Triangle Antal 40th Anniversary Edition loudspeaker Julie Mullins June 2023

Julie Mullins wrote about the Triangle Antal 40th in June 2023 (Vol.46 No.6):

My first opportunity to hear the Triangle Antal 40th Anniversary loudspeaker (footnote 1) was in the context of my December 2022 review of the HiFi Rose RA180 integrated amplifier. Because of that amplifier's unique feature set—specifically, its incorporation of four amplification modules—I wanted to try it with speakers that could be biamped. Robert Schryer favorably reviewed these Antals in the October 2022 issue, and his review convinced me that I wanted to hear them. "The Antal 40's sonic balance is akin to what might be expected if the Focal K2 936s and the Monitor Audio Silver 500 7Gs had a baby, and that baby's main features included a mix of the low-end presence and image corporeality of the Focals with the transient speed and midrange clarity of the Monitor Audios," Schryer memorably wrote. "The Triangles lifted me to those high-water–mark, daydreaming states. They became a new frame of reference of what audiophile sound can be." After reading that, who wouldn't want to try them?

When the need arose, I asked if I could get a pair in to assist with the HiFi Rose review. Editor Jim Austin signed off on that and on an Antal follow-up review. Unfortunately, one of those 40th Anniversary Antals arrived here damaged, with a broken midrange driver, thanks to some rough handling during shipping.

Antal Audio Distribution—Triangle's US distributor—was kind enough to dispatch a second pair, in the attractive Blonde Sycamore finish. Meanwhile, I'd reinstalled the MBL 120 Radialstrahler speakers, my current reference, connecting them to the RA180 integrated amplifier. The Antal's shipping and break-in time allowed me time to reacclimate my ears to the unique sound of the MBLs.

The Antal 40 speakers were easy to set up: Just bolt the base plates on and attach the rubber covers to the brass feet (to protect my wooden floors from scratches and dents). Placement, too, was straightforward. Starting with my usual configuration—the setup I use with the MBLs—I ended up with the Triangles set up on the isosceles side of equilateral, the speakers closer together than the distance between the speakers and my listening chair some 9'away.

Though both speaker models are three-ways, the 120s are a different breed, employing a different paradigm than the (relatively) more traditional Triangle Antal floorstanders. The Antal 40s have four drivers: a proprietary paper-cone midrange, two woofers that work in tandem, and a flared port tuned to 37Hz, per JA's measurements. The phase plug in the midrange diaphragm's center aims to aid and smooth dispersion.

The fourth driver is a compression-horn tweeter made of anodized magnesium (coated in rose gold) in place of the previous model's titanium tweeter—more rigid yet lighter than the standard Antal Ez's (ie, non–40th Anniversary model's) dome—which is said to provide "higher efficiency, lower distortion, and better directivity" than the previous model's dome. I found that it delivered smooth and precise sound but without the beaminess or harshness that can arise from tweeter directivity.

I usually listen with my eyes closed, so this notion didn't occur to me immediately, but: The tweeter's smooth, shiny surface seemed to—um—reflect some of its sonic properties. Percussion instruments involving metal came alive—vibraphone, for example. I pulled out Cal Tjader's Soul Sauce (Verve V6-8614). The transients of his mallet strikes were especially clear and impactful. Sustains were long.

Singer/songwriter Matt Shelton's Me or the Moon album (LP, Pirates Press MOTM 153) features his Array mbira, or African thumb piano, with metal keys that span three octaves. Made in Zimbabwe, this mbira was already a tricked-out box even before Shelton added a pickup.

This is quirky folk music, with unusual instrumentation and oddball melodies and time signatures. The Antal 40/RA180 combo served well this album's riot of textures and tonal colors. On the Afropop-tinged "Bare & Braided Girl," the mbira's jubilant bounce rang out naturally, with just the right ringiness, a pure metallic intensity. The Antal 40s brought out the instrument's toylike tones with a sweet sense of wonderment.

Shelton's music often has a charming naïveté, a bit like Jonathan Richman's. The playful, plinking timbre of his mbira and kalimba created an interesting counterpoint to his deep baritone voice and deadpan delivery.

That voice sounded extra chesty through this system, except on "Tiger Tiger"—which might have been inspired by the track name of the Duran Duran instrumental (footnote 2)—where his vocal reminded me of R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe (especially circa Automatic for the People). Vocals take center stage with snare rolls as a backdrop.

