Wharfedale Diamond 225 loudspeaker Art Dudley October 2017

Art Dudley reviewed the Diamond 225 loudspeaker in October 2017 (Vol.40 No.10):

Just as the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice, the arc of commercial audio seems to bend toward conformity. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the loudspeaker industry, where many once-great manufacturers—great inasmuch as they designed breathtakingly original products, built them to the highest levels of quality, and thus created not only community jobs but also a justification, other than hollow jingoism, for community pride—now exist only as oft-traded names affixed to reflex-loaded loudspeakers that look less and less like the ones that put the brand on the map in the first place, and more and more like the ones made by everydamnbody else. That newer such products tend to be made where the people who own the famous name can get the best deal on labor—and that place is usually China—adds to the appearance of a herd mentality.

That said, some such brands remain vital—including, I think, the British firm Wharfedale, whose Diamond 225 loudspeaker ($449/pair) was reviewed by Herb Reichert in the March 2017 Stereophile, with a follow-up from Ken Micallef in the June 2017 issue. Like Herb, I have a tendency to "romanticize those good old days when little British companies were [cough cough] Little British companies in charming brick factories." Yet whether or not the Wharfedale of today fits my idea of what a British audio manufacturer should be, the fact is: Had something like the Diamond 225 existed in 1974, the 20-year-old Art Dudley would have convulsed with gratitude for being able to buy, at an unambiguously affordable price (footnote 1), a big dose of competence, as opposed to a big dose of uncompromised eccentricity. (Of course, it's also likely I would never have parted with them, and so might never have become an audiophile in the accepted sense. I'm not sure what to make of that.)

The Diamond 225 is a two-way speaker with a 1" fabric-dome tweeter and a 6.5" woven-Kevlar cone. The dome is built into a rigid molding that, from a distance, suggests a considerably larger tweeter with a half-roll surround; the Kevlar cone is reflex-loaded by a slot in the bottom of an MDF cabinet 14" high by 7.7" wide by 10.3" deep. Four rubber feet raise the cabinet just high enough that the slot isn't blocked by the surface supporting the speaker.

Speaking of supports, once Herb's review pair had found their way to my listening room, I used the Wharfedales on 21"-tall stands of forgotten provenance, supplemented with additional top and bottom plates of stacked plywood (the former 3" thick, the latter 1.5" thick) that I'd made for some other project, also forgotten. I tried a variety of speaker positions, and even had good luck toeing-in the Wharfedales so drastically that their axes crossed a foot or so in front of the central listening area, but mostly kept them 32–39" from their sidewalls and 57" from the front wall, toed-in gently enough that I could still see a bit of each cabinet's inner sidewall. I drove the Diamond 225s with my Shindo Laboratory Haut-Brion amplifier, itself driven by Shindo Masseto and Monbrison preamplifiers, fed by my Garrard 301 turntable with EMT 997 tonearm, Hommage T2 and EMIA Phono transformers, various cartridges, and interconnects and speaker cables from Audio Note, Auditorium 23, Luna, and Shindo. I did most of my listening with the Wharfedales' grilles removed.

The first selection I played through the Wharfedales was the Grumiaux Trio's recording of Haydn's String Trio 1 in G (LP, Philips 802 905 LY). I was surprised by how similar the Diamond 225s' tonal balance was to that of my Altec Flamencos: Once I'd turned up the volume control on my preamp and the dual-mono level controls on my stereo amp—the Altecs are, of course, considerably more sensitive and efficient—I heard the same meaty, substantial trebles and believably, naturally warm mids I'm used to around here. Bass tones were in sufficient proportion to the rest of the range—admittedly, not a high bar to clear with a record such as this—but didn't have the tightness or timbral detail I get from my reference speakers. Note attacks in the cello line were a little sluggish, and there was less sharpness of tone than I like: playing a sustained G2 (98Hz) in the first movement, the cello had a slight hooty/resonant quality, as of someone blowing air across the mouth of an empty bottle. But that was minor and easily overlooked: I grooved on the abundant texture throughout most of the audioband, and the music itself was reliably compelling.

