It was noteworthy that my two top picks for Loudspeakers in the recently concluded What Hi-fi show in Bangalore were both from France. They were high end models from Focal and Triangle. Triangle happens to be amongst the top three Loudspeaker manufacturers in France, the other two being Focal and Cabasse. They marketed their first model some 35 years ago and are amongst the few Loudspeaker companies known to design and assemble their own loudspeaker drive units. They are based in the town of Soissons about 100 km northeast of Paris.
While at the What Hi-fi show, I dropped into the Audio Planet room where Mr. Palani Loganathan was playing the Triangle Signature Delta speaker. I was quite impressed by the sound quality and requested him for a review sample from their range and he very kindly obliged with the Antal EZ floor stander.
The Antal EZ
Triangle manufactures five different ranges of loudspeakers. The Espirit EZ range which falls squarely in the middle of their offerings, has a lineup of six speakers including a centre channel for home theater applications. The Antal EZ is the largest floor stander of this range sporting 4 drivers in a tall 1.1 m front ported cabinet. The driver complement of each speaker consists of a pair of 6.5 ” fiberglass woofers, a 6.5″ natural cellulose midrange and horn loaded 1″ titanium domed tweeter with a spiked phase plug in a striking gold color. Though the cabinet is quite tall it is narrow at only 200mm width and 345mm depth. This narrow width presents a unique appearance the likes of which I have never seen before. An attractive glass pedestal is provided to stabilize the narrow cabinet on the floor.
Around back are two pairs of high quality binding posts mounted on an attractive brushed aluminum plate with a pair of jumper cables, which have to be removed in the event of bi-amping or bi-wiring of the speakers. The speakers I received were finished in an attractive walnut wood veneer which, along with their slim profiles exuded elegance and sophistication. The provided speaker grilles are magnetically attached to the cabinet without any unsightly holes. Other color options, available at a slight up charge are high gloss black or white painted finish. Specifications allude to a high sensitivity design with a rating of 92db/w/m with a fairly full frequency response of 40 Hz – 22 kHz +-3db and a power handling of 120 watts. While the high sensitivity indicates an amplifier friendly load, it has to be noted that the minimum impedance drops to 3 ohms so an amplifier rated to 4 ohms will be required to drive these well.
Conditioning and Placement:
The samples sent by Audio Planet were adequately broken-in demo models so no further conditioning was required. Regarding placement, the manual suggests a minimum distance between the speakers at 2m and also a listening distance of at-least 2m. Additionally it suggests placement away from room corners with 40 cm from back and 50 cm from sidewalls. In my room I placed these 95cm from the back wall and 60 cm from the side walls, with my listening position about 2.75m away and the speakers separated by about 2.5m distance. One thing to consider if one likes to toe-in speakers to maximize image sharpness, I preferred these firing straight into the room. I felt that the treble frequencies were smoother and less pronounced this way.
I started off with One of Many – CamJazz (16/44.1, FLAC) by Kenny Wheeler. On the cut Canter #5, Wheeler’s Flugelhorn sounded enticing, as it transitioned between high and mellow notes while Steve Swallow’s electric bass energized my room with tight and fast notes. Indeed my overwhelming first impression of the speaker – as the French would put it – was “vive et la vitesse” (liveliness and speed), a trait that Triangle loudspeakers are famous for. More Jazz trumpet, this time from Hank Mobley’s Touch and go – Musica Jazz (16/44.1, FLAC). On East of Brooklyn, Art Farmer’s trumpet sounded very realistic hitting high registers with ease, never sounding strained or labored. Moving on to female vocals from Ibeyi – XL Recording (16/44.1, FLAC) River, Lisa Diaz’s soul filled vocals was a treat. The background beat that punctuates this track was reproduced stunningly, with superb extension and impact. The recent release from Adele Adkins, 25 – XL Recordings (16/44.1, FLAC), has some nice tracks but All I ask which she co-wrote with Bruno Mars really stands out in showing off her singing prowess. The Antals’ reproduced this track superbly conveying the depth of emotion in her voice. The speakers projected a slightly forward sound that is airy and open with silky-smooth treble for the most part, but occasionally I felt the highs were slightly overcooked, so ancillary equipment matching is quite critical to eke out the best from these. The lows on the other hand were excellent, adequately augmented and fast. One thing to note is that these speakers never exhibited the dreaded boom or thickness in mid bass, which, in my small room is quite an achievement, one that I have very rarely experienced.
