It’s been nearly 30 years since Wharfedale launched the original Diamond, a diminutive and unassuming bookshelf model that sold for well south of $200 a pair. Now over five million speakers later, the 10th generation Diamond has mushroomed into a lineup with sixteen separate models, catering to both two-channel and multi-channel customers alike. Throughout these generations the one thing has never wavered is the Diamond’s primary goal of delivering the maximum bang for the buck in a conventionally designed speaker. There are no Diamond soundbars or iPod docks, just maximum value passive speakers like the original 1982 model.
I decided to check out how much the Diamond franchise has progressed in 30 years, so the review system is essentially a maxed-out 5.1 channel Diamond 10 surround rig. In each position I went for the best Diamond 10 model designed specifically for that role, comprising the following models:
• 1 pair of Diamond 10.7, four-driver, 3 ½-way floorstanders (MSRP, $1,299/pair).
• 1 pair of Diamond 10.DFS, four-driver, 2-way wall-mount dipole surround speakers (MSRP, $299/pair).
• 1 Diamond 10 CM, four-driver, 3-way center channel (MSRP, $449/each).
• 1 Diamond 10 GX-SUB, Subwoofer, with 10-inch Kevlar woofer, a 250-watt class D amp, (MSRP, $799/each).
Both the 10.7s floorstanders and the 10 CM center channel speaker follow the same basic formula, using a one inch soft dome tweeter and a two inch dome midrange driver, partnered with 6 ½ inch Kevlar weave woofers. The use of a dome midrange is an unusual feature in a value priced speaker, and both it and the tweeter dome are mounted in shallow horn-like waveguides that provide a useful bump in efficiency.
While the 10.7 floorstander and the 10 CM center appear to use the same driver lineup, there are a few important differences. The 10.7 is what’s known as a 3 ½-way design, where two woofers are used but they cover different overlapping ranges. The lower woofer is there to add power in the deep bass and thus rolls off above 150-Hz, while the upper woofer continues on up to the midrange crossover point at 850-Hz. This gives you the extra bass power of a dual woofer setup, without introducing the phasing issues that could occur if both woofers extended up into the midrange. The two woofers are slightly dissimilar to reflect the difference in their respective roles; specifically, the upper woofer features a phase plug whereas the lower woofer does not include a phase plug.
The smaller 10 CM center channel speaker uses a pair of the same wide range woofers as the 10.7, but because it has a sealed enclosure unlike the ported 10.7, the crossover point between the woofers and the midrange has been put a little higher.
Both the 10.7 and the 10 CM use a fashionable tapered cross section cabinet, where the sidewalls are curved so that they taper towards a truncated point at the rear. This shape can result in a stronger and less resonant enclosure, and the non-parallel sides should mean fewer problems with standing waves inside the box.
The Diamond 8 and 9 series had a clean and somewhat subdued appearance, but for the Diamond 10 the designers went for the maximum bling effect, with shiny silver surrounds for each driver set into a high-gloss black baffle. The other surfaces of the review samples are wrapped in what Wharfedale calls Rosewood Quilt, with cherry and black as alternate options. It looks decent enough, even though you’re unlikely to convince anyone that an actual tree was involved in its creation. If you’re not a big fan of bling, the shiny drivers can be covered up with the supplied grills, although further listening will be needed to determine any sonic effects.
The hefty 10 GX-SUB follows the lead of the main speakers, using a similar vinyl wrapped cabinet with curved sides and a glossy black panel on the front. The beefy looking 10-inch Kevlar cone woofer is mounted on the bottom, while the rear facing amplifier panel includes all of the connectors and controls. Unlike many subs these days, the GX is a sealed design, so I found getting it positioned ideally to be pretty easy. The low pass line level crossover has only a few discrete steps, but they do include a bypass setting for use with an LFE signal. One minor annoyance is how the GX lacks of any kind of signal sensing or remote power switch. To turn it off you need to grope around the back for the on/off switch, otherwise it will idle away sucking about 15 watts continuously from the wall outlet.