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Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Diamond 220 from the British speaker company, Wharfedale. I purchased the set for this review from Amazon for US $199 including free shipping.

The 220 comes with inset covers for each driver, giving it a classy look despite its low cost. Here it is though without the grills:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker Beamwidth Stereo Review.jpg


The top driver is just a tweeter with the surrounds being a waveguide. It is not a coaxial driver. The port shoots from a hole into the secondary bottom on the speaker.

The back panel is where you really notice this is a budget speaker, sans the fancy bi-amp terminals which you never see in this price range:
Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker Beamwidth Bi-wire Bi-amp Stereo Review.jpg


Despite being small, the 220 is rather hefty and dense 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. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

I used 800+ measurement points which resulted in error rate of slightly above 1% in upper treble frequencies.

Temperature was 68 degrees. Measurement location is at sea level so you compute the pressure.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

The reference axis is the tweeter. As you see below, I tested the unit with the grill on and off.

Spinorama Audio 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. Let's first see the measurements with the grill on:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker spinorama cta-2034 Grill On Audio Measurements.png


We see quite a disturbance in all of the graphs around 5 kHz. Looking at the driver response, we see modulations at multiples of 3 kHz in the tweeter as well:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker driver response Audio Measurements.png


So I remeasured the speaker with the grill off:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker spinorama cta-2034 Audio Measurements.png


This is a huge improvement! Usually the impact of the grill is small but here, given how close it is to the driver, its comb filtering effect is amplified.

Early and important reflections indicate you should avoid floor and ceiling ones if you can:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker spinorama cta-2034 early window Audio Measurements.png


If you don't, this is the predicted response:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker spinorama cta-2034 Predicted In-room Frequency Response ...png


Note that the issue is around 1.5 to 2 kHz so even a rather thin carpet would do the job (1 inch or thicker).

Impedance dips low as it typically does in this type of speaker:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker impedance and phase Audio Measurements.png


The waveguide is doing its job in creating a rather smooth horizontal dispersion:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker Beamwidth Audio Measurements.png


Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker Horizontal Directivity Audio Measurements.png


Vertical tends to be a lot more chewed up but it is not that bad here:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker Vertical Directivity Audio Measurements.png


You are OK within a ±20 degree window above and below the tweeter axis.

Edit: forgot the distortion data:
Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker distortion versus frequency Audio Measurements.png


Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker absolute distortion versus frequency Audio Measurements.png


Subjective Speaker Listening
Out of box experience with the Diamond 220 was very good. There was a slight boominess that prompted me to turn on the filter for my room mode. Past that, I decided to fill the dip in the response, and put in a shelf for the highs:

Wharfedale Diamond 220 Budget Speaker Beamwidth Room Equalization.png


And my usual high pass filter to get rid of extreme lows that just add distortion and not much more.

Once there, this is a truly hifi speaker. Every audiophile track I had whether it was female vocals, pop music, vintage jazz, etc., it all sounded very good.

The 220 could also play very loud. The only problem is that the port makes very obnoxious rattling sound that doesn't come out of the woofer. This only happens at very high volumes and you only hear it if you are close to the speaker.

Conclusions
I must say, I was not prepared for this speaker to sound good. The first measurement seemed poor and that set my context. Yet when it was all said and done, for a budget speaker, it does a lot of things very right. Good tonality, very good power handling, and nice looks add up to an attractive package.

I am happy to recommend the Wharfedale Diamond 220 speaker.

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

Went to our garden and picked up the last of the zucchini and winter squash:

Winter squash.jpg


There are so cute to look at, you almost don't want to eat them!

Oh, on our septic saga. Had my helper dig up the trench to expose the sewage pipe that was not sloped right, causing blockage. He spends the entire day on it and got the pipe nice and clear. Of course the plumbers are no where to be seen. Meanwhile a storm comes in, dumps a bunch of rain on us and the ditch caves in. :( To make matters worse, the ditch goes partially under one of our two heat pumps, risking the whole $15,000 unit to topple down. :( After a bunch more calls, they finally come to cut and replace a 7 foot section of pipe. The bill? A cool $400 for one hour of work! It was a trade off getting this review done or doing the work myself. You know which way I went.

The above is a fraction of the money I spent today. More on this later. Hopefully you can make me feel better by donating generously using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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MZKM

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#2
Preference Rating
SCORE: 3.6
SCORE w/sub: 6.8

Sensitivity: 86.9dB (spec: 86dB)
Frequency response: +/-6.2: 56Hz-20kHz (+/-5.9dB 80Hz-20kHz)

Screen Shot 2020-10-14 at 10.35.04 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-10-14 at 10.36.03 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-10-14 at 10.41.28 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-10-14 at 10.41.42 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-10-14 at 10.41.46 PM.png
chart - 2020-10-14T224152.926.png



All graphs/data
_______________
Grille on Preference Rating

SCORE: 3.1
SCORE w/sub: 6.1

Sensitivity: 86.7dB (spec: 86dB)
Frequency response: +/-6.2: 56Hz-20kHz (+/-5.6dB 80Hz-20kHz)

Screen Shot 2020-10-14 at 10.43.32 PM.png


All graphs/data
 
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MZKM

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#6
The 220 could also play very loud.
Wharfedale specs max SPL as 95dB (+19dB from rated sensitivity); wish more companies would do this.

