Wharfedale recently decided to update the Diamond line. Yes, not just to update, but to make serious changes both in the design of the cabinet and in the technical equipment. Many interesting moments were noted at the release stage, and here they are in front of me: new ones, mysteriously shading the shine of the spotlights with matte diffusers. The heroes of today’s testing are Wharfedale Diamond 12.2.
Both Wharfedale and several other reputable sources claim that the Diamond line of loudspeakers is one of the most popular in the world in its price segment. Still, having such a history behind you – but not to gain popularity!
After all, the progenitors of today’s Diamond 12 entered the market back in 1980, and during this time they have experienced a decent number of reincarnations. But this time a lot has changed: Karl-Heinz Fink himself, who was previously known to us for the successful implementation of projects commissioned by famous brands of the Hi-Fi industry, took on the development of the Diamond 12 line.
The Diamond upgrade to the number 12 included the entire series of acoustics for organizing home theaters: the Diamond 12.3 and 12.4 floor-standing speakers became the older ones. The place of the central channel was taken by an acoustics called Diamond 12.C, and to fight the competitors in the niche of shelf speakers, there were as many as three models: Diamond 12.0, 12.1 and 12.2. It follows from this that today we will be dealing with the senior bookshelves in this series.
Well, it’s time to take a closer look at what interesting things came to the Diamond line with Karl-Heinz Fink.
– Speed and tension
– Subtle matters
– Briefly about the important things
The color range, which is available for selection in the 12th Diamond range, now includes four color options: black, white, light oak and walnut. I got the shelves in the color “walnut” – I must say, they look quite attractive.
The front panel is painted in gloss black, while the emitters themselves and their edging are matte and resemble graphite in color. The exception is the thin rims of the emitters – they are also glossy.
A lot of attention has been paid to the cabinets this time. Firstly, the manufacturer claims that a sandwich-type construction was used in their layout, that is, the walls are multilayer. Secondly, the engineers were seriously puzzled and, armed with various modern technologies, found such places inside the offices that you should definitely pull the brace to the opposite wall of the office.
Thus, it was possible to seriously ruin the life of parasitic vibrations and, as a result, parasitic overtones of the case. To prove their words, Wharfedale engineers suggest that we look at the results of computer simulations, where we can evaluate the Diamond 12.2 cabinet before and after the work done:
An equally serious approach was found in the study of the mid/low frequency driver. As it turned out, he had not participated anywhere, and the Diamond 12 line was his debut.
The 6.5-inch driver is located on the front panel. Its cone is now made of Klarity, a polypropylene/mica blend that’s clearly new to Wharfedale. Apparently, the balance of “stiffness/lightness” that this material offered turned out to be the best solution for the Diamond line.
Sources say the Klarity is very neutral when viewed from the side of coloring the sound, giving the acoustics a multi-genre focus and other goodies. Well, we’ll check it out.
In addition to the dust cap, the diffuser has convex parts. Apparently, these are ribs for additional rigidity, which inadvertently also play a decorative role, as they immediately attract attention.
The diffuser felt very delicate and thin to the touch, but it passed the finger push test confidently: the suspension stroke worked, but the diffuser retained its original shape.
Another innovation that concerns the interior of the driver is a precision magnet system with an epoxy-fiberglass magnet coil and an aluminum wear ring. All of this greatly reduces the effect of unwanted magnetic vibrations on overall sound quality and improves driver control and stability.
The tweeter, which is located in its traditional place, is surrounded by a wide waveguide. The driver dome is 1 inch in diameter and is made of woven polyester film. The manufacturer talks about open, smooth high frequencies and their correct distribution towards the listener.
The rear panel of Diamond 12.2 has prepared several surprises: firstly, it differs in color from the rest of the speaker housing, and secondly, there were two pairs of terminals for acoustic wires!
The terminals are lined up vertically, in a ladder, and will allow the supporters of two-wire connection to arrange a full biumping – or, in extreme cases, bi-wiring. In this budget, there are not so many bookshelves who take such liberties!
Above the terminals is a plate with the name of the model and the serial number, even higher is the not wide, but rather deep port of the phase inverter.
The listening stage did not go well within the usual framework, since not all the components from which the setup was assembled were included in the Diamond 12.2 price category. While the Cambridge Audio CXA61 integrated circuit can still be imagined in a system with similar speakers, the Naim NDX 2, which acted as a source, is not quite. However, let’s go deeper into the consideration of the features of the Diamond 12.2 sound.
The first thing you notice, regardless of genres and styles, is the mighty bass line, which was a bit shocking at first. Wharfedale, is that you? But we cannot say that there is too much bass: after all, we have a product that was designed by professionals in their field, and Karl-Heinz Fink would not have allowed such recklessness. The bass turned out to be powerful, deep and dense, but it always knows its place, and in none of the compositions did it take liberties.
Take the track “Toute Seule” by Marie Plassard, for example. The bass line here is synthetic, quite deep and has some tonal differences, which, by the way, were recently chewed by some popular acoustic systems, which left the listener only a monophonic boom-boom.
