Triangle Borea BR03 Standmount Speaker Review

Experience the French Connection

by Ed Selley
Hi-Fi Review

2

Highly Recommended
Triangle Borea BR03 Standmount Speaker Review
SRP: £399.00

What is the Triangle Borea BR03?

The Triangle Borea BR03 is a two way standmount speaker and the larger of two models in the Borea range of speakers that makes up the second rung in the Triangle model line-up. They are notable in part because Triangle is not the most prolific of brands when it comes to new speakers. Some of the company’s more expensive ranges have ticked along happily for more than a decade and even the models contesting the more affordable price points tend toward a long life span.

The BR03 is also notable in a slightly different way. Triangle is a company that builds speakers its own way with pretty much zero interest in what anyone else happens to be doing at the time. Its passive designs are recognisably equivalent to what other companies are building at the price but Triangle has no fear of proceeding to put its own spin on things. Features like horn loaded tweeters, downward firing ports and extraordinary sensitivity are all par for the course in its design language. Against this, the BR03 looks a bit, well, normal.

Of course, it could be the fact that Triangle feels normal that might be the ticket here. When it comes to spending your own hard earned cash, a wild technical demonstrator isn’t always going to appeal, so does this relatively sober looking speaker manage to appeal to the head and the heart? Let’s give it a whirl and find out.

Specification and design 

Triangle Borea BR03
 Those front ports help placement. 

The BR03 is part of a six strong range of speakers, comprising three floorstanders, two standmounts and a matching centre speaker. Every model in the range is fitted with a 25mm silk dome tweeter that is mated to the speaker via a system that Triangle calls EFS (Efficient Flow System). This takes one of Triangle’s most longstanding design features; horn loading, and tweaks it a little. Horn loading a tweeter has a number of benefits, most notably on the sensitivity of the driver that results. It can also aid dispersion of high frequencies too. It does tend to induce some very specific characteristics to the presentation though.

With this in mind, the Borea range takes the silk dome and mounts it in a partial horn that incorporates a phase plug. This shallow horn is then itself in a waveguide - a more common fitment on speakers at this price point. The intention is sort of a best of both worlds effect, with commensurate benefits to sensitivity (more of which in a bit) but without some of the directionality that can result.

The mid bass driver in the BR03 is a 160mm unit made of untreated cellulose. This is a very (very) fancy way of saying that the driver is paper and paper that hasn’t been mixed with anything else or put through any specific processes. This driver isn’t new for the Borea range, instead it comes down from the Esprit EZ range a level above which partners it with a more ornate, true horn loaded tweeter. The driver itself uses a different suspension system depending on whether it is to be used as a mid bass situation (as here) or a midrange only fitment, as is the case on some of the floorstanders.

Triangle Borea BR03
Nothing to scare the horses here. 

The cabinet is front ported with a pair of circular ports under the mid bass driver. This helps to ensure that the BR03 is not too bothered by placement close to a rear wall (although I’d caution against putting it right up against one) while still augmenting the low end extension. Triangle quotes a frequency response of 46Hz-22kHz at the meaningfully demanding +/- 3dB measurement. This is very much in keeping with what rivals can manage but the wrinkle is that the BR03 manages these figures while delivering a claimed sensitivity of 90dB/w. This isn’t a night and day jump over most rivals but, combined with the minimum impedance of 4.1 ohms, this is a very easy speaker to drive. In terms of partnering equipment in 2020, for stereo this doesn’t make a huge amount of difference but it does auger well for the use of a full set of Boreas in a multichannel configuration.

Historically, many Triangle speakers have been very distinctive looking devices with all that entails in terms of appealing to a wide spread of people. For every time that the company has produced something very attractive, there have been at least as many occasions where the aesthetics of their designs have been a little on the variable side. The Borea range is clearly the result of a bit of conscious thought on Triangle’s part. The styling is clean, modern and unlikely to result in anyone loathing it. You could go on to say that this means it is not the most distinctive piece of industrial design going on but I cannot imagine anyone strongly disliking it. There are black, white and wood finishes available.

Something that is going to be far less contentious is how the BR03 is built. While is it a bit of a shame that these more affordable Triangle models are not built in France anymore, I cannot in any way criticise the manner in which they are bolted together. There are no visible fastenings, the cabinets feel solid and points of contact like the terminals and the grills are all very confidence inspiring. If we take companies like Monitor Audio and Mission in their latest IAG guise to be at the top of what is possible at the price point, it used to be the case you accepted that something from a smaller company like Triangle wasn’t going to feel as slick. This is no longer the case though and while some of the features that those two brands can engineer like curved corner edges and the like are not present here, the BR03 doesn’t feel like an ‘artisan’ (a word used deliberately and with all its connotations) product in comparison.

Triangle Borea BR03
 

The Borea range is clearly the result of a bit of conscious thought on Triangle’s part 

How was the Borea BR03 tested?

The Triangles arrived looking entirely new so they spent a week on the end of a Naim Supernait 3 and ND5 XS being used for incidental listening and a spot of gaming for a week. For critical listening, they have been used with two systems. The first comprised a Copland CSA100 integrated amp with digital inputs, connected to an Isotek Evo 3 Aquarius and running taking a USB feed from a Roon Nucleus. For a more price comparative test it was then also run from a Rega Brio and iFi Zen DAC, the latter also connected to the Nucleus. A limited amount of additional testing was carried out with a Rega Planar 10 fitted with a Gold Note Vasari Gold cartridge to run into the moving magnet inputs of the Copland and Rega. Material used has included FLAC, AIFF, DSD, on demand services and some vinyl.

