Triangle Esprit Antal Ez Speakers

Maybe it’s the concert halls, but so many European speakers have a thing for tonal accuracy, and Triangle is no exception. After spending a lot of time listening to the Triangle Antal Ez speakers from their Esprit line, I’ve come away highly impressed. The high gloss piano black (white and walnut veneer also available) towers stand approximately 44” tall by 12” wide and 15.75” deep.

The unique and very stable glass bases and rubber or spiked feet take about five minutes each to attach. Out of the box the Antal Ez’s were slightly tight and flat sounding, but they came alive after a few days of constant play. Initial listening took place in my 9’ x 12’ dedicated listening room, but these speakers begged to be heard in my larger 15’ x 19’ living room – and they are an excellent match.

Optimizing these speakers is well worth the effort, and good as they sound randomly placed, major gains in imaging and soundstage are achieved once your homework is done. Perfection in my space arrived with the Antal EZ’s eight feet apart and the rear panels 29 inches in front of the bay window.

Getting immediately into the groove with Issac Hayes’ Shaft soundtrack paints a massive sound field in the room. Hayes masterful use of various instruments gets full exposure with these black monoliths. The synthesizer steps out in front nicely and playfully bounces between the channels, with the beat solidly locked down.

A 92db sensitivity rating makes the EZs easy to integrate with whatever amplification you might have on hand. Even my vintage 20wpc Pioneer receiver that I use for speaker break-in gets these speakers up and jumping. Even though the EZs have a fairly high sensitivity rating, I suggest a bit more power, should you be going with tube electronics. (a bit more of a word from our publisher at the end of the review)

The tech inside

Triangle’s fascinating TZ2510 tweeter tucks a titanium dome inside a compression chamber, allows the hi-hat and flute in Hayes’ Oscar-winning theme song to propel throughout the listening space in delicious detail. This is a tweeter that has to be heard, providing both expansive detail and silky-smooth response. Much credit for the natural clarity Triangle states comes from the elimination of back standing waves. The mid-song, crystal clear tambourine in “Shaft” is placed solidly, just outside the right speaker boundaries – impressive.

Another hot spot for me is the reproduction of the harmonica, which easily gets shrill and brittle with lesser speakers. The EZs make this an instrument you’ll look forward to hearing, whether it’s classic Bob Dylan, Neil Young, or any other favorite track you might have in mind. Mick Jagger’s intro to “Hoo Doo Blues” is simply sublime, giving this instrument the smoothness and texture it deserves.

Matched up with the titanium tweeter is a single 6.5” white cellulose (paper) cone driver for the midrange frequencies, and dual 6.5” black fiberglass bass drivers. A bass port sits at the bottom of the front face. A rectangular magnetic grill is provided for owners desiring protection from kids, dogs, and the elements. The backside has only a brushed aluminum panel with dual locking copper banana plug binding posts, featuring first rate wire jumpers. This three-way design is housed in a high-density cabinet wrapped in a silky finish.

Back to the listening chair

Stunning as the TZ2510 tweeter is as a design element, it’s blend into the entire system provides head turning vocal clarity. The Antal Ez elevates any singer’s performance by a couple of notches. The lack of electronic haze adds an additional level of clarity to everything in your music collection. Holly Cole’s hi-rez vocal rendition of “Tennessee Waltz” is so tight, the slightest inflections become apparent.

Garth Brooks voice in the haunting “The Thunder Rolls” presents such detail on the Antal Ez’s that I spotted a specific Oklahoma accent point that a friend told me was common of people from Canadian County where Brooks was raised. The ability to pick out such vocal subtleties is something completely unexpected at under five figures, and mind-blowing at $2,750 a pair. ($2,995 for a few optional finishes)

This level of pace and clarity is available at any listening levels, but to their credit the EZ’s retain their resolution at low level as well. Lorde’s Melodrama is a favorite test track at moderate to loud volume around here; but even at a low 77db listening level, I could still catch the nuances in her voice as she subtly shifts from speaking to singing, and the driving bass line is still awash in reverb.

