Celebrations are always exciting and we have a double one in the shape of Triangle’s 40th anniversary two-way standmount speaker, the £1,500 Comète. It has been created to mark the founding, by Renaud de Vergnette, of the brand and is a very special edition of a model which has survived 25 years of constant production.
Rather than merely a gold badge and improved terminals, as sadly so many manufactures feel makes for an SE, Triangle has uprated almost every area of the design to create this extra-special version which, I have to say, sounds as good as it looks. So, attention has been paid to the cabinet, drive units, crossover and even the packaging to mark the anniversary in style.
The factory and research centre in Soissons, some 100km northeast of Paris, has been Triangle’s home since day one, and the company builds these beautiful transducers there through a process of rigorous testing, as one expects, but also rather unusually, tracing and monitoring each component through the facility.
Since a loudspeakers cabinet is so important to the overall sound (and oft not given as much design budget as it should), the Comète enclosure has been carefully thought through and constructed using 23mm-thick HDF panels as used for Triangle’s high-end Signature and Magellan boxes. Finish options are European sycamore, with a light shade, or South American rosewood with its dark hues. The sycamore is only lightly treated, to retain its naturally matte effect, while the rosewood is covered with a varnish to enhance its tropical veins. Magnetically-attached grilles are provided although I felt they covered too much of the exquisite looking baffle and listened mainly sans the ‘muffs’.
Internally, the cabinet is heavily braced with numerous perforated partitions to increase rigidity and reduce standing waves to help eliminate coloration. On the base are fixing points for the supplied decoupling cones or direct connection to the dedicated stand (not reviewed here). A key aesthetic element is the rose gold anodization in this limited-edition version. Thus, we are treated to an ornamental gold ring around the main drive unit, on the terminal blocks and even the supplied spikes are adorned with the subtle embellishment. All-in-all it makes for a most distinctive and pleasing appearance distinct from the standard offering.
Perhaps the most striking element to set this design apart is Triangle’s first use of a magnesium dome tweeter. The designers set out with a mission to transcribe high-pitched sounds such as cymbals or the strings of a harpsichord. So, the more usual titanium dome has been replaced with a new dome in pink-gold anodized magnesium, combined with a compression chamber in the quest for high efficiency with little distortion and good directivity. The tweeter’s horn has an anthracite chrome treatment, while the phase plug at the back of the horn is optimized to fit the shape of this new dome with a view to dispersion and directivity. The creators tell me that the HF unit is based on studies carried out on a 50mm diameter high-power magnetic motor, using a neodymium ring that’s open at its centre so that air pressure is absorbed in a rear chamber. The mid/bass drive unit is also worthy of note. The development team devised a blend of foam and treated rubber for the surround and created a new profile for the cellulose pulp cone.
Internally this model is fitted with high purity OFC cable from the Signature range that combines two strands of different diameters, which is an approach used by a few speaker cable manufacturers. The crossover network features air inductors, MET capacitors and cemented resistors. There is second-order filtering on the woofer coupled with a fourth-order on the tweeter, the crossover frequency being around 3.5kHz, so higher than we find on many two-ways of this size. Even the terminal block has been uprated for this version and is in brushed rose gold anodized aluminium, while those terminals allow permanent tightening of the banana plugs for improved connection.
Enough about the technicalities and appearance. This is a sonic device, so how does it sound? Hooked up, initially to my Hegel H190 and later to another French component in the shape of the Atoll SD200 – both one-box streamer/DAC/amps – speaker positioning proved critical.
At first, I experienced some unnatural phasiness which affected human voice recordings and I experimented with speaker placement. A straight-on placement, without toe-in (as I find best in my room for BBC-style monitors) did not favour the Comète. Liaison with Triangle’s design team in France, plus experimentation, led me to quite a sharp toe-in by my standards (more than 15 degrees) to obtain the optimal performance in my room.
Initial placement difficulties out of the way, I knew the speakers had been run-in so sat down for some critical listening: firstly on my own, then with a listening panel and, latterly, using the Comètes as my everyday speakers, either side of the TV for general listening. Audition was primarily via Apple AirPlay and off-air from a satellite tuner.
