I am moving up to a NAD D3020 from headphones for my home office where I spend a significant amount of time listening to music while I work. I was looking for some speakers that would give me great sound in a 10x15 foot room. I have read several reviews of the NAD D3020 and decided to audition the PSB Image B6 and Wharfedale Diamond 10.2s both of which have 6.5” woofers. I’ve decided to describe what I felt the differences were for those of you who are in a similar situation – that is newbies moving up from headphones to speakers.
I auditioned the Diamond 10.2s and Image B6s first on a NAD 356BEE in a sitting room at the store. They initially set me up there before bringing me into the room with the NAD D3020. I’m guessing it was because the sitting room has better sound treatments and the speakers are placed on stands etc. I listened to a Dvorak symphony CD.
Wharfedale Diamond 10.2
Low frequencies and mid-range is full and fills the room. I could hear the timbre of the cellos. Interestingly, the high frequencies seem less prominent almost as if I were sitting a few rows back in the symphony hall. There was detail but the mid-range definitely dominated. The sound was very smooth throughout.
PSB Image B6
In contrast, the Image B6 had very detailed crisp treble. I was impressed by the cohesiveness of the upper mid-range to high frequencies. It felt more unified than the Diamond 10.2, which had variation between the stronger mid-range, and less emphasized high notes. The Image B6 was more pronounced as if I were on stage with the violins. The sound was very taut and while I felt I could hear the cellos, which extend down to the lower frequencies, they felt shallow. The lower-frequencies on the B6 were lacking compared to the Diamond 10.2.
We moved to the office desktop setup where there was a NAD D 3020. There I auditioned the two speakers again but this time with my computer as the source playing AACs via USB. I played a succession of the Raveonettes, Shiny Toy Guns, Wye Oak and A Sky Jet Black. My AAC digital files don’t have the dynamic range of the CD. However, this test showed me how these speakers deliver rock music.
PSB Image B6
While the higher frequencies on this speaker are superb, my ears began to hurt as I listened over the course of 1.5 hours. It was as if the frequencies go too high. Furthermore, the taut midrange just felt like it was missing body. The bass was dominated by the sound of snare drums.
Wharfedale Diamond 10.2
The higher frequencies are not as distinct as they are on the Image B6s. However, I hear the rumble of the bass drum. Interestingly, this speaker does not hurt my ears over the course of the audition as it has a softer edge. This speaker emphasizes the mid to lower frequencies.
It was a tough decision. I came in expecting to fall in love with the Image B6s. But it goes to show it’s really important to audition speakers for yourself. I purchased the NAD D3020 with the Wharfedale Diamond 10.2s. I picked the solution for my situation: I listen to music for six hours a day in my office and my ears were getting a little sensitive from 1.5 hours of listening to the Image B6s despite it’s incredible performance. I wish the Diamond 10.2 would have the cohesiveness in the treble like the Image B6 or that the B6 would have the warmth and smoothness in the bass of the Wharfedale. But if I had to prioritize, I would put smoother, warmer mid-range first and detailed treble second. The Diamond 10.2s were more pleasant to listen to. For classical music, it’s like I’m sitting a few rows back in the symphony hall and letting all the music slowly envelope me. For rock, especially the noise bands, the guitar distortion sounds better. It’s the kind of speaker that I would enjoy my music with and kick back with bourbon.