Triad In-Room Silver System 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems
Written by Brian Kahn   
Sunday, 01 May 2005

Introduction
Triad Speakers have been around for more than 24 years, yet many consumers are just starting to hear about the brand as they are primarily marketed to the custom installation market. Triad speakers are quite unique. Unlike almost all other major speaker manufacturers, Triad produces custom installed speakers that are indeed truly custom. Need a narrow center speaker? They can make it for you. Need bi-pole rear speakers painted in sea foam green to match the Dunn Edwards paint being used in the room? They can do it. Refreshingly, nearly every speaker they produce is made to order within 72 hours of when the order is placed.

Here's the basic idea behind Triad's lines of speakers. The designs are application driven, with as many as four configurations of each model, for specific installation applications without compromise. Versions typically consist of an InRoom and at least one InWall version, with some having OnWall and InCeiling versions which provide nearly identical performance. If none of these will work in a given situation, Triad will work with its installer/dealers to come up with a custom fix. The customization goes beyond the approximately 20 wood veneers and custom paint jobs. Installers can specify alternative cabinet dimensions or other challenging situations that the Triad engineers will work to solve. The combination of numerous speaker options and a knowledgeable CEDIA installer allows for most installation challenges to be resolved. It is this teamwork that Triad values as they rigorously screen their 450 dealers, the majority of which are CEDIA members, to make sure that they understand the effects of different speaker designs and placement options upon the environment.

The system reviewed is comprised of three InRoom Silver LCRs ($850 each), a pair of OnWall Silver surrounds ($650 each) and an InRoom Silver PowerSub ($1,250 each). The InRoom Silver LCRs are towards the middle of the Triad product family, which consists of Bronze, Silver and Gold lines, as well as different models within each line. As the name implies, these speakers are designed to be placed within the room’s boundaries and with a cabinet size of 18-7/8 inches high, eight-and-three-quarters inches wide and nine-and-three-eighths inches deep, they should be stand-mounted to bring the drivers up to the proper height. The LCRs feature a one-inch Vifa fabric dome tweeter flanked by two six-and-one-half-inch proprietary design woofers, manufactured for Triad by Peerless. My review sample was finished in a flat, non-reflective black with removable black grilles that connected via rubber tubes inserted into screw holes on the baffle, and had a single set of high-quality bind posts on the rear. Despite the samples wearing the least expensive finish, the high quality of workmanship was immediately evident. At 26 pounds each, the speakers are surprisingly heavy for their size. Given their weight, I was not surprised to find that the cabinets were relatively inert sonically. I later spoke with Paul Scarpelli of Triad, who informed me of the extensive cabinet bracing and their innovative use of clay-filled rubber material within the cabinet to dampen vibrations. The LCR is specified at 92 dB sensitivity and a frequency response of 70 Hz-20kHz and is fully shielded.

The OnWall Silver Surrounds are quasi-dipolar speakers, designed to be hung on the wall, flanking the listening position. Like the LCR, the OnWall Silver Surrounds also utilize three drivers, and the six-and-one-half-inch woofer is the same in both speakers. The cabinets measure 13 inches wide, 14 inches high and three-and-nine-sixteenths inches deep. In the surround speakers, the woofer is firing straight out from the wall at a 90-degree angle across the listening area. The two four-inch drivers are shallow cone/wide dispersion in design and are manufactured by Vifa. These smaller drivers are mounted in the lower half of the cabinet on separate baffles from the woofer driver. The shape of the speaker when viewed from above is trapezoidal. The baffles on which the four-inch drivers are mounted are angled about 45 degrees out from the wall and operate in a dipole configuration. Each speaker is marked left and right, respectively. The cabinet features a channel to run cables through while remaining flush to the wall and a removable metal grille that can be painted to match any wall color.

The last speaker in the system is the InRoom Silver Subwoofer. The version I received came with an internal 250-watt amplifier, although an external amplifier version is available for custom installations. The subwoofer features a single 12-inch driver in a sealed enclosure that measures 15 inches wide, 16 inches high and 15 inches deep, weighing approximately 67 pounds. Like the LCR fronts, the subwoofer can be had in approximately 20 different wood finishes or even custom-painted to match your needs. The driver fires forward through a black grille and all the connections and controls are found on the back panel. The back panel features line level stereo inputs with volume control, a fixed level mono input, and line level and stereo high pass outputs. In addition to the connections, there are controls for input volume, dual parallel low pass filters and a continuously adjustable phase control. The rated frequency response is 20 Hz – 180 Hz.

Set-up

The speakers were fairly easy to set up, despite the curious lack of information in the installation guides that you get from many other top of the line consumer speakers. I placed the LCRs on Vantage Point’s Soundstage adjustable height stands slightly toed in just under three feet away from the front wall, flanking my 92-inch Stewart Filmscreen. I experimented with placing the center LCR in both the horizontal and vertical positions and found that the off-axis response remained more consistent with the speaker in the vertical position. The surrounds were placed adjacent to the listening position, so that I was sitting in the forward portion of the null. Lastly, I positioned the subwoofer between the center and right channel speakers. I connected the subwoofer via the stereo line level inputs rather than the fixed level mono input. While speaking with a very helpful Paul Scarpelli at Triad, I learned that the mono input would limit the low frequency extension to 35 Hz. You must use the stereo inputs for full extension. While not in the manual, Paul reassured me that the Triad dealers were well versed in the intricacies of the speakers and it was customary for the dealers to install all the speakers.

