Coincident Technology Loudspeakers Model Millennium
Source: Coincident Speaker Technology
Price: $9,495.00 Cdn., $6,995.00 U.S. (mahagony/veneer)
The approaching turn of the century has a lot of people wondering what new technologies and advancements in consumer electronics are in store. Coincident's Israel Blume may have considered this prior to the introduction of this new model, appropriately named Millennium. According to Blume, the Millenniums were planned over a year ago and their release wasn't planned for 1998. However, the design progressed rather quickly-and here they are, Coincident Speaker Technology's flagship design. It all began in 1989 with Blume's dissatisfaction with speaker design. This prompted him to research and design some unconventional speakers which didn't find wide acceptance in the market place. Over the following years, Blume introduced new, more conventional models which appealed to the upscale consumer as well as the critics and Coincident Technology became rather successful. This Canadian company has now ventured into the fickle high-end where scrutiny is intense and criticism can be severe.
Each Millennium speaker consists of two separate enclosures. A separate bass unit houses two 8-inch woofers and a two-way, three driver enclosure is stacked atop the bass cabinet. The bass enclosure is 31 inches high and 23 inches deep and functions as a stand for the top enclosure (fastened with Blue Tack). The top enclosure, accommodating the midrange drivers and the tweeter brings the speakers total height to 50 inches. Both enclosures are 8 inches wide. The weight is a whopping 135 lbs. for each channel. The Millenniums are finished in mahogany and look absolutely handsome. The front of the cabinet sports beveled edges, which have a dual purpose-for style and for sound defraction. The overall appearance is that of quiet decorum. The nitty-gritty, however, is the design's blueprint...
The design goal was to produce a full-range system which handles frequencies down to 28Hz and up to the inaudible range. This isn't uncommon, of course, but the Millenniums offer more design sophistication than the casual observer may have expected.
First the cabinets: two enclosures are used because the woofers need a lot more operating space than the midrange drivers and the tweeter. Air turbulence created by a woofer inside an enclosure, further interferes with other driver's performance causing a mechanical type of intermodulation distortion. Separate cabinets can eliminate these problems. The enclosure of the Millennium sub bass is constructed with alternating one inch MDF and two inch composite material, providing a rigid chamber tuned to a fundamental resonance frequency of 350Hz. The two 8 inch drivers are mounted on the enclosure's side and can be arranged to fire either in or out, depending on the size of the listening room. The smaller top enclosure accommodates two five inch top-of-the-line Excel drivers made by SEAS and a 1 inch titanium dome tweeter. As with the bass enclosure, the top cabinets are solidly built with 1 inch MDF which, according to our tests, do not resonate or transfer resonances to the bass enclosure. The cabinets accommodating the midrange and high frequency drivers offer beveled edges on the front to eliminate diffraction affects and maintain high frequency integrity. Spikes on the bass enclosures help anchor the cabinets firmly to the floor.
Second, the parts: the tweeter features a powerful double magnet, a vented pole piece and a special cavity damping technique which diminishes spurious resonances to insignificant proportions. The tweeter's dispersion characteristics are extensive and result in a flat frequency response beyond 20kHz at thirty degrees off axis.
The midrange drivers feature magnesium cones coupled to a natural rubber surround. The motor assembly has dual magnets and a T-shaped pole pieces with heavy copper rings mounted above and below to maintain linearity. Copper plating and a solid copper phase plug distinguishes these hand made drivers.
The woofers boast a 2 inch voice coil and a formidable magnet assembly. Chosen for their treated paper cones, they are almost free from breakup and maintain the desirable piston-like movement suspended in a magnesium basket.
The crossover is a first order design employing premium parts throughout. Polypropylene capacitors, large gauge air core inductors and metal oxide resistors are matched with no more than 1% tolerance. The unit is hard-wired except for the circuit board and terminal connector. The crossover is computer designed and than adjusted by meticulous auditory analysis.
The top enclosure drivers are arranged in a D'Appolito alignment which works in this system crossed at 3kHz (most D'Appolito designs are crossed at 2kHz).
The specifications: frequency response is quoted as 28Hz to 35kHz. Impedance is an unusually high 14 ohms never dipping below 10 ohms. This was chosen to maintain a stable load for amplifiers, especially, but not solely, for single ended tube jobs. The system's sensitivity is 92db @ 1watt/1meter which makes the Millenniums suitable for amplifiers with power ratings as low as 7 watts and as high as you want!
