Wharfedale Emerald 97 mk IV (w/pics)

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by M Jarve, May 18, 2008.

  1. M Jarve

    M Jarve Audio Geek and NGE Freak Subscriber

    Sometimes there is that one piece of equipment that just does not call attention to itself or is simply overshadowed by toys with more pizzaz, or in my case, events that were a nearly beyond my control. Such is the case with my Wharfedale Emerald 97 mk IV.

    At one time, the Emerald 97 was something of a dream speaker for me. I was (as I've often recounted) working in a hi-fi shop as an after-school allowance booster. At the time of their release, the Emerald range were Wharfedale's top-shelf speakers, and the 97's retailed for just shy of $2k a pair- a bit beyond my reach. As such, I had to be content with a set of Emerald 93's, which happened to have about 90% of the magic of the 97's, but at just about half the price.

    Fast-forward several years to last fall, and I finally managed to wrangle up a pair. That's not saying much, actually, as after the IAG buyout of Wharfedale, and production moving to China, they became pretty thick on the ground, and for only a fraction of their original MRSP. Actually, I think IAG did this to clear out the inventory of drivers that had accumulated, as every set I've run into were made in China, but the drivers were still British, and date from 1999-2001.

    But I digress- I finally managed a set in very good condition, but events that transpired shortly after, among other things, meant I was not able to enjoy them as I should have.

    The Emerald 97 is effectively a 2-1/2 way speaker system consisting of a single 6.5-inch woofer, a 6.5-inch full-range driver, and a 1-inch softdome tweeter. The extensively braced enclosure is divided into two sections, with the FRD and tweeter occupying the sealed top half of the box, and the woofer taking up the ported bottom. The cabinet is finished in a real wood veneer, with my set finished in black ash (cherry, roosewood, and walnut were also available, as well as a more rare maple finish).

    I only have the published specs for the original version available, and I do believe they drifted a little by the mk IV version. I know for sure that the FR driver changed, with this version using the same driver as was used in the Modus Music series.

    I've always been partial to the Wharfedale Diamond 7 and Emerald ranges- they just work for me, and I never find that I need to tailor the "sound" to my liking and never get tired of listening to them. The Emerald 97 is stellar in this regard, performing almost as a direct up-scale of the Emerald 93, which was an up-scale of the Diamond 7.2. The sound is very liquid, yet not obscured or fuzzy. Fans of midrange bite might be a little disappointed, as the midrange of the Emerald 97 is a little relaxed. On the other hand, if you find that speakers like JBL or Pioneer HPMs make you feel fatigued after a while, the Emerald would likely be right up your alley.

    On the high-end, the Emerald 97 possesses something of a characteristic British warmth and dryness. There is extension on the high-end, perhaps a little more than some AR or Advent speakers, but not on the same order as an Infinity or similar planar design.

    The bass capability of the Emerald 97 is really exceptional. Playing test tones with an output of 2.83VRMS, they have strong response down to 40Hz, and remain audible (if not as strong) down to 20Hz. The upper full range driver, as you may have gathered, is not crossed over either on the high or low end, and it rolls off smoothly below about 60Hz due to its enclosure. The woofer and port seem to take over at <80-100Hz.

    As many here know, my tastes in music are really quite varied and all over the map. I'm just as comfortable playing re-mixed video game music as I am with Bach, Beck, or Eyedea and Abilities. So it is quite unusual when I run into a speaker that seems to very competently handle the whole gamut. I've parted with speakers over their inability to play even one song correctly. Laureates that have stood the test of time so far are the Wharfedale Diamond 7.2, JVC zero9, and now I can confidently add the Emerald 97 to that list.

    For the past hour (give or take) I've had my CDP playing a mixed CD of all sorts of music, from delicate classical guitar to thickly layered techno and the Emerald 97 (with the associated Kenwood KA-7100) have not broken a sweat. The sound is perfectly proportioned. Imaging is as good as the Kenwood can produce, with spaciousness and depth that nears that of the Magneplanar SMGa. Hard driven rock (ala Evanescence and Orgy) has plenty of presence and energy.

    I'm very glad I bought these, and look forward to enjoying them for years to come.

    Attached Files:

  2. hifi_nut

    hifi_nut Vintage? I´m vintage!

    Great write-up, Mike.
    Thank you for a very entertaining read.

