Hifi Pig was invited to visit French loudspeaker manufacturer Triangle at their offices in Bordeaux, but first of all who are Triangle and what is the history behind the brand?
A Brief History Of The Brand
Triangle was initially founded in 1980 by Renaud de Vergnette in 1980 and launched their first loudspeaker the 1180. In 1981 they introduced the CX2 which was the first Triangle design to mount the tweeter on top of the cabinet and by 1985 they were producing their own drivers which remain the company’s trademark to this day.
By 1990 Triangle introduced a new loudspeaker, the Altair, which was the first loudspeaker to incorporate a curved cabinet, something that has become all but an industry standard in modern loudspeakers.
The very first Esprit range was introduced in 1994 with the Antal TZX and these names have remained with Triangle ever since. Indeed the Antal was this listeners first introduction to the Triangle sound.
Triangle’s flagship Magellan loudspeaker was announced in 2003 introducing new technologies which the company have since trickled down into other ranges in their portfolio.
The Decelle family (Olivier Decelle) purchased Triangle in 2006 and began to reorganise the company. By 2009 Triangle had opened purpose built R&D facilities which were separated between mechanical and acoustic research and development. The facilities include CLIO software, 3D print capability and an anechoic chamber.
To celebrate its 30th anniversary Triangle introduced the Anniversary range in 2010 and later, in 2011, the Color range was introduced combining a modern design with vibrant finishes.
The Signature range of loudspeakers was introduced in 2013 as was the new sales and marketing offices in Bordeaux.
The Triangle Esprit EZ series of speakers was launched to the public in 2014.
The team we met at the Bordeaux offices was young, vibrant and as well as having a good deal of experience in the audio industry. Above all they are passionate about their product and where it is going in the marketplace. Production of loudspeakers remains in the Northern French town of Soissons but sales and marketing is located in Bordeaux, the wine capital of the World, as the Decelle family are heavily involved in the wine industry – as you’ll read later.
Keen to promote the Made in France aspect of their loudspeakers both the Signature and Magellan series of loudspeakers are made exclusively at the Soissons facility, whilst Triangle continue to develop their own drivers.
Currently Triangle is sold in around 40 countries around the world with France being the biggest market. Rune Jacobson (pictured below) is charged with developing the brand’s presence around the world and this multilingual Danish national certainly knows a thing or two about the industry.
One of the trademarks of Triangle loudspeakers is the use of horn-loaded tweeters which are developed by Triangle for Triangle and this remains an important part of the business, with triangle selling OEM drivers to a good number of other loudspeaker manufacturers. The tweeter horn is 100% injected aluminium with different solutions and materials being used on the more expensive models, but all maintaining the core technology and philosophy.
Triangle’s midrange driver is a new design with the 185cm aluminium basket being designed to offer improved ventilation for the double-layered voicecoil. This paper coned driver is equipped with a small pleat peripheral short travel suspension with newer versions using a specially treated paper. Triangle have replaced the phase plug on earlier models with a dust cap made to an identical size and shape.
Whilst we did not visit the Soissons facility Triangle say they have undertaken a complete review of their manufacturing process and now engineers work very closely with the people who put the loudspeakers together with several acoustic tests being carried out throughout the process to ensure each element of the loudspeaker’s make up meets Triangle’s strict standards.
Speakers are finally tested in the company’s anechoic chamber with veneers later being carefully selected to produce a matched pair of loudspeakers. At the time of writing (2014) Triangle has four series of loudspeakers in their portfolio: Color, Esprit, Signature and the range topping Magellan which we got to listen to at the Jean Faure Chateau in St Emilion and owned by the Decelle family.
Triangle is headed up by its CEO Marc Le Bihan with Olivier Decelle being both a major shareholder and his son Hugo Decelle (pictured below) involved in marketing the brand. Rune Jacobson and Nicolas Serra deal with the international sales and marketing, whilst Sebastien Miguel heads up the R & D team.
When we were invited to visit Triangle my first thought was what a great opportunity this was. I’d heard the company’s speakers a couple of times at shows on the end of valve amplification and had always been impressed with their open and fast sound. We’d expected to have been invited to make the journey east to the Northern French town of Soissons where they have their factory and R & D facilities and it came as a bit of a shock when we were asked to join them in Bordeaux. Thinking now about the people behind the company, Bordeaux shouldn’t have been such a surprise as the Decelle family are heavily involved in the wine industry, owning a total of five vineyards around France, including the Jean Faure chateau in St Emilion which has recently been awarded “Grand Cru” status…but more about that later.
Triangle’s offices in Bordeaux are the main administrative offices where the company’s sales and marketing team are based as well as its web designers etc. The offices have been stunningly transformed from an old wine shipping building into a modern and spacious environment that seems perfect for this young team of professionals to operate from. Speaking to Hugo Decelle he tells us they plan to open up the ground floor space (which still houses the huge wine vats) to host evenings of music where people will have a chance to hear Triangle’s loudspeakers in informal and relaxed surrounding.
Our hosts for the duration of our stay were the aforementioned Hugo Decelle and Rune Jacobsen who were keen to discuss Triangle’s plans for the future as well as the philosophy behind the brand. Hugo is the son of major shareholder in the company Olivier Decelle and takes care of marketing for the company, whilst Rune is in charge of international sales and marketing and getting the brand better recognised around the world. Hugo studied business management at university with him spending a year in Hull at the university there.
