Tuesday, May 24, 2011

French connection

The French 'invaded' my home for a while in the form of the Triangle Esprit Altea Ex 2.5-way bass reflex speakers.


The Triangle Esprit Altea Ex speaker (left)
is taller than the ATC SCM40.
I recall listening to a pair of Triangle Zephyrs many, many years ago at Yow Chuan Plaza which used to be the centre of hi-fi in Kuala Lumpur then.

I still remember leaving the shop with the impression that the Triangles were detailed and 'brightish'.

It would appear that the sonic signature of the Triangle speakers, now brought into Malaysia by Maxx AV in Seremban, has not changed much.

The Triangle Esprit Altea Ex, which retails at RM8,500, are rather tall floorstanders and measure 100cm (h) X 20cm (d) X 33.5 (w) without plinth.

They are 2.5-way speakers with crossovers at 250Hz and 2.5kHz with a rated frequency response of 45Hz to 20kHz. There is a large port at the bottom of the front baffle while there is a smaller port at the rear of the speaker box.

The Triangle Esprit Altea Ex speakers are 2.5 way.

The tweeter is inside a horn-like enclosure.

Though their nominal impedence is rated at 8 Ohms and sensitivity rated at 91dB, they seem to prefer more power.

Initially, I hooked them up to a Marantz PM-KI Pearl Lite integrated 70-watter amp and it struggled to produce good and tight bass from the Triangles.

It was when I switched to the 300-watter Bryston 4B SST power amp that the Altea started to sound coherent.

Since they are on the large side, the manufacturer recommends that they be used in a 215-430 sq ft (20-40 m2) room.

Much of the listening was done with a system comprising a Roksan Caspian CD player used as transport, the Benchmark DAC1 Pre, the Bryston and the ATC SCM40s as reference. 

Cabling was a mix of Audioquest Panther dbs balanced interconnects and MIT Shotgun MA bi-wire speaker cables.

Sonically, the Altea showed prominence in the mids to the treble spectrum. This resulted in enhanced detail and clarity especially in the upper-mid region. Plucked guitars especially sounded clearer and sharper. Transparency from the mids to the treble region was also commendable.

Compared with the stellar clarity of the mids to upper-mids, the bass region was less well defined. But that does not mean the bass was muddy - it was with the lower-powered Marantz, but things cleared up with the Bryston. It's just that the mids and upper-mids had such clarity and transparency that in comparison, the bass region did not quite match that performance although the bass was strong and full.

The Altea's soundstage was surprisingly much deeper than it was wide, but imaging was stable and quite solid. Vocals tended to be pushed forward a bit.

If there is anything I would remember of the Altea's performance it would be the very deep soundstage and very clear and transparent mids and upper mids. I would also remember its fifth spike at the bottom of the front baffle which acts like a conduit for cabinet vibrations to flow to the ground.

If you decide to buy them, be sure to match them with an amp with lots of grunt.

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