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"Sheesh that sounds great!..."
It took a few hours of serious listening but Peter finally muttered it......"Sheesh that sounds great! Really, really nice," he said. See, I invited Peter over that night to gather his initial impressions on this brand new Canadian made speaker. Peter is a tough sell and he has to really believe a product offers great sound before he'll say anything good about it. Usually his vocabulary consists of expletives that center around other words that begin with the letter S when he doesn't like something. When I could see that Peter was really enjoying what this speaker was doing, I knew I wasn't the only one who thought this was one darn fine loudspeaker.
I first caught wind of this speaker and company upon receiving an outta-the-blue phone call from Coincident Speaker Technology honcho and main design guy - Israel Blume. Israel heard of the 'Stage through a fellow manufacturer who in turn recommended him my way. I could tell from the moment I got on the phone with Israel that he was serious about his sound. Other than a fleeting reference to it being a smallish type speaker, he spoke only of the Triumph's sound and how he felt it could easily compete against speakers many times the price (I know, where have we heard that before?). I could sense his enthusiasm over his products and he wanted to send 'em down pronto. Who was I to say NO? Almost equaling the excitement over these speakers was finding out that he too lived in Canada, located only four hours away in Toronto. With no customs, border guards, taxes, or duties to get in harm's way the Triumphs were at my door lickety split.
I was going into this review totally blind. Not only could I not name any speakers in the Coincident lineup, I hadn't even the faintest what this company was about before that fateful phone call. Some quick research revealed that their claim to fame is a loudspeaker called the Troubador. A speaker that a publication named Audioland called a "Poor Man's Watt." As well, word of the audiophile mouth said the Troubador is a speaker to be reckoned with, particularly for its price. As for the Triumph, it was brand new and I didn't have a clue what to expect.
Upon uncrating these little beasts I found a tremendous resemblance in size and configuration to one of my favorite speakers that I owned a number of years back - the B&W Matrix 1. It's a bookshelf (or minimonitor, or whatever the correct jargon is) type design. Still, the Triumph is fairly large and measures 16" high by 9" wide by 11" deep. It's a 2 way configuration with a 6.5" woofer mounted slightly below center and 1" soft dome tweeter 3/4 of the way up. A small port, 1" in diameter, is on the back. The cabinet has an exceptionally dead feel and is constructed from 1" MDF throughout.
Are they beauties to behold and be-looking at? Well, not I nor my other-half with much better taste would say so. Like I said, Israel seems serious about sound. Heck, these black boxes don't even have grills to get in good sound's way! That's right, they're every decorator's dream. Woofers and tweeters on permanent room display. But all in all they're elegant in an audiophile sort of way. Besides, as my friend Ron says, "how much can you do with a 2-way box speaker to make it look different?" Not much unless your name is Sonus Faber I guess. The review pair were painted in the standard lacquer black. In that regard, the fit 'n finish were quite good. For a couple hundred bucks more you can get a wood veneer finish to smarten things up.
I plunked the Triumphs into my standard setup consisting of a Theta Data Basic and Prime II digital front end, Sonic Frontiers SFL-1 preamp, Classe Fifteen amplifier, and Silver Sonic wiring. From the outset I could sense some fine sound coming from these lacquered black boxes that has been improving by the day. As well, the bass performance is quite exceptional for a speaker of this size. Still, Israel warned me not to take them seriously until I had at least 50 hours of break-in on them. Since these are the marching orders you'll have to wait til next month to get the complete lowdown on how they sound. But I've saved the best this month for last. Budget-hounds rejoice cuz these speakers with the great parts in their shorts and audiophile aspirations in their eyes clock in at 999 bucks a pair! Those are Canuck bucks partner. Try 799 US dollars! That's right, they're the cheapest thing in my system except for the cables and stands. Heck, straight from Peter's mouth came, "less than a thousand bucks!?!?!? how could anyone go wrong?" Furthermore, they're 90db efficient. This means you can crank 'em up with low powered amps - maybe even some of the current fave rave single ended jobs! Interested? Well you should be. My first impression is very good. So in the meantime, kick around on Coincident's web-site for a look-see til I can get back to you next month.
