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This review first appeared in the July 2009 issue of hifi & stereo magazine You can also read this reader report of the Triangle Altea EX in its original German version. We translated it through a syndication arrangement with our German colleagues. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of or Triangle. - Ed.

Jochen Reinecke
Review Component Retail: €1.200/pr in Germany

During the HighEnd 2009 Munich show, I'd more than once traipsed lustfully around speakers by this French firm. Despite nervy audience din and chatter, Triangle's Magellan Concerto blew me away but so did its €20,000/pr sticker my wallet. Yet interest had risen like wood and once back in Berlin, I'd asked to audition the rather more modestly priced Altea EX. What impressed me about Triangle is their long-term product strategy. The Altea EX is a refinement over the earlier ES version with improved tweeter phase plug and crossover integration. This model is part of the Esprit Series which includes the two monitors Titus and Comete and two floorstanders, the Altea and Antal. Finish options for this range are black and 'cognac'.

As a hobbyist valve man, I find it mandatory in this price range to approach speaker selection with great care. Many are simply too inefficient or cause amp problems in the bass. On then with today’s experiment. The shipper cussed and cursed about weight while shlepping the cartons upstairs. I took this as a good omen and he did manage by his lonesome. First impressions out of the box were chic but no beauty, well finished and looking expensive. The naked facts meanwhile call Triangle’s Altea EX a grown-up 1-meter high and ca. 35cm deep 3-way bass-reflex floorstander with front and rear ports and biwire terminals cheaply bridged. A Titanium compression driver with phase plug performs tweetering while the mids and bass are handled by 16cm units with glass-fiber membranes. Voltage sensitivity is an above average 91dB/W/m and power handling is 100 watts at 8 ohms.

One noteworthy detail is the (removable) molded plinth which can couple directly to the floor or be floated on four corner spikes. Unusual and reminiscent of a cello post is the so-called SPEC (single point energy conductor), a central threaded steel point in the front said to channel mechanical energies to ground.

Setup is a bit of work. The cheap biwire jumpers should be replaced by proper cabling. The four spikes need to be carefully threaded and raised to proper height to accommodate the SPEC. Lack of care will end up in a mutinous teeter totter but due attention (with a torpedo level) should result in a rock-solidly grounded box.

The glasses tinkle: Ready for work, open the tab. The dispatched pair was thankfully broken in. I first leashed up Yarland’s FV34-CIII, a single-ended push/pull valve amp with EL84 outputs. A Marantz SA 7001 SACD machine handled the digits. As always, I kicked off with Philip Caterine’s Live which veritably bursts with joie de vivre and live atmospherics. My customary track is "Song for Victor" which opens with a twitchy solo guitar theme that, a half tone transposed, gets picked up by the piano. Just before one’s nerves would skip to the next track, things segue into an outright obscenely relaxed quartet groove and these Frenchies admittedly had me enthralled in no time. I didn’t even have to close my eyes to feel transported into a smoky, beer-swilling Jazz bar. I took note of clean, harmonically defined bass, colorful warm mids and exceptionally present but not spiky highs. A beer glass toppled at far left and the responsive snare mesh scintillated seductively in the intro. The stage was broad, the venue deep and everything appeared so realistic that I felt compelled to slink about emptying ash trays on the tables. A good start.