Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

The history of the appearance of the Elysian line is quite simple. At Wharfedale, the focus in recent years has been on technology which is more of an entry-level segment. They released a couple of generations of the Diamond series (including the active one), put pressure on the love of retro with Linton and Denton, sat down in the development department, and introduced a rather unusual EVO, which also cannot be called particularly expensive, but still, it is one step higher than most of what the company produces.

And then the company decided that budget equipment is, of course, good, but diversity is also needed. Therefore, heavy, massive, huge Elysian 4 appeared with a beautiful $10,000 price tag. And many began to wonder: is this so much for Wharfedale? Is there anything for it?

The quintessence of the brand

The leading ideologist of the line is Peter Como. He is the head of the development center of the IAG group of companies, which owns Wharfedale and five other British audio brands (and at least one Japanese). Peter himself grew up on Wharfedale and, according to him, absorbed the foundation of the brand from his teenage years, when he collected acoustics from do-it-yourself kits.

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

He says that in the Elysian series, according to tradition, they tried to lay down the principle of musicality: first of all, acoustics should sound interesting, and capture their sound. And all sorts of engineering tricks exist not to fill press releases with buzzwords and achieve the perfect frequency response in ideal conditions, but only as methods to achieve this most exciting sound. Science and engineering are important at the very beginning of the development process, but beautiful numbers alone will not get you far, and simple human ears are still the most important tool in the creation of audio equipment.

When developing Elysian, Peter wanted to surpass the Opus series, the only true high-end from Wharfedale. It certainly surpassed it in terms of dimensions: the speakers are 118 cm tall and almost half a meter deep, weighing half a centner each while having a three-way circuit with a ribbon tweeter, a 6-inch midrange, and a pair of 8.5-inch woofers.

The case is deaf, heavy, and inert due to the multi-layering, the usual MDF is complemented by a more rigid HDF on the front panel - all in order to reduce unnecessary resonances. Finishing options are not so many: there is black and white piano lacquer and walnut veneer, filled with gloss. The horizontal stripes on the cabinet that visually separate the speaker sections from each other, combined with the veneer, evoke memories of other European brands. “It was as if the Germans made Italian acoustics,” Yulia Gorbatova said at the shoot, and this phrase perfectly describes their design.

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

It has the clarity of brutalism, form follows function: precisely calculated rounded sides, tapering towards the back wall, are adjacent to a flat, wide front panel, on which emitters blacken, framed by the thinnest metal rings. In the monochrome version, acoustics becomes an art object from the era of retro-futurism. At the same time, the quality of the finish is chic: the veneer is fitted exactly, six layers of varnish dazzlingly shine without a single smudge.

The woofers and midrange are custom-made ScanSpeak speakers with woven fiberglass cones filled with a special coating that improves the absorption of internal resonances. Both bass speakers are located in a single volume and are complemented by a slotted phase inverter - it is separated from the floor by a wide base on massive legs placed outside the body and carefully hidden from the eyes by carefully selected foam rubber dampers.

The midrange driver has its own chamber, and its characteristics were selected so that it fits perfectly with the ribbon tweeter and plays with it as one. Wharfedale makes its own tweeter - it is a large driver measuring 27x90 mm, complemented by a concave plastic diffuser to avoid too narrow a dispersion.

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

The developers tried to make such rather big acoustics with large speakers a fairly simple load for the amplifier - and achieved a sensitivity of 92 dB. And this opens up the widest field for experimentation, because due to its own character, the Elysian 4 very clearly show the characteristics of the sound of all other components of the system, without suppressing them in any way. But it seemed to me that even despite the rather high sensitivity, they behave a little more fervently with amplification with good current output.

More Neutral - Less Neutral

I listened to Elysian 4 four times in completely different setups. I first got acquainted with these speakers at the very beginning of the pandemic, and I was incredibly interested in how acoustics from a higher price segment should sound in the minds of Wharfedale engineers. So I locked myself in the showroom with them and Cambridge Audio Azur for four hours and drowned in how organically the Elysian 4, despite their seriously classic look, played The Prodigy's juicy electronic pounding, and then completely calmly switched to fluid dark jazz, then - to the lyrical overflows of the piano, and after - to Madonna, without stumbling on any genre.

The second time we met was at an event, where they played in a not-very-large room full of heavy chairs, paired with Naim components — and the pairing seemed more interesting to me than with Cambridge, even despite the peculiarities of the room. There was more control, emotions, and some kind of synergy. The sound seemed more contrasting, sharper.

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

For the third time, I heard the Elysian 4 at last year's Hi-Fi & High-End Show 2021.

Therefore, in September, when I had a chance to listen to Elysian 4 for the fourth time, I approached the selection of components very responsibly. After all, with great cost comes great responsibility.

And this is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, the Elysian 4 itself is transparent and neutral enough to show the features of the components. On the other hand, this introduces certain difficulties in the selection of all elements of the system: the nature of acoustics cannot mask any family features of other equipment.

