Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary - my thoughts

plastic penguin

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Hiya all.

Purchased the Dentons cheaply, as I vaguely remember the XP2s from the early 1980s. I was licking my lips with anticipation. Most of the reviews state these Anniversary versions are a throwback to a more retro sound. So I thought it would be a laugh in the lockdown.

Once they arrived I hadn't factor in the appropriate stands: My PMCs TB2s are relatively low. Someone said I could borrow a 610mm stands which was better for the little Dentons. While waiting for the stands to turn up, placed them on the PMC stands - my excitement quickly evaporated. The bass sounded quite boxy compared to my PMCs. Decided to place them on top of the PMCs, which they now sat too high. Still no better.

Meantime Mrs. P immediately disliked them from the off. Once the proper height stands turned up there was a difference in terms of the boxy bass. Problem was they didn't sound retro to me: Sounding more modern than my PMCs, the midrange is quite prominent. The wife said they sounded "shrill" to her ears. Although not shrill to my ears they were brighter than I expected.

Mrs. said, have we still got the big'uns? by the big'uns she meant Monitor Audio RS6s. I replied, "up in the loft". After being covered in cobwebs I placed the MAs and switched on and... OMG, I'd forgotten how good they sound. They were everything I expected the Dentons to be: Cohesive, balanced and just downright musical.

My daughter said she preferred the Dentons when it came to female voices, otherwise she sat on the fence. This is the first time a hi-fi component had split the family: Mrs. P hates them, my daughter undecided and I was gradually warming to them, albeit very slowly.

Strangely I found the Dentons to major in the opposite to WHFI review: Against: They said, lack rhythmic precision and the bass could be tighter. We thought they were really good in those areas. Perhaps because the Leema, Exposure CDP and Pro-ject Classic all major in that area.

But the RS6s, with it's metal dome tweeter, sounded less forward and sweeter than a soft tweeter really baffled me (excuse the pun). All-in-all a very disappointing experience.

It was a bit of fun but both PMCs and RS6s showed the Dentons a clean pair of heels. And the cat didn't like them either.

Wharfedale Denton

For:
Good build quality; deep bass for such tiny boxes; good sense of rhythm; prefers more upbeat music

Against: Midrange and high frequencies sound too brittle; lack of cohesion; relatively poor dynamic expression; fussy when it comes to placement
 
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Al ears

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Hiya all.

Purchased the Dentons cheaply, as I vaguely remember the XP2s from the early 1980s. I was licking my lips with anticipation. Most of the reviews state these Anniversary versions are a throwback to a more retro sound. So I thought it would be a laugh in the lockdown.

Once they arrived I hadn't factor in the appropriate stands: My PMCs TB2s are relatively low. Someone said I could borrow a 610mm stands which was better for the little Dentons. While waiting for the stands to turn up, placed them on the PMC stands - my excitement quickly evaporated. The bass sounded quite boxy compared to my PMCs. Decided to place them on top of the PMCs, which they now sat too high. Still no better.

Meantime Mrs. P immediately disliked them from the off. Once the proper height stands turned up there was a difference in terms of the boxy bass. Problem was they didn't sound retro to me: Sounding more modern than my PMCs, the midrange is quite prominent. The wife said they sounded "shrill" to her ears. Although not shrill to my ears they were brighter than I expected.

Mrs. said, have we still got the big'uns? by the big'uns she meant Monitor Audio RS6s. I replied, "up in the loft". After being covered in cobwebs I placed the MAs and switched on and... OMG, I'd forgotten how good they sound. They were everything I expected the Dentons to be: Cohesive, balanced and just downright musical.

My daughter said she preferred the Dentons when it came to female voices, otherwise she sat on the fence. This is the first time a hi-fi component had split the family: Mrs. P hates them, my daughter undecided and I was gradually warming to them, albeit very slowly.

Strangely I found the Dentons to major in the opposite to WHFI review: Against: They said, lack rhythmic precision and the bass could be tighter. We thought they were really good in those areas. Perhaps because the Leema, Exposure CDP and Pro-ject Classic all major in that area.

But the RS6s, with it's metal dome tweeter, sounded less forward and sweeter than a soft tweeter really baffled me (excuse the pun). All-in-all a very disappointing experience.

It was a bit of fun but both PMCs and RS6s showed the Dentons a clean pair of heels. And the cat didn't like them either.

