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-units—a silk-dome tweeter coincidentally mounted within a polypropylene-cone woofer—severely flawed. Subsequent measurements revealed that the woofer and tweeter were connected with opposite acoustic polarities—which, 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 Stereophile—serial numbers 015L & R—were 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 speakers—serial numbers 118R-6 and 118L-6—arrived 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" column—see p.999—I set the Troubadors up in my listening room. The speakers sat on 24" lead-shot–filled 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 low—the output was audibly dropping by the 40Hz 1/3-octave warble tone from Stereophile's Test CD 3—but 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.

Summing up
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

eugovector's picture

What's going on here?

mrplankton2u's picture

It's the token bad review that Stereophile feels it has to throw out to remind readers that on exceedingly rare occasions, it actually does take a break from the non stop advertising/promotional campaigns which help keep the lights on and pay for airfares for "journalists" to travel from show to show in which they endlessly kibitz with other "industry" figures in dining rooms and bars across the United!

[Possibly actionable defamation deleted by JA]

Now if only we could get these "journalists" to stop giving "very highly recommended" review summaries for products like a $6000 tube amp whose volume control gets too hot to touch... (eyeroll)

[More defamatory content deleted. If you continue to post defamatory and personal comments, we will have no option but to ban you from this site, mrplankton2u.-JA]

mrplankton2u's picture

I don't think you have a clue what the term "defamatory" actually means so I've cited a definition below:


"Defamation—also called calumnyvilificationtraducementslander (for transitory statements), and libel (for written, broadcast, or otherwise published words)—is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation a negative or inferior image. This can be also any disparaging statement made by one person about another, which is communicated or published, whether true or false, depending on legal state. In Common Law it is usually a requirement that this claim be false and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (theclaimant).[1]"


Note, Mr. Atkinson, that under "common law", the requirement for defamation is that published claims are false. [Edited by John Atkinson]

GeorgeHolland's picture

It is pretty obvious that Mr Blume is clueless when it comes to speaker design. Even the "novices" on real audio forums know about the importance of acoustic phase.

junker's picture

Thanks for the honest review.

JohnnyR's picture

Well maybe more of a "Don't tell us the truth or you will be banned"attitude. When logic fails, just delete posts and call it "defaming". Lame.

tmsorosk's picture

You mean the truth as you see it JohnnyR ?

After reading many of your posts I would say there anything but true.

I'm usually agaist banning anyone, but I'll make an exception in your case. You contribute nothing to this great site and depict yourself as an unhappy and uneducated troll.   BEAT  IT.

JohnnyR's picture

......that MrPlankton2U spelled out what was going on and JA deleted it because? I'm glad you have no say so as to who should be banned. By the way it's "they're" NOT "there". Please be more civil in the future and perhaps you won't be making errors.

 Mr Blume obviously didn't bother to measure his finished speaker. I'm betting he used his "golden ears" to judge them. Ahhhhh the folly of relying upon "what he heard".