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Amp suggestions for Wharfedale Lintons

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by garax, Jan 28, 2021.

  1. garax

    garax Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    uk
    So, I got myself a pair of Wharfedale Linton speakers upgrading on a 30 year old set of Mission speakers and I love them, but I wonder if I am getting the best out of them with my current amp - one I am deeply fond of since I've had it since I was a teenager - the NAD 3020e.

    I also have a Planar 1 - which I'm tempted to upgrade to a 2 or 3 in the not too distant future - but first I'd like to upgrade the amp.

    Hand on heart - I barely know where to start. I know I'd like it to have a phono stage/pre amp - although I do have a pre amp if needed, I know I'd like it to have balance controls because the room I am in requires a bit of jiggery pokery to get the best balance - I also wouldn't mind a remote control because getting lazy in my old age. Digital/bluetooth stuff is a plus but not essential - I will be feeding my TV through this set up so it would be handy but I'd honestly rather get a really good sounding Amp rather than one that has all the bells and whistles.

    If I'm honest, I guess I don't have magic ears because to me it's hard to imagine how it's going to sound better than it already does - but suggestions very much appreciated. I guess budget wise I'd like to go up from what I had - but I'd like to keep it under £1000 - but if that seems futile and I need to think again feel free to tell me! Anyway - all and any recommendations very gratefully received. thanks.
     
  2. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, ID, USA
    Wow, congratulations on the Lintons! those seem to be the darlings these days for a musical set of speakers at a "reasonable" price. I'm interested as well.

    The NAD is "low powered" but IF it follows NAD amps' good reputation (and it probably does) can put out many times its rated power (for brief periods anyway). Can you do better for £1000? I don't know that either, but from what I gather, the Yamaha integrated amps are a good recommendation in general, and possibly their clear sound will be a good match with the Lintons' more "musical" smooth delivery. Seems IIRC that smooth amps (Marantz/Denon, some tube amps) may lean a bit too far in the smooth direction, but if that's the sound you like, could be an excellent match as well.

    I can't recommend from experience, but seems like there's a lot of really good new choices out there in the £1000 price range. If you really like the NAD but want more power, if it has a preamp out you could purchase a power amp and use that. Possibly that would give you the 'biggest bang for the buck' (or pound). If the NAD is getting a bit frazzled in its golden age, maybe a new NAD or Yamaha or Marantz/Denon (I think of them as related/similar) could be better.

    The Lintons DO seem to need a bit of power to 'come on song' ... they're relatively efficient, and the measurements are good etc., but a good '4 ohm rated amp' is recommended by JA (a fellow Brit) at Stereophile. Wharfedale Linton Heritage loudspeaker Measurements of course read the rest of the article for good vibes about the sound! Seems like the NAD is (by reputation) most likely to be comfortable with the 4 ohm load and if the level is kept below jet-engine volume (and you don't currently hear 'distress' in the sonics) it's probably OK to keep it and enjoy.

    OF COURSE we'll recommend an upgrade though !!! I don't think the 'filters' will come thru, nor if "Crutchfield" sells to the UK (but maybe there's a low cost equivalent). Seems like there's many good choices in the <$1400 range here. Quad, NAD, Marantz, Yamaha, Arcam (there's a couple UK brands in there!). Integrated Amplifiers, Integrated Stereo Amps
     
    garax, Gizmo90 and Bananajack like this.
  3. Bananajack

    Bananajack Phorum ... wat Phorum? Where am I?

    Location:
    Singapore
    The Lintons sound dark, which is not negative, but you have to have it in mind.
    How well is your room damped? Treble friendly with bare walls, no carpet, no curtain?
    Most probably not.

    NAD are rather on the darker (for me more musical) side, so might not be a good match.

    Normally I rather cut off my tongue than recommend a Yamaha, but might fit here.
    Also Marantz are a bit brighter and would fit.

    You have great dealers for preowned gear in UK, consider that. Lintone (coincidence, haha)
    Audio on eBay is a good address, as it is Emporium. Optimizes the wallet ;)
     
    garax and Rick58 like this.
  4. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, ID, USA
    Seems my 'filters' don't really come thru properly, I just simplified things to $800-1500 ... Integrated Amplifiers, Integrated Stereo Amps

    I agree with Bananajack and just wanted to add (as before) that the amp should be 'comfortable' driving 4 ohm loads. Even with the Yamaha tho they don't make an express statement about that, but from many others' posts and a whole other discussion, they seem quite capable of driving 4 ohms and Lintons in particular.
     
  5. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, ID, USA
    In case you haven't seen it, there's a VERY long thread about the Lintons and probably more Wharfedale Linton Heritage 85th Anniversary Speakers ... someone just posted a comment that for THEM, a particular Denon integrated amp "wasn't a good match" but of course that may not be the case with your tastes.
     
  6. Morbius

    Morbius Forum Resident

    Location:
    Brookline, MA
    How about a Leak Stereo 130?
     