The Antal Ez’s are at their best when playing tracks combining wide dynamics and imaging. Like Isaac Hayes, Electric Light Orchestra thrives on both of the above traits, and in celebration of the recent, Guardians of the Galaxy, the vocals in “Mr. Blue Sky” pushes well to the outside of the speaker boundaries. Imagine Dragons Evolve album uses many of the sonic techniques of ELO. “Believer” swings between various dynamic moments that the Antal Ez’s recreate with ease.

Classical fans take note; the Ezs ability to project true detail of a full orchestra is top notch. Though rated down to 40hz, a little bit of room gain goes a long way to create a strong impression of deeper bass. The larger your room, the more you will be able to take advantage of the wide soundstage these speakers are capable of. For my money, the Triangle Esprit Antal EZ speaker are just plain awesome. Combining punchy dynamics, wide dispersion and phenominal imaging, they bring every musical selection to life. The way they draw out subtle musical artifacts makes them a joy to listen to.

Further Listening – Jeff Dorgay

I must concur with Mark’s analysis; these speakers are very dynamic and throw a huge three-dimensional image. Always catnip for this writer. I had a bit better luck mating the EZs to tube amplification than he did, but to be fair, I have a much wider range of amplifiers at my disposal. Though the 92db sensitivity rating suggests this might be a heavenly match with low powered tube amplifiers, this is not the case. My 20wpc Nagra amplifier fell down just as flat as his Vista i34 amplifier did.

Moving up the food chain to about 60wpc is what you really want to achieve tubey magic with these speakers. The Conrad-Johnson Classic 62 and the PrimaLuna DiaLogue HP both offer stunning performance spatially and dynamically, with plenty of bass extension and control. These speakers need a bit of current drive to achieve maximum effect.

Give these speakers a little bit of space and an amplifier with a bit of drive and you’ll be glad you did. And at this price, they are more than worthy of one of our last Exceptional Value Awards for 2017. We’ll be back with more Triangle product shortly, their new, small powered speakers are already in house and equally enchanting.

The Triangle Esprit Antal EZ Speakers

$2,750/pair – $2,999/pair (finish dependent)

Peripherals (MM)

Analog Source                        Rega RP1 w/Ortofon Super OM40/Sim LP5.3

Digital Source                        Simaudio 300D DAC

Amplification                         i7 Integrated Amplifier, Peachtree Nova 150

Cable                                      Cardas Clear, Shunyata Venom 3 PCs

Peripherals (JD)

Analog Source                        Technics SL-1200G/Grado Statement 2

Digital Source                        PS Audio DirectStream DAC and Disc Player

Amplification                         Esoteric F-07, PrimaLuna DiaLogue HP

Cable                                      Cardas Clear

The Chartwell Audio LS3/5

How many movies have you seen where the sequel (or any of the subsequent sequels) were better or even equal to the original?

While the legion of LS3/5 owners, with numerous variations on the theme, might grouse at the thought of this, I prefer the new Chartwell LS3/5 to any of the originals I’ve yet experienced. And for what it’s worth, I’ve held the first LS3/5 in my hand, at the now defunct Kingwood Warren branch of the BBC, so you know I adore these little speakers.

For audiophiles not in love with full range ESLs or variations on the Lowther theme, the next option for sonic purity is the two-way monitor, the smaller and simpler the better. Fewer drivers and a simpler crossover network mean less phase and distortion issues. With some great small monitor speakers on the market, and most of them British, it’s impossible to have a conversation about this sub-segment without discussing perhaps the most famous of them all the compact BBC LS3/5 or LS3/5a speaker.

This tiny two-way speaker was originally developed by the BBC as a portable monitor for remote recording sessions, with an emphasis reproducing vocals as accurately as possible. Though they were all built by numerous British manufacturers to the BBC specification (the only way to get the license in the first place) each model has its own unique, signature sound. Consequently, the LS3/5a was the model destined for mobile recording, while the LS3/5 was a different model (though the same physical size) clearly aimed at being a true high-performance small speaker. The initial LS3/5 was never produced, with only about 20 number of prototypes built. You can read a bit more about the LS3/5’s history here, at the Graham site.