Amazon for US $199 including free shipping.
UK MSRP at release seems to be 200 pounds and $349.99 in the US. This models seems to be 2 generations old (2015?), with the Diamond 11 (2017?) being the successor with this woofer size falling between the 11.1 ($349.99) & 11.2 ($499.99):

and the current generation is the Diamond 12 (2020?), with the 12.1 ($399.99) being a match:




Except the woofer, I like the looks of the Diamond 11 series better, curved cabinets and magnetic grilles. If you have had me guess, I would have put the 200 & 12 models as being 1 generation apart, with the 12 being the newest.
________
Didn’t expect the grill to make such a huge difference.
Yeah, not sure why they like to get fancy with the separate grilles (I own one of their Jade towers and it's the same deal), for this model though the grille pegs aren't flush so those will cause some small issues too:


Also, while this is a bottom firing port, my jade towers do something I've never seen before, the loading is called "aperiodic", it has a base where the ports go into, and it has slots with opening covered in open cell foam:
 
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Bruce Morgen

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#8
Wharfedale specs max SPL as 95dB (+19dB from rated sensitivity); which more companies would do this.


UK MSRP at release seems to be 200 pounds and $349.99 in the US. This models seems to be 2 generations old (2015?), with the Diamond 11 (2017?) being the successor with this woofer size falling between the 11.1 ($349.99) & 11.2 ($499.99):

and the current generation is the Diamond 12 (2020?), with the 12.1 ($399.99) being a match:




Except the woofer, I like the looks of the Diamond 11 series better, curved cabinets and magnetic grilles. If you have had me guess, I would have put the 200 & 12 models as being 1 generation apart, with the 12 being the newest.
________

Yeah, not sure why they like to get fancy with the separate grilles (I own one of their Jade towers and it's the same deal), for this model though the grille pegs aren't flush so those will cause some small issues too:


Also, while this is a bottom firing port, my jade towers do something I've never seen before, the loading is called "aperiodic", it has a base where the ports go into, and it has slots with opening covered in open cell foam:
The aperiodic idea dates from the 1950s and was pioneered by the Seas-built Dynaco A-25 bookshelf speaker, which was a huge success back in the day.
 

JohnYang1997

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#10
Didn’t expect the grill to make such a huge difference. If so how come focal shapes and genelec 8000s can make it so flat with a grill so close!
This one is more like mesh than metal grill.
 

bobbooo

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#11
I presume plugging the ports of a bass reflex speaker with the optional open cell acoustic foam plugs many of them come with effectively turns it into an aperiodic enclosure.
 
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#12
I must say, I was not prepared for this speaker to sound good. The first measurement seemed poor and that set my context.
test bench update could be done to better represent a "good sounding" speaker?
 
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#13
There's horrible chuffing from the port on my pair that rendered them useless for near field, which is my use case. It's probably form the port not being flared on both sides. I never got around to fixing them now I use them as stands for my KEf 350s.
 

restorer-john

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#14
The Wharfedale Diamond has always been a great little mini speaker, right from the very first one. By the time the Diamond III came around, it was remarkable that so much quality sound came from such a tiny box. I have several Diamonds of various vintages- they are a fun speaker with a big sound for little money.

When IAG absorbed Wharfedale, I figured it was all over and they sure have had some hits and misses since, but they haven't trashed the brand too badly.

But over here, the distributors take Australian audiophiles for absolute fools and totally rip them off with a retail price of AU$599. Unbelievable but true.

1602737556700.png
 
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Robbo99999

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#19
Wow, that's an almost beautiful frequency response once the grill is off, and certainly in comparison to it's ugly duckling grill on response! Definitely good value for the money. Although it does look like it lacks some bass with it starting to drop shortly below 200Hz, so I am quite surprised that it sounded so good....but I do like the fairly smooth/flat nature of the rest of the speaker with the grill off, and I suppose you'd want to use these with a sub.
 
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PeteL

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#20
The Wharfedale Diamond has always been a great little mini speaker, right from the very first one. By the time the Diamond III came around, it was remarkable that so much quality sound came from such a tiny box. I have several Diamonds of various vintages- they are a fun speaker with a big sound for little money.

When IAG absorbed Wharfedale, I figured it was all over and they sure have had some hits and misses since, but they haven't trashed the brand too badly.

But over here, the distributors take Australian audiophiles for absolute fools and totally rip them off with a retail price of AU$599. Unbelievable but true.

View attachment 87982
I have to say that I’m willing to keep an open mind, and maybe sometimes, i’ll see good reviews like this, and ok I´ll be the first to admit that biases exists, Now, but, I did own some speakers in the past that where called diamond 7.2 anniversary edition. It’s a while back, but what does qualify as good,? sometimes i believe you still have to have a listen, I don’t know, to me they where cheap, and ok for the price but still some muddy and boomy small speakers. They where not doing bad in reviews, where considered a sound purchase, but good? I gave them away to a good friend who is not an audiophile, A friend that I still see, and they don’t sound any better when I visit him a decade or so later...Not horrible, but certainly not hifi to me. I know, they could have evolved, but I was refering to your «Diamond always been » Are there really 200$ speakers that are really truly better than « ok »? I mean, when you heard better, you look at measurments, yes,your judgment is subjective yes, but sometimes, for speakers, not electronics, you look at this suite of mesurments and it looks like it’s equal, to some 3k$ speakers, or that with a bit of eq, they are right up there. Convince me guys, but on that, I never heard a 200$ speaker that was great. Better than most, yes, reasonably pleasing to listen, yes... But really hifi? whatever that means, to me, no, i´d like to quantify that with measurments but not so obvious.
 
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