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Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 Review (Speaker)

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I own a pair of Wharfedale Diamond III's from 1985 and they are pretty nice. Really airy compared to a lot of other budget speakers from the 80s. Modern stuff is a different league though.
 

Shanman

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I would love to send a Linton from FL to Seattle, but I can't risk the damage. However, they will be going back to the seller as they aren't doing it for me. The highs sound like a damp dishcloth is hung over the tweeter... They sure are gorgeous cabinets, I'll give them that!
 
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preload

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That dip is an interesting one. It looks like it is caused by some unusual behaviour in the tweeter crossover. There appears to be a quite noticeable dip in the high-pass filtered acoustic response of the tweeter in the 1.5kHz to 3kHz region (approximately 1 octave wide). See the picture below, where I've highlighted the region in question.

The dip seems centered at or around 2kHz, which more or less corresponds with location of the approximately 2dB dip in the summed output of the woofer and tweeter.

I'm left wondering what might have caused that unusual behaviour in the filtering of the tweeter's response, as it seems to largely be the cause the dip in the summed response. It would be interesting to know the crossover topology used on the high-pass and low-pass filters, as well as the component values. It could well be that, with some very minor component adjustments, a much better integration between the woofer and tweeter outputs could be achieved.

View attachment 155471of
Here's a thought. The people at wharfdale who designed this model might actually be aware of and intentionally leveraged the properties of the drivers and crossover so that there would be a BBC dip. In other words, they didn't need the good people of ASR to figure it out for them.
 

norcalscott

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I would love to send a Linton from FL to Seattle, but I can't risk the damage. However, they will be going back to the seller as they aren't doing it for me. The highs sound like a damp dishcloth is hung over the tweeter... They sure are gorgeous cabinets, I'll give them that!
I have had the Lintons for a few months and I am not experiencing this at all, but I have them in a relatively large room and do EQ level the high end a bit. I find the mid and tweeter in these really shine with female vocals and instrumental, think Pink Floyd Great gig in the sky/Clare Torry. These speakers need a lot of juice but they can handle it.

They are gorgeous but are maybe not everyone's cup of tea. Probably more appreciated by old farts such as myself who think speakers are supposed to look like speakers :)
 

Shanman

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I have had the Lintons for a few months and I am not experiencing this at all, but I have them in a relatively large room and do EQ level the high end a bit. I find the mid and tweeter in these really shine with female vocals and instrumental, think Pink Floyd Great gig in the sky/Clare Torry. These speakers need a lot of juice but they can handle it.

They are gorgeous but are maybe not everyone's cup of tea. Probably more appreciated by old farts such as myself who think speakers are supposed to look like speakers :)

Actually, I have a postscript to my comment. Just last night I realized I actually have my Linton's flipped incorrectly- they are side specific with offset tweeters. I was glancing at the manual last night and noticed it said the badge on the grill goes to outside corners. Doh! I have them reversed! Will be swapping them tonight to see it it makes a difference. That being said, the grills are side specific as well and are recommended to remain in place as they are apparently designed to be a continuation of the baffle.

I've got the juice going to them for sure- the ATI made Monoprice Monolith 3X, capable of 300w rms at 4ohms. So powerful I haven't even glanced much at the brawny Buckeye 2 channel I had made right before the Monolith arrived.

They Wharfedales are very beautiful cabinets, with book-matched grain. Simply gorgeous. The bad thing they have going for them is they are getting compared to my beloved Snell D7 towers. It's simply an unfair comparison. The backfiring tweeter alone on the Snells creates such a spacious/airy sound with dimension that I love, and the Wharfdale simply can't and won't.
 

kapardian

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 bookshelf speaker. It was kindly purchased by a member and drop shipped to me. It costs US $399 for a pair.

The look and feel of the 12.1 is definitely above the budget category:

View attachment 154893

The back is rather pedestrian but more beefy than other speakers in its class:

View attachment 154894

Overall a good look for the speaker.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Using computational acoustics, far-field response is computed and that is what I present. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber.

I performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of about 1%. Clean high frequency response is responsible for ease of measurement in this regard.

Reference axis is approximately the center of the tweeter. Grill was not used.

Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

View attachment 154895

The all important on-axis response (black) is almost flat which is great. There is a bit of a valley around 2 to 3 kHz which unfortunately gets deeper off axis making directivity rather poor there. We can see it better in early window reflections:

View attachment 154896

It takes a rather severe penalty there. Lack of a waveguide causes the woofer beamwidth to be narrower than tweeter's around the crossover frequencies. Fortunately you can use a thick rug to absorb the floor reflections like I have. And high ceilings help too with the ceiling bounce.

Putting the two together we get the expected results which is good:

View attachment 154897

Near-field measurements show that this is one of the rarer designs that keeps the internal port and cabinet resonances at bay:

View attachment 154898

We routinely see these resonances being higher in frequency and competing with the tweeter/woofer response. Not here. The port does its thing to extend low frequencies and that is it. As it should be.

