Coincident Speaker Technology
Soundstage! - March 1997
My first brush with Coincident Speaker Technology came in the form of the bookshelf sized Triumph loudspeaker. I was impressed by the Triumph for its fast, detailed performance. As well, it possessed surprisingly good bass given the modest size and price. Coincident also offers the Signature version of the Triumph which has an improved tweeter, crossover, and a few other goodies. Even though they 'hover' around the $1000 USD price point, my impression is that the Triumph models are true 'audiophile grade' loudspeakers of sufficient sonic quality so as not to be confined to strictly budget systems. I would have no problem sticking the Triumph Signature into complete systems costing upwards of $4000 to $5000.
Then I reviewed the Troubador, which was Coincident's first loudspeaker on the market. The Troubador is a small but unique design that employs Coincident's patented Asymmetrical Wall Enclosure construction and a single 6.5 inch coaxial driver. The Troubador's price starts at $1495 USD (depending on finish). I found that the Troubador could not be compared to the Triumph, or even be seen as a 'step up' despite the price difference. It is simply a different type of speaker that will appeal to different listeners. Personally, I preferred it to the Triumph for its coherent and detailed sound, and as well, its ability to cast an extraordinarily well focused soundstage like few other speakers I know of. However, I believe that the Triumph is an easier recommendation to most listeners since it can 'swing' more easily through a wider variety of musical styles.
Coincident's newest speaker, the Conquest, is priced at $1595 in a standard black finish - close to the same price as the Troubador. The Conquest is intended to be Coincident's 'step-up' speaker from the Triumph Signature. Israel Blume's design goals were to take the strengths of the Triumph Signature's performance and increase the bass extension and efficiency. The result is a two way ported design that is delivered in a floor standing configuration measuring 38 inches high x 10.5 inches wide x 11.5 inches deep. Coincident supplies four spikes per speaker that screw into the bottom to give improved stability.
The Conquest employs the same Vifa tweeter used in the Triumph Signature, but this time an 8 inch Vifa woofer is used instead of a 6.5 inch woofer that is used in the Triumph series. Coincident indicates both stock drivers are modified by them for improved performance prior to use in the Conquest. The rated efficiency spec from Coincident is 92 dB/1meter/1watt -- a rather highish figure that will have the 'Little Amp People' rejoicing. The speaker's cabinet is created from one inch hardwood MDF with internal wiring by WireWorld (a double run of cable is used for the woofer). The stock version comes in a single wire configuration with bi-wiring as a $100 option. High quality gold plated binding posts are used and mounted on a high density acrylic plate. In the interest of good sound, no grill is supplied (although a low-cost grill is available at $35).
At first glance the approximate 50% price increase over the Triumph seems quite large for simply a gain in bass extension and efficiency. However, there is a hidden cost in bookshelf type speakers like the Triumph. Good stands, which really are necessary for good sound, can be quite costly. Upwards of a few hundred dollars or so, perhaps even more. For example, Coincident offers a dedicated stand for the Triumph priced at $295 for a pair. Therefore, I would estimate the consumer is paying approximately $300 more for the features the Conquest offers over its little brother, which is not out of line.
As for its appearance? The stock Conquest comes in a nice black finish, that is, well -- black. Some people really dig that plain black look, but plain 'black boxes' aren't really my ticket. Optional veneers bump the price up significantly. The standard veneer is Cherry Mahogany, which raises the price to $1995. More exotic veneers such as Rosewood and Bird's Eye Maple (a finish that made the Troubador look stunning) carry an additional $200 charge. Unless you are very concerned about the 'look' of your speakers, your money may be better spent elsewhere in your system. This is one case where, to keep the budget in line, I'd opt for the standard black in this speaker.
The Conquests went into my regular review setup consisting of a Theta Data Basic transport and Prime II DAC, the Blue Circle BC-3 preamp into a Classe Fifteen amplifier, and Nirvana Audio cabling throughout. Power conditioning is from a Power Wedge 114 and Blue Circle's new Power Line Pillows. My listening room has a fairly live sound so I've done quite extensive room treatments. I use a large area rug to tame down the reflections from the hardwood floors, and as well, I have home-made 'Doug-fusors' and a big sheet of convoluted foam (the egg-shell type stuff) on the wall behind the speakers to dampen rear-wall reflections. Tube Traps work wonders in each corner and Room Tune products are used in key locations.
