REVIEW: Wharfedale Diamond 220 speakers (avoid this product!)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ArdenHiFi, Jul 21, 2016.

  1. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Yesterday I purchased/borrowed a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 220 speakers from my local audio dealer for evaluation. Having been relatively impressed by the Denton Anniversary model, I wanted to see if any of it's faults were addressed and improved in this new mini-monitor. The Diamond 220 made it about 3 songs into my listening session before I packaged them up and put them back in the trunk. This is truly one of the poorer speakers I've ever heard. I am truly saddened by the direction that the industry has taken as of lately: to package prettily a $25 loudspeaker, create a bunch of hype as to it's incredible value and 'giant-killer' status, perhaps even add a designer's signature, and retail for $200-400 all day long. Problem is that this is little more than a complete rip off. I don't really have anything nice to say about the Diamond 220. I suppose it has a tonal balance that isn't completely offensive, which is something, but they are hollow and boxy sounding, do nothing to draw you in, and they are severely lacking in bass and richness. The mids are grainy and unrefined and worst of all, choose some moderately challenging or complex material and hear a virtual fireworks display of shriek and nastiness. I am stunned at how it is even possible to make a smallish driver behave so poorly using a relatively conservative crossover point, but I suppose the secret is all in the cheapness of materials. Speaking of which, fit and finish feels like a Walmart or Ikea product. I give this speaker a solid four thumbs down (would be five, but the tweeter isn't the worst I've ever heard). The Diamond 220 has relatively little in common sonically with the Denton, which showed promise. My opinion of Wharfedale as a company has severely plummeted as has my capacity to take professional reviews with any degree of seriousness whatsoever (the hifi press raves about the 220!). I would imagine that anyone who hears the Wharfedale Diamond 220 and finds it pleasant in any way, simply doesn't know what they're missing. I am still puzzled as to how I listened to these briefly in a store one day and was impressed, but audio shops are obviously optimized to offer that very experience and it wouldn't be the first time.

    Notes: For reference, I'm comparing these in the presence of Harbeth Monitor 30, Spendor Prelude 2, Quad ESL 57, and when my cheap pair of Audioengine A2 powered desktop speakers w/ subwoofer completely blow away the Diamond 220 in terms of smoothness, sophistication, and musicality, I know we have a serious problem.

    :thumbsdow:thumbsdow:thumbsdow:thumbsdow
     
  2. Brando4905

    Brando4905 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Marion, NC

    You are comparing a $350 set of speakers to a $3000 set of Harbeths?

    Do you think they even had a chance? 3 songs probably got them good and broken in.
     
    Archguy, nwdavis1, patient_ot and 2 others like this.
  3. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    You compared these $300 speakers with Harbeth Monitor 30 and Quad 57? And you expected them to be better?

    I have never heard them so I do not dispute your findings but I would expect a $300 speaker to sound pretty much the way there are priced.
    The measurements of 220 look really nice BTW but there are no giant killers in audio, sad to say really but it is true.
     
  4. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Location:
    Westfield, IN USA
    Maybe a couple hundred hours of break-in would have gotten them to the level of the Harbeths.:laugh:
     
    Manimal, beowulf and rebellovw like this.
  5. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Well-Known Member Thread Starter


    I knew this comment was coming. That's the classic argument, and I don't agree with that line of thinking at all. First of all, $350 is not $20. For some, this is a significant amount of money and you ought to be able to get something for it. Also, as demonstrated by the performance of my Audioengine A2 speakers, it is entirely possible to make a reasonably good to excellent sounding product that retails for under $300. The Dentons also hint at this. I don't expect the Wharfedales to be Harbeths by any stretch of the imagination, but what I would hope for is that the Diamond 220s would not completely suck and unfortunately they basically do. The Harbeths and other speakers are here to provide a point of reference only so that I know what I am and what I am not hearing. What I find objectionable about this scenario is that it's a modern trend and it's very dangerous. Along the same lines as what you find in the gadget market (cell phones, laptop computers, digital cameras, etc), what you get for your sub-$1000 investment is a cheap, made in China device that sort of works. It's a half technology. It never actually works right and it doesn't last very long, but because it's sort of inexpensive, we tolerate it and pretend that all is well. Now crap has flooded the marketplace because now the widely accepted way of doing business is that you can sell total garbage and as long as it looks okay and is glossy and new, people will buy it and eat it. We are witnessing the hifi industry moving in this direction, once again, and I find it disgusting.
     
  6. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Agreed. The measurements do look nice. That's one of the reasons I was attracted to them initially. Also, this pair is a showroom demo. They are already broken in. And finally, I compared the Denton Anniversary speakers to Harbeths and Spendors and they held their own surprisingly well. If it wasn't for the cone cry in the Denton mid driver, I probably would have kept them. It's still a pretty decent speaker for the money. The Diamond 220, however, is not even close.
     
    sunspot42 likes this.
  7. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Location:
    Westfield, IN USA
    This speaker received a five star rating from What HiFi?.
    Wharfedale Diamond 220 review | What Hi-Fi? »


    I've only owned one Wharfedale speaker, don't remember model. What I do remember though is it had also received rave reviews. I bought it used and sold it quickly.
     
