Coincident                                                   Bill Wells



Triumph Speaker

So what would you expect to get from a pair of loudspeakers named Triumph?  My initial reaction was that perhaps the manufacturer, Coincident Speaker Technology, was being just a bit over-zealous in their naming of the product especially considering the advertised retail price of just under $800.00.  Also, having been around high-end audio for quite some time, I've grown accustomed to claims that a new product will literally "rock your world" in terms of its overall performance especially when its "affordable price" is taken into consideration."  As with many things, I've often found that you get what you pay for.  But at this point, having had long-term experience with the Triumph loudspeakers, I have to tell you that they have easily provided me with far more listening pleasure than what I might have expected from their modest price. 

Over the years, I have been tinkering with putting together a really good secondary system both for product evaluation and general listening.  For my particular listening environment, the emphasis has usually been on the speaker end of the equation.  What I've wanted was a system that had many of the finer qualities of a true high-end loudspeaker but at a fraction of the cost, and it had to fit into a particular room. 

This journey has been fun, although at times it has also been a bit frustrating.  If the price were no object, the number of choices would be many.  However, some of the more costly and best performing speakers required costly associated equipment to reach their optimum level of performance.  That was not what I was looking for. 

Enter the Coincident Triumph loudspeakers.  Here, I found a speaker capable of of meeting most of my expectations of true high-end performance at a price point well worth considering.  In discussions with Israel Blume, President and CEO of Coincident Speaker Technology, he told me the overall design goal for the Triumph was to create a speaker capable of rendering very good overall performance and also not cause the buyer to go into financial cardiac arrest from purchasing either it or associated equipment to drive them properly.  I became even more impressed with Blume's description of how his company utilized the latest techniques and methodologies for maximizing the build quality and ultimate sonic performance of the Triumph.  A times I felt as though he might say something like, "and Bill, we've been able to employ all of there latest techniques with only a moderate increase in the cost of the speakers."  However, he never made that statement and indeed assured me that they had managed to incorporate these innovative technologies and materials without causing incremental costs to the Triumph. 

Specifically for the Triumph loudspeaker, Coincident employs their optimized approach to cabinet design.  Admittedly, the general appearance of the Triumphs is relatively straightforward, nothing fancy, but the fit and finish is very good.  Speaker binding posts in the back are well-positioned and out of the way.  According to Blume, despite the fairly conventional looks, the design is actually anything but ordinary.  Cabinet rigidity has been maximized through the use of specially selected one-inch hardwood MDF.  Additionally, according to the literature, the internal enclosure of the Triumphs was computer optimized to further reduce internal reflections.  Interestingly, the Triumphs do not employ the use of internal damping materials which Blume feels are not needed with his design approach. 

Out of the box, the Triumphs appear to be pretty much a straightforward two-way speaker design.  The two drivers are exposed as the speakers are not supplied with attachable grills.  According to Coincident, the woofer has a 61/2-inch, polypropylene driver with a large voice coil and is capable of handling high levels of power.  The tweeter is a silk-dome unit also capable of handling high power, with extension out to approximately 35 kHz. 

The crossover for the Triumphs was computer designed and is essentially a first-order approach.  Blume states that major design goals of the Triumph's crossover were overall sonic transparency and phase coherency.  The crossover's relatively short internal wiring is from WireWorld.  Crossover parts are matched for 1-percent tolerance and hardwired for improved performance. 

The Speaker Quest 
As I have said, I have been trying to find a speaker with true high-end performance but at a price that would make serious musiclovers (and audiophiles) sit up and take notice.  The Triumph speakers have essentially met the challenge.  In fact, they do so many things so well that I find it hard to fault them harshly in any particular area.  N o, they are not perfect nor are they the ultimate loudspeaker.  However, what they provide is so musically rewarding that I can confidently state that they are one of the finest speakers that I have auditioned.  Bottomline: If your eyes were closed and you could listen only to the Triumphs, it would be extremely easy to think that their cost was considerably greater. 

Right from the beginning, their sound was quite good.  One of the more impressive characteristics the Triumphs have is their relatively neutral tonal balance.  There was nothing thin or weak about these babies.  Immediately, with no break-in, they impressed with their very nice spectral balance; there's no way, I thought, they were in the small speaker category.  With such a good beginning, I could hardly wait until these speakers were broken-in and ready for some truly serious auditioning. 

Fortunately, my resident listening companion at that time (ie: my youngest son, who is now away at college) was more than glad to handle the chore of providing sufficient playing time for the Triumphs.  During this time, I kept a close ear on the Triumph's progress.  Generally speaking, even though there were subtle improvements in various areas, their initial performance character was pretty close to their final performance qualities. 

What You Need To Drive'em 
What actually made a bigger difference in the Triumph's performance was the various pieces of associated equipment that I used throughout the reviewing period.  As I improved the quality of the companion electronics and digital playback gear, the Triumphs became commensurately better.  However, I am happy to report to those readers who want good sound, but are unable or unwilling to put up the big bucks for the very finest electronics, the Triumphs will reward you greatly even with relatively moderately-priced, quality gear hooked to them. 

