Triad InRoom Gold LCR Loudspeaker Reviewed

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Triad InRoom Gold LCR Loudspeaker Reviewed


Triad-IR-Gold-LCR-bookshelf-speaker-review-blue-background-small.jpgSince stumbling across American manufacturer Tekton Design, I've been on a bit of a Made-in-the-USA kick, but not because I feel that a product made in the U.S. is automatically better than those made in Canada or China. I'm interested in American manufacturing companies, because we always hear about how companies must outsource their wares overseas in order to save money. Tekton Design disproves that theory, as its product costs less than those of many Asian competitors. It's not alone, either; Magnepan, Zu Audio, RBH and others have competitive products at virtually every price point. I recently spent some time with another American-made product in the form of Triad's InRoom Gold LCR loudspeaker, which I'd like to tell you about.

Additional Resources
� Read more floorstanding speaker reviews from the staff at HomeTheaterReview.com.
� Explore subwoofers in our Subwoofer Review section.
� See more reviews in our In-Wall Speaker Review section.

I know Triad is not a new company to the audiophile and home theater space, but until recently, I knew of them in name only. Truth is, Triad has been Made in America before such a thing became in vogue. Suffice to say, the company has always made its loudspeakers in America, using American labor and materials. The InRoom Gold LCR (Gold) reviewed here is among one of Triad's higher-end offerings, though the retail price of $2,150 each seems rather reasonable after listening to a pair of them for an afternoon. The Gold is a three-way loudspeaker, featuring proprietary drivers that are housed in a rather inert albeit basic rectangular cabinet. The speaker itself measures 10.75 inches wide by 29 inches tall and nearly 11 inches deep, making it one substantial bookshelf or monitor loudspeaker. Its weight is substantial, too, tipping the scales at a staggering 61 pounds, no doubt where that inert quality stems from. The Gold can be finished in any of Triad's real-wood veneers or custom paint schemes, though the standard finish is a sort of matte black, which is great for home theater applications.

Behind the Gold's curved Acoustimesh metal grille rest four drivers: two eight-and-a-half-inch metal cone woofers, a single five-and-a-half-inch coated paper cone midrange and one one-inch fabric dome tweeter. Again, all of the Gold's drivers are proprietary to Triad, though they are manufactured by SEAS. The Gold uses a fully braced, sealed enclosure, meaning it does not rely on porting to enhance bass response. The Gold has a reported frequency response of 50Hz to 20kHz, with a sensitivity of 92dB into four ohms (3.2 ohms minimum). Its relatively stable four-ohm load and high-ish sensitivity make the Gold suitable for a wide range of amplifiers, integrated and even AV receivers.

Triad-IR-Gold-LCR-bookshelf-speaker-review-gold-center.jpgThe Gold in its in room configuration is designed to either rest on stands within a room or to be placed within a cabinet. Triad makes a matching pedestal stand for the Gold at an extra cost ($325 each), effectively turning it into a floor-standing speaker. Those of you looking to build a multi-channel setup around the Gold should also look at the matching center ($2,150), which is largely the same loudspeaker, with the tweeter and midrange slightly reconfigured for horizontal applications. Purists who like symmetry up front could just as easily employ another Gold LCR rather than the Gold center channel, if they so desire. Triad even offers the Gold LCR in an in-wall configuration. There is little to no performance difference between the Gold in-wall and in-room loudspeaker, a testament to a well-engineered product.

The Hookup
The Triad Gold speaker system was not sent to my home for evaluation. In fact, it wasn't even offered to me. I stumbled upon the Gold system while visiting a friend and fellow home theater enthusiast's home a few weeks ago. I was so taken aback by what I heard that I decided to include it in Home Theater Review's feature review schedule.

My friend's system resides in a dedicated room approximately 12 feet wide by 14 feet long. His theater is entirely light controlled and features a 110-inch Stewart film screen and a fully calibrated JVC D-ILA projector. The room has undergone a barrage of acoustical treatments, with diffusion at the first and second order reflection points and six inches of absorption everywhere else - well, minus the ceiling and floor, where it's only four inches. The theater is small but cozy and has a studio-like appearance and sonic quality once the music or movies start.

