Hands up who recognises these speakers? Congratulations to those who said, "They're from the 2004 Award-winning compact speaker package." Yes, add the Diamond SW150 subwoofer - an Award-winner in its own right - to four Diamond 9.0s and a 9CC centre and you have the 9 HCP 5.1 system.
Since the range's launch way back in 1981, generations of Diamonds have regularly offered class-leading, affordable sound. The latest entry-levels are tiny chaps, rising up 24cm (that's over 5cm shorter than this magazine page) and reaching back just 17cm. However, they feel super-solid, -giving the impression of a compact, yet purposeful piece of equipment. Wharfedale offers a total of five finishes, including an all-silver finish to match the latest electronics and TV.
Either in free space or close to a rear wall - they're not fussy - the Diamonds deliver an admirably honest sound. Don't expect huge bass depth or definition - the speakers' small size, together with their price tag, prohibits that. But do expect an even tonal balance that never exaggerates the source material, plus a composed top end. This all helps the Wharfedales reign in unruly cheaper components, making the best of what you feed them.
We may have warned against big bass expectations, but play some challenging Nitin Sawhney - he's a man who likes an extra helping of lower frequencies - and the 9.0s present a tight and punchy presentation. They also deliver vocals with greater clarity and realism than possibly any other similarly priced speaker. Even more dynamically minded music, such as Gladiator's OST, reveals the Diamond's limitations, but they avoid the horrid cabinet boom and treble screech of many budget monitors. Instead, they stay within their limits, -presenting a really enjoyable sound.
If you have more money and space, the £180 Diamond 9.1s offer a more dynamic listen. However, if you're looking for a small, yet remarkably talented, £100 speaker, the 9.0s are the ones for you. With budget separates or a £200-ish micro system, they'll make you smile.
For: Great sound from the tiny cabinets; ideal partners for budget separates or upgrades for micro systems; great build; add three more and a sub for a great 5.1 system; flexible about position
Against: Lack the scale of larger speakers
Verdict: Looking for value compact stereo speakers? Look no further"
Finished in a smart rosewood effect wrap, the Diamond 9.0 sets the standard at its price.
Or £59.94 with 5 Year Supercare