“With the D320s, Wharfedale has produced a fine pair of speakers”
FOR Bold and well integrated; good level of detail AGAINST Not the most exciting listen
Wharfedale's Diamond series has been the bedrock of its product output since introduced in the early 1980s, but the 11th generation, released last year, left a gap at entry-level price points. This is where the new D300 range comes in.
It consists of two standmount pairs, of which the D320s are the larger and more costly. Though Wharfedale is adamant this series is not a new Diamond range, there's a close relationship between the two.
This is most evident in the D320’s drive units. The 25mm dome tweeter is pretty much unchanged from the Diamond 11.1 we reviewed last year, with its vented design and shaped faceplate, while the 13cm mid/ bass still uses a woven Kevlar cone with its unusual foam surround.
The mid/bass is claimed to be a long throw unit and has a one-piece pole plate fitted with a copper cap to reduce inductance and control magnetic flux. The magnet is ceramic in a bid to get a smooth response combined with high sensitivity, and the chassis is ribbed for rigidity and designed to be as open as possible to minimise reflections.
Another carry over is the unusual downward-facing port. In the Diamond range, this fires into a gap between the cabinet base and a built-in plinth, but in the case of the D320 budget constraints have meant that the speakers sit on small feet and the port fires straight onto the supporting surface.
Overall build is good for the money. These standmounters feel solid thanks to a braced cabinet and an unusually thick front baffle of 28mm. The engineers have also taken care to round off the cabinet edges to reduce diffraction effects.
On first listen there’s much to admire. The D320s sound bold in a way that most similarly-sized rivals would struggle to match. The integration between the drivers is nicely handled, resulting in a wellprojected and clear midrange that delivers a good amount of detail and clarity.
We listen to Kate Bush’s Aerial and the Wharfedales take the complex production in their stride. No speaker at this level will unravel every instrumental strand, but the D320s dig up a fair amount of detail and organise it in a musically rewarding way.
While delivering a good amount of punch, they don’t quite have the dynamic subtlety of class leaders such as Dali’s Spektor 2s, or the same rhythmic precision. The result is that we’re not drawn into the music quite so much, but there’s no denying the speakers' refinement or the superb tonal balance Wharfedale has engineered. These speakers are as forgiving as they come with poor recordings, but still have the balance and openness to please with better productions and systems.
We listen to a range of music, from Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue to Eminem’s Recovery and the Wharfedales don't blink. They don’t favour one genre over another, and have enough in the way of attack, tonal balance and smoothness to keep us listening. Their stereo imaging is decently expansive and stable enough to pinpoint the position of instruments, while bass, always limited in speakers of this size, is pleasingly weighty.
We like the D320s. They’re easy to get along with and will work well in a wide range of systems. They’re up against some tough competition from Q Acoustics' 3010i/3020i duo and the Dali Spektor 2s; but, even against such formidable opposition, they’re still worth a listen.
An unusually thick front baffle aids the D320s' solid construction