Wharfedale Lintons w/ Sugden vs Yamaha vs Line Magnetic amps

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by mahoganydeck, Oct 12, 2020.

  1. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    I agree with much of this regarding AN, though admittedly I haven’t heard their top-tier stuff. I must say I liked the tweeter in their AN/E better than what I heard in the Dynaudio Esotar 2 (Contour 20s). I was told by a Dyn rep that retail for a pair of Esotar 2s is something like $1800, which is ludicrous considering the performance. I feel the $70/each Scanspeak 3/4” tweeters are superior, for example.

    I also feel AN makes some if the best tube gear I’ve heard but not the best value. That their preamps can’t be had with a remote control immediately disqualifies them for my needs. It’s not as though a motorized pot sacrifices SQ.
     
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  2. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    What didn’t you like about the Esotar 2? Curious because over all I preferred the sound of the Special 40s to the Contour 20.

    I think the tube amps and pres are nice but I prefer Leben, Shindo, Luxman, McIntosh and evening some older ARC models from when they still had a nice vacuum tube sonic signature, dollar for dollar.

    Their speakers do have a nice top end. I prefer the AN-K and J to the E, but think all of them are a bit overrated. Well maybe not the K. They are a pretty unique speaker in their segment.
     
  3. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    Any place to hear/audition AN in upstate NY?
     
  4. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    There is a dealer and repair facility in NY called HEAR
    1401 Ocean Avenue, Suite LH,
    Brooklyn, New York
    11230, USA
    Tel: 718-377-8010


    I have decided to respond to you in the Strictly for Audio Note thread because your question is off topic of this thread and my reply to you is a bit long and will irritate people. Plus, the folks in that thread can help you find places to auditions as AN's website is rarely up to date. For instance there is one Hong Kong dealer listed but I have been to four dealers selling AN and that was without looking very hard. So my reply is here Strictly for fans of Audio Note UK..
     
  5. Helom

    Helom I'll take the monkey coffins

    Location:
    U.S.
    The Esotar was detailed but simply too bright for my taste. It was a bit distracting and I felt the inherent advantages of a soft-dome were missing. Its character was not unlike what I usually hear from a titanium or ceramic dome.

    I would much rather have these in my speakers:
    ScanSpeak Classic D2010/8513 20 mm Dome Tweeter

    Forget derailed, this thread has gone off the cliff.
     
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  6. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    There’s Noho Sound in NYC which was cool a year ago. Not sure how they are doing things now. Where are you located? My favorite places to audition and buy from are in Toronto or MA. There’s a great shop in Toronto. Which doesn’t do you any good now and there’s Amherst Audio in Amherst MA. Again not sure how COVID has effected them. They’re only a 3.5 hour drive from Syracuse on a weekday afternoon.
     
  7. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    Interesting. That’s pretty much why I preferred the Special 40s

    Well to get the thread back on track I will say I hope @mahoganydeck lets us know which way he goes. I’m curious as to what our European friends are into gear wise these days with the different prices and availability. Kind of surprised he’s not looking at Naim and Spendor. I sort of feel like that’s the U.K. equivalent of Yamaha and JBL in the U.S.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
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  8. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    This thread was super informative but left me in more analysis paralysis than before :))
    I am now considering getting a pair of Fortes so I can have the big horn sound and the dynamism/ efficiency + the Line Magnetic as it's fairly affordable and seems to be more powerful and less sedate/muddy than Sugden/Icon Audio but still warmer and with more character than the Yamaha.
    I am going to listen to the Fortes today, will have a chance to compare them against the Lintons, other Klipsch and JBL. And test them with a Sugden and an Icon Audio valve amp. Unfortunately there's no where in the UK where you can listen to the LM, but perhaps testing all the above will already give me a bit more context.
    In terms of the UK market, I don't know how different it is, it seems like many of the brands mentioned here are available without much price difference, I think it's more with the small brands that there is a difference - i.e Icon Audio not well known in the US market or Schitt Audio is hard to get your hands on in the UK.

    If you want to compare here's an example UK retailer which stocks many of the discussed brands in this thread:
    Audio Affair | Hi-fi | Audio Equipment at Audio Affair
     
  9. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    Ithaca. Eventually NYC could be ok, combine it with a business trip and just take a day to do so. Toronto is actually about the same distance away, but yeah, right now I can’t get there. I do go to BekHifi in Allentown which is 4 hours south. He’s got some nice stuff there that I like, Dynaudio, Harbeth, Devore, Wharfedale, Marten, Triangle and others. Amherst is a good distance away but better than Boston. I’ll map out a strategy whenever the time comes.
     
  10. maglorine

    maglorine Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fairport,NY
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  11. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    It’s hard to find an Audio Note dealer and even harder to find one with a good selection. Amherst, once you are there, are fairly fourth coming and can demo a fair selection of theirs gear and talk about it.

