Coincident Speaker Technology Super Conquest Series II loudspeaker
This case was different. I had no knowledge of Coincident Speaker Technology until Wes Phillips called to ask me to consider reviewing the Super Conquest Series II. Some time back, it seems, he had reviewed an earlier, quite different Coincident product—the disappointing Troubador, in January and February 1996, Vol.19 Nos.1 & 2—and Wes hoped that I could approach the Super Conquest with fresh ears and an open mind. Okay, I'd take a crack at it. Not only that, I wouldn't go back to read the reviews of the earlier CST product until I'd formed my own opinions.
Aside from the Super Conquest's quoted high sensitivity, there seemed to be nothing unusual about the speaker. But after noting the Roman numeral "II" appended to the serial numbers, I learned that there had been an earlier version of the Super Conquest. Series II speakers can be distinguished by the proprietary titanium-dome tweeter, sealed midrange sub-enclosure, and mirror-imaged, side-firing woofers. Designer Israel Blume asserts that the "oil-can" resonance of Coincident's dome is well above the audible frequency band, and its low-frequency resonance is a very low 750Hz. The latter allows for implementation of a first-order crossover with the midrange unit.
The advantages claimed for the midrange sub-enclosure include isolation from the woofer's air turbulence and the acoustic rolloff of frequencies below 200Hz, eliminating the need for a large high-pass capacitor in series with the midrange driver. Blume also maintains that the side-firing woofers allow flexibility in room loading, minimize interference between the midrange and bass drivers, and simulate a higher-order woofer rolloff because the woofer's directional high frequencies are aimed away from the listener. In addition, Series II employs spline-joint cabinet construction for increased rigidity and stiffness.
Arrival and Setup
On slipping the Super Conquests out of their shipping cartons, I was very pleasantly surprised by their nice finish, graceful shape, and maneuverability. Satin cherry veneer covers all visible surfaces. The 1" titanium-dome tweeter and 5" polypropylene-cone midrange, both mounted high on the front surface, are covered by a small fabric grille with Velcro fixings. The 10" woofer is surface-mounted to the side about a third of the way up, and there's a 2"-diameter port on the back. Just below this vent, a small identifying panel bears a pair of gold-plated multiway connectors. The underside has threaded inserts for the adjustable spikes, which I found to be absolutely necessary on my carpet.
That's it: no controls, no multi-amping/multi-wiring, and, surprisingly, no cover or protection for the woofer cone. On the other hand, the Super Conquest shows subtle evidence of responsible design: nicely chamfered front-panel edges, close spacing of midrange and treble drivers, and good physical stability, with or without spikes.
The instructions are minimal. The Super Conquests, toed-in about 15-20 degrees, should be placed 1-3' from side walls and 1-3' from the rear wall, with 6-8' between them. Placing them equidistant from the side and rear walls is not recommended. The user is advised to try different setups—woofers facing inward, woofers facing out—but is given little guidance as to what to expect or listen for in deciding between these options. I began with the speakers about 3' from the rear wall, 2' from the sides, and with the woofers facing each other.
Wrong. Something was very wrong. All the balance was shifted to the left, with no semblance of imaging. Why? One tweeter was out.
With Israel Blume's phone support and guidance I unbolted the dead tweeter, found that it had become disconnected from one of its leads, and fixed it with a swipe of my soldering iron. (The wiring has been modified on current production; this problem should not recur.)
I'd just dispatched the Genesis 500s from my system. But even though I was making mental accommodation for the two speakers' differences in size and price, the Super Conquests sounded murky and diffuse, regardless of the amp used to power them. I tried moving them around, hoping to find a "sweet spot" where the speakers would just come alive. Patience ebbing, I swapped them so that the woofers now faced out, and decreased the toe-in to about 10 degrees. (My usual listening distance is more than 12'.)
I don't think I've ever heard a better demonstration of the importance of positioning and aiming than with the Super Conquests. All of a sudden, things jelled. The tonal balance from the lower midrange to the extreme treble was now smooth and well integrated, and the soundstage was huge and structured. One of the most significant tests of speaker performance is whether the system can create a soundstage that has width and depth, but that is not focused in any way on the drivers or enclosures. To accomplish this disappearing act, the drivers' responses must be balanced and their in-room spatial characteristics well controlled. A few speakers have done this in my listening room: the EOS Signatures most consistently, the Genesis 500s usually, the Apogee Duettas often. The Super Conquests did it too.
Despite this talent, the Super Conquest lacked the exquisite dissection of detail and microdynamics of the multi-$k speakers listed above. When I was not being analytical, the Super Conquest delivered up the music sympathetically and unaggressively. Yet when I turned my attention to the sound per se, I got the impression of reticence at the extremes of treble and bass. Now, I don't listen to demo stuff like Harold Farberman's Percussion Fantasia (First Impression Music FIMCD017) for the music, but to get a thrill or two from the crystalline sparkle of the instruments. While the Super Conquest was reasonably clear, it never gave me a shiver of delight.