Back to directivity, we see its measure better here:

View attachment 154899

We see the beam width narrowing (woofer) then widening (tweeter). One benefit here though is that beam width is 20 or so degrees wider in each direction than is typical of these speakers. There is on going discussion as to trade off here.

Here is our color 3-D map of the same:

View attachment 154900

There is that narrowing of the high frequencies (same beaming but now applied to tweeter) and I wonder if this makes the speaker less bright to my ears.

Here is vertical with a bit more allowance for height than normal:
View attachment 154901

And our 3-D directivity at three frequencies:

View attachment 154902

Someone talked me into expanding my distortion measurements down to 76 dBSPL which is making the presentation hard but here it is anyway:

View attachment 154903

During measurements I did not hear much distortion above deep bass which indicates good power handling. Here is the same as a percentage:


View attachment 154905

Edit: forgot to post the impedance:

View attachment 154937

Wharfedale 12.1 Listening Tests
I powered the speakers in my usual far field setup and started to listen. One track, then two, then three. I am not hearing much to complain about! Yet we had that directivity error and some lower treble dip. Brought out the EQ to fill those in:

View attachment 154909

This made the vocals, especially that of females, to stand out more which I liked. And added a bit of resolution to them as is typical of this type of boost. On some tracks I thought there was a bit extra brightness but overall, I liked it better with EQ than without.

Power handling was excellent. Speaker simply doesn't do what it can't do, i.e. deep bass. As a result even with a single speaker, I could fill it with a ton of watts and it kept getting louder until I got scared before it did! There was some amount of tactile bass which was surprising and welcome

At this point I was puzzled that we had some flaws in measurements yet I am not able to put my finger on anything. So I pulled out my Revel M106 speaker and played it. The M106 was definitely a step up with much better resolution when it came to delicate details. It was clearly a better experience. That speaker is four times the price though so I changed it out for Revel M16. The M16 has a boosted upper bass and this was quite audible, creating a warmer, albeit slightly muddy sound without correction for my room mode which it activates. The M16 retails for double the price but you can get it for less discounted. Still, I didn't feel that it provided much of any advantage over Wharfedale 12.1 in this quick comparison.

Conclusions
Technical we have some technical flaws in the midst of good performance otherwise in the 12.1. Objectively this stands out a lot but in listening tests in my room at least with floor absorption and high ceilings, I was not able to identify it. Indeed I was stomped in trying to find much of any fault with the speaker. Directivity errors though mean that speaker sound will more room dependent so your experience may vary somewhat from mine. Still, I think Wharfedale has done a very good job here.

Overall, I am going to recommend the Wharfedale Diamond 12.1. You could almost push me to give it the highest honors had it not been due to directivity errors. It provides a quandary with respect to audibility of such flaws versus some other trade offs.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
How does it sound on desktop or nearfield? thanks
 

Xyrium

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Agreed...though I'll admit, as long as it can go to 54Hz with any level of authority, the rest is gravy, for my music listening.


For Evo 4.2 The company has specs of 54hz. I am no expert but a 6.5 inch driver will not be able to replace the sub...
 

Gurkerl

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As the 12 is the newest generation of the Diamonds, there are some real potential bargains in form of the Diamond 11 line out there.
Especially this Diamond 11.5 looks great on paper. Going by the specs, it's a real 3-way design with dual 8 inch woofers and 90db/[email protected] sensitivity in an (imo) cool looking housing. In Europe it can be found for as low as 900€ for the pair. I believe MSRP for these was 1200€?
Unfortunately no high res measurements out there on these, but from what's out there they don't seem half bad for 900€. Should certainly go loud enough for most.

The biggest model in the 12th generation is the 12.4, which is a 2.5-way design with a single 6.5 inch "woofer", at 700€ per pair (I believe MSRP is 900€). I wonder if they kept the biggest model in this line "simple" to not rival the Evo 4.4 at 1500€?
 

Namesbuck

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Public Service Announcement: the Diamond 12 line or at least the 12.1 and 12.2 from what I caught have both received a $50.00 USD price increase recently. This appears to be common across the industry right now due to supply chain, inflation, shipping bottlenecks etc... SVS is another example. It's a bad time to "need" new speakers.
 

thewas

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As the 12 is the newest generation of the Diamonds, there are some real potential bargains in form of the Diamond 11 line out there.
Especially this Diamond 11.5 looks great on paper. Going by the specs, it's a real 3-way design with dual 8 inch woofers and 90db/[email protected] sensitivity in an (imo) cool looking housing. In Europe it can be found for as low as 900€ for the pair. I believe MSRP for these was 1200€?
Unfortunately no high res measurements out there on these, but from what's out there they don't seem half bad for 900€. Should certainly go loud enough for most.