Prior to any listening, I must confess that I had a couple concerns over this new design, despite the improved specifications. The first was that even though an 8 inch woofer was being used, I was skeptical it would reach the rated 35 Hz that Coincident proclaimed. Gut feel was that the low 40 range, with impact, would be all I would hear. My second concern was that this same 8 inch woofer could possibly 'muddy-up' the midrange. Over the years I have seen drivers, usually less than 7 inches, used most successfully in two way speaker designs. I did not wish to see the midrange performance sacrificed for bass extension.
I was wrong on both counts. Like the Triumph, the Conquest's midrange is smooth, open, and detailed. And once broken in hard, the bass does in fact reach down to the 35 Hz range as advertised (Coincident rates the -6db at 25 Hz). Considering the two-way configuration and driver compliment, I was impressed. As expected, moving them closer to the room boundaries will reinforce the bass and give a little more 'heft' if you desire it. At the recent CES in Las Vegas Coincident showed the Conquest to good effect within a foot of the rear walls while maintaining some surprisingly good imaging. I ended up with the Conquests about three feet from the rear walls and four feet from the sides. In this final position in my room I achieved flat, smooth response over a very wide frequency range.
Overall, Israel Blume was correct in telling me that it sounds very much like the Triumph, plus a little more. The attributes that impressed me about the Triumph -- fast, detailed, and natural performance -- stayed true with the Conquest. Still, there were a few areas in which I found that the Conquest differed from the Triumph. Not surprisingly, the bass is significantly deeper. Although still not plumbing the bass depths, as say the Von Schweikert VR-3, it is enough to add significant weight to the Conquest's sound and should satisfy many listeners. While some may still desire strong bass in the 20 Hz range, quality bass performance such as that is rare and is not achieved without significant cost (sometimes sonically, and most often monetarily). Overall, I welcomed the extra fullness in the bass and mid-bass regions since it made the Conquest slightly 'warmer' and more robust sounding than the Triumph. If there was a down side to this, it was that it didn't sound quite as tight. The Triumph impressed me not as much with its depth of bass (which was very good), but rather, the impact and tuneful nature of its bass performance. That aside, I believe the significantly increased bass extension is a benefit and will improve long-term listening enjoyability in this model.
I also found that the treble sounded like it was raised a notch higher on the Conquest. Although the Triumph Signature and Conquest share the same exceptionally smooth tweeter, the Conquest has a little more 'shine' to its sound. Not bright per se, but more apparent (this may work better with some tube amp designs). Keep in mind, however, these differences are subtle and are not meant as criticisms, rather as slight differences in performance and should be kept in mind when matching components.
I have found all of Coincident's model to offer very good soundstaging and the Conquest is no exception. It is a tossup between the Triumph and the Conquest, but I would tend to give the nod to the Triumph in this area. Although the Conquest can throw a very wide stage, with good depth and imaging, the Triumph betters it slightly in terms of stronger image specificity and a tad more depth. However, both lose out in relation to the Troubador. Soundstaging is where the Troubador excels. It casts a vivid, three dimensional stage, with rock solid specificity -- almost spooky.
At $1595, the sonic performance of the Conquest places it into the category of what I like to call 'budget overachievers.' Those components that fair well against similar components that are usually at a much higher price. As most know, my current speaker 'reference' in this price category is the Von Schweikert VR-3 (now priced at approximately $2000 USD in its stock form). Comparing the Conquest directly to the VR-3 is difficult, and not entirely appropriate. Somewhat like an apples to oranges analogy. While it is certainly no slouch in the bass department, the Conquest still does not have the 'weighty' full-bodied performance that the VR-3 is capable of, nor can it match its dynamic ability. People who are looking for the large-scale type of loudspeaker performance that speakers like the VR-3 can offer are better off staying there. Overall it is a different 'kind' of speaker sound. However, one definite advantage the Conquest has is its efficiency. The VR-3 takes much more power to make it sound its best. Obviously, careful component matching is a must and which speaker is better for you may depend on your amplifier too.
The Conquest offers satisfying, full performance, but mates better in smaller, more intimate systems. Therefore, I would find it more appropriate to compare the Conquest to some of the excellent offerings by, say, Proac, Martin Logan, Swans, Meadowlark, etc. Speakers in this camp are better known for their refinement and exquisite musical detail, but perhaps sacrifice true full range performance and lifelike dynamics to achieve these goals. For comparably priced models, the Conquest is every bit the equal, if not the better, of most of the speakers above in terms of bass performance. As well, what makes the Conquest very good value for the money is its sonic ability to unravel musical nuances, reveal a wealth of recorded detail, and present to the listener a musical performance in an involving, satisfying manner at a Workin' Man's price (I'm cutting into Dave Duvall's territory here). In the $1500 range, performance characteristics such as this are admirable and only achieved by a select group of speakers.
