Triangle Borea BR Zero Eight Speaker Review:
Detail, drama and something quite unexpected
Review by Steve Graham
Boring Stuff First
Tweeter: 2.5cm (1”) silk dome
Midrange: 16cm (~6.5”) natural cellulose paper cone
Woofers: Two, 16cm (~6.5”) fiberglass cones
Frequency range: 40Hz – 22KHz (+/- 3dB)
Power handling: 150W
Nominal impedance: 8Ω
Minimum impedance: 3Ω
Cabinet Dimensions: 8.11” W, 40.15” H, 12.36” D
Dimensions with Pedestal: 10.23” W, 41.37” H, 14.17” D
Weight: 41.6 lbs.
Finishes: Light oak, black, walnut, white
Price: $1,999 Canadian/pair list, $1,699 US/pair list
North American Distributors:
Motet Distribution in Canada http://motetdistribution.com/
Antal Audio Group in the U.S.A. http://antalaudio.com/
Triangle France: https://www.trianglehifi.com/en/
The only minor concern in the specs is the minimum impedance dip to 3 ohms. Most likely not a problem with a solid-state amp, though with a tube amp, a 4-ohm output tap would likely be beneficial. I employed the 4 ohm taps on the amps used for this review. Even though they are quite sensitive at 92dB/W/M, the 3-ohm minimum impedance will require some current. This might preclude the use of low-powered amplifiers, especially single-digit-watt tube amplifiers, unless you listen to string quartet or small jazz trio recordings and/or your listening room is on the small side.
Some listeners might rule out the Borea series of speakers as old-fashioned due to their use of silk domes and paper cones. It’s the implementation of materials that matters more than the materials themselves. Wilson, makers of speakers with win-the-lottery-like-prices, has returned to fabric domes and paper cones.
The review system consisted of my usual NAD 50.2 music player, PS Audio DirectStream DAC, Audio Research Reference 3 line stage and Reference 110 power amplifier. Cabling was Cardas and Kimber. AC was conditioned by a PS Audio regenerator.
Expectations (Not) Met
Back in late 2020, I reviewed (and subsequently bought) a pair of Triangle Borea BR02 speakers. I was expecting similar performance from the BR08s. I didn’t get it. What I got was something quite surprising. My theory is that the BR02, like many small speakers, must “grab” the listener to compensate for their small size. Larger speakers need not necessarily do this. The BR08 is a much more refined speaker than I was expecting. It wasn’t boring or laid-back. It was, for lack of a better description, self-effacing, but still easy to engage with.
I don’t like components that sound ponderous. If the music requires startle, attack and drama, I don’t want anything to get in the way of this. Even if these macro dynamic swings are of little importance to some listeners there is benefit to having it on tap. My position is, if you have good macro dynamic representation, then the micro dynamics will take care of themselves. It’s the micro dynamics that gives us nuance and detail. At least that’s my theory.
I’m not saying I want hyped-up detail from a too-bright tweeter or shouty midrange. At times I thought the BR08’s treble sounded a bit laid back, but familiar pieces of music revealed this to not be the case. I’d say the treble balance of the BR08 is well-judged. We all have some ear-burning, digital horrors residing on our servers and the BR08s won’t make these artificially pretty. Decent recordings will have high frequency detail presented cleanly without aggression.
To say I’m impressed by the level of performance offered at this price is an understatement. Bowled over would be more accurate.
Ooh La La
Through the mid frequencies instruments and voices are cleanly rendered. The level of communication and involvement is very good. Woodwinds especially seem to be well represented, though to single out one group of instruments is perhaps unfair. The BR08s don’t really favour any instrument or vocal range over others. To say I’m impressed by the level of performance offered at this price is an understatement. Bowled over would be more accurate.
When it comes to the low bass end of the spectrum, there’s only so much that can be achieved with two 6½” woofers at this sensitivity spec in this enclosure size. Subterranean bass is too big an ask. Though not super-deep, the bass is fast and well controlled. It starts and stops quickly as required. Bowed and plucked basses have great attack and detail. This quality is for me, the thing that makes acoustic music seem more lifelike. It’s the drama thing I keep harping about. You can’t add it, only take it away. When present, speed and drama release the living breathing soul of the performance.
My main listening room has been tricky to come to terms with. When my wife and I designed and built our dream home, I attempted to make the dimensions of the listening room to agreeable acoustic properties. The best laid plans can go sideways when frivolities like load bearing beams, duct work and plumbing must be accommodated. Through two major renovations and a bunch of treatment I’ve more or less tamed this monster. Severe slap echo, early reflections and room modes have been ameliorated. There is still one aspect of room acoustics I’m fighting. I can get great bass extension or clarity and soundstaging through the mids and highs, but not both together. I tend to favour the latter over the former, but sometimes the non-audiophile in me craves that little bit of extra bass “whomp”.
