Price: $599 At A Glance: Beautifully styled satellite/subwoofer set • Keyhole mount for on-wall placement • Well-rounded sound
From England to China
Wharfedale is an Anglo-Chinese speaker brand and one of the most storied names in the high-end audio industry. The brand began in 1932 in Yorkshire, in the north of England, and it went through a few changes of ownership before it became part of the International Audio Group (IAG) in 1996. IAG is owned by two Taiwanese brothers, Bernard and Michael Chang, who made their fortune with karaoke equipment. For a decade and a half, they restored the luster to Wharfedale and its sister brand Quad.
One-upping Paradigm's 30th anniversary models and KEF's 50th anniversary models, Wharfedale celebrates its 80th anniversary with the Denton monitor. Audio history buffs will recognize the model name which goes back decades and decades. If that mahogany finish looks good to you (and it looked great to us) act fast because only 2000 pairs will be made. The one-inch soft dome tweeter and six-inch Kevlar woofer were made especially for this model in IAG's Shenzhen factory, which is capable of making every part, however tiny, that goes into its products. Also shown were two UPC subs including a dual 10-inch powered by 500 watts and a dual 8-inch powered by 350 watts. They come with remote control for volume, crossover, and phase and you can turn off the front panel display if it annoys you. We wish all subs were so eager to please. And we wish all speakers were so drop-dead gorgeous.
DX-1 HCP Speaker Performance Build Quality Value DX-1 subwoofer Performance Features Build Quality Value
Price: $799 At A Glance: Sweet but detailed mids • High-gloss finish • Great sats, OK sub
One of your best friends calls up to announce that she is about to wed someone rich and powerful. He owns a shipyard that manufactures exceptionally luxurious yachts. You’re happy for her, but you worry, too. Would living with such a strong personality, a guy with all that money and all that power, be good for her? Would it make her stronger or weaker? A few years later you run into her, and after a few hours of conversation, you conclude that she’s in great shape internally as well as externally. There’s a serenity beneath the tan. Her husband is affectionate and faithful, a child is on the way, and she’s never been happier.
Achromatic is the name of a new line from the venerable (and underrated) Anglo-Chinese brand Wharfedale. In addition to the $399 sat/sub set, the line also includes towers, monitors, and subs. The existing Evo2 ($600-1900, shown) and Opus2 ($1700-5000) lines have been beefed up with aluminum-coated copper wire for better heat dispersion. They continue to have kevlar woofers and soft dome tweeters.
Wharfedale's new Jade series has a Crystal AM enclosure. That is a composite of wood fiber and polymer made in multiple layers of microscopic thickness and arranged to prevent the backwave of the drivers from polluting their output. The aluminum tweeter has an oversized surround to defeat ringing and the woofer is a weave of glass and carbon fiber. There are two towers, two monitors, two centers, and a surround at prices ranging from $4199 for the biggest towr to $1199 for the smaller stand-mount.
You don't see the parts inside a speaker enclosure. So when you lay eyes on the latest generation of Wharfedales to live in the now-familiar curved enclosure, you won't see the fat, sexy, new magnets and capacitors that will provide "better dynamic range" and "much better high-frequency response." Is the familiar dark-hued tone of recent Wharfedale product about to change? I'd like to find out in my own environs.
Here's what this blog is not going to be: a diatribe about how much I hate CES and, more specifically, the city of Las Vegas. Oh, I'll give that desert hellhole one or two well-deserved kicks, but you're probably not interested in my self-indulgent whining, so I'll keep that part brief. A reader who has never attended CES, but has heard about it for years, would be more interested in what it's like to actually go, to be there, to have the experience. So I'll give you a taste of that instead. CES veterans will want to skip this blog entirely. This is for the newbies, OK?