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Wharfedale Diamond 8.4 - comments?

 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 46
Registered: 02-2004
Owing to a sudden decision to move houses, my plans for upgrading my audio equipment has suffered a financial setback. Nonetheless, I want to press ahead in a more limited way for now, which brings me to my question.

The cheapest "real" floorstanding speakers I can find are the Wharfedale Diamond 8.4, which I can get locally for 20% off retail. I listened to them side-by-side with Tannoy mX3-M (through a Pioneer Elite receiver), but they both sounded awful! Given that both seem to get good reviews, I can only assume that something was wrong with the setup or the room or something. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity for trying these out at home.

Does anyone have any comments on the Wharfedales? I mainly listen to music (various rock/pop styles), with some home theatre use at times. I currently have NAD amps, but may soon buy the new Cambridge Audio 540R receiver if it checks out, as I can get it about 20% cheaper than a NAD T743.

Hawk, if you read this, in another thread you said that Cambridge has a reputation with their integrated amps of having a very pleasant, albeit "soft" sound. It is not nearly as dynamic sounding as an NAD. Assuming that the receiver is similar, how would this translate to your suggestions for speakers? I know that you often suggest PSB and Paradigm for NAD, and both are available locally. Would they work well with Cambridge Audio too? I can get into the PSB Image and Paradigm Monitor lines for about 50% more than the Wharfedales, and could probably do so if it would be worth it.
 

creed
Unregistered guest
last time when i buying my front speaker, i put Wharfedale 8.4, Mission M74 and the Tannoy Mx3-M together, i end up buying the M74 because i found the Wharfedale sounds a bit dull...and the Tannoy isn't suit my taste, Mission play quite nice midrange and the treble is not that harsh when couple with the Marantz int. amp...not bad for its price
 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 47
Registered: 02-2004
Thanks for your response. Unfortunately, the Mission M74 is discontinued, and the replacement, the M34, is nearly twice what I can get the Wharfedales for (at least locally).
 

Anonymous
 
THE Wharfedale Diamond 8.4
TO WHAT WHAT MUSIC IT SOUND THE BEST?
 

Barjahaall
Unregistered guest
I've very recently completed some testing of the Wharfedale 8.4's, and I think you might find it useful.

For budget reasons, I ordered the 8.4's from Wild West Electronics (an online vendor) without having the chance to audition them. I couldn't find any brick-and-morter stores around me that carried them, but I'd read some really great things about them online and Wild West offers a 30-day money back return policy with no questions asked (you just pay return shipping).

After I'd had them for a few weeks I brought them to a friends house for some side-by-side testing with his B&W CDM9NT floor speakers. The B&W's are pretty amazing, and also have Kevlar cones. We used his Rotel RSX 1065 reciever with integrated amp, his 4-way speaker cables, and switched between my Kimber Kable Hero interconnects and his Cardas Quadlink-Five interconnects on his Marantz universal DVD player. We also sampled a variety of music in both CD and high resolution format (SACD and DVD-A) from his Marantz universal player.

Wharfedale CONS: The speaker cover is really cheap and flimsy. It is hard to take of and put back on without feeling like you're going to break it. However I don't notice that this has any impact on sonic quality. Also proper placement is essential with the Wharfedales to get good stereo imaging and a broad soundstage; this is true to differing degrees with all speakers, but the B&W CDM9NT's weren't nearly as sensitive to placement for good sound as the Wharfedales turned out to be.

Warfedale PROS: Once you find proper placement for your room, the sound is quite impressive. With the Kimber Kable Hero interconnects, which are known for their neutrality in conveying the source recording, neither my friend or I could tell the difference between the B&W's in blind tests (I switched speakers while he listened, then he switched them while I listened). The $500 pair of Wharfedales actually matched the sound from the $2500 B&W's! We were both completely amazed at this result, and it didn't matter what source material we played (CD, SACD, or DVD-A). With my friends Cardas interconnects, which are known to enhance and seperate vocal frequencies, the B&W's had noticably more crisp and forward high frequencies, but the Wharfedales still sounded great. Our final analysis was that the Wharfedales provide 90-95% of the acoustic performance of the B&W's (after proper placement) for 1/5th the price. That's really hard to argue with.

I actually wound up buying the Wharfedale home theater package that Wild West offers. It's a pair of 8.4's, a Diamond center channel speaker, and I upgraded to the Diamond DFS bi-polar surrounds. The whole package cost $930 with free shipping, and they even throw in a 100 ft. spool of Monster THX speaker cable and a 25 ft. Monster THX subwoofer cable. The only thing you might want above and beyond the package is a sub, but that's another issue.

In any case, I fully and without reservation recommend the Wharfedale Diamond 8.4's as excellent budget speakers. Keep in mind that most popular music CDs have very low recording standards, and these speakers are good enough to reveal that low quality if your CD player and reciever are also up to the task. You may be a bit disappointed by how some of the music you already own really sounds on a system that doesn't blur the sonic reality of the recording. That said, I've heard some amazing stuff: Nora Jones, Sting, Missy Elliott, and (believe it or not) the Underworld soundtrack to name a few.

Good luck with your decision, and be sure to post back here in the thread to let us know what you wind up doing.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 57
Registered: Feb-04
Thanks for your comments. This certainly encourages me that the Wharfedales would be a good buy. I just have to convince the store to extend the 20% discount to non-stock items, because they only have black in stock, and black won't "fly" in my house.

