No sooner had my review of the mighty Wharfedale Opus 2.2’s started to gather digital dust when the announcement came from local importers Monaco Corporation: Opus is no more, it has ceased to be. The replacement Wharfedale range-toppers (with the exception of the lust-worthy Heritage series) are the Jade series, presumably keeping in line with the entry level Diamond series by naming it after a precious stone (perhaps the Jade and Diamond ranges should swap names, diamonds are more expensive after all).
Hooray, That means potential run-out bargains for cash-strapped audiophiles until the all-new Jade range arrives in the near future.
The Jade series comprises of two floorstanding models, two stand-mounts, two centre speakers and a dedicated surround speaker for multi-channel (also known as Home Theatre), and substantial changes have been made from the old Opus range to the new Jade series.
So what are the changes from Opus to Jade? Well for starters out is the MDF box, the similarly curved enclosure of the Jades is constructed of Crystalam – a laminate material comprising of a series of natural wood and composite materials bonded in layers to provide rigidity and quell cabinet-based resonance.
Also gone are the Tri-Lam main drivers in favour of a new material called Acu-Fibre, a marriage of glass and carbon fibre. These main drivers have a distinctive moulded pattern aimed at breaking up standing waves – in other words a lighter, stiffer and more responsive cone material.
The tweeters are now aluminium domes instead of the textile ones found on the Opus series, and on most models it works in tandem with a rather funky little 75mm Acu-Fibre cone midrange (the Opus range used a large textile dome mid).
Most surprisingly though, the Jade range uses sealed enclosures instead of the Opus’ bass-reflex boxes. This is an extremely interesting development, very few sealed designs (also called ‘acoustic suspension’) are available on the market, in fact only ATC spring to mind with their floor-standing SCM-40 and SCM20SL-AT designs.
I’m excited, sealed enclosures usually mean tight, punchy bass and a lack of boom – this has palpable benefits upstream with a natural and unforced midrange, if the speaker has been designed correctly of course.
I’m picking Wharfedale would have done just that, especially with ex-Mission speaker guru Peter Comeau at the helm of the design team.
I’ve been promised a review pair in the near future, so watch the site for updates.
Prices are TBA as is the landed date, but expect to see the new Jades by mid-year at the latest…