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Wharfedale reinvents Dovedale loudspeaker for 21st Century

  • Continuing its reinvention of loudspeakers from the golden age of hi-fi, Wharfedale has this week announced the largest and most luxurious member of its Heritage line. The new Dovedale is a re-imagining of 1971’s Dovedale 3 loudspeaker – but with a slightly taller, wider and considerably deeper cabinet that’s closer in size to the then-available Unit 5 build-at-home kit. Say hello to 66 x 37 x 41.7cm and 26kg per speaker.

    The new Dovedale was designed by Peter Comeau who recently revived the Mission 770 and 700; it’s a 3-way design with a 25cm Kevlar bass driver and a 13cm Kevlar midrange driver, both critically damped with acoustic foam and long hair fibre and the midrange driver enclosed in its own internal housing to protect it (as much as possible) from the intrusion of bass vibrations. Kevlar wasn’t available when the first Dovedales came to market and it was reportedly chosen by Comeau for its stiffness and lightness. Wharfedale is claiming 25Hz on bass reach.

    The performance of the 25mm tweeter and its ceramic magnet – featured throughout Wharfedale’s Heritage Series – has been enhanced by the incorporation of a rear chamber that absorbs the back wave of the fabric dome. According to the press release, “This also has the advantage of reducing the resonant frequency of the treble unit to well below the crossover region, allowing full treble detail and harmonics to be revealed without affecting the smoothness of the high-frequency performance.”

    The crossover components were chosen by Comeau “for their revealing and transparent character and have been laid out on twin PCBs with careful spacing to avoid electromagnetic interference.” And per the 21st Century Mission 770, the crossover was refined via extensive listening tests to see the impedance clock in nominally at 6 Ohms (and with a minimum of 3.6 Ohms) and sensitivity at 89dB/1Watt/1metre for what promises to be an amplifier-friendly load.

    Dovedales’s strongest selling point is the way it looks – but this is no lipsticked oinker. Wharfedale has gone with a combination of different woods to scatter panel resonances across several frequencies (instead of one or two) and then taken it up a notch by bonding, with high-damping glue, an inner layer of high-density particle board to an outer layer of MDF. All surfaces are wrapped in real wood veneers, hand polished and lacquered to a satin finish.

    The cabinet has been strengthened with “precision-shaped” internal braces and the midrange and treble units offset on the front baffle to scatter reflections emanating from the cabinet edges. Grilles are supplied but Wharfedale warns “removing the grilles will result in a sound that is brighter but less smooth”.

    Wharfedale is also offering up a pair of matching open-frame floor stands that feature top and bottom furniture-grade glass inserts and where “all bar one of the uprights are filled with damping material”. The unfilled post allows for cable management.

    Pricing: £5000 for a pair of Dovedale and £800 for a pair of matching stands. Or buy them together for £5500. Everything is made in the UK.

    Further information: Wharfedale

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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