    Bek HiFi looks like PA’s version of Living Stereo in NYC. I’ll have to check it out.
     
  12. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    Nice. If you get the opportunity try Icon’s EL84 amp with the Klipsch Forte 3 and Hersey 4 and do a side by side. Let us know what you think. Plenty of good NOS EL84s out their that are not to pricy.
     
  13. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    They’re attached to a very cool record store too, in fact the owner said that’s the only reason they stay at that location. It’s in an ok area, but a little run down. They get customers from NYC to NC.
     
  14. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    Thanks, I follow HiFiLounge on FB, haven’t been there yet. Seems like a cool little place. Forefront I’m not familiar with, looks like they have a ton of cool brands, many not inexpensive! I’ll have to plan a trip there sometime, just nothing like either of them here locally.
     
  15. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    My personal impressions upon coming back from the demo:

    We've tested with a Sugden A21, first speakers were JBL L82, I really liked these, they had an immediate impact on me, super engaging and warm, I think I got some palpitations. I felt like the sound was cohesive as a whole but not very clear, it had character but lacked resolution. They didn't extend low enough for me, they were punchy only in my throat if that makes sense, didn't punch me in the guts.

    Next up were the Lintons - can't say anything bad about them, sound was crisp, sharp, way more clear than the JBLs, extended lower than the JBLs, but equally not as engaging, they felt faster and drum hits felt more precise rather than punchy, more of a popping sound rather than a thumping sound. The Sugden could definitely drive them with no deterioration of sound both in very high and low volumes, so this was a good thing do find out. Again, they are good speakers I just didn't feel like I wanted to keep on listening to them with different tracks as opposed to the JBLs.

    Then we've tried the Klipsch Fortes, of course, different price range, but still interesting. Here again, I was hooked immediately, there was so much detail, I was worried that the horn setup will be jarring and will just colour everything with its character, but it didn't feel like that at all. Every recording I played sounded completely different and revealed different characteristics. The sound was physical, engaging, emotional, big. This one had a good combo of clarity and character.

    For the last test we've kept the Fortes but replaced the Sugden with the Icon 40 MK IV , now the sound had more oomph and was definitely meatier, I enjoyed having more low-mids coming out to complement the horn sound. It sounded more balanced. This one was with the Ultralinear mode on, when switching to Triode mode there was a fuzziness to the sound, kind of felt loose and clumsy, I wasn't a fan. Although there was more frequency balance with the Icon, I missed the Sugden - it had a quality which I find hard to describe, a certain shine, or lushness, something more flowing and less electronic, maybe that's what people call "musical" but I'm not sure. Would have been nice to get that same beauty of the Sugden with just a bit more low/ mid-low boost.

    Now I'm pretty convinced about the Fortes, in regards to the amps, I'm debating between the Sugden and the possibility of Line Magnetic having that same sense of beauty with just a bit more oomph. Unfortunately, there is nowhere in the UK where I can listen to the LM at the moment.

    Wondering if my words make any sense :)
     
  16. IRG

    IRG Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ithaca, NY
    It made sense to me! Was the Sudgen the regular version or the SE model? I don’t see much discussion about Icon on this forum, but they seem like quality amps. Music Direct in the states sells them. Other amps you can try with the Forte?
     
  17. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    Nice. Thanks for the impression. Sugden and Klipsch are definitely a good pairing. It drove my Cornwalls nicely.

    The JBL and Linton comparison was interesting. That’s the exact opposite impression I came away with. We’re the JBL on their stands?

    Did you get to try the Heresy 4 they run a $1000.00 cheaper than the Fortes and are even more detailed and transparent at the expense of a little bottom end. If I was going tubes again or low watt amps they’d be my first choice.

    Here’s a review. He tends to be overly effusive but I’ve mostly found his reviews to be in line with my own thoughts on gear.

    Klipsch Heresy IV Speaker Review. Klipsch steps into the Audiophile Realm. | Steve Huff Photo

    Just curious. Have you give a listen to Naim, Spendor, Harbeth and the other brands synonymous with the U.K.?
     
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  18. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    It was the sugden a21ai, which has a phono stage. They have quite a lot of amps, but in this range the only one they have is a Prima Luna which I have listened to last time and sounded a bit to harsh and piercing to me. As they are also a vintage shop, they have many of the old big 70's Asian integrated amps which I haven't tried yet!
     
  19. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    Ah interesting re: experiencing the JBLs vs Lintons the opposite way. The JBLs were on stands and it's the second time I've listened to them and had the same experience, they seem to be the shop favourites at the moment.

    I've listened to the Heresy III at a friend's a year ago and remember being a bit meh about them, they sounded a bit veiled, but maybe it was his setup and I should listen again, also perhaps the IV are a bit different. I guess I was interested in the size of the Fortes to get a bit of that big Japanese horn sound I've mentioned before, do you reckon it's a bit of an overkill?