If the good tone I heard from the Haydn was surprising, I was shocked by what I heard from the famous recording—famous among audiophiles, but in this case rightly so—of Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances by Donald Johanos and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (LP, Turnabout TV 34145S): The Wharfedales reproduced the sounds of timpani, piano, and even bass drum with far greater bass weight and depth than their smallness had led me to expect. Even the contrabassoon's low D-flat (34.65Hz) was present and accounted for, at least partly: I was probably hearing as much second harmonic as fundamental, but the results were nonetheless convincing (footnote 2). Granted, there wasn't as much force behind that note as I hear from my Altecs and their tightly suspended 15" woofers, but . . . well, it was there, and it was musically significant. The music's momentum and overall timing weren't as tight as I'd like, and the tambourine usually heard at the rear of the stage was missing in action—shortcomings that all seemed to stem from the Wharfedales' tendency to put everything at a slight remove. Timbral colors were as they should be—not pastel—but other aspects of the music seemed slightly dulled.

And yet: When I reread that last paragraph, I'm struck by how wrong it seems in a general sense. Yes, elements of musical timing, not to mention sonic space, were rendered slightly indistinct by the Wharfedales; and no, these speakers were hardly the last word in snap and sparkle. But the Diamond 225s delivered the groceries: They satisfied. They played that great-sounding Rachmaninoff record with more sonic truth and musical involvement than I'd expected, and I never once found myself squirming on the settee, one brain on the music and the other devoted to the chore of wondering when I could reinstall my Altecs. When the Wharfedales were playing, I loved most of what I heard.

So it continued, day after day. When I borrowed Sasha Matson's copy of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: 50th Anniversary Edition (2 LPs, EMI PCS 7027), and listened to the outtakes "Good Morning Good Morning (Take 8)" and "With a Little Help from my Friends (Take 2)," I was thoroughly charmed by the Wharfedales' ability to put across the essence of the music. Sure, Paul's nimble and seemingly endlessly creative electric-bass lines had more sonic snap and musical flow through my Altecs, and George's maracas weren't as clearly audible through the Wharfedales as I would have hoped, but the little Diamonds had lots of drive, and the lead vocals were clear and present and altogether believable. Perhaps best of all, in what was possibly the key to their success, the Wharfedales were coherent: everything sounded as if cut from the same sonic cloth.

Hoping to finish up with some good piano music, I played my mono copy of the Samson Francois recording of Chopin's 24 Preludes (LP, UK Columbia 33CX 1877). During a recent visit to Stereophile's New York office, John Atkinson and I had a conversation, illustrated with recordings he's made of pink-noise playback from various speakers, about the usefulness of piano music in revealing frequency-response aberrations of audible consequence. Even through JA's desktop computer and desktop speakers, the unpleasant artifacts produced by two speakers in particular, one very recent, were easy to hear. Yet while listening to the densely scored Preludes 14 in e-flat and 24 in d, I heard no such obvious misbehavior from the Wharfedales. More important, the very small Diamonds communicated the nuances, subtle and not-so-subtle, of Francois's artistry, including the way he rushes into certain phrases in the famous Prelude 15 in D-flat, yet still turns in a performance of greater-than-average gravitas. That said, I noticed that, spatially, some low-frequency notes sounded rather distant. What's up with that?

Indeed, the Samson Francois LP was so thoroughly enjoyable through the Wharfedales that I moved directly to another recent favorite, the Electric Recording Company's reissue of a program of Chopin Nocturnes recorded in 1956 by the Swiss pianist Yura Guller (10" LP, Ducretet/ERC 255 C 040). This record is my ideal: the sort of moody, idiosyncratic, slightly weird late-night listening fodder that seems solely the province of monophonic piano recordings by obscure, eccentric European artists, most of them women. This recording is not blessed with an abundance of treble, yet that didn't deter the already soft-sounding Wharfedales from declaring every nuance of Madame Guller's (1895–1980) artistry with no less musical clarity than do my Altecs.

Incidentally, though I'd rather not mention the early Bowers & Wilkins 801 by name, I confess that previous experience listening to certain loudspeakers with Kevlar woofers or mid/woofers has led me to associate with them an artifact I think of as the Kevlar Crunch—a bit of excessive texture, bordering on hardness, that I find fatiguing. I heard no such thing from the Wharfedales except on one not-terribly-well-taped live piano recording: a 1953 recital from New York's Frick Collection included in the boxed set William Kapell Edition (9 CDs, RCA Red Seal 68442-2). The most forcefully struck chords in Kapell's performance of Copland's Piano Sonata, off-putting through even my Altecs, were more so here.

