Triangle Signature Delta loudspeaker Page 2

I have mentioned before how much I appreciate Bruce Hornsby's practice of making his live concerts available for download. As I write these words, I'm listening to Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers' live 2009 recording of "Road Not Taken," from Dagle's Choice Vol.4 (16/44.1 ALAC transcoded from FLAC download). The Noisemakers, a superbly tight band, feature Captain Beefheart alum J.T. Thomas on keyboards, as well as bassist J.V. Collier, whose phat lines on five-string bass guitar in this track sounded propulsive through the Triangles. But the weight of the lows didn't obscure or interfere with the delicacy of the solo mandolin.

This propulsive way with well-recorded rock didn't mean that the Triangle Signature Deltas were less good at playing music with more sonic subtlety. One of my favorite baroque recordings is a free download from LessLoss Music that a reader recommended a few years back: J.S. Bach's Flute Sonatas, BWV 1034 and 1035, performed by Vytautas Sriubikis and accompanied by a bassoon and harpsichord bass continuo (24/96 ALAC file transcoded from WAV). The Deltas excelled at presenting this delicately scaled music with no coloration obscuring the slightly wheezy sound of a wooden baroque flute, and with the church acoustic delightfully tangible.

914triangle.3.jpgI wondered if the delicacy and detail in the Triangle's highs were due to an exaggeration in this region. But when I played "Autumn Leaves," from Cannonball Adderley's Somethin' Else (24/96 ALAC file ripped from DVD-V, Blue Note/Classic DAD1022), the subtle hint of the studio acoustic at the beginning, when Miles Davis's muted trumpet stabs out a staccato figure, sounded natural, and Art Blakey's ride cymbals had a deliciously appropriate swish'n'sizzle. The same was true for the relatively distantly miked drums and cymbals in "Ascension Day," from Talk Talk's Laughing Stock (ALAC file ripped from CD, Polydor 847 717-2). The Signature Deltas readily revealed that PS Audio's PerfectWave DirectStream DAC (reviewed in this issue by AD) smooths the treble on this 1991 track compared with the Luxman DA-06, but the PSA's softer bass needed a speaker with even tighter lows overall.

The aspect of the Triangle Signature Delta that will stick in my memory was its resolution. Last December, in my review of Wilson Audio's Alexia, I mentioned the Irish band Moving Hearts. I had ripped their 1985 album, The Storm (LP, Tara 1304), to 24/192 AIFF files using Ayre's QA-9 A/D converter. This instrumental album mixes traditional Irish melodies and instruments with a rock rhythm section. Back in the 1970s, when I was working as a rock bass player by night and studying the treble recorder by day, I attended a master class in how to play traditional Irish music. This music's character stems from the uilleann pipes, which, powered by elbow-pumped bellows, play continuously at a constant volume. Melodic transients are simulated with ornaments and grace notes, while changes in an arrangement's dynamics are achieved by adding instruments like violin and whistle to double the melody played on the chanter, or melody pipe.

Like the Alexias, the Triangles excelled at revealing the complexity of Moving Hearts' arrangements, yet without the spotlighting of detail, or the glare, that some other speakers suffer from when offering this aspect of performance. The Delta's clarity reminded me of the very first blind listening test I took part in, in 1977, organized by the late James Moir for Hi-Fi News magazine. One of the recordings Jimmy used was of someone shaking a bunch of keys. There were very large differences between the ways the speakers being tested reproduced this recording, but through only one model, later identified as a high-sensitivity Wharfedale E70, did it sound like real keys. With another speaker, which we subsequently learned was the KEF R104aB, there was a single key! The Signature Delta's vitality and resolving power reminded me of the Wharfedale—which, perhaps not coincidentally, also had a horn-loaded tweeter.

It might seem a jarring segue to go from traditional Irish music to the alternative rock of the Smashing Pumpkins. However, when you listen to "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," from Rotten Apples: The Smashing Pumpkins Greatest Hits (256kbps MP3 download, Virgin), the heavy use of compression keeps the volume constant, just as with the uilleann pipes. Despite Pure Music's dynamic-range meter stubbornly sticking at "12" during this song, guitarist-songwriter Billy Corgan has used a complex layering of different-character guitar tracks to achieve the effect of changes in volume, despite the loudness not actually changing. At an appropriately loud level, the result through the Signature Deltas was nothing short of magnificent, the speakers' clarity allowing to me to appreciate the tonal color of the cymbals, even when all guitar hell was breaking out in the mix.

This is what a great speaker should do: communicate the how and why of what the music makers have done, so that you can understand and appreciate that music on its own terms.

A great speaker? With my brain still flooded with endorphins from listening to the Smashing Pumpkins at 100dB, I am indeed tempted to use that word for this $8000/pair design. But there is strong competition in the category of mid-priced tower speakers. The Revel Performa3 F208 ($5000), which Erick Lichte reviewed in July; the Vandersteen Treo ($6490), which I reviewed in March 2013; the Monitor Audio Platinum PL200 ($9000), reviewed by Robert Deutsch in April 2010; the PSB Synchrony One ($5500), which I reviewed in April 2008—all are superb-sounding speakers, as is the Joseph Audio Perspective ($13,000), reviewed by me in July. But none of them equals the Triangle Signature Delta in jump factor, and the fact that the Delta achieves this without compromising neutrality—something that almost-40-year-old Wharfedale couldn't do—is indeed commendable. Unless you like your music tame and uninvolving, this is a speaker well worth an audition. The French do, indeed, do things differently.

Triangle Industries
avenue Flandres-Dunkerque
Z.I. les Etomelles, F-02200 Villeneuve St Germain
(33) 3 23 75 38 20