I have known Renaud de Vergnette, the original founder of Triangle for many decades and although we were competitors at one point, we always had a lot of respect for each other. I have lost track of the new Triangle and their new owner, a former client of Renaud and a wine enthusiast as much if not more than Renaud (and myself....). The fact that Audio Marketing has been appointed as their new Australian distributor as result of Focal deserting them to join the NAIM distributor, and that my long time friend Len Wallis is deeply involved in this venture, we will certainly put together more articles about this long lasting French brand, whose legacy can compare to the Elipson and Cabasse of our Hifi World. Besides, Len is organising a big launch party next Tuesday to which I was duly invited, so you will certainly get a review of this event very soon indeed...And it will feel quite organic then to follow up with a proper monogram on the brand history and product ranges, past and present. In the meantime you can search this blog where you will find scattered information about Triangle. Good reading!
I have had the project to write about Classic Hifi for quite a while. The place is usually very busy and it is difficult to browse and take pictures without being in the way of the buying customers.
This shop has been trading for over 13 years and is a temple of British and Japanese vintage hifi mainly. No French products here...
Ian and Peter have been surfing on the vinyl revival wave at this "cosmopolitan" location for 13 years, selling vintage vinyls, turntables, cartridges, amps, receivers and speakers primarily.
Their new apprentice Mitch, was enthralled in conversation with a young lady that day and was more than happy to let me browse the shop as I was uncharacteristically, the only punter that day. It looks like "come and listen to my turntable" has become a successful pick up (sic...) line!
All products have been carefully restored or brought back to near mint condition, and this reflects on the prices...but it is all covered by a 3-month warranty and you can actually try everything before you buy. A notch better shopping experience that eBay for sure...
So, don't be shy! Go and have a look and a listen if you live nearby or visit from faraway!
A few years back, this gentleman got in touch with me through the AudioVintage forum. He had bought and restored a pair of passive SATs from Microphase. We talked further about where to find a subwoofer to match. And it just happened that my good friend Pierre Bréart, the happy proprietor of Audio Conseil in Uccle, one of the most respected dealers in Brussels, as well as one of my best dealers at the time, had bought one back from a customer. And I just found out that the two got together and clinched the deal! The power of the internet and social media!
You will find below a few photos of the inside of the beast, including Cabasse 21 cm woofer, modified SAT active amplifier and connectors. And to help this particular fellow and happy new owner of this very rare piece of French Vintage Hifi, I have put together a wiring schematic for his new hybrid system. Very few of these subwoofers were made, so it was quite a surprise for me to find one in such a good condition. When I first got photos from Pierre, I actually didn't remember producing this particular product. So here it is for posterity!
Come with me to Provence and I may organise an add-on French Vintage Hifi tour of some respected French manufacturers
Some of you, my dear nerdy readers, may have been curious enough to wander to my other blog where I indulge in my other passion for food, wine and everything remotely French!
So, you might not be surprised to learn that I am organising a gastronomic and cooking tour of Provence in September for 12 people. If we had enough interest, we could also organise an add-on tour of some of the iconic French Vintage Hifi manufactures still alive...How does that sounds?
Confluence was started in 1983 by Christian Gerhards, an ex-teacher whose passion for music got him into speaker design. The company survived until 2001 when it became Soneco. All the models share the same design principles of cabinets with non parallel faces and rectangular port(s) at the bottom. They mostl use double coil Focal drivers and a rare Audax tweeter, derived from the famous TW51 with a small rectangular horn in front. GUY HF manufactured the cabinets for these speakers from 1991 to 2001 and then Ets Berthommé in Availle (Limousin) took over. The Cantilene has been the most successful model commercially.
I will make a particular mention of a model that was not a success, more an experiment.
I am talking about the Chimère, a 125kg monster with no money spared and amazing design principles. First is the use of a Phy-HP full range driver with an open back, second a piezo tweeter from Audax all in separate cabinets, the midrange one being supported via its own invisible metal stand and supporting cones, going through, but decoupled from the subwoofer cabinet. and finally cut-off frequencies of the crossover at 150 Hz towards the 34cm Focal bass driver and 6Khz to the piezo tweeter. See photos and diagram below. The crossover is in a separate and external box. Apparently, only three pairs were ever manufactured...
Interestingly enough, Jean-Paul Guy had designed an adjustable panel to form a variable tuned port on a previous model, and this was used on the subwoofer here as well. But the most amazing part of the story is that some years later, this idea was used again with some of the same drivers by no other than Ocellia! Phy-HP full range, piezo tweeter AND adjustable port...
And BTW, these were some of the most amazing speakers I had a chance to listen to in my long hifi life, so I can only imagine how good the Chimère might have been! This "money is no object" design was turned into a more commercially minded product, the Cantilène III, using all Audax drivers, 2x17cm AM170G8 and one textile dome tweeter the famous TM 025 C1.
This is probably the last known design by Confluence in 2001. I should now pay tribute to Raymont Lerat and Christian Quest for their excellent "virtual museum" on all things Confluence.
Even if you don't read French, most of technical details will be obvious to the keen hifi nerds that you are and I will thank them for all the photos in this article. Here is the link:
Well, I have not been very active on this blog for the last two months not by lack of good content, but mainly because I have been buried in a couple of other projects and taking care of my real business...So, my apologies for not being around, although you may have caught a glimpse of my state of mind on my Facebook page where I try to post things fun and current.
