ELAC ARB51 Navis vs. Wharfedale Denton 85th

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary Bookshelf Speakers
$2000 $1000
Dimensions (H × W × D)
13.58” × 7.44” × 9.45”
345mm × 189mm × 240mm
13.44” × 9.44” × 11.94”
341mm × 240mm × 303mm
Power Type
Powered Passive
Frequency Response
44-28,000 Hz 45-20,000 Hz

Key Takeaways

TLDR Summary: In the realm of premium bookshelf speakers, the ELAC ARB51 Navis and Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary models represent two distinct philosophies. The ARB51, with its state-of-the-art powered design, offers convenience and sophisticated internal amplification tailored to its drivers, promising a detailed and dynamic performance. Conversely, the Denton 85th Anniversary speakers pay homage to classic audiophile virtues with their passive design, necessitating an external amplifier. These speakers bring a warm, nostalgic sound signature and a vintage aesthetic. The choice between them hinges on one's preference for modern technical integration or traditional, time-honored sonic charm.

Speaker Comparison

When you're in the market for a set of high-quality bookshelf speakers that marry both convenience and performance, it's hard to overlook the ELAC ARB51 Navis and the Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary models. These two speakers are embodiments of their manufacturers' commitment to sound excellence but cater to slightly different audiophile sensibilities. The ELAC ARB51 Navis is a modern active speaker that appeals to those seeking an all-in-one solution, while the Wharfedale Denton commemorates the rich history of its brand with a classic design and passive set-up.

Design and Build Quality

The Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary edition celebrates a classic British aesthetic with its rich mahogany veneer and traditional cloth grille. These speakers carry a sense of time-honored craftsmanship and nostalgia that is hard to find in today's market. On the other hand, the ELAC ARB51 Navis reflects a more contemporary approach. Its design is sleek and minimalistic, with no visible fasteners or grille attachments, making it a seamless addition to any modern living space. Both sets of speakers boast solid construction, but they clearly cater to different visual preferences.

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis arrow (at Amazon.com)

Technical Specifications and Sound Quality

Delving into the technical territory, the ELAC ARB51 Navis is a fully active speaker system, with each driver powered by its own dedicated amplifier. This design choice eliminates the need for an external amplifier and allows for a greater degree of control over the speaker's performance. The Navis features a three-way design with a dedicated 4-inch aluminum midrange driver, a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter, and a 5.25-inch aluminum woofer, delivering a sound that is detailed, clear, and balanced across frequencies. In contrast, the Wharfedale Denton is a two-way passive speaker, requiring an external amp to drive its 6.5-inch woven Kevlar woofer and 1-inch soft-dome tweeter. Dentons are known for their warm and lush sound signature, which pays homage to the classic British sound many audiophiles adore.

The soundstage and imaging of both speakers are impressive, but they achieve their results in different ways. The ARB51 Navis, with its precise three-way crossover and tailored amplification, presents an impeccably defined and spacious soundstage. Instruments and vocals are placed with pinpoint accuracy, providing an immersive listening experience. The Denton, while not as surgical in its placement, offers a wonderfully rich and enveloping soundstage that many find to be more forgiving and pleasurable for long listening sessions. Its bass is robust and full-bodied, thanks to the larger woofer, making it particularly well-suited for jazz, classical, and vocal-centric music.

Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary Bookshelf Speakers
Wharfedale Denton 85th arrow (at Amazon.com)

Functionality and User Experience

For those who value simplicity and ease of use, the ELAC ARB51 Navis is a standout. Its active design means minimal setup is required, and there are no additional components to purchase or match. It even includes a built-in DAC, so connecting digital sources is a breeze. On the contrary, the passive nature of the Wharfedale Denton demands a bit more from its owner. Selecting the right amplifier to pair with the Dentons is crucial, and while this can be a fun journey for some audiophiles, it can also be daunting for those less experienced.

In the realm of connectivity, the ELAC ARB51 Navis offers more flexibility. It's well-suited for listeners who have transitioned to digital formats but still offers analog inputs for purists. The Wharfedale Denton sticks to traditional speaker wire connectivity, which is not a downside per se but does position it more as a choice for the traditionalist who has a predilection for analog sources or who already owns a capable amplifier.

In conclusion, the ELAC ARB51 Navis and the Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary bookshelf speakers are both exceptional choices, each with its own set of strengths. The Navis is the epitome of modern active speaker convenience and performance, while the Denton provides a classic listening experience that honors the audiophile tradition. Ultimately, the decision between the two will come down to personal preference in design, desired user experience, and the type of sound signature that moves you. Whichever you choose, both are capable of providing countless hours of musical enjoyment and are worthy additions to any home audio system.

Check Current Prices:

ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
ELAC ARB51 Navis Powered Bookshelf Speakers
Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary Bookshelf Speakers
Wharfedale Denton 85th Anniversary Bookshelf Speakers

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Disclaimer: the speaker data listed on this website are correct to the best of our knowledge, but we do not guarantee the accuracy of the data. Please double-check any measurements with the manufacturer before making a final purchasing decision.