Coincident Speaker Technology Triumph/Super Conquest Home Theater Loudspeaker System
As I curled up in my steerage-class seat and closed my eyes onboard my flight home from Las Vegas and the CES this past January, I reminisced about the week's events and came to the realization that high-end audio is headed in the wrong direction. For an industry that has taken a savage beating in Asia for the past two years and whose appeal barely registers even as a blip on the interest chart for the Star Wars generation, it sure isn't dealing with reality when it comes to pricing. Affordable high-end products were in short supply at this year's Show, and it was hardly a surprise that the home-theater demonstrations had em packed in like sardines as people waited in very long lines to catch a glimpse of HDTV. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the high-end audio show at the Alexis Park and St. Tropez. Sadly, superior sound reproduction is not a major priority for most people, and home theatre is threatening to run the high end into the ground. Companies that have the business sense to hop aboard that train and offer quality products that will work well in audio/video systems will do well, and based on my listening impressions, Coincident Speaker Technology is one of the companies headed in the right direction.
Located in Richmond Hill, Ontario (one of Toronto's architecturally challenged suburbs), Coincident has become a recognized and respected name in the highly competitive speaker market, and its success doesn't surprise Israel Blume one bit. The completely worthless Canadian dollar has made domestically produced high-end products quite affordable to foreign buyers, and Blume, always the entrepreneur, has been introducing affordable yet high-quality speakers at a furious pace. SoundStage! has reviewed a number of Coincident products over the past three years, and the system under review here -- Super Conquest, Triumph Signature, Triumph center-channel speakers -- represents Coincident's first foray into the home-theater market.
The heart of the Coincident home-theater system that I used is the recently revised Super Conquest three-way towers (Doug Schneider originally reviewed these speakers which may be found in the Audio Online Archives, however, the latest version of this loudspeaker that Ian reviewed has been changed substantially) . The Super Conquests feature a 1" titanium-dome tweeter that uses a double magnet assembly for higher power handling and low distortion, a 5" polypropylene midrange driver, and a side-firing 10" woofer, which Blume claims measures flat to 26Hz. The quoted frequency response for the speakers is 26Hz25kHz, with a sensitivity rating of 92dB/W/m. They are also an 8-ohm load and very easy to drive (confirmed by the use of my 30Wpc Copland CTA-501 amp). The Super Conquests are 38"H x 10 1/2"W x 11"D and weigh in at a somewhat heavy 63 pounds each. I found that the supplied spikes were necessary to properly level them on my carpeted floor. Blume offers two finishes for the Super Conquests, black and cherrywood. I would be diplomatic in suggesting that cherrywood is the only finish that you should consider. The 1"-thick MDF hardwood cabinet is quite rigid, and I found that its construction seemed to do a good job of minimizing vibrations. The Super Conquests are not shielded, and I ended up placing them four feet from my Hitachi monitor on either side. All of the Coincident designs use first-order crossovers and Wireworld internal wiring.
The Triumph center-channel speaker uses the same 1" tweeter found in the Triumph Signature speaker and the same 6 1/2" woofer found on the standard Triumph speaker. The Triumph center-channel speaker is shielded to allow for placement on top of a television monitor. Its quoted frequency response is 40Hz25kHz, and at 90db/W/m (8-ohm load), it is also very easy to drive. It measures 16"H x 9"W x 11"D and at 26 pounds is rather heavy. I found that it worked best placed on its side, supported by three Black Diamond Racing cones.
Rounding out this rather potent package is a pair of the Coincident Triumph Signature speakers, which feature an upgraded silk-dome tweeter, higher-quality binding posts, and an upgraded crossover. The Triumph Signature shares the same specifications as the Triumph center-channel speaker; they saw duty as surround speakers during the review period and proved to be a very appropriate match to the Super Conquests.
I have never been a huge fan of subwoofers (although my philistine views were somewhat altered by my experience with the Monitor Audio Full Metal Theater system), and I was happy to see that Israel Blume had not included one in his package (although one does exist and is meant to be used with the Triumph speakers). I'm sure that there are readers who will argue that subwoofers are necessary to replicate the movie-theatre experience. Based on what I have been hearing of late in many of Toronto's coliseum-style Dolby Digital/DTS-equipped theaters, I'll stick to full-range front-channel speakers, thank you very much.
