The Wharfedale company was founded by Gilbert Briggs, who in 1932 assembled his first loudspeaker at home in the small town of Ilkley, Yorkshire, located in the valley of the River Wharfe, which was the name.
By the mid-30s, the production of dynamic drivers for loudspeakers was established near Bradford, which were of impressive quality. The popularity of radio in those days was enormous and information about new speakers gained momentum in the vicinity of the production, which created a demand for the product. In 1933, Briggs and his team took part in the annual Bradford Community Radio competition, where they won two prizes. Successful performance in the competition allowed the company to receive its first large order, which brought Wharfedale Wireless Works to a new stage in history. By the beginning of World War II, the company was already producing about 9,000 units per year.
In the post-war era, there was a continued demand for sound reproduction devices in North America, and Wharfedale was well positioned to meet these trends with quality speakers. In 1945, the first prototype of a modern speaker was presented – the first two-way loudspeaker, which was large in size and had a 10-inch tweeter and crossover. In 1948, Gilbert presented Loudspeakers: The Why and How of Good Reproduction, which quickly gained popularity on both sides of the Atlantic.
Wharfedale SFB-3 (1956)
In the 1950s, Gilbert conceived an ambitious project with his friend at the sound reinforcement company Quad – a series of demonstrations were organized in the UK and USA to provide the listener with the opportunity to compare live performance with the capabilities of the equipment, which aroused great interest among the audience. “There is practically no aesthetic difference between the original sound and the one reproduced on the Wharfedale acoustics,” this is how experts ultimately responded about Gilbert’s work. In 1958, Gilbert’s company was sold to the Rank Corporation, which invested a lot of money in development, and production of other audio equipment began under the Wharfedale brand. Gilbert continued to work for the company until his retirement in 1965. The company’s products were gaining popularity due to their impressive quality and successful design, and it was decided to create a new production company.
Wharfedale Denton (1970)
In the 1970s, the company’s legendary models, the Linton and Denton, were released, and by the end of the decade, production volumes reached 800,000 units. In the early 1980s, significant investments in manufacturing equipment led to the advent of laser holography for more thorough testing of components, SCALP (laser scanning) and FRESP (frequency cutoff) technologies, which generally allowed a deeper understanding of the physics of processes and movement forward. In 1981, a landmark product for the company was released – Wharfedale Diamond. The history of the Diamond series began in 1982, when a small 2-way speaker system with a volume of only 5 liters was released. It was equipped with a 19 mm tweeter and a 120 mm speaker with a polypropylene cone. The first-born Diamond quickly gained popularity due to its combination of small size and surprisingly reasonable price. The model immediately became a bestseller. A new version, Diamond II, released a year later, consolidated the success achieved. Since then, Wharfedale engineers have prepared more than a dozen updates.
Wharfedale Diamond MK 1 (1982)
The number of models in the series has also increased so that, in addition to stereophony, the acoustics are also suitable for home theater systems. Thanks to the organization of a full production cycle (even the speaker baskets are cast from aluminum in the Wharfedale workshops), the company has achieved impressive results: analogues from competitors are much more expensive. Therefore, Diamond has always remained in demand in the Hi-Fi market. The series does not use expensive finishing materials (note that, according to statistics, about 70% of the costs go to the manufacture of cases), but there are no compromises in terms of sound quality.
Wharfedale Airedale (1960)
In the 1990s, a merger took place with the Verity Group, which, in addition to Wharfedale, included Mission, Cyrus, Quad, Roksan and Premier Percussion. In 1996, after The Changs purchased a controlling interest in Quad and Wharfedale, IAG Corporation was formed, and Verity decided to concentrate on NXT flat-plate driver technology and sell the Hi-Fi audio portfolio.
Wharfedale is part of the IAG Group Ltd. since 1996. Being at the forefront of loudspeaker development is a concept that has not changed since the days of Gilbert Briggs. Wharfedale have always been renowned for making their own speakers, avoiding sourcing them externally as the vast majority of speaker brands do. IAG capital continues this tradition by allowing it to invest in and develop its own manufacturing capabilities and technologies.
Wharfedale Jade-7 (2012)
Modern Wharfedale speaker systems are today assembled in the “Special Economic Zone” – the city of Shenzhen at one of the largest factories in the world, the parent company of IAG. Full vertical integration means the company can manufacture virtually every part of every product on site, allowing complete control of cost and quality at every step of every process. The key to this is streamlining the new product development process. Direct access to raw materials and tooling means that prototypes can be translated directly into finished products after final beta testing.
Wharfedale Diamond 11 (2017)
Today Wharfedale is a legendary company with traditions, whose products meet the most demanding tastes; Wharfedale engineers develop products with the highest possible sound quality in their price segment.