To my surprise, the Wharfedale Diamond 12.2 confidently delivered bass of varying levels of depth and tone. At the same time, given the fairly decent volume level, we could not distinguish any parasitic overtones: neither the bass reflexes, nor the cabinets themselves showed anything of their voltage.
Moreover, judging by the amplitude of the diffuser stroke, the level of this voltage was quite high. Bravo, Wharfedale! Bravissimo, Karl-Heinz Fink!
If we consider the speed characteristics of this range, not everything is perfect here. There is a bit of imposingness – and any super speed metal for Diamond 12.2 will be a very difficult test. But for the speeds we are accustomed to in classical rock, or in nu metal, or in the corresponding electronic genres, it will be difficult to make claims.
And I don’t want to delve into them, because against the background of the cost of these bookshelf books they will seem like audiophile tediousness.
The vocals and mids in general are handled neatly by the Wharfedale Diamond 12.2, with a measure of restraint that belongs to the range where high-pitched female vocals live. When considering the previous track, I did not find any complaints. But the vocal recording there, frankly, is not the most impressive, although it contains intriguing French accents.
It is much more interesting to work with Halie Loren and her composition “C’Est Si Bon”. The intrigue remains, but the vocals are more varied and playful.
This is where the difficulty arises in interpreting the results obtained, because the same composition performed by one of my favorite setups sits tightly in my auditory memory. But this setup plays in a different league, and the auditory memory is like that, it doesn’t care what leagues anybody has. Give her timbre shades and nuances of articulation.
So, in general, the Diamond 12.2 lacked recoil in terms of “fine matters”. This is successfully recorded when you know that there are “subtle matters” in the track, but at the moment you will not be able to perceive them by ear.
On the other hand, you can put yourself in the shoes of a listener who first heard this composition on the same system. Would I have had enough emotion and intonation filigree? Quite. Let’s stop here.
When working with the Wharfedale Diamond 12.2 with the upper part of the mid-frequency range, you can hear that the tuning option applicable to these shelf units implies a kind of comfortable presentation of the musical material. In practice, this is expressed in the fact that the part of the middle frequencies in which sibilants live is cleverly muted.
Now “dirty” tracks can be listened to loudly and without squinting, but in return we sacrifice a drop of vocal airiness. Is this loss critical? By and large, no, because it does not feel like a gross range dip, but like the car’s skillful maneuvering in the Drift World Championship.
At this stage, the thought came to my mind that I had already met such an approach to sound tuning somewhere … But let’s not rush to conclusions! It is necessary to consider high frequencies, so that conclusions are based on an overall assessment of all ranges.
However, this part will be the shortest: in the high-frequency range of Diamond 12.2 there are not enough stars from the sky. But even special questions cannot be presented to them. Partly due to the fact that the cost of these shelves has already firmly established itself in the mind and, as a result, appetites have moderated. On the other hand, these are really transparent, clean and detailed high frequencies.
By the way, at the same time we will consider the jazz direction – I think that this is one of the most popular musical styles today, and you should not ignore it.
But I will also choose a difficult track – “Hallelujah Time” performed by Christian McBride Trio. There are excellent percussions and high-speed double bass, which, surprisingly, the Wharfedale Diamond 12.2 played clearly, without any unnecessary stretches or inaccuracies of tones.
With regards to percussion, against the background of a slightly muffled zone of high mids, it may seem that high mids are accented. But such conclusions are premature, since if we make a conditional comparison of the supply level of high and medium frequencies, it becomes clear that they are on a par. Both in quantity and quality.
A few words can also be said about the construction of an imaginary scene: it has depth and a decent scale, but the images in it do not always have clear outlines. However, this remark is not pretentious and may depend on many variables.
Now the final conclusions can be drawn. The assumptions are confirmed: before us are real, British “warfs”, which are rebuilt in the manner of a thoroughbred British sound! Undoubtedly, a similar delivery setting can be heard from other eminent British high-fighters, but the budgets there are completely different!
Wharfedale partly took a risk, giving Karl-Heinz Fink the job of setting up the new Diamonds at such an important moment for them. Diamond, Karl! And the result that we got after reviewing Diamond 12.2 is only encouraging.
The acoustics turned out to be not as neutral as its new diffuser, but in return the listener gets an interesting and lively sound that will not be tiresome either with prolonged or loud listening. An excellent level of elaboration of the bass line with the support of a worthy design of the rest of the ranges – there is no need to look for fans of such a presentation, they have been among us for a long time!
|Enclosure type||bass reﬂex|
|Bass driver||6.5″(150mm) advanced PP Cone|
|Treble driver||1″(25mm) Textile Dome|
|Sensitivity(2.83V @ 1m)||88dB|
|Recommended ampliﬁer power||20-120W|
|Nominal impedance||8Ω Compatible|
|Frequency response(+/-3dB)||50Hz ~ 20kHz|
|Cabinet Volume (in litres)||11.8L|
|Dimensions ( H x W x D )||335 x 200 x (285+28) mm|
Official site: www.wharfedale.co.uk