Wharfedale is an 80-year-old speaker company, not to mention one of the oldest names in British audio. They make high-end and affordable speakers with prices starting at around $300 a pair. I recently checked out the Wharfedale Diamond 10.5 towers; their curvy cabinets cut a nice figure in the sound room at the In Living Stereo store in NYC. I listened to a few LPs on the stunning new Rega RP8 turntable. The tower speakers sell for $950 a pair.
The Diamond 10.5 is a three-way design with a 6.5-inch woofer, a 2-inch dome midrange, and a 1-inch dome tweeter. It's 33.5 inches high, 8.78 inches wide, and 11.85 inches deep; and it weighs 38 pounds.
The 10.5's sound "fast;" highly detailed, very live, and lifelike. Guitarist Ry Cooder's LPs sounded tonally rich and inviting. I also listened to Kraftwerk's "Computer World" and liked the deep bass textures and the way the stereo image filled the front wall of the room. For the money, it's a very audiophile-oriented sound, but these speakers may not be the best choice for buyers looking for maximum bass punch. The 10.5 is a detail- and clarity-oriented design.
If you're lucky enough to have a brick-and-mortar hi-fi store in your area, drop by sometime. Better yet, call in advance and talk with a salesperson, and maybe they'll set something up just for you. When it comes to buying audio, listening beforehand and comparing a range of products against each other is a smart strategy.
Wharfedale also offers five less-expensive Diamond series speakers, plus two more-expensive ones, along with home theater models.