Triangle Magellan Concerto loudspeaker Rooms & Radiation patterns
A loudspeaker's perceived balance in a room has to do with the ratio of direct to reflected sound heard by the listener. A very directional speaker will maximize the proportion of direct sound in the mix, whereas an omnidirectional design will increase the relative amount of room-reflected sound heard. Although it would be foolish to claim that either approach is inherently "correct," which one the speaker designer uses has considerable consequences for the listening experience.
It depends on how big a role the listening room plays in the sound. The use of headphones totally removes the effects of the room, which is one reason 'phones are particularly useful for monitoring the content of recordings with minimal distraction. But many people find headphone listening unnatural and disconcerting for exactly the same reason: the recorded acoustic completely swamps that of the listening room.
I don't think it's possible to create a scenario in which 100% of the sound is reflected and none travels directly to the listener (though perhaps a pair of large NXT-type panels might have a comparable effect). Room-reflected sound differs from direct sound in two key respects. First, it provides an acoustic picture of the listening room; second, it "scrambles" any phase information that might be generated by the direct source. What we want from any pair of speakers, therefore, is a mixture of direct and room-reflected sound; the precise constitution of that mix will feed through directly into the listening experience.
Triangle's approach seems an effective way of combining the best of both the directional and omnidirectional worlds. Obviously, the rear-mounted drivers mean that there will be significantly greater mid and treble room-reflected sound than from a conventional front-firing driver array. But by retaining and merely augmenting a conventional front-firing array, the good phase integrity and imaging of such an array are well maintained, along with the extra spaciousness supplied by the additional room reflections.—Paul Messenger