The biggest model in the 12th generation is the 12.4, which is a 2.5-way design with a single 6.5 inch "woofer", at 700€ per pair (I believe MSRP is 900€). I wonder if they kept the biggest model in this line "simple" to not rival the Evo 4.4 at 1500€?
Yes, the Diamond 11.5 was bigger and more expensive (1300€ list price) and imho looks also more expensive with its curved side baffles and larger front baffle than the 12.4, here are FR measurements of both
https://www.testberichte.de/d/einzeltest/audio-500775.html (unfortunately you have to buy it for full resolution)
both seem similar flat above bass, in the bass region the 12.4 seems more bumped.

By the way the predecessor top model was even 3.5 way so there really seems a trend of "downsizing" in the Diamond series
 
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Shanman

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Public Service Announcement: the Diamond 12 line or at least the 12.1 and 12.2 from what I caught have both received a $50.00 USD price increase recently. This appears to be common across the industry right now due to supply chain, inflation, shipping bottlenecks etc... SVS is another example. It's a bad time to "need" new speakers.
The Lintons I bought last month went from $600 each to $750 ea....
 

Gurkerl

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Yes, the Diamond 11.5 was bigger and more expensive (1300€ list price) and imho looks also more expensive with its edged side baffles and larger front baffle than the 12.4, here are FR measurements of both
https://www.testberichte.de/d/einzeltest/audio-500775.html (unfortunately you have to buy it for full resolution)
both seem similar flat above bass, in the bass region the 12.4 seems more bumped.

By the way the predecessor top model was even 3.5 way so there really seems a trend of "downsizing" in the Diamond series
Here the measurements look actually quite alright. I don't think you'd be unhappy about that for 900€. Strange rise in the high frequencies though, wonder how much content is up there anyways.

This is what I found on audio.com.pl
Looks a lot more jagged. Perhaps less smoothing? Also high bass bump - is this related to the measurement method?

The Wharfedale Evo 4.4 looks quite good on both sites. Hifitest & audio.com.pl
 

thewas

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Here the measurements look actually quite alright. I don't think you'd be unhappy about that for 900€. Strange rise in the high frequencies though, wonder how much content is up there anyways.
Like you correctly say above 10 Khz it doesn't make a hugh audible difference, such a rise gives usually just a bit "silvery spice" to say with audiophool prosa.

This is what I found on audio.com.pl
Looks a lot more jagged. Perhaps less smoothing? Also high bass bump - is this related to the measurement method?
Two times yes! :)

The Wharfedale Evo 4.4 looks quite good on both sites. Hifitest & audio.com.pl
That really looks good, especially at the Polish site were very if smoothing is used and most loudspeakers measure quite more jagged.
 

Gurkerl

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Like you correctly say above 10 Khz it doesn't make a hugh audible difference, such a rise gives usually just a bit "silvery spice" to say with audiophool prosa.


Two times yes! :)


That really looks good, especially at the Polish site were very if smoothing is used and most loudspeakers measure quite more jagged.
Thank you! The Evo 4.4 really seems like a winner.
 

Karl-Heinz Fink

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Nice low price "BBC old school" implementation, something like a Harbeth for ASR cheapskates. :D

Also nice to see that the known Karl Hein Fink did a very good job on it like also his also known predecessor Peter Comeau, would be interesting for me to know though why the IAG did this change though (and why their webpage is offline).

Interesting also that the "weird" shallow and edgy waveguide seems to measure quite reasonably.
Hi,
it's not Peter and now Karl-Heinz, it's Peter and KH. We both already worked together in MISSION and I did already some projects in the past. I did not read everything in this thread (but will do), but I can tell you that we did the dip on purpose. Would have been easy to make it flat, but my ear would bleed during the listening test. :D. (joke only)
But I like the way Armir does his reviews. Not that I always come to the same conclusion, but I bought the NFS after seeing his measurements the first time. Great way to get good results overnight...not that we could not make the measurements before, but never that easy.
Best regards

KHF
 

thewas

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Hi,
it's not Peter and now Karl-Heinz, it's Peter and KH. We both already worked together in MISSION and I did already some projects in the past. I did not read everything in this thread (but will do), but I can tell you that we did the dip on purpose. Would have been easy to make it flat, but my ear would bleed during the listening test. :D. (joke only)
But I like the way Armir does his reviews. Not that I always come to the same conclusion, but I bought the NFS after seeing his measurements the first time. Great way to get good results overnight...not that we could not make the measurements before, but never that easy.
Best regards

KHF
Nice to see you here Karl-Heinz, hope you will share more of your insider insights in the future and cool to hear that you work together with Peter.
 

Hiten

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I can tell you that we did the dip on purpose.
welcome. Nice to see speaker designer.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
general question out of curiosity. How about having a switch +/-3dB (Like some studio monitors) so user gets total control ? Does altering response by this way affect other areas of sound reproduction ?
thanks and regards.
 
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