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“Diamond 9.1 verses Tannoy Mercury M1”

Written on: 13/09/2011

There is a lot of high praise for these speakers and they won many awards in the hifi press a few years back. Similarly the same sort of praise is levelled at the almost exact same sized Tannoy Mercury M1. However, I think there is no better way to judge whether anything is as good as they say until you actually listen yourself. I decided I would try them both in comparison to each other and my very large Wharfedale Airedale SP monitors. The Airedales are massive beasts over a meter tall and half a meter square with a measured response from 28Hz to 22kHz and they sound spectacular.
The first thing that is overwhelming obvious with small speakers is the lack of any deep bass response. Secondly and, in my view, more important is that both the Tannoy M1 and the Diamond 9.1 have a resonance from the enclosures at around 125Hz This is, to my ear, most annoying and distracting especially when listening to acoustic pieces. The Mercury boxes perform worst here, driving me almost to the point of despair at times. If you use a notch frequency filter/equaliser this can be filtered out but it's a lot of trouble and the level of filtering needs to be tweaked for each different piece of music for best results.
The 9.1 units are front ported whereas the Tannoys' port is in the rear. This makes room placement much easier with the Wharfedales. There is a distinct lack of lower bass from the Tannoys. The Wharfedales have a little bit more oomph and sound a little better low down.
The high end response is also different by orders of magnitude. The M1s are sharper and clearer. The 9.1 are less pronounced and some detail is 'lost' however they are much easier to listen to for long periods with no listening fatigue.
In the end you pay your money and make your own choice. I can’t recommend either speaker because of the resonance problem but if I had to choose between the two, my money would go on the Wharfedale Diamond 9.1

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