Playing back some rock from The Arcs Yours, Dreamily – Nonesuch (16/44.1, FLAC), Outta my mind – Dan Auerbach’s new project – though this is an indifferent recording, the speakers were forgiving and did not detract from the music. Auerbach’s blues influenced guitar playing was very distinctively portrayed through the Antals’ as he made it wail through the track. Imaging ability of these speakers was very good, instruments and singers carving out their place in the space around and the soundstage envelope was impressive as well, specifically in height. Time for some Indian Classical, with Ustad Alla Rakha and L. Subramaniam’s violin duet from India’s Master Musicians – Delos (16/44.1 FLAC). Undeniably the excellent speed and pace of the Antals’ allowed the Ustad’s superb tabla percussion to shine, as he drummed up to the climax in Pallavi and Tabla solo. Thanks to this timing ability transient micro-dynamic nuances were very well rendered and large scale dynamic shifts were also impressive, the generous 92db sensitivity allowing the speakers to hit raucous playback levels when demanded.
Benchmarking with ATC:
I recently acquired my third ATC loudspeaker, the ATC SCM11 v1 monitor. The ATC sound has been my reference for the past 3-4 years in my smaller, secondary system. So I decided to compare these to the Antal EZ. First off the most obvious difference was the laid back nature of the SCM 11. Whereas the Antals’ had a front of the hall sound the ATC’s were decidedly mid to rear hall. Secondly the Triangle speakers had a faster presentation, wherein there was absolutely no overhang in letting go off notes. Though the ATC’s were not slow, in direct comparison they did appear slightly ponderous. However in the all critical midrange, I felt the ATC’s inched forward in overall neutrality and resolution. In overall bass extension and dynamics, the Antals’ easily surpassed the ATC, though admittedly this was not a fair comparison considering the ported 4- way floor stander vs. a sealed 2-way monitor speaker, which cost almost double the price. However it was interesting to note that the bass expression of the Triangles regardless of the port, was tight and fast, without any muddiness, almost as clean as that of the sealed ATC but with deeper extension and reach. Lastly in the area of imaging and soundstage, I felt the SCM 11s’ had an edge over the Antals’, able to more precisely position instruments in the space between the speakers.
I am always apprehensive of reviewing floor standers in my room due its small size and potential for mid bass anomalies. Ported enclosures tend to worsen this as well. Considering that the Triangle Antal EZ possessed both of these design traits I was quite uneasy as I moved these speakers in to my listening room. Well, these slim, elegant floor standers certainly took me by surprise. There was nothing remotely close to boom and muddiness, rather they were superbly poised and well behaved. Adding to this, their bass extension was gratifyingly deep and extended. The 4 drivers of each speakers converged into a single radiating point projecting an expansive soundstage with excellent imaging. If you value speed, foot tapping rhythm, spacious and airy sound coupled with clean deep bass without any overhang, then the Triangle Antal EZ loudspeakers are a must audition. Bravo!
- Sources: Windows 7 based Music PC running J River Media Center v20 with Paul Pang v1 usb card and Uptone audio usb regen and HDplex LPSU.
- DAC: Ayon Skylla II.
- Amplification: Parasound JC2, Trigon Tre50.
- Speakers: ATC SCM11 v1.
- Cabling: Kimber Select 1011 interconnects and 3033 speaker cables, Shunyata Venom power cords.
- Room treatment: 6 GIK Acoustics 244 panels, 4 GIK gridfusors, 4 vicoustic wavewood.
- Rack & Stands: Soundfoundations equipment rack and Sound Organization speaker stands.
- Listening room dimensions: 4.3m x 3.7m x 2.6m’ (lxwxh).
- Website: http://www.triangle-fr.com/
- Triangle Antal EZ, Loudspeakers
- Distributor: Audio Planet
- E-mail: [email protected]
- Website: http://audioplanet.co.in/
- Price: ₹ 245,000/pair for Walnut Veneer (Piano Black/White add 10%)
- Warranty: 3 Years