From the moment you open the box you understand why someone would pay close to a $1000 for these speakers. The Emerald 93's are nothing short of stunning! The craftsmanship and the real rosewood finish is more like something would expect to see on a hand crafted dinning room table. The speaker is beautifully ported in the back and includes gold plated bi-wire connections.
Now besides the impressive construction, these speakers can really sing! I have them bi-wired(Highly recommended, but not necessary) with Monster Z2 bi-wire cables to a Yamaha R-V1105(The most underated receiver ever in its price range (>$800); I have had mine for 6 monthes and decided to buy another new for $275)Vocals and acoustic guitars on the Emeralds sound so clear and clean you'd swear they were right in front of you! The midrange & bass response is strong and tight(Maybe too strong if you have them close to the wall). For HT they perform as well if not better than stereo.
The funny thing is I only stumbled over these speakers messing around on Ubid and they have now replaced my PSB Century 800i tower speakers as my mains! Yes, the 800i's have more bass, but on 24' stands the 93's have superior clarity and presence.
Bottom line, for the price, these speakers are HANDS DOWN THE BEST SPEAKERS you will ever buy! They are even worth paying the retail value of around $500 for the rosewood finish. But do a little research and you can get them for a steal!
I agree with the previous two reviewers. I need to upgrade the HT system in my bedroom. I hooked up the speakers to a Pioneer Dolby Pro Logic receiver using OEM interconnects, cheap 18 guage speaker wires, Apex 1500 DVD and an awful JVC Cd player. Right away I noticed a huge difference in sound over the Fisher speakers. As crappy as the sources were, the speakers actually sound listenable. It had good imaging, decent bass, and a smooth highs (not upfront and shouty like most mini monitors I have heard).
I took these over to my neighbors house where he has this expensive set up. He is fanatical and builds his own speakers. He also belongs to local audio society chapter. When he hooked these up to the big Krell amps, boy the sound was unbelievable. He rapped on the cabinet and said it was fine since the pitch did not change when he randomly tapped. I knew what the potential of these speakers are...At first I did not tell him the price cause I was embarassed. Finally I let him on the secret. He was so impressed he went onto the internet and bid on a pair.
Next came the Harman Kardon 320 receiver. I upgraded the interconnects and speaker cable. One, what a dramatic sonic improvement going from DPL to DD. Anyways, with a better setup the speakers started to shine. Outstanding midrange, clear articulate highs, and a decent bass punch. I added a sub for HT use. Not quite the great sound from my neighbor, but for my bedroom I am mighty impressed.
These are great speakers that should be selling for much more. I agree that any weakness in sound is probably aimed at your other components...don't blame the speakers; I know what they can do.
I agree with many of the points presented by the previous reviewer.In short,you would have to spend two or three times the $ to get a better sounding speaker, but;
If you are a Zeppelin fan, or into head-banging rock, you might want to keep looking. The speaker tends to, for lack of a better term, 'load-up' at higher volumes (no where near 'clipping')when listening to this style of music. Frankly, one does not 'Rock-Out' at a low volume setting.
I too believe that the cabinets are not thick enough/properly braced, after building several subs during the past year, and having built multiple rear surrounds over the years, the cabinet should not resonate.
In short, I would be bummed if I payed the list, or even 1/2 of the list price for these speakers, but for the price that they can be won at U (double your shipping charges)Bid, it is a tough bargin to pass-up.
Hard to consider buying something without hearing? Let me help you out if you are considering buying these speakers thru UBID and wondering about what exactly you can expect. I will also include the Center Channel review.
The Emerald is marketed as being Wharfedales no hold bar top of the line reference loudspeakers. Wharfedale boasts engineering achievements in woofer design, laser designed tweeter, and computer designed cabinets…all resulting in an alleged high-end sound.
The Emerald has a msrp of $1,000. Wharfedale is England’s largest speaker mfg which sells their products worldwide. At other parts of the world, the Emeralds are sold for far greater amounts then here in the States. In fact, the only two places where you can buy Wharfedale in the USA is via UBID or Amazon.com. Amazon is selling the Emerald for $379 including shipping. At UBID, if you are lucky, you can steal these speakers for around $29-39 each (watch out for shipping, UBID have a tendancy of overcharging; shipping should be no more $55). The walnut veneered model, the ones I have, seem to be in more demand cause it is usually sold at a much higher price. I think that the reason USA can purchase Wharfedale products so much less than the rest of the world, the speakers appear to be “B” stock merchandise. For $1,000 speakers, the veneer work has very slight blems, not noticeable unless you look real close. I noticed slight cabinet imperfections on each of the three speakers that I have. I was purposely over critical since these are supposed to be $1,000/pair speakers. But at these prices, in reality…Who cares, you are getting an absolute steal...read on.
