When one decides to spend on a high-end home theatre system, you look to the top AV brands out there. Buying decisions are difficult to make and figuring which receiver, amplifier and speakers to go for is a daunting task. We reviewed the Denon AVR-1912 a while back and although a little pricey, we thought it was quite brilliant when it came to performance and its features. The speakers we tested it on were the Obsidian 600 from Wharfedale, one of the more premium audio solution brands around. The Obsidian 600 itself doesn’t include the woofer, but we received a separate Wharfedale Diamond SW150 subwoofer for review. We tested the speakers with and without the woofer over the course of the review. 

Features and Design

In terms of features, the Obsidian 600 is quite simply a set of five speakers. There are two floor-standers for the forward audio channels, along with a large centre channel speaker. The ones we received came with the Winter Maple finish, but there are three other equally attractive options. The Wharfedale Obsidian 600 speakers have a very classy homely feel to them. 

The mighty Obsidian 600

The mighty Obsidian 600

The front panels on the Obsidian 600 can be removed exposing the drivers. If you aren’t impressed by the looks of the speakers with the covers on, removing them should. The floor-stander forward speakers have four drivers in them. There are two 130mm mid-range drivers, a 200mm woofer drive and a 25mm tweeter. The centre channel includes the mids and highs, but excludes a bass driver. The woofer unit on the forward floor-standers are placed on the sides. So, unlike most other speakers, these are deep speakers and not very flat. These are raised from the ground by four spikes that bear the weight of the entire setup. The centre speaker is flat and doesn’t have any stands. The rear satellites include a 100mm mid-range driver and a 25mm tweeter.

Large 10-inch driver on the subwoofer

Large 10-inch driver on the subwoofer

All of the connectors on the speakers are gold-plated and have a screw-on mechanism to connect cables. Setting up the speakers is relatively simple. The ports on the rear speaker face the back. The ones on the satellites are smaller, while the floor-standers have larger ports to breathe through.

Diamond SW-150 woofer

The SW150 isn’t the largest of the subwoofers from Wharfedale’s stable, but they aren’t miniature, either. With its humongous 10-inch and 150W RMS output, it’s a capable woofer for a mid-sized room. There are quite a few controls to play with and tweak. There’s a crossover switch that helps you to setup the woofer to handle the frequency range, while the rest of the speakers take care of the rest. There’s also a phase control to make sure your subwoofer is effective with your speaker setup. The port on the SW150 point downwards. The forward panel cannot be opened. 

Port placed at the bottom of the woofer

Port placed at the bottom of the woofer

The rear speakers are comparatively smaller and come with no stands to place them on. This is a common practice in high-end audio equipment. 

Performance

The Obsidian 600 once set up properly are pretty impressive by themselves. The punch that you need from the bass is sufficient for music enthusiasts, except for the soft, mushy bass that isn’t as deep and rich as you’d like. Add the Diamond SW150 woofer to the equation and things get better. The lacking low frequency bass is more complete and this works well for movies. In such speakers, placement and calibration is important. Tweaking of the SW150 woofer is also critical for it to function. With the wrong settings, the bass gets either weak or almost absent. 

As far as details go, neither are the speakers lacking in any particular range of frequencies nor are they emphasising on any specific range. Distortion, too isn’t audible. The speakers perform well across all genres of music ranging from rock to metal to even classical. 

Impressive looks and equally impressive sound

Impressive looks and equally impressive sound

The thin layer of bass that surrounds the singer's voice is well provided for, by the bass driver on the floor-standers. The SW150 only kicks in for instruments such as the bass drum, the bass guitar and similar instruments. There’s not much mixing of instruments and sound separation between speakers is great. It’s also easy to isolate instruments in the track. This becomes a little more difficult as the volume goes up and the room acoustics come into play.

Verdict

We reviewed the Wharfedale Obsidian 600 and Diamond SW150 on the Denon AVR-1912 receiver. The three work rather well as a package. Performance and quality come at a price and there’s no reason to believe that these kind of speakers would come at highly affordable price. The Obsidian 600 and SW150 woofer sell for Rs. 70,000 in India. Assuming that you appreciate great quality music, have decent room acoustics and of course, the money to shell out for good quality equipment, these are a good set of speakers to consider. 

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