I once used a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 75th anniv. Edition with Rotel RCD02 cd player & Exposure 2010S integrated amp. Now it has been replaced by Tannoy Mercury F1 Custom.
Comparison between Diamond 9.1 & F1 Custom:
I found the Diamond to have more extended high freq. than the F1 Custom. However, the Diamond has more colouration, the sound is nice and warm, but not in a good sense, these “nice & warm” things seem to be fabricated, as opposed to an honest and realistic sound. In other words, to me this loudspeaker really has its own colour, which are nice & warm, thus accuracy is definitely not a strong point here.
Is it because the designer aimed to create a loudspeaker that would appeal to everyone? Initially this diamond appealed to me, that’s why I bought it in the first place. But after 2.5 months of quite intensive listening (6 days a week, 2 to 3 hours per day), I come to these opinion.
The Diamond’s imaging is also significantly less vivid compared to the F1 Custom.
I also noticed some upper bass emphasize with the Diamond, where the upper bass sounds too thick. This improper thickness seems to have negative impact on detail and transparency, as bass and mid definition is another weak point here. The F1 Custom might seems to have weaker bass than the Diamond, but it actually can play low notes far better. This is obvious with piano repro in many recordings, where the F1 Custom still able to present some low notes with good definition and impact, but the Diamond fail by a considerable margin. For drums repro, the F1 Custom has good transient attack and realism, from the cymbal, snare to the kick drum, while the Diamond can’t help to present bloomy, unnatural bass without solid image. But for even lower notes, both speakers do not have such extension, it’s normal due to their small size.
F1 Custom throws big and stable soundstage, the width may exceed physical boundaries with some recordings.
So for a speaker under USD500 (or 300 pound), I find the F1 Custom is really good, with the following characteristics:
1. Minimum colouration : honest sound, realistic reproduction from the sonic & music point of view
2. Neutral tonal balance: not warm but also not cool, sounds like the frequency response from top to bottom is quite linear (maybe anybody has measurement data to correct or confirm my hearing on this?)
3. Detail, transparent and focus, but not drawing attention to itself, the attention is on the music, enable me to deeply listen to the music.
4. Quite revealing of recording material quality/character
Before purchased the F1 Custom I auditioned several speakers: PSB Alpha B1, Paradigm Atom, Usher S512, B&W 686 & Epos ELS8. IMHO, I consider the F1 Custom to be better, overall, than the others, eventhough the comparison were not “apple to apple” as different electronics were used in each auditioned. Compared to the F1 Custom, I noticed that the PSB produces deeper soundstage, but less natural mid and high freq. The Paradigm sound is detail and has good clarity, but the midband timbre is not satisfactory to me. The Usher has more holographic imaging, but the mid sometimes has shouty character, and the high has forward character. The B&W has bigger bass, but presenting music with not enough life and soul (the problem is similar with ELS8). The Epos has more extended HF, but I’m not attracted to its rather thin midrange character. I suppose personal taste also had some contribution to my choosing the F1 Custom.
As for the Diamond, I don’t belief it has a strong position against the other speakers mentioned above. It’s quite strange that the Diamond receives so many good to very good reviews anywhere, including What HiFi magazine, UK, who gave it 5stars (F1 Custom also got 5stars review. But in a group test of 5 or 6 speakers, among which are the Diamond and the F1 Custom, What HiFi chose F1 Custom as the winner). The Diamond is more like a 3stars performer to me, I would not recommend it.
Prices (US retail price): the F1 Custom is USD140, the PSB USD 280, and the others are above USD300 (the Usher is above USD400).
I belief the F1 Custom is an underrated performer, partly due to its low price, where some recommendations I read is just to use it in a mini hi-fi system. Actually it strongly competes against USD 250 – 450 (150 – 300 pound) loudspeakers with a real chance of winning. For anybody who’s looking for under USD500 loudspeaker and interested in the Diamond, I seriously advise you to re-consider your interest, give both the F1 Custom and the Diamond (along with the other speakers mentioned above) a thorough audition before make any decision.
