The Sensible Sound - Mar/Apr/98
Manufacturer: Coincident Speaker Technology, 51 Miriam Cr., Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 2P8, Canada; 905/886-6728 Fax: 905/886-2627;
Web site: http://home.ican.net/~coincid/cst1.htm
Source: Manufacturer loan
Reviewers: Kevin East
Coincident Speaker Technology's (CST) dizzying array of products blitzed the pages of T$S in 1997. The Triumph Grand is the elongated, floor-standing version of the Triumph Signature, which is probably the only CST product that hasn't been reviewed within these hallowed leaves. TP reviewed the original Triumph, with its 6.5" woofer and 0.75" tweeter complement, in No. 61. The Triumph Signature (which HF will soon be auditioning for a future review) uses a 1.0" tweeter, an "improved" crossover, and heavier-duty binding posts. According to CST, the Triumph Grand simply puts the Signature on a stand, except that the bigger box allows for more bass to develop, lowering the LF response from 40 Hz to 35 Hz.
Description: The Triumph Grands are 37" tall, 9" wide and 11.5" deep, and weigh an impressive 49 lbs. They are constructed of 1" hardwood MDF. Knuckle raps to the front and rear panels responded with dull "thucks." However, the two sides responded with semi-hollow tones of varying pitch depending on where they were struck. Hmmm. Each speaker sports a 6.5" midrange/woofer with a 1.0" soft dome tweeter mounted directly above. The rear panel has a 1.5" port about 10" below the top of the speaker and contains a pair of sturdy, gold-plated binding posts capable of accepting banana plugs, spade lugs, or bare wire. The speakers were finished in a modest black, baked polyacrylic paint. CST also offers cherrywood veneer for an additional $195 (US) per pair. The Triumph Grands, like all CST speakers, come sans grilles. However, CST will supply them at additional cost.
Like the Triumphs and Triumph Signatures, the Grands use a minimum of internal damping material. CST prefers to tune the box. And like the Signatures, the box is tuned to 350 Hz. There is a small amount of polyester fiberfill behind the midrange driver to minimize audible air turbulence created by the port.
Vital Stats: The Triumph Grands boast a frequency response of 35 Hz-25 kHz. Impedance is a nominal 8 ohms -- the manufacturer's curve offers a range of 6.6-9.0 ohms. Sensitivity is rated at 90dB (1 watt @ 1 meter). The crossover point between midrange and tweeter is 3 kHz. Minimum required power is 7 watts per channel. Maximum recommended power is 150 wpc.
Hard Wares: Associated equipment included the Sunfire power amplifier, AVA Omega III BC preamplifier, Parasound CDP-1000 and Onkyo Integra DX-C606 CD players, and a B&O Beogram RX2 turntable equipped with their MM3 cartridge. The speakers were wired with single runs of Kimber 4VS, terminated with single banana plugs. Everything's plugged into an Adcom ACE-515 line conditioner.
Setup: CST supplied the owner's manual for the Triumph. I followed the recommended placements: 6' apart, 8' from the listening position with a 15 degree toe-in. Each speaker was 3' minimum from both the rear and side walls. The speakers come equipped with isolation spikes which I sat in polymer cone feet.
Listening: After initial installation, two attributes of the Triumph Grands slap you in the face. First, their transparency is astonishing -- where'd the speakers go? Second, they sound very, very, bad. CST recommends a 50-hour break-in period. I recommend at least twice that and longer. For the first two months I had them in the rig, they were almost unlistenable -- so much so that I frequently took them out in favor of my reference Legacy Classics. Yeah, I know, reviewers are supposed to put up with stuff like breaking in speakers. But, hey, reviewers are music lovers, too. At any rate, I finally got the Triumph Grands broken in enough to do some critical listening.
Once they are broken in, the Triumph Grands' transparency is no less astonishing. Big recordings like Enya's Watermark or the Delos recording of Dvorak's Serenade for Strings (Schwarz/LACO) retained their "bigness" in impressive fashion. The soundstage stayed within the speaker's boundaries, displaying moderate to impressive depth and height depending on the recording. Imaging was superb: voices, instruments, and percussion with place value maintained rock steady positioning within the soundstage. With some speakers, such as the Classics or the Audio Advancement Maxeens, the legendary "sweet spot" is not as critical as it is with others (Theils and Quads come to mind). Once you're off the Triumph Grands' sweet spot, some high frequency directionality comes into play, some imaging stability is lost, and lower registers will smear a tad. All this said, they are minor quibbles for a speaker in this price range.