    In terms of UK brands, I feel like it's not as easy for me to get a demo, the shop had Stirling Broadcast, Celestion, Falcon Acoustics but non of the brands you've mentioned. Perhaps worth it for me to put more effort into finding these...
     
  20. russk

    russk Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse NY
    I think the JBLs are the new favorite of a lot of people. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t purchased a pair yet. I like to wait till something’s been out for awhile to let the excitement wear off and hear it a few times then do an in home demo.

    The Heresy IV are totally different speakers. They are ported and have a lot more bass and a better tonal balance and the new midrange horn Klipsch is using that gets rid of that bit of horn coloration.

    Personally I think the only thing that should limit your speaker size is room overload. If you have enough room to pull the Forte about 2 feet into the room and still be a good 8 or 9 feet away they should work great and Sugden is a good match for them.

    Just curious because in your price range you should be able to grab a Naim integrated and a pair of Spendor A4s, 2/3 or maybe even get a deal on some A7 either used or demos. The Naim Supernait 3 and Spendor A7 is an endgame system for a guy I work with. He’s got the Spendors and is running them with an Elex R and working on getting the Supernait. It’s a pretty fantastic combo but I think probably a touch dry for your tastes but you never know.

    If you really dig that Japanese tubes and horns sound look around for a Leben CS300 integrated it will drive any of the Klipsch to ear splitting levels and is full of detailed and glorious tube sound courtesy of a quad of EL84s. Klipsch has actually used that amp at shows.
     
  21. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London

    My current room is very large, but it is a rented flat so who knows what would the living room be like in my next place, so that's a fair point, it would also be quite a hassle to move the Fortes I assume. One of the reasons I'm considering them, is that I can get a demo pair for the same price as the Heresy, so I'm thinking maybe this is a good opportunity - otherwise I would definitely only get the Heresy because the Fortes are already crossing my budget threshold.

    With the Naim, yeah I'm worried it would be a bit to dry and technological sound for me.

    I saw the Leben online and it seems awesome, but super rare in the UK, the only one I could find is an ex-demo for 3700 which is beyond my budget. I feel like now it's really between the Sugden and the Line Magnetic. One more good thing about this particular version of the Sugden is that it has a phono stage which at this stage will cut costs. If I get the LM, I'd have to add a phono stage which will make the whole thing more expensive.
     
  22. magoo6

    magoo6 Well-Known Member

    You could import the Leben from Europe for about a grand less, I have no idea what Mr Xchange is thinking with his pricing on that piece!!

    I also just bought a (tiny EL84) Line Magnetic via Val HiFi, and as we are pretty low on LM dealers in the UK, I'm assuming that's where you're looking. I can only say I found the guy very helpful, no hard sell (although in truth it wasn't needed, I wanted that amp), and the amp itself arrived from LM Europe in a few days, rather than the initially quoted week or more. I have no connection, and didn't know the guy from Adam, but I would use him again with no reservations if needed. It sure felt more confidence inspiring than chancing it via China.HiFi to me :)
     
  23. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    Agree 100%, Val HiFi dude is super helpful and friendly, I keep on nagging him with questions and he is super informative and patient. Understandably, he wants me to go with his products so he doesn't praise brands which he doesn't sell, and that's ok - I'm not expecting to just get free advice. What are your thoughts on the LM sound-wise? did you get a chance to listen to a Sugden in comparison?

    Just did a little research and yep! I can get a Leben for 1K less, including shipping - still above my budget but definitely something to keep in mind as a future upgrade - thank you!
     
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  24. magoo6

    magoo6 Well-Known Member

    Very happy with it, but then I was a) already a fan of the EL84 and b) was in the market for a flea power amp to try with my Omega speakers (see Go Mifune's thread for both a pic of mine & a ranging discussion of "watts, how low can you go" :) ). But build quality is excellent, and sound quality is lovely, delicate & transparent, but with the ability to kick like a mule if you throw say Massive Attack at them instead of Miles! On the strength of this one, I'd definitely consider their larger amps myself, although as i say, mine is in itself a very niche product. But they can certainly build an amp imho!

    The Sugden is a lovely amp too, but I've not had one at home to directly compare. I'm really a valves man at heart though, so while Sugden's Class A approach is maybe the 'next best thing', I'd always take the glassware I guess. My previous speakers were Harbeths, and the Sugden's certainly got regular and commendable comments from a few users on the fb group. Put it this way, were SS amps the only option, I'd be giving the Sugden a serious think, but......:)
     
  25. mahoganydeck

    mahoganydeck Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    London
    So you think the 34 model would be a bit too small? It's a 1k jump in price to the 88 model and that's still without a phono stage which puts the whole thing into a price bracket I'm not willing to go to just yet.
     

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