Triangle Borea BR08 Floorstanding Speaker Review

Time to enjoy a French Connection

by Ed Selley
Hi-Fi Review

12

Best Buy
Triangle Borea BR08 Floorstanding Speaker Review
SRP: £999.00

Introduction - What Is the Triangle Borea BR08?

The Triangle Borea BR08 is a three way floorstanding speaker. It is the bigger brother of the BR03 standmount that we looked at last year and that deeply impressed in the time it was running. The Borea range is a fairly large one and there are a fair few models to choose from. Why then, have we chosen the BR08? The reason (apart from tedious admin aspects of availability, size of box etc) comes down to the idea of a ‘signature configuration.’

I have gone on about this as a concept before but it bears repeating. Some brands have a speaker configuration that they just ‘do better’ than any other. For Acoustic Energy, however good its floorstanders are (and some are very good), my greatest enthusiasm is reserved for its two way standmounts. For Neat, it is when the company gets to use isobaric driver arrangements that the magic happens, while ATC becomes something truly special once its dome midrange is deployed. In the manner that you or I will be better at one specific task or activity over others, so it is here.

For Triangle, this is the layout that they do best. The company even references the Antal, the speaker that embodies it most effectively, in the literature for the BR08. If there is a member of the Borea range that is going to hit the spot, it’s going to be this one. Of course, as the BR03 did a fair bit of spot hitting in its own right, the omens are good that this one is going to deliver. It’s now time to find out if it does.

Design and Specification 

Triangle Borea BR08
Nothing radical going on with the looks but sometimes that's not a bad thing

The configuration is described as a three way design but, for the sake of accuracy or pedantry, I’ll leave you to judge, it is a 3.5 way design. At the top of the BR08 is a pair of drivers that are visibly identical to the BR03. This comprises a 25mm soft dome tweeter that makes use of the distinctive EFS (Efficient Flow System) phase plug which comprises a metal section that surrounds the tweeter and places two intersecting bars as a phase plug. The combination of the plug and the partial horn loading that results from the tweeter being set back into the metal section and partly into the fascia itself. This is not as sophisticated as the titanium devices used further up the range but it also promises to be more forgiving.

This hands over at a relatively high 3.5kHz crossover to what appears to be a visually identical driver to the one used in the BR03. This version in the BR08 is better adapted for use as a midrange driver thanks to a shorter suspension travel that reduces low frequency extension but speeds up the response. The driver itself is made from untreated cellulose; something of a Triangle speciality. This is imported wholesale from the Esprit range that sits above the Borea speakers and is 16 centimetres across - relatively large for a midrange unit. It features an integrated phase plug and relatively small surround.

The reduced bass output from this driver is of no consequence because at 200Hz, the midrange driver hands over to two 16cm fibreglass bass drivers which work as a linked pair. These are designed to be as stiff and light as possible in the Triangle design tradition. This is bolstered by a mounting system which Triangle refers to as DVAS (Driver Vibration Absorption System) which combines a rubber gasket which backs onto a pair of braces that extend the full depth of the cabinet. Triangle argues that this creates a best of both worlds approach, where the driver is partially decoupled but still firmly held in place.

Triangle Borea BR08
The dedicated midrange driver is key to the performance

These efforts towards lightness and decoupling are because the BR08 keeps the Triangle tradition of impressive overall sensitivity. The claimed figure for the BR08 is no less than 92dB/w (or, very sensitive indeed for those of you who don’t mentally keep track of such things). This feels a little higher than what I have experienced under test but, even if it is a little lower, it does mean that this is a very easy device to drive. There is the slight caveat that, while impedance is quoted as being 8 ohms, the minimum quoted figure is 3.1 ohms which is going to be a challenge for a few amps but the suggestion (and I am afraid something I don’t have the means to measure) is that this is a fleeting figure hit for an instant rather than some sort of sustained load.

What is rather more positive (and easier to confirm) is that the BR08 has a lower frequency roll off of 40Hz, which is the threshold of ‘convincingly full range.’ What’s more, the decision to use a forward firing port means that, while the BR08 is not completely immune to boundary reinforcement and seems to work best away from side walls, it does not alter performance drastically when placed close to a rear wall. Connection is via a single pair of reasonably solid speaker terminals mounted at the foot of the cabinet for neatness.

When I reviewed the BR03, I would say that I indulged in a spot of damning with faint praise when it came to the looks. What Triangle has done with the Borea range is ensure that it is very definitely less marmite than some previous offerings from the company. In the BR03, particularly in the black finish, this could also legitimately be seen to be a little dull. The BR08 fairs a little better in this regard. The proportions of the Triangle are entirely satisfying. There is something fundamentally pleasing about a slim cabinet with a row of drivers up the front and the Triangle delivers on the ‘yes, I take this quite seriously’ aesthetic rather well. The other consideration is that, if you potter through the stock photos available for the BR08, it becomes clear that the light wood finish is the pick of the bunch and that this is a genuinely good looking speaker so finished.

It’s a well finished one too. Like the BR03, this is a carefully assembled and solid feeling device that feels worth the asking price. Being a floorstander, this extends to the way that the spikes and plinth attach and the full length grill feels solid and well assembled too. I’m still a little sad that the Borea range is no longer made in France but I’m not blind to economic realities and this unquestionably a well made speaker.

