Px-25 micro-power

The Art Audio 6-watter, back again on the German HMS cables, niched itself immediately between the eVo and AUDIOPAX but nestling far closer to the Brazilian duo. Think of Joe Fratus' creation as a somewhat lighter version of the series-parallel pentode amp. It's harmonically not quite as developed, especially when the Brazilians are TimbreLock'd for maximum glow without overshooting into thick. The twin KT88s give more heft down low even though the chromed champ from Rhode Island isn't exactly a slouch in that department. Soundstage depth with the PX-25 seemed particularly gargantuan while the twins' midband added a few degrees of palpability to vocals that even the 1940's bottle reissued by KR Audio couldn't match.

The basic leanness of the Victories still remained. Do you begin tiring by suspecting that I'm unfairly criticizing a speaker for deliberately forgoing full-range status? I'm not. My Triangles don't do the very lowest bass either. I do, however, perceive a potentially weak heel for Achilles the Victor - what seems to be a noticable rise somewhere in its 1-3kHz crossover regions.

By now I started to wonder. Did Israel Blume's familiarity with 300B and 2A3-type amplifiers exclude admittedly rarer beasts whose treble linearity, like mine, extends to 60 or even 90kHz? Most amps using classic low-power triodes exhibit midrange ripeness and a certain ponderousness of mien.

For such mates, the Victory lift might in fact be the perfect antidote, to inject much-needed air, sparkle and motility to cancel out some of these designs' inherent liabilities. While by no means capable of provoking a clear-cut answer either way, I now pulled my Jolida JD-100 tubed CD player and Art Audio VPS-dm valved preamp from the living-room system. Would multiple tube stages in series inject enough thermionic frequency/harmonic spectrum qualities to perhaps mimic more traditionally-voiced low-power SETs?

In a word, yes! Because neither of these devices suffers any obvious treble roll-off or excessive midrange girth when inserted one at a time into my reference rig, the clear reshuffling of the sonic board now indicated that a combination of compounded harmonics shifted the overall audible balance. The Art Audio preamp -- without the Jolida but my usual Cairn CD player as front-end, itself replacing the solid-state Bel Canto PRe1 -- added what I've come to recognize as its signature: Heightened dynamics, spectacular layering and a fair slice of timbral saturation, but (especially in the context of a high-rez rig) also a small loss of final resolving power and a minor reduction of perceived transparency.

That small clouding coupled to deeper tonal colors proved a vital step in the right direction. Adding the tubed Jolida finally spelled coming home. The bass got plumper, the midrange more voluptuous. Resetting those parameters now indirectly affected the top as well. It retained its sparkly, open and airy dimensions but no longer suffered a trace of bite or cold-hearted incisiveness. Case in point?

The stupendous Mutter recording of Sarasate's "Carmen Fantaisie" [Deutsche Grammophone 437-544-2, with the Vienna Philharmonic under James Levine]. The massive footfall of the heavily portentous orchestral opening theme now befitted the score - the difference of apparent displacement between a punching bag hit by a bantam weight and a professional harbor slugger. Mutter's violin, even into extreme flageolet or Tzigane-style spiccato, had fullness and burnished elegance of tone, any former flirtations with stridency or steeliness forgotten. Properly weighted, now the speakers' already itemized assets began to assume their rightful position below the canopy of correctly centered tonal balance. I'd become the happy camper I assume Israel Blume had in mind all along when soliciting this review. Coincidently -- pun by pure happenchance -- the amps under his own brand are paralleled 18-watt 300B designs with 5AR4 rectifiers. Suddenly things began to make sense.

Sunset commentary

While I can't be sure, I wager a bet. The inherent voicing of the Coincident Speaker Technology VIctory speaker was designed to primarily complement low-power tube amps of more traditional response than my own reference units which, in many respects, are rather anti-valve. Once I had unwittingly accounted for that possiblity, the fog of consternation evaporated. Now I could relate. And I bet you could, too.

