Even before hearing these Wharfedale D310 standmounters, we can tell they have a lot going for them. After all, their heritage lies with one of the most successful and longest-running budget speaker ranges, the Wharfedale Diamonds.
These aren’t new additions to the legendary series, however, instead they are the smaller of two standmounters in a new entry-level D300 range that borrows engineering from the Diamond 11 series above it.
The resemblances aren’t subtle, and are present in everything from the drivers to the downward ported cabinet. Considering the Diamonds 11.1s had a favourable four-star review last year, that puts the D310s in good stead, as does the fact that the D320s – the larger standmounts in the D300 range – also recently bagged four stars.
Build and compatibility
The D310s’ 25mm tweeter has been lifted from the Diamond 11.1 standmount and re-tuned, while their 10cm mid/bass driver uses Wharfedale’s latest woven Kevlar cones.
The driver is mounted in a ribbed rigid basket, which the company says will improve transient response, and behind the cone is an an open area designed to reduce early reflections and allow the internal cabinet absorbent to function properly. While the D310s’ internally braced cabinets don’t have the side curvature of its Diamond 11 siblings, they do retain their friendly rounded edges.
Bass driver 10cm
Full Range driver 25mm
Peak power 20-60W
Dimensions (hwd) 26.5 x 15.5 x 23cm
The black-finished boxes of our review sample (also available in white) are solidly made and nicely finished for a speaker of their price. They sit halfway between traditional, agricultural hi-fi design and more modern speaker elegance, the latter enhanced by removing the grilles.
In an effort to create a controlled, precise bass response, the D310’s downward-firing port has been developed from the one found in the Diamond 11 Series. Rather than fire down into a gap between the cabinet base and a built-in plinth, here it is simply fired straight onto the surface of your stands or shelf between the D310’s four feet.
Their low-end performance, and overall balance too, is best when the speakers are placed near a rear wall. When backed up against the wall, the Wharfedales maintain a decent balance and stereo image, which is fortunate for those who are restricted on space.
The D310s kick out a bass as plentiful as you’d expect for a speaker of this size, and about as precise as you could hope at this price. We play Anthony And The Johnsons’ Kiss My Name, and the underlying drum beat marches the rest of the composition along to good effect.
However, it’s further up the frequency range where these Wharfedales really sing. It takes just one play of The Tallest Man On Earth’s Love Is All to realise they’re capable of the kind of vocal delivery you’d associate with more expensive speakers, with a midrange that’s clear and faithfully reproduced.
The D310s have the insight to capture the deep-rooted raspiness of Kristian Matsson’s vocal beneath the melodic honey glaze that grants him easy listening status. And like everything else in their soundstage, it’s projected with a clarity that makes you sit up and listen – not a given at this end of the market by any means.
Their communication of the guitar strums seems effortless too – there are more than hints of depth and detail to each simultaneous pattern, and the presence of the odd protruding pang is evidence of the D310’s dynamic discrimination.
The D310s echo the bold, clear and well-integrated character of the slightly larger D320 standmounts – a nod to Wharfedale’s consistency. But there’s a comforting warmth and refinement to their presentation that ensures the boldness isn’t overbearing and that clarity isn’t too cutting.
These speakers are so easygoing it is a pleasure to listen to them, but this refined, laid-back temperament has one drawback: a lack of get up and go. Next to the livelier Dali Spektor 1 (£150) and Spektor 2 (£200) speakers, the D310s feel a little too polite.
We play Ryan Adams’ Gimme Something Good, and the Wharfedales are set on showing self-restraint. Similarly, The Prodigy’s anarchic Firestarter doesn’t sound its usual grubby self. It’s not the end of the world, but it isn’t something that affects their similarly-priced rivals.
Ultimately, that self-restraint prevents the Wharfedale D310s from topping our hugely competitive budget speaker list, currently led by the likes of the Award-winning Dali Spektor 2s.
If you can stretch your budget to £200, you will reap the rewards of those speakers’ livelier, more insightful and larger-scale performance. But if £150 is the absolute maximum you’re prepared to spend, these Wharfedales are commendable buys indeed. They won’t disappoint.
- Sound 4
- Compatibility 5
- Build 5
Read our Dali Spektor 2 review
Read all our Wharfdale reviews