Those early issues led me to check out notably sibilant tracks to focus attention on the treble response. So, to Sergio Mendes’ Mas Que Nada, an old test to reveal irritating over-emphasis in the susceptible 7kHz region. Thankfully there were no unwanted artefacts, just a chance to sit back and enjoy the catchy, tight bossa nova arrangement and wallow in those soaring vocals from Lani Hall and imagine I was at the recording back in the 1960s (no, not the 2006 re-make). The output level in this critical frequency band was spot on. These speakers are what I would call ‘typically French’ and produce that wonderfully involving liveliness so popular with French marques. Their sound is projected more than a BBC-style monitor and they do create a pleasing ‘splash it all over’ Brut style effect on the listener.
At the other end of the spectrum, I am pleased to report that the Comètes spare us overblown bass and, if anything, are slightly dry at the lowest frequencies. With M/A/R/R/S’ Pump Up the Volume I found myself doing just that because the LF performance was more than satisfactory, and certainly greater than I am used to from my everyday speakers. Clearly, the Comètes can play loud and without a hint of strain; very loud indeed, and the bass is clean and detailed which, to my mind, is preferable to sheer extension since bass junkies can always add a sub, and probably will anyway. The SPLs achieved in my room were such that I had to apologise to the neighbours afterwards. Dance music’s first genuine pop hit, from 1987 has it all in the mix: not just a prominent sample, but it’s comprised mainly of samples. Instead of a chorus, there’s just the title phrase over a beat that cribs from James Brown, the Bar-Kays, the Last Poets and the Montana Sextet, not to mention Public Enemy, Wolfman Jack and a fire engine. Many a loudspeaker is overwhelmed by such a cacophony but I’m pleased to report that the Comètes handled it with aplomb, especially so for their size, and certainly at this price-point.
After just a handful of tunes, it becomes clear that the Comètes’ strongest point is their timing ability. They score very highly on the PRAT rating: something created by a notable reviewer in the 1980s to cover a speaker’s ability at pace, rhythm and timing; rather than merely describing the performance in terms of imaging and frequency response. This ability was borne out by the likes of Tony Christie’s hit Avenues and Alleyways which had my feet tapping away involuntarily. Great rhythmic ability was conferred by Closer by The Chainsmokers from 2017. I especially like the lyrical reference to Rover cars and found myself following the pumping basslines. Yes, the Comètes have fantastic rhythm and excellent timing abilities; they create a lively and up-front presentation, really involving the listener in what’s going on, as shown by the upbeat Love Resurrection and Honey for the Bees, for example where we were drawn in to the performance and felt as though we could reach out to touch the highly-charged Alison Moyet in full swing.
Once the listening panel had left, I switched to live broadcasts from BBC Radio 3 who were treating us to Grieg’s Songs (Monica Groop, mezzo, and Love Derwinger on piano), undoubtedly the best music he ever composed since he was a natural miniaturist and the song was perfect for him. In this well-received recording (BIS from 1993) the vocals were simply divine and the piano sounded so natural in the safe hands of the Comètes. I felt transported to the recording venue as the performance was set out before me with a realistically 3D soundstage. Throughout my indulgence in classical repertoire, from organ to baroque, opera to symphonies, these speakers did not disappoint.
While Comètes are clearly a Statement product from Triangle to celebrate their 40th anniversary, and they are limited-edition, the pricing is such as to make these speakers something of a bargain. Indeed, if they were twice the price, they would still be good value. The design is competent and the build quality to an exceptionally high standard. The finish is just exquisite with those rose-gold accents and they are a joy to behold.
The sound balance is lively, extremely involving and features an attention-grabbing midrange which is full of detail. The treble is silky smooth, refined and natural, all-in equal measure, and managed to avoid any shrillness. While not on the shopping list for bass junkies, those of us who enjoy acoustic music will find them sublime. The rhythm and timing credentials are rarely matched at this price-point. Triangle have produced a very special loudspeaker indeed, and one that’s not just special in name.