Coincident Speaker Technology Troubador loudspeaker Follow-Up February 1996
Follow-Up, from February 1996 (Vol.19 No.2):
Wes Phillips was unimpressed with the sound of the good-looking, $1495/pair, two-way Coincident Speaker Technology Troubador loudspeaker in January '96 (p.223). He found its tonal balance colored and the integration between its drive-unitsa silk-dome tweeter coincidentally mounted within a polypropylene-cone wooferseverely flawed. Subsequent measurements revealed that the woofer and tweeter were connected with opposite acoustic polaritieswhich, once the phase shift due to the crossover and the time delay between the units was taken into account, resulted in almost complete cancellation of the speaker's output in the crossover region. The tweeter output also showed narrow suckouts at higher frequencies due to the symmetrical environment offered by the woofer cone, and overall the HF unit's output averaged between 5dB and 10dB too high in level.
Designer Israel Blume cried "Foul!" In his "Manufacturer's Comment" letter (January '96, p.335), he explained that the review samples that had been sent to Stereophileserial numbers 015L & Rwere not representative of how the Troubador performed but were instead a one-off pair that had been designed to sound the way they sounded at the wish of an overseas customer. With the tweeter connected with the correct polarity, the Troubador's use of a first-order crossover would give the intended flat response in the crossover region. Accordingly, we requested a second pair of Troubadors from Coincident Speaker Technology for Follow-Up coverage. These speakersserial numbers 118R-6 and 118L-6arrived with a cover letter stating that the drive-units were now "virtually perfectly" time-aligned and that the response measured by an independent measurements lab was "within 3dB from 50Hz to 18kHz." The speakers were painted in a very attractive gray-flecked acrylic finish.
WP being heavily involved in the research for his first "Car Tunes" columnsee p.999I set the Troubadors up in my listening room. The speakers sat on 24" lead-shotfilled Celestion Si stands and were driven by a Mark Levinson No.38S preamplifier and No.333 power amplifier. Digital front-end was a Mark Levinson No.31/No.30.5/Meridian 518 combination connected by Madrigal AES/EBU cable; speaker cables were a bi-wired set of Cardas Cross; interconnects were AudioQuest AudioTruth Lapis x2.
The good news is that the new Troubador samples sounded very much better than the first ones. They were much more evenly balanced overall, and the boosted high treble that had bothered both Wes and me was gone. They threw a well-defined, spacious-sounding stereo image, with good apparent depth. It was obvious from standing up, sitting down, and walking around the listening room that the speaker's dispersion in both horizontal and vertical planes was wide and even. This will make setting up a pair of Troubadors in a room a painless process.
The bass didn't extend that lowthe output was audibly dropping by the 40Hz 1/3-octave warble tone from Stereophile's Test CD 3but what low frequencies there were sounded quite generously balanced, at the expense of ultimate bass definition.
However, a degree of hollow-sounding coloration was still present. This was particularly noticeable with pink noise and with orchestral recordings. In addition, the speaker's sound lacked vitality and immediacy. While this somewhat laid-back presentation was kind to bright recordings, I kept feeling that I wanted to turn up the volume.
Suspecting a low-treble suckout, I inverted the tweeter polarity. (This pair of speakers was fitted with dual sets of terminals, a $100/pair option, which made this possible.) That wasn't the solution. Wired in this manner, the Troubadors acquired a "shoutiness" in the low treble that was very unkind to bright-balanced CDs and made human voice sound like the singer was using a megaphone. I went back to using the speaker as the designer intended.
One problem that kept returning during the auditioning was a strong buzz in the 250Hz region on one of the speakers (118L-6). This could be temporarily eliminated by loosening or tightening the hex-head bolts that held the concentric drive-unit in place, but it never went away for good.
I ended my listening sessions disappointed with the Troubador. While it does some things right, I still found it a little too colored and too uninvolving-sounding for long-term satisfaction.
Competition in the $1500/pair price region is intense. For a new loudspeaker from a new company to stand any kind of chance, therefore, it needs to be almost without flaw. The new samples of the Coincident Speaker Technology Troubador are much more neutrally balanced than the ones WP reviewed in January. However, more work needs to be done, in my opinion, to correct the speaker's uninvolving balance and eliminate its residual coloration before the Troubador merits a recommendation.John Atkinson