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

In the end, we settled on a setup from Naim Uniti Nova as a Cary Audio SA-200.2 ES player and preamp and power amplifier. They managed to find a very pleasant balance of musicality, emotionality, and technicality. But the most important quality of Elysian 4 - neutrality - allows you to very sensitively adjust the overall sound of the system with other components and cables, adding a warmer amplifier, a softer player, or, conversely, richer and denser, so you can, it seems, experiment with technology forever.

This is great acoustics, and it plays large - but at the same time, it dissolves in the room. She creates a high, rather embossed scene, correctly spreads layers of noise around and in-depth in industrial and Neurofunk, and slightly raises her voice in the tracks of Morcheeba and Björk above the bodies. There is no feeling that specific speakers are playing - but there is music. They feel a certain effect of grandiosity, which at the same time does not try to crush the listener with sound, but only paints a very large-scale picture.

And if trip-hop and pop music murmured melodically at low-medium volume, then on psychedelic jazz like The Comet Is Coming I wanted to step up the gas - to which the system readily responded, without adding an extra crunch of distortion to the hysterical saxophone-washed down, leaving everything in place intended overtones. The ability of such large speakers to get lost in the room on the track “Summon The Fire” created a simply gorgeous immersive effect, flinging samples with a flanger not just from right to left, but throughout the room, preventing them from mixing with rhythm and distortion-spiced brass, without clogging the percussion chirp.

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

The bass in the melodies does not dominate - it has a good balance of biting deafness and a massive rumble that does not crush under itself, but creates a tangible, juicy substrate for the entire composition. Perhaps he lacked a bit of speed in this setup: Noisia and Culture Shock would have liked more discreteness between beats. At the same time, electronic music, consisting entirely of artificial sounds, sounded as interesting as live music: apparently, just this lack of speed gave the samples a slightly more realistic softness, and more honest, natural overtones.

Women's voices are beautiful - fluid, melodic, only slightly protruding upwards above the general mix. Men's, lower, seem more mundane, more embedded in the music - but they do not lose their emotions. The mid-frequency range is supplied volumetrically, and airily, while it fits well into the overall outline of the melody - it does not break away from it, and does not protrude much forward. There is enough clarity in the strings, the piano sounds iridescent and juicy, and the woodwinds are exactly what they breathe.

A feature of the ribbon tweeters from Wharfedale, which is heard even in the EVO line, is the lack of harshness and coldness, which is often inherent in this type of radiator. At high frequencies, there is clarity in the ringing of cymbals and the rustle of percussion, but there is no surgical accuracy in it that deprives the sound of life, and there is no particularly strong directionality. And the stitching of the bands between the middle and the top is not felt: the emitters really behave as a single whole.

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

Due to the nature of these acoustics, you can listen for hours without getting tired at all - and even at such a volume at the amplifier strives to go into defense. There is no feigned elegance in it, but there is also no feigned analyticity, feigned rollicking, or feigned emotionality. There is nothing “over the top” in the sound: there is exactly as much as you need, as much as is laid down. Of all the Wharfedale's that have come out in recent years, the Elysian 4 comes closest to being a precise, unflappable instrument: this approach to sound has already been seen in the updated EVO series, but it is felt more strongly in the Elysian.

For many years

With the Elysian 4 delivering a neutral, detailed yet musical presentation, Wharfedale has reached a level where hefty price tag speakers compete for the attention of the audiophile. But at this level, it is much clearer that each element of the audio system brings something of itself into it. It becomes clearer that technology intervenes in the dialogue between music and its listener - and the selection of the combination whose interpretation of melodies will suit specific ears and a specific room becomes a matter of life.

In the case of Elysian 4, I have four recommendations: put them in rooms at least 30 meters, move them further apart, be more attentive to amplification (there are never a lot of currents, believe me) and look for good records (because "Nymphetamine" by Cradle of Filth and recorded in home studios, Neurofunk mixes were painful to listen to).

Wharfedale Elysian 4 Review

And, let's be honest, this is not such a big list of requirements. You can live with Elysian 4 for many years, gradually changing the components around them: during the test at the Nazarov Gallery, I was offered to listen to them with Gryphon, because “they really fit together well, we tested it” - and the devices are from completely different leagues.

Pros And Cons


neutral, but at the same time clear and quite lively presentation, pleasant design, high-quality finish


they require a lot of space,


Wharfedale Elysian 4 Specifications.

Acoustic circuit: phase inverter

Number of bands: 3

Drivers: HF - 1 x AMT tweeter 27 x 90 mm, MF - 1 x 6.5 inch with fiberglass cone, woofer - 2 x 8.5 inch with fiberglass cone

Frequency response (±3 dB): 30 Hz - 22 kHz

Impedance (nominal/minimum): 4/3.6 ohms

Sensitivity (2.83V/1m): 92dB

Max. sound pressure: 110 dB

Crossover frequencies: 340, 3 100 Hz

Recommended Amplifier Power: 25-250W

Dimensions: 1188 x 402 x 432 mm

Weight (single column): 49.5 kg

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