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.