The secret underground White House theater
My home theater's dimensions (13'L x 25'W x 7'H) make for rather close-up viewing of fine films (my Sybil Danning collection notwithstanding), and its width gave me some leeway with the side-firing woofers in the Super Conquests. I found that positioning the speakers so that the 10" woofers were facing outward toward the wall was the best way to achieve a proper balance between the speakers very potent bass response and midrange clarity. With the side-firing woofers facing my 32" monitor, I felt that the bass was overloading the room and losing its definition. While toeing-in the Super Conquests improved imaging, I preferred the sound of the speakers facing straight ahead. Dialogue was a tad warmer this way, and I found the rattle of machine-gun fire less brittle as well. The setup of my room allowed me to position the Super Conquests and Triumph center-channel speaker so that all three were perfectly aligned. While the sound was nothing to complain about, I ended up moving the Super Conquests six inches forward of the center-channel speaker, deciding that the richer balance was more to my liking.
Positioning the Triumph Signatures in their surround role proved to be a more interesting experience. After mounting the speakers on 24" Target stands (four-pillar variety, filled with sand), I placed them behind my listening position (couch) and pointed straight ahead. While this setup made it easy to localize surround effects when viewing Dolby Digital and DTS-encoded films, I didn't like it as much with Dolby Surround, which really benefits from dipole or bipolar surround speakers (Monitor Audio's MAFX-2 as one example).
The Coincident system was connected to the Rotel RSX-965 surround-sound receiver throughout the review process. I also used the OCM 200 and Copland CTA-501 power amplifiers to drive the Super Conquests. My Panasonic DVD-A310 DVD player was connected to a Hitachi Ultravision 35UX70B with Monster Cable Supervideo 3 S-video cable. A Monarchy Audio DT40A laserdisc player was used to compare the DVD and laserdisc formats. All components were plugged into a Chang CLS 3200ISO line filter. Wireworld Polaris III speaker cable and interconnects were used throughout the system. For comparison purposes, I used the simply superb Monitor Audio Full Metal Theater system (review forthcoming) as well.
Doesn't everyone enjoy Eric Bogosian?
Oliver Stone's film Talk Radio [MCA 40841 LD] was not exactly a stellar performer at the box office, but the mesmerizing performance by Eric Bogosian made it one of my favorite films of the late 80s. The sharpness of the sound was equal to the biting dialogue, and it really came across quite well through the Super Conquests. Fresh out of the box, the speakers showed some mild diffuseness in the midrange, but as the woofer was subjected to some break-in time, the clarity of the midrange improved. Bogosian's voice sounded quite meaty through the Triumph center-channel speaker, and this made for a very convincing and immediate presentation. I liked feeling so close to the maniac behind the microphone. The Super Conquests reproduced the soundstage quite well, and I liked the fact that the small set wasn't blown out of proportion.
Sticking with weird and intense films for the moment, I really enjoyed watching Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas [Universal 20339 DVD] through the Coincident system. The dialogue can be hard to follow at some points during this film, but most of Benicio Del Toro and Johnny Depp's hallucinogen-induced monologues (I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat) came across quite clearly through the Triumph center-channel speaker. The Triumph Signature surrounds did a great job too. Gunshots, bells, whistles, acid trips, and the sites and smells of Las Vegas were all around me. In comparison, the Monitor Audio surround speakers created a more spacious sound, which seemed to frighten my Manischevitz-drinking relatives into thinking that there were in fact bats all around us!
Coincident's claim that the Super Conquests measure flat to 26Hz was put to the test (as was the fragility of my windowpanes) when I turned the volume up while watching Jurassic Park [MCA/Universal 41829 LD], which isn't a great film, but its special effects and sound are pretty impressive. The infamous "T-Rex eats the slimy lawyer" scene came around and I pushed the system hard. The Super Conquests proved that quality beats quantity -- and that a little Blu-Tak on the fine china might be something to think about for the future. The Super Conquests 10" woofers didn't cause my couch to jump, but the solidity and articulation of the bass were more than adequate.
