Wharfedale Diamond A1 review: Wireless audio excellence

Wharfedale Diamond A1 review: Wireless audio excellence

Wharfedale is one of the classic names in the world of traditional hi-fi, but its new Diamond A1 speakers bring the marque bang up to date.

With wireless streaming, dedicated 50W amplifiers and a modern-looking design, these £600 speakers add the Wi-Fi to classic hi-fi. 

Features and design

The A1 speakers are a bit chunkier than most PC speakers, standing about 320mm high and 186mm wide, so you’ll need a fair amount of space on your desk if you want to sit them beside your PC monitor. However, the ingenious wireless design of the A1 makes it easy to move the speakers up onto a shelf – you’re not restricted by cables like traditional desktop speakers.

Each speaker is completely self-contained, and has its own power supply, but while you’ll need to connect each to a mains socket, there are no other cables used with the speakers, which means that you’re free to place them pretty much anywhere you want.

See also: Bose SoundLink Mini 2: A great Bluetooth speaker

 

Connectivity

 

The Wharfedale's separate little hub is shaped like a little, square coffee coaster and includes analogue RCA and two digital inputs for wired connections, along with Bluetooth (with AptX) for mobile devices. The digital inputs can handle high-res audio as well – well, up to 24-bit 96KHz signals at least – so those with collections of HD audio recordings won’t feel left out. There are no audio cables included, though, so you’ll have to supply those yourself, and it’s a shame there’s no standard 3.5mm connector available as well.

All your music devices connect to the hub, and the hub then streams your music to the A1 speakers via its own wifi network – which cunningly uses the 5.8GHz frequency to avoid clashing with your normal home network. The wireless connection has a range of about 20m, and you can even switch the speakers into mono mode, which allows you to separate them and use them in two different rooms.

See also: Yamaha MusicCast YAS-306 review: With no subwoofer? But it's fine

 

Sound quality

But it’s the sound quality that really matters, and the Diamond A1 speakers certainly live up to Wharfedale’s hi-fi standards. Each speaker has its own 50W amplifier, and the 13cm main mid-range/bass driver is made out of Kevlar (the bullet-proof stuff). That rock-solid combination produces a really dynamic, expansive sound – and thanks to the bass reflex port at the rear of each speaker, the Diamond A1’s are capable of producing the sort of full-bodied, room-filling sound that you’d expect from a much larger pair of speakers.

The sturdy cabinets keep distortion down to a minimum and the crisp-sounding tweeters mean that even the guitar overload of The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance remains clear and detailed as you ramp the volume up. They’re not harsh to listen to at all, however. The detailed, luxurious sound quality works really well with everything from classic rock to classical strings.

Verdict

The Diamond A1 are anything but cheap, but these speakers combine high-tech versatility with the kind of refined, enjoyable sound quality that can deal with the most eclectic of tastes. If you want to cut the cables without compromising on audio quality, then the Wharfedale Diamond A1 are a great choice. 

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