For starters, I started driving the Triumphs with a relic, a low-powered Kenwood receiver, and I instantly got pretty decent results.  Next, I went to a more modern product, an integrated 50-watt solid-state amplifier by Adyton, and the sound got much, much better.  By the end, I'd tried a variety of solid-state and tube components to drive the Triumphs, and you should look at the associated equipment listing for details.  In these later stages of auditioning and evaluation with this more sophisticated gear, the sound of the Triumphs was definitely on par with speakers costing considerably more.  The Triumphs were certainly living up to their name. 

One area that I have not had a chance to explore deeply is using different speaker stands with the Triumphs.  I primarily used the stands supplied with my Epos 11 loudspeakers.  Briefly, I also tried the Triumphs with a pair of stands specifically designed for the Paragon Jubilees.  These too produced excellent results.  However, my advice to potential Triumph owners is to secure the 22-inch stands that Coincident recommends because they have experimented a great deal on how to achieve the best results. 

In many respects, the challenge of getting the triumphs to do their very best is similar to the challenge I faced with the Audio Physic Step loudspeakers that I reported on some time ago (see Vol. 3, Issue 2).  You may not necessarily think it appropriate to invest in really good electronics for such speakers due to their relatively small size or low cost.  However, I assure you that if you improve your electronics, the Triumphs will definitely reward you many times over. 

Perhaps due to the superb transparency of these speakers, the better the incoming signal, the more you will find good about the Triumphs.  In many respects, they are a very good reviewing tool because of their ability to let the listener hear into the rest of the system.  Changes made to the componentry ahead of the Triumphs will be easily detected.  Basically, with a good system in place to power these babies, I found I could just settle down and simply listen without feeling a tremendous let down when moving away from much, much, more expensive reference system.  Sure, the differences are there, but the Triumphs never let me down in terms of musical enjoyment. 

Sonic Character 
Let me offer a better description of the Triumph's more notable attributes such as sound staging, imaging, bass reproduction, midrange realism, high frequency extension, transparency and dynamics.  Generally, the Triumphs do all of these things well and in some cases do them exceptionally well.  In fact, though not perfect, the Triumph's limitations appear to be at a minimum. 

But for the moment, let's concentrate on the Triumph's overall strengths.  If you like sound staging, image specificity and openness, the Triumphs will please you immensely.  In the beginning, I had the Triumphs in a small room, out a bit from the back wall and even further from the side walls.  In this setting, the stage produced by the Triumphs was very open and extended beyond the boundaries of the speakers.  This staging was accompanied with very tight image focus and specific placement of both the instruments and the performers within the stage. 

However, moving the Triumphs into my reference system location provided the sound stage an even greater expansion of width, depth, and height.  The Triumphs really seemed to enjoy the more open space and offered a very impressive performance in this larger location.  The speaker's overall transparency and openness readily factored into how the stage was revealed.  My conclusion is that the Triumphs are fully capable of taking on rooms of fairly large proportions without suffering from so-called small speaker syndrome, i.e. small size equals small sound. 

Suffice it to say that sound staging and imaging are truly the key strengths of the Triumphs whether in a small or large room.  And the Triumphs produced these staging and imaging characteristics with a wide variety of music as well.  One smallest caution: If you wish to use the Triumphs in a rather large room, make certain adequate amplifier power is available to them.  This will prevent the need to push a low-power amplifier up near or into clipping and thereby creating potential ill effects that one might blame on the Triumphs.  As I stated earlier, when I mated the Triumphs to much more expensive gear, they consistently performed beyond my expectations regardless of which room they were in. 

Another important area of sonic excellence for the Triumphs is their overall neutrality and naturalness.  Often, small speakers do not seem to offer a fuller sound until they are pushed a bit.  At this point, their bass starts to fill in with the overall sound becoming a bit more balanced.  The Triumphs do not completely overcome this condition, however they are noticeably more neutral at lower listening levels than many other small speakers.  This type of neutrality is beneficial to the listener who doesn't want to always crank his system up to really enjoy it.  Although I tend to listen at fairly high levels (i.e. realistic), I also like to just sit back, relax and enjoy the sound.  The Triumphs allowed me to use quite moderate levels without significant sacrifices. 

Importantly, the Triumphs are quite articulate.  This is quite noticeable from the upper bass region through the upper midrange.  The high degree of transparency, tonal accuracy or neutrality, openness, and overall resolution of detail by the Triumphs allows you to listen into the music to easily tell what is really going on.  This can at times give you that rare and wonderful sensation of truly believing you are hearing the real thing. 

Insofar as associated equipment was concerned, I found the Triumphs really came into their own with the superb solid-state R.E. Designs LNLSA linestage and LNPA 150 mono block amplifiers along with any one of the cd players I had on hand during this evaluation period.  This combination provided a degree of power and control that allowed the Triumphs to reveal instruments over their entire frequency range with an outstanding clarity and resolution.  Overall, the high degree of neutrality of the R.E. Designs linestage and amplifiers mated very well with that of the Triumph loudspeakers. 