As bored as I have become with The Fifth Element [Columbia 82409 DVD], it is still the best-sounding DVD on the market and a really serious test of any home-theater system. Watching the film through the Coincident system was invigorating. The soundstage created by the system was enormous, and I really felt that I was a part of something that was almost larger than life. It is not customary for me to watch films at home at volume levels that would cause plates to fall off of shelves, but I was having too much fun with this system to turn the volume down. Dialogue was wonderfully crisp and immediate, and the surround effects were very easy to localize. Bullets ricocheted behind my head, and cars seemed to pass inches from me. An intensely cool experience to say the least!
Lawrence of Arabia [Criterion Collection CC1185L LD] is a breathtaking film, even if the story takes some serious liberties with the true events. The soundtrack is as sweeping and powerful as the cinematography, but the sound quality has always run a distant second in my opinion. The Criterion laserdisc (completely restored and uncut) is the version to watch if this film is of any interest, and its Dolby Surround soundtrack delivers in a big way. This is one of the few films that I enjoy watching at really loud levels, and the Coincident system did not disappoint. The majestic and truly larger-than-life feeling that emanates from this film was not diminished at all by the home-theater system. The Super Conquests handled the dynamic shifts in the music very well, and the clarity of the dialogue was also most impressive.
This may come across as strange, but I enjoyed the Coincident system more with films than I did with music. While listening to Tori Amos' Under the Pink [East/West CD 82567] and Green Day's nimrod [Reprise CDW 46794], I noticed a slight degree of chestiness in the midrange. The Super Conquests sound better with tubes in my opinion, and I found that the Copland CTA-501 was a better match than the OCM 200. The Copland's neutral-sounding midrange and smoothness on top did a good job of alleviating the problem I heard. I substituted the Triumph Signature surrounds for the Super Conquests, and I found that the Triumph Signatures were devoid of the chestiness. The treble of both speakers was slightly brighter than Im used to, but I liked the openness and clarity of the Triumph Signature minimonitors a great deal. The Super Conquests are also good speakers with music, and I definitely found them to be a sleeper product when cinema was involved. Given their price and versatility, the Super Conquests are a terrific value.
Please keep it down -- I can't hear the movie!
Is high-end audio doomed? I don't think that two-channel reproduction of music is going to disappear sometime next week, but eventually multi-channel audio is going to become big business, and those who deny its existence, will be making 12" turkey-breast subs at Subway before long. With so many home-theater speaker systems on the market, the consumer has the unenviable task of finding one that strikes a balance between music and film. The Coincident Speaker Technology system does both and at a price that many will find hard to resist. Just remember to order the system in cherrywood youve been warned.
Prices: Super Conquests, $2295 in black, $2495 in cherrywood veneer; Triumph center-channel speaker, $400; Triumph Signature surrounds, $999 in black, $1099 in cherrywood veneer.
Warranty: Five years part and labor.
Coincident Speaker Technology
I would like to thank SoundStage! and Ian White for the perceptive and glowing review of our Triumph/Super Conquest home-theater system. The same system was reviewed in the February '99 issue of Home Theater magazine with the same amount of enthusiasm displayed by Ian. The system was awarded a 90% performance rating, which represents "Outstanding Performance -- Among The Best."
As good as Ian thought the Super Conquests to be, we have, as of Sept.1,1999, implemented a few significant revisions that result in a noticeable sonic improvement. (Ian picked up his review samples in August).
In spite of the greater cost to manufacturer the new Super Conquests, the price remains unchanged.
We do agree with Ian that our cherrywood veneer is nothing short of stunning and for this reason we will be phasing out our black-lacquer finish in the near future.
We also concur with Ian that to survive and prosper in the current economic climate a company better be offering top-flight performance and exceptional value. Thirty-three rave reviews in the last two years from the most-respected audio publications clearly state that this is precisely what makes Coincident Speaker Technology so successful.
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