Graham Audio, makers of the exceptional LS5/9s we reviewed last year and subsequently purchased as reference speakers enlisted the help of designer extraordinaire Derek Huges, along with some help from Seas and Volt to create a masterpiece that observes the original specification. Cutting to the chase, they have succeeded brilliantly.

Over the next few weeks, we will be finishing our review, based on hundreds of hours of listening, with a wide range of program material and amplification. For those of you too impatient for me to compile the rest of the data, I suggest buying a pair. Right now.

Harbeth Compact 7ES-3

Sometime back in the early 80’s Roger Van Oech wrote a book titled A Whack on the Side of the Head focusing on creative solutions to problems that one might not have considered without being taken outside of their comfort zone.  The new Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 is the perfect example of this.

The first whack on the side of the head came when visiting Acoustic Sounds years ago covering the Blues Masters concerts.  Listening to the Avalon Sentinels in their main sound room was my top priority, but what I heard in the second room was just as amazing considering the price.  No, you can’t have the sound of a pair of Avalon Sentinels for 3,500 bucks, but you can achieve substantial musical enjoyment with these small boxes at a price that is accessible to most music lovers. Today, the 7ES-3 sells for $3,690 – $3,990, depending on finish.

Spending the evening listening to the Compact 7s in a friends house in an outstanding system, consisting of the SME 20 turntable (with Koetsu Urushi Blue cartridge) and Croft’s best amplifier and preamp, proved highly impressive.  After calling it a night around 2a.m., it was settled that the Compact 7s would head our way for a review.

All new from top to bottom

First, forget any kind of built in prejudice you might have about “The British Sound”, just producing good midrange and forgetting the extremes.  None of that applies to the new Compact seven.  That’s not to say they aren’t musical, but they are open and dynamic in a way that isn’t the norm from the likes of Spendor, ProAc or any of my other favorite British speakers, even the Compact seven version 2 for that matter. None of the legendary BBC accuracy has been sacrificed, however these speakers now have more resolution as well as more extension at both ends of the frequency spectrum.

Though version three looks the same as version two, it is a completely new speaker from the drivers to the crossover components.  The woofer features Harbeth’s new Radial 2 technology, used on the more expensive Monitor 30 and 40 along with a new tweeter.  We could write pages about all the techie stuff, but suffice to say it works tremendously well.  A quick trip to the Harbeth site ( will answer all of your in-depth technical questions.

The Compact 7ES-3 impedance is rated as 6 – ohms and it is equally at home with tube or solid state electronics.  Though the spec sheets suggest slightly low sensitivity at 86db/1 watt, we had no problem driving these with amplifiers possessing 30 watts per channel and up.

Incredibly un-fussy

Alan Shaw, Harbeth’s director and designer of the Compact 7 advised putting the speakers on 19 – inch stands in place of the 24 – inch stands at my disposal.  This proved spot on. Unless you have a very tall listening position, getting the tweeters up on 24 – inch stands makes for an uninvolving listening experience.  Both Mr. Shaw and I suggest the Sound Anchor stands, built specifically for this speaker.  A pair will set you back about $625 plus shipping, but it is money well spent.  While others swear by the Skylan wood stands, I am not a fan – they tend to muddy the lower mid/upper bass region too much for my taste.  The Sound Anchor stands give these speakers the authority they deserve.

For the novice audiophiles in the audience, these are incredibly easy speakers to set up.  While a little bit of futzing will help the ultimate imaging performance of the Compact 7’s, just getting the speaker height correct will get you 80% of the way there.  A bit of time with the tape measure and a little bit of room treatment will give you the last bit of performance they are capable of, but in short, the Compact 7s are not tough to achieve great sound with.

Listening began with Shunyata’s Orion speaker cables from my reference system, but enjoy the ED 415 speaker cables as well.  These cost $450 a pair and are a fantastic match for the Compact 7s.  Experimenting with other from Cardas, Furutech and ALO Audio all gave excellent results, confirming that these speakers are not terribly cable dependent.


The Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 is one of the most enjoyable speakers I’ve heard in the last few years, regardless of price.  They offer tremendous balance, with strong bass down to about 45hz, (according to Harbeth, they have a measured frequency response of 45- 20khz with the grilles on) and what’s there is solid, accurate and full of detail.  The midrange is also very correct; when you listen to a piano, it sounds like a piano.  I can listen to someone play a Steinway on the Harbeths, go in the house and plunk around on our Steinway and hear a very accurate resemblance.

In a small to medium sized room move enough air to give a good feel of dynamics – a very important aspect of musical reproduction that is often overlooked.  Push them too hard and they will flatten out instantly. The threshold from playing fairly loud to compressing is very immediate; you will know when you’ve hit the wall.  Fortunately, that wall is at a high enough sound pressure level that all but the most crazed rock and rollers will be more than happy.

The Compact 7’s also do a fantastic job at having an airy presentation with just the right amount of decay that again, gives that feeling of acoustic instruments sounding correct.  A familiar acoustic guitar record instantly confirms this.  The image presented by the Harbeths doesn’t extend all the way to the side walls as it does with a panel speaker, but with good recordings it extends well beyond the speaker boundaries.

Chameleon – like

Where version 2 of the Compact 7 had a definite wooly character, the current speaker does not.  These speakers are revealing enough to take on the characteristics of the electronics behind them.  Those favoring the “classic British” sound will be better served by a more traditional sounding valve amplifier.  The McIntosh MC275 served this purpose perfectly, adding a bit of warmth and tonal saturation to the presentation.

The Naim Supernait, in for review, was the ying to the Mac’s yang, producing plenty of PRAT and dynamics, as did the Conrad Johnson Premier 350.  The Luxman L590A -II integrated, with 30 watts per channel of Class – A power was the staff favorite, offering the best of both worlds for all audiences.

Combining the Luxman with the Rega P9/Lyra Skala combination is analog bliss.  The wind chimes in Santana’s Abraxas (MoFi version) on the opening track floats around the speakers as if a small pair of surround speakers are hidden somewhere, and the layers of percussion in this classic recording are a delight to partake.

Vocals emerge up and out of the soundfield created with ease, the Compact 7s dissapearing in the room, making it easy to concentrate on the music.  Old favorites from Ricki Lee Jones, Tom Waits and Johnny Cash all proved compelling.  At the price asked, the Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 is a speaker without fault – they are faithful to the music.

Those wanting to rock out with the Compact 7s will not be disappointed, provided you have a high current solid state amplifier at your disposal.  Switching the program material from James Taylor to Deep Purple was easy when using the Premier 350, allowing for sufficient dynamics and bass control.

Long term listening

While the review above was originally featured in issue 16, my enthusiasm for the Compact 7 remains strong as ever after using these speakers as a reference for a few years now.  I’ve also had the chance to use them with a much wider range of amplification, and pretty much the only amplifiers that won’t drive them are of the 300B and 2A3 vintage – they really need at least 30wpc and you won’t regret having more if it’s convenient.

Best of all, these speakers still remain highly true to the music.  Others dazzle and sizzle, either with fancier cabinetry, or voicing trickery, but an oboe sounds like an oboe when played on the Compact 7s and that’s something even a few five – figure speakers can’t get right.  These speakers have been tuned to perfection in the BBC tradition to achieve a natural midband, and the result is a highly resolving, yet low distortion speaker that you can listen to for hours on end without fatigue.

Four years later, the price has not increased – a testament to Alan Shaw running a tight ship.  The Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 remains one of the best buys in high-end audio.

The Harbeth Compact 7ES-3

MSRP:  $3,960 in eucalyptus, $3,690 in cherry

Manufacturers Information (factory) (US Importer)


Preamplifier:                           Conrad Johnson ACT2/series 2

Phono Preamplifiers               Nagra VPS, ASR Basis Exclusive

Analog Sources                       Continuum Criterion w/Copperhead arm and Dynavector XV-1s, Rega P9 w/RB1000 arm and Dynavector XV-1s

Digital Sources                        Naim CD555

Power Amplifier                     Conrad Johnson Premier 350, McIntosh  MC275

Interconnects                          Cardas Golden Reference, Shunyata Antares

Speaker Cables                        Shunyata Orion

Power                                      Running Springs Dimitri and Jaco