Triangle Borea BR08
 

There is something fundamentally pleasing about a slim cabinet with a row of drivers up the front and the Triangle delivers on the ‘yes, I take this quite seriously’ aesthetic rather well

How Was the BR08 Tested?

The Triangle was tested in two distinct phases. The first, to judge absolute performance, was carried out on the end of a Cambridge Audio Edge A integrated amp taking a feed from a Chord Electronics Mscaler and Hugo TT2 using an SOtM SMS-200 Neo as a Roon Endpoint, all connected to an IsoTek Evo 3 Sigmas mains conditioner. Some additional testing took place via a Rega Planar 10 running into a Cyrus Phono Signature phono stage. A second phase of testing then took place via a Rega Brio and Chord Electronics Qutest connected to a Roon Nucleus. This was to determine the performance with more cost comparative equipment.

Performance 

Triangle Borea BR08
Build quality is excellent 

Before we get stuck into the BR08, it’s worth taking a moment to cover why this driver configuration is seen to work so well for Triangle. The Antal has used this layout since it first appeared in 1994 (it has been continuously revised since then) and it manages to embody the Triangle philosophy of effortless, agile heft. It’s a big speaker that stops and starts quickly and has the effortless responsiveness that comes with high levels of sensitivity. There are other companies that also make sensitive floorstanders but they tend to lack some of the sheer get up and go that Triangle has so effectively created with this three way layout.

The good news is that the BR08 delivers on the fundamental promise of this configuration. Listen to the Triangle with something with a bit of attack to it like Royal Blood’s Trouble’s Coming and there is an urgency to the way that it takes that pounding drum line and grabs your attention. There’s no trace of unwanted overhang or that slightly bloomy quality that can bedevil more affordable floorstanders. The combination of these light and stiff bass drivers and the sizable bass port gives the BR08 significant clout and ensues that it wields it with no less speed than the BR03.

Where the BR08 differs from the Antal (and in turn, perhaps unsurprisingly, has more in common with the BR03) is the upper registers. Triangle models of old were fabulously ‘well lit’ which is a polite way of saying that a fair amount of care needed to be taken with what you partnered them with. The BR08 will still demonstrate an edge if you partner it with something truly forward but, with the electronics available here, the result is energetic without ever being hard. You can (and, rest assured, I did) push them with No Tourists by the Prodigy and, while the Triangle will make it clear that this is a somewhat hard edged recording, it’s never unlistenable.

Triangle Borea BR08
Although this is a PR shot, you could actually use the BR08 this close to a rear wall

When you aren’t driving the bolts out of it, the BR08 shows some other virtues too. Any speaker with four drivers per cabinet is going to live or die on the integration between them and here the Triangle is genuinely excellent. The huge and complex performance of Black Sun by Dead Can Dance is effortlessly cohesive. It’s genuinely hard to tell where one driver hands over to another. Across all of those drivers tonality is exceptionally good too. Enjoying the gorgeous Diviner by Hayden Thorpe, the Triangle delivers Thorpe and his piano in a way that is genuinely compelling. There are moments - often quite extended moments at that - listening to the Triangle where it sounds unapologetically good. Not £895 good but a genuinely good loudspeaker good.

Of course, an argument can be made that, on the end of twelve thousand pounds of equipment, the Triangle ought to sound fairly decent. Where they’ve delighted is that the performance on the end of the Brio and Qutest has also been exceptional. It’s here that the sensitivity of the Triangle really comes into its own as the Brio is still more than powerful enough for it to sound big and engaging. The relationship between the effortlessly rhythmic Rega and the agile Triangle is also seriously good fun. For anyone reading this with a view to multichannel too, there is an argument that this commendable sensitivity is going to make a collection of Boreas something that an affordable AV amp won’t struggle with. I’ve also not found any meaningful appearance of that sub four ohm impedance blip either; nothing here has shown the slightest unease with it.

Triangle Borea BR08
It wasn't until they had left that I realised I hadn't actually taken any posed images of my own of the BR08 so this solitary image is here to prove I haven't simply made the review up in my head
 

There are moments - often quite extended moments at that - listening to the Triangle where it sounds unapologetically good. Not £895 good but a genuinely good loudspeaker good

Conclusion

Pros

  • Superb sonic performance that balances refinement and excitement
  • Sensitive and easy to place
  • Well made and attractive

Cons

  • Can be slightly unforgiving with the wrong partnering equipment
  • Some finishes look a bit dull

Triangle Borea BR08 Floorstanding Speaker Review

As you can probably surmise, the Borea BR08 has made quite an impression on me. I make no secret of generally preferring the smallest number of high quality drivers that are practical at any given price point. In this room, with the sort of budget needed to secure a pair of BR08s, I’ll be looking at the Acoustic Energy AE500 or Sonus faber Lumina II because I love how two way standmounts dial in to a space like this. The fundamental ideal of spreading the budget in the smallest way possible makes sense to me.

The BR08 is an exception to this and quite a significant one too. Not only is it a floorstander I rather like, it’s one that packs no less than four drivers into the cabinet. By rights, it shouldn’t blow my frock up but it really, really does. This is a fabulous speaker that delivers the classic Triangle virtues of speed, clout and excitement with new found skills of tonality and refinement. This is an absolute star and in indisputable Best Buy.  

Scores

Build Quality

.
9

Connectivity

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
9

Ease of Use

.
9

Features

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
9
9
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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