More: Audio Formats - What It All Means

Performance

Triangle Borea BR03
The tweeter is partially horn loaded

Let me start this section by noting two things that are (I think anyway) relevant to this appraisal. The first is that I have been a big fan of many Triangle speakers over the years. The Titus standmount has been made in several versions in that time and all of them have been a delight. The old Color range was brilliant and the Magellan Concerto is a masterpiece. When I say I think some Triangle speakers are a bit weird, I say that as someone who is a fan of the weirdness.

The second is that for anyone reading this review as an actual prelude to purchasing a pair of speakers, I am aware that that there are certain emotional hurdles to overcome when you step away from the main brands at any price point. It’s the same with cars. You might nod sagely at a review saying that some newly arrived hatchback is better than a Golf but when it is your money on the line, I fully understand why you’ll probably choose the Golf. The Triangle has its work cut out because it has rather less presence in the UK than the usual suspects.

The good news is that even during their run in phase, the Triangles started doing things that were both pleasing as a fan of the brand and rather positive in terms of meeting the high expectations required of them. Listening to Sarah Jarosz’s World on the Ground in lieu of sleeping during the recent heatwave, it became clear that the BR03 has some Triangle virtues wedded to its DNA. This is a speaker that sounds effortlessly clean and fast. It demonstrates little in the way of overhang or confusion even during complex passages of music that leaves everything there for the listening to experience in the manner they see fit. There were also some clear signs that the 46Hz lower figure can be easily bettered in a normal room.

Taken downstairs and put through a programme of actual critical listening rather than lying listlessly on a bed with them running in the background starts to cement this. The BR03 delivers anything - from the stripped back loveliness of Abi Tapia’s Another State Line to the demented hammering of Prodigy’s Fight Fire with Fire without ever ‘getting in the way’ of them. A combination of no port noise, excellent phase arrangements and the general silence of the cabinet means that the BR03 delivers the music without being part of the message.

There are some elements of personality to the Triangle though. This is not an actively bright sounding speaker but it is on the forward side of neutral. This means that if you don’t pay a little attention to how it is partnered, it can come across as a little sharp with poorer recordings. The payoff is that when you put it with an amp that is sympathetic to this - and the Rega Brio is - the partnership is dynamic and invigorating in a way that some more straight laced rivals are not. Listening to The Vagabond - a collaboration between Air and Beck that deserved better than to be left on the weird and inconsistent 10,000Hz Legend album - the partnership is capable of delivering a level of emotional engagement that is rare for £1,000 and that usually has rather more in the way of compromise attached to it.

Triangle Borea BR03
The midrange is untreated cellulose 

Within this slight forwardness, the tonality of the BR03 is generally very good. Voices and instruments largely sound as they should. I would, on the proviso that it wasn’t here to be compared side by side, give the final nod to the Mission QX-2 for this but this is more a reflection that the QX-2 is sublimely good in this regard. The Triangle is still very capable but there have been moments with strings in particular where the merest hint of an ‘edge’ has made itself felt.

Where the Triangle hits back - quite literally - is the bass response. This has always been an area where the brand is strong but the BR03 has sensational low end for a £400 standmount. By this, I don’t simply mean that there’s good extension, although it is fairly clear that the 46Hz figure is easily bettered in room with no appreciable roll off. It is more that the integration with the upper frequencies is exceptional, creating a speaker that feels naturally big and effortless in terms of its overall presentation. The low notes at the start of Annie Lennox’s Legend in my Living Room are beautifully defined and join effortlessly with the midrange.

This segues beautifully with two other attributes of the Triangle, one of which should be useful for pretty much everyone and another that has some long term potential. The first is that the sensitivity of the Triangle is genuinely impressive. The Rega Brio never breaks sweat driving it pretty much at any level that could be classed as domestically acceptable. If having been short of gain with existing speakers, the BR03 offers scope to eke out more headroom without increasing the power on hand to do it.

The other is more open ended but potentially handy. Switching the Triangle from the Brio and Zen DAC (together costing £620) to the Copland CSA100 (costing a more significant £3,498) sees the BR03 able to reflect many of the advantages of the more expensive amp. The effortless, open and energising presentation is able to deliver the sweetness and astonishing airiness of the Copland which is no small feat for a fairly affordable speaker. If you do plump for the BR03, they should be able to handle you upgrading components elsewhere.  

Triangle Borea BR03
Vive le difference 
 

The BR03 has sensational low end for a £400 standmount

Verdict

Pros

  • Wonderfully fast and immediate sound
  • Very easy to drive
  • Handsome and well made

Cons

  • Need to partnered with a little care
  • Extremely strong competition

Triangle Borea BR03 Standmount Speaker Review

My summing up of the Borea BR03 comes with the slightest sense of relief that there are still one or two faintly quirky aspects of the performance that mean that this isn’t a crushingly competent but strangely anodyne device. The Triangle needs a little care taken with the partnering equipment to really show what it can do. It’s a minor quirk, a bit of residual ‘Triangleness’ that reassures me that it is in fact a Triangle.

This is because, in every other regard, the BR03 is vicelessly and sensationally good. It is easy to drive, easy to place and easy to look at. It demands very little and, in return, it delivers a level of musical engagement that is hard not to be smitten by. As noted earlier, I am aware that saying it is better than a UK ‘household’ (relatively speaking) name like Mission is asking would be buyers to demonstrate a degree of faith but it really is a sublime £400 speaker and one that comes Highly Recommended.  

Highly Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
9

Connectivity

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
9

Ease of Use

.
.
8

Features

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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