Olivier Decelle, who we will meet later, has an interesting background in hifi and has involvement with Triangle from the very outset of the company. In 1980 he became the very first retailer for the model 1180 loudspeaker when he had a hifi shop on rue Saint Jacques in Paris. In 1995 he became a minority shareholder in the business whilst the company was reorganising itself and positioning itself as one of the three top brands in France. Indeed, if you go into any of the large retailers in France (Boulanger for example) you will find Triangle sat beside Focal and Cabasse. There’s an inclusivity apparent with the brand and, despite having the mega-bucks Magellan in their range, there is also ranges that are much more affordable and that will have appeal not only to the dedicated audiophile, but also for the more casual music lover.
When in 2006 Triangles’ original founder Renaud de Vegnettes left the business, Olivier, with the help of Marc le Bihan (the company’s CEO), took over control of Triangle both modernizing and consolidating the brand, whilst maintaining its core values and philosophy.
Rune Jacobson also has a strong background in hifi with him having bought his first hifi at the age of fourteen and later working part time in a hifi shop and becoming export manager for Italian brand Pathos. He’s worked in pro-audio with TC Group and speaks far too many languages than is good for one person. Interestingly Rune’s degree is not related to hifi or audio in any way and is actually in wine production and so the move to Triangle, given the Decelles’ other interests, is somewhat natural. What is clear from speaking with Rune and Hugo is that their passion and belief in the brand is very strong and they also have a very clear vision of where the brand should be. Yes, they are keen to talk about the Magellans and the Signature series of loudspeakers, but they’re also eager to tell us about their affordable and funky Color series too. I like this outlook a good deal and think it is to be applauded.
Of course many readers of this article will have invested thousands upon thousands in their music play back system, but it remains that there are a vast majority of folk out there who want a simple hifi that allows them to enjoy their music or films in great quality and without having to spend a king’s ransom… or have something in their sitting room that just takes over.
At the heart of Triangle’s philosophy it is clear that their starting point is always their own drivers and trademark horn tweeter. It’s also evident that they want to keep a family sound with all their products. They’re investing heavily in R & D and Rune is keen to have the brand better represented in the UK marketplace and I believe it deserves a higher profile than it currently has (Triangle’s distribution is now handled by Audio Emotion).
As we wrap up our chat in the Bordeaux office it’s nearing lunchtime and if you’ve ever been to France you’ll know that everything stops for this ritual and having lived here for nice years it’s one we’ve taken on wholeheartedly. We jump in our car and follow Hugo and Rune to make the half hour or so trip to St Emilion where we eat a great meal and then head up to the Decelles family home, Chateau Jean Faure.
Now this is an impressive place! The chateau has been transformed from a virtual ruin into a beautiful family home with a working vineyard that Olivier Decelle is keen to tell us has gone a good way to them being awarded Grand Cru for their chateau.
After a brief look around the very impressive wine making facilities of the chateau we are invited to a tasting (we can confirm that Chateau Jen Faure is a truly delicious glass) and then we take our refilled glasses into the living room of the Decelles to listen to some music via some rather impressive Audio Research amplification, Krell CD player and, of course, Triangle’s range topping, €56K Magellan Grande Concert loudspeakers.
The Magellans are an imposing loudspeaker with a total of eight drivers (four bass drivers and one of each mid-range and tweeters mounted both on the front baffle and on the back panel). It’s a three-way loudspeaker that is 91dB sensitive and a claimed frequency range of 28Hz to 20KHz. Their nominal impedence is 4 Ohms, each one weighs 100Kg and they stand 2.15m in height. Ok this is a large and high room and not all rooms could reasonably accommodate the Magellans, but in this setting they do not look overly out of place and blend into the beautiful décor pretty well.
We spend an hour or so listening to a wide range of music through this system and despite being in unfamiliar surroundings we were able to get a reasonable measure of the speaker’s main attributes. The first thing we noted was that there’s a really wide sweet-spot being thrown and so, despite neither of us being bang centre, we were both able to enjoy an striking stereo image and deep, deep soundstage. There’s good dynamics, as you would expect, with great detail being evident even in quieter passages and whilst the Magellans certainly sound like big loudspeakers, they are still somewhat sweet and delicate sounding in a not at all “in your face” style – indeed one of the notes I made reads “natural and unforced – shut your eyes and forget that the speakers are there”.
Listening to a Danish female vocalist it’s very easy to spot the slight Danish twang in her voice and the guitar on Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” is as natural sounding as I’ve heard. There’s a feeling with the Magellans that no one frequency is being over dominant and what you are left with is a very detailed and relaxed sound that, had we time, I’d have happily spent hours in front of. Needless to say the finish on these loudspeakers is of a very high quality and they really do ooze style and sophistication that is enhanced somewhat by our surroundings. But then, as I mentioned, Triangle aren’t just about these high-end loudspeakers and having heard the €6K Signature Alphas in our own home I can confidently say that there is certainly a family sound with Triangle speakers at all price ranges.
Linette and I would like to extend a huge thank you to the folks at Triangle and particularly Hugo and rune for looking after us and making us feel so welcomed. Thanks also to Olivier and Madame Decelle for inviting us into their wonderful home and being so welcoming.