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Wharfedale Evo 4.1 Bookshelf Speakers: Review

When it comes to budget speakers, the Wharfedale Evo 4.1 stands out from the crowd. But does it truly live up to its reputation?

Design and build quality

Build quality is on point. Design-wise, it’s unlike anything else on the market. That’s for sure.

The Wharfedale Evo 4.1 immediately catches the eye with its distinctive and unique cabinet design. From any angle, it stands apart from its rivals. The visual appeal of these speakers is undeniable, and it’s not hard to imagine falling in love with them at first sight. The overall design is captivating and unlike anything else on the market. However, in my opinion, it would have been even better if the front had a slightly more distinct look. The dark color and the drivers blending with the veneer diminish the visual impact. Additionally, I would have liked to see more emphasis on the AMT tweeter, highlighting its presence and contribution to the speaker’s performance.

Moving beyond my nitpicking (aesthetics), the build quality of the Wharfedale Evo 4.1 surpasses most competitors in the $800 price range. Every aspect exudes premium craftsmanship. The bezels around the drivers are rubberized, providing a sense of solidity and attention to detail. The terminal plate is thick and rigid. And, of course, the inclusion of real wood veneer adds a touch of elegance. Wharfedale has been setting new standards in build quality for a while, and it’s something I hope other manufacturers will eventually follow.

Sound quality

When it comes to sound quality, the Wharfedale Evo 4.1 presents an intriguing mix of characteristics. Let’s start with the tweeter performance, which may seem contradictory at first. On one hand, the highs are mellow and possess a certain clarity, while on the other hand, there is a hint of forwardness. It appears that the lower part of the treble range is emphasized, while the higher upper frequencies are somewhat tuned down.

The Evo 4.1 manages to avoid sharp and in-your-face brightness, unlike speakers such as the Diamond 12.2s or Bowers&Wilkins 606. However, it does reveal a decent amount of information and detail, albeit in a selective manner. Overall, the speakers lean towards a calm and soft sonic character. This delicate presence in the upper treble range may not appeal to everyone, especially at lower volumes.

It’s worth noting that the dispersion of sound from the Evo 4.1 presents some drawbacks, which I will discuss in more detail later on.

The midrange performance of the Wharfedale Evo 4.1 seems to elicit strong opinions, dividing those who either love or dislike these speakers. Similar to the treble, my impression is that the lower midrange is quite audible and exhibits a thick quality. However, the upper midrange lacks some presence, resulting in vocals sounding somewhat artificial and restrained, as if they struggle to break free from the cabinet’s confines.

… but interestingly, as the volume is turned up, the vocals take on an intriguing, bold, and even charming tone. I must admit, I’ve rarely encountered such an uneven performance at different volumes in any other speaker I’ve tested. While this adds an element of interest, it also raises some concerns. Nevertheless, it does confirm that the Evo 4.1 possesses, at least, some of the capabilities that reviewers often praise.

Completing the image of a mellow and slightly muddy presentation is the lower frequency range. For the most part, the bass remains thick while maintaining a clean quality, likely aided by the downward bass-reflex design. This design has its advantages for nearby listening and close-to-wall setups. However, in certain recordings, I felt a slight lack of depth and bass presence, particularly at lower volumes. It’s important to bear in mind that this is ultimately a speaker with a relatively small driver.

My primary concern with the Wharfedale Evo 4.1 lies in its directivity, limited dispersion, and fidelity. When I wanted to relax and listen to music a few meters away from my setup, I noticed that these speakers are not well-suited for such scenarios. The sound quickly became dull and blurry. While the Evo 4.1 provides depth in the soundstage, the presentation feels narrow, and the speakers are exceptionally sensitive to both room positioning and the listeners position. Even a slight change, such as standing up, leads to a significant shift in the presence of treble and upper midrange.

This unfortunate characteristic also explains the subpar performance at lower volumes. To truly experience the speakers’ often-mentioned magical and mature sound signature, one needs to crank up the volume more than with any other speaker I’ve tested. It is at higher volumes that all the dots connect, and the Evo 4.1 starts to show its true potential. The magic unfolds, delivering intricate details, bold emphasis in the vocals, and an overall attractive, mystical, and slightly dark sound.


Despite moments of brilliance, I can’t wholeheartedly recommend the Evo 4.1. While they offer a distinct and interesting sound signature, I can’t overlook their significant weaknesses. As a complete package, they prove to be somewhat difficult to live with. Limited fidelity, positioning challenges, and below-average performance at low listening volumes are factors that must be considered.


Check out my review in form of a YouTube video


Since 2015 I try to deliver honest, to the point reviews. First on YouTube, then here! Currently, I mainly focus on cameras and Hi-Fi!


Since 2015 I try to deliver honest, to the point reviews. First on YouTube, then here! Currently, I mainly focus on cameras and Hi-Fi!