Product Review - Coincident
Speaker Technology Triumph Signature Speakers - November, 1999
91db 1 watt / 1 meter
48 Hz - 25 kHz
16" H x
W x 11.5"
26 Pounds Each
Black; $1,099/Pair Cherrywood
|Coincident Speaker Technology, E-Mail [email protected]; Web http://www.coincidentspeaker.com.|
thought I would begin this review with a short fable:
once was a man, a speaker-builder by trade, who worked hard every day to earn a
living, like the rest of us.
One day he overheard all his audio buddies bemoaning the lack of
high-efficiency speakers to use with their low-powered, single-ended, tube
by the anguish in their voices, the man went back to his shop and designed an
affordable, good-looking, small speaker that would work with their low-powered
people of the land rejoiced!
There was then a groundswell of grass-roots political support, and the
humble speaker-builder was shortly thereafter elected King of the World!
moral of the story is that good things happen to those that build affordable,
good-sounding, high-efficiency speakers for the masses.
I admit that I made that story up . . . but just barely.
I think it could happen, really I do.
those of you who have read some of my other reviews, you probably know that my
personal audio nirvana is achieved through the sounds made by low-powered,
single-ended, tube amplifiers.
I absolutely adore the sound of these simple circuits.
There is a tonal beauty, truth of timbre, and musical purity that happens
unfailingly when I'm listening to these types of amps.
On top of the way they sound, I can also build 'em myself, which only
adds to the fun.
What more can you ask for?
about some nice speakers to listen to those amps with?
you had to ask.
Now there's the tricky part of this whole low-powered amp fetish.
your reference, when I speak of low-powered amps, I'm referring to roughly 15 wpc
or less. My
main amp has 13 wpc (two parallel single-ended, triode-wired EL-34s per
channel), and my alternate amp has 8 wpc (one single-ended 300B triode per
next amp I build will have about 3 or 4 wpc (one single-ended 2A3 triode per
that low-powered enough?
are two hurdles, each equally hard to clear, in finding speakers that work well
with lower-powered amplifiers:
the speaker must have adequately high sensitivity.
Sensitivity is a measurement of how loud a speaker will play with 1 watt
of input power, and with the sound output being measured at a distance of 1 meter.
If your amp produces about 8 wpc or more, speaker sensitivity of at least
90 dB/1 w/1m is a good benchmark to shoot for if your room isn't too large and if your
musical tastes include genres other than heavy metal.
As you move down the power scale to the 3 wpc range - the land of 2A3
triodes - speaker sensitivity of 95 - 97 dB (or higher) is ideal to achieve
dynamic, full-bodied sound.
The Triumph Signature is rated at 91 db, which is good for me.
second hurdle to finding the right speaker for your low-powered amplifier is
impedance, which is really the "load" that your amplifier "sees" when
driving a speaker.
Speakers that present your low-powered amp with a stable, high-ish
impedance of around 8 ohms (or even higher) will work very well and allow your
amp to sing happily.
If, however, your speaker's impedance drops down to 3 ohms or 4 ohms at
various frequencies (and you don't happen to have corresponding 4 ohm speaker
tap on your amplifier), be prepared for a somewhat lifeless, anemic sound
especially in the low or mid-bass region.
This may happen even if the speakers have high sensitivity.
There are 94 dB sensitive speakers out there that still don't work well
with low-powered amps because they present a wildly varying and typically low
impedance to an amplifier.
those hurdles in mind, does anybody know how many affordable speakers out there
effectively address the two key issues raised above, thereby presenting
themselves as viable alternatives to the low-powered amp crowd?
Oh, gosh, I don't know . . . maybe four or so.
In other words, not nearly enough.
does this dilemma lead us?
To the Coincident Speaker Technology Triumph Signature, that's where.
Triumph Signature is a small speaker designed to be placed on a stand with an
ideal height of around 24".
At least that was what I found in my listening tests.
Coincident makes a stand, logically called the Triumph Stand, that is
23" high and matches the speakers visually and sonically.
They also make a combination subwoofer/speaker stand that the Triumph
Signature sits upon and is specially designed to match the speakers, again both
sonically and visually.
I didn't have either of those factory specified stands for this
review, so I placed the Triumph Signatures on a 24" stand that was designed
for use with my Spica TC-60s, called the Gravity Stand.
This is a great speaker stand, and it seemed to work fine with the Triumph
Triumph Signature is a good-looking speaker with beveled edges and a nice
Cherrywood finish on the review pair I had (this finish is a $100 option to the
standard $999 speakers which come in black).
There is no grille.
While not cheap, their sub four-digit retail price certainly puts the
Triumph Signatures in the attainable range for most real-world music lovers.
pair of speakers I reviewed were built for single-wiring, but a bi-wiring option is
would have preferred to listen to the bi-wired version, as I believe it has
sonic advantages, but that wasn't what was available at the time (I could have
bi-amped them too, with my two stereo single-ended amplifiers).
The binding posts are nice gold-plated jobs with a good feel.
I didn't open up the speakers and peer inside, but as I understand it,
they don't use any internal damping material.