Build Quality: The walnut veneer work is extraordinary. The grain patterns match as it transcends from top to the sides! Veneer is on the four sides and the back. The front appear to be painted on??? onto a plastic base with a funky exposed plastic off-color beading. However, the plastic front allows the edges to be rounded to minimize sound diffraction. The veneer work is so smooth(with a laquer topcoat) that it looks fake; only upon close inspection can you notice random3-D grain patterns, indicative of wood and not vinyl. Anyways, for all of the so called computer analysis cabinet construction that Wharfedale boasts, here is what I noticed. Cabinet—1/2 inch MDF. Should have been ¾. For its acclaimed reference model and size, it seems a little light at 18lbs. In perspective, a Klipsch reference RB5, being smaller weighs in at 23lbs. Even the much smaller Emerald Center channel weighs as much. I noticed considerable cabinet vibrations when playing music—it should be acoustically dead as a vibrating cabinet is going to add a sound of its own. The port is flaired on the outside, good, but should also have been also flaired on the inside. Acoustic padding to absorb the woofer’s backlash is very minimal covering only the bottom 4 inches. This lack of acoustic absorbent probably contributes to a lot of the cabinet vibrations. There appears to be some indication of interior bracing by means of a 1x1 strip of MDF running down the middle/lenghth of each side. Interior wiring is generic 18guage. I could not see the crossover to comment. The grill is efficiently transparent, but somewhat fragile so a little care must be used in removal. 5-way gold plated binding post set for Bi-feeding. Visually, the cabinet looks very good and expensive.
Speaker quality: The 7 inch woofer material is a mixture of crushed rock and plastic and is mounted below the surface. The surround material is rubber. The surround is inverted…which I liked since the inverted surround minimizes diffraction. A plastic wave guide is used to further minimize wave diffraction,another good sign. The woofer magnet is on the small size, I expected larger. More usually is better for power handling, speaker efficiency and bass extension. The woofer basket is stamped steel (at a msrp of $1,000 it should have been an open architecture die cast aluminum)…shame on Wharfedale. But at least taken in whole,they are on the right track. The 1 inch tweeter is of high quality silk dome. Silk pound for pound is stronger than steel. A well engineered silk dome should exhibit great smooth extended highs. Many mfg has reverted to metal tweeters. Unless the metal variety is engineered properly, metal tweeters can glare, add addl resonances, can ring, and cause fatigue. The Wharfedale silk dome is one of the best I have heard. The tweeters are recessed below the surface with a horn flare wave control plastic. These speakers do not have the build quality or componentry that I would use to compare with speakers at $1,000 per pair but more on par with speakers in the $300-500/pr.
Sound: After breaking in the Wharfedales with Audiosource break in disc for 60 hrs I sat down and did some critical listening. Running the Wharfedales through a Megabuck system and A/B with Martin Logan SL3, I came to this conclusion. BUY IT on Faith. Even with all of its engineering/construction shortcomings of a true high-end speaker, the Emeralds are simply outstanding. Using AVIA test disc, bass response is flat to 80hz where is falls to -6db at 70hz, -10db at 48hz with bass overtones to 36hz. Needless to say, these speakers have good, tight, fast well defined bass; providing adequate response without the necessity of a sub for most program material. The woofer/tweeter match is one of the best I have heard, developing a seamless cohesion. Using Chesky’s “The Ultimate Demo Disc” and Sheffield’s “My Disc” 24kt gold A2TB Test Disc, there is no doubt that these speakers do earn the ‘audiophile’ namesake. They are open, detailed, dynamic, airy, transparent, microdetailed in every sense of the word. The sound is laid back, but not dark and recessed like other Brit’s speakers such as Mission. There is a natural presence here that would send chills down your back. Presence that is not by deliberate design by overemphazing the upper mids like others try to do. It is not forward and aggressive like other mid priced mini-monitors such as B&W 303, Klipsch SB2, Paradigm Mini-Monitor, Paradigm Titan, PSB3LR. The soundstage is both wide (reaches past the physical boundaries of the speakers and deep. Efficiency seems to be greater than the advertised 88db as these do play quite loud. The sum of the components work in tandem to create a true audio bargain. Wharfedale has a tendancy of hyping their products, but in this case, they are right to do so. The Emeralds easily matches the best monitors in the $500/pr class and whips all of the others. The Emeralds will give the true $1,000/pr speakers a run for the money, beating some that I know of, and losing out to some in all but the most subtle of terms at reasonable sound levels. If Wharfedale decides to correct some of the aforemention shortcomings, I cannot even imagine how great the sound might be. Like anything that contends to be high-end, source components need to be good. Evalulating this speaker with a receiver is not fair because these speaker deserve the best signal you can affordibly give it.
Emerald Center Channel:
Build Quality: Solid 9/16 inch MDF. Not braced. Woofers are not separated but fire into the same chamber. Minimal damping material used.
Sound: This is not fair, but I test the center channel as if it were a monitor; and boy I was surprised at the result. The sound quality was open, smooth, detailed, transparent, airy, and dynamic. I had to forcibly keep reminding myself that this was a center channel speaker. There was no hint of boxiness, hoot, hollow, nasal, chestiness that plagues most of the other center channel speakers. Heck, two of these would whip most mini monitors out there. Being a highly musical speaker in its own right also transcends to home theater. Dialogue came across intelligibly at all times. These speakers can deliver a dynamic punch. Bass is good til about 70hz, so a 80hz crossover point is perfect.
A very good speaker, not great, but it is a great value. Sounds better than the other speakers in its size. A very spacey sound to the highs. Midbass reponse had a nice accuracy to it. The highs sounded a bit overwhelming, but lack imaging(almost sounding like a live recording). It has an airy sound and seems best for LARGE rooms. For the money though, they are great speakers. Good for most music except some rock. Sounds very good with acoustical and detailed music(classical & jazz). Suffers under "pressure" of rock at times. Under about $500 there is not much, if any, that will beat it "hands down". For the money, $80 + $50 shipping, I can't complain. A different sound than the norm for most bookshelf speakers.