Triangle Magellan Quatuor 40th Anniversary Loudspeakers | REVIEW

triangle magellan quatuor

Hot on the heels of reviewing the impressive Triangle Antal 40th Anniversary loudspeaker, I had to look up the rest of this French speaker manufacturer‘s product lines. The flagship line is known as Magellan, and the Triangle Magellan Quatuor 40th Anniversary is the largest model. (“Quatuor” means quartet in French.) So what does Triangle have on tap with their finest offerings? Quite a lot, as I’ll explain below.

Words and Photos by Graig Neville

The universe often works in unusual ways. As cliché as that sounds, the stars seemed to align so I could receive a pair of Triangle Magellan Quatuor loudspeakers into my listening room. While speaking with the Antal Audio Group’s Frank Gazzo, I learned of a dealer event at Holm Audio that had not one, but TWO pairs of Triangle Magellan Quatuor loudspeakers in the house—one with a zebrano finish and the other in golden oak.

The golden oak Triangle Magellan Quatuor was en route to Capital Audiofest, and the zebrano was set up in one of Holm’s many listening rooms. (The Magellan line also comes in a space black and space white finish.) Several other models from Triangle’s Esprit, Signature and Magellan lines were being auditioned during the event as well. I discovered that Holm had not purchased the Triangle Magellan Quatuor being auditioned, and so Frank Gazzo, Mike Holm, and I made arrangements to pick up the Quatuor a few days after the event.

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Inside the Triangle Magellan Quatuor

The Triangle Magellan Quatuor 40th Anniversary is a beautifully finished speaker. The veneers, metal work, binding posts, and attention detail are first rate and what I expect from a speaker that hits the $20,000/pr MSRP mark. Everything about the speaker points to handmade attention to detail.

The driver complement consists of three 7” bass drivers, a midrange of the same size (but very different construction), and forward and rear-firing tweeters. The design is bass reflex with a flared conical opening near the base. Triangle fabricates their own drivers and has packed in a bunch of technology including Dynamic Pulse System (DPS2) which incorporates the rear firing tweeter to provide easier placement (caveat above) and a wider soundstage, a sandwich SVA driver that optimizes mass and stiffness for the bass drivers, the magnesium horn-loaded tweeter has a different character and a dispersion that is unlike any other tweeter I’ve heard.

The Triangle tweeter is very different than traditional domed tweeters. Besides using magnesium, the tweeter is horn loaded with a phase plug and has a rear chamber to address backwave reflections. Triangle claims this computer modeled design significantly limits off-axis high frequency directivity and the phase plug improves linearity. Personally, I found this tweeter to be slightly warm, somewhat damped and wonderfully smooth and silky.

The heart and soul of the Quatuor, however, is the midrange. The wide operating frequency produces the majority of the fundamental notes and really defines the sound of this speaker. Triangle has adopted cellulose fiber with an exponential shape for this driver. The S-surround is a latex treated fabric with a latex treated phase plug. The resulting midrange is amazingly clear, detailed, and smooth in my opinion without any harshness.

Sidewalls are curved, creating a slender and tall profile for the Quatuor. The curved sidewalls make the rear of the speaker look black, as the light reflects off the rear at a different angle. The driver complement makes the speaker appear a bit busy and I could see how some may opt for the magnetically attached fabric grill covers. However, I love looking at drivers so all my reviewing was done sans grills. A nameplate near the bottom proclaims this is the 40th Anniversary edition. It’s there for authenticity.

Other elements include AudioQuest internal speaker wiring and high quality crossover components, and an optimized computer modeled cabinet of layers of UDF (a more dense version of MDF) to address standing waves and unwanted vibrations.

Finally, the Triangle Magellan Quatuor features one of my favorite binding post designs I’ve seen on a speaker. It has bi-wire capabilities, using metal jumpers that have a dual nut design that can accommodate spades, bananas, or bare wire. The nuts have good grip and you could put a wrench on them if you really wanted to, but I found that I had great leverage just tightening by hand. It’s these kind of details that impress me and point to thoughtful design that appeals to my engineer brain, while the finish and aesthetics appeal to my creative design side.

triangle magellan quatuor

Triangle Magellan Quatuor Set-Up

Besides unboxing the speaker, which proved a bit less difficult than expected, the Triangle Magellan Quatuor loudspeakers were not easy to move around. That’s because the base of the Quatuor is unique. There’s a metal plinth that fastens to the bottom of the speaker with rubber feet that are center-tapped to allow for spikes. In addition, there’s a front-mounted conical spike contraption called the SPEC spike with an integral plate. The rubber feet made moving the speaker on carpeted surfaces difficult and even fine adjustments are a hassle.

