Wharfedale’s long running Diamond series is a bit like the Volkswagen Beetle. After close to thirty years in production, it has taken on a kind of life of its own as a standard bearer for no-nonsense performance combined with sky-high value. Unlike the barely changed Beetle however, today’s 16 model strong Diamond 10 lineup is almost unrecognizable next to the modest little four-inch two-way speaker that started it all back in 1982.
In addition to three different two-way bookshelf models similar to the Diamonds of yore, the 10th generation of the series includes five floor standing towers, three center channel speakers, two dedicated surround speakers, and three powered subwoofers.
Sadly, production of the Diamonds no longer takes place in the picturesque Yorkshire valley that gave the 79 year old company its name, but rather in a new 1.5 million square foot factory in Shenzhen China. Design work still takes place back in England, where parent company IAG employs a fifty person strong R&D team.
Since day one, the Diamonds have always been no-nonsense in-room box speakers, with no fashion driven flirtations into iPod docks, or in-wall versions. There is a Diamond 10 LCR soundbar that’s available in some countries, but apparently not in the USA. Here the Diamonds are aimed at buyers who are proud of their gear, and don’t feel a need to make their audio system disappear into the woodwork.
With maximum bang for the buck topping the priorities list, one of the first casualties of penny pinching is any hope of getting a real wood veneer. Here in the States Diamond 10s come in a choice of three different finishes, blackwood, rosewood quilted, and cinnamon cherry, while those lucky European buyers get to pick from seven. All are petroleum rather than tree derived, but look reasonably realistic if you don’t try to shine too bright of a light on things.
To see how much the Diamond franchise has changed, we picked a review system that represented the best Diamond 10s available for each position in a 5.1-channel rig. For the main left and right speakers this meant a pair of the 3 ½ way, four-driver Diamond 10.7s ($1299/pair), with a Diamond 10 CM center channel speaker ($449), a pair of the Diamond 10.DFS surround speakers ($299/pair), and a Diamond 10 GX-SUB subwoofer ($799). That’s not exactly the kind of impulse buyer-friendly sticker price that came with the original Diamond, but it’s still clearly a whole lot of speaker for the money.
Diamond 10.7 floor standing speakers, technical highlights.
• The Diamond 10.7 uses a 1-inch soft dome tweeter, which is recessed slightly into its mounting plate creating a shallow horn to improve efficiency. A perforated metal plate sits flush with the baffle to protect the dome from curious fingers, while also acting as a diffuser to flatten out the tweeter’s response up to 30-kHz.
• The midrange driver is a 2-inch soft dome, which—like the tweeter—is mounted in a shallow horn to bump up the sensitivity. It too has a perforated metal grill to protect the driver.
• The Diamond 10.7 features two 6 1/2-inch woofers, but they are not identical in design or function. The upper woofer’s frequency range extends up to the midrange crossover at 850 Hz, while the lower woofer is only used for deep bass below 150 Hz. Both have similar Kevlar weave cones, but the upper woofer adds a bullet shaped phase plug to improve its response at the upper and of the range. A diamond shaped pattern stamped into the rubber roll surrounds of the woofers is designed to reduce standing waves in the surround, resulting in a smoother transition over to the midrange driver.
• Snap-on fabric covered grilles are provided, and these attach using rubber plugs that push into some of the driver fixing screws. This means that there are no unsightly grille plug holes on the front panel of the speaker.
• Dual pairs of binding posts below the large port on the rear panel allow for bi-wiring, and each pair is offset at an angle from the back to give more breathing room for thick cables and connectors.
• A plinth attached to the base of the speaker provides a stable platform for mounting the standard spikes or rounded rubber leveling feet. Both options include a neat adjustable lock ring, that lets you tighten down the footers at the optimum height.
Diamond 10 CM center channel speaker, technical highlights:
• The Diamond 10 CM center channel speaker looks like a smaller sideways version of the 10.7, but there are some important differences. While the tweeter and midrange driver are the same, both of the 10 CM’s woofers are the wide range version with the phase plug. This is because the 10 CM is a standard 3-way design, with both woofers covering the same frequency range up to the midrange crossover. Unlike the 10.7, the 10 CM is not ported, so the crossover points have been tweaked a bit to suit the altered woofer loading.