Note: measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.
I’m pretty sure that 45, my current age, is too young to retire—at least for all but the luckiest among us. So 45 must also be too young to come out of retirement—yet, this is how I felt writing this review.
For almost a year now, I’ve been busy running the SoundStage! Audio-Electronics Lab, keeping our Audio Precision APx555 analyzer humming and attending to the constant stream of electronic components that need to be measured. As a result, I haven’t had much time to devote to the thing that brought me to the SoundStage! Network in the first place—reviewing gear. So when I was asked to review a pair of newly released 40th Anniversary speakers from French manufacturer Triangle, I put down my calculator, walked away from the THD graphs and Excel spreadsheets, and said, Yes, please. And why wouldn’t I? For one thing, my primary passion in audio is still listening. For another, I remember really digging Triangle’s affordable Borea BR03 loudspeaker ($550 per pair, all prices USD), which I reviewed for sister site SoundStage! Access back in July 2020.
To commemorate their 40th year in business, Triangle of France has released two special-edition models: the Antal three-way floorstander (priced at $4200 per pair) and the two-way, stand-mounted Comète ($2200 per pair). I’ll be taking an in-depth look at the Comètes in this review.
Both the Antal and the Comète 40th Anniversary edition speakers are inspired by the original models of the same names released in 1994, and both are available in a choice of two unique real-wood finishes: Blond Sycamore, a lighter-colored wood with a matte coating, and Santos Rosewood, a much darker wood finished with a thick high-gloss coating. My review samples were the Santos Rosewood, and I’d describe their overall aesthetic as nothing short of superb: the cabinet, made of HDF, has slightly and elegantly rounded corners, and it’s finished so that none of the joins are visible. They’re a far cry from the BR03’s sharp cabinet edges and inexpensive vinyl veneer. The clear, high-gloss coating over the rich, dark wood grain can be described in a word: beautiful.
The Comète’s rectilinear cabinet dimensions (15.7″H × 7.8″W × 12.7″D) are comparable to the BR03’s dimensions (14.9″H × 8.1″W × 12.4″D). But at 19.4 pounds, the Comète is a heavier speaker with a sturdier feel than the BR03, which weighs in at just 13.2 pounds. On the underside of the Comète are four threaded inserts that mate to the available matching 40th Anniversary stands (the S04, priced at $450 per pair). Out of the box, however, these inserts are fitted with four little threaded rubber feet, though these can be substituted with four metal conical feet, which are also supplied. The bottom corners of the front baffle are occupied by dual front-firing ports, which horizontally flank the logo in the bottom-center position.
For the new 40th Anniversary series models, Triangle has revisited every aspect of the design of the earlier models, right down to the internal wiring, which is the same quality as the company’s one-step-up Signature line. The high frequencies in both models are reproduced by a new rose-gold anodized, horn-loaded tweeter with a magnesium dome. Apparently, this is the first time the company has created a dome using magnesium, a material Triangle chose for both its lightness and rigidity. The tweeter is fitted with a pointy phase plug that, in combination with the horn, helps to control its directivity. The horn also functions to acoustically increase the tweeter’s output, meaning it takes less amplifier power to play at a given volume level than it would if the horn wasn’t there.
The tweeter crosses over to a 6.5″ midrange-bass driver at 3.8kHz, which is higher than the crossover point in most two-ways (which usually cross over below 3kHz). The midrange-bass cone is made of natural cellulose paper, a Triangle hallmark—the company maintains this helps to reproduce the crucial midrange frequencies in the most natural way. But the driver itself is new. In particular, there’s a new suspension and motor structure that, according to Triangle, delivers “a wider spectrum of sound.” In the 40th Anniversary Antal, a new woofer has been designed using a paper cone reinforced with wood fibers mated to an oversized magnet for the motor structure. In both models, a rose-gold-colored trim ring encircles the surround of each cone driver.
Inside the cabinets, in addition to the high-end cabling, Triangle has used carefully selected crossover components in both 40th Anniversary models, including air-core coils, metallized polyester-film capacitors, and ceramic resistors. On the back of both models are high-quality, five-way binding posts affixed to a rose-gold-finished metal plate silkscreened with the 40th Anniversary logo. I found that the rose-gold accents on both the front and back of my Comète samples added a nice, classy touch when I had them set up in my room. Another nice touch is that, unlike models in the Borea loudspeaker range, which are made in China, the 40th Anniversary models are made in France.