    Andy Saunders and Rick58 like this.
  7. Fishoutofwater

    Fishoutofwater Forum Resident

    As you are in the UK give Cyrus amps a try. They would be a great match imo. I bet you will enjoy the combo. Have you got a Cyrus dealer near you?
     
  8. garax

    garax Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    uk
    thanks for the responses - i've enjoyed reading into the various recommendations. what I am having difficulty getting a clear sense of is if it's even really worth replacing my amp - it may be over 30 years old but it seems absolutely fine - and will i really notice any difference if i do - I have a funny feeling the answer to that may well be - well not really.. i shall read on, and try to get a sense of the answer to that - as obviously its impossible to go have demonstrations currently.
     
    Rick58 likes this.
  9. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, ID, USA
    I don't know if this helps but a little info The Nad 3020e amplifier, The best of the HIFI of the years 80 on vintageshifi.com I noticed it seems to have a (speaker) impedance switch on the back? If there's a "low" position it probably should be in that mode.

    Yes, I see via pictures at NAD 3020e Vintage Stereo Amplifier Famous Budget Hi-Fi Model there's an 8 / 4 switch, this should be in the '4' position for the Lintons. But if it's in the 8 and you don't feel comfortable changing the position it's most likely fine. The power output may be limited in this mode though. The Linton is around 6 ohms for most of the frequency range but dips to 4 in the bass: Wharfedale Linton Heritage loudspeaker Measurements and JA does recommend a good 4 ohm rated amp ... which yours certainly is (up to its considerable power limits).

    Also found NAD 3020 - Wikipedia which reminded me this is a very special and interesting amplifier! I have a current 'incarnation' D 3020 V2 - NAD Electronics (there's an even newer higher powered version too). I can't say 'mine' sounds better than yours!

    I got it as a 'refurbished' version thru NAD D 3020 V2 Stereo integrated amplifier with built-in DAC and Bluetooth® at Crutchfield and have it driving a pair of speakers for our TV. It does sound good. I paid at least 2x and possibly 3x what you did for it.

    Really hard to say if a new amp would sound better ... probably more information out there, this or different forums to post a question about your amp. I bet if you posted a new 'thread' here, you'd get 100 responses. It is indeed a special 'beast' that is not to be dismissed lightly. Good job purchasing it when you were a 'teenager'! :cheers:

    PS/Edit: Not to put a 'damper' on things, but from quick (re)reading, it seems the 3020 is indeed considered a bit 'dark' sounding ... so I would imagine a Yamaha or other similar amp would sound QUITE different. It would most likely have more detail, but hopefully would also sound more 'musical' and open your ears to many new things in your recordings. If this sounds appealing, maybe purchase a new amp, but keep the 3020 for occasions ... maybe set up as a now second system with the older speakers (in the bedroom for example).
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2021
    garax likes this.
  10. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, ID, USA
    I replied to this (above) in the wee hours (here) ... but I'm curious as well. Possible new thread title "NAD 3020e, comparisons to current version(s) and other similar integrated amps?" ... :)

    There aren't too many current ones with 'only' 20W power ratings, but at the actual output capability (40W/60W into 8/4 ohms) there are more, and of course like the Yamahas etc. they're mostly now in the 80-120W into 8 ohms 'rated'. I still think it's the quality of the first few watts that counts, and most times one doesn't exceed 40W unless pushing very hard (or one has speakers that have a 'tortuous' nature to them) ... :D
     
  11. John Murray

    John Murray Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kent OH
    As someone mentioned earlier the Leak would be a good amp and they would compliment the cabinet of your Wharfdales. I have a Yamaha AS 1200 with my Linton's but also had a Sansui AU 9500 that sounded magic.
     
    Rick58 likes this.
  12. Have you had the Nad recapped at any point?If you are well attatched to it,might be worth a punt.
    Theres a HI-FI shop in Nelson,close to Burnley,they are ALWAYS busy with repairs/upgrades,they recapped and reflowed the solder on pair of Nad 302s for £100,for £70 they recapped and modded the preouts on a Nad 1020 preamp.
     
    garax and Rick58 like this.
  13. garax

    garax Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    uk
    It's not bee re-capped no - what would that do?

    I shall check the back to see what setting it is on. I had assumed when the speakers were on their way that the Amp might just go 'nope' but it's having no difficulty with them whatsoever - I read somewhere else that back in the day amps often had more ompf in reality than their specs claimed - it was less of an exact science then maybe?
     
    Rick58 likes this.
  14. garax

    garax Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    uk
    They were on 8 - now they are on 4 - so we shall see how that goes - that's the first time I've changed that setting in 33 years! lol.
     
    Rick58 likes this.
  15. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, ID, USA
    I hope you like the '4' setting, I think that would allow the NAD to put out more current/power (i.e. to its full capabilities), which at some frequencies the Lintons seem to need at times. I don't believe there will be any detrimental effects. Of course you can also change it back and see which you prefer, there might be sonic effects? I honestly don't believe there is a hazard of any kind at either setting, unless you really push things to '11' too many times (and it seems like you do not).

