The 2-8s are the result of subtle upgrades to Wharfedale's highly respected Evolution range of speakers, creating a line-up dubbed (logically) Evolution2. Cosmetic changes were minor – there were new cherry and black real-wood veneers, the Kevlar cones became black, not yellow, and the trim black, not silver – but the technical upgrades were more significant.
All-new tweeters appeared, which were thinner and lighter and so hopefully faster, while changes to the mid/bass driver, the cabinet construction and the crossover all looked to improve the sound.
Still sound like Wharfedales
As it is, these still sound like Wharfedale speakers, which is a good thing. Listening to Bruce Springsteen's Pay Me My Money Down, the Evo 2-8s' talent for unearthing detail is immediately obvious. Every background whoop is present and correct, and every weary nuance in The Boss' voice clearly conveyed.
There's a clean midrange and treble, and the bass is deep, too, slightly sluggish timing being the only fat on an otherwise toned bottom end.
The Superman Returns score provides a stirring test of integration and dynamics, which the Evo 2-8s pass – but not quite as convincingly as we'd like. True, order is brought to the most complex sonic assignments, with each aspect being given due attention and dynamics fizz along nicely. However, the speakers lack the crackle and pop of the best, losing our attention at times – which isn't ideal.
At first listen, we figured the Evo2-8s were heading for a glorious five-star rating, but taken together, the cumulative impact of our sonic gripes, and the presence of some cracking competitors at this price leaves the Evolution2-8s as very good speakers, but short of greatness.