Hardware Reviews

Wireless Borea BR02 Connect leads the class

Triangle Borea BR02 Connect wireless loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

Triangle Borea BR02 Connect powered loudspeakers

French hi-fi brand Triangle’s catalogue is not short on compact active loudspeakers, and now we have new additions in the shape of the Borea Connect range, based on passive variants. There are two models: the larger Borea 03, with 160cm main drive units and two 60W amplifiers, and the smaller Borea 02 reviewed here. Both are also packaged with a turntable option to utilize the onboard phono stage, if required.

Triangle has been creating loudspeakers for over 40 years, the upmarket models hand-built in their French facility while the more affordable ones are designed in France but made in the Far East. They have created a reputation for well-engineered designs which pack a lot into a small space at a competitive price.

All-in-one

The idea of an all-in-one audio solution is becoming more popular, I have been using an integrated amplifier with onboard DAC and streamer for many years now. The active BR02 Connect goes one stage further by incorporating this, and more, into a compact loudspeaker cabinet.

Triangle Borea BR02 Connect wireless loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

A two-way reflex-ported design, the BR02 is intended for rooms from eight to 20 square-metres. For larger spaces, the BR03 is recommended. There are things missing, not least wi-fi or ethernet connection to allow direct streaming. The workaround is to use the aptX Bluetooth (capable of 24-bit/48kHz), or connect a streamer via any of the inputs provided: optical, coaxial and analogue on RCAs or a 3.5mm socket. There’s even HDMI capability, labelled ARC TV, to decode the audio component when a TV, DVD player or other source is connected and allows its remote to be synchronised with the speaker. A USB-B port is also offered to connect a computer, and there’s a subwoofer output for those desiring more bass. Power comes courtesy of two Class-D amps which keeps the operating temperature down.

Design

The Borea BR02 relies on a 130mm mid/bass driver and a 25mm silk-dome tweeter which has phase correction and physical protection from a two-pronged guard. There are also detachable cloth grilles and a rear-firing port tuned to 58Hz in the 9.2 litre cabinet.

The drive units are as found in the passive models, so we have the Borea EFS tweeter and that phase plug developed specifically to “homogenize high-frequency diffusion”. This system is implemented to reduce directivity and, indeed, the measured off-axis response is very good indeed. The dome has partial horn-loading to reduce reflections and a neodymium motor is used to generate high magnetic power in what is a compacted unit, coupled to a cooling system to aid power handling.

Triangle Borea BR02 Connect wireless loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

The mid/bass driver, at the heart of the loudspeaker, has a natural cellulose, untreated paper cone. Unique to Triangle, its profile has been refined to improve rigidity and it has a copper voice coil on a Kapton former.

The sturdy cabinet has an 18mm MDF front baffle and 15mm for back and sides, with a reinforcement panel added to the rear to absorb drive unit vibrations in a system which Triangle called DVAS for ‘driver vibration absorption system’. The drive units combine at 2.5kHz through a second-order crossover for each. The DAC employed is the latest-generation Sabre SS 9018K2M with maximum PCM/DSD rates of 384kHz/32-bit/DSD256, with a pair of Class-D amplifiers rated at 50W/ch.

Bluetooth is courtesy of a Qualcomm aptX HD chip with 24-bit processing capacity that boasts a low signal-to-noise ratio combined with reduced harmonic distortion. Installation requires the two speakers to be connected, using the three-metre cable supplied or a more up-market version, if desired. However, the powered speaker has to be the right-channel, and the passive the left otherwise stereo images are reversed; at least on digital inputs since the RCA connections can be reversed to fix an analogue input.

Triangle Borea BR02 Connect wireless loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

Another shortcoming is that, at power-on the bass boost feature is automatically enabled. It would have been preferable to start in plain vanilla mode, or at least to have this as the default option. Thankfully it can be defeated using the little remote handset which is the only way of controlling the Borea BR02, so don’t lose or damage it. The only rear panel controls, alongside all the in/out connectors, are a mains on/off switch and the ability to adjust the input gain for each source in an effort to balance levels.

Sound quality

Although the Borea BR02s had been run-in before supply, I connected them and left them running for several days before the listening panel assembled. During this time, I really rather enjoyed what they could do, coupled via HDMI to my TV screen, an internet tuner connected to the coaxial input, a Blu-ray DVD player to the optical and streaming from my iPhone using the Bluetooth link.

Tonally they seemed very similar to a host of BBC-type loudspeaker designs and this was confirmed with a rough and ready in-room frequency response measurement. We have the classic ‘BBC dip’ which was created based on the premise that a totally flat response from circa 1.5-3kHz is annoying to the human ear, the sound appearing shrill and fatiguing especially on classical material. The answer was to create a slight attenuation, dipping only about 2dB from around 300Hz to 3kHz.

