Dali Specktor Review / Wharfedale Shootout
I recently bought a pair of Dali Specktor 2s, Wharfedale Diamond 220s and Wharfedale Dentons and spent about two weeks comparing all three of them. In the past I have been very happy with Wharfedale having owned the Diamond 210s (Happily still on my desk at the office), Diamond 10.7s (Sold) and Reva 4s (Currently in my theater setup, but looking to replace). I wanted desktop monitors for a new room in my house that I would use for listening to music, mixing down old recordings, drinking whiskey... A sort of man cave. They needed to be cheap and relatively small. In retrospect I wish I had thrown in a KEF product (Always wanted to hear them) and maybe ELAC (Due to all the hype), but overall I am very happy with my end choice.
The Diamond 220s were a pretty balanced speaker top to bottom, but lacked excitement for me. The highs extended well past the Dentons, but not as high as the Specktors. This was not an issue for me because I already own the 210s and am very happy with them (Though I do sometimes like to crank up the 15khz+ range to add presence.) It was the bottom end especially that disappointed me with the 220s. I have never liked their plinth port design (Also Featured on the Reva 4 which I also own, but is absent on my 210s). It just sucks the life out of the bass of the speaker. It may make placement easier in a room, but what you are left with is a speaker with a lack in punch and presence in the low end. They have no authority. Kick drums are found bouncing around the room in every direction rather than slapping you in the chest. Not for me.
The Dentons were very warm and subtle. The bass was strong and very present. Mid range was excellent, and overall they were very smooth and warm from top to bottom. They thrive with certain recordings and definitely prefer more natural analog material. Their notorious "Veiled" top end isn't so much veiled. The high details are certainly there, but you just have to find them. They are slightly subdued. I also must mention that to my surprise the Dentons did not image well. There was no wide sound stage to be found here. They were closed up and revealed no exciting center activity. All in all these speakers happen to be extremely well tamed and neutral, which for some professional and amateur engineers might be perfect. But I like to hear every detail in my recordings. I want every tiny mistake to be mine to find and correct, not the person down the road that happens to pick up a pair of the last speakers on my list and get a glimpse of what is really behind the "Veil".
The Specktors are an exciting speaker. Their new tweeter that features an unusually thin and lightweight soft dome material was what originally drew me to them. I read about their new "Thin and light" approach on their website and thought "This sounds like a great design strategy. I need this.". Their woofer design also had me sold before I even submitted my order. I read that they are crafted from a mix of fine grained paper and wood fibre pulp. "F***, sign me up." I thought. I like my highs to be detailed, extended and transparent. Thin and light sounds like the way to get there. I like my lows to be warm and full and natural. Paper/Wood fibers sounds like the way to get there too. I was excited.
When they arrived they were pretty much what I expected. The cabinets were unimpressive, which for me is usually a big problem. I consider myself a decent craftsmen and build furniture from time to time. I always appreciate a beautifully finished real wood veneer (like my old Monitor audio Silver 6s), but I was not aiming towards beauty for this room, so they were fine.
As soon as I hooked them up I was impressed. I drive them through a modest Teac UD-301 and Adcom GFA-535ii straight from my Mac and they sing beautifully. Full and present bottom end with a real good punch. Crisp, clean and incredibly transparent highs. Great imaging. Honest and humble mid range. I am very happy with their performance. But I feel that their greatest strength, especially as this price point, is their ability to bring you right into the music. Their is no veil, there is no space whatsoever between you and the music. The vocals are right there. You can reach out and touch them. They are dead center and sound as if you might feel the wind from their breath. I believe it is this accuracy at the highest of highs of our very limited hearing spectrum that brings these vocal and instrumental details to the forefront. I and I believe that "thin and lightweight" were the building blocks of that strength.