The Absolute Sound Review
The Coincident Triumph loudspeakers
Budget Speakers Apart From the Pack
The Triumph loudspeakers are understated and elegant in appearance, with a black satin finish that complements the exposed tweeter and bass/midrange dynamic drivers. Their sound is elegant and understated too - and like other high quality musical components, many of their virtues arise from things they don't do. They don't give undue prominence to any part of the frequency spectrum. They don't have an audible crossover point. They never rely on hyped-up dynamics or exaggerated bass.
So what are they like? Let's start with the externals. For the money I was especially impressed with the quality of the connection posts. While the Triumphs do not offer separate posts for biwiring, the one pair of inputs on each speaker are heavy and reliable - a real pleasure to use. Connecting speaker cables with lug terminations is a breeze.
Since these are "bookshelf" speakers, they benefit from placement on speaker stands to give them the correct height. During the test period, Coincident offered to supply a pair of the matching black stands which were specially designed for the Triumphs. Although I had been satisfied with the performance I had already been getting with my own Target stands, the substitution of the stands supplied by Coincident significantly enhanced the extension and fullness of the bass. I would highly recommend spending the extra money for these. My detailed comments about the performance of the Triumphs are from listening sessions when the Coincident stands were in use.
At first I used my own preamp-amp interconnects and speaker cables (MIT MI-330 interconnects and MIT MH-750 Music Hose speaker cables). Later, Triumph arranged for a pair of WireWorld Polaris II interconnects and WireWorld Atlantis II speaker cables. This resulted in a major improvement in transparency. It also enhanced midrange and bass detail to a surprising degree. Again, the detailed comments below were from sessions involving the Wire World cables. I won't be reviewing these separately, but they certainly work well with the Triumphs.
While I had the Triumphs in my system, I spent a lot of time listening to recordings of my own singing voice, with piano accompaniment, made with a Sony MiniDisc Recorder. Most of these recordings were made with my own piano, in my living room. On one occasion, I recorded myself singing at a master class in a rather resonant church. In all cases, I found that my voice was reproduced with disarming detail and accuracy by the Triumphs. Midrange detail and transparency were especially impressive. I also found that the Triumphs could differentiate well between recording venues, successfully reproducing the immediacy of the sound in my living room, as well as the spaciousness of the church acoustic.
In "The Gallery" by Joni Mitchell, from her LP Clouds [Reprise 6341], I found that the volume setting was crucial for getting optimal performance, even more than is usually the case. Once this was found, the balance of voice and guitar was almost perfect. The voice was well-reproduced because in terms of upper midrange and treble detail. Overall, this recording gave a satisfying impression of what an artist sounded like in a live performance at that stage of her career (I heard several). "Both Sides Now," from the same record, again demonstrated excellent midrange detail, particularly in the reproduction of the guitar and its strings.
In a different vein, Mahler's "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" (Janet Baker, Sir John Barbirolli [EMI LP SLS 785]) gave the Triumphs another chance to demonstrate their excellent midrange detail, particularly in the opening woodwind passage. Soundstaging in this recording was wide and deep, extending beyond the speakers in both directions. The singer's placement was constant at the front and center of the orchestra. The voice sounded a bit disembodied and opaque compared to its reproduction on other (more expensive) speakers I have auditioned, but the Triumphs still gave a strong impression of its musical nuances. The vocal detail extended well into the upper register, no matter what the dynamic level. The feeling of the performance was powerfully conveyed with more authority than I expected. (As for the extent of the bass, Triumph's specification of bass response to 40 Hz seems accurate.) I was also pleased to note that the Triumphs do not suffer from the midrange and upper bass muddiness of cabinet designs intended to artificially enhance bass response - this is simply not a characteristic of these loudspeakers.
To qualify the superlatives a bit, Elgars Cello Concerto (Jacqueline duPré, Sir John Barbirolli, [EMI LP ASD 655]) revealed that lack of bass can reduce the effect of some recordings, and that the orchestral detail could have better detail, particularly in the tutti passages where the orchestra is playing at forté or louder. However, I would also say that the Triumphs are relatively typical of speakers in this price range in this regard. However, the opening passage with the cello coveys the timbre of the instrument in thrilling detail. It's in the smaller passages that the Triumphs are at their best, and outshine their competition.
These impressions were confirmed listening to Ralph Vaughan Williams "Serenade to Music." In the opening passage, the violin goes very successfully into the stratosphere, and the small orchestral background has just the right spatial relation to the violin thanks to good soundstaging. The chorus fills in the space between the speakers and extends beyond them. The Triumphs succeeded at presenting a complex picture (orchestra, chorus, and eight vocal soloists) as long as the musicians were not going full tilt. When they were, the soundstage picture was a bit less clear. I noted with pleasure that the singers voices retained good continuity throughout their registers, with no artificial weighting of one frequency or another.
In summary, the Triumphs offer good soundstaging and transparency, and are very fine indeed in reproducing smaller groupings of musicians. They are less successful at reproducing full, loud orchestral passages, and optimal reproduction of the height of a recording venue - all typical of speakers at this price level. But their stunning midrange detail and transparency separate them from the pack at this price level and merit the highest recommendation.
I would like to thank John Higgins and TAS for the highly favorable (and naturally very accurate) review of the Coincident Triumph loudspeakers. John was correct in stating that the Triumphs are apart from the speaker pack anywhere near their budget price level. While the Triumph may superficially resemble many other small speakers, they are designed and constructed to perfectionist standards that are simply unheard of at this price point:
- The Triumphs are completely handcrafted from 1-inch MDF, with the enclosure tuned to a high fundamental resonance frequency that is sonically benign.
- The crossover uses only the finest components, all hardwired and matched to within one percent.
- Premium European drivers are modified and matched to 0.25dB.
- WireWorld internal cable, hardwired to the heavy-duty gold plated binding posts and speaker drive units, is used for all connections.
All of this only matters if it translates to better sound. The Triumph, in the opinion of many other respected audio publications and now TAS, is a benchmark speaker in the under-$1,000 category.
While John found much about which to rave and little over which to quibble with regards to the overall performance of the Triumphs, he did note that on loud, full or orchestral works, they were somewhat less successful. This, however, is characteristic of virtually every small monitor speaker, regardless of price. In our choice of compromises, we opted for coherency, transparency, and detail. The fact that the Triumph is also flat to 40 Hz and can easily fill a large listening room is an achievement of which I am exceedingly proud. For those interested in capturing the full force of a large orchestra playing at full tilt more accurately, we offer the floor-standing version of the Triumph: the Conquest, which uses an eight-inch woofer and has flat response to 30 Hz. Price is a very modest $1,595 per pair. The Conquest, in the opinion of many reviewers, is fast becoming the reference standard for floor-standing speakers under $2,000.
Thanks very much for the kind words and for informing your readers about Coincident speakers.