Percussion textures were especially believable: brushstrokes, the sense of beads or bits inside a shaker. I got strong impressions of brush action and the drum's body and skin, down to the tonal differences in force and location of the strikes on the drumhead. Attacks were crisp and quick (perhaps due in part to the RA180's GaN-based class-D amplification's clean speed). Those instrumental—and human—images emerged from black backgrounds; that quietness enabled more up-close—and compelling—peeks behind the curtain into each recordings' details. Angel Olsen's Phases (LP, Jagjaguwar JAG314), a compilation assembling demos, B-sides, and previously unreleased tracks from various sessions from 2012–2017, was released in 2017, years before she hit the bigtime, with her release Big Time. (I'm not counting her breakout single, 2016's "Shut Up Kiss Me.") Stripped down, minimalist, occasionally lo-fi production prevails here, and it suits this material. Her 1979 Gibson S-1 guitar tones rang true (footnote 3).

Playback through the Triangles seemed to sort through the subtle nuances between the tracks' various studios and acoustical qualities. On the first two cuts, "Fly on Your Wall" and "Special," originally from the My Woman sessions, all the musical elements sounded as one though comprised of clear individual parts. Emily Elhaj's bass was full and plump.

The next two cuts, recorded three years earlier at a different studio, gave an impression of various parts assembled—less well tied together. Contrasts continued on the "Sans" home demo recording, where the vocals weren't as smooth or easy on the ears. The point here is that while the Triangle/MBL N51 integrated setup was forgiving, it was revealing enough to spotlight these production differences clearly. In his review, Schryer discussed the Triangle Antal 40s' deft vocal handling. My impressions were similar. On most mixes, Olsen's come-hither vibrato, warbling delicacy, and breath were raw, expressive, believable.

Another album—a much earlier one—samba soul exponent Jorge Ben's Fôrça Bruta, a 2008 LP reissue of an album from 1970 (LP, 4 Men with Beards 4m168), expresses emotion through Ben's impassioned vocals and guitar playing, alongside the supertight Trio Mocotó. The album was recorded during Brazil's long military dictatorship, an era steeped in censorship (not to mention questionable incarcerations and torture). Its title is Portuguese for "Brute Force," which carries obvious and subtly ironic implications. Even at its most passionate, the music remains gently sweet and sophisticated as its driving rhythms surge ahead.

Always a pleasure to revisit, this album is best listened to in its entirety. Sometimes, though, I enjoy jumping to the first two cuts on side 2; they fit together like interlocking jigsaw pieces.

Soulful, uptempo samba flair fills "Apareceu Aparecida," as Ben sings and plays patterns on his 10-string viola caipira (footnote 4). Those patterns repeat with slight variations in delivery, which could grow tiresome on a system that failed to highlight variations sufficiently to keep them compelling. No problem here. Background bell plates chime, faint yet distinctive and pleasingly metallic.

Next, Ben's guitar sets in motion "O Telefone Tocou Novamente" before the percussion kicks in, starting with tambourine shakes. The tambourine, a percussion staple and often ordinary, was Technicolor-vivid, as beckoning as a dinner bell. Fritz Escovão plays a cuica, a tubular Brazilian friction drum capable of a wide range of pitch including distinctive squeaky sounds heard here, odd and charming. The song chugs along creating a kinetic collage, energy building as instruments large and small pop in and out across the soundstage. The uncredited orchestral strings and horns were revealed as what they probably were: subsequent add-ons. The system rendered the Trio Mocotó's relentless rhythmic precision and momentum. My reptile brain responded physically to these infectious rhythms, forcing me to move at least one body part in time.

The energy felt spontaneous. Ben's voice sounded slightly raspy and a bit dry. Some studio echo was evident on the vocals. The Antals exposed these characteristics, especially the hints of dryness. As the song swells to a climax, Ben's voice, near pleading now, hit new highs. Whether it's more falsetto or straining near the top of his range is hard to say, but no matter: It's a wonderfully impassioned moment, simultaneously sweet and sad—and not a bit of it was lost through the Antals, which fully conveyed this song's urgency and saudade (footnote 4).

Nigerian drummer, composer, and Afro-beat co-originator Tony Allen's The Source (LP, Blue Note 5768336) trots out some seriously funky melting-pot rhythms. Among Allen's last handful of album projects before his passing in 2020 at age 79, 2017's The Source was recorded live to analog tape at the Midilive Studio in Villetaneuse, France. It delivers a knockout sense of strut—and intense presence.

With the Antal 40s in the system, horns honked in 3D. Rémi Sciuto's baritone sax was rich, reedy, and voluptuous, especially when the Antals were paired with the MBL N51 integrated.