Even though CST has more than doubled the box's internal volume (16 liters to 37) over that of the Signatures, the Triumph Grands did not generate generous amounts of deep bass. While there's more than enough upper and mid-bass to satisfy most requirements, the Grands can't push that extra pound of oomph, the qualitative bass depth can mean the difference between a great speaker and a solid journeyman. For instance, on Enya's Watermark the deep synth bass notes were clearly defined, albeit without the kind of punch and definition that you'll get from the Classics or the Maxeens. What impressed me was that there were notes at all from smallish drivers in a relatively small enclosure. Percussive bass, however, like the bass drum on the late Nusret Fateh Ali Khan's "Lament" (Nightsong), could rock the listening room.
In addition to soundstaging and transparency, the Triumph Grands excel in the midrange. Their portrayal of the human voice lacked any noticeable colorations, chestiness, or sibilance. On her new CD, Perishable Fruit, Patti Larkin gives a thrilling performance. Fave vocalists such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ali Kahn, Robert Smith, and Chris Issac all sounded smoothly natural. Acoustic piano, guitar, and percussion were also finely portrayed. However, while the Triumph Grands passed the "Man I Used to Be" chimes-floating-over-huge-bass test (Jellyfish, Bellybutton), Andy Sturmer's potent snare thwacks lacked the urgency and depth offered by more expensive speakers such as the Maxeens or Classics.
Mozart's lovely Gran Pariatta ( WInd Serenade in B flat, K361) performed on period instruments by the Wind Soloists of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (from October, 1997 issue of BBC Magazine) is a severe test of a speaker's ability to handle the upper registers. This is because 200-year-old clarinets and oboes tend to exhibit some hairy, strident overtones. The Triumph Grands handled this difficult recording admirably, fending off any edgy tendency that the reeds offered. Similarly, Sid page's raging violin solo on Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks' "Fujiyama" (Striking It Rich) squeals and yelps through a tizzy of breakneck chord changes. The Grands didn't dampen Page's fire; nor did they allow it to careen out of control. I expect this kind of response from more expensive speakers, and was pleased to find it in an entry-level model.
The Grands will play loudly -- very, very loudly. With the muscle-bound Sunfire driving them, they took as much power as I dared, blasting out Led Zep, Stevie Ray, and The Clash at ear splitting dBs without much if any noticeable distortion. In fact, rock seems to be this speaker's forte. While the Grands will also handle jazz, chamber ensembles, and various forms of modern acoustic music, they will balk at reproducing the majestic proportions of a symphony orchestra. However, they will coax as much "thereness" out of an orchestral recording that they possibly can. No, it isn't even close to concert hall sound or ambiance. But it is music.
Conclusion: Like the raves you've read in these pages about the Coincident Speaker Technology Triumphs and Conquests, the Triumph Grands seem to perform musical magic for above and beyond what one might reasonably expect from speakers of their size and price. In fact, it seems to me that price is going to be a decisive factor in purchasing these speakers. The "Triumph" line seems to have stabilized at the triumphs for $799, the triumph Signatures for $999, and the Triumph Grands at $1,195.
Unless you crave that extra 5 dB of LF response that the Grands afford, or you don't want/need floor standing speakers, the bookshelf Triumphs or Signatures might be your choice. Otherwise, the Grands might be your best bet. I haven't heard either the Triumphs or the Signatures, but what I have heard of the Grands would confirm TP's and JAH's feelings that the Triumph line is one of the entry-level speaker bargains in high end audio.
As of this writing, Coincident has only seven dealers in the Lower 48 -- spread from New York to Florida to California. If you're interested in ordering them through the mail, be advised Coincident doesn't offer a guaranteed, money-back home trial period. This is highly significant because of the length of time required to break these speakers in. I had the Grands for six months, full time in the rig for about four months. Even as I write this review, I feel that this pair of Triumph Grands is just beginning to turn into excellent loudspeakers.
And as much I recommend this speaker, I also recommend that the manufacturer blow a couple hundred hours of pink noise through them prior to shipment, so their customers can get on with the business of enjoying music. Because once the Triumph Grands are fully broken in, you will enjoy the music.