The frequency response of the Comète is rated at 49Hz to 22kHz; Triangle claims that the sensitivity is a high 92dB (1W/m), and the impedance is said to be a nominal 8 ohms, with a 4.2-ohm minimum. Triangle states that each Comète’s frequency response is tested against a known standard in their own anechoic chamber before it leaves the factory—a measure of dedication to quality control that will reassure any prospective buyer.
My two Comètes came packed in a large box along with an instruction manual and magnetic grilles, though I left the grilles off for my listening session because they sounded better that way. Each speaker came wrapped in a cloth bag—another nice touch.
I removed the attached rubber feet and placed the Comètes on my 24″-high Focal Sopra No1 stands in my usual speaker locations, which form a 9′ equilateral triangle with my listening chair. I experimented with toe-in angle to see if my standard 15 degrees or so would be optimal—and it was. With a little less toe-in, image size and specificity suffered. The rear panels of the speaker cabinets were about 22″ from the wall behind them.
My listening room is a relatively small (15′ × 12′) dedicated space, treated with broadband absorption at the first-reflection points and on the long wall behind the speakers. I’ve also installed homemade bass traps in the front corners. I connected the Comètes to my McIntosh Laboratories MC302 300Wpc power amp using generic 12-gauge oxygen-free copper speaker wires terminated with locking banana plugs that I soldered on myself. I used my Bluesound Node 2i as the source connected to my McIntosh C47 preamp-DAC, using its S/PDIF coaxial input, which in turn fed my amp using balanced Monoprice interconnects. The Node 2i was employed as a Roon endpoint, with the Roon remote app installed on my Microsoft Surface Pro 6 tablet controlling the Roon core application installed on a dedicated Windows 10 laptop connected via Ethernet to my network. Qobuz and my ripped (to FLAC) CD library stored on a Synology NAS device served as my music sources.
After breaking in the Comètes for about 24 hours, I sat down to critically listen. First up was the Wallflowers’ “Invisible City,” from Bringing Down the Horse (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Interscope). I chose this track because of the sibilance in the vocals. Listen to this track at high volume through a speaker with even 1-2dB more output in that 4-6kHz region than the Harman curve dictates, and you’ll know it—because it’ll sound irritating. If the speaker you’re listening to provides a gentle 1-2dB negative tilt from 2kHz to 20kHz, you’ll have a pleasant experience.
I’m happy to report that while focusing on the treble region with the Comètes, my experience of this track was pleasant indeed. From the opening gentle cymbal brush, just right of center, I heard delicacy and just the right amount of output from the Triangles as the shimmery sound hung in the air and seemed to decay slowly into oblivion. When Jacob Dylan’s soft yet throaty vocals enter the mix at the 20-second mark, I couldn’t help but smile—the Comètes seemed to be providing me with the same forward yet lush, smooth midrange I remembered loving in the BR03s, but with a neutral treble that caused me no irritation when I focused on the “s” sounds in Dylan’s vocals. In contrast, the BR03s were a little too trebly on this track. Well done, Triangle! Dylan’s voice also seemed to float, surrounded by a generous cushion of air, center and forward in the stage, above the speaker plane, which made the presentation realistic. Each word he sang sounded inviting, with a richness and presence I could reach out and touch. One aspect of the frequency spectrum did seem lacking, however: compared to other two-way standmounts of this size, the bass was light, so further investigation was required.
Next, I cued up some hip-hop to see if some bass-heavy music would reveal shortcomings in the Comète or just point the finger at the previous track being bass light. Like most modern hip-hop, The Weeknd’s “I Feel it Coming,” from his Starboy album (16/44.1 FLAC, Republic), could never be labelled as lacking bass. I eased into the volume knob until I had the Comètes really singing and found they could handle the nearly 95-100dB peak sound-pressure levels (C-weighted) with grace—and without introducing any noticeable distortion. But as with the previous track, something was missing in the bass. The bass thumps underpinning the entire track were reasonably “thumpy,” indicating the Comètes had decent punch in the midbass, but there was a distinct lack of extension. So I was definitely missing some bass weight and “feel” during the bassline decays.
I investigated the bass further by taking an in-room averaged frequency-response measurement of the Comètes using my calibrated miniDSP UMIK-1 microphone and Room EQ Wizard, and I compared the results directly with my earlier measurements taken with Triangle’s Borea BR03s in the same positions. I found that, relative to 2kHz, the BR03s not only had 2dB more output than the Comètes at 50Hz, but also a measured -3dB point of 33Hz compared to the Comètes’ 38Hz. As a matter of comparison, most two-way standmounts with 6.5″ midrange-woofers that I measure in my room (always in the same positions) yield -3dB points around 32-35Hz. These measurements confirmed what I was hearing, or rather missing, in the bass with the Comètes—they lacked some extension not only in comparison to the BR03s, but to other speakers that had been in my room.
