Q: I have a pair of vintage Electro-Voice EV-4A speakers that I love, but my wife thinks they are too large. We tried a Sonos setup with two Play Fives and a subwoofer, but they lacked the EV-4A's presence and fullness of sound. I like to listen to both rock and classical music on vinyl, sometimes at moderately high volumes, in a large room with good acoustics. Can you recommend speakers that can match what I have now, but in a smaller package? I've budgeted $1,200, but am willing to spend more, if necessary.
A: Boxy speakers from the 1970s like the Electro-Voice EV-4A definitely have a sonic character that many modern speakers cannot duplicate, especially with rock music. I have two recommendations for you that take their inspiration from the past and bring you the best of both sonic worlds, vintage and modern.
The Wharfedale Linton Heritage speakers are old school in form, resembling a slightly smaller version of your current speakers, but manufactured with modern technology and materials. They make an impressive visual statement, and the high-grade wood finish and retro style of both the speakers and the stands make you think of expensive midcentury modern furniture. The stands also double as record racks. I can't remember the last time I reviewed speakers that impressed me as much visually.
I try not to say that speakers are "good rock speakers" or "good classical music speakers" because to say a speaker is good at one thing often means they are deficient in other respects. The best speakers sound good with all kinds of music, and those are the speakers I try to recommend. Though the Lintons do sound good with all types of music, I am prepared to break my own rule and say they are good rock speakers. Actually, they are some of the best I have ever heard. Playing L7, Journey, the Pretenders and Asia really brought out their best. That fullness you love in your EV-4A speakers is there, and combined with the clarity, bass impact, richness, detail and effortless dynamics, you get a speaker that really rocks, especially when you turn up the volume.
But we still need to see if they are enough of a change from what you have now for your wife to think they are a step in the right direction. They are only slightly smaller than your EV-4A speakers, but with the stands they are going to look far better. Hopefully, she will think so, too. Plus, it's more than just aesthetics; the stands also enhance the sound quality. The Wharfedale Linton speakers are $1,198 a pair, and the stands are $300 a pair, for a total of $1,498.
You said that you have some flex in your budget, but if it's not enough for the Lintons, then I'd opt for the $899 Wharfedale Denton Heritage 85 speakers. They sound similar, but with less bass. They still sound satisfyingly full, though. Both speakers can be seen at wharfedale.co.uk and can be ordered in the United States from musicdirect.com.
Send questions to Don Lindich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.