Review: Triangle Art Reference Turntable Turntable

Category: Analog

Triangle Arts Reference Turntable
“Initial listen”
By Greg Beron, United Home Audio
Manufacturer of the “Golden Ear Award” winning UHA-HQ Reel to Reel tape decks.

This is my first impression of the Triangle Arts Reference Turntable, more comments after some extended listening sessions and of course living with the turntable for a while.
Most reviews that you read will tell you all the technical aspects and features of the equipment and then finally how it sounds. I am going to do the opposite; I’m going to give you my listening impressions then why I think the sound follows the form and function of the turntable, seems more logical. Also, I am not going to get into setup on this turntable. I figure if you are buying a $14K table you either are familiar with the idiosyncrasies of high end turntable setup or you have an experienced dealer that can drill and tap an armboard if necessary to get whatever arm you want to use on the table and dialed in.
What will make the sound?
First, it’s important to know the tonearm and cartridge used to interpret the sound I will describe below. For my initial listen session I have mounted the all new Graham Phantom II Supreme 10” tonearm. This is an excellent radial arm at $5,750, plus the Graham tonearm cable with dual runs of solid silver wire fitted with Eichman RCA’s $850. The cartridge is a modestly priced Clearaudio Concerto V2 cartridge $2,750. Please note that my initial listening session was with a new Concerto right out of the box and of course not broken in. One may argue that a table at $14K and arm / cable at $6600 should warrant a more expensive cartridge, however I was attempting to see what a turntable, arm, and cartridge under $25K can really do. You may want to experiment with a more expensive cartridge, for my follow up review I will be using a Clearaudio Titanium V2 Cartridge at $8K, maybe a more suitable price for this rig. I am typically a cartridge quality slightly above the arm cost guy, seems to work best for the buck if you can swing the cost.
How does this rig sound?
With the first LP played, a Jacintha 45rpm of ‘How Long Has This Been Going On’, it was apparent that this rig was different. There was a layer of analog velvet on not only the instruments but on her voice that just seemed “different”. The only way I can describe it was that it was more toward the tonality I hear from Master Tape playback. The soundstage was wide and tall with cymbals especially noted to be suspended in a nice three dimensional sound field. The most impressive thing about the cymbals was that there was clearly movement in the sound off of them, as the drummer hit and slid the drumsticks on the cymbals you could easily hear that movement, very nice. I quickly noticed that there was so much velvet here that I should probably change the loading on the Aesthetix Rhea phono preamp I was using. I checked and the Rhea was loaded at 10K ohms, I was getting a super sound so figuring the cartridge was new, I just left it there. During the next few albums I listened to it was apparent that I “may”have never heard a “new” cartridge sound so damn good. Yes there were the odd confused hard rock guitar wailings on the Led Zeppelin LP one would associate with a cartridge that wasn’t broken in but these were minor and fleeting. However on the new Reference Recording Stravinsky ‘The Firebird Suite/ The Song of the Nightingale’ the subtle passages were fleshed out while the dynamic passages were reproduced with all the slam that you hear with a live orchestra. Certainly no confusion was demonstrated by the “new” Concerto at all. On Jackson Browne’s ‘Running On Empty’ the live sound was captured with great authority and again I did not notice any issues from a new cartridge to speak of. I can only assume that with time and break in of the cartridge this rig will improve.
There is no denying that the Concerto was clearly swinging way above its weight class in this rig. As I played various jazz, classical, and of course some rock and all was sounding just great. A highlight was The Absolute Sound recommended LP, David Crosby’s ‘If I Could Only Remember My Name’. It has some great old hippie music on it and a wonderful giant soundstage. This was reproduced with amazing accuracy on the Triangle Arts table, huge dynamics and such a soundstage, quite enthralling. The dynamics on this table are absolutely first rate, earlier when I said everything had a layer of velvet I do not mean that there is any loss of detail, quite the contrary there is more detail than I could have imagined from a $14K table. I have been an analog guy setting up turntables since the late 60s and have had the luxury of attending many years of the best audio shows. I have heard almost every turntable there is, some at cost no object pricing, $50K, $75K, 100K, whatever and most of these I have actually heard many times. Some of them sound fantastic as you would expect, but friends at $14K the Triangle Arts Reference turntable is a force to be reckoned with. At this initial listening session I will go out on a limb and say that I doubt spending $50K or $70K on “some” (of course not all) of those turntables would really offer any better performance. That’s a big statement for a relatively unknown $14K table. Getting a turntable like the Triangle Arts Reference for only $14,000 will allow you to spend money on your system elsewhere. Be it a better arm, cartridge, or phono preamp, if the turntable is doing a fantastic job at this price add a Clearaudio Goldfinger cartridge ($12K), or a Clearaudio TT2 linear arm ($10K), I bet that would get exciting!
I have on the highest recommendation of Tom Vu of KT Audio Imports also ordered his special record clamp ($800) for the TA Reference; I don’t think I am going to start doubting him at this point. So I will report on that addition for this system in my follow up review. Also I will have the new Clearaudio Titanium ($8000) on the table and broken in before my follow up. Please feel free to ask me any questions that I can assist with.
Greg Beron

Associated gear
Click to view my Virtual System
I've heard your reference R2R gear set up at your Annapolis Junction showroom. One of the best home audio sounds I have heard anywhere!

That tt is a gorgeous piece of equipment! If it sounds like the R2R at all, that's quite a feat!
I spoke with Tom Vu, a really nice, straight-up guy.

My friend may be taking an order for one very soon.

The table looks absolutely formidable!
Greg Beron of United Home Audio says:

What this TT seems to accomplish is to allow a rock solid base for the arm and cartridge to do their job. The mass of this thing will just not be moved, it's pure dead weight. With virtually no acoustic vibrations working against it, an arm like the new Graham Phantom Supreme is going to dig so much info from the record that a musical surprise is immenent.

Does this approach Master Tape playback, I do hear the same velvet tones I hear from tape which is saying quite a bit. But vinyl does not exhibit the ultimate inner detail, (the power and force of live music), or the frightening dynamics and quiet background that tape can offer. It is just as Jonathan Valin from The Absolute Sound said, "The Ultimate Source Component".

However there is more music on vinyl and as a source component in your high performance audio system a TT is a an absolute must! I mean, what are you going to listen to, digital? No thanks, I would rather scrape fingernails down a chalk board.

TT's arms and cartridges have gotten good, I mean really good these days. Provided they are set up properly that is. Folks, if you have a TT or are contemplating buying a TT please establish a relationship with a local dealer. At UHA we supply lifetime set up and support on any vinyl system we sell, I think you will find similar support in your area, look around. Your dealer will prove his value, you will need him to properly set the thing up, guarantee proper operation, and provide continued technical support. It will make a big difference in your long term listening enjoyment.
This end of the market is all about 'eye candy', not better sound. My 'Timex' turntable sounds great and my bank account is fatter. Enjoy the music, buy more of it.