Later.....Doug Schneider - DAS
Authorized Coincident Technology Dealer
"Interesting and sophisticated "
As I wrote last month during the Triumph Sneak Peak, it is obvious that Coincident Speaker Technology is serious about their sound ( click here to see September Sneak Peek ). After all, for a 1000 bucks they could have built a huge floor-standing box, thrown in any old drivers, put a loud and proud badge or something similar on the front and sold them at bargain-basement audio outlets amidst big screen TVs. Instead, what was created is a smallish, two-way box speaker sporting a 6.5-inch woofer and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter. A design that in general doesnt garner too much ogling in dealer showrooms. A mini-monitor is the monicker these days.
And the Triumphs are not about boom, bang, and sizzle either. No tipped up tizzy treble to heighten detail or strategically placed low-end humps to extend the apparent bass range. Instead theyre are about sound - elegant, smooth, and detailed sound. In short, they are refined speakers that feel comfortable making music with components many times their price.
"The selection was quick, the crew was picked "
The Triumphs performed their tour of duty in my system with the regular comrades. On digital duty was the Theta Data Basic transport, which sent bits into a Theta Prime II Dac. Chaining the two together was the absolutely electrifying Illuminati D-60 coax interconnect (if this isnt the best coax around, I dont care; its fantastic in my system and I dont want anything else--but more on that another time). Amplification came from a Sonic Frontiers SFL-1 preamp and Classe Fifteen amplifier. Except for the digital link, cabling throughout was the wonderfully sane Silver Sonic BL-1 interconnect and T-14 speaker wire. Assorted review components on hand moved in and out of the ensemble intermittently. The Triumphs stood perched on Target Audio stands (graciously loaned to me by Rheal at Distinctive Audio, Ottawa, Canada).
"All your secrets will be told "
Well, a pair of speakers at the $1000 price point are obviously compromised in some regard. There has to be some flaws or there would never be a need to buy more expensive speakers. While $1000 is still plenty to spend on a pair of speakers and many people couldnt imagine paying that much, in audiophile circles its easy to spend much, much more. So what does $1000 get you in this case?
From the outside the Triumphs appear to be a standard looking two-way model sporting a 6.5 inch woofer and 1 inch soft-dome tweeter. Constructed from 1" MDF, the cabinet seems tight, very well finished in the joints, and stained in a basic black. In comparison to some of the cabinet art were witnessing nowadays, it pales when lined up against some of the wonderful piano black finishes and the such. Still, its highly acceptable, if perhaps a little industrial. One bonus is that the Triumphs are finished on all sides including the back. I absolutely hate when a manufacturer does not finish the back of a speaker. It seems like such a blatant way to cheap out on finish. For the Triumph, improved veneer finishes are available for a bit more money. Product documentation indicates "first order crossovers using premium components all hard wired and matched to within 1%"
The only thing missing is a grill! Now, I am not a fan of grills for listening since none Ive heard help sound. However, I like them simply to give some driver protection as well as for a quick cosmetic enhancement. Luckily a foam grill is available for a nominal charge of $25.
"But theres a power beyond control "
Now the important part. On the sonic front I found much to like about this speaker and little to complain about, particularly when price is considered. Its a high-performing loudspeaker clearly aimed at bringing much higher levels of performance down to a saner price.
Lets start with the obvious limiting factor. Bass, like any small speaker, is limited to a degree. Simply put, physics does matter. It just isnt possible to get earth-shaking, foundation-tearing bass from small cabinets and drivers. The best in the business, from my experience, is from Totem with their Mani-2. Despite its small cabinet the Mani-2 can knock your jaw loose with its vice-like grip on the bass region. Still, were only talking powerhouse bass into the 30hz range - far from full-range and sub-woofer territory. As well, the Mani-2 wears a $4000 price tag. Performance like that really does cost.
That said, the bass from the Triumphs is still very good, both from a cabinet of this size and expecially at this price point. Furthermore, the speaker never sounded thin or lean. I was able to achieve strong, detailed, and dynamic bass, down to about 50hz or so (lower closer to room boundaries). They certainly aren't bass shy. Good speakers should be designed to produce quality bass within their limits. Coincident has taken what I refer to as the British Bass approach and kept the low end strong and tight, perhaps sacrificing a few HZ in the process. This is the right way in my opinion. Quality over quantity mate! Strong bass tracks, from the live-in-wifes dance disks, came through loud and clear. Actually I was very surprised just how loud and clear. I turned em up and up and up and the little critters just kept chugging with no signs of strain, bottoming, or fatigue. I can imagine there are bass freaks out there that can ring these woofers well, but Im not one of them.