  3. M Jarve

    M Jarve Audio Geek and NGE Freak Subscriber

    Thank you indeed. I just wish that I had done it sooner- Actually, I'm rather surprised I didn't.
  4. Web Police

    Web Police Banned

    Thanks for the review. I have a pair of Diamond 7.2's and a pair of Emerald 93 Mark IV's speakers myself. If I ever ran across a pair of 97's I am sure I'd given them serious consideration also. :yes:

    These things seem to fly under the radar as I picked up both pairs of mine previously owned for pennies on the dollars. Shhhhh keep it a secret. :D
  5. VintageNut

    VintageNut Super Member

    Nice write up on one of my favorite speakers. People thought these were crap speakers when IAG dumped them on Ubid about 7 years ago, and they went for way too cheap. Amazon sold a bunch of them too. I have 4 of the Emerald 97 myself. I love the midrange, and find them superb with jazz music. Got a set for my sister too. Unfortunately, she is selling her rosewood veneer 97s and center speaker due to downsizing to a much smaller place.
  6. MunkeyQ

    MunkeyQ Super Member

    Very interesting write up there, and those certainly are unique speakers. Can't say I've seen that driver configuration anywhere else!
  7. 2DualsNotEnough

    2DualsNotEnough Super Member

    Thanks for the write up.I owned 4 of the 97s myself -2 that I picked up on Ubid,and 2 from that Ebay seller that sold hundreds of pairs rediculously cheap around the same time.Beautiful speakers with a wonderful midrange.I used them in a 5.1 configuration with the Emerald center,and a cheapy Dalquist badged sub.I tried them with all kinds of amps and source components,and felt oposite of you-that the bass was very shy under around 40 or 50.If you listened to a lot of accoustic jazz or folk,these might be for you,but I think for me they were the antidynamic,if you know what I mean.
  8. VintageNut

    VintageNut Super Member

    yep, that's how I feel about them. midrange is just excellent, bass is just OK, but that's what a sub is for. But hey, a 6 inch driver for a woofer, what does one expect? Rock and rollers would not be happy with this speaker
  9. Clarkebar

    Clarkebar New Member

    Many thanks to M Javre for his excellent review of the Emerald 97s. I see from his posted collection of speakers through the years, he is quite familiar with the Wharfedale brand...and I am very happy for his eventual capture of these audio jewels, so aptly named.

    I stumbled onto these myself in early '02. After researching the many different speakers available at the time from Ubid and other similar sites, I grabbed two pair of the Emerald 97s in Walnut for a fraction of their MSRP ... and have never looked back. They remain today the best investment in audio I have ever made.

    It is surprising how uniform most impressions of these particular Wharfedale speakers remain in various reviews, both professional and user. I rarely ever come across a truely negative one unless some (doubtful) user has done so out of obvious venality.

    For the record, the EM 97 MK IV specs from the manual supplied with mine are as follows:

    6 Ohms
    125W RMS
    (-6dB) 30Hz-20kHz

    Each revision in the 97s seems to alter something in the specs. Also, the early versions featured a mild conical horn loading with the 1" silk dome tweeter. I believe the 6.7" full-Mid/Woofer drivers have remained unchanged though Mike thinks the full-Mid has changed somewhere along the way.

    With the 97s, detail and transparency are the keynotes for me and acoustic/vocal material is always akin to live performance. I would have to say the best thing about these speakers is they never disappoint. My ears never tire and I don't feel the need to fiddle with the SQ controls in my preamping other than taking the Bass up or down a notch depending on recording. This is altogether a very refined speaker with just a touch of sonic delicacy about it. And yet when the volume is raised to quite high levels, the sound stays coherent, adding a richer fullness. As another user once posted in a web review, "When I turn up the volume,they just get LOUDER! The highs don't get "tinny" and the lows don't break up."

    I find the imaging to be remarkable and the soundstage very wide in my setup but not too deep due to my challenging layout (see my sig link pics). Mids and Highs are indeed liquid and while Professional reviews are consistent with their appreciation of the Bass output of these speakers, some users post of Bass insufficiency. This simply points out yet again the differences existing in listening rooms/setups and the results obtained, as well as the varying concept of proper Bass output with some individuals. In my experience, this is a very well balanced speaker, capable of revealing surprising details throughout the entire frequency range. It has an added bonus of significant output very low in the spectrum making HT usage without a subwoofer possible, though I would always recommend a Sub for HT. Like most speakers trapped in an imperfect listening environment such as mine, they benefit substantially from room EQ and deliver excellent Bass tonality with both the Woofer and full-Mid drivers. With the highs, the tweeter is quite refined, slightly rolled off, yet offering excellent detail and extension in the British style.

    While there is always better, each person has to decide what level of better is worth pursuing given the individual's budget, room acoustics, amping, preamping and source equipment. With reference to the last sentence in Mike's review and the sentiments expressed, it's been 7 years since my first pair of Emerald 97's arrived and I am still in love with the sound of them. I cannot imagine ever replacing them.

