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Polk RTi A1 versus Wharfedale Diamond 10.1
on December 1, 2011
This may sound a bit like a Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 review, but read on, be patient, and you'll see where I'm going with this...
When researching which new speakers to buy, I read a number of reviews. I eventually waffled between the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1s and the Polk RTi A1s - both overwhelmingly favorably reviewed. In the end, I decided to take a chance on the Wharfedales. I spent hours trying to find them for sale online in the US, finally did find them, and made the purchase. There are no dealers that carry them in Oklahoma, and due to a lack of Stateside online retailer options, I paid full price, which made me a little nervous. To make matters worse, the day after I purchased the Wharfedales, Amazon slashed the price on the Polks by $75. Not wanting to pass on a great deal and knowing I could return whichever speakers I liked the least, I went ahead and got them too. The speakers arrived within a day of each other, and the first thing I did was test them in head to head competition to see if I had chosen wisely. Kind of fun, and quite revealing...
The Diamond 10.1s totally exceeded my high expectations and validated the flowery reviews I had read. These speakers not only look fantastic, more importantly, they also sound phenomenal. Even with a premium Onkyo receiver, I couldn't turn the volume up high enough to distort the tight, controlled, and vibrant sound emitted from these speakers before they blew out my ear drums. Simply amazing.
The Polks are also superb and performed nearly on par with the Wharfedales. When compared back to back, the Polks were ever so slightly brighter and harsher, if that makes sense. The Wharfedales seemed warmer and more refined; just as hard hitting, but more capable when handling the softer stuff. While the Polks are a hammer in the hands of a master carpenter, the Wharfedales are a chisel in the hands of a master sculptor.
Head to head for pure performance, the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1s beat the Polk RTi A1s. However, the Polks are extremely impressive for the price. Keep in mind the Polks (on sale) were nearly half of the price I paid for the Wharfedales, and the difference in performance, while noticeable, is subtle.
I love both sets of speakers - the Wharfedales for their superior performance and the Polks for their great performance to price ratio. I was going to return the "loser," but there are no losers in this comparison. I'm so impressed with the Polks, I'm going to keep them. I'll happily find a use for them in a spare room and consider them a steal at just over $200. Truth be told, if not comparing them back to back in head to head competition, I'd probably have a hard time noticing the difference in performance just walking into a room where they are the featured speaker. The Polks hit hard, loud, and clear, and are everything you could want in a speaker. Not the best bookshelf, but likely among the best for the price.
I highly recommend the Polks! Although I prefer the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1s for pure performance, the Polk RTi A1s are pound for pound, dollar for dollar, a fantastic buy.