Overall, the remarks on bass shouldnt be seen as criticisms. Rather, the bass performance is more than respectable, perhaps even excellent from this small of a speaker. Whereas many small speakers can sound warm and loose in the lower regions, the Triumphs were tight and dynamic. Come to think of it, I cant think of any speaker I like better near this price.
My only other sonic concern worth mentioning is in the midrange at high-listening levels. Keep in mind this is at LOUD levels. When cranked up the Triumphs became a little shouty in my system. Cup your hands around your mouth and start speaking to know what Im talking about. Your voice becomes more echoey and forced. This is my definition of shouty. However, compared to when I first received the speakers until their current fully broken in state, this has subsided noticeably. As well, it is also source dependent. With more forward sounding components, particularly in the midrange, the problem increased. With more neutral gear it became barely noticeable.
"Turn your lanterns low "
Those are my strongest criticisms of this speaker. Sure I could nitpick about a few things, but that would negate whats truly important. This speaker played in a system with equipment many times its price. As well, it played against and was compared to speakers that cost much, much more. The Triumphs more than held their own and excelled in many regards. Frankly, most of the time I had forgotten that they cost less than $1000!!! Im not saying these are the best thing to happen since Cindy Crawford became available again, rather Im saying that at no time did I feel I was listening to a cheap or compromised pair of speakers. I never found myself muttering anything like, "well, theyre pretty good for a thousand bucks," nor did I make any type of excuses for their sound. These are plain and simply great-sounding speakers. If they were left in my system for good, Id be very happy.
What did I like about them? Well, one thing that definitely took me by surprise was how easily they played any type of music I threw at them. Simple acoustic, vocalists, classical, jazz - you name it - came through smooth and naturally with a wealth of detail. They were always clean as well as highly revealing.
"One day you'll just up and quit and that will be it..."
There was one day I was in a particularly foul mood and needed to hear The Tragically Hips Fire in the Hole, So Hard Done By, and Nautical Disaster from their 1994 Day for Night disc (MCA - mcasd11140). Placed expertly on tracks 5 - 7 these tunes seem to be something of a trilogy for me. To my ears, they convey everything that The Hip is about and is the sonic equivalent of 5 tequila shots in a row. I call it therapy and my neighbors call the landlord. Fire in the Hole ripped through the apartment at the highly necessary decibel levels required at that moment in my life. Had Israel Blume been here to witness this, he would have probably ripped the Triumphs off their stands and bolted for the elevator. When rock meets high-end audio it can be ugly since many audiophile speakers just cant cut it. Were not talking just about two-way box speakers. Lots of big audiophile speakers die too. You can almost see them start shaking on their stands and spikes when a rock CD or LP enters the room. However, I feel that a properly designed speaker must be able to play any type of music. If high-end manufacturers ignore that a majority of people listen to pop and rock, well, who do they have to blame when the bank comes calling? That wasnt the case here. I was left mighty impressed that this little bugger was an audiophile-grade speaker that could rock hard and loud!
"Just then the room became more dimly lit, as the emcee carried on with it "
As well, I was thrilled to find that the Triumph is an evenly balanced performer through the frequency spectrum. In particular, I never found the high-end hard and fatiguing as is common with many lower priced speakers. While not to the umpteenth level of cleanliness, the treble was extended, smooth, and never, never, never harsh. This speaker has a relaxed sound where no one specific frequency area jumps out and assaults you. At first this can be a little off-putting. Sometimes when a speaker (or other component) has a pronounced aspect to its performance such as a forward midrange, highly detailed treble, or overblown bass, etc. it can stand out and immediately impress. Over the long term, however, it can become tiresome. The Triumphs simply sound natural.
As for the resolution and detail, what some people refer to as revealing, the Triumphs were more than impressive in this regard. In some ways I found them outstanding. They could easily show differences between source components, cables, etc. The ability to hear into a recording was impressive and subtle recording cues and spatial information were easy to discern.
So where do they fall back in absolute terms? Although highly detailed, they do lack the final levels of refinement. That bit of clarity that audiophiles are willing to lay big coin down for isnt quite there. But at this price level they are outstanding.
"Yeah that's awful close, but that's not why, I'm so hard done by..."
