REVIEW: TRIANGLE TURNTABLE & ELARA LN01A SPEAKER PACK
Triangle's Turntable and Elara LN01A Active Speaker package gets you a lot for your hard-earned. Your money buys a package that’s neat, sweet and petite.
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Turntable & Elara LN01A Active Speakers
The cliché insisting that the more things change, the more they stay the same, is usually a lazy and mostly inaccurate summation of life and the universe.
When it’s applied to students and audio systems, it’s as true as night follows day.
Which is why French specialist speaker brand, Triangle put together a multi-featured audio package comprising the Elara LN01A active speakers and matching turntable.
How so? Do we hear you ask?
The short answer is money and logistics. In that order.
Undergraduates don’t have a lot of money, and the digs they typically rent don’t provide much room for an audio system.
Indeed, that was the case back in the seventies when I cobbled together a system made up of a clunky Garrard SP25 turntable, cheap entry level Shure cartridge, Armstrong integrated amplifier and Goodman Maxim speakers.
Back then, the Triangle Elara active speakers and sleek turntable would have seemed mana from audio heaven for one overriding reason: I moved a lot. So often I forgot where I was renting.
Everything I owned had to be moved by my ’57 VW. Whatever couldn’t be fitted in this vehicle or strapped to its roof rack was left behind as a gift to the next impoverished student who took my room.
The VW was the arbiter of my ‘less is more’ commodities philosophy. It’s lucky I didn’t own much. A hi-fi system, about 150 LPS, a bed, handful of clothes, three fruit boxes, and some books were the summed total of my material worth as a student.
Two of the fruit boxes served as speaker stands and places to store some LPs and clothes; the third held my bed light and school books.
Moving was a fine art. The precious hi-fi system went in the back seat, and the LPs were stacked on the passenger seat and its foot-well.
Comparing what this new Triangle package offers to what I used for music making then, is a no-brainer. The Triangle active speakers and turntable are outright winners.
They’d be a cinch to transport. And the features on offer such as an inbuilt phono stage and Bluetooth connectivity, it’s light years ahead of those on my Garrard/Armstrong/Goodman’s audio system.
The Triangle package sells for $1499. This hits the sweet spot for students and for that matter, financially challenged first-time audio buyers in search of musical quality at an affordable price.
And … my old system would be much more expensive if its buying price were translated into today’s money.
No matter how rose coloured my audio memories, sound-wise the Triangle gear stomps all over what I used to begin my audio journey.
Buy the Triangle package, and you verily get a lot for your hard-earned. Your money buys a package that’s neat, sweet and petite.
Neat, because the amplifiers are built into the Elara speakers. And neat because you can erase the price of decent speaker cables from your budget. You won’t need them.
A good thing compared to back in the day when no one gave a passing toss to speaker cables. As far as audio journalists were concerned, cables were cables and frankly their approach was so arrogant we could have run chicken wire from speakers to our amps, for all they cared.
The other major plus point that can’t be overstated is the hoary problem of component matching, as it’s totally erased from the buying equation. A huge plus point for greenhorns stating their initial foray into the wonderful, wacky world of audio.
Newbies can also link their smartphones to the Elara’s built-in Bluetooth receiver within moments, and allow its codec circuitry to start streaming music from an Android or Apple device.
What’s sweet about this package is the sound of the money you save by not taking the conventional path to a stereo system that could comprise speakers, an integrated amplifier with built-in streamer, speaker cables, phono stage and a turntable.
The Triangle package is particularly petite because the Elara speakers are so compact they can be tucked under each arm and carried to your car, assuming you’re a student with or without a ’57 VW.
So, what does your $1499 buy? It gets you the stars of this audio show in the shape of the Elara speakers finished in refreshing gloss white.
Peek at the back of the speakers, and you’ll discover your money buys analogue and digital inputs that simply invite the connection of a TV.
There is another vital set of inputs. These are for the Triangle turntable. But they can also be switched to a line level input using a slider.
There’s a dedicated 3.5mm line level input along with the optical and digital audio inputs. There’s even an output connection to drive a subwoofer for those wanting more bass.
Bluetooth circuitry is built into the Elara speakers. This supports the aptX codec for Android devices and SBC for iPhones.
Triangle supplies a remote control but provides a volume knob on the rear of the right speaker. This knob also works as an input selector switch but one that must be pressed to move through the inputs.
In use, all the electronics and amplification built into the right speaker connect to the passive left speaker via a supplied 3-metre cable.
Drivers built into the Elara are a 25mm silk dome tweeter crossing over to a 135mm woofer that has a treated paper cone. The tweeter uses a Neodymium magnet.
The Elara is said to have a power output of 50-watts and a frequency response of 56-20,000 Hz measured at one metre +/-3dB.
The Elara’s are very compact and measure 291mm high, 165mm wide and 291mm deep. The right speaker with the amplifier and electronics weighs 5.05kgs, and the left speaker is 4.5kgs.
The matching turntable finished in gloss white is made for Triangle by Pro-Ject, but branded as a Triangle product.
A close squiz reveals it has a high standard of finish and that it will play 33 and 45 rpm records.
