Wharfedale Diamond Home Theater Speaker System Review

Wharfedale Diamond 10 Series 5.1 Channel Speaker System - Photo - Front View
Wharfedale Diamond 10 Series 5.1 Channel Speaker System - Front View. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

Wharfedale Diamond 10-Series System Overview

Many of you may not be familiar with Wharfedale, but the are very well-known in audiophile and home theater circles as a maker of very good quality high-end speakers and subwoofer. Based in the U.K. their primary market base is Europe, but they also have a solid presence in North America.

The Wharfedale Diamond 10 series is designed to provide big home theater sound, as well as an enjoyable music-only listening experience, at a mid-range price. For all the details, keep reading this review.

Diamond 10.CC Center Channel Speaker

The 10.CC center channel speaker is a 2-Way Bass Reflex design that incorporates two midrange woofers with kevlar cones, a small rear mounted port, and one soft dome tweeter.

The speaker features solid construction and is offered in a variey of finishes, and is 120mm high, 330mm wide, and 130mm deep (4.7 x 13 x 5.1 inches) .

For more specification details, as well as an upclose look, refer to my Wharfedale Diamond System Center Channel Speaker Photo Profile Page

Diamond 10.2 Bookshelf-Style Speakers (Used as left and right mains for this review)

The Two Diamond 10.2 Bookshelf-Style Speakers provided for this review are also 2-Way bass reflex that incorporates one midrange/woofer (kevlar cone), additionally supported by two rear ports, and one soft dome tweeter. The 10.2's also provide bi-amp/bi-wire compatible speaker terminals.

The 10.2's employ the same cabinet construction materials as the 10.CC, but are larger at 364mm high, 223mm wide, and are 132mm deep (14.3 x 8.8 x 11.8 inches).

For more specification details, as well as an up-close look, refer to my Diamond 10.2 Photo Profile Page

Diamond 10.DFS Surround Speakers

The Two 10.DFS Surround Speakers provided for for this review also feature 2-Way bass reflex design that incorporates one 165mm midrange/woofer, additionally support by two rear ports, and a tweeter.

However, instead of a traditional rectangular box design the 10.DFS features a dipole design in which one midrange/woofer, one port, and one tweeter face out at separate angled directions. This design requires wall or stand mounting, direct shelf is possible, however.

The entire speaker enclosure of each 10.DFS is 280mm high, 290mm wide, and 132mm deep (11 x 11.4 x 5.2 inches).

For more specification details, as well as an up-close look, refer to my Diamond 10.DFS Photo Profile Page

Wharfedale Diamond 10.SX-SUB Powered Subwoofer

The Diamond 10 SX-SUB Powered Subwoofer included in the review system also incorporates a Bass Reflex design as evidenced by the combination of an 8-inch down firing driver with a rear facing port.

The built-in subwoofer amplifier is rated to deliver 100 watts of power. The cabinet dimensions are 290 high x 290 wide x 320 mm deep (11.4 x 11.4 x 12.6).

For more specification details, as well as an up-close look, refer to my Wharfedale Diamond 10.SX-SUB Photo Profile Page.

Audio Performance - 10.CC, 10.2, and 10.DFS Speakers

The 10.CC center channel, despite is small size, is more full-bodied than you would think. In my review setup, it performed well as a vocal and dialog anchor, which is the center channel speaker's main task. Midrange frequencies are emphasized, as they should be, and high frequencies were clear and distinct.

Using the audio tests available on Digital Video Essentials Disc, along with a sound meter, the observed low end audible frequency the 10.CC speaker was about 50Hz, with usable audio output beginning about 70Hz which is much lower than Wharfedale's stated low frequency point of 110Hz.

The 10.2 speakers provided for front left and right main channel use, provided very accurate left and right soundstage.

In two-channel stereo mode (subwoofer, surrounds, and center turned off), the observed low end audible frequency of the 10.2 speakers was about 35 Hz, with usable audio output beginning just below 50 Hz (extremely good for a bookshelf style speaker, and in line with Wharfedale's published specs).

Also, as I mentioned previously, the 10.2's can be bi-wired/bi-amped, which enables the user to isolate the speaker connections between the tweeter and midrange woofers, and also provide more consistent power to each. However, when I tried this option with the Denon AVR-X2100W home theater receiver I used for this review, I did not detect a significant performance difference between the traditional and bi-amp/bi-wire options.