Triad-IR-Gold-LCR-bookshelf-speaker-review-gold-in-wall.jpgMy friend utilizes two Triad Gold LCRs for his left and right mains, each resting on a custom-built and reinforced acoustically dampened ledge, with a Gold center channel resting just below the edge of the screen. Side and rear channels are the less expensive Triad Bronze/4 LCR in-walls ($600 each), which proved to be a sufficient match for the Gold; the in-wall version of the Gold LCR would be an identical match.

The speakers are powered using Parasound Halo amplifiers, with the processing duties falling to Marantz's AV7005 AV preamp. The source for both music and movies is the Dune HD Max media player, which is connected to my friend's home network and network-attached storage, allowing us to watch movies and/or listen to music at the touch of a button in full-quality picture and sound. As side note, anyone still hanging onto physical discs at this point should really look into such a media server-type setup, for once you've experienced its simplicity and immediacy, it's hard to go back to anything else.

As for bass duties, the room itself features four passive subs, all from Boston Acoustics, arranged in a symmetrical configuration in each of the room's four corners. The subs are driven by a B&K receiver, where they are time-aligned before being fed to the Marantz for Audyssey EQ-ing. It sounds tricky (and it is), but the effect is nothing short of amazing. In any case, that's not what this review is about.

Since the room was already configured and broken in, all I had to do was enjoy the show, and my, what a show it was.

Performance
We kicked things off with some two-channel music by way of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells III (Warner Bros UK) and the opening track "The Source of Secrets." This track opens with gentle breeze sound effects, followed by various bells that move from left to right and front to back. The wispy sound of the coastal breeze was organic in its tonal quality, with copious amounts of air and nary a sign of glossiness or top-end harshness. I'm gaining new respect for fabric dome tweeters, and the one utilized in the Gold is among the best I've heard.

Read more about the performance of the Gold LCR on Page 2.

HTR Product Rating for Triad InRoom Gold LCR Loudspeaker

Criteria Rating

Performance

4.5

Value

3.5

Overall

4

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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Triad-IR-Gold-LCR-bookshelf-speaker-review-white-background.jpgThe accompanying bells were also pristine in their rendering, and their movement across the front of the room was phenomenal, easily breaking free of the far left and right boundaries of the speakers and the room itself. When the synthesized bass lines entered the mix, the dual aluminum bass drivers of the Gold proved to be formidable in their accuracy, speed and extension. Yes, there were subs present in the room, but the gap between the Gold's bottom end and the subwoofers was seamless, making for a lot of low to mid-bass punch. The midrange was uncolored and the entire frequency range, across all four of the Gold's drivers, played in perfect harmony. There were no cabinet or boxy resonances present and, even at higher volumes, the Gold retained its composure brilliantly and played without causing a hint of listener fatigue. Dynamics were superb, as was soundstage width and depth, though I have to imagine that had my friend utilized the same diffusion along the front wall as he did the side, he could have coaxed more depth from the Gold's soundstage. Still, what was present in terms of soundstage was excellent. The performance on the whole exuded control room-like sound, as every nuance, detail and impact was heard and felt and nothing got in the way of the loudspeakers simply presenting the music in an honest and unmolested fashion. Was it partially the room? Yes, but the Gold is also that good and that focused.

Next, we cued up a favorite Blu-ray demo of mine, Poseidon (Warner Bros.), the Wolfgang Petersen-directed remake of The Poseidon Adventure. We went ahead and skipped to the scene where the rogue wave crashes into the side of the cruise ship Poseidon. Right away, I was struck by the immediacy and impact of the Gold's sound. It was so visceral without being violent that I found myself able to listen at levels that I otherwise would have shied away from. The high frequencies were free of distortion, which this scene can often bring out of tweeters made from aluminum or other esoteric metals, and instead again seemed largely natural. There was terrific detail and extension throughout the high frequencies, which allowed for even the most trivial of sound effects to be rendered fully and faithfully. The midrange was again uncolored and well pronounced. It too felt neutral in its presentation and capable of dramatic dynamic swings, without so much as a hint of grain or compression. The blend between midrange and bass was smooth, resulting in a very coherent sound overall. Again, the soundstage was cavernous, though it favored width over depth, and dynamics were positively explosive. The taut control, detail, texture and extension provided by the Gold were nothing short of phenomenal. Throw in four properly positioned and calibrated subs, and the combo quickly became one of the better setups I've ever heard. Not bad for a 7.1 speaker system totaling roughly $10,500, or what some companies charge for a pair of loudspeakers, never mind the ultra-high-end products out there.