Room placement was relatively easy. I could stick them almost anywhere and not cause undo harm to their sound. Closer to the rear wall (about 2 feet) produced the warmest, deepest bass. Farther from the wall (5-6) tightened things up somewhat, reducing bass extension. I settled on about 2.5 from the rear wall (it should be pointed out my rear wall is well damped), 4 from the side walls, with about a 6 spread between the speakers. In this position, the Triumphs threw a wonderfully huge soundstage with excellent imaging. Depth was some of the best I had heard in my room. Vocalists hung rock solid and dead center. If an instrument was placed slightly back and over in the mix, well, thats where it was, rock solid, with the Triumph. The performance in this regard was simply fantastic.
"And we headed for home"
In summary, what I liked about the Triumphs most is that they did not sound like sub-thousand dollar speakers. I simply listened, and listened, and listened without concern for their price. Thats a high-compliment indeed. This was reinforced for me at the recent Canadian Consumer Electronics Exposition in Toronto, Ontario where the Triumph's were shown with a low priced Jolida integrated tube amp, an Alchemist CD-player, as well as budget WireWorld cabling. For a total system price of less than $4000 CDN, it embarrased and outclassed many systems costing a whole lot more.
All in all, I can say that the Triumphs offer outstanding sonic value. The price, at just a hair under $1000 Canadian ($799 US), in average consumer terms is fairly hefty. Many perspective shoppers couldnt imagine paying that much for speakers (and its too bad--they dont know what theyre missing). However, this is a speaker clearly aimed at the audiophile market and in this league it falls into the low-priced category where they can be considered something of a steal.
"The dream ends when the phone rings."
When I first spoke to Israel Blue from Coincident Technology I had no idea who or what his company did. Now I want to get ahold of him again! If he can do this for $1000, I wonder what he has in store for a little more! Beware, another in a long list of fine Canadian speaker manufacturers is leaving a mark.
|Coincident Speaker Technology Triumph Loudspeaker
Price: $799 USD in standard black finish
Coincident Speaker Technology
Coincident Speaker Technology Responds:
Thanks very much for the review of our Triumph speaker. Not only did you demonstrate considerable insight but you must be commended on how clearly and concisely you unravelled the sonic glories of our speaker.
The review pretty much speaks for itsel, however, there is a point I would like to make regarding the bass performance of the Triumphs. Doug was correct in stating that the laws of physics precludes 20hz response from a small enclosure (in the case of the Triumph 16 liters internally). All Coincident speakers fully respect the laws of physics in that we will not endeavour to stick an oversized driver in too small an enclosure, nor will we attempt to equalize in the crossover to achieve unnatural bass response. The bass of the Triumph was designed so that it would extend down to 40hz in most listening environments. In fact the Triumph is down -6db at 34 hz. Just as important is that the quality of bass be tight, articulate and blend seamlessly with the rest of the frequency spectrum. By all accounts this has been accomplished. The bass performance of the Triumph has astounded audiophiles and reviewers alike. Al Griffin of Home Theater magazine stated, "And with bass this good, you'd be likely to not notice if your subwoofers were shut off." (Nov/96)
The Triumph was conceived for two categories of individuals. The first are hard core audiophiles who demand high end sound but do not wish to spend exhorbitant amounts of money on speakers and secondly to relative newcomers to audio who can afford to spend $1000 but will be rewarded with a speaker that is easy to drive( 90db sensitivity and 8ohm impedance), can be placed in small and large environments with equal success and will due to its accuracy and neutrality wear well over the long term.
The Triumph, in our opinion is all the speaker 98 percent of listeners will ever need. To squeeze out the last vestiges of audio performance will take anywhere from 2 - 10 times the very modest price of the Triumphs. In going to our more expensive models, such as the Grand Master ($3195pr or Visionary Reference ($8995 pr) one will gain in the areas of extended bass response and impact and in the retrieval of low level detail. But the law of diminishing returns becomes very evident.
As a last comment, I would like to state that while the Triumph sells for a rather modest price it is built just like all our state of the art speakers. It is constructed out of a specially selected 1" hardwood MDF that is both more rigid and less resonant than regular MDF. The crossover uses only the finest components, matched to 1% and all are hardwired. Internal wiring is Wireworld hard wired to the drivers and the gold plated binding posts. The drivers are specifically modified by us to reach higher levels of performance and are matched to.25db.
We pride ourselfs on the quality of our speakers and in that regard will never compromise. Indicative of that is the fact that we have never had a speaker fail in the field.
It is the opinion of countless audiophiles and many reviewers that the Triumphs represent a benchmark design. It redefines the performance envelope for speakers costing under $2000. Kudos must go to Doug and his staff for the knowledge and level of expertise they quite obviously possess.
Israel Blume - President