Wharfedale Denton

For:
Good build quality; deep bass for such tiny boxes; good sense of rhythm; prefers more upbeat music

Against: Midrange and high frequencies sound too brittle; lack of cohesion; relatively poor dynamic expression; fussy when it comes to placement
Don't suppose there is any chance they just need a longer run in period?
Having said that I have never kept a pair of speaker that didn't immediately appeal to me.
 
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plastic penguin

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Don't suppose there is any chance they just need a longer run in period?
Having said that I have never kept a pair of speaker that didn't immediately appeal to me.
They were second hand and the previous owner only used them about3-4 days before I receiving them.

Checked to make sure they were phased in correctly - they were. Positioning was a pain, from a foot to two feet from the back and side walls; toe-in, toe-out and everything in between. I couldn't get them to sound right or even as the reviews suggest.
 

Al ears

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They were second hand and the previous owner only used them about3-4 days before I receiving them.

Checked to make sure they were phased in correctly - they were. Positioning was a pain, from a foot to two feet from the back and side walls; toe-in, toe-out and everything in between. I couldn't get them to sound right or even as the reviews suggest.
Noted. Good review though PP.
If they don't do it, they don't do it.
 

SteveH72

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Feb 25, 2020
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I listened to a pair of these last year and was not impressed. I agree with you about the lack of dynamics; they were as dull as a dull thing. I wouldn’t call the mid-range brittle, I found it super-smooth. Too smooth. The whole listening experience was like having pillow tied around your head. They apparently went down a storm in the states. Can’t understand why.
 

Blackdawn

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May 7, 2010
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Thanks for the interesting review. I know What HiFi and HiFi World liked these speakers. Out of the 3-4 days the previous owner used them they may have only used them a couple of hours. Possibly they still need longer to break in? I know my Dali speakers needed a while. Now that the newer and larger 85th Denton is for sale this may be why the smaller/older 80th anniversary model is cheaper. At around £350 they are definitely budget speakers and no wonder they don't complete with much more expensive PMC's and MA silvers floor- standers. However, they do look quite nice! If you had put them up against comparably priced speakers like Dali Oberon 1, Q Acoustics 3030i etc you may have been a it happier with the sound.
 
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plastic penguin

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Thankfully they are now boxed up and waiting for the carrier to collect and take them off to the new owner.

Let me just confirm: They are okay speakers in the main. Unlike my MA RS6s and PMCs, they are strangely forward in the vocals and certain snare drums, so much so Mrs. P hated their sound from moment one. I wasn't so critical but felt they weren't as composed as my current bundles. This is weird as the soft domed tweeter should, in theory, be a little softer -- they are on the PMCs and the hard domed tweeter of the RS6s also sounded sweeter. The lower midrange and bass was fine for the money -- still expected more from £550 (new price) speaker.

Also, unlike the RS6s and PMCs the Wharfedales aren't as holographic or transparent. Nor does it have the texture, almost sounding one dimensional. Some have suggested the design and implementation on the Wharfedales aren't as good... after 3 weeks of ownership it's hard to find a more plausible explanation.

All-in-all it was a good experience, and one thing it's confirmed: My current system for the money is blinding.

Shame as they look the dogs.
 

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jonathanRD

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Your ears will be accustomed to the RS6's and PMC's, but you also probably put quite a lot of effort and consideration into choosing them in the first place. So any new speaker comparison had that double whammy to contend with.
 
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plastic penguin

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Your ears will be accustomed to the RS6's and PMC's, but you also probably put quite a lot of effort and consideration into choosing them in the first place. So any new speaker comparison had that double whammy to contend with.
Indeed. It's because I'm so acclimatized to the Leema/PMC and RS6s voicing that perhaps I've put up a natural barrier to other brands. Does that mean it's a placebo effect? or are the RS6s hard domed tweeter really a bit sweeter than the Dentons?

Or is it case of having the right combination in the correct environment?
 

jonathanRD

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Jan 27, 2011
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Indeed. It's because I'm so acclimatized to the Leema/PMC and RS6s voicing that perhaps I've put up a natural barrier to other brands. Does that mean it's a placebo effect? or are the RS6s hard domed tweeter really a bit sweeter than the Dentons?

Or is it case of having the right combination in the correct environment?
Probably a bit of everything but you would like to think that you have the right combination in the correct environment.
Of course there are endless combinations to try, and most of us don't have the time, energy or funds to keep looking for that sweetest spot of all - if it exists.
 