And how did I conclude that the BR08’s performance is so great you might ask? The speakers that normally reside in my main system are Spendor D9s. No, the BR08s don’t seriously challenge the approximately seven times more expensive Spendors. (Like a lot of my gear, I got the Spendors used, for about sixty cents on the dollar.)
But the fact that the BR08s don’t disappoint when subbed in for the D9s says a lot about the Triangle’s performance. The driver compliment, two 6½” woofers, one 6½” cone midrange and a dome tweeter are the superficial similarities between the Spendor D9s and the Triangle BR08s. The Spendors have a larger cabinet, are a bit less sensitive and go noticeably deeper in the bass. They also have a balance, grace and wholeness that the Triangles can only hint at. But the fact that the Triangles, at one seventh the price can offer a glimpse of the performance that their cross-channel rivals have, is really quite stunning. We must also keep in mind that the Borea series are Triangle’s entry-level speakers, while the D series is from the upper echelons of Spendor’s product line. Source material permitting, both speakers had good soundstage width, but the Spendors yielded a deeper stage with more specific placement. The BR08s might not “impress” with a quick listen, but they have a level of refinement that belies their price.
To evaluate the BR08s in a different scenario I connected them up to what I describe as our “living room” system. This might be a more typical domestic scenario for the non-audiophile, or one that must make domestic compromises. Our living room is a two-story space with a large second floor gallery. It is also adjacent to our kitchen/dining room. Normally the speakers that reside in this system aren’t ideally placed, but on a temporary basis I can optimize their position. The source is a Lumin D1 music player feeding a “reimagined” 25-wpc tube amp based on a donor Heathkit transformer set. In this system the BR08s played well, but the amplifier didn’t have what I would consider to be the best bottom end grip and control. Likely that 3-ohm impedance minimum having some effect. I’d say that realistically, regardless of room size or type of music, it would be best to have a minimum of fifty quality watts on tap. The BR08s just beg to be cut loose a bit. Maybe the liberties I like to take with the volume control is just my residual teenager trying to assert itself. A quality twenty-five watt amp might be fine if you possess more self-control than I do.
Cosmetically I’d rate the BR08s at OK, though we must keep in mind that they are from Triangle’s entry-level series. The cabinets are vinyl wrapped. The light oak of my audition pair would never convince anyone that they are real wood. The walnut vinyl of my BR02s give a more convincing impression of something that actually came from a tree. The finish of the pedestal was barely OK, but you’d have to get down to floor level to notice.
I had wanted to use only French music to evaluate the BR08s. My server has very little, but I managed to dig up a few.
This collection of Chabrier tunes is a studio recording. You can hear the room sound quite clearly. The strings are rendered well without being screechy. The BR08s capture the ebb and flow of the music well. Low level detail is good, and loud passages are handled with aplomb. My reference speakers do this better, but not stunningly so.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. This is French synthpop from a few years ago but it sounds like it could have been made in the nineteen-eighties. The BR08s don’t hide the compression and over-production. They do however have good pace and rhythm, and keep up with the bass line very well. They aren’t what you might consider party speakers, but the BR08s will play without strain at virtually any sensible volume.
This isn’t really a French composition, but the Pictures we hear most often is the version orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. An early digital recording that doesn’t grate too much, it is very dynamic and colourful. It is by turns relaxed and frenetic, lyrical and bombastic; the Triangles tracked it all.
I also played many of my current favourite tracks and albums as well as rediscovered some I hadn’t heard in a long time. There was nothing in the presentation heard from the BR08s that made me want to immediately replace them with my reference speakers.
To conclude, I don’t want to give the impression that the BR08s pale greatly in comparison to my Spendor D9s. The Spendors are my reference point. If the BR08s sold for a third the price of the D9s, say $4,500 Canadian, approximately $3,800 US (and had a slightly nicer cabinet finish), they would still be a good deal. The fact that they’re $2,000 CDN ($1,700 US), makes them a fantastic deal.
Like all things in audio, speakers are a personal choice, only more so. The Triangle Borea BR08 might not appeal to you, but if they fall within your budget, or even below, it would be a shame not to give them a listen. They’re also Miles-approved, see below.
Disclosure: Wall of Sound Editor Noam Bronstein is a dealer for products mentioned in this review, including the Triangle speakers.
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