The best thing about the Wharfedale Diamond 225 loudspeaker? It's easy—easy to afford, easy to install, easy to drive, and, with its apparently low distortion and a frequency range absurdly wide for its size (the manufacturer's specs are 45Hz–20kHz, ±3dB), easy to enjoy. More money and far more effort—in journeying and experimenting and learning—may, if you're as lucky as I've been, get you something nearer to transcendence. The Wharfedale isn't transcendent; it's just darn good, and an exceptional value. As Herb-O said: highly recommended.—Art Dudley

Footnote 1: Adjusted for inflation, of course. The $100 I spent in 1974 on a pair of EPI 100s—a speaker that was fine for its time but was comparatively bassless, inefficient, and mildly distorted—would be $522.58 today.

Footnote 2: I later checked the Wharfedales' bass extension using Stereophile's first Test CD (Stereophile STPH002-2), and was astounded by the amount of useful response at 31.5Hz—though I heard nothing a third of an octave lower (25Hz).

US distributor: MoFi Distribution
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mrhyfy's picture

I recently bought a pair of Diamond 225's hoping to enjoy some trickle down performance from the Wharfedale Jade 3's....

I was thoroughly impressed with every aspect of their performance and the perceived bass extension was unbelievable!
The knuckle wrap test seemed to indicate a very solid cabinet.
They seem like a great deal to me!

tonykaz's picture

Well said Mr.JA

Tony in Michigan

bierfeldt's picture

Wonderful review and tells me exactly what to expect from this speaker. Off topic from the speaker, I really liked this paragraph

"A mechanic can sharpen a file by soaking it in dilute acid. This procedure works well—up to a point. Eventually, the file's teeth get too sharp, and become all weak and pointy and bent over, like witches' teeth. That's what bad high-end audio (and a lot of re-mastered high-resolution digital) sounds like to me."

Having listened to some very expensive speakers that I despised and some hi res recordings that sound worse that redbook, this was reassuring that I am sane.

DaleC's picture

"To my ears, all speakers sound like their cone, magnet, and cabinet materials."

So, all kevlar cones sound like they are made of kevlar? If so, you should be able to easily identify them by ear. I will bet a lot of money that is not true.

I give you Exhibit A in the case of "Confirmation Bias".

Thomoz 1's picture

I will not deny that speaker designs using Kevlar drivers can achieve flat frequency response (the measurements prove it), and at least off axis or from another room sound quite wonderful. But sitting in front of the speakers and I myself have a problem with them, similar to the one Art Dudley experiences. It sounds to me as though a sawtooth or fuzzy texture is applied to all the instruments, midrange on down. This applies to B&W, Wharfedale, and Audioquest speakers among others and several of these I heard with their skins on and noticed the "hash" before the driver material was revealed.
After being made fun of by multiple parties over the years, both sales people and other listeners, I finally got to discuss the matter with somebody but completely got it, and his credentials simply cannot be argued with. It is Richard Vandersteen. He has studied speakers that flex partially out of phase as the driver moves backward and forward in a not quite pistonic manner. It was his opinion that Kevlar is entirely too flexible a material to use in this application.

You are however not the first person to ridicule others who observed something that you couldn't. Until new and unique ideas or observations are widely accepted, the few people who can find these characteristics are going to be ridiculed. We just have to roll with the punches.

Herb Reichert's picture

DaleC will you pay me more if I can do it from the next room?

How come audiophiles who can't hear obvious differences want to always bet other people can't hear them either?

(I am certain we can all hear these differences if we sit quietly and pay attention.) Why not try?

bdaddy60's picture

Although I very much enjoyed your review Herb, you are a remarkable wordsmith, so much so, one can palpably imagine hearing the Diamonds as you did, however, like Dale, I too smirked at the thought you know Kevlar when you hear it......I'll take that bet and double it from " the next room ". With the Velveeta Raccoon damning the media for fake news whilst wearing a fake head with hair, I just can't let your assertion go unchallenged.

