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From Hi-Fi World - July 2010 issue

Triangle Antal EX loudspeaker review

 


Three Pointed Stars

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Noel Keywood is dazzled by Triangle's Antal EX loudspeakers...

 

A recent trend in loudspeakers is the 'no holds barred £6,000 super speaker'. Unfortunately, too many of these use drive units and materials little better than today's norm and they don't do enough to justify their high price tags, I feel. A lot of hot air comes from the designers, but peek under the surface and what you are getting comprises a few well known tweaks to a pretty average design package. Commercially, it's bold, perhaps, but aurally it's anything but...

 

A loudspeaker like the Triangle Antal reviewed here cuts the ground from beneath such loudspeakers. It's a well designed, high accuracy loudspeaker that stands tall (1,140mm) and sets up a wonderfully wide and deep sound stage, it's lively and dynamic and has strong bass of good quality. The new Antal EX uses modern technologies well, adds some nice technical flourishes, yet costs just £1,500. Here is a loudspeaker that sets standards at its price point and  makes life hard for conventional designs costing any more.

 

The Antal is a loudspeaker for bigger rooms Triangle say, its twin bass drivers able to handle 120 Watts. It does have a towering presence and Triangle recommend  320-540 sq ft. I used it in our 800 sq ft listening room, large enough not to impose room modes upon its bass. The front baffle is well ornamented, with an unusual horn tweeter at top, replete with matt gold bullet shaped phase plug in the deep compression chamber to control internal reflections. Triangle use an unusual soft rubber surround to interface this unit with the front baffle, to control and direct the surface wave, it appears. All this suggests Triangle take high frequency behaviour seriously. When working on World Audio Design loudspeakers I found that 'every little helps' in this area; attention to detail adds up to a subtly but perceptually better end result.

 

Within this assembly lies a titanium dome tweeter that crosses over to a relatively large cellulose pulp cone midrange unit with a pleated suspension. Triangle eliminate the usual plastic dust cap, that commonly delivers ragged highs, replacing it with a fixed phase plug. Phase plugs reduce off-axis energy and give a 'darker, quieter' demeanour, by bouncing less energy off side walls. This perceptually tidies things up I feel; I am no great fan of bouncing treble energy around a room, because it adds to muddle. So again Triangle control off axis radiation from the Antal EX. The midrange is backed by a sealed rear chamber.

 

Below the midrange unit sit two bass units possessing woven fibreglass cones, working into a shared reflex loaded chamber. The large port exhausts at front, close to the floor. This is a normal enough arrangement, but it has been carefully engineered to give better results than usual. Again, Triangle pay attention to detail and proportion the whole to work better than most. As a result the Antal EX worked well with both our Icon Audio MB845 valve power amplifiers, and also with our transistor, Class A Musical Fidelity AMS50. Like most large loudspeakers the Antal EX is sensitive and needs little power. It may seem counter intuitive, but the bigger a (box) loudspeaker gets, the less power it needs. Giant Tannoys need 5W-10W and 20W into a Westminster Royal SE will blow you across the room, for example. Because its bass behaviour is well sorted, Triangle's Antal EX is an easy amplifier load and gives consistent results between different amplifiers, working happily with a Leema Pulse I found, in a check of its matching ability. So although Triangle quote 120 Watts as a tolerable maximum power, it will go very loud from 20W. I keep a check on the power I'm using when reviewing and found it difficult to get more than 25 Watts or so into the Antal EX in our room – and this was running very loud, loud enough for people to complain, were there any around to do so at the time!

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The cabinet is well finished, ours coming with a Cognac artificial veneer and an ornate Triangle badge to add to appearances. The badge and fittings carry the same matt gold finish seen in the tweeter, making for a cohesive visual whole. The Antal sits on a plinth for added stability, having four rubber ringed feet. As with the Quartet, the rubber inserts came adrift with the sort of heavy movement we impose during positioning, measuring and what have you. Triangle supply a set of large diameter, sturdy spikes as alternatives, adjustable from above with a key.

 

The phase matching of the drive units was so good I did not need to lean the cabinet either forward or backward by adjusting the spikes, for solid images. Move up and down in front of these loudspeakers whilst listening and their sound stays even and consistent, still not a common phenomenon, even though drive unit phase matching is a well understood process. Designers still ignore this requirement though, irrespective of price, as they choose to ignore load characteristics and amplifier matching. It is this lack of design rigour that opens the door to those who are willing and able to try harder and do better. I hear so much from loudspeaker designers trying to justify sloppy design work and the obvious blemishes that result, it's heartening to encounter a loudspeaker like this where a bit more thought has gone into the design. You can actually see this not only in the peculiar details I have described, from the phase plugs to the tweeter's surface wave deflector, but in our measurements.

 

Connection can be made through biwiring or, with shorting links in place, single wiring. A total weight of 22kgs (50lbs) makes the Antal heavy, but not absurdly so.

 



 

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