The Coincident Victory Loudspeaker
The Victory is a new loudspeaker from Coincident that comes in two configurations - a high impedance, high efficiency model for tube electronics; and a lower impedance, lower efficiency model for solid state amplifiers. The Victory sent to me for evaluation had a nominal impedance of 6 Ohms and an efficiency of 97 db (as if that's not high enough). Israel sent me the solid state version of the speaker since I tend to do my listening with solid state amplifiers and power really isn't an issue in these parts.
Tale of the tape. The Victory is a 3-way loudspeaker utilizing a proprietary ribbon tweeter, two 3" cloth dome midrange drivers, and two 6.5" doped paper woofers. All crossovers are first order parallel. 42"x 9" x 14" (HWD), and 92 lbs. Bass reflex with rear firing large diameter port. Impedance is 6 Ohms with an option for a 14 Ohm impedance (never below 10 Ohms and never above 18 Ohms). Sensitivity is a stated 97 db at one meter. On loan from manufacturer.
Set-up. The vertical directivity of the tweeter was the largest concern set-up wise. The "Isodynamic Planar Magnetic" tweeter employed is 1" wide and 6" tall. While I found the lateral dispersion to be satisfactory for a reasonably wide sweet spot, the vertical dispersion of the driver is severely restricted. Actually, I"ve never auditioned a tweeter as directional vertically in all my years as a reviewer. Bass response does not go terribly low by full range 3-way standards (40 Hz), so room placement is much more flexible than with some speakers that go lower.
This speaker is a piece of cake to drive, and if one chooses to go with the high impedance option, even low watt triodes are in the picture.
Kudos to Israel at Coincident for having the wisdom to shun bi-wiring for his speakers. I have come to believe that bi-wiring is a pain in the toot and in 99 out of 100 cases a sonic detriment. Not only are the Victorys made for a single set of speaker cables, the terminals used will take naked wires up to 6 awg. Of course, spades present no problems either.
The sonics. Let's go directly to what I see as the sonic highlight of this design...the highs. Yes, the highs have very limited vertical dispersion, so this speaker must be listened to sitting down. But the resolution, clarity, speed and air of this tweeter within the listening window is, without a doubt, remarkable. One of the general complaints with digital playback is smeared ear burning bells, things like that. To a degree that I didn't think possible, the Isodynamic tweeter with its superior articulation cleans up the highs, takes the screaming edges off of cymbal crashes, all the while maintaining energy and air that extends to the moon. It's more delicate without sounding recessed or dull. Complex high frequency sounds don't blend and turn shrill as with many tweeers. With an analog input, the effect is even more dramatic. With this tweeter, the rhythm of the music is extended to the upper reaches of the music, and as a result, the highs are better integrated with the mids and the lower mids, thereby making the whole of the music a more singular presence in the room..A driving oneness in the upper frequencies impacts the entire presentation.
Two dome midranges flank the Isodynamic tweeter in an MTM configuration. Considering the speed and the agility of the ribbon tweeter, the midrange merges well at its top end. Harp and violin present unique challenges to 3-way crossovers, especially when the drivers employed differ in their basic construction and design philosophies.Yet, tonal shifts and skewing were absent in the transition area between the midrange dome and the treble ribbon.
I should say here that the midrange domes broke-in with the speed of two continental plates shifting and creating faults in the earth's crust. Okay, maybe it was a little faster than that, but it seemed like the midrange drivers took forever to reach optimum performance. Actually, I noticed these drivers improving and maturing for a good 60 days of almost continuous operation. Once there, the midrange was wonderfully open and textured. Listening to the newly remastered (and HDCD encoded) King Crimson recordings revealed a speaker capable of capturing the densely colored yet almost hyper detailed lower mids contained in those recordings. Sometimes the sound from these recordings emphasizes the frenetic nature of the band, and at others, the music seems to jettison from the speakers and take up residence in the room, but for only very short periods of time. This speaker got the pyrotechnic nature of those recordings right-not an easy feat.
A negative that I noticed in the mids of the Victory, and reaffirmed in my audition of the Total Victory in Las Vegas, was a relatively narrow band area of darkness that flavored the music , regardless of the music being played. It isn't a particularly noticeable thing, but once you hear it, you always hear it. I'm not talking about a warmth in the mids. A warmth is softer and cuddlier; it's what people like about some tube designs. This isn't it. I believe what I'm hearing is an artifact of the driver itself; not the cabinet, the crossover or some other thing. When you audition the speaker, listen for this, especially with male vocals to see what your take on it is. A person I spoke to liked the effect. I thought it a minor distraction.
Oh, did I tell you that this speaker images like it is insane? One of the finer speakers made with respects to spreading the original event across the stage and then giving it depth and ambient space from side to side. Classical music really benefited from this speaker's ability to "air it out". It's almost as if the midrange is designed to lay out a super solid and dimensional musical skeleton for the music, with the superb tweeter adding the fine details and textures. Combined, one can not only take in the "nature" of the music recorded, but get a sense of its character also. As stated above, it has a complete wholeness to it. Tonally, it is a little on the warm and dark side without being excessively so-light and bright it is not (after adequate break-in of course).
The bass is handled by two 6.5" treated paper woofer drivers. Initially, the response from these drivers was a bit tight. With time the drivers open up, and opened up and opened up some more. Eventually, I was forced to move the speakers out into the room more in an effort to even out the bass response. Making a few crude measurements, I was pretty much able to confirm what my ears heard-a bass bump. Not a huge one mind you, but a bump very much reminiscent of that found in the classic British BBC monitor speakers of the 1970's and early 1980's. Now, in this instance it was a warmth thing, and the end result was to make this speaker sound as if it went deeper, and used larger drivers than it actually did. Bringing the speaker out into the room did help, and using a well controlled power amplifier aided the situation. But for some this may be a concern.
Above 60-70 Hz, I found the speaker to have a good amount of clean energy. Bass instruments were full, but at the same time finely traced. Below that is where things got wooly. This too I was able to confirm at the show in Las Vegas by listening to the Total Victory. The Total Victory has the same complement of drivers as the Victory on the front panel. Difference is, the Total has four side firing 10" woofers for the low frequencies. With these larger drivers taking the lowest frequencies, the bass bump heard in the Victory was gone, replaced by deep, taut, low frequency extension. Who says you can't tell a few things by listening at a show?
Summing up. Some credit here for the overall superb sound has to be given to the quality of parts used, and the optimized 1st order crossover employed. Speakers can't image with such a spectacularly 3-D soundstage if a lot of good things aren't going on inside. Due to the drivers not being terribly large, but there being two of each midrange and woofer, the speaker is fast and responsive, while still having good transient attack and room filling capabilities. Were this a 3-way with a single mid driver and single woofer, I couldn't have filled the room the way I did. Mind you, this speaker does not have the air moving capabilities of the Osborn Epitome /extra bass drivers, the VMPS RM-40 or even your average Magnepan, but it never sounds small either. As far as the drawbacks of the speaker, the bass warmth is workable and pretty easily corrected. As for the perceived darkness in the mids, you are either going to like it, or walk away from it-once you recognize it, there is no middle ground.
Overall, this is a wonderfully made loudspeaker that is already a success in professional and hobbyist circles alike. It has a defined and reliable personality in that Israel Blume knew exactly what he wanted to make, and what his next product would be. The manufacturer is not shy about the speaker's lack of ultimate bass extension and notes the same right on the web page. Instead of trying to hide this designed in attribute, he acknowledges it and suggests the use of a sub, or other set-up hints. Good advice in my eyes. And a good product.
Bound For Sound - Issue 142 April 2002