    Seriously though, if I had the budget for something like the Synchrony Ones, I would be very tempted to make the switch. Who wouldn't? Still, while I have heard a great many quality speakers since their purchase, these 97s remain just like comfy shoes you never want to throw away...friendly, familiar and squeak-proof. :music:
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2009
  10. mulanee

    mulanee Member

    I'm new member here and I own a pair of EM97.
    I'm not so english fluent I can understand everything.
    First question is how is it possible to know if my wharfedale are mKI or whatever else?
    Secondly , I don't understand why the mid woofer work so hard , but the lowest seems hardly working ; in the same time no air is flowing threw the air tube

    I'm a little bit disappointing by bass level , regarding my Opal19.

    I use to hear pop music and I like deep bas but not "wet"

    It's driven by Thorens 145 , Marantz CD50 NAD 3020i and 2010
  11. M Jarve

    M Jarve Audio Geek and NGE Freak Subscriber

    The differing versions are indicated by an addition at the end of the model name. For example the mark IV will say "EMMERALD 97 mk IV". If it just says EMMERALD 97, it is the original one.

    The midwoofer operates full-range in its own sealed enclosure at the top, and so it should be the driver doing the most work. The lower woofer only reproduces bass frequencies, in conjunction with the port. The port is tuned rather low, so I would not expect a lot of air movement in the mid-bass frequencies.

    I'm not familiar with the Opal 19, but the Emeralds should provide very well balanced bass reproduction. I would check to make sure that the bass drivers are wired in phase.

  12. mulanee

    mulanee Member

    You mean in biwired case , upper and lower plugs?

    Upper wire drive tweeter+mid woofer and lower wire drives lowest woofer?
  13. M Jarve

    M Jarve Audio Geek and NGE Freak Subscriber

    In bi-wire, the woofer and full-range are wired together (at the crossover), where as the tweeter is separate. Some of the Emeralds left the factory with the lower woofer wired out-of-phase internally. The full-range driver and woofer would then act to cancel out the bass. Try removing the woofer and swapping the + and - connections on it.

  14. mulanee

    mulanee Member

    Just to see , If I change red/black on the lowest plug ...?
  15. M Jarve

    M Jarve Audio Geek and NGE Freak Subscriber

    No. Not the connections on the back of the cabinet, but rather the connections on the back of the driver itself, internally. To do this, you would need to remove the woofer.

  16. mulanee

    mulanee Member

    I know right now I own EM97 MkIV ;-)


    I've just done some tests with different sinus frequencies.
    The sound is bad either from medium either from woofer til 35 Hz.It sounds like metallic part inside the driver.But It's maybe the reason why they're sold as 30Hz minimum.Nevertheless a cut at 35 should be better.

    How can I do to remove the fasteners?
    Do I need to remove the bottom of the speaker?
    Last edited: May 5, 2009
  17. M Jarve

    M Jarve Audio Geek and NGE Freak Subscriber

    The trim ring around the woofer can be removed (it's held on with a rubbery compound). There are then 4 screws to remove.

    I wonder if the sound you are describing might just be the driver suspension reaching its limits?

  18. Clarkebar

    Clarkebar New Member


    As Mike described, the trim ring can be removed and then 4 mounting screws. In order to not damage the outer wood around the ring I have found it best to use a very small flat blade screwdriver or penknife and insert it carefully between speaker and trim ring on the inside. Once in deep enough and not snagging on the speaker itself you can then pull the surround toward you to loosen the rubber compound underneath. You may also want to re-drill new mounting holes if the old ones seem worn out when reassembling.

    Using test tones I found one of my pairs of 97 woofers was wired out of phase.

    You are very close to your side wall in that photo so I would expect some Bass issues even with front porting. See my Sig Link for pics of my problem setup. Room EQ nowadays is like something Heaven sent.
    Last edited: May 18, 2009
  19. mulanee

    mulanee Member

    Using test tones I found one of my pairs of 97 woofers was wired out of phase.
    By looking other forii , there is a common tip to be sure:insert a battery on the HP plugs with + on red and - on black.
    If boomer goes forward it's Ok , backward NOK ; of course medium and woofer have to go together in same direction.
    I will look on that.
    Room EQ nowadays is like something Heaven sent
    I just received my deq2496 ; definitely a must have.
    You are very close to your side
    Yes , a compromise between audio and dinner:banana:
  20. mulanee

    mulanee Member

    By looking other forii , there is a common tip to be sure:insert a battery on the HP plugs with + on red and - on black.
    If boomer goes forward it's Ok , backward NOK ; of course medium and woofer have to go together in same direction.
    I will look on that.
    I tried this.
    The upper boomer works perfectly , at least according to this crietria.
    Surprisingly , the lowest drivers don't move at all;are they wired?

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