Triangle speakers have always pushed the concept of brilliant custom drive units in good cabinets, rather than the audiophile standard issue method of off-the-shelf drivers in an outstanding cabinet. The Magellan series goes some way to overturn this notion, but the fact remains that mid-woofer is an outstanding transducer from the upper-bass right up into the treble where the tweeter takes over. That gives the speaker excellent almost point source properties across most of the range and it makes the Duetto fast. Very fast indeed. And that’s why the cabinet is more than just coming along for the ride; the speaker would either be not as lively or not as evenly balanced without a damn good cabinet helping those drivers to sing. The braced box itself is made from thick High Density Fibre, 800kg/m3, in several options of deep veneers or piano finishes. It’s gently curved to the back, comes with a small pair of front-firing ports (making it easy to integrate into small rooms) and a good set of biwire speaker terminals. This last is provided with jumpers made from heavy-gauge cable used as internal wire rather than the usual bent piece of metal, showing in microcosm how much attention to detail is paid, because inside the cabinet, treble and bass use different grades of copper wire to achieve the best effect. There is also an elegant matching stand, but this wasn’t supplied.
As suggested earlier, this is a fast loudspeaker. Fun and fast. It propels music along at a fair lick, whatever the music. While that does occasionally lead to pieces of music on the ambient and Eric Satie side of things sounding like they are trying to keep up with the frantic pace, there are few loudspeakers more energetic and exciting sounding. On the other hand, the overture to Bizet’s Carmen has the kind of explosive propulsion it requires to come to life.
It’s possibly not the most neutral loudspeaker in history, as Triangle’s signature treble lift is still there. Interestingly, while this has been a constant in the Triangle signature sound, the French company’s treble has been toned down over the years, while other brands have made a bit of zing their signature HF response. We have become more attuned to this high-frequency energy over time, with listeners often finding BBC-style loudspeakers too ‘dull’ in comparison. I’m not sure either argument is entirely correct, but the slight treble lift here does make for an impassioned sound.
Of course, that clean treble only works if the midrange is good, and this has also always been a Triangle strength, but here the midrange is truly wonderful. And it’s wonderful whether you are playing ‘My Funny Valentine’ sung by Chet Baker or ‘Hey! Luciani’ by The Fall. Of course, it’s a different type of wonderful, one pained and broken on one track, harsh and abrasive on the other. Exactly how it should sound. It is particularly good on instrumental sounds, both acoustic and electronic. In a way, the combination of that speed and the open midrange is what good dance music needs; ‘Drop The Pressure’ from Mylo’s Destroy Rock & Roll album from 2004 is a perfect example of this. Any sloppiness in delivery and it loses that drum-machine perfect beat and the mid-band preserves the voice hidden behind a lot of synthesis.
A good arbiter of fine audio performance is it changes with each piece of music. The soundstage, presentation, tonal balance should all shift with each recording because not all recordings are made under the same circumstances. And this is the kind of loudspeaker that does just that. Play a Decca recording from the golden age like the Three Cornered Hat and the sound is full and steps back from the loudspeakers, shift over to something like Life in Leipzig and the music is almost claustrophobically close to the listener. Elbow is mixed with a deep image, Lambchop is mixed wide. All of which can either be swamped by the loudspeaker’s own character (everything sounds wide) or makes half your music unlistenable. I like to think of this as the Mercury Rev test – if it makes ‘Holes’ from Deserter’s Songs sound like some fine, if pretentious, rock introspection, it passes the test. If you can’t get past the whole ‘whiny bell-end with a musical saw’ thing, the speaker is getting in the way. Of course, the reality is both viewpoints are fundamentally correct, but the Duetto manages to help explain why some think this album is a classic.