It’s thoughtful to protect hard surface flooring, but this was the antithesis of the base plate for the Antal, which I loved; without the spikes installed they glided along the carpet like a Citroen with air ride suspension. The Triangle Magellan Quatuor base also made the speaker a little unstable on carpet, since this is a 53″ tall speaker with a relatively small 17” x 12” footprint. Any instabilities were quickly amplified. Once the speaker position was determined, inserting the spikes was relatively easy with the supplied feet and tools.

The Triangle Magellan Quatuor is a very simple speaker to setup, but it is a difficult speaker to optimize. The recommendations in the user manual will get you 80% or more of the way there. The manual does state, of course, that closer placement to the walls provides more bass while pulling the speakers further into the room provides better imaging. The speakers were immediately capable of creating that 3D holographic imaging that we often talk about but rarely experience, and I had placed them far out from the back wall and there was that reach out and touch the music feeling. The bass, however, wasn’t right. It was too lean and it didn’t have good body. As I pushed the speakers closer to the wall, the bass solidified but I lost some of the holographic imaging.

It’s a trade off that can’t be avoided, a spectrum where you decide what is most important for you. I settled on good bass with juuuust missing that true 3D holographic image.

triangle magellan quatuor

The Quatuor was surprisingly tricky on toe-in, presenting a counter-intuitive set-up. For example, and I suspect this has to do with the rear-firing tweeter, adding toe-in made the center image worse, smearing the soundstage. But with no toe-in, the image didn’t have solidity and collapsed a bit. It was very odd. I could alter the toe-in by almost 15 degrees with little detectable change in the soundstage or imaging, but once you exceeded that window it made noticeable changes (usually bad ones).

Next, the SPEC spike anchors the front ¼ of the speaker, transmitting vibrational energy into the floor instead of through the cabinet. What the SPEC can also do is provide rake. Grover Neville and I noticed that tilting the tweeter slightly back can improve imaging. And since the Triangle Magellan Quatuor is so tall, you can easily get several inches of rake. Grover and I settled on about 2″ from vertical at the tweeter level. We concluded that rake impacted imaging more than toe-in.

The final component to imaging was how far apart the speakers were placed, since the Triangle Magellan Quatuor likes a wide stance. We found the imaging suffered if we placed the speakers too close together, again congesting and smearing the imaging no matter what we did with toe-in. As we moved them farther apart, beyond the recommended widths in the user manual, the imaging continued to improve and despite the width it completely filled in the soundstage between the speakers. The Triangle Magellan Quatuor is an imaging and soundstage monster of a speaker.

Finally, after all that futzing the bass was still sounding a bit thin. I had played around with the spikes before Grover arrived and noticed that they made a huge difference in bass depth. It’s amazing to me to hear how much bass extension is dependent on inserting the spikes for this speaker.

speaker base


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Sonic Impressions

So what does all that technology give you sonically? Quite a lot in this reviewer’s humble opinion. The first immediate impression was how clean the midrange was. The Triangle Magellan Quatuor has a midrange that drips sultry, is warm like a nice blanket and a hot cup of cocoa on a cold day, and has “reach out and touch it”, no, “reach out and hug it” 3D imaging. It gives up some razor sharp focus for smoothness, warmth, depth, and breadth.

There’s the illusion that the speaker is colored in a pleasurable way, but after critically listening I recant that idea. It’s just so smooth that there is no dryness, nor under- or over-damping. The midrange is fast and has great transient attack. The midrange doesn’t have that lusty exuberance of some speakers that scream out “look at me!”, but is more characteristic of a nice long conversation with your best of friend or long-time intimate lover in the comfort of your own home.