1970 - ELIPSON
Elipson is 100% responsible for my involvement with speaker design, period. Many of my contemporaries designers were all in awe with these speakers and we all tried to emulate their design and the magical sound they were capable of. It was a labor of love by artisan Joseph Leon and his team. I had the chance to compare these oldies with the new 4260s, but no match!
The 4260s are hifi speakers, the 4050s are musical instruments. Often imitated, never equalled!
1980 - THE GOLDEN DECADE - AW AUDIO
AW Audio started at the same time as Microphase and lasted a lot longer, up until 1995 with the introduction of the TRANSPARENCE, which unfortunately was not a commercial success.
Alain Wacquet, the designer for these amazing looking open baffle speakers, was, and still is, a great amateur of jazz and a great musician himself, still composing and up until recently involved in radio programs promoting the most modern of music genres. Alain is a perfectionist and his demos were some of the most spectacular I had a chance to listen to. He had a keen ear and a good understanding of getting the most amazing result out of the speakers. His demos of percussion instruments were legendary, specially considering the lack of real bottom end to these panels. We became friends - and still are - because we shared the same design objectives, time alignment, impulse response and respect of timbres, a must to reproduce music, not hifi...
1990 - SONUS FABER Guarneri Homage
This was and still is one of my favourite speakers. Still relatively compact, beautifully crafted, Italian with all its elegance and flamboyance, it is more a musical instrument than a hifi speaker.
Again here, phase, time alignement, dynamics and low cabinet resonances give precedence to the music, well deserving their name as an homage to the violin makers of Cremona.
2000 - MARTIN LOGAN - Summit X
I could have chosen a number of models fromMartin Logan, but I think the Summit X was the first one to be the best at matching the electrostatic panel and the integral subwoofer. I could happily live with a pair of these if I had a larger living room. Their speed, imaging, transparence - both visual and auditive - as well as going low enough without becoming boomy are the reason why I would have chosen them as my favourite speakers at the time and some of the best irrespective of time. They are also spouse friendly enough to be enjoyed with your partner.
2010 - KYRON AUDIO - Kronos
This was a revelation at the first HiFi Show in Melbourne after 16 years of absence. I was not going to miss that show, although I had just returned from the Paris HiFi Show, I managed to go
So glad to meet Leon Suter and Lee Gray and listen to their hifi journey. The Gaia was their first commercial attempt at open baffle speakers, but they employed the heavy artillery, using the best drivers, the best class D amplifiers and the best DSP in the form of the locally designed DEXQ. There are NOT spouse friendly at all, but the sound, even in such bad sounding room was amazing. I was the first to write ecstatically about these marvels of design, engineering and musical performance. I still remember the look of amazement on visitors' faces, circling the beasts as if it had just landed from Mars. And maybe they had...
A couple of years later, Leon and Lee were at it again, with what I believe are even better speakers at half the price and much more aesthetically pleasing. The DEXQ software had improved, Hypex had released new class D amplifiers with an almost non-existent level of distortion and a much better slew rate. The drivers are more or less the same, but this time the mayonnaise has gelled and those are the best speakers I have ever listened to, in over five decades of addiction! I was vindicated at the recent Melbourne Show, when Michael Fremer, a vinyl and analog aficionado, who has his own blog - Analog Planet - and has been writing for Stereophile for decades visited the Kyron Audio stand, he was mesmerised and I will quote only one sentence from his article:
"There was nothing 'digital' about the presentation. Nothing." Exactly my point...
Even if you are a talented and well thought after jazz musician, you are not necessarily made of money, but you still want to be heard properly at the venues you are playing, specially in outdoor situation, and not everybody can afford a Wisdom Audio system, not to mention transporting it in your car and playing outside in all kind of weather....
Unlike regular speakers, line arrays have the unique feature of getting an even levelled sound regardless of the distance the listener is from the source, hence their use in professional audio applications like concert halls and outdoor rock concerts. They are generally heavy, expensive, difficult to set-up and require electronic equalisation and a big bank of amplifiers (Bryston anyone...)
Paul Sun went and designed his own (relatively...) portable system comprising 4 line array modules, each including 8 VIFA 3.5inch drivers, and two subwoofers using VIFA 12inch drivers.
They stack on top of each other nicely to provide an intrusive but highly effective sound system.
They are powered by two professional stereo amplifiers and a dbx electronic crossover set at 240 Hz. Although the full range drivers are limited to about 12 Khz, it is amply sufficient for this application. The sound of the guitar was reflecting the perturbations of the top end of the speakers and could be improved by using a few 19mm VIFA tweeters on a LR2 passive crossover
I have successfully implemented the 2.5in version of these drivers coupled to a 19mm VIFA tweeter and a 6dB/oct crossover for a PA application for schools and museums to be integrated into a lighting profile. We just got our first order for a project in Sydney.
VIFA also makes excellent 10in and 12in bass drivers that I have also implemented in an active subwoofer built in a 27 litres closed cabinet. You can see the combined response below. The system generates a very warm sound, and even without the subwoofer, the result is impressive.
So, Paul has managed to design a very good system, with enough portability and performance for his application, at a reasonable cost. Well done!
AWOX is a French company based in Montpellier in the South of France. They are experts at DNLA networks and wireless technologies in general and have developed products for lighting, sound, home automation and more. They own over 10,000 patents in this field.
They have been instrumental in the wanderings of Cabasse into wireless audio products for the last five years, and when Canon wanted out, Awox stepped in and spent only 2Meuros for this iconic French audio brand. It is good to have Cabasse remaining a French asset and we wish both companies the success they deserve. They have exhibited at the recent CES in Vegas and would have had a chance to expose themselves to the international market there in a big way.