Coincident Grand Victory
Source: Coincident Speaker Technology
Price: $9,499.00 US
Rating: 4 notes

Israel Blume has been at it again. For the past few years he has brought a
new design to the market annually with the Grand Victory his latest attempt
to conquer yet another segment of the high-end market.

Appearance:
Well, Grand is a good description of the Victory loudspeakers as their size
is imposing, almost intimidating: 52 inches high, 11.5 inches wide and 22
inches deep. In addition, each enclosure weighs a hefty 200 pounds. Even
though the cabinets are large, they boast an immaculate finish on all sides.
The driver array on the front baffle contribute even more to the cabinets'
stately look, as there are four woofers and a ribbon tweeter to magnify the
overall impression. Grilles are optional. Four connecting terminals allow
bi-wiring or biamping, though two amplifiers are unnecessary as the GVs are
very efficient, which brings us to the systems.

Technology:
Four woofers and a tweeter is an unusual driver configuration, and it is
just as uncommon to find that the bass drivers all work in phase and in
parallel connection, crossing to the higher tweeter-generated frequencies at
2.2kHz. This translates to a (not so simple) 2 way design which employs a
more sensitive variation of the ribbon tweeter used in the Victory and Total
Victory models complemented by four 8 inch woofers. The woofer cones are
paper treated resulting in low mass but high rigidity and operating in a
prodigious magnet assembly. The (cone) suspension system is very rigid and
responds quickly to an incoming signal, providing an ideal environment for
the piston-like excursion generated by small or large amplifiers. Blume
tuned the GVs very tightly and they are highly damped to complement
amplifiers with low damping factor, such as single ended triodes. This is
likely the reason why, when paired with these speakers, the Wyetech Labs
Sapphire monoblocks (reviewed in this issue) provided exemplary tight bass.

The isodynamic ribbon tweeter used in this design has the same sonic
characteristics as the unit used in the Victory and Total Victory speakers,
but features a more powerful magnet assembly and 3db higher sensitivity. It
is finished off with a solid brushed aluminum face plate to achieve rigidity
and diminish induced resonances.

As in most Coincident designs, the crossover is a model of simplicity. All
components are matched to within 1% tolerance, with lead to lead
construction eliminating the need for wires, circuit boards or connectors.
This results in a direct signal path so as to render an uncorrupted musical
signal.
Most loudspeaker designers know that the components used in a loudspeaker
are only as good as the enclosure(s). The GV's cabinet is the largest in the
Coincident line-up but its construction is as unyielding and inert as one
might expect to find in small enclosures. Blume employs a complex array of
computer-designed vertical and horizontal braces (10 horizontal and 5
vertical) and incorporates this arrangement with one inch MDF hardwood and
spline joint construction (our stethoscope and knuckle tests confirmed
this). All the above is part of good design technology and, certainly, the
specifications read like a blueprint for an ideal loudspeaker: frequency
response is from 28Hz to 40kHz (don't need a super tweeter); impedance is 8
ohms (according to Blume the impedance never drops below 7.3 ohms or rises
above 10 ohms); sensitivity is 100 db @ 1w/metre; look at the system's power
requirements with 1.5 watts (small tube amps) to 300 watts or more. Specs,
however, do not make music and it is important to listen toŠ

The Sound:
Unlike most Coincident designs, the GVs are 8 ohm loudspeakers which
translates to a nice'n easy load for any vacuum tube amplifier. What makes
these speakers sing is not power, as in watts per channel, but a quality
amplifier with a beefy power supply to duplicate proper dynamics as one
would find in a live performance. As it happened, we had just two such
amplifiers in-house to use in this evaluation‹the Wyetech Labs Sapphire and
the new Perreaux integrated unit, both reviewed in this issue. To check
compatibility with other designs, we also used the Bryston 7B SST monoblocks
(reviewed in Vol. 14 #2), the Copland integrated amplifier (80 watts/
channel) and the British Tube Technology integrated amp (70 watts/ch),
reviewed in this issue. Our in-house Wyetech Labs Opal preamplifier was used
where needed and our source components were the Audio Aero Capitole
(reviewed in Vol. 15#2) and the Chord DAC64 and matching transport‹the Blu
(also reviewed in this issue). Wiring was done with Nordost Valkyrja speaker
cables and interconnects.

