Like it or not, a lot of modern loudspeakers more closely resemble Dyson air purifiers than traditional HiFi. If it's not something akin to a Space X rocket or a Met Gala outfit, then its probably one of those smart little scent diffusers that, yes, will serve up your favourite music at the drop of a voice prompt but will also entirely fail to deliver any of it with a hint of detail or dynamic presence.
Honestly, the whole experience is like the withered frame of Montgomery Burns in musical form just sadly limping across the room.
So, it's comforting to know that, despite the market's overwhelming favour for iRobot, there are still some manufacturers out there making big box loudspeakers. And one of these rare stallions is none other than the award-winning Wharfedale Linton Heritage.
Now, a two second Google search will reveal a slew of Linton reviews detailing its impeccable sound and build qualities, so I'm not going to waste your time with another one here. Instead, I'm going spend the rest of our time together building a case for why bigger is better, and why a big box loudspeaker like the Wharfedale Linton might just be the perfect speaker for you.
The Watt of It
Linton is a 3-way vented-box standmount loudspeaker featuring a frequency response of 40Hz - 20kHz and a sensitivity of 90dB. They have a 6Ω impedance and are recommended to be used with an amplifier that can deliver somewhere between 25-200W of power.
Linton boasts a 1" (25mm) soft dome tweeter, a 5" (125mm) woven Kevlar midrange driver, and a powerful 8" (200mm) woven Kevlar bass driver complemented by a rear-ported bass reflex design. It features rear Heritage badges, jersey knit speaker grills and complementary speaker stands in matching true timber finishes.
Linton cabinets are constructed using a multi-layer sandwich method combined with real wood veneers – available in black oak, mahogany, and walnut. And last but by no means least, Linton's big box cabinet dimensions are a whopping 720 x 440 x 460mm, meaning these Wharfedale loudspeakers are by no means wallflowers.
Listener Discretion Warning
Let's be clear from the outset. If you have a small listening space, this speaker's not for you. If you want your loudspeaker to give you the afternoon weather forecast in Bahrain, this speaker is not for you. If aesthetic discretion is your first last and only priority for personal listening, this speaker is not for you.
No, Linton is a big loudspeaker that likes its breathing space; it has zero inbuilt smart tech wizardry; and it's without a doubt the first thing anyone is likely to see when they walk into your living or listening room. For good or for ill – and, in all honesty, that'll be entirely up to you – there is nothing discrete about Wharfedale's Linton. And I personally love it.
Bigger loudspeakers often handle more power. And there are a few key reasons why it's potentially better to buy a loudspeaker that can handle more wattage now than you may currently possess.
1. Higher Listening Volume
Speakers that can handle more power can produce higher volume levels without distortion, allowing you to enjoy your music at higher listening volumes. The louder you go, the more air you'll move around the room, and the more you'll begin to feel that music.
But the beauty of Linton is that you don't need a ton of power to get it to boogie.
In fact, thanks to Linton's 9dB sensitivity rating, with a recommended amplification range of just 25 - 200W, Linton is almost certain to sing with whatever you're currently running.
2. Better Bass Response
There are few things more satisfying than watching a big loudspeaker fill a room with sound, and much of that energy belongs to bass.
Bass is what gives music its rhythm and power. It's also one of the main factors in creating a sense of space in a mix, as well as depth and definition to individual sounds and instruments.
A loudspeaker that can handle more power will almost certainly enjoy a combination of bigger woofers responding to more powerful speaker drivers housed in a larger cabinet, and that aids bass.
Wharfedale's Linton has its very own 8" or 200mm woven kevlar bass woofer. And as bass woofers go, that's pretty big. But beyond just its size, its woven Kevlar membrane also makes the speaker cone incredibly stiff and well damped.
Stiff cones reduce distortion, they improve transient response – meaning they can react quicker to signals from your amplifier – and (drum roll please) they handle more power, like 200W of potential power.
