Trenner & Friedl: The Little Speaker That Could
Sound big, full-range.
Even at a mere 7”x11"x12", these diminutive mini-monitors from Trenner & Friedl can create a huge soundstage. But more importantly, sound incredibly musical.
Never thought I would find a loudspeaker that could change the way I feel about mini-monitors. As much as I like these little boxes (easy to set up), I always felt they require more bottom to sound like the real thing, with a subwoofer as an add-on. Surprisingly, these mini-monitors called Art from Trenner & Friedl don't make you want to add a bass unit. In fact, they sound as accurate without needing a 12-incher in the mix. For me, they could very well be the ultimate little speaker you’ll ever want to own.
Big words, right?
Well, I live in New York City and space is an issue. So, logically, I stick mostly with little guys and have to make do without the deeper bass. I have had bigger speakers but the match was not always a good fit: not enough breathing room to actually set the speakers free --- until these Arts. Now, even if I have more space, I'd still want to have the Arts fronting my system and be very happy with them. Talk about logic going berserk!
I first became aware of these speakers through my friend, Randy, who had heard them at a show in California. “Check them out,” he said. Curious, I contacted a dealer and arranged for a home audition. Within a few weeks, I received a FedEx box, solidly packed in quadruple strength, with these little gems inside them. Hmmm, another mini-monitor, I said to myself. My pair came with a beautiful, exquisite Walnut Mocca finish.
Although highly recommended (by Randy, anyway), I kept them on an even keel. Out of the box, I wouldn’t say the Art (named after Art Pepper) blew me away – they didn’t. Though they’d flash some sonic magic on occasions, I was expecting a lot more from a not-too-cheap ($4,250/pair) speaker. Exactly a month later, the Arts finally opened up and got me wondering: could it get any better? With a soundstage that had limitless borders, coupled with a rich and authoritative sound, plus a bass that's more than satisfying, what more could I ask for?
When it was time to return the speakers as my audition was up, I decided right there and then to buy them.
Today, six months later, I still believe it was the best $4,250 I have spent on a speaker – monitor or floorstander.
So what makes the Art so special? Is it the bass that’s articulate and tuneful without any overhang? Or the midrange that’s open, expressive and dynamic? Or the detail – tons of it that will surely make you notice how little bits could make a note sound so life-like. Extended and tonally balanced, I could go on and on.
What else do I notice? Their speed. These mini-monitors are not super fast and I think I know why. Unlike other designers who make their speakers fast to help with the PRaT, the Arts give the instruments a chance to develop their natural sounds into musical notes. And this works because everything I play has good speed, does not seem to miss a beat and is immensely musical. Proof of this is when you find yourself toe-tapping along with the music.
During my auditions, I used mostly rock music because these recordings are, more often than not, underwhelming. What the Arts have done was able to bring unlistenable recordings back to life. Not many speakers can do this and now I'm convinced these Arts are the real deal - and a sonic revelation.
I believe rock music is harder on small speakers as they tend to tense up. Because less air is pumped out, less is heard. And you wind up with a presentation that’s dynamically-challenged or thin. The Arts, I feel, hardly mind at all. They reproduce with nary a sweat and seem to thrive on creating music that’s as enjoyable as hearing it with a larger speaker. Agile, with good height and weight, these Arts can pack a punch. What's even more amazing is they continue to bloom thru each listening session.
Of all the mini-monitors I’ve own (ProAc Response 1SC, Silverline SR-17, Paradigm Signature 2S and Sonus Faber Cremona Auditor M), I’d say the Art has all the good qualities of these speakers and fills the holes of those deem lacking (detail), or remove those that are excessive (harshness and boom).
Setting up the Art is as easy as unpacking the box. There really is no need to adjust the speakers because they sound their best without any toe-in. If you’d like a little more dynamics, however, toe them in very slightly.
Finally, with all the notes playing like they should, and sounding as real as you’d hear them in person, these Arts let you sit back and enjoy music like you have not experienced before.
Give them a listen. They may just blow you away!
Analog: Garrard 301 turntable; RS Lab RS-A1 tonearm; Miyabi 47 cartridge
Digital: 47 Laboratory Progression D/A Converter; 47 Laboratory Flatfish CD transport (each with own Dumpty power supply)
Preamplification: 47 Laboratory Input Chooser (passive-pre); 47 Laboratory Phonocube phono stage
Power Amplifier: 47 Gaincard on dual mono-mode (Humpty power supply 2X)
Speakers: Trenner & Friedl Art
Cables: 47 Laboratory OTA ICs and power cords, 4719 speaker cable
Accessories: Solid Steel rack; Running Springs Haley power conditioner