The Bass Line 
Along with this, I noted that with the R.E. Designs electronics, reproduction in the bass range of the Triumphs was considerably better than with either the low-powered receiver or integrated amplifier that I had on hand.  Specifically, the R.E. Designs electronics seemed to extend the usefulness of the bass down onto the 40-Hz range.  With the combination, there was plenty of power, control and articulation. 

Overall high quality of bass reproduction was quite evident and remained so at fairly high listening levels.  Admittedly, the very lowest octaves did not come through the Triumphs as they would in much larger speakers.  However, their rather gentle roll-off in the lowest bass provides the Triumphs with a coherent sound and minimizes the effect of lessening of this deep bass. 

The Triumphs really provide the goods when it comes to the critical midrange.  In the spectrum from the upper bass to the lower treble, the Triumphs are an almost ideal speaker particularly if you factor in price.  This wonderful speaker does not display any prominence of any frequencies in this range; indeed, the overall linearity and neutrality through the midrange is outstanding. 

Because of the Triumph's high level of musicality, instruments that are primarily in this midrange area (piano, saxophone, and voice) are all treated favorably.  Listening to Diane Krall's recording Only Trust Your Heart through the Triumphs was a delight.  In particular, Krall's distinctive vocal style and tonal qualities come through loud and clear as does her superb piano work.  It was also a delight to hear Christian McBride's wonderful acoustic bass compliment her with a sound that had accurate harmonic integrity and articulation.  Finally, check out Stanley Turrentine's sax work on this CD, and you'll surely agree with me. 

After I switched to some other superb electronics, the all-tube B.A.T. VK3i linestage and VK 60 stereo amp, the Triumphs again spoke with outstanding quality.  In this instance, the critical midrange seemed even more open and expansive.  Fortunately, this was not at the expense of low frequency reproduction either in terms of quantity or quality.  While these electronics are not particularly likely to be purchased to go into a system with the Triumphs, due to their considerably higher price, it was a pleasure to hear just how very good the Triumphs sounded with them in place. 

The High End 
Another mild suprise came as I carefully listened to the high frequency reproduction of the Triumphs.  In terms of extension, the tweeter used in this speaker really performs well.  It reaches out very far into the upper, upper reaches, with open, quick, detailed and at the sane time fairly smooth sound.  Cymbals and delicate treble sounds are highly articulate and easily distinguishable.  Try listening to Gene Harris' recording Brotherhood for some deliciously reproduced cymbals and upper register piano playing.  The Triumphs handle this recording superbly. 

One last area I should briefly discuss is that of dynamics.  Here the little Triumphs do an admirable job and allow the listener to clearly hear and feel the ebb abd flow of reproduced music.  Truly, the Triumphs can produce enough punch and drive to get your motor running, your toes to tappin' and head to bobbin' back and forth.  Feed these speakers some high-quality juice and they will produce realistic sound levels with dynamics to match neither bloated nor squashed. 

For example, try listening to the Yellowjackets' jazz fusion recording The Spin via the triumph speakers, and you will get a good idea of how well they handle dynamics, both in the low- and middle-frequency ranges.  This type of music has proved to be a bit more of a challenge for some other small speakers I've tried, but not so with the Triumphs.  Another take on fairly bombastic jazz fusion, Weather Report's Sweetnighter had the Triumphs hanging tough and allowing the more complex passages to pass through pretty well.  I again found the electronics used with this type of music seemed to make a significant difference as to how ell the Triumphs performed. 

So How Well Do You... 
At this point, you may think that I have likely overstated the case for these little wondrous speakers.  Quite frankly, I love them.  They have many of the finer virtues of the Audio Physic Step speakers I previously reviewed, but with greater sweetness in the highs, even more clarity and resolution in the mids and definitely more extension and power in the lows.  Also, compared to my previously owned Epos 11s, it really wasn't much of a contest.  Triumphs.  In each comparison, the Coincident speakers came out on top overall.  At their modest price point, just $799.00 (without stands), the performance of the Triumphs is really something special. 

At this point, I should mention the Triumph Signature, which Coincident has been shipping since September, 1996.  This upgraded version has an improved crossover, a higher quality silk dome tweeter, and heavy-duty, gold plated binding posts on high density acrylic plates.  It's priced at $999.00 in black lacquer and $1,099.00 in cherrywood finish.  Israel Blume also tells me that they now bevel all the front baffles of Coincident speakers cabinets right up to the drivers; this technique will improve imaging and high frequency dispersion still further because of the narrower front to the speaker.  This beveling will also add to the speaker's very sculpted, sleek appearance.  Blume further says that the crossovers in the Series II systems (in production since November 1997) incorporate a special metal-oxide resistor for cleaner, more transparent sound reproduction. 

For many high-end aficionados wishing to put together a truly musical, cost-effective system that can be used in a variety of room situations, the Triumphs should be at the top of the list for consideration.  With their truly outstanding performance, they have remained in my home for quite some time, not through the generosity of some kind of an extended loan by a cooperative manufacturer, but due to the fact that I bought them. 

The Triumphs are good speakers... really good speakers.  You should definitely check these guys out. 

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