Wharfedales are not that known here in the Philippines, especially down south. When I went to scout for a new system to replace my pricey good for movies but pathetic in music Sony DAV sc-8, one of the better stores in Cebu city recommended to be the 9.1 over the Bose 201's and 301's partly due to the built quality, materials used and price. But on top of it all, I was fully convinced of the sound quality it delivers especially in music mode. I told the salesman that I was willing to pay anywhere up to Php15,000 for my front speakers (I was to purchase my centre and surrounds later). He told me to look beyond the brand as I had my sights fixed at the Bose 301's at first then introduced me to the curvey black 9.1's. It was love at first sound! Hitherto, I am so impressed how these small speakers deliver rich, warm yet clear sound that is so pleasing to the ears.
I wanted a set of inexpensive speakers for a second system in my home office. I have never bought a speakers without auditioning many brands, but I gambled and bought the Wharfedale Diamond 9.1s based on various reviews. My gamble paid off, because Wharfedale got this one right! 9.1s are sold in many places for $250USD per pair, and they are nothing short of amazing for that price.
Wharfedale Diamond 9.1s sound like far more expensive speakers. They deliver an open treble without sounding harsh. The mid range has very little coloration. Bass is quite solid for a 5" woofer in a small cabinet. The test that accompanied Stereophiles review noted output down to 40 hz. Bottom line, Wharfedale has managed to avoid the pitfalls that render most inexpensive speakers unlistenable.
The build quality is great. Solid, curved cabinets, Kevlar woofer with rubber surround, good quality terminals with bi-wiring capability. Yes, it's a vinyl laminate, but it looks pretty good in Cherry.
The Diamonds are good enough that they warrant being used with decent amplification and good cables. They definitely sound much better when bi-wired. I got good results with DH Labs Q-10 in an internally bi-wired configuration. If you don't want to spend the extra dollars for two runs, at least replace the jumpers that are supplied with quality speaker wire to realize just how good these inexpensive speakers can sound.
This is lovely speaker, how much I enjoy listen to Wharfedale Diamond.
I listen to it night and day. The sound is lovely, soft, smooth and enjoyable.
I’m using Luxman (L-2,L-5,L-580, C-02+M-02) , NAD 502 CD player and a pair of Wharfedale Diamond. This speaker bring the life to all kind of music especially when play it with Luxman. Because Luxman’s sound is soft and thin but Wharfedale Diamond make it a little bit bigger and that little bigger make music so sweet and lovely. Do not hesitate to buy it, I recommend.
The Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 bookshelf speakers are absolutely incredible. I purchased them on Ebay after researching the Wharfedale brand. This is my first pair of true hi-fi speakers and I'm impressed beyond words.
Lows- For a 5' driver, these put out bass that is not only deep, but tight as well. Strong bass drum causes slight distortion (that may be because these speakers have less than 5 hours of playing time) but any bass with a fluid transition is sublime. Outkast's "I Like The Way You Move" has one of the lowest bass lines in modern music, and the 9.1's can accurately reproduce it, even at low volumes. Bass has not been "boomy" yet.
Mids- The Kevlar cone has self-dampening properties and the tapered shape of the speakers help to reduce resonance to an inaudible volume. All instruments shine through, and the brass sections in Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and Frank Sinatra's "The Best Is Yet to Come" are not harsh. Vocals are incredible- male and female voices. The musicality of the Diamond 9.1's is astonishing.
Highs- The 25mm tex-dome tweeter is loud enough to reproduce cymbals in any song without becoming harsh. My old speakers were the Klipsch SB-1s, which had the Tractrix horn- loud and clear, but fatiguing to the ear. The tweeter on the Diamonds is rich and smooth, while being powerful enough so that you do not need to maximize the treble on your amp.
These speakers would be an excellent addition to any home theater setup or shelf system, so long as the room is sufficiently small. The room in which I have mine is 10' x 12', or about the size of a small bedroom, office, or dormitory.
With the 9.1s, there is absolutely no need to spend the extra money for the 9.2s or the PacEvo 8s or PacEvo 10s.