The tweeter design isn’t like anything else I’ve seen on the market. As much as I liked the tweeter in the Antal 40th the Triangle Magellan Quatuor tweeter is better in every way having a sweetness and warmth that was very similar to the midrange’s character. As much as I listened I couldn’t tell where the midrange rolled off and the tweeter took over. Despite the relatively steep crossover slope (24db per octave) of the tweeter I couldn’t detect any issues with phase or timing. The rear firing tweeter wasn’t as ambient as other speakers with rear-firing tweeters that I’ve heard. I was expecting this artificial airiness that you get from a dipole or rear-firing tweeter that can sometimes smear the midrange a bit, but the Triangle Magellan Quatuor didn’t have any of that.

And what a soundstage the Triangle Magellan Quatuor‘s throw out! The soundstage fills in between the speakers better than anything I’ve heard–in my system, at shows, and by a considerable margin, peeking out beyond the outside edges of the speakers. The center image isn’t the most razor sharp pinpoint that I’ve heard, but vocals have a more realistic size. Instead of a dot you get a volleyball or large softball-sized center point.

triangle magellan quatuor

The Triangle Magellan Quatuor is never a harsh speaker, but on poor recordings it will tell you plainly what’s wrong. If the recording is particularly bright the Quatuor will tell you without rounding off the edges, perhaps smoothing the presentation ever so slightly.

The bass picks up around the 300Hz crossover point. The resulting bass is very tight and punchy, and it mates well with this speaker. I’ve heard speakers this size produce more prodigious and subterranean bass, but the Triangle Magellan Quatuor is more about bass quality than quantity. With a -3db point of 30Hz I was left wanting more on organ music and other 20-24Hz heavy music, but anything above that the amount of bass was accurate and adequate. Taiko drums, standup bass, and other deep percussion instruments like timpani were fantastic with realistic body and a fast transient attack.

I have an open floor plan, so pressurizing the room can be challenging for all but the largest and most bass heavy speakers, and yet the Quatuor did an admiral job on 90% of my music and only on occasion did I wish for a subwoofer. I’ve been a long-time Vandersteen owner and the bass of my Model 3s are deeper with more quantity, but the Triangle Magellan Quatuor made the Model 3 bass seem ponderously slow and kinda fat and wubby. I think for the majority of folks the Quatuor will have just the right amount of bass.

Depending on the recording, the soundstage also goes about a foot or so back behind the plane of the speakers as well, which really contributes to the 3D holographic effect I mentioned earlier. On certain big band and orchestral music, the left and right of the orchestra can even be just inside and behind the speakers as well. There’s a body to the soundstage that has depth and breadth. The Triangle Magellan Quatuor fills that space front to back, like looking down a long hallway instead of looking through a window.

triangle magellan quatuor

A Different Take

Grover Neville was visiting when the Triangle Magellan Quatuor arrived, and he helped with final tuning and adjustments. Here are his impressions:

“The Quatuor 40th is an exceptionally fine speaker – somewhat the inverse in personality to the Atohm GT3 Graig reviewed some time ago. Whereas that speaker was focused on lower midrange and bass frequencies, the Quatuor opts to spotlight the midrange and high end. There is a sparkle and speed with this speaker that is addictive – once properly placed images hang in space in that delightfully audiophiley way we all love.

“Placement is an interesting affair, with the Quatuor responding a bit differently from most speakers I’m used to, and spacing from the front and side walls seems critical, but toe-in has less effect than usual. Once situated in their happy spot the Quatuors are a lively and punchy performer though, with an ability to balance technical chops with real musical engagement. I cannot say enough good things about that midrange and tweeter.”

triangle magellan quatuor

Triangle Magellan Quatuor Conclusions

The cliché of the “sum of the parts” comes to mind with the Triangle Magellan Quatuor, but the difference here is integration. Everything about this speaker just feels right and it’s difficult to parse out individual components.

The midrange is the soul of this speaker, as I’ve said above, but the tweeter and bass drivers are there to support that character, and not in a way that diminishes from their contributions. Rather, it complements and extends what the midrange is doing. This is a wholistic design where every single component is fabricated to work seamlessly together with no detectable compromises or “fixes.”

The Triangle Magellan Quatuor is a worthy flagship for Triangle–the folks in Soissons have created something special they should be proud of. This speaker has very few compromises and competes well with speakers not only in this price point but in the $25,000 to $35,000 category as well. It’s difficult to call a $20,000 speaker a great value, but the Quatuor really is a value. What this speaker delivers for its price point is shockingly good. After several days I sat down with the Quatuor and they said to me, “I’ll love you forever.” I knew I had to own them.

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