Way back in 1932 Gilbert Briggs built his very first loudspeaker in the cellar of his home near the river “Wharfe” in an area now known as “Wharfedale”. 70 years on and Wharfedale is known worldwide for producing quality audio equipment. They built the world’s first two-way loudspeaker in 1945 and have many more innovative achievements under their belt. In 1981 the Wharfedale Diamond was born and took the world by storm. There have been numerous successive models, each one introducing a new technology or material. Let’s get started then with the Wharfedale Diamond Active A1 wireless speaker review – an “innovative, convenient wireless technology with an award-winning loudspeaker formula”.
“I GREW UP IN A HOME WHERE DIAMONDS WERE THE SUBJECT.” BENY STEINMETZ
My computer serves as my main source for electronic entertainment while I’m at home. I store my entire music collection on the PC, regularly watch YouTube and movies, stream music with Pandora or RadioTunes via JRiver and play games. So obviously it’s important for me to have a decent sound system connected to the PC. This usually consists of a DAC/headphone amplifier connected via USB and a pair of powered monitors connected to a DAC. Headphones are for at night, when someone is watching TV in the living room or there are people about whom I don’t want to annoy with whatever I’m listening to. When I’m at home alone or when I won’t be disturbing anyone else I like to use speakers. When I had the chance to test the Diamond Active A1 I figured they’d be perfect (bordering on overkill but you know us audio freaks) for my desktop which also happens to be in my medium-large sized living room.
This sample was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions and observations here are my own, based on my experience with the product. I’d like to thank Wharfedale and Thanit from HiFi Tower for the opportunity to test the Diamond Active A1.
Packaging and accessories
The A1 comes in two separate boxes, one containing the Hub and in the other are the speakers. Both of the boxes are brown cardboard with blue accents and vector images displaying the contents. First, let’s take a look at the Hub box. Upon opening, we’re presented with the user manual on top and everything else seated securely in black foam. The contents include:
- Diamond H1 Hub
- Power adapter
- 3 pin plug adapter
- Remote control
- 2 x AA batteries
- User manual
- Quick Start guide
Moving on to the second box, once again we find everything very securely packed in black foam. Inside are:
- Diamond A1 speakers (pair boxed together)
- User manual
- 2 x Power cables
- 2 x White cotton gloves
I found the inclusion of the gloves unusual and almost comical. Presumably they’re there to handle the Hub which is a smooth, glossy fingerprint magnet. While it was a bit strange it also gives you the impression that the box contents are something of value that deserve to be handled with care and a hint of reverence. So anyway, after I put on the gloves – my setup process was significantly delayed whilst I danced to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” in front of the mirror and followed that with a session of miming.
After my recent experience with the Edifier R1700BT it was a surprise to find that there weren’t any audio/data cables included in the package. I guess the manufacturers assume that you either have the necessary cables at home already or still have enough money leftover after your purchase to buy them separately. The inclusion of a USB, SPDIF or RCA cable would have been appreciated.
Build and appearance
The wireless speakers are immediately recognizable as part of the Diamond series by silver-colored driver surrounds and the two separate circular mesh covers in place of the more common single cover that most speakers are adorned with. The cabinets have rounded edges that lend a touch of modernity and offer a welcome change from the usual box shape. They’re finished with a black leatherette covering that looks sleek and feels premium to the touch. It also prevents the speakers from getting covered in fingerprints. The front baffles come in two colors – white and black with a high-gloss finish. The dimensions of the speakers are 315mm X 186mm X 220mm.
Removing the mesh covers reveals the 130 mm woven Kevlar mid/bass cones and 25 mm fabric dome tweeter. According to Wharfedale’s website:
“The cones incorporate semi-elliptical ‘break-up’ areas, which smooth the response throughout the audible range”.
Additionally the tweeter sits in a waveguide around the diaphragm to augment dispersion. Inside the cabinets is a sophisticated crossover network and 50W amplifier for a combined output of 100W for the pair.
On the back of each speaker are:
- Dual rear-firing reflex ports
- DC 24V power input
- Pair button (for connecting wirelessly to the HUB)
- Micro USB update port
- Balance Sync button
- Bass adjustment switch (-/+ 6dB)
- Speaker mode select switch (Left, mono, Right)
- Power switch