On the other hand, if I had one complaint to level against the BR03s (for their price range), it was that the tipped-up treble could, in some recordings, make the speakers sound bright. Doug Schneider made the same observation in his “System One” writeup about the BR03s in July 2020 on this site. However, I can’t accuse these Comètes of the same transgression—they got the treble just right in my room!
Next up was Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” from So Far: The Best of Sinead O’Connor (16/44.1 FLAC, Chrysalis Records/Qobuz). Again, the Triangle’s impressed me with their silky smooth yet detailed and palpable midrange. O’Connor’s hard vocal inflections were delivered effortlessly, with no edge, and sibilance was controlled and never irritating. This attention-grabbing upfront presence on the soundstage was something I really enjoyed—it was like her voice was there in my room. Subtle sounds did not escape the Triangles’ focus, either, as I could clearly make out the gentle piano right of center and way behind O’Connor at the opening, as well as the delicate and nuanced cymbal work right and hard right that remains constant through most of the track. Again, the only element of the track that seemed off was the lack of weight and extension in the bass, which wasn’t surprising given what I’d heard before.
I turned to something “harder” next, to see if the Comètes could deliver the goods. I chose Metallica’s rendition of Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page,” from Garage Inc. (16/44.1 FLAC, Elektra), because it’s loud, frenetic, and full of rocking musical density. This track can also sound bright if your speakers lean that way.
At the 39-second mark, when the kick drum enters the mix and the wall of sound smacks you in the face, I let the volume control on my preamp run a little wild—and I was impressed. These relatively small speakers sounded clean, never etched or bright, while allowing me to pick out all of the detail in the rich, grungy tapestry of sound. I could also easily follow the more subtle rhythm guitar left of center and further back on the stage while James Hetfield belted out his lyrics up front and center stage and Lars Ulrich was punishing the drum kit. While impact, slam, and extension were missing in the reproduction of the drums, everything else about the sound was well balanced, detailed, and engaging, even at loud (95dB) sound-pressure levels. This is where I noticed that the Comète’s high sensitivity was perhaps an asset in the delivery of clean sound—the pair could play loudly without strain. I also noted the VU meters on my McIntosh MC302 bouncing back and forth to the music but never peaking past the 30W mark, even at these rock-out volumes—so the amp was hardly working.
I made a series of level-matched comparisons between the Comètes and a pair of Revel Performa M126Be standmounts, which retail for $4000 per pair (almost twice the price of the Comètes). It’s also important to note that the M126Be is a “benchmark” design in that it provides a topflight reference for comparisons with other speakers.
The two-way M126Be has a driver complement similar to the Comète—a 6.5″ midrange-woofer and a 1″ tweeter, though the midrange-woofer has an aluminum cone and the tweeter has a beryllium dome. Using pink noise and an SPL meter, I found that the Triangles were a full 3dB more sensitive in my room, so I compensated by adjusting the volume accordingly for each comparison.
I first used the title track of Colin James’s National Steel (16/44.1 FLAC, WEA). This is the recording I use to gauge how transparent sounding a speaker is. In other words, this tells me how well a speaker lets the music—and only the music—flow through. With the exception of imaging precision, where both speakers were on par, the Revels did most things just a hair better than the Triangles. For example, the plucking of the guitar to the right of center that happens near the beginning of the track seemed to float slightly more freely from the Revels’ cabinets. Honestly though, this is something I could not identify without a quick A/B comparison, and I would never accuse the Comètes of lacking transparency. The Revels’ bass was also more extended and therefore truer to the source material. The Comète’s secret weapon, however, resides in its midrange—in particular, the delivery of vocals. Here I preferred the Triangles over the Revels—there was just more meat on the bone when listening to James’s singing through the Comètes. His singing voice also sounded a tad warmer and richer—slightly more present and up front—through the Triangles compared to the Revels.
