Diving into the sound, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Bookshelf speakers typically aren’t known for deep, earth-shaking bass, and the 225s are no different in that regard. They aren’t going to rattle anyone’s bones and dig deep into that 40Hz bass region, which is fine—that’s what a sub’s for. Still, when I started with “Sparkle,” the first track on Tatsuro Yamashita’s City Pop masterpiece, For You, I got such a satisfyingly deep drop that I didn’t find myself missing the lowest of the low registers. Frankly, I didn’t find myself missing much of anything at all, especially when that clean, twanging guitar played its insanely catchy riff. The opening of “Sparkle” features a heavy, show-stopping reveal, and the 225s were more than up to the task of reproducing that big moment. I was surprised by how much weight I was getting from these things, more than enough for my small listening space. I can’t say how well they’d do in a much larger room, although I suspect they’d be up to the task.
The other good thing about “Sparkle” is the way Yamashita’s voice is recorded. There’s tons of reverb and space, his notes just drifting off into the background, and the 225s highlighted that nicely. For such small speakers, these things could create an impressive soundstage. Not the greatest, most spectacular presentation, but plenty to keep me engaged. Sound hung, drifting, projected nicely in both directions. At some points at higher volume, I noticed a bit of gristle in the upper registers, and sometimes the lower end felt a bit soft. I have to admit though, I was having fun just running through my favorite sides, one after the other, looking for any sonic detail that might be worth delving into. That’s the best sign that a piece of equipment is working. These little boxes just seemed to get me.
But I had to push the 225s, give them something challenging. That’s the whole point of a review, after all, to see how these things really perform. I turned to one of the strangest and most complicated albums of the year, King Krule’s The Ooz. This double-LP is as idiosyncratic as it is fascinating. On the most basic, surface level, it’s an experimental trip-hop masterpiece, but I think it’s so much more than that. It’s a sonically difficult album, with deep, rolling bass lines, up-tempo shifting beats, and Krule’s own morphing, grinding voice switching registers at will. The 225s did not disappoint me. They had a solid grip on the bass, keeping up with the hairpin-turn bumps and rumbles. The horns blaring in the background of “Dum Surfer” were rendered butter-smooth, along with that catchy guitar floating over the tight snares. I was drawn to the way the 225s made The Ooz somehow more accessible. It’s such an intricately layered album, and little details such as Krule’s English slang could easily be missed if anything muddy got in the way. I could feel the details of his voice despite the heavy synths and shimmering guitar effects. The 225s did a great job of creating a solid soundstage with minutely differentiated pieces. These songs felt so simple at first listen, but it took a piece of equipment like the 225s to do this level of complexity justice.
Finally, I wanted to hear how the Diamond 225s would deal with rich, complex upper-range vocals. These speakers could handle bass and midrange, but I was curious as to how they’d do when it came to subtlety. For that, I turned to Moses Sumney’s odd, pared-down, R&B-influenced album, Romanticism. Sumney’s music focuses so much on his intense, wonderful, lilting falsetto, which nicely showcased the 225’s ability to highlight delicate high-end and midrange detail as he moved through registers. I had a feeling the 225s would be plenty engaging with a softer sound, and I wasn’t disappointed. The bass guitar on “Man on the Moon (reprise)” barely kept pace while Sumney’s vocals played above it, yet through the 225s the layers of Sumney’s voice came through clean, uncolored, and almost liquid. I didn’t really understand this album on first listen, but as I went through it again and again on the 225s, I came to really love its low-key cleanliness. In the end, I think that’s the real strength of the 225s. They weren’t throwing the deepest bass or resolving the upper registers absolutely perfectly, but they had weight right where I needed it, along with the detail and the clarity necessary to resolve complex tracks into enjoyable musicality.
These speakers remind me that the “entry-level” isn’t a bad place to be. Inexpensive components are getting better and better as high-end design trickles down into supposedly budget hardware. The Diamond 225s take everything good about high-end audio, the power of beautifully reproduced music, and they make it accessible to a wider audience. I believe the 225s would satisfy just about anybody looking for fantastic-sounding speakers designed by a respected manufacturer at a reasonable price. They’re not perfect, but man, they’re still more than good. I highly recommend them.
Specs & Pricing
Driver complement: 6.5" woven Kevlar cone; 1" soft-dome tweeter
Frequency response: 45Hz–20kHz (+/-3dB)
Impedance: 8 ohms
Finish: Black, white, walnut, rosewood
Dimensions: 14" x 7.7" x 10.3"
Weight: 14.33 lbs.
WHARFEDALE INTERNATIONAL AUDIO GROUP
Units 13/14 Glebe Road
St. Peters Industrial Estate
Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE29 7DL
(44) 01480 452561