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DougK

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Indeed. It's because I'm so acclimatized to the Leema/PMC and RS6s voicing that perhaps I've put up a natural barrier to other brands. Does that mean it's a placebo effect? or are the RS6s hard domed tweeter really a bit sweeter than the Dentons?

Or is it case of having the right combination in the correct environment?
This is very true PP. It took me quite a few weeks to get the PMC sound signature out of my head when I was trialling the Harbeth's. The PMC's were like an old shoe, instantly recognisable when they were connected up, which made it very difficult to critically compare. Initially the difference was minuscule but after 20 hours the Harbs started to pull away from the PMC's.

I think to find a replacement for your PMC's you may need to invest about twice their original RRP and a lot of auditioning.
 

Gray

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Of course there are endless combinations to try, and most of us don't have the time, energy or funds to keep looking for that sweetest spot of all - if it exists.
That fact is always at the back of my mind.
Somewhere amongst all those combinations exists the optimum one for each of us. The chances of us ever finding it? Zero.
It may include a brand you've never heard of, or one you'd never consider, but for whatever reason, you're never going to hear it.
Perfect doesn't exist (there's always some compromise involved), but get used to the fact that you may never even reach optimum (my brothers don't call me a cheerful Bastard for nothing).
It really is all about being content with what you've got......whilst researching the next purchase👍
 
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Jimboo

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I am perfectly happy with my system and I enjoyed my previous one too. Only breaking parts and a desire for less stuff ( boxes, cables etc) made me change.
I keep harping back to this but there isn't really zero chance of system happiness is there ?
Why compromise , why buy anything that isn't right?
Do you buy a TV that hasn't got a picture as nice as the competitors or is smaller than you wanted or headphones that have too much bass for you?
The choice is massive yes ,finding your sound takes time agreed. But buying something that isn't right ?
If your current system is a compromise and you replace it with another not right part and then another.....
If you like the sound of your speakers then the rest of your system is contributing to that and if you hear another pair and they sound better same thing. But then you lot will then look for a better amp 😉
And then the c.d player sounds wrong...............
 

amormusic

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Feb 24, 2016
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Indeed. It's because I'm so acclimatized to the Leema/PMC and RS6s voicing that perhaps I've put up a natural barrier to other brands. Does that mean it's a placebo effect? or are the RS6s hard domed tweeter really a bit sweeter than the Dentons?

Or is it case of having the right combination in the correct environment?
Although to be fair PMC make stonking speakers (I've had several sets), and the RS6's are genuine giant killers in their bracket and far far better than their price/age would suggest they should be. I've only just got rid of my set as they saw off many others on side by sides. Sold mine for £300 which is all they are worth nowadays. The guy that picked them must be cackling in joy, that's a Billy bargain cracking speaker for little cash.

Plus you like them both. Therefore the Wharfs need to be bloody good for you to like them PP. It's a decent bar they need to hit.
 
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cse

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Mar 3, 2008
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I am perfectly happy with my system and I enjoyed my previous one too. Only breaking parts and a desire for less stuff ( boxes, cables etc) made me change.
I keep harping back to this but there isn't really zero chance of system happiness is there ?
Why compromise , why buy anything that isn't right?
Do you buy a TV that hasn't got a picture as nice as the competitors or is smaller than you wanted or headphones that have too much bass for you?
The choice is massive yes ,finding your sound takes time agreed. But buying something that isn't right ?
If your current system is a compromise and you replace it with another not right part and then another.....
If you like the sound of your speakers then the rest of your system is contributing to that and if you hear another pair and they sound better same thing. But then you lot will then look for a better amp 😉
And then the c.d player sounds wrong...............
 

DIB

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May 21, 2009
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Funnily enough a pair of RS6's just sold on AV Forums for £190 which seems a bit of a bargain for someone considering how good everyone says they are (never heard a pair myself)
 

plastic penguin

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Apr 28, 2008
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Although to be fair PMC make stonking speakers (I've had several sets), and the RS6's are genuine giant killers in their bracket and far far better than their price/age would suggest they should be. I've only just got rid of my set as they saw off many others on side by sides. Sold mine for £300 which is all they are worth nowadays. The guy that picked them must be cackling in joy, that's a Billy bargain cracking speaker for little cash.

Plus you like them both. Therefore the Wharfs need to be bloody good for you to like them PP. It's a decent bar they need to hit.
You're right. RS6s and PMCs are my bag, and the Wharfedales, although good for the money, doesn't have the all-round game.

As DougK mentioned, I'd probably have to spend twice the cost of the PMCs to achieve a worthwhile upgrade.
 

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