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Triangle Antal EX
Sound quality
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Measured performance
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SOUND QUALITY

Like the Quartet I first heard at a Manchester Show some years ago now, the Antal is a lively, punchy sounding loudspeaker, helped by its light cones and high efficiency. Triangle judiciously tread the fine line between accuracy and immediacy to get a sound that has a little extra treble and bass zest to keep things sounding lively even at low listening levels, whilst not taking this so far as to make the Antal either boomy in its bass or lacerative in its treble. Triangle hone this basic presentation by using a tweeter smoother than most, other than ring domes and ribbons. And by keeping bass nice and even too, so the walking bass lines and lone drum strikes in Angelique Kidjo’s 'Fifa' album that I use as a strenuous bass test of bass quality, were kept in good proportion to one another. The drum was weighty but sounded taut and impactful. Bass playing was very even across the scale and the fine low end damping gave the strong bass line a control that was there to be heard. With 'Tatchedogbe' from her 'Aye' album the low bass line walked around the lower bass lift of the Antal and teased out a rumbly quality that derived from the slight under-damped quality.

 

I found the Antal delivered strong and even bass with our MB845s, slightly heavier on the 4 Ohm tap than the 8 Ohm; I stayed with 8 Ohm tap in this instance. But although the loudspeaker’s copious bass output was obvious and underpinned the Benin rhythms manfully, it was in fact the wide, clear and lively soundstaging that initially caught my attention – and held it. The loudspeaker’s strong but even treble gave it delicious clarity, without the pains that accompany obvious brightness, the spikiness and coarseness. A long instrumental sequence at the end of 'Lon Lon Vadjro' brought out a riot of fine instrumental detail as bells were rang, cymbals lightly brushed and maracas gently shaken in a broad sweep of sound across a wide and deep sound stage.

 

 

Not only is the Antal intensely detailed, it is also clean and tidy – and I suspect this comes down to its controlled dispersion characteristics. Although our listening room is acoustically treated to suppress side wall reflections, the Antals threw less out at them, and the ceiling, and built solid, deftly hewn images in front of me. Everything was locked into place and with Angelique Kidjo sounding full of voice and clear as a bell in front of me, her backing singers providing a amusing backdrop of sounds as well as words, I found myself having fun listening to the rich orchestration used on 'Aye'.

 

The Antal is a loudspeaker that is dynamically lively right across the audio band, but crisp as a fresh green apple and with plenty of bite to it. There was little change in basic balance with our resident Musical Fidelity AMS50 amplifier, interesting because the AMS50 can impose tremendous low frequency drive and grip. In this case though it did not and with a less atmospheric midband and flatter perspectives, it did not present itself as a preferable alternative to the MB845s. Spinning 'Yaleo', from Santana’s 'Supernatural' album I changed back to the MB845s, whose darker balance seemed a better foil to the Antal’s slight hardness.

 

'Love of My Life' from 'Supernatural' starts suddenly and violently, driven by a powerful roll across the drum kit and solid deep bass. The bass line sounded well controlled and seemingly effortless as it went up and down the scale. Santana’s guitar cut out strongly, fast, solid and clean. Vocals from Dave Matthews were fresh and clear centre stage and Carter Beauford’s drums worked their fast rhythms, strung out as a wide image behind them. Everlast’s gravelly tones in ‘Put Your Lights On’ rasped out at me with a strength that was captivating. It was the forceful midband again, yet at the same time the Antals sound full bodied and powerful whilst also coming over as fast and brimming with detail. They’re simply a very exciting listen.

 

Not all recordings are good; in fact many are poor and Duffy’s 'Rockferry' album has digital distortion added in to produce ‘graunch’, according to an interview with the producer. Many loudspeakers have problems reproducing the messy 'Rockferry' track in particular, but the Antals kept it all under control. Here their talent at sorting out a complicated mix and presenting its various elements, delineated well one from the other, made sense of what was going on and lifted Duffy sufficiently out of the muddle to make her voice appreciable.

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Moving to the well recorded Lady Gaga album, the sound staging grew into a big wide arc stretching out beyond the left and right ‘speaker with ‘Bad Romance’ the insistent disco beat thumping strongly through the room, Gaga’s lyrical assault coming straight at me. There’s a lot of out-of-phase info in this recording to spread the image far and wide, yet a clean spread of images clearly wrought between the ‘speakers and the Antals made the most of all this. The persistent club beat within this album made bass sound a little boxy at times and here I suspect the front port was delivering box noise forward, a common problem with front mounted ports. This isn’t much of a problem for Rock but can be less pleasant when staining cellos in classical music, which I was to duly test. Grumbling cellos? That’ll be Wagner, then...

 

With the 'Overture of Reinzi', horns blared fruitily from slightly above me and were forceful, clear yet wonderfully smooth and easy to enjoy. It was a 'turn it up' moment, because Wager’s music can be rousing fun and the Antals conveyed this well. Kettle drums rolled and strings soared around the horns.  The clarity of the Antals, their superb soundstaging and lively dynamics brought Wagner to life. With a selection of Wagner excerpts, however, I didn’t hear boxiness induced by cellos, nor plucked basses, so the effect isn’t particularly obvious. 

 

Nigel Kennedy, playing Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ from Four Seasons, sounded fresh and clear. His violin had a forceful sheen yet lacking the coarseness of so many metal dome tweeters, it shimmered vividly from the Antals. As modern loudspeakers go the Antals handle violin well, throwing it forward a little; the Antals aren’t electrostatics, but then this is the greater problem £6,000 loudspeakers have, since Martin Logan’s lesser models, with their electrostatic panel, cost less and perform better with violin and strings than most box loudspeakers could dream of, magnetic planar tweeters excepted perhaps.

 

Good reproduction of orchestral scale always goes down well, not just with Wagner but also with the Berliner Philharmoniker behind Leif Ove Andsnes playing Rachmaninov’s 'Piano Concerto No 2'. A well balanced recording from EMI made in 2005, piano had weight and strings pushed out of the performance firmly. Plucked bass was clear in the background and Andsnes' precise playing wonderfully conveyed, little trills on the keys dancing out at me clearly, followed by a sudden, almost violent orchestral interjection. There’s delicacy and clarity in abundance here, but dynamic scale too, and no sign of stress as level goes up, as it often did as I spent hours with the Antals driven by a nicely warmed pair of MB845s.



 

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