Wharfedale Diamond series has a long-standing tradition of offering a great bang for the buck. As my own experience goes, I first came in touch with it trough 8th iteration, more specifically trough stand-mounters Diamond 8.2 and floor-standers Diamond 8.4, some 20 years ago. For those of you still keeping count, this would be the 12th iteration of the series. Diamond 220 debuted a few years ago with a price of $350 / £180 but goes for a discounted price of just $199 / £119 these days.
Build and Features
My first impression when taking them out of the box was that those feel quite weighty and sturdy for the size and especially for the price. It feels nicely finished too and there’s really nothing to complain about. Moreover, I really like the solution used for grills – where each driver has its own circular grill. They’re covering the drivers themselves only while we still get to enjoy the overall look and design of the front panel, very neat trick if you ask me.
Bass reflex is located on the bottom, between the speaker and the attached bottom board, so it’s out of sight. Binding posts are big and sturdy and ready for bi-wiring.
Wharfedale Diamond 220 is the second smallest speaker in the series with a 5″ / 130 mm bass/midrange cone and 1″ / 25 mm soft dome tweeter.
Put on a pair of mass loaded stands and position clear of the corners, Diamond 220s produce a well- developed sound-stage. I especially admired its width and height, with depth being a bit more modest. The next thing that struck me is their midrange skils. Vocals are firmly centered, present, and rich with nuances. Listening to the likes of Leonard Cohen and his deep but raspy voice is a joy. The same goes for instruments too. They’re presented in a full-bodied fashion but are also brimming with details.
The bassline is reasonably deep for the speaker of this size. It’s precise and agile but not that punchy or exciting, so if you’re looking for a speaker to make heavy beats of your electronic music alive and jumping, better look elsewhere. Putting Diamond 220s closer to the walls and corners will increase their bass output but at the expense of timing and precision. Midbass is slightly warm but never overwhelmingly so. It fills the sound with an everpresent sense of body and weight without ever making it bloated.
On the other end of the spectrum, Diamond 220 offers well developed high frequencies capable of etching a respectable amount of tiny details. The track atmosphere is well conveyed too, so you can clearly hear that moment when the microphone turns on just before the singer starts to sing. The only thing this soft dome twitter lacks is that last bit of smoothness and glossiness, so it can occasionally feel slightly grainy, giving those highest frequencies a bit of a matt finish. This was noticeable in compassion with a bit pricier Monitor Audio Bronze 2 and much more expensive KEF LS50. But given the very modest Diamond’s price, I don’t think this should be held against it.
Wharfedale Diamond 220 are not meant for heavy electronic music, nor will they rock your world with a low bass grunt in movies. On the other hand, they offer a beautifully lush and rich sound, with vocals and acoustic instruments sounding as good as I’ve ever heard near this price range. That made listening to my own favorite music (that mostly consists of Blues, Rock, Acoustics, Pop…) a real joy.
These little speakers were praised for their skills by most reviewers when they first appeared a few years ago. There was little room to complain about 220s even at their initial launch price, but few years and a few price-cuts down the road, it would be plain rude to do so.
|WHARFEDALE DIAMOND 220 – CHARACTERISTICS
General description: 2-way bookshelf speaker