Triangle Borea BR02 Connect wireless loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

Triangle also appear to have gone for a slight rise though the upper bass and this, again, is pleasing to the ear, with the addition of the soft-dome tweeter giving notable ‘air’ to the sound. It’s a balancing act, though, because while the contour from 2-7kHz adds to the quality, it’s easy to make this too deep which causes the sound to become dark, almost sleepy. Thankfully that’s not the case here and the designers have created the Borea BR02 to be a very competent design which is easy on the ear. The two drive units are well-integrated with a lovely HF response that generates a good soundstage both on and off-axis.

The selectable bass boost function destroys all that though, giving the sensation of Alfred Brendel playing Schubert’s Piano Sonata No 21 (on Phillips) in a tunnel. There was a very odd reverberation and the piano sounded most unnatural. Thankfully, one press of the boost off button and normality was restored. We were back to the intimate expression of this keyboard maestro and could enjoy his wonderfully musical playing.

A key facet of the Borea BR02 is its hugely natural balance on human voice, which is devoid of coloration in the form of nasality, sibilance or chestiness. At this price point that is a tremendous achievement and I can think of so many other products which fail dismally when it comes to re-creating speech so naturally. Hats off to the Triangle team because this product is ideally suited as a two-channel solution when placed either side of a TV.

Triangle Borea BR02 Connect wireless loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

Indeed, when the panel finally assembled, they enjoyed a DVD of Johnny English Strikes Again and preferred bass boost to be implemented because it enhanced the dramatic sound effects so well if slightly denigrating the speech. The soundstage was enormous for such small cabinets and the dynamics impressive. Imaging was first-rate, the Borea BR02 is a class leader in fact as it became clear that Triangle have got so much ‘just right’ in this compact design.

With the bass feature ‘off’ again, we were able to enjoy the Avison Ensemble, courtesy of Linn’s classical radio feed. Arcangelo Corelli’s Grosso in B-flat No.5 was a chance for the Triangles to show their ability at revealing detail and portraying something of the recording atmosphere. The performance was sparkling and brought us very close to the ensemble in an extremely believable manner. The sound was natural with the soft-dome creating a finely detailed treble response that was never harsh, shrill or brittle. The midrange, as with speech material, was sublime and the bass avoided any of the over-blown qualities that some designers feel is necessary to provide some kind of ‘wow’ factor. Triangle have managed to restrain themselves and confine this to the selectable bass boost.

For a livelier repertoire, the panel chose Circles by Kae Tempest – this was a good selection because it revealed the Borea BR02’s ability with bass and timing, two important elements in loudspeaker design. Both passed muster and it was remarkable just how much low-frequency energy these little boxes could create, and of high quality as well. Foot tapping was involuntary and so Triangle have managed to satisfy the pace, rhythm and timing cravers as we were absorbed by the edgy bass and fitful, chilling beats.

Triangle Borea BR02 Connect wireless loudspeaker review https://the-ear.net

The panel gone I was in no hurry to remove the Borea BR02s, and I can’t say that about all review equipment. Listening, as I do, to ageing analogue sounds from black-and-white films and TV productions, the ability to tweak both high and low frequencies was an enormous boon. Where soundtracks suffered from low rumble, this could be largely negated by simply pressing ‘bass minus’, while the annoying hiss on some audio is again tweakable almost to the point of removal. This is a nice touch and something my £10,500 amplifier can’t manage.

Conclusion

The fact that so much can be accommodated in a unit not only of this size but, more surprisingly at this price is just incredible. Sure, not everything is perfect but it’s right enough to make this is a product I could easily live with.

Although French, in the Borea BR02 Triangle have created a very English-sounding loudspeaker as shown by its BBC-design traits. In ‘flat’ mode it sounds extremely natural and non-fatiguing. For those who like a little more excitement, the EQ abilities add the option to make personal adjustments. All-in-all it’s a real winner and the ideal partner either side of a TV for a great two-channel system. In fact, unplugging it one realises just how terrible/inadequate television loudspeakers are. The Borea BR02 Connect is unequivocally a Best Buy if ever there was.

Specifications:

Type: 2-way active standmount loudspeaker
Amplifier power: 50W Class D
Drive units:
Mid/bass: 130mm
Tweeter: 25mm soft dome
Crossover frequency: not specified
Frequency response: (+/- 3dB) 56 Hz – 22 kHz
Wired connections: mini-jack 3.5mm, Optical Toslink, Coaxial, USB-B, HDMI ARC CEC, RCA (line/phono MM)
Wireless inputs: Bluetooth: 5.0, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, SBC, and AAC audio
Dimensions HxWxD: 310 x 176 x 274mm
Weight: 6.1kg
Finishes: black ash, light oak, cream, blue, green, oak
Warranty: 2 years

Price when tested:
£549
Manufacturer Details:

Triangle
T +33(0) 323 753 820
http://www.trianglehifi.com

Type:

wireless loudspeakers

Author:

Trevor Butler

Distributor Details:

SCV Distribution
T 03301 222 50
http://www.scvdistribution.co.uk

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