WHARFEDALE DIAMOND 230 Floor standing speakers

A lot of people began their journeys that were hi-fi in the sixties, seventies or eighties using a set of Wharfedale loudspeakers, which counts for something that no quantity of advertising can find.

Back when The Beatles were the biggest group on the planet, the speakers of the company were largish, wood veneered affairs generally with multiple drive units and wide front baffles. The most famous Wharfedale speaker from that era was the Diamond. Not long after its start in the early eighties, you could purchase a more fancy Ace variant and an active variation with genuine wood veneer. With charm, the aforementioned car had been packed just like it and performed far better than you'd expect because of its size.

Wharfedale has evolved the Diamond through many embodiments; more lately it has grown to include floorstanding versions when the first was barely taller than a VHS video cassette. The 230 is the third version in the most recent Diamond 200 collection, along with the tiniest floorstander. Updated bi-wireable crossover networks may also be fitted.

Wharfedale has elected to utilize a more affordable version of its Crystalam material for the Diamond's cabinet, which is a matrix of substances with different acoustic features, that reduces vibration 'hot spots'.

As with its 100-collection forerunner, the 200s retain the woven Kevlar bass/group drivers with semielliptical 'break-up' places, observable as raised 'V shapes' about the surface of the cone. The tweeter integrates an innovative ferrite magnet system and also a waveguide that is special round the cloth dome for optimal dispersion. The slot filled port is designed to give good-integrated bass, with no chuffing frequently associated with front or rear -mounted interfaces. It has another useful benefit, which is that you could put the speakers closer to the back wall than you'd ordinarily. I find when the supplied spikes and plinths are fitted that the Diamond operates nicely somewhat toed in, simply over 30cm from my back boundary wall.

Sound quality

The Diamond has a few days that are good to run in correctly. This done, a redoubtable design is proven by it in keeping with preceding recent Wharfedale products with a character. This implies a dry, exact and clean sound with surprising levels of detail, as well as a great awareness of the rhythmic flow of the music.

The Diamond strong, bouncy, rhythmic, punchy and propulsive, relishes the dynamic accents. It is very good at carrying this, in noticeable contrast to a lot of price rivals that just slur one note into another. Layouts that fare less well with the spaces between the notes frequently offer a fuller sound, but it is also much more monotonous and flatter.

I hear exactly the same matter on the Pet Shop Boys' I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing. It is a rather compact bit full of drum machine work, overlaid with a vocal track that is thick and tremendously compressed synthesiser lines. It's an effective method to assess a loudspeaker's speed and comprehension. Inferior designs descend into muddle, blurring the sound that the electronic hi-hat cymbal loops become indistinct. However, the Diamond shines - bouncing along like a rubber ball, giving a rendition that is wonderfully enjoyable. Punchy and Pacey, it sounds in its element and plays to its strengths. Really, through the entire frequency range, it really is surprisingly devoid of overhang. The bass proves capable to start and stop and this also extends to the midband, which reveals surprising clarity.

Just as important as fine timing is the ability to signpost the music's subtle dynamic inflections. This is another side of a speaker's nature, one that determines its awareness of stream and music fluidity. The power to replicate the huge crashing sound of an orchestra at full tilt is of small use if it can't capture the mellow, nuanced accents. Again the Wharfedale does very well here, with Grant Green's Ease Back revealing this facet. The Diamond 230 goes to the soul of the tune, deftly imparting its rhythmic flow and mental impact. A complete foot tapper, it shows just how pleasurable a modern budget loudspeaker might be. What also impresses is the excellent stereo imaging; it reveals itself able to correctly recreate the spatial information that defines the borders of the studio. Truly, if anything the recorded acoustic just a little moves forwards relative to the plane of the loudspeakers, embracing sound and giving an upfront, taking the listener right to the activity.

Switching into a superlative Linn Recording of Handel's Concerto Grossi Opus 6 reveals the Diamond to be astonishingly accomplished with orchestral content too. It's rare to locate something at this cost that will shine with electronic dance and classical, but the Diamond does.

Its accurate, tidy sound is what gives it the edge; everything is well commanded ordered with luxuriant spaces between the notes.

It gives an excellent awareness of flow that is musical, carrying the phrasing of the violinists and cellists. The harpsichord sounds commendably crisp, sparkling with harmonics and blessed with a great deal of atmosphere around it. The comparative percentage of the instruments is also nicely imparted, with a fine sense of feeling to the recording. It presents the soundstage in a way that is clear and upfront. The three drive units sounds quite sophisticated thinking about the price; there's no sense of anything untoward going on anywhere upwards or down the frequency scale, because it integrate so well.


It is this blend of couthness, musicality and insight that makes Wharfedale's new Diamond 230 such a powerful all round performer. Of course, in case you spend twice the price you are able to do considerably better, but for GBP500 it is deeply impressive.

Easy to drive, unfussy concerning source or the amplifier it is used with, nicely put together and finished - it's an exceptionally able package. Competition is fierce, however, with several other highly capable speakers around with sonic characters that are different, so as ever you would do well to audition a range of boxes -rather together with your personal amplifier and source - before you purchase.

WHARFEDALE DIAMOND 230 Floor standing speakers photo