Here's an attempt at a concluding summerization: If the Meadowlark Audio speakers I'm familiar with were to be called modern-day Vandersteens with far better transparency and resolution -- but continuing a heirloom tradition of fundamental warmth and easy listening -- then the VIctories fall into the opposite camp: With transparency, precision and resolution their core features, warmth and easy listening are something you have to -- synergistically and placement-wise -- work on. Their bass springs from the over-damped dry school of thought. That is the proper recipe for intended low-power zero-feedback triode mates who usually lose their grip in that arena. High sensitivity means that the Victories do exceptionally well at lower levels and retain proper liveliness and timing. While certainly not as dynamic as the horn-loaded DUOs -- their uncompressed rise times admittedly reside on the scary side of normal -- the Victory seems as optimized for those qualities as direct-coupled radiators for sane change can be. I call this cherry-red speaker a data-truth teller, somewhat on the ruthless side of dead-center. My personal preference? Emotional truth. That's clearly impossible to define. Still, I know it when I hear it. So do you. And boy will we disagree - that's what keeps so many different loudspeaker manufacturers in business. Viva la difference!

In the final analysis, the Victory isn't my kinda speaker the way the comparable Triangle Ventis 222 is. (Incidentally, the maple leaf did rustle marginally louder than the French contender so its operative sensitivity in my system context was better than 94dB.) Conversely, my personal bias in speakers and tube amps likely won't match up with yours. What's far more important to note? The relative scarcity of micro-power friendly speakers that won't demand a heist to pay for. Our underground club has just won a "new" member. That alone is praiseworthy and still a relative novelty. Are you one of the happily disillusioned types who've exhausted their subscription to the more-is-better morale of stacked monster amps and inefficient low-impedance speakers? The Coincident Speaker Technology Victories should be on your road map to happiness. You may pass 'em by, you may park in front of 'em indefinitely. But be sure to be sure either way. Kudos then to Israel Blume, for nurturing our swelling left-field triode/high-sensitivity movement!

Manufacturer's comment

We would to thank Srajan for the time and effort he applied to the review of the Victories. Due to their amazing resolution and purity, a reviewer is compelled to re-examine his associated components, room and overall system set up, all of which is very time-consuming.

I designed the Victory as an alternative to horn speakers. There is a virtual absence of superb sounding dynamic loudspeakers that are compact and affordable and can be mated to flea-powered amplifiers. The Victories were meant to be used with low-powered single-ended triode tube amplifiers of the 2A3, 300B variety. When so paired, the combination will provide sonic splendor of indescribable beauty. The Victory will exhibit unparalleled transparency and harmonic completeness. The speakers will not sound lean or bass shy. To fully flesh out the bass and midbass also requires that the speakers be positioned no further than 33" from the back wall. Moving the Victory well into a room will only reduce the low frequency body with no attendant sonic gain.

Ironically, many Victory owners have satisfactorally mated the speakers with everything from pentode KT88-based amplifiers to even solid-state units. Our preference is decidely for directly heated, triode tube amplifiers but excellent results can be obtained with a wide variety of amplifiers. What must be noted is that the Victory will clearly reveal any sonic anomaly of the ancilliary components used and the environment in which it is placed. The Victory is not the speaker for the listener who wishes to casually assemble an audio system and expects poorly recorded source material to sound anything but poorly recorded. The Victory will quickly allow the listener to discern equipment differences and will admittedly drive some listeners to distraction by revealing the sonic inadequacies of many CDs. Do not blame the Victory for exposing bad recordings.

The commercial success and critical praise accorded the Victory is testament to the fact that this speaker has fulfilled a need that was previously neglected and has done it well. Given its elaborate and meticulous enclosure, the use of the finest European and proprietary drivers as well as state of the art CAD crossover design and 1% matched components, the Victory represents a tremendous bargain at its modest selling price. It is most gratifying that so many listeners have had their musical experience enriched by the Victory.

Israel Blume, Pres.
Coincident Speaker Technology

Manufacturer's website