The 10.DFS speakers provided for surround channel use, which feature a bass reflex/dipole design, round out the soundfield every well, providing clear and distinct directional placement of sound effects, as well as a properly immersive surround field. In fact, what I found is that the Audyssey MultEQ XT room correction system I used in the initial speaker setup set the surround channels a little too high, which pushed the center of the soundstage too forward (sort of like when you are listening to headphones). As a result, I reset my system using the manual speaker setup options to obtain a better balance between the front and surround elements. The observed low end audible frequency on 10.DFS speakers was about 50Hz, with usable audio output beginning just below 70Hz, once again, in line with Wharfedale's published specs.

Audio Performance - Diamond 10.SX-SUB Subwoofer

The subwoofer features an 8-inch down firing driver, supported by a rear facing port that provides added bass extension. The subwoofer pushed out a strong output down to about 40Hz decreasing down to its lowest audible point of about 30Hz, as observed using the audio tests provided on the Digital Video Essentials Disc. The subwoofer was impressive with both music and movies, and was not overly boomy in the mid and upper bass frequencies. The SX-SUB was able to handle both the demanding bass in many action films, as well as the more subtle, textured bass present in music, especially performances including acoustic bass.

When compared to the other subwoofers I used in conjunction with this review, I found that subwoofer definitely has good bass output and extension for its compact size, providing a tighter low frequency output than the EMP Tek sub, and although it couldn't quite match the Klipsch Sub10 in terms of power, considering the difference in size, the Wharfedale provided a bigger punch than I would have expected - definitely enough to fill a 15x20 room.

However two things that I found that were different on the 10.SX-Sub, than other subs I have worked with, is that crossover setting range was rather limited (tops out at the high-end at 85Hz) and that crossover setting control is not continuous, but is adjustable only in six discrete steps (35Hz, 45Hz, 55Hz, 65Hz, 75Hz, and 85Hz).

This makes it a little tricker if you are trying to match the subwoofer precisely with the rest of the speakers in your system. However, if you have a home theater receiver has its own subwoofer crossover (or room correction system) - it is best just to set your subwoofer crossover to its highest point and let the receiver find the crossover frequency match that is best.

Opting for that option myself, I found that the match between the sub and the speakers was seamless. However, keep in mind if working with satellite speakers that have a thin-low end (in this case, a low end above 85Hz), you might consider a sub with a higher available crossover point that provides more flexibility as to where the crossover between the sub and speakers can set in order to insure a smooth transition between the two.

Final Take

The Wharfedale Diamond Series system provided for this review is a worthy speaker system for both movie viewing and music listening. The 10.CC reproduced vocals and dialog with good body and depth, considering its small size, and was not overwhelmed by the larger 10.2 left and right speakers.

Getting to the 10.2's, they delivered excellent sound quality across a wide range frequencies, especially on the low end (they make a stereo-only music listening pair) as well as providing distinct highs without being overly bright.

The 10.DFS surrounds projected very well into the room, perhaps too well, as I had to set their levels a little lower than the automated speaker settings indicated to get a better front and surround balance.

The build quality of all of the speakers in the system is solid and the choice of several finishes (with the exception of the 10.DFS) is a great marketing approach, allowing the speakers to blend into just about any room decor. However, one thing I did encounter when moving the 10.CC and/or 10.2 speakers around were that the cover grills sometimes popped off - it seems that they are not that tightly fitted.

In addition, I also want to point out that the User Manual provided the speakers is excellent - large illustrations, and every easy-to-follow setup tips and technical term explanations.

If you are looking for a speaker option for your home theater setup that delivers great sound and fits physically well in a variety of room environments, consider the Wharfedale Diamond 10-Series speakers showcased in this review as a possible option.

For a more detailed physical look at, and additional perspective on this system, also check out my companion Photo Profile.

Wharfedale Diamond 10.CC (Suggested Price: $249.00 Ea) - Buy Direct

Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 (Suggested Price - $449.00 Pr) - Buy Direct (Rosewood Finish) - Compare Prices (Cherry or Black Finish).

Wharfedale Diamond 10.DFS (Suggested Price - $299.00 Pr) - Buy Direct

Wharfedale Diamond 10.SX-SUB (Suggested Price - $399.00 Ea) - Buy Direct (Rosewood Finish).

For additional pricing information and purchasing options, check the Wharfedale US and UK Dealer Lists.

Additional Components Used in this Review

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-103.

Home Theater Receiver: Denon AVR-X2100W (on review loan).

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 used for comparison (5.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3's, Klipsch C-2 Center, and Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Software Used

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.

SACD discs (Multi-channel) used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.