Music and Movies
I let the speakers break in for a week, playing Sirius and XM satellite radio in the background. After a few days the speakers broke in sufficiently for me to hear the sonic difference between the two satellite services. I began my listening with stereo sources before moving to movies and surround music material.

While listening to Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” off of their album Brothers In Arms (Warner Brothers) I noted that the opening riff had good detail and staging. The soundstage was deeper than I expected, going back past the front wall, becoming especially notable when I was listening for the drums. The track “Your Latest Trick” had very good weight to the kick drums, which were tight, accurate and solidly placed. The horns were detailed without any signs of harshness at any volume. The speakers were hard to localize, blending into the deep sound field. This is no doubt at least partially due to the cabinet’s solid construction and anti-resonant design features. I also noted that the blend between the subwoofers and LCRs was very smooth and, with most tracks in the listening session, it was hard to determine the transition point between the speakers.

I then listened to female vocals with Norah Jones’ album Come Away With Me (Blue Note Records). The first track, “Don’t Know Why,” often has some glare on the strings when played back on lesser systems. There was no glare when played back on the Triads. The strings were detailed and clear with good decay. Jones’ vocals were solidly placed, without any chestiness or artifacts. As with the Dire Straits’ album, the soundstage remained deep and the speakers pretty much disappeared. The title track “Come Away With Me” opens with notes that flow from right to left with a smooth pan, without holes in the soundstage. There was a palpable presence with all of the instruments and a solidity to the soundstage, with enough detail to position everything without over-etching.

I next loaded some U2, as I recently had the opportunity to see them live. I listened to the album Best of 1980-1990 (Island). On the track “Where the Streets Have No Name,” it was easy to hear the similarities between the live performance and the Triad’s reproduction of U2 live. The vocals had the amped-up feel that you would expect to hear at the Staples Center, a modern arena known for good sound. Imaging was also better than expected, especially in respect to the relative weight of each instrument and vocal element. In short, the Triads did a remarkable job in coming very close to reproducing the live performance, which is no small feat.

Moving to surround music, I started with Lyle Lovett’s “Church” from the all-time classic album Joshua Judges Ruth (DTS Entertainment). This recording features amazing layers of musical detail through the lead and choral vocals, which were easily discernable through the Triad speaker package. Imaging was solid in a spacious soundstage. The clapping hands had slightly less “pop” to them then they did on the Cantons I recently reviewed, but did not appear to be any less detailed. The next track, “She’s Already Made Up Her Mind,” continues with deep and even more detailed bass notes, which the subwoofer reproduced with great extension and clarity.

Moving on to movies, I recently played “Finding Nemo” for my niece. In the predominantly underwater scenes, the surrounds provided a combination of diffusion and detail that created the proper sound field to envelop the listener. As expected, the bass performed quite well, remaining detailed and uncongested. Only when I played the mine scene at extremely loud volumes was there any sign of dynamic compression, and even then, it was very, very subtle.

Continuing on with the action theme with “Tomorrow Never Dies” (UA/MGM), I watched the back seat driver/motorcycle chase scene. The pans were smooth and uninterrupted as the motorcycle moved about, causing the sound field to shift both sideways and front to back as well. The obligatory James Bond impacts and explosions were solid and detailed, without any congestion at volume levels anywhere near reasonable.

Lastly, I watched one of my new favorite demonstration scenes from “Hero” (Buena Vista Home Video). In the blue room scene, the Japanese swordsman cuts the bindings of the bamboo rolls that make up the walls of the room. While this is happening, there is a flurry of sound from all around the sound field, which was reproduced with good imagery and detail. The scene ends when the walls collapse. There was plenty of detail and extended bass, which were also well portrayed. This scene is different from many popular demonstration scenes, as there is a greater focus on detail than brute strength.

The Downside
You know you are nitpicking when the biggest complaint you can come up with is, “The manuals are bad.” For speakers of this caliber, I expect more description of the technology and design influences, detailed discussion on positioning and more. The Triad manuals are very brief booklets that do little more than provide basic hook-up and positioning diagrams. While this speaker is primarily sold through custom installers who are well versed in the installation, as a consumer, I like to go through the manuals of my new electronics and learn more about them. Moreover, if Triad wants to grow their audience, they will need to make the speakers a bit more consumer-friendly, a phenomenon that starts with a manual.

With all smaller speakers such as the LCRs, which are likely to be stand-mounted, I would also like to see mounting holes on the cabinet bottom to securely attach the speaker to the stand. (Note: There is a stand mount provision in the back for Triad stands only.)

Conclusion
Without question, the Triads are extremely well made and good-sounding speakers. The LCRs disappear into the soundstage like good monitors should and blend well with the detailed and extended Silver PowerSub to form a solid, full-range system. The OnWall Surrounds provided a well-balanced combination of detail and diffusion. The Triad speakers deserve a close listen if you are looking at speakers in this price range or even a bit above. For those of you with difficult rooms that may require a combination of in-room, on- and in-wall speakers, Triad’s wide range of options will be especially appreciated when trying to recreate a consistent, enveloping sound within your architectural limitations.
Manufacturer Triad
Model In-Room Silver System
Reviewer Brian Kahn





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