Wharfedale Diamond 11 Series Announced
Will the diamonds cut it at the entry level?
Wharfedale is marking its 85th anniversary with the introduction of the all-new Diamond 11 Series, claiming it has raised the bar for affordable, high-performance loudspeakers.
The range comprises eight models: three standmounting speakers (Diamond 11.0, 11.1 and 11.2), three floorstanders (Diamond 11.3, 11.4 and 11.5) and two centre speakers for home cinema systems (Diamond 11.CC and 11.CS).
The most immediately obvious change is a return to the curved cabinet sides made 'famous' by the Diamond 9 and Diamond 10 ranges. The more recent Diamond 100 and Diamond 200 speakers had square-sided cabinets, but the Diamond 11 Series brings back the curves in response, they say, to global demand.
Improvements made to the Diamond 11 Series include:
• New drive units across the range, designed and built in-house
• Bass/midrange drivers incorporate ‘massive’ magnet designs, special ribbed baskets and advanced suspension to complement their woven Kevlar cones.
• High-performance textile-domed tweeter sports an over-sized ceramic magnet and specially shaped rear chamber.
• Redesigned crossover network, perfected over thousands of hours of listening tests.
• Cabinet walls made from a sandwich of woods of differing density to improve acoustic characteristics
• Bass loading via an improved version of Wharfedale’s slot-loaded distributed port
The latest generation of Diamond speakers include design elements never previously seen at such affordable price points, claim Wharfedale. Whereas most affordable speaker systems are based on drive units that are built down to a price, Wharfedale started with the premise that Diamond drivers should be aimed at performance. The Diamond 11 Series sports 'advanced' driver systems incorporating elements that normally only find their way into high-end loudspeakers, at least according to Wharfedale. For example, the bass and mid-range drivers use a basket with a network of ribs that are designed to maintain the rigidity of the basket while leaving a large open area behind the cone. The rigidity apparently improves transient impact while the big open area reduces early reflections to cone
The Diamond 11 Series speakers also feature massive magnet designs to both raise sensitivity and ensure absolute control of cone movement over lower bass frequencies. In addition, the use of a specially shaped one-part-forged pole piece with copper cap is claimed to reduce inductance and controls the magnetic flux for low distortion through the critical midrange area. There is also the progressive suspension which features a lightweight foamed surround for an extended midrange response, in conjunction with a super-long-throw voice coil motor system and the woven Kevlar cone, a long-time favourite for Diamond designs, has been treated to provide a precise match to the new suspension elements to avoiding the ‘midrange dip’ caused by reflections from the surround edge.
High-frequency performance has been similarly enhanced with a new tweeter design. Again, an over-sized ceramic magnet system is used, with a copper cap for flux control. And, here, the pole piece is vented through to a specially shaped rear chamber, damped with a fibre filling. This, says the manufacturer, ensures a low resonant frequency below 800Hz. Wharfedale’s engineers use a ‘highly evolved’ virtual crossover software system to help create a series of circuit options for combining the bass/midrange and treble units seamlessly. These circuit options are then evaluated using listening tests over a period of months, involving a wide range of music.
For the Diamond 11 Series, Wharfedale’s engineers have also refined the multi-layer sandwich of woods of differing density to subdue the identifiable characteristics of the cabinet ‘sound’ and so let the drive units speak for themselves. Bracing of the cabinet panels, together with the curving of the cabinet walls to provide a non-boxy shape, have reduced resonances more than 25dB below the driver outputs. In addition, the cabinet walls are lined with a specially developed internal fibre which has been chosen because of its outstanding absorbent qualities across a wide bandwidth.
The slot-loaded distributed port is a recent Diamond innovation, first introduced in the Diamond 100 Series in 2012, where the internal port tube opens into a slot formed between the cabinet and the plinth. This reduces the turbulence and audible ‘chuffing’ suffered by conventional ported systems, which is caused by the sudden outrush of high pressure air into the low pressure in the room. Wharfedale has taken this one stage further for the Diamond 11 Series, profiling both ends of the port with a semi-parabolic entry and exit curve that linearises airflow through the port tube. This has allowed Wharfedale to increase the volume of air in the slot-loaded system and further improve the performance of the low frequency output.
“When Wharfedale launched the very first Diamond in 1981, the company defined a new class of speaker that delivered genuine hi-fi accuracy and musical brio at a remarkably affordable price. Since then, every iteration of the famous Diamond line has adhered to that tradition but improved upon it. With the Diamond 11 Series we started afresh, taking established Diamond design features like Kevlar bass/mid cones and the slot-loaded distributed port system and incorporating them into entirely redesigned speakers, superior in every way from the cabinets, to the drive units, to the crossover.
“The result of our technical endeavours is unquestionably the best Diamond range yet, delivering a natural sense of space and musical communication that is both instantly engaging and consistently appealing in the long term. These speakers draw the listener into the musical performance in a way normally expected only from models at considerably higher price levels, embodying the traditional Wharfedale attribute of being great all-rounders across various music types. Add the elegantly curved and immaculately finished cabinets and we are proud to have created a range of speakers that delivers premium quality at remarkably affordable prices – entirely fitting with Wharfedale’s 85-year legacy.”
The Diamond 11 Series is available from July. All speakers come in a choice of black, white, walnut and rosewood. Recommended retail prices are as follows:
Diamond 11.0: £159.95 per pair
Diamond 11.1: £269.95 per pair
Diamond 11.2: £349.95 per pair
Diamond 11.3: £599.95 per pair
Diamond 11.4: £779.95 per pair
Diamond 11.5: £999.95 per pair
Home cinema centre speakers
Diamond 11.CC: £149.95
Diamond 11.CS: £229.95
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