And the improved damping properties of woven Kevlar help to reduce unwanted cone resonances that colour the musical reproduction.
Combine this with new high-powered motor systems mounted to die cast chassis within a cabinet volume of 720 x 440 x 460mm and you get damn good bass. Not the lowest of low, but highly detailed and wonderfully textured.
3. Future Proofing
Building the ultimate two-channel HiFi system is a journey. Very few people can afford to buy the ultimate system upfront. So we often begin by purchasing modest equipment at affordable prices with the intention of upgrading over time.
Not only is Linton a highly affordable big box loudspeaker, it can also grow with you over time.
Linton's recommended amplification range of 25 - 200W gives you a lot of legroom to grow. It's 90dB sensitivity rating combined with its 25W starting range means it'll boogie, straight out of the box, with very little amplification necessary. But that whopping 200W end range means that it'll sound better and better the more watts you feed it.
And that means you don't need to buy new speakers should you one day decide to upgrade your amp and increase its power.
Don't Just Hear the Music, Feel it
Bigger speakers can create a more immersive listening experience, with a greater sense of presence and realism, and one way they do this is by moving more air.
1. More Moving Air
More moving air gives you the feeling of being in a room with live instruments and the performers playing them. That could mean either the studio or the live stage.
The sound they produce is richer and fuller. And you physically feel that sound. If a kick drum kicks, you can literally feel that kick. It hits you in the chest, helping to create a whole new emotional response to the listening experience.
2. Wider, Deeper Sound Stage
In addition to moving air, bigger speakers will often throw wider, deeper sound stages.
Soundstage is the perceived spatial location of sounds in a room. It's an important part of the overall listening experience because it helps create the illusion of being in the room with the musicians.
The wider and deeper the soundstage, the more perceived spacial separation between instruments and vocalists. Not only that, certain artists will record albums with soundstage in mind, producing audible effects that dance in and around your soundstage.
Radiohead are brilliant with this. But the effect is just as special with many jazz, electronic or orchestral recordings, too.
3. Dynamic Response
And finally, bigger, more powerful speakers tend to handle greater dynamic ranges, resulting in better sound reproduction of both soft and loud passages in music.
The term dynamic response often describes how accurately a speaker reproduces loud and soft sounds, as well as its ability to transition between the two. A good dynamic response means that you can hear all the subtle details of your music, from quiet passages to loud ones, without a sense of sluggishness or distortion.
The combination of moving more air around the room, creating a wider, deeper sound stage, and have greater dynamic response means the difference between hearing your favourite music and feeling your favourite music. And the Linton has all three in spades.
Linton's classic big box design combined with its larger speaker drivers move a ton of air, throw a massive soundstage, and it has fantastic dynamic response.
The Wrap Up
Since a lot of the physical limitations in speaker design can be reduced by increasing loudspeaker size, bigger loudspeakers will often out perform their smaller counterparts. Sure, you have to have the space to accommodate them. Like I said from the outset, if you've got a small listening space, Linton is not the speaker for you. But if you do, you're in for a treat.
Larger loudspeakers, like Wharfedale's Linton Heritage, buck the trend when it comes to contemporary HiFi. They're not subtle. They're not "smart." And they sure as hell don't look anything like the villain from a Ridley Scott Sci-Fi. But what they do do is reproduce your favourite music in stunning detail, and with spine-tingling affect.
They also look gorgeous!
Sound quality aside, Linton looks stunning. It's a big ol' three way loudspeaker in a gorgeous true timber veneer that very clearly states to anyone who happens upon them, 'whoa, this person's into their music.'
I mean, how could they not? They come included with matching speaker stands that are specifically designed to house your favourite 12" vinyl records. That same true timber veneer, a really snazzy Wharfedale badge at the bottom, and space enough for fifty or so of your favourite 33s. I mean, if that doesn't scream serious music enthusiast, I'm not sure what does.
So, if a big box loudspeaker like Wharfedale's Linton sounds better and makes you look cooler, do you really want to buy those baby bookies?