It’s interesting how different countries around the globe tend, on the whole, to produce loudspeakers of a certain characteristic. And one generally either loves them or loathes them en masse. Usually, the manufacturers will create a sound which appeals to their home audience; after all, selling locally is a lot less hassle than exporting around the world.
France has a reputation for producing loudspeakers with a lively, entertaining and dynamic characteristic with a forward soundstage, and a response rich in high-frequency content. It was therefore with a degree of excitement that I welcomed the latest standmount two-way design from highly respected Triangle Hi-Fi which has been in the business since the ‘80s and has produced the Magellan Duetto in this fortieth anniversary form.
Trevor’s next listening room
Triangle remains today where it began all those years ago, in Soissons to the north-east of Paris. Over the years the buildings have been adapted to meet both R&D and production needs. The research department is elaborate and works on the speaker shapes and the materials, benefiting from the latest simulation software and a high-level anechoic chamber. Prototypes are modelled through extensive computer simulations using 3D CAD software to create the ideal profile, in conjunction with mechanical and acoustic characteristics assessments.
To produce the Magellan, each part of the product was carefully considered before deciding to combine the proprietary next-gen tweeter with their 160mm midrange unit to create a design aimed at rooms up to 30m2(323 square foot). Referring to it as a ‘bookshelf’ model is rather optimistic since each speaker weighs nearly 17kg and is in a cabinet some 40cm deep including terminals. That would need a big bookshelf.
The company’s designers major on horn-loaded tweeters in an effort to increase their speakers’ efficiency while delivering energy and vitality, the tweeter used here follows that principle, featuring a 25mm magnesium-alloy dome at the base of the horn. It is the result of much computer modelling to create a dome profile aimed at limiting off-axis treble; it’s aided by the phase plug and a counter-cap on the motor to reduce rear reflections and limit distortion.
The mid/bass driver is the culmination of years of both experience and research to produce a transducer capable of covering 70 Hz to 4 kHz with the lowest possible distortion and the best possible linearity. It has a carefully-profiled paper cone and light polypropylene dust cap. This is a driver designed to produce high output levels, low distortion and dynamic peaks without compressing. To that end, much care is taken over the motor system and thermal cooling, along with having a rigid, open chassis design. The drive units crossover at 3.1kHz; the filter network is a relatively steep 24dB/octave fourth order type, unusual in a two-way.
The crossover incorporates high-quality components such as French MKP capacitors, developed in collaboration with SCR Audio, ceramics resistors with low induction effect, and large section air-core coils. The design employs steep cut-off slopes (up to 24dB/octave), working with the natural slopes of the transducers to aim at a good phase response. Effort was also made to linearize the drivers’ impedances such that they act as pure resistance which should therefore reduce the amplifier’s workload and allow the use of lower powered examples.
Even the rear terminals received special attention in this Anniversary edition with the connection plate manufactured in an 11mm block of aluminium. The terminals are gold-plated copper and allow for bi-wiring and bi-amplification, as required, while accommodating bare audio cable, banana plugs or forks. To the front of each cabinet are a pair of modest-sized reflex ports.
Positioning the Triangles on my lightweight Tonträger stands it is clear that these are beautifully-crafted loudspeakers; the cabinets are exquisite. We have here luxuriously finished and beautifully shaped cabinets which look stunning in high-gloss. There are dedicated S08 stands that lift the Magellan Duettos a higher than average 68cm off the floor available for those who want the full effect.
Siting proved more critical than I am used to with my usual monitors which work pretty much wherever they are placed. The Duettos took a while to come on-song as I moved them away from the rear wall (because the bass was suffering) which meant, with their deepish cabinets, they protruded into the room more than usual. Almost by accident I achieved a much more likeable sound quality when I switched from a Lindemann Musicbook Combo to my trusty Hegel 190, another all-in-one streamer/DAC and integrated but this time running in Class A/B which proved much more to the Duettos’ liking than the Class-D output from the Lindemann which created a rather over-bright, forceful sound with an unwanted hardness in my room.
While, at first, they seemed slightly bass light, at least given what I was expecting from the cabinet, moving them closer to the rear wall affected the bass quality. Running them in for a few days also seemed to generate slightly more low end and improved the balance by fleshing-out the overall sound.
Now working with the Hegel, the Triangle speakers sounded much more to my taste and really rather enjoyable. They do not sound like my usual monitor but rather they are very much in the French mould of loudspeakers, generating a lively and engaging sound with a slightly [but not overly] forward balance with plenty of high-frequency information. For the size and weight of the cabinets I was expecting slightly more bass and can’t really claim to have experienced the claimed 38Hz bottom end response, probably 50Hz was more realistic in my relatively compact listening room. I suspect that room size could be a factor here, in a larger room the bass would more than likely extend to the degree that’s specified.
Down to specifics, and the longer I used the Duettos the more I grew to not just like them but really enjoy what they could do. The human hearing system is remarkable in that regard; the brain gradually becoming used to and accepting what the ear hears. We can hear through tonal variations without apparent difficulty, variations in timing are much harder to accommodate and here these Triangles really excel.
Key attributes of the Duettos are the ability to deliver a punchy sound and to handle fast transients with ease; they reach out and grab the listener and keep them hooked to the last note. Poorly recorded material is shown as just that, and over-bright or harsh original material is not smoothed over. I have to say this was evident on some of my usual disks such as Tony Christie’s Avenues and Alleyways, and The Complete Atlantic Albums from Laura Branigan which both have a lot of treble content. Fitting the detachable grilles and removing the slight toe-in, so the speakers were firing straight ahead, helped enormously in this respect.
On other disks, the Duettos simple revelled in the source material, notably Bach’s usually rather dirge-like Wake, O Wake during a live Advent Carols on BBC Radio 3, was more enjoyable than I’ve ever heard this oft rather slow-paced affair. The Triangle speakers make the music really rather enjoyable as well as managing to portray the rather fine acoustics of the venue.
Other live recitals also fared very well, creating foot-tapping moments because they could deliver the pace, rhythm and timing so well – facets that monitor speakers often struggle with. On well-engineered live material, the Duettos revealed an ability to transport the listener to the heart of the action thanks to a wonderfully crisp midrange with engaging clarity.
In their new room position (with Class A/B amplification), the Duettos also achieved power and dynamic qualities in the lower registers although stopped short of the deepest response that I was expecting with Franck’s Choral No. 3 which was our Afternoon Concert on BBC Radio 3.
Scale is something the Duetto excel at and given a large orchestra with massed choirs (Mahler’s 8th from the CSO under Solti) their ability to create a huge soundstage was confirmed. The conductor’s incessant energy and drama shone through as the listener is immersed in the frisson of his dynamism. This is an excellent Decca recording and the speakers did it true justice by unearthing detail, depth and dynamics.
The Triangle Duettos certainly define joie de vivre because they are the very embodiment of the exuberant enjoyment of musical life. Rather than trying to analyse the recording, these are loudspeakers which allow the listener to engage with it and be swept along by it in an engaging and empathetic way that comes from a well-thought-out design. That is what they set out to be and what they achieve, in volumes.
The cabinets are superbly made and the overall engineering quality very high. That handmade-in-France tag has to be paid for, not helped by VAT levels and the state of the value of the pound, so these are far from budget boxes. What they are is entertaining, engaging and even evocative because their lively balance provided a pleasant change from the rather flat balance that I am used to.
Given the right partnering electronics, and suitable room placement, the Duettos will give enjoyment from a wide variety of musical input. That tuneful bass coupled with dynamic expression and rhythmic ability make for a typically-French loudspeaker which puts listener involvement and entertainment front and centre.