Saturday, 29 December 2018

Wharfedale Diamond 6R Upgrade Project

These Wharfedale Diamond 6R speakers were manufactured in 1995. These at the time were a budget speaker for around the £200/pair price range. Manufactured in England, in West Yorkshire, the construction is very good for their original price. The vinyl wrap is of a good quality, and so is the wood used to build the cabinet. But the second most important thing of all, is the drivers, those are very very good quality. But unfortunately, the most important thing of all, was to suffer as part of the budget speaker price tag.

The second most important component, would be the crossover network, which in a loudspeaker system, it is imperative the crossover network is well suited for the speaker and cabinet. If this is not the case, any money spent on a good cabinet or drivers has ultimately gone to waste.

The crossover network essentially corrects phasing issues, provides a frequency crossover between the two drivers (woofer and tweeter), so the woofer only plays bass frequencies where the tweeter only plays treble frequencies - which would make sense. However, Wharfedale decided to cut some corners on the crossover.

Like many other manufacturers at the time, Wharfedale established money could be saved by cutting corners at the crossover network. They did this by hot gluing the rather pathetic excuse of a crossover to the input terminals, and if this wasn't bad enough, they didn't provide an inductor for the woofer. This in turn means the bass driver will play treble as well as the tweeter, which is not acceptable because it results in a muddy, harsh sound because the woofer driver is not designed to handle this high frequency information. Your ultimately playing treble frequencies twice and through a driver that is not capable of it without any distortion.

My solution was to install a proper crossover in these speakers. The drivers are very similar to those found in the Wharfedale Programme 30D.6 speakers, and I had two crossovers left over from a scrapped pair of this model of speakers. I took the decision to rip off the hot glued crossover, so I could solder on the Programme 30 crossover which would have originally worked with more or less the same drivers and a similar cabinet.

The end result was this, as much better crossover. It not only has better quality inductors, but an inductor on the woofer as well as one for the phase matching of the tweeter. This created a MUCH better sounding speaker.

Below is a photo of the Programme 30 speaker to the left, and the Diamond 6R to the right. They look very similar, and also sound similar thanks to the similar drivers and the same crossover.

A video of how the speakers sound can be found here:

The Wharfedale Sound

Wharfedale sound is a British classic. Wharfedale sound is warm, inviting, and easy listening. It does not fatigue your ears after listening for a long period of time, and this is all the more reason they were so well suited for their market.

Wharfedale speakers had a massive huge success in pub installations nationwide due to their classic, unobtrusive form factor. Their sound was detailed, bass heavy, but the effect wasn't over done. This tone really set the atmosphere in a pub environment, which is most likely why they still remain on pub jukebox systems, 100V line pub systems and series/parallel installation systems.

Is it for everyone? No. Some audiophiles would argue the Wharfedale sound is extremely inaccurate. But it is this inaccuracy that makes them so exciting to listen to. Not every speaker has to be accurate, and these were well suited to the installation market with both their physical shape and appearance, alongside their sound.

Wharfedale remains one of my favourite brands. Unfortunately, they are led by the International Audio Group, which is a Chinese based manufacturer of audio projects. This company stupidly licensed the rights to the brand name to the likes of Argos, so they could manufacture cheap deceiving audio products under a high quality name. IAG also have significantly cheapened out the speaker range, and only the top end models are worth purchasing these days.

Overall, Wharfedale is a British classic, it was a huge success in the installation market and for domestic use alike.

Wharfedale Diamond 6R Upgrade Project

These Wharfedale Diamond 6R speakers were manufactured in 1995. These at the time were a budget speaker for around the £200/pair price ran...