Diamond has been the name for many loudspeaker's from Wharfedale, starting as an anniversary model for the company's 50th birthday in 1982. See all audio reviews.
The Diamond was long the baby of the range, small and inexpensive, and the name continues into the brand's Chinese ownership with several models currently offered of all sizes. See also Group test: what's the best speaker set?
So now the Diamond 10.0 comes closest to the size and principal of the original Diamonds. This Diamond 10.1 is slightly larger, with the potential for greater volume and increased bass than is possible with a small woofer in a small cabinet. Visit: all speaker reviews.
The Diamond 10.1 MDF cabinet has convex sides, helping to reduce internal resonances by removing one of a box's normal three modes of standing wave. Inside, we're told, is a superior assembly of bonding and bending to achieve the useful and, it must be said, quite stylish look.
The drivers are custom made by IAG for its Wharfedale sub-brand, featuring Kevlar-coned mid-bass drivers, 110mm diameter, and soft-dome 25mm tweeter.
Around the cone is a hatched diamond pattern on the rubber roll surround, said to reduce standing waves in the material. And the tweeters feature perforated covers, a technique long used by the BBC in order to diffuse high-frequency deviations in response.
Surrounding trim is a matter of taste, and we found the polished metal rings on a piano-black baffle rather gaudy. With the front grilles in place you can barely see this bling, and sound doesn't suffer too terribly with the covers on.
These grilles comprise sturdy MDF cutout frames with fixing studs that fit invisibly into the hex-head holes of the driver mounting screws.
Around the sides we have an altogether more refined blackwood finish, dark matt veneer over the MDF cabinet. Big and bold bi-wire terminals at the back make amplifier connections easy, although you will need to prise out annoying plastic stoppers in order to use standard 4mm banana plugs. Also at the back are a pair of bass reflex ports on each speaker.
Wharfedale Diamond 10.1: Sound quality
For a relatively small speaker, the new Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 has a big sound. We listened to them with a range of amplifiers, from a budget classic Mission Cyrus One, to Naim NAP 100 and Leema Acoustics Tucana II. Even with the 20 W Mission amp, the speakers played well, but as ever benefitted from improved amplification too.
Judged by the spoken voice, the Diamond 10.1 had a slightly forward sound – not aggressive or especially colored so expressing good midrange communication skills. Some speakers can be overly dry or recessed here. Not the Diamonds, which had a more immediate sound.
Conversely they could show great depth of soundstage too, spacing out images behind the speakers in recordings that had good front-to-back layering.
To be picky there was a slight quack in the midband, a cardboardy coloration audible in voices – but that's to compare the speakers against much more expensive references.
We were impressed by the bandwidth of the Diamond 10.1. Even at low volumes, there was a sense of a wide-band sound, rather than the thinner sound of some small speakers that entreat you to turn them up and up to approach a seemingly more natural, level sound.
The Diamonds also showed a confident grasp of bass. Tasked with Berlioz's ‘March au supplice' [Linn Records, Munch, 24/192 PCM], they had superb control of the wild dynamics, right from the opening distant frame drum and basses. Pizzicato cello and bass alternate with horn stabs, tied together with tight woodwind arpeggios. Then as the greater mass of the orchestra put their weight behind the inevitable march to the scaffold, the speakers whipped up the colour and ambience with barely any fluster.
While we thoroughly enjoyed the Diamond 10.1 playing classical and acoustic music, they could also repeat the trick with a big-scale sound to rock and pop.
The highest treble remained fizz-free, even if there could be a congestion of lower treble at higher volumes, heard as extra buzz on rock guitar.
Kick drum and bass guitar were well-liked by these speakers, able to keep the pulse below a busy arrangement. No distracting bass resonances were heard, and bass lines were heard clearly and relatively tunefully. The lower register of the Diamond sounds to be carefully tuned to allow extension without promoting any one-note resonances.
Extended in bass reach and slightly underdamped, they were not the fastest sounding of speakers, but that's a compromise that repays usefully with a warmer sound, able to play an eclectic mix of music.