It was with some extra anticipation that I received the Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 for review. Wharfedale has made lots of excellent speakers over the years, but in this case the manufacturer emphasizes that they were developed by German Karl-Heinz Fink. Fink was also behind i.a. Q Acoustics Concept 500, but this is the first time I have seen his name highlighted on such a cheap product.
The finish of the test set was in light oak, which gave a pleasant nostalgic touch, although the oak pattern was far from convincing.
In addition to this, the Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 is characterized by German thoroughness in the build quality. The cabinet walls are thick, and the front and back panels are virtually completely vibration dead. Impressive! The terminals are for bi-wiring and look incredibly solid.
The base unit has a diaphragm fitted with stiffening grooves and made of a polypropylene-mica blend that Wharfedale calls “Klarity,” while the tweeter is a 1-inch fabric dome.
The sound quality
The first thing you notice on Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 is a really nice balance that leans towards the warm, but without going so far as to be dominated by bass. But as soon as you put them on, you just feel in good company.
The treble reproduction is clean and clear. Diamond 12.1 probably has the test’s best and most well-resolved treble. It is a good thing. But after all, not enough to decide the battle alone.
The perspective is really nice and you have a certain sense of depth and space. But not as accurate as on the DALI Oberon 1. On the other hand, the soundscape is more homogeneous and comfortable, where the Oberon can be a bit slim.
The bass is nice and deep enough compared to the fact that we are dealing with small bookshelf speakers for very little money. When the speakers are pressed with complex music and higher volume, the bass does not fall off as much as with DALI, but the overall result is a little more messy.
Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 is a really successful speaker that excels with a homogeneous and comfortable reproduction and a sound image that is easy to like. There is not the same analytical quality over the midrange as on the DALI Oberon 1, but the whole is unusually well-cast. And the price is razor sharp!