Center channel performance is the key to good home theater movie sound, and the Diamond 10 CM did a fine job delivering the goods. In the beach landing scene from The Thin Red Line, all hell is breaking out from every direction with explosions, aircraft flying overhead, the thrum of the landing craft’s motor, and the sea splashing off the boat. Through it all the Diamonds kept the dialog clear and easy to understand despite the surrounding din. The aircraft passes demonstrated the system’s excellent timbral matching, with seamless pans from left to right and from the front of the stage back towards the surrounds.
The scene where Vector and Gru have a midair dogfight in Despicable Me is always a good test of dynamics and bass impact, and through the Diamond system we get plenty of both. The clicks and clacks of the various weapons unfolding from Gru’s ship were just a tad muted sounding, but the thrum of his ship’s engine had plenty of heft.
When the first Diamonds came out in the early 1980s nobody had even heard the term “home theater,” so it makes sense that these speakers are first and foremost at home with music. I cranked up the Talking Heads’ album Little Creatures [EMI], and felt like the Diamonds were really in their element with this stuff. Comparing the original stereo mix with Jerry Harrison’s 5.1-channel surround mix for the DVD-Audio disc showed how he was able to extract so much more bandwidth at both ends of the spectrum from the original multitrack tapes. Through the Diamonds the differences were not subtle, with the surround mix opening up the soundstage and laying out the individual component parts of the recording in a far more clear, coherent manner.
Elton John’s early albums come from that era before recording engineers had so many tools to screw up the sound, and they tend to have an honest and simple production quality that beats the pants off the sonic mush we typically get these days. “Amoreena” on Tumbleweed Connection [Island] is a good example, with Elton’s band rocking out. This got the Diamonds to sit up and belt it out, although they still had a slightly reserved quality as if it was just a bit beneath them to really get down and boogie. Perhaps it’s an English thing, but I often found myself wanting to crank it up a bit to coax a little extra life out of them.
Consider this system if:
• You want a big sounding surround system that doesn’t require a second mortgage.
• You are okay with traditional speakers that don’t disappear into the background.
• You want a comfortable sounding system that is coherent, and smooth.
Look further if:
• You thought your college roommate's old JBLs weren’t quite dynamic enough.
• You have a significant other who thinks an audio system should be invisible.
• You can’t live without a real wood veneer finish.
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced surround speaker systems)
• Transparency and Focus: 8
• Imaging and Soundstaging: 9
• Tonal Balance: 8
• Dynamics: 6
• Bass Extension: 8
• Bass Pitch Definition: 8.5
• Bass Dynamics: 7
• Value: 9
The Wharfedale Diamond 10 system gives you a lot of speaker for not a whole lot of money. Bang for the buck is the key here, and the complete package can be compared favorably to systems costing twice as much. Sonically the emphasis is on coherency and smoothness over sledgehammer dynamics and power, but considering the price that’s a pretty good compromise.
Wharfedale Diamond 10-Series 5.1-Channel Speaker System
Wharfedale Diamond 10.7 floorstanding loudspeaker
Type: 3 ½-way, four-driver, bass reflex, floorstanding loudspeaker.
Driver complement: One .98-inch tweeter with diffuser, one 1.97-inch dome midrange driver, two 6.5-inch bass drivers.
Frequency response: 30Hz – 24 kHz
Sensitivity: 90dB (1W@1M)
Impedance: 6 Ohms
Dimensions (H x W x D): 40.16” x 8.86” x 11.93” (speaker on spiked feet)
Weight: 47 lbs. each.
Warranty: 5 years, parts and labor.