Next I tried another Colin James track, “Make a Mistake,” from Traveler (16/44.1 FLAC, WEA). The cymbal strike at the opening, left of center and a few feet behind the speaker plane, was delivered with just a touch more delicacy and shimmer through the beryllium domes of the Revels. But in terms of the treble output level, both speakers got it right with a balanced, neutral portrayal of the top end—in this comparison, no clear winner emerged. I also found that the Revels delivered more soundstage width during the chorus when I focused on the backing vocalists, who may have been recorded out of phase to create an ultra-wide effect. Both speakers projected the voices well beyond the outer edges of the cabinets, yet the Revels seemed to reach out a few inches farther to each side. Bass, on the other hand, was no contest—the Revels provided slightly snappier, clearly more robust, and more extended bass output on this track. But for me—and I suspect for many others—the magic is in the midrange. The extra presence, body, and richness in James’ voice once again led me to prefer the Triangles on this track.
Last, I tried Natalie Merchant’s “Carnival,” from Paradise is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings (24/48 FLAC, Nonesuch/Qobuz). This track opens with Jesse Murphy’s strong, authoritative plucking of the bass, which provided the best evidence yet of the divide between the Revels and the Triangles. I consider the M126Be loudspeakers to have a quick, nimble, detailed bass response, which is by no means exceedingly ample and extended for their size—they simply have decent bass extension. But on this track, compared to the Comètes, they yielded significantly more bass weight. Both speakers delivered the bass detail, allowing me to hear the pitches and rhythms in the various bass strings throughout the opening sequence, but I could “feel” the bass through the Revels, while I just couldn’t get the same sensation with the Triangles.
Yet I’d be remiss if I didn’t take one more opportunity to shine a light on the Comète’s exceptional midrange sound and its effect on voices in particular—this time with a female voice, courtesy of Merchant’s alluring singing. The Comètes handled this in a way that to me simply sounded better than the Revels—and the M126Be is no slouch in terms of midband reproduction. On hard inflections, the Triangles sounded smoother than the Revels, all the while projecting Merchant’s voice with a more palpable reach-out-and-touch presence. It was as if there were an ethereal glow around her voice through the Comètes that wasn’t present with the more clinical-sounding Revels.
The Triangle 40th Anniversary series consists of statement-type products from the French brand. But by hi-fi standards, they’re available for a relatively modest investment. Given the beautiful finishes and those sexy rose gold accents, on the basis of appearance alone, most seasoned audiophiles might assume a set of Comètes would cost twice the actual asking price—they look that good.
Sonically, the Comète also holds its own. As with the Triangle BR03, I really liked the 40th Anniversary Comète, even if it is four times the price. The Comète has the same intoxicating, attention-grabbing midrange that combines detail with silky smoothness, but it possesses a more refined, neutral, and balanced treble that, unlike the BR03, never sounded bright or etched. It was ideal. Bass performance from the Comètes, at least in my room when compared to similarly sized two-way speakers, was a bit of a letdown both in terms of extension and overall output. But if you’re planning to pair the Comètes with a good sub or two, you can basically ignore this caveat. Or if you’re not a bass-head, they might provide enough low end—it’s up to you to listen and decide. The Triangles’ imaging, soundstaging, and overall transparency were nearly on par with the Revel M126Be standmounts, which come at a much higher price.
While the Comète isn’t perfect, I’d argue that the midrange and top-end performance alone make this special loudspeaker worthy of your consideration—and a must-hear if you’re shopping at this price point. For me, the experience was definitely worth coming out of retirement.
. . . Diego Estan
- Speakers: Revel M126Be, Focal Sopra No1
- Subwoofers: SVS SB-4000 (2)
- Power amplifier: McIntosh Laboratory MC302
- Crossover: Marchand Electronics XM446XLR-A
- Preamplifier-DAC: McIntosh Laboratory C47
- Room correction EQ: MiniDSP DDRC-22D with Dirac Live 3.0 (between digital sources and DAC)
- Digital sources: Rotel RCD 991 CD player, Bluesound Node 2i streamer, Windows 10 laptop running Roon Core
- Analog sources: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit with Ortofon 2M Red cartridge
- Speaker cables: 12-gauge oxygen-free copper (generic) terminated with locking banana plugs
- Analog interconnects: AmazonBasics RCA, Monoprice Premier series balanced XLR
- Digital interconnect: AmazonBasics Optical TosLink Cable
Triangle 40th Anniversary Comète Loudspeakers
Price: $2200 USD per pair.
Warranty: Five years parts and labor.
Triangle Manufacture Electroacoustique
Avenue Flandres Dunkerque
Z.I. Les Etomelles
02 200 Villeneuve Saint-Germain
Phone: +33 (0)3 23 75 38 20
Fax: +33 (0)3 23 75 38 21