The motor drives the MDF platter with a belt while a straight, aluminium tonearm is pre-fitted with an Ortofon moving magnet cartridge.
Using the Triangle turntable as a source playing Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother, brought back hilarious memories of a typical night’s listening session with other student friends.
After imbibing some of nature’s finest herbs, it was always a chore to change LPs when the tonearm reached the end of a side.
That was assuming someone could defy gravity and dawdle to the turntable through the haze in the room.
Thinking back, most of the time the listening session arrived at a point where the stylus reached the end of the groove and stayed there, as the platter spun round and round for what seemed like an eternity.
I now know why my cartridge required a new stylus much more often than it should. So do more abstentious music lovers.
Which raises the question: what would we have paid to enjoy the convenience of Bluetooth in the 70s? Plenty, allow me to assure you.
The Triangle package is light years ahead of the audio gear I owned as a student. There’s no contest. Not measured in terms of features, sound or price.
While I’m on the record as a streaming agnostic, I do love the format’s ease of use, versatility, and ability to playback a vast library of all kinds of music on command.
Using my iPhone, I tapped into my Tidal playlist and selected Glory to the Day by the late Jesse Winchester, and was anchored in my listening chair by the Elara’s musically communicative nature.
The Elara’s handled the track’s acoustic instruments and preserved the warmth of the vocals so well; I was surprised given their price.
Lacking from the musical presentation was a level of transparency evident when I reviewed the budget-priced Triangle Titus EZ last year for another publication.
The Titus also delivered more treble detail and dug deeper in the bass. What both Elara and Titus do have in common is an immediacy and ability to time, that’s complimentary to the music played through them.
Moving to Bruce Cockburn’s Beautiful Creatures showed the Elara’s have a commendable macro dynamic response. Surprisingly so. And this was evident as Cockburn’s voice accelerates from chord to chord.
The track’s violins, cello, and acoustic guitars emerged from the Elaras and into our listening room with tons of communicative pathos, exciting the emotions as good gear is meant to do.
As my wife remarked, these little speakers have plenty of soul saying: “They appeal to the heart and not the head.’’
Which is a way of pointing out the Elara’s might lack the subtle informational cues of more sophisticated models, but they preserve and present the musical message with an immediacy and tonal naturalness that defrays criticism.
Moving to vinyl is always a relief after a session with streamed music. It’s not so much that streaming is lacklustre per se. It isn’t. Especially for audio beginners who enjoy steaming for what it is and don’t obsess about its presentation in the way seasoned audiophiles do.
It’s merely a case of analogue‘s excellence highlighting what digital streaming lacks. It’s only when a direct comparison is done between the two that it becomes bleeding obvious to audio novices that the gap between say, vinyl and digital is fairly vast.
A notion put to the test playing the same version of Lou Reed’s Heroin; one streamed, the other pressed on vinyl.
As the guitars introduced the opening lyrics and Reed’s quizzical opening vocals declaring he “doesn’t know where he’s going”, it becomes clear that the vinyl version is much more dramatic than the one that’s streamed.
As the track rises in intensity and gains speed, the impact of the vinyl recording is more profound than the streamed track. The Elaras were proving perfectly capable of reproducing the leading edges of the vinyl copy, but also highlighting their omission on the digital stream.
The Reed track on both formats was fun to hear via the Elaras. This is a quality I’d enjoyed with the Triangle Titus, and clearly, it comprised a large part of the Elara’s sonic qualities.
The Elaras are above all a fun machine because being active, they’re immensely quick to respond to music’s troughs and peaks. Their timing quality eluded to previously, came to the fore with Bowie’s paean to the Berlin wall, called Heroes using vinyl.
As this track’s speed and intensity rises, the Elara’s engage the emotions with spot-on timing, decent amounts of informative bass and above all an addictive midrange allure.
They can’t unravel the dense production values of Heroes to reveal the track’s innumerable strands. But neither do much more expensive speakers. The Elara’s do conjure up a large soundstage with plenty of well-defined images of performers and instruments.
What’s missing in comparison to larger speakers is musical weight. Small woofers can only move so much air in a room. And it’s churlish to expect more than you get.
Which is not to say that the Elaras don’t go loud. They do. Or that they sound small, ‘cos they don’t, especially when they’re used in a compact room.
Tailing off the time spent with this value for money package, the Elaras were connected to our 50-inch Pioneer Kuro plasma TV.
Playing a variety of content including the evening news, sports events, movies and of course, an endless number of ads, the family’s verdict was the Elara’s enhanced each program.
Not by a small measure either but by a considerable margin. Let’s face it, TVs have lousy sound systems. Improving this lacklustre, threadbare sound can be done via a jack-of-all-trades Soundbar or by adding a kosher pair of active speakers.
If you’re savvy enough to choose the latter, the Elara package is a fine choice offering nice styling, discrete size and sound quality that’s oodles of fun.
I’d say with the Elara package, it’s mission accomplished for Triangle.
For more information visit Triangle.
One of the veterans of the Australian HiFi industry, Peter was formerly the Audio-Video Editor of the Herald Sun for over two decades. One of the most-respected audio journalists in Australia, Peter brings his unparalleled experience and a unique story-telling ability to StereoNET.