On a related topic, I just today talked to a local Paradigm dealer, who will do ~30% off his Monitor series (in black; ~25% in other finishes), making them quite attractive, price-wise. The Monitor 7 would then be the same as the list price of the Wharfedales, which is what they want to charge me for a special order. Ammunition for my bargaining ...
 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 58
Registered: Feb-04
Oh, and I meant to ask, how do you find the Diamond 8 Centre? I have heard mixed things about it. Is it a good match for the 8.4s?
 

Barjahaall
Unregistered guest
In my opinion it is a good match - on the technical side it has the same tweeter as the mains and smaller versions of the kevlar cone drivers that are in the 8.4's. However, I currently have only one set of Kimber Kable Hero interconnects for the front left and right channels comming out of my Pioneer Elite Universal DVD player, with the center channel interconnect being an old Acoustic Research interconnect. Sometimes I do think I hear a slight tonal difference in the center channel if I'm listening to multi-channel high-resolution music, but in all fairness I expect this is due to the difference between the Kimber Kable Heroes and the Acoustic Research cables. When I was first testing my Kimber Kables on my front left/right channels, I heard a distinct difference in clarity and tone between them and the Acoutic Research cables I had been using.

In home theater mode I think the Diamond center sounds great, and I don't notice any mis-match at all. Even though there is still an interconnect difference, this doesn't surprise me too much since DVD movie mixes don't usually tend to blend sound from the center channel with that of the front left/right nearly as much as multi-channel audio sources do. Again, I feel confortable recommending it, especially considering its pricing.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 59
Registered: Feb-04
Thanks again. I am waiting to hear back from the dealer, hopefully today. If all goes well I may buy four 8.4s and an 8 Centre.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 61
Registered: Feb-04
I just heard back from the dealer, and he will sell me four 8.4s and an 8 Centre for CAD 1250 (about USD 935 at current exchange). That's 20% of list, and I don't have to have black! I think I am going to go for it.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 63
Registered: Feb-04
I went down to the dealer today and he actually gave me an even better deal: two pairs of 8.4s for CAD 1000 even, which is a shade under 23% off retail. Even if I buy an 8.Centre for full price later, it will still work out to 20% over all. Kudos to the Good Guys in Westbank, BC.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 74
Registered: Feb-04
I picked up my Diamond 8.4s last night, but for various reasons I did not have a chance to do more than unpack two and hook them up to my stereo amp. However, I did have a quick listen this morning, and - bearing in mind that they are fresh out of the box - I was impressed. My 10 year-old Paradigm Atom/SB-100 combination has much the same nominal frequency range, but already I am hearing things I did not hear before. That said, the treble is still a little closed in, and the bass lacks dynamics, but we'll see how things settle in.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Seamus

Post Number: 15
Registered: Feb-04
Congratulations Goose. Keep us posted on your experiences.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 83
Registered: Feb-04
The Diamond 8.4 experience, one week and counting.

I have heard that the Diamonds need a long break in, but things have already settled in a fair bit now. Both bass and treble are much, much nicer. I experimented a bit with which of the biwire terminals to attach the speaker cable to, not convinced that it would make a difference, and still not convinced that it did, but ended up attaching them to the HF terminals. Some remaining harsh/tinny-ness in the treble was tamed by replacing the metal biwire jumpers with speaker cable (this tweako fix still rests a bit uneasily with me, but my wife noticed the difference, so it must be true).

The bass is very nice indeed, deep and tight without being overpowering. My old SB-100 went as deep, but that's about the only comparison. Last night I put on Sarah McLachlan's Freedom Sessions. I had never listened to it a lot before, because it just didn't inspire me. What a difference the Diamond's make! On the opening track, Elsewhere, the bass is deep and growly, not boomy like it was with the SB-100 *. I discovered a whole new experience in the vocals on Ice Cream! I guess I just wasn't paying much attention before, but I never noticed the male backup vocals until now.

Some other notes: the speaker grilles are, as any on-line user review will mention, cheap and flimsy, just thin plastic frames with black cloth glued on them. Mine don't even attach properly: it's just a friction fit of tabs into slots, which makes the attachment points essentially invisible when the grilles are off, but several of my slots have insufficient friction, and the frame rattles at higher volumes. I have heard that applying some tape to the tabs helps, but have not tried it yet. Frankly, I think they look better without the grilles anyway, but spousal opinion and small children are keeping them on for now.

So, in conclusion, I am quite happy. I won't argue that the Diamonds are the best speakers that money can buy, but they are certainly great value for money.

(* To be fair to the SB-100, it is a passive sub, so room placement is the only thing you can do to match it to the main sepakers, and placement options have always been limited for me, although I did my best to keep it as far from corners as possible.)
 

Bronze Member
Username: Goose

Post Number: 87
Registered: Feb-04
The Diamond 8.4 experience, two weeks in - final report (I promise!).

I think I now know why the speakers I listened to (way back in my first post) sounded so bad. They cannot have been broken in. The initial treble was harsh and closed in, and the bass was anemic, lacking extension and dynamics. The improvements to both situations in the first week were the greatest, but things have subtly improved since, and I still hear things that I never noticed before in favourite CDs. So if you listen to the Wharfedales and they sound bad, give them another chance - they are very good value for money.
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