Throughout the rest of the music and movie demos, the one constant that remained was the Gold's ability to be both engaging and largely neutral at the same time. The sound was coherent, focused and free of any negative anomalies. Track after track, I was more impressed with the Gold's smooth high-frequency delivery than almost anything, for it was among the more extended I've heard, and yet it never misbehaved or became fatiguing. The Gold's midrange was equally impressive, though it was the lower mid-bass that I came to regard more, for it was just so damn taut and, dare I say, intense in its delivery. There was an immediacy to the Gold's sound that is addictive, if I'm honest. Yes, my friend has a good room, but the Triad Golds are hardly what I'd classify as slouches.

Triad-IR-Gold-LCR-bookshelf-speaker-review-on-stand.jpgThe Downside
The Triad Gold LCR is a great speaker, one I'm sad I hadn't heard until just recently, for I can envision myself having bought them in preference to a lot of the other speakers I've purchased over the years. That being said, there are a few caveats worth mentioning. First, the Gold is a large loudspeaker, especially considering its monitor-like design. Yes, Triad makes a dedicated pedestal stand, and yes, I would consider this to be near-mandatory unless you're going full custom, but for a monitor or bookshelf speaker, it is large and in charge.

Also, despite being offered (at an extra cost) in a wide variety of wood veneers and paint schemes, the Gold is a plain-looking speaker - okay, it's a box. While I value its function over its form, some may not, which is a shame, for they will be missing out on a fantastic loudspeaker.

Lastly, and this may be the biggest reason as to why more people aren't as familiar with Triad as I feel they should be (remember, I was among them until just a few weeks ago), Triad loudspeakers are only available through select dealers. This may not sound like an awful thing and it isn't, but many of Triad's dealers are in fact custom installers, meaning a) they don't floor a lot of product and b) many may be struggling in a down economy. Because Triads are made to order, there really isn't a huge stockpile of product for you to hear. While I appreciate the economics of this position, not to mention the environmental implications, it does make it difficult for organic growth to occur. Furthermore, as far as I can tell, Triad doesn't offer a thirty-day in-home trial should you not have a dealer and buy direct. I'm hopeful that, should you be a serious customer and call Triad direct, they will accommodate you to the best of their abilities. Nevertheless, it is one facet of their company where, despite their superlative performance and American pedigree, they lag behind when it comes to their competition.

Competition and Comparisons
There are a lot of companies now offering what are deemed to be dedicated LCR loudspeakers for either in-room or in-wall applications. Among my favorites, besides the Gold, are Bowers & Wilkins CT series of loudspeakers, Episode's 900 Series LCR loudspeaker and Definitive Technology's C/L/R Series of loudspeakers. All are capable in their own rights and offer advantages and disadvantages compared to the Gold. The CT speakers have professional connection options, whereas the Episode has a ribbon tweeter, if you're into that sort of thing. As for the Definitive Technology speakers, many of them have powered woofers or subs inside, which can save on money and space. All are good and the Triad Gold LCR is just another fabulous LCR to add to the list.

For more on these speakers and others like them, please visit Home Theater Review's Bookshelf Speaker page.

Conclusion
What can I say about the Triad InRoom Gold LCR loudspeaker, except to say I'm sorry it took so long for me to find you - sorry to Triad, sorry to myself and sorry to you, the readers. The Gold LCR is a fabulous loudspeaker. Its performance is only matched by what I can only assume is the utmost pride of ownership, thanks to its Made in America pedigree. I found the Gold to be exceptional for both music and movies, though its form factor definitely favors the latter. While its design may be basic and its drivers not so esoteric, there is something to be said for keeping things simple and not focusing too much on trends. For those looking to build a home theater that will truly encapsulate the theatergoing experience, I can think of few loudspeakers that do it better than the Triad InRoom Gold LCR. Highly recommended.

Additional Resources
� Read more floorstanding speaker reviews from the staff at HomeTheaterReview.com.
� Explore subwoofers in our Subwoofer Review section.
� See more reviews in our In-Wall Speaker Review section.


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