PapaMax's picture

IMHO Herb is bang on with his assertion you can hear the audible fingerprint of the material a speaker cone Is made from. I've enjoyed having paper cones (AR3a), bextrene (Spendor BC1 and Chartwell Ls3/5a), metal (KEF LS50), polypropelene (various Spendors, ProAc), Kevlar (B&W, Wharfedale) with mixes of metal and silk dome tweeters in many combos of speakers. While I couldn't say I could detect the differences in another room, they cannot avoid resonating according to the physical properties of the material. It is no different to a luthier being able to identify with absolute certainty the resonant characteristic of different woods used in musical instruments. It would defy the laws of physics for any material to be wholly free from any native resonance. Why does this matter? Some materials resonate more musically and with less colouration. The snag is once you detect the recurring resonances, that's what you hear and it is hard to tune out. Personally, I found bextrene slows and thickens the sound with extra harmonics and lost detail, particularly when heavily doped. Metal dome tweeters, try as I might, tire my ears, while I quite happily put up with coarsened sibilances with silk domed tweeters because they sound more musically pleasing to my ears. Maybe Stereophile could conduct a definitive analysis, qualitative and technical?

bdaddy60's picture

Whoa daddy ...another remarkable wordsmith,easily on Herb's level in sensory suggestion by word organization. So Papa Max I'm guessing you're in on the wager and a double or nothing " next room "identifying of woofer material.

JL Main's picture

Listening is an art, and many people do not have the capacity for it. It is a deep practice. The same is true for speaking and communicating through the written word. Thank you Herb for this review and the post WWII audio manufacturing history lesson. I appreciate anyone that can help me navigate the world of tubes, transistors, and boxes. But I really am appreciative of the person that can entertain me and save me money at the same time.

JustSteve's picture

I bought the 220's a year ago and I love them! I use a NAD 316BEE Amp with a NAD Phono Pre Amp a Debut Carbon Turntable. It's a modest set up, but it sounds sweet in my small apartment. After reading every review on them, and seeing how What HI FI rated them Bookshelf speaker of the year in 2014, I was sold. Beautiful sound.

corrective_unconscious's picture

The individual response curve for that bizarre looking tweeter, the horizontal and vertical dispersion plots, and to a certain extent the waterfall in the treble (11k to 14k) do not look very good, imo.

audioguy85's picture

Well despite the measurement you speak of, these speakers sound great to my ears, and I've owned lots. The truth is in the actual listening. They are just so natural sounding with a hint of warmth. They lend their talents to a wide range of music, be it classical, jazz, or rock. The build quality at least on mine is super and they look lovely. I like them so much I bought a second pair in Rosewwood quilted. The first pair is the Walnut pearl. They come highly recommended and Stereophile's reviews are spot on! The best speakers at this price point I Have ever owned. I also own the 220's which are just as good, albeit with less in the base department, but still respectable amounts of base reproduction. I believe Wharfedale has knocked it out of the park on the new Diamonds! If they improve upon them in future revisions, Ill be there!

gasolin's picture

Just got a pair in white, they cost in denmark just a few pennies more than 100 eruros for one speaker, with free shipping both ways and 30 days to return them. They sound really good not classleding deep bass, but for they money they are above avarage in performance to price ratio.

Soundings's picture

Hello gasolin,

Can you tell me where you bought these speakers in Denmark?
I would like to order a pair .

Kind regards.

gasolin's picture


Soundings's picture

Thank you, i just found them. Price is a little bit higher now but still good.120

gasolin's picture

254 euro https://hifi-freaks.dk/webshop//produkter-hoejttalere-kompakte-hoejttalere-wharfedale-diamond-225-p-1881.html

Soundings's picture


It's actually €241 plus 25 shipping to the Netherlands.

Soundings's picture


The B stock is still 100 euro's, you have bought those right?
I think that is good as they can only be used for about 3 weeks.
From which country are for the free shipping as i may ask?

Kind regards.

gasolin's picture

no i wrote just a litte more than 100 euros each 100 euros is 745 of my currency.

I just use goodgle to translate it into euros and it was 745

I forgot about the B stock, those are only i walnut

gasolin's picture


gasolin's picture

I now have a Onkyo TX-8020 peaking at 100 watt (rated dynamically in 8ohm) rms or continuous 2x50 watt in 8 ohm and these speaker need atleast that (3-4 db more than i had before rms,continuous), can't recommend something lower than a Marantz PM6006, onkyo TX-8020, Rega brio, nad 326bee, Onkyo A-9010 og other similar amps.