Wharfedale Diamond 121

£230

Our initial feelings on meeting these new Wharfedale Diamonds for the first time were surprise and a little disappointment. Not only had the curved cabinet of the Diamond 10.1 been replaced by a conventionally rectangular box, but it had also been accompanied by an £80 price hike.

While that might at first look like a bad deal for the consumer, it turns out Wharfedale has actually made some bold and fairly expensive changes in the design. There are all new drivers for a start, and the 13cm woven Kevlar mid/bass driver features a new cone and a blended dust cap to improve smoothness at the crossover. And the tweeter is surrounded by a deeply dished waveguide to improve efficiency. That squarer cabinet, meanwhile, uses composite wood panels to help damp resonances, with the intention that you should hear more of the driver units and less of the box.

Flexible with positioning

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the 121s, though, is the ‘slot-loaded distributed port’. Essentially, this is a small gap between the bottom of the unit and plinth below, through which bass frequencies escape from the downward firing bass port.

This design not only makes the Diamond 121s more flexible over positioning, it also produces clearly deeper bass. When you start playing music through them you notice the kind of grand scale and authority that belies the speakers’ compact dimensions.

As well as being impressively deep, those low frequencies are tight and tuneful, and that influences the entire tonal range in the most positive of ways. It’s by no means all about the low notes, however. Treble is nicely judged, too, with an excellent balance between sparkle and refinement, while the midrange is beautifully detailed and clearly projected.

The only real blemish in the picture is the finish that Wharfedale provides, which can only be described as disappointing: the plinth feels flimsy and the vinyl wrap isn’t as neat as it should be — or at least it wasn’t on our review sample. That said, it’s indisputable that, sonically, these new Diamonds truly satisfy.

TECH SPECS

Type Standmounter • Sensitivity 86dB/W/m • Impedance 6 ohms • Max power 100W • Biwirable Yes • Finishes 7 • Dimensions (hwd) 32 x 17 x 23cm

Rating ★★★★★

FOR: Big, authoritative sound; always exciting and nicely balanced; plenty of detail

AGAINST: Not the most stylish speaker out there, and they could certainly be better finished

VERDICT: As entertaining and detailed as you can buy for the money, the Diamond 121s demand your attention

SYSTEM BUILDER

Wharfedale Diamond 121

£230 ★★★★★

Detailed and entertaining speakers at a simply stunning price

CD PLAYER

Marantz CD6004 £280 ★★★★★

About to be discontinued, so look out for a bargain price, because this is a winner…

STEREO AMPLIFIER

Rega Brio-R £480 ★★★★★

An upbeat and exciting amplifier. Well built and with a great phono stage…

TURNTABLE

Rega RP3/Elys 2 £550 ★★★★★

…to marry well with this multiple Award- winner — the best all-rounder at this price

Total build £1540

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