It’s been a while since I’ve gotten excited over a so-called “budget” component, which is why the MoFi, Wharfedale and Quad room at AXPONA 2019 was such a unexpected surprise. I visited Jonathan Derda and the multiple set-ups and he was commandeering for MoFi–I walked in just when another industry person told him “You guys at MoFi are getting all the good brands!” MoFi has featured Quad and Wharfedale for quite a few years, and I’m quite familiar with most of the products from these two venerable British manufacturers. As far as Wharfedale is concerned, I’ve had a ton of seat time with everything from their Diamond 220s to the more ambitious offerings in the Reva line. Nothing prepared me for the auspicious debut of a rather classic-looking three-way bookshelf speaker that looked like it was built from a schematic from the BBC Studio Guide (if that’s even a thing).
World, meet the Wharfedale Linton Heritage 85th Anniversary speakers. They look like a slightly larger version of the Wharfedale Denton 80 and 85 loudspeakers, compelling little two-ways in their own right, and they’re based on a design that Wharfedale started using way back in 1965. The Lintons will remind you of a number of classic BBC speakers such as the Spendor SP1/2s or the legendary LS5/8s–both in sight and sound. There’s a beautiful, reticent quality about the classic BBC sound, a relaxed yet orderly presentation that features one of the purest midranges you’ll hear.
The Mic Drop
The Lintons cost only $1600/pair. That includes the stands. And those stands are designed to hold LPs. This all adds up to one thing: crazy goodness.
Jonathan had the Lintons matched to a Quad Artere Solus integrated amplifier. Again, I’m familiar with the separates from the Quad Artere line–they are sleek and small and offer a ton of features for the money, and they have an amazing smoothness to them that I really enjoy. The Solus packs all of this into one chassis–including the CD transport and DAC–for just $2000. Jonathan was playing LPs most of the time via the MoFi Studio Deck+U turntable ($1499 with cartridge and arm) and the small MoFi StudioPhono preamp that only costs $299. We were treated to all sorts of classic rock from the ’70s and ’80s, and I felt like I was a young journeyman audiophile all over again, listening to my favorite tunes on a carefully chosen system from my past. It was glorious, like I was hanging out with my audio buddies in my college days.
In other words, the MoFi, Wharfedale and Quad system is something I would have been proud to own, probably still so, and I kept thinking about all the young audiophiles I’ve met in the last few years who wanted it all, but couldn’t afford it. Five to six thousand dollars is still a lot of money, even for a complete and wonderfully musical system such as this, one that can define PRaT for a whole new generation of music lovers. Still, I have to award Mofi, Wharfedale and Quad my “bang-for-the-buck award” at AXPONA 2019–nothing else at the show came close for this kind of moolah.