While this flows contrary to most other speaker designs, Coincident's
head-honcho, Israel Blume, prefers instead to maintain the natural liveliness of
the enclosure and simply tune the predominant resonant frequency to a point high
enough (around 350 Hz) that it doesn't muddy up the bass whatsoever.
For what it's worth, my listening tests seem to confirm that he hit the
mark with that design goal.
The woofer is a good quality 6.5" polypropylene unit, and the tweeter
has been upgraded in the recent past to a 1" silk dome version.
All drivers are matched to ensure that they form good pairs and sound
like the designer intends.
The final construction detail I should mention is that the crossover uses
good-quality components, is a first-order type, is hard-wired (no printed
circuit boards), and has only two components in the signal path.
As the newly publicly-owned Martha Stewart would say, "these are
though the specs indicate that the Triumph Sigs will work well with low-powered
amplifiers, I was surprised at how good the match really was.
When they needed to, these babies could play LOUD with very little power;
however, at no point did the sound become noisy.
The sound remained coherent and musical at high volume levels, even with
the 8 wpc 300B-powered amp driving them.
These, truly, are speakers made for low-powered amps.
for kicks, I hooked up my solid state NAD amplifier, which is no arc-welder at 35
wpc, but is much more representative of normal amplifier power levels.
Although the NAD simply isn't as refined or tonally rich as my
single-ended amps, I am happy to report that the Triumph Signatures are not
They worked just fine with the solid-state NAD and would certainly
respond even better to a higher-quality solid state amp driving them.
most striking sonic quality of the Triumph Signatures was the coherency and
wholeness of its musical presentation -- there was an ever-present sense that
music was being made while the Triumph Sigs were playing.
What I heard wasn't just woofers and tweeters making noise, it was
This superb music-making quality wasn't the result of any particular
sonic trait that jumps out at the listener.
The bass wasn't earth-shaking, the midrange wasn't the most transparent
or uncolored these ears have ever heard, and the highs didn't re-define clarity
or shimmer . . . yet through it all there was music happening.
And if you take any of these comments about the way the Triumphs
reproduced various parts of the sonic range as negative, you are missing the
you step up the Coincident product lineup, you find more expensive speakers built
for even higher performance.
I'm sure that Israel Blume intends his top-of-the-line speakers to do all
things unsurpassed, and doesn't necessarily expect the same from the Triumph
these speakers are meant to bring real music, without any gross errors of
commission or omission, within the range of just about every audio and music
do feel the need to mention specifically the silk dome tweeter.
That baby is a real winner -- it sounds clear and articulate at both low
and high volume levels, yet it imparts just a touch of sweetness to most
anything played through it.
This wasn't detrimental to the music in any way, but it did help render
listenable certain music where a razor-sharp tweeter might reveal flaws in the
recording that you really didn't want to hear.
I never heard the previous version of the Triumph Signature where a
different tweeter was employed, but this one is hard to beat at the price range
the Sigs occupy.
small speakers often do, I thought the Triumph Signatures threw a convincing and
well-defined image above and behind the speakers.
These speakers accomplish that task as well or better than many
considerably more expensive floor-standers.
The image was most believable when I maintained a listening position
where the tweeters stayed close to ear level and where my seat was planted
near the "sweet spot".
small speakers (for any speaker, really), the bass was full and satisfying,
especially in my small listening room.
I didn't feel the need for a subwoofer, but then again I don't listen to
much music that has either primary bass notes or harmonics below 40Hz.
It was easy to hear that Israel Blume tuned the cabinets to a high
resonance point because there was no bass bloat or thump where I didn't want
bass that was there was tuneful and well-controlled, if just a bit indistinct
when things really get cooking, but that may have been as much the fault of the
amp as the speakers.
thought the Triumph Signatures were on their best behavior with my 13 wpc EL-34
amplifier, the extra watts over the 8 wpc 300B amp coming in handy to drive the
music forward and keep the bass as tight and tuneful as possible.
That said, there was nothing objectionable about the Triumph Sigs driven
by 300Bs. In
fact, many times during the review process, this combination resulted in what I
would consider the most beautiful of sound on some small jazz combo stuff and
vocals with piano accompaniment.
The Triumph Sigs are simply a great choice if your musical tastes fall on
that side of the fence.
final comment is simply one of encouragement to Israel Blume, and other speakers
designers out there, to build more speakers that have this much going for them
sonically and aesthetically, and are electrically compatible with lower-powered
high-end audio world is going to continue to fragment into high-powered,
multi-channel formats in one direction, and two-channel purists in the other.
My prediction is that two-channel purists are going to discover,
more and more, the sonic joy of simple audio circuits that sound exceptionally
good -- in other words, low-powered, single-ended tube audio.
As this plays out, and as the number of audiophiles using low-powered
equipment grows, there will be an increasing need for suitable speakers.
With the Triumph Signatures by Coincident Speaker Technology, you have one
very good choice, and it's affordable to boot.
I recommend that you hear this speaker.
- Paul Knutson -
© Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater
& High Fidelity
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