On "On Fire," the New Orleans–spiked rhythms and horns cooked as hot and satisfying as étouffée. Mathias Allamane's bass plucks were hefty and deft. Jean Phi Dary, this track's co-composer, laid into several of the piano's far-left keys with a long-sustained "bom." In the slower, heavy grooves of "Woro Dance," you could feel that plenty of air was moving—through the saxophones, horns, and even against and from the drums, especially toms and kickdrum.

Soundstaging, which is expansive on this live-in-studio recording, extended around and outside of the Antal 40s more than behind them. There was also a sense of height. On "Tony's Blues," the baritone sax buzzed throatily, sounding real. I felt the urge to listen to these tracks again for the joy and excitement they brought. So I did.

Through the Antal 40s, bright-leaning recordings leaned bright. The Smiths' live album Rank (LP, Sire 9 25786-1) is one example. On another Smiths recording, the track "This Night Has Opened My Eyes," from Hatful of Hollow (LP, Rough Trade, Rough 76), I found my attention drawn to Andy Rourke's melodic basslines, which had scarcely registered before; they seemed in balance with the rest of the music.

The bottom line
The Triangle Antal 40th Anniversary speakers sound best when turned up a bit, say, 75–80dB. Beats and rhythms seem better defined; images have clearer, cleaner edges. These speakers may also benefit from more power. (For more on this, see JA's measurements.) Both the HiFi Rose RA180 and MBL N51 integrated amplifiers I used were up to the challenge—the Antal 40s always seemed controlled and never forced—but they provided different experiences. Focus and clarity was enhanced by the class-D HiFi Rose RA180, but the N51 delivered more gravitas.

Interdriver coherence is critical to any speaker's ability to deliver a convincing illusion of realism. My reference MBLs succeed at this, often to an astonishing degree. The Triangles are more focused, less fully enveloping yet capable of images with sufficient presence and enough highly resolved detail to be immersive in their own way, especially with the right amplification. Voices sound as though they came from the bodies of real, flesh-and-blood singers.

The Antals' best features are presence and purity of tone. Their timbre is true: I don't recall ever hearing an instrument sound timbrally off. Some might find them midrange-centric, but then the midrange is a crucial area of focus in any system, or should be. In any case, bass is sufficient, and the highs are, as I hope I've expressed adequately above, clear and expressive. Music seemed to emerge unadorned from these Triangle speakers. That was what made them most compelling, stoking my interest in listening to more recordings, in my collection and beyond.—Julie Mullins

Footnote 1: The Antal 40th costs $4700/pair. Antal Audio Group, 32 DIX Ave., Glens Falls, NY 12801. Tel: (503) 970-8531. Web:

Footnote 2: Or William Blake, or Rudyard Kipling.

Footnote 3: The viola caipira is a guitar, not a viola. Important in Brazil, it has 10 strings arranged in pairs, like a 12-string but with fewer strings, which are finger-plucked as in classical guitar and flamenco.

Footnote 4: A tricky-to-translate Portuguese term describing an emotion that combines bittersweet sadness and nostalgic longing for a person or thing that's absent.

Triangle Hi-Fi
US distributor: Antal Audio Group
32 DIX Ave.
Glens Falls, NY 12801
(503) 970-8531

Anton's picture

Thank you.

An instant classic review!!!

rschryer's picture

Thanks, Anton.

David Harper's picture

that "breaks in" is the audiophiles brain. Opinions to the contrary are audiophile nonsense. But there's an aweful lot of audiophile nonsense about everything here so who am I to complain? Whatever you believe is true for you. A lot like religion. If something has no basis in fact then we're all free to believe whatever we decide. It's all good.

johnnythunder1's picture

Your comments bring this place down. However, my new strategy is to ignore your opinions as I would the ravings of a mad man. Yes this is an ad hominem attack because to even debate what you are being a contrarian about is to stoop too low. A mind like yours cannot accept such abstract concepts. I'm surprised that you can even listen and understand music.

hb72's picture

would you accept Klippel factor measurements vs break-in time as proof of brake-in affects? Spider material as much as rubber or whatever the material surrounding the cone measurably change their stiffness & damping properties, especially vs displacement, after having been worked back and forth a couple of (hundred or thousand) times. non-linear properties to plastics isn't really a new thing in science.
See literature on Klippel factors.

PS: it is considerably easier to claim & proof the existence of a particular effect than its universal absence.

best regards

Valter's picture

to get addictive it is necessary that the sound meets the "expectation" you expect from the sound of your hi-fi.

johnnythunder1's picture

there was someone quite famous in this business who said along the line of , " if you can hear it and it can't be measured than we are measuring the wrong thing." We are all stupid for believing and hearing that audio equipment breaks in but you guys in the white lab coats on audio science review know better than us fools. If that's true, don't go to stereophile to comment just like I dont comment on the audio science review. Keep your opinions to yourself and let us deluded fools us enjoy Stereophile and let us waste our money how we want.

