Triangle Magellan Concerto loudspeaker

I don't know whether Sam Tellig or I first discovered the delights of some slightly idiosyncratic loudspeakers made by Triangle—Tree-ON-gle, if you add the relevant accent—in the northeastern corner of France. I do recall feeling quite relieved to find that I wasn't the only hi-fi writer who liked and wrote about them.

My audio journey began with a pair of the very earliest Spendor BC1s, and my tastes evolved within a framework established by the icons of UK loudspeaker design. British speaker companies have been so strong internationally that relatively few foreign brands attempted to sell their products here in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s. The opportunities to try non-British speakers were limited; it was relatively easy to assume that the British approach was the One True Path. Since then, one of the more positive consequences of globalization is that we've become more exposed to the influences of other countries and cultures, and that's as true with loudspeakers as with more mundane things, such as food.

Soon after the Triangle Magellan Concertos arrived, I had to store them away for a few weeks while I carried out a group test of a half dozen speakers for a British magazine. These were all very decent loudspeakers by any normal standard, but the Magellan Concertos cost about as much as all of them combined. However, once I'd finished with the group and brought in the Concertos, it was immediately clear that my system's sound had taken a very worthwhile step upward. The sound seemed to have shifted to a higher gear, or the turbo had cut in—there was an effortlessness in the way the Magellan went about its business that was very seductive, especially when dealing with complex, large-scale music.

No, the Magellan Concerto wasn't five or six times better than the group-test speakers—the law of diminishing returns inevitably comes into play. But the Triangle illustrated the advantages that a large loudspeaker has over smaller, cheaper, and consequently more popular rivals. Small speakers are successful on grounds of looks and cost while offering certain acoustic advantages, but, as Walter Chrysler said, "There's no substitute for cubic inches." If all I need from a car is something in which to make short runs to the supermarket and the school, a small, cheap, easy-to-park model makes a lot of sense. But as soon as I pick up speed on the open road, I'm reminded why I persist in running a costly, bulky Jaguar around the crowded, speed-limited UK.

Relaxation has much more to do with it than speed or power. Something of the same applies to this Magellan Concerto. In fact, a Jaguar seems to provide a particularly appropriate analogy of Triangle's behavior: equal measures of authority, agility, and unflappability, regardless of what music it's fed. It was happy enough pumping out Massive Attack at the sort of level that makes my laptop quiver, yet equally able to delicately and articulately reproduce speech at whisper-quiet 3am levels.

The Concerto
A few weeks before the Magellan Concertos arrived, I spent a few weeks with its bigger brother, the original, full-size (and full-height!) Magellan. Triangle describes the Concerto as "two thirds of a Magellan at half the price," and much as I enjoyed the bigger speaker, I didn't feel it offered much sonic advantage over the Concerto in my smallish room (14' W by 18' L by 8.5' H). And I altogether preferred the smaller speaker's appearance—at my normal listening distance of 9', I'd found the looming, 7'-tall Magellan rather oppressive.

The full-size Magellan is a three-box affair with four bass drivers in two separate ported enclosures, one above, the other below a smaller, third enclosure with front- and rear-firing mid and treble drivers. Such elaboration involves complex stacking and terminal arrangements, not to mention six packing cartons, all of which add substantially to the cost. In contrast, the Magellan Concerto is a single-box speaker with three 6.5" bass drivers and a port, these located below unusually high-set, twinned midrange and treble drivers mounted on both the front and rear panels. The Magellan Concerto is only half the price of its big brother, and therefore clearly the better value. Inevitably, the larger model has rather more bass output, counterbalanced by a little extra top end—perhaps because the larger Magellan's relatively directional horn-loaded tweeter is closer to ear level.

While the larger Magellan could be the right choice for large to very large rooms or those with significant low-frequency absorption, the Concerto will give a slightly better in-room balance in rooms of small to medium size, where the bigger model might prove a bit bass-heavy. The idea of placing the mid and treble drivers significantly above the listener's seated head height is unconventional, but I felt it worked very well, giving the Concerto some extra scale and air without ever making the music seem out of place or perspective.

Some of that extra air and spaciousness is undoubtedly down to those additional rear-facing mid and treble drivers. Such an arrangement is sometimes called bipolar, though in the lateral plane at least it's really just a variation on the omnidirectional theme. A box-type (monopole) loudspeaker is naturally and inevitably omnidirectional at low frequencies, while the mid and treble are much more directional—especially the treble, and even more so when it's horn-loaded. Placing two drive-units back to back, as in the Concerto, effectively gives the midrange and treble an all-round distribution broadly similar to the bass. Whether or not that's a desirable objective is more a matter for debate, and ultimately of personal taste, though Triangle's approach represents a rather persuasive compromise between the extremes that are possible (see Sidebar).

Beautifully finished in a rich burr walnut pattern, the Magellan Concerto's tall, port-loaded enclosure has convex sides that are wider in the middle than at the front and back. This keeps the front and rear panels slim while maintaining decent internal volume. The curves will also tend to spread and defocus internal standing waves and, aided by internal bracing, stiffen the sides.

The unusual drive-units represent Triangle's unique philosophy. The three 6.5" cast-frame bass drivers are the most conventional, with flared paper cones equipped with powerful motors and exclusive S-shaped rubber surrounds (to aid large excursion). The midrange drivers also have 6.5" cast chassis and paper cones, but these cones are significantly smaller and the surrounds are much wider, "double-S" affairs made from doped fabric. This acknowledges that there's no need for large excursion here, and if fabric is less effective than rubber at absorbing energy, it also avoids the energy storage due to the latter's hysteresis. A small wooden "bullet" phase plug extends the central polepiece.

US distributor: VMAX Services
P.O. Box 570
Chazy, NY 12921
(800) 771-8279