for the pair I put the order through, including regular return rights and warranty through the importer. After 2 days of excitement, the Wharfedale Evo 4.3 finally arrived. I carefully remove the packaging, put on the enclosed gloves and take out the speakers together with my wife. In chorus we both say “wow, they look beautiful!”.
Technical details & the test setup
The Wharfedale Evo 4.3 is a 3 way floorstanding speaker with a bass reflex enclosure and a nominal impedance of 8 ohms. Frequency range is from 48 Hz to 22 kHz and sensitivity is at 88dB which should result in a relatively easy to drive speaker.
The speakers are mounted on spikes. The spikes are adjustable and easy to replace for acoustically insulating feet such as those from Isoacoustics. Between the base plate and the speakers is the SLPP (Slot Loaded Profiled Port) where the air outlet for the bass drivers is located.
The woofers (2 pieces) consist of 5 inch (130mm) woven kevlar cones surrounded by a flexible surround. The soft dome midrange driver is 2 inches (50mm) in size and has a special coating that makes the unit a bit more rigid and able to absorb resonances better. Behind the driver there is an air pressure ventilated space that is shaped to both absorb and dissipate energy. This should give the midrange a (more) linear response from 800 Hz to 5 kHz.
The high range is represented by the AMT (Air Motion Transformer) measuring 30mm wide and 60mm high. It is made of a lightweight diagram which, with the help of a pair of strong magnets, can effortlessly move air at a very high rate. This creates a mainly horizontal dispersion rather than vertical. This should counteract reflections from ceiling and floor while creating a very wide listening field.
The crossover frequencies are at 1.3 kHz and 4.3 kHz. This is partly in the voice area, but you will hear later that we are not really bothered by this. The Wharfedale Evo 4.3’s come to play in your author’s private set and that consists of:
- Yamaha R-N803D integrated network amplifier
- Isoacoustic Gaia feet
- Qed Signature Genesis Silver Spiral speaker cable with factory airlock plugs
- Supra Lorad 2.5 MKII Power Cord
- Streaming source was Qobuz always choosing CD quality or higher