JHL's picture

...verges on projection. It wants for traceability and falsifiability, and it contradicts reams of cross-linked, patternable user evidence. It gatekeeps for X what Y may hear. At its best the theory of habituation relies on disconnected assumption and at its worse it abuses and impairs the audio high end.

Together with the myth that things may not break in because reasons, it's another failure of pseudo-reductionism, in this case back down to average sound.

In no field is a phenomenon adamantly disallowed for you until I can prove it to my satisfaction. Just here.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Haven't we heard all these arguments from both sides before? They each fail to convince the other side.

I prefer to take each review at face value, including issues such as this, that inform us of the author's perspective and interpret it in the context of my own perspective rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water.

volvic's picture

Funny story happened to me a few weeks ago regarding product habituation. A chap was selling a pair of Linn Kan stands and a recently refurbished pair of Linn Kan I’s. I got the stands and then wondered about buying the Kan I’s. Owning a pair of IIs, I thought it would be fun to do a side-by-side, but I thought better of it than spend $500 on a whim. A week later, he had reduced the price to $350 and told me that Linn purchasers were picky and didn’t want them because he had re-veneered the wood and wasn’t stock looking anymore. He offered to send them to me on his dime and compare them with mine and if I liked them, I could pay him after. When I finally compared them to my II’s I was stunned; mine sounded lifeless; I put my ear to the tweeters to ensure they were working. I checked with companies in the UK, including Falcon Acoustics, about what would cause this, and they think the caps in the crossover were toast. But I realized I was listening to these speakers the last few years, thinking everything was fine when they were slowly declining as performers. The I’s with the new caps, new Falcon Acoustics woofers, and new Hiquaphone tweeters were clearer, more detailed than my ten years younger IIs. Amazing what tricks my brain played on me, always knew I didn’t have golden ears. Time to recap and bring those II’s to full spec.

rschryer's picture

A room acoustics friend of mine said that the sound of our gear invariably changes due to the constant flow of current running through the components. It's a process that results in altering frequencies and shifting phases, some of which our brain adapts to, some of which it doesn't, and all of which renders the overall sound less involving to us over time.

If it's true, it's a good argument for new or refurbished gear.

volvic's picture

This was an eye opener for me, moving forward, if I plan on buying used gear knowing if it's been refurbished, is now essential in meeting the asking price or simply walking away.

Kal Rubinson's picture

If it's true. Does your friend have a reference to any study or investigation of this?

rschryer's picture

Actually, at this time, to answer your question, Kal, he "more likely does".

This friend works in the industrial acoustic treatment field, mostly to do with soundproofing and lowering room reverberations. He also has his own acoustic treatment business that caters to audiophiles. He mentioned the above theory — those shifting tonalities, frequencies, phases — as being one of the prime reasons why audiophiles, particularly those who never cared about room acoustics before, are now looking for a way to regain their diminished enthusiasm for their system's sound.

And it appears that acoustic treatment can work to this end, because it's designed to compensate for acoustic imbalances. That doesn't mean, however, that it might not be a better idea to just buy something new to replace the old.

I'm sure his work — his passion — is based on scientific evidence, but my gut tells me it's a plausible theory.

I'll ask him for a reference.

Anton's picture

There was a guy in my Hi Fi Club who had a major league system, built around some "A" grade equipment.

When I first sat in his room, I thought he had found sonic paradise. Imaging, frequency response, everything.

It had that "live in the same room illusion."

It was perfect, until it started to dawn on me that while it certainly did have all those qualities, it was more like 'live in an eternally unchanging room.'

All the music had that great feeling, but every recording was placed into the same sonic room, over and over.

It wasn't doing anything wrong, but over time I came to dread hearing it.

Everyone's, even Jack L's, system sounds basically the same from day to day....habituation leads to some slight ennui which leads to changing gear. All systems fail that final test of live v recording. At first we may marvel at how close they come, but over time, we tire of hearing the same failure day after day, and we move on.

In general.

Sorry for drifting from the topic of breaking in gear. Breaking us in or breaking us down is also a big part of the hobby, for sure.

windansea's picture

This is why I have 3 systems with different characters. A fleawatt SET with full-range open baffles. Then massive Maggies with tube pre and Class D amp. And then mini maggies with class A amp, for near field. Get a little tired of one, go to another.

Anton's picture

I believe in your system,exactly.

I had a friend growing up who was like this when it came to dating: the initial rush, habituation, moving on.

Sometimes 'different' is actually what we perceive as 'better.'

Thanks for your great post!