Wharfedale Emerald 97 - compare to?


I've read a lot of speaker reviews lately and found the Wharfedale Emerald 97 gets a fairly good review. Looking on Ebay I have seen many of these sell for under $300/pair new with claims of retail being $1000/pair for black ash to $1800/pair for walnut. They come with floor spikes too. I do not know of any plce in the area I live that carries any so I cannot go to listen for myself. Does anyone out there have a pair or heard them, and what is your opinion? What do they compare to? Good bass with 30-20000 response? Are they exagerating the retail price? Are they worth $300?
Also, as long as I am on here, I live west of the Minneapolis-St.Paul area about 75 miles so I don't get there often, can anyone tell me some places to go there to listen to different high end speakers?
Thanks
tgi
First of all. Almost all of the ads for the Wharfedale speakers here and other places, these speakers are "B" stock. I would not reccomend these speakers to anyone.
You can do much better looking at any used speaker here at AG. If you wanted, I could point out many.
If you want my opinion. Don't buy them at any price.
For around $300 new they are very good speakers. If you get the urge to try the Emerald 99s with the larger woofers, I would advise against that. For some reason the 8" drivers of the 99s don't blend as well with the tweeter as the 97s do (or 95s or 93s for that matter). If you can, go for any of the stained wood veneers instead of the black ash finish. They look very nice and sound much better than you would expect for the price. Disregard the list price but if you want a floorstanding, almost full-range speaker for around $300 then I don't know of anything better.
There are at least 6 pairs of speakers under full range for sale that I saw quickly, just for the heck of it. All of them better in every way than the Wharfedale.
There are B&W's and Deftech's available.
But, To each his own. Don't come cryin here when you get them.
You could also pick up a pair of used Thiel 1.2's for about $350.
As a former wharfedale owner, I echo the comments here. I had a pair of emerald 97s about two years ago (two speakers ago). Mine were finished in walnut veneer. I paid under $200 from ubid.com. I think the retail prices are inflated, but for the price if you can get them with wood veneers they aren't bad. But beware with the two 6 inch woofers, they do not have a lot of bass. I like the used entry level magnepans a lot better - even for rock music. You will still need a monster sub to mate with these. I did. Plus they will not play as loud and clean as maggies will.
Yeap I would avoid them at all cost!!!
I have a friend who sells and trades alot of gear.I get to bring some of this stuff home a play with it before it is sold.He had several pairs of new Wharfedales. We set up a pair at my house...I kid you not those were probably the worst monitors I have ever heard! In the dictionary under boxey these speakers should be listed as a reference! Him and I sat there and laughed ...I could hardly concentrate on listening to them.

Also had a small pair of Monitor Audio B2s here the same day to play with... absolutely no comparison. The little B2s disappeared and I could detect hardly a hint of boxey colouration. You can do a lot better!
Thanks to all who replied! I believe I'll pass on them then. I guess the old saying still holds true, "if it sounds to good to be true, probably is..."
Thanks again
yeah, the wharfes were pretty boxy sounding.
I have a pair - many people do not realize that there are 2 versions w. different drivers, 1 in vinyl for cheap U.S. distribution on ubid.com, et. al.and 1 in real wood veneer (MK II) for general distribution (Amazon used to carry these). Made in China (but dont let that scare you off).
The vinyl version is crap as the woofer does not assilmilate well with midrange or tweeter. On the other hand, the MK II version may be the best deal in home audio. It is definately a "colored" speaker in that it infuses a warmth to most recordings (which also makes it very forgiving with less than steller recordings). Very easy to drive, good for HT applications (shielded), nice "high" soundstage and fairly handsome to boot. Compares favorably to my Opera Super Pavarottis ($1800 USD) and Martin Logan Arius ($2000 USD). Buy them if you can find them. Beware con artists selling inferior MKI version. Don't listen to my fellow audiophile snobs, unless you get the upgrade bug, possibly the last pair of speakers you will ever want or need.
I wonder how many reviewers actually listened to Emerald range of the Wharfedales before condemning them to the scrap heap?  I enjoy my 99's, 97's, 95's and 91's in the various systems I have scattered about my Ellenville, NY home.  While it is true that the 99's need a little help in the lowest bass regions for certain recordings my Wharfedale Sub-woofer takes care of that nicely, when needed.  I didn't bother with subs for the other systems.  Usually, the 99's do well enough by themselves.  I have had numerous comments from several "audiophiles" that they compare favorably with much more expensive systems and the musicality, openness, soundstage and clarity are undeniable.  I have spent hours listening to speaker systems costing tens of thousands and powered by huge amps, preamps and the like, but my Onkyo receiver (and vintage silver pioneer receivers) seem to do the job.  I did run the 99's through a vintage luxman 400t cube for a few weeks before selling it and the soundstage was incredible. I have driven them to maximum volume without any noticeable distortion.  They are smooth.  My 99's and 97's are black, real wood veneer, nicely finished with plinths and spikes. My 95's are real maple veneer with plinths and my 93's are real rosewood veneer.  I also have a few Anniversary 7.2s in black and rosewood (all real wood veneers) and for their size and price they are incredible.  For those who can't afford or simply won't spend thousands on speakers, these Wharfedales are amazing.