Last week at this time, while researching possible components for a new system, I stumbled across the Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary speakers at Music Direct. The mahogany finish looked great in the pictures, and the frequency response of 44Hz to 24KHz +/-3dB sounded like something I could live with. Mind you, my background is SET/high efficiency speakers that require large cabinets to make that sort of bass. I wasn't sure what to expect from a 5" woofer, so I bought them expecting the worst. At the same time, I bought a Music Hall a15.3 integrated amplifier that puts out 50WPC at 8 ohms, and 95W at 4, thinking it would be a nice fit for the 6 ohm Dentons. I needed something a little on the beefy side to power these, as I didn't have anything available that put out more than 15WPC. I do have a NAD C350 as well, but that's used in my living room with B&W DM302's. Upon unboxing the Denton's, the first thing I noticed was they were wrapped in a white cloth sack with a draw string, and after removing the speakers from the box, another bag was enclosed with the manual and a pair of white gloves for handling. Impressive. Never would I have thought that speakers at this price point would be packaged that well. I'm used to new speakers being wrapped in a plastic bag and nothing more. The only thing that could've wowed me more during unboxing would've been the inclusion of a bottle of Ardmore single-malt, very impressive packaging. Once the speakers were removed from the cloth bags, I noticed the beauty of the red mahogany veneer. The pictures online don't do the finish any justice as it is quite exceptional, a very deep red and a grain one could get lost in. The tungsten-colored grills are also a very nice touch, they mesh very well with the red mahogany, and the speakers look better with them on (IMO of course). Once the love affair that was unboxing was over with, I mounted them on a pair of 24" Dayton stands and hooked them up to the Music Hall integrated, connected with White Lightning Moonshine speaker cables and a Raspberry Pi as a source. On the Raspberry Pi, a Hifimediy Sabre USB DAC is used for getting the sound to the Music Hall, connected with a 1ft 3.5mm to RCA Monoprice cable. The speakers were positioned toed in about 3ft from the rear wall, with the side walls about 12ft each side, listening position is about 8ft back. My musical tastes vary, but generally consist of ambient electronica and rock from the 1960's through 1990's with a little outlaw country thrown in the mix. The tracks I used for referencing purposes are Shpongle - And The Day Turned To Night, Rage Against The Machine - Wake Up, and Alice In Chains - Down In A Hole. Shpongle - And The Day Turned To Night This is a very long track, at just a hair over 20 minutes in length. Simon Posford uses many layers in his compositions and goes all over the map many of his songs. Sometimes one will even wonder if it's the same song playing by the time it's finished. The large soundscapes portrayed by Shpongle were finely textured on my former SET system, and still were with the Denton/a15.3 combo. This particular track has a bass passage that kicks one in the chest, and these Denton's were able to replicate that better than my 12" EV coaxials. I could even feel it in my listening chair. Impressive for a 5" woofer. Raja Ram's flute was conveyed with a sense of airiness and great detail, and I was easily able to hear him inhaling between passages, something that I couldn't on my old system. The textures in all the layers of the song had a very intricate sound, and I could more readily pick out the layers that I previously thought were meshed together. There's more to this song than I thought. Very nice resolution indeed. Rage Against The Machine - Wake Up This has always been one of my favorites, even before I was an audiophile. Rage Against The Machine is my generation's Bob Dylan. Not from a musical standpoint, but a lyrical standpoint. Zack De La Rocha sounds even more pissed off, Tom Morello's guitar sounds crunchy, and Tim Commerford's style of playing bass (picked, slapped, and plucked) has a great sound to it. You could hear Commerford's thumb slapping strings and his fingers plucking them. Both him and Morello could be heard making their way up and down the fretboard. Previously, it was only Morello I could hear doing such a thing, but now I hear them both. This album is very well mastered, and the soundstage puts the listener front and center. Alice In Chains - Down In A Hole Jerry Cantrell is one of my favorite guitarists, and his talents and characteristic dissonant playing style really shine in this track. Many systems I've heard have a hard time conveying the harmonizing between Cantrell and Staley, which has lead many to think either one or the other was singing some passages, and not both as what's actually done. Cantrell's voice is sad, and Staley's angry and upset. Cantrell's guitar playing in this track conveys a sad and airy sound signature that can be hard to catch on some systems, but this one had the hair standing up on my back, very very good! Sean Kinney's drumming is very nice too, making his bass drum felt in my listening chair good, and giving me that all-familiar hit in the chest. The harmonizing vocals of Cantrell and Staley were very well conveyed by these speakers, even better than my EV's, and this was with a lower tier DAC to boot. To sum it all up, these speakers are fantastic, especially for the price Music Direct is currently selling them for ($500). The biggest thing I've noticed, all of my music is now listenable, from the very well mastered Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits to the very poorly mastered Kill 'Em All by Metallica. My previous system was far too source-dependent, making poorly mastered recordings unlistenable for the most part. It was either feast or famine with that system, but now I can sit back in my chair knowing I won't be getting any fatigue or surprises making me duck for cover. The soundstage is very wide and deep, but not as large as it was with my EV's, but the sweet spot is much bigger. These sound larger than their small size would dictate, and definitely do go deeper than the 12TRXB's they replaced. I had no idea a 5" woofer could convey that depth of bass. Not only does the bass dig deep, but it's very tuneful as well. The cabinets are very well constructed and make a nice "thud" when you knock on them, no resonances whatsoever. I can't really say I fault anything in these because they are a completely different animal than what I'm used to. There aren't any other speakers I've owned that I can directly compare to, so the only thing I can really say is to judge with your own ears. I'm a very satisfied customer, and the transition from SET/HE to a modern integrated/monitors wasn't what I expected. In the beginning, I was expecting disappointment, but now that I've spent time with the new setup, I will say it was a very pleasant transition. Now I know what all the hubub about modern audio is, and will say I favor it more than vintage at this time. Soon, I will have a new DAC (undetermined model), and expect the sound to get better once it's in my system. These Denton's are a steal at the $500 price on Music Direct, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy them at their $1000 MSRP. Great job Wharfedale, you have a hit on your hands.