    Manimal and sunspot42 like this.
  8. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    timind likes this.
  9. Ivand

    Ivand Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I've never heard Wharfedale speakers but wanted to share that I recently bought a pair of Dali Zensor 3 bookshelf speakers for a second system. I'm very happy with my purchase. Everything that reviews say is true. They produce a rich and punchy sound. Voices/midrange not at the level of my PSB Imagine 2xt towers but I still find them enjoyable on this front. I'm also impressed with the bass they reproduce relative to my PSB's (and the Imagine 2xt excels on this front).

    Just in case you want to try a different brand.
     
    Nick Brook likes this.
  10. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I wonder how the Zensor 3 compares to the Zensor 1 I heard. If it's similar, I hope you like some extra sugar on your high frequencies:

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Ivand

    Ivand Forum Resident

    Location:
    Houston, TX
    My Z3's have ~60 hrs of playback time (Dali recommends 100hrs for break-in). So far I haven't heard anything annoying on these speakers.
     
  12. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    My friend bought a set of 220s and likes them, but I haven't heard them. He mentioned lack bass response was an issue compared to my Wharfedale 10.2s (discontinued model) but I just chalked that up to bad set up or something. Maybe the bass response on them just isn't very good? Maybe some sets were built incorrectly? No idea. Like I said, I have not heard them.

    Echoing what everyone else said, there is no way I'd expect a $300 speaker set to be even close to the same realm as a $3K set of speakers.
     
  13. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Let's not get hung up on the $300 vs $3000 comparison as that muddies the point, which is that the Diamond 220 is an awful speaker. This is not a comparison thread. I didn't even listen to them side by side directly.
     
  14. wownflutter

    wownflutter Nocturnal Member

    Location:
    Kokomo Indiana
    A friend of mine was opening a record store and asked my advice on a couple speaker manufacturers that he might also sell. He was looking for some mid price bang for the buck stuff.
    I recommended audio engine and whafedale.
    I heard the diamond incarnations and thought they would be a good choice.

    He ended up offering the 220's and when I heard them, my jaw dropped. They sounded much much worse than the diamonds.
    He's not been able to sell them.
     
  15. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Very strange. You would think the company would actually improve the speakers rather than make them a lot worse. I realize the design is different, but are they really that bad? If so, I'm glad I didn't buy them.
     
  16. wownflutter

    wownflutter Nocturnal Member

    Location:
    Kokomo Indiana
    Wharfedale has always had several tiers in their quality level. The bottom tier was usually not well thought of.
    I'd say the 220's are at a lower level than diamonds, although the pricing isn't hat much lower
     
  17. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Well-Known Member Thread Starter


    Confused...the 220 is part of the Diamond series. Are you referring to the previous Diamond 10 series?
     
  18. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Well-Known Member Thread Starter


    Yes, they really are that bad. You dodged a bullet.
     
  19. wownflutter

    wownflutter Nocturnal Member

    Location:
    Kokomo Indiana
    No they are not.
    I suggested that he offer Diamonds but he got the 220's
    I just expected a much better sound for the price.
     
    rbmitch2 likes this.
  20. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Well-Known Member Thread Starter


    Actually, they are. The 220 is a "Diamond".

    Diamond 220 | Wharfedale Hi-Fi »
     
    Mateo Sanboval likes this.
  21. wownflutter

    wownflutter Nocturnal Member

    Location:
    Kokomo Indiana
    Hey, you are right.
    The Diamonds used to be a no brainer suggestion for someone wanting a bit more quality than big box store's offerings.
    Now it's not quite as simple.
     
  22. 2point1

    2point1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    GA
    bhazen likes this.
  23. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Here is a review of the 10.2s, where the reviewer took them apart and did some measurements. They are not without their flaws, and the reviewer got a bad set - had to have a driver replaced. It would be interesting if this reviewer also took apart the 220 series speakers and compared the quality of the two models.

    http://www.audioexcite.com/?page_id=4417
     
  24. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sunshine State
    The point is that audio reviews in magazines and such have not much value on their own. IMO the only thing that one can get out of the reviews, considering that there is a fair amount of them, is some general characteristics and attributes of the equipment under review. Like a general idea.
    Unless one can audition whatever is reviewed in his own room with his own equipment no opinion can be formed, good, bad or otherwise.
    But what works for someone does not work the same way for someone else. Take the Kef Ls50 for instance. They got tons of positive reviews and were classified by Stereophile as A class speaker. Yet I know many audiophiles who hated their sound.
    Also room and setup play a significant role when evaluating speakers. When I owned the Kef LS50 I set them up in two different rooms with the same system. They sounded amazing in one room, with warm sound and nice bass, a truly class A speaker, but they sounded attrocious in the other room, they were bright and harsh.
    You would almost think that these were two different speakers.
     
    basie-fan, Shiver, 2point1 and 2 others like this.
  25. teag

    teag Forum Resident

    Location:
    Colorado
    You need a new hobby. :wave:
     

Share This Page