    NAD seems to have chosen to be conservative in their reporting/specs, which is preferable to being wildly optimistic! I think the science was well established, the honesty in reporting was possibly a little suspect (usually in the other direction). As one link/review showed (quoted from NAD 3020 Integrated Amplifier – Old School | TONEAudio MAGAZINE ) your amp can "deliver 40 watts into 8 ohm loads, 58 watts into 4 ohms, and 72 watts into 2 ohms for brief periods of time" so I guess this is like the 'music power' definition ... but in any case, keeping the level moderate, 60W for most crescendos etc. seems to be plenty. This would generate (depending on various parameters of course) around 100dB SPL which is extremely loud (and can damage hearing in long-term exposure cases). So I bet you'll be below say 30W max for nearly 100% of your listening, which would still generate around 97dB SPL (quite loud).

    Recapping? Not sure if there are benefits as long as the originals are still 'good' (and I don't know how to tell). If there's a good shop that can measure and do rework if needed, it might be a good thing.

    Also, getting a newer 100Wpc or higher amp could be very good too, nothing wrong with it. You might really enjoy hearing new things in all your recordings, which I suspect might be the biggest advantage. A different/newer amp could likely be 'clearer' sonically, not necessarily due to the higher wattage capability. My SS amp puts out something like 400W into 4 ohms, I doubt I'll ever use anywhere near that much, but also in this case, the first 10W is in 'Class A' which is supposed to offer superior sonics. Some folks say the 'first watt' or first few watts is most important to sound quality. I can't refute that, my other amps use a single 300B tube per channel, and put out possibly 8W max on a good day (and are also Class A by design). They sound fabulous into my efficient and tube-friendly Titus monitors set up in 'nearfield' arrangement.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2021
  16. Rick58

    Rick58 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, ID, USA
    PS: I don't know how you have your speakers and listening position set up, but having things in an 'equilateral' or stretched triangle is the best, being centered between the two speakers, which ideally are pulled a bit away from the 'back wall' (behind the speakers). There's lots of info/suggestions ... you don't HAVE to follow Room Setup: Rectangular Room for example (and check out all the pages/arrangements) but doing something like this usually results in best sound, with regards to room modes/nodes and stereo imaging, soundstaging, depth, etc..

    Then there's room treatment, which is a whole 'nother can o' worms ... and then cables, ditto ... :-popcorn: ... the main point of course is to ENJOY THE MUSIC as one web page was titled ... :D Hey I see it's still there.
     
    garax likes this.
  17. In my case on one amp the power led was fading then failed,on both amps they sounded rough and both was running hot,too hot for my liking,after a service by Wilkinsons the leds was back to normal,the sound was smoother and the units was running cooler,they showed me the caps that they had replaced and how they had buldged and failed.A cheap upgrade in my eyes.
     
    Rick58 and garax like this.
  18. Matthew Rose

    Matthew Rose Active Member

    Location:
    Wirral, England.
    I'd be interested in what Mission speakers you have at the moment! I've got a aging set of Mission 760ise's but am tempted by the Lintons !! - must be something in the water!! :p
     
  19. garax

    garax Active Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    uk
    can't now remember the model of Mission's but would have been entry level ones from mid 80's - they still gave good sound - but the right channel was distorting a bit with some music when I listened to it closely - the Linton's have lovely sound - the main difference is they have more ompf - definitely some more bass - though not to an overwhelming extent. I mean hand on heart I love the Linton's - they owrk as furniture as well as speakers - but I didn't put anything on to listen to and feel like I was hearing it for the first time - but that may say more about the 1980's Mission speaker quality than anything bad about the Lintons. Overall - I'm glad I got them.
     
  20. Matthew Rose

    Matthew Rose Active Member

    Location:
    Wirral, England.
    Sounds like I might be on the right track then, as my Mission's I dearly love the sound of - but do wish they where a little bigger sounding sometimes! And agree does say more about the quality of the missions!!
     
    Rick58 likes this.
  21. bhazen

    bhazen Beatles Forever!

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Something with bass 'grip'. Something up the ladder from Naim ... a used SuperNait, perhaps. Or pre/power combo with a 250.
     
  22. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles CA USA
    Those were great sounding, I had some version of that with a gain switch so you could use more of the volume control at low listening levels, whichever exact model that was. You might find an amp that would sound a bit different but I doubt truly better. In your situation I'd probably be more obsessed with:
    - Room correction to flatten the bass (Dirac etc)
    - Is my 3020e clipping or not? I'm not sure of a great way to do that-storage oscilloscopes are not so easy to come by. An oscilloscope phone app might work. Or if you get some fast LED VU meters which can be adjusted, we can tell you the peak voltage and you can tell if you're close.
    Whatever amp you get if any, I'd want a reasonable return policy, because you could easily find zero improvement over the NAD. And those were gutsy-for more real power look for something rated at least 300 watts per channel into 4 ohms, and nice if it is rated into 2 ohms as well.
     

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