Before we began our auditioning sessions, we operated the GVs continually
for three days using our in-house Magnum Dynalab MD 108 tuner for burn-in.
This is an important step before serious listening as the ribbon tweeter
used here must be in optimum operating condition.
For our first auditioning session, we used the Wyetech Labs monoblocks and
almost instantly became aware of the GVs ability to deliver wonderfully
rich- sounding bass. Our favourite discs to check deep bass are Todo Sobre
De Madre and Sept Paroles Du Christ. The loudspeakers managed to reach all
the way down to a well resolved 28Hz, but allowed us to hear harmonics above
and below. We consider this an accomplishment not often found in loudspeaker
designs and an augmentation to the term ³musicality². Good bottom end
harmonics correctly disclose the (different) structure of harmonics of, say
a kettle drum, a double bass or an electric bass‹and the Wyetech Labs
amps/Grand Victory system did this without unpleasant side effects, such as
booming or lack of firmness.
Midrange clarity is of the utmost importance as most musical material and
voices fall into this segment of the frequency range. We believe it was J.
Gordon Holt who once said that a loudspeaker without proper midrange is not
a loudspeaker at all‹and our Editor agrees. However, the GVs quickly
established that they can deliver even the most complex program material.
One of our favourite tracks to test this is a tune called ³Emily² on the
JVCXR disc featuring Zoot Sims. As the nickname implies Zoot is a master of
the baritone saxophone and when done right, listeners can hear Zoot's saliva
passing through the mouthpiece and reed assembly on the sax. Female and male
vocals are also enlightening when evaluating midrange information and a lot
of loudspeakers do this very well. However, few can delineate the
differences in tonal gradations between a baritone and a tenor or a soprano
and mezzo soprano as well as the Grand Victory speakers.

High frequencies are often misunderstood and they tend to be the source of
contention for many folks. Some like it hot, some like it soft, some like it
smooth and some like it hard. However, preferences are usually based on
personal taste‹or more precisely on what the subconscious mind has learned
to accept as proper. As reviewers, we do not have the luxury of choosing
what we like, but have the obligation to inform our readers of what to
expect. The ribbon used in the GVs can produce up to 28kHz, but the speakers
require about 30 minutes of operation before the tweeters settle down to
their ultimate operating condition. However, once burned in, we noticed
quite similar performance characteristics to the Total Victory model
(reviewed in Vol.15 #2): razor-edge resolution in midrange and high
frequencies. We'd like to subdivide the GV's performance in the range from
about 160Hz to 1300Hz as the lower midrange, from 1300Hz to about 2,600Hz as
pure midrange and the segment between 2,600Hz to about 5,000Hz as upper
mid/lower high segment. The GVs performance is nothing short of revealing as
it turns up every nuance of the program material in the upper and pure
midrange frequencies. We feel that the speakers provide a little less energy
in the lower midrange than in the segments above and below, but didn't find
this too important as program material didn't seem out of musical
proportion. Besides, connected to the Perreaux integrated amplifier, this
tiny nitpick was not apparent. All in all, Blume has produced a loudspeaker
system that delivers almost as much superb audio as one would get from the
more expensive model, the Total Victory.

Synopsis & Commentary:
Every loudspeaker has a personality that stands on its own, but similarities
are apparent with almost all solidly engineered designs from the same
manufacturer. Coincident Technology loudspeakers sport an audible
affiliation with one another, and though the all-round sonic signature is
shared by most models, there are many slight variations between them. Blume
has not made a second rate loudspeaker since we began reviewing his designs,
about 10 years ago. In fact, over the years, he has marketed a number of
superb designs and we feel that the Grand Victory is but one more. These
loudspeakers are a little more system-dependent than some of the other
models and benefit more from powerful amplifiers. The best sound was
achieved with the Perreaux amplifier, just slightly more refined than our
second choice, the Wyetech Lab Sapphire monoblocks. The Bryston 7B SST
monoblocks and the Tube Technology integrated amplifier came in a close
third in the overall performance rating.

Best musicality: Sapphire amplifier; best control/musicality: Perreaux; best
dynamics: Bryston; best bargain: Tube Technology amplifier; best sound:
choose an amplifier of your liking.
www.coincidentspeaker.com
tel: 905-660-0800

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