To find the important component synergy, we connected the Millenniums to our in-house single ended Topaz amp and matching Opal preamp; a pair of OCM 800 amplifiers (mono blocks, connected in the balanced mode) and the OCM 58 mono preamps; the Bryston 5B ST in the bridged mode (400 watts per channel) with the Opal preamp and finally, the Celeste Moon integrated amplifier reviewed in this issue. Thus, we had three great amplifiers with distinctly different design concepts, similar resolving qualities but varying sonic identities. The Alchemist CD transport/DAC and the Oracle/Graham/Benz turntable/arm/cartridge system served as source components and the entire system was wired with Nordost Flatline SPM cables. Our panelists came in one by one to audition the systems over a period of three weeks. The unanimous consensus of every one who listened to the system wa that: this was high-end, impeccable sound. The various electronics introduced slightly different sonic results which can be attributed to the aforementioned design differences of the amplifiers, but the Millenniums always revealed the amps' characteristics. The best all-round sound was achieved with the Topaz amplifier/Opal preamplifier. However, bass control was best with the OCM and Bryston amps. With the Celeste Moon integrated amplifier the sound was wonderfully musical and flowed effortlessly, although it fell somewhat short of the speaker's best accomplishments as registered with our more expensive separates. For those on a budget, the Millenniums/Moon combination still sounded wonderful and we would not hesitate to recommend this system configuration. If money is of no concern, try a good push-pull or single ended amplifier with the Millenniums (as power isn't a significant factor) but DO pay attention to the quality of the electronics you use. The same holds true fore those who wish to use solid state electronics, as the power rating of the amplifier is a bit more consequential. The amplifiers used for this evaluation all achieved utterly credible sound. We believe that the Millenniums reproduce authentically whatever the electronics contribute; if the that happens to be excellent, expect the speakers to present the same. If, on the other hand, the electronics are of poor quality, we suggest not to bother at all-the old saying "garbage in, garbage out" holds true. We didn't have any second grade equipment in house to put on the Millenniums to the test, but as we said earlier, don't bother, the speakers are just to darn good. One of the Millenniums' most amazing characteristics is the way they conjure an image-a sound stage. Although one can certainly see the cabinets, they cannot be heard. In one of our tests, we blindfolded a panelists and asked him to point at the source of the sound. He couldn't, although he got the location of one speaker. The overall listening experience can be frustrating for reviewers who's job it is to find weaknesses and shortcomings in loudspeakers which present few. Critical listeners, on the other hand, will delight in the speakers' ability to eclipse their existence and allow the music to flow. Well resolved bass, succinct midrange information and smooth as silk highs make the Millenniums rare instruments to divulge every nuance of musical program material-whatever the choice. We would like to tell you that these speakers are neutral and this may well be true, if we could establish such a fact. We believe that the Millenniums have an identity best described as musically convincing. You may have noticed that we didn't describe the sonic attributes in the various frequency ranges and omitted descriptions such as smooth, resolute, etc. The reason is that the Millenniums appear to perform musically correct-and what else is there to say...
Synopsis & Commentary:
While most loudspeaker manufacturers will try to create a so-called "flagship design", we have seen few come up with an outright winner. We have seen many loudspeaker brands which were of outstanding quality in low and mid price ranges: but when the designers break with familiar technology and undertake to engineer a special high-end speaker, the results are often no better than average. It is difficult and expensive to venture into the mysterious arena of high-end where cut and dry frequency curves aren't the epitome of engineering skills. It isn't unusual, for example, to achieve a flat response across the audible range, but it is tricky to attain tonal balance, low distortion and purity within a speaker's frequency scope and crossover system. We are telling you this so you can appreciate what time and effort had been put into the Millenniums. Blume's efforts in the lower end of the speaker design have been recognized and appreciated by all: however, the design of the Millenniums may put him on the proverbial map-and rightfully so. Although we didn't measure or plot curves, it is clear to us that the Millenniums are very special designs. The build quality is exemplary, the components are of the finest caliber and the overall cabinet finish is immaculate.
Lastly, Blume obviously used well trained ears, maybe his own, to attain unmistakably high-end sound. The preferential idiom should be "high resolution" when it come to describing the performance of the Millenniums. All there is to say is that the loudspeakers finish what they start and focus on what is consequential, namely, to play music authentically.
In the twelve year history of The Inner Ear Report, only one other speaker has received a four musical note rating and that speaker retails for $20,000 US.
Reprinted With The Permission Of The Inner Ear Report.