Furthermore, what I believe may attract many listeners is the easy-to-drive capability of the Conquest. This, I feel, is important since many of the popular 'sub-40 watt' amplifiers consumers are scooping up do not perform that well with even moderately 'tough' speaker loads. However, the Conquest makes a perfect mate for some of these amps, in particular, the wonderful low power, single ended tube amps. I hoped to try the Conquest with Blue Circle's new BC-6 stereo amp (25 watts, single-end ended tube/solid state hybrid, based on a similar topology to their venerable BC-2), but the BC-6 review sample did not get here on time. And there are some other budget combos I would love to hear including the new Canadian made Caztech amps, the Golden Tube, the new Wavelength integrated amp, etc.
Coincident has succeeded admirably with the Conquest loudspeaker. Their revealing and detailed nature warrants mating them with associated equipment of the highest sonic quality (and that does not mean most expensive). I believe that with careful component matching a beautiful, musically satisfying and cost-effective system can be built around this loudspeaker. Check 'em out.
Price: $1,595 USD in standard black finish (optional veneered finishes and bi-wiring option are available at additional cost)
Coincident Speaker Technology
51 Miriam Crescent
Richmond Hill, ON
L4B 2P8 Canada
Coincident Speaker Technology Responds:
Coincident Speaker Technology would like to thank SoundStage! and particularly Doug Schneider for the highly favorable and more significantly, perceptive and informative review of our Conquest loudspeaker. The Conquest was designed as the logical extension of the now highly acclaimed Triumph speaker.We wanted to build a floor standing version of the Triumph for the following reasons:
- We wanted to equal the Triumph sound in all parameters,but wished to extend bass response by 10hz, thereby bringing the low end performance into the 30hz range;
- We wanted to eliminate the need for speaker stands and at the same time create a loudspeaker with a relatively small footprint (in the case of the Conquest a compact 10.5" x 11.5 ");
- We wanted to increase speaker sensitivity so that single ended triode amplifiers could be used with absolutely no compromise in the areas of weight, impact and dynamics.
How These Goals Were Accomplished:
1. To extend the bass down to circa 30hz we had to construct an enclosure of sufficient size and find a woofer that was up to the task.Since we wanted to keep the Conquest a 2 way system (for reasons of purity, revelation of detail and imaging precision) using a first order crossover (for the same reasons enumerated above), the search for a woofer that was fast enough, and concommitantly capable of deep bass and realistic impact took literally hundreds of manhours to complete.
What ensued was a special mineral-filled 8" polypropylene marvel.This unit is optimized for a bass reflex enclosure having a suspension with a progressive stiffness characteristic which is responsible for maintaining tight, tuneful response in the bottom octave.The voice coil is equiped with an oversize magnet and the cone is very long throw so that distortion at high sound pressure levels is kept to a minimum.
Not only is the woofer's sensitivity in excess of 92 db @ 1 watt -1 meter, it has a uniformly flat frequency response from 30hz - 3000hz.This wide band frequency capability coupled with its high power handling ability permits this woofer to be used in a 2 way system without compromise.
2. In order to take advantage of the low frequency capabilities of the Conquest woofer, we had to construct an enclosure that would be large enough and yet highly rigid and non resonant.The enclosure size was computer calculated in order to obtain 30 hz bass response. The Conquest's enclosure is constructed identically to that of the Triumph except for a series of internal braces that were implemented to retain the fundamental resonance frequency of the enclosure at 350hz.
The extroardinary accomplishment of the Conquest is that not only is the speaker capable of flat 32hz-35khz response but that its imaging qualities and detail retrieval surpasses most mini monitor systems.
Just as the Triumph is fast becoming the standard for small speakers selling for under $1000 pr., so too it is hoped that the Conquest become the benchmark for floor standing loudspeakers retailing for under $2000. Judging by the review by SoundStage! and others such as Audiophilia and those soon to be published by The Sensible Sound,The Inner Ear Report, etc. the consensus seems to be bearing this out.
Coincident Speaker Technology