World Premiere! Coincident Speaker Technology Super Victory Reaching the upper tier of high-end audio without spending unreal sums of money
Coincident Speaker Technology Super Victory
Reaching the upper tier without spending unreal sums of money.
Review By Rick Becker
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At the Festival Son Image in Montreal each year, there are always conspicuous absences. Israel Blume and his Coincident loudspeakers is one such absentee that I have truly missed over the past few years. I remember his early days with monitors that mounted the tweeter directly on center with the midrange, from which the company name was born. Those early models landed him in a legal predicament with KEF, who has a copyright for coincidently mounted tweeters, and this was a David and Goliath story Israel chose not to re-enact. Instead, he turned his energy to revising his expensive asymmetrical cabinet designs and reverted to more conventional driver placement. Not to fear, he was able to surpass those earlier designs with more conventional looking cabinetry at a lower cost. Value added, as we say in retail. Coincident's rooms at the Delta Hotel in Montreal were typically quite barren with minimal equipment — the amplifiers sometimes sitting right on the carpet. But they were always exceptionally good sounding. Israel was a very strait shooter, always expounding the features and benefits of his products. Listening to his loudspeakers usually proved his point. And I'm honored that some of the praise I had for his rooms is still quoted on his website.
My first opportunity to review one of their products was the new Partial Eclipse Series II (October 2002 as reviewed here), which I still use today in my stereo video rig in the family room. Linda threatens me when I suggest we "upgrade" to something new, and a friend of hers has been waiting patiently for years to buy them. Israel insists that he hasn't found any new drivers in that price range to improve upon them. The new Super Victory loudspeaker at $9450 per pair now occupies the middle of the Coincident range that has recently been trimmed down to eliminate product overlap. The Super Eclipse III was a very good selling model, but for only a little more money, Israel told me, the Super Victory far out performed it. He continued "...we only keep models in the line when we feel they offer something unique and special, at their price points." I guess Linda and I are going to have to keep our Partial Eclipse II, which remains as the least expensive floor-stander in the Coincident line, now at $4499 per pair.
About three years ago I began to notice an increase in the use of ribbon tweeters in the high end. At the same time Coincident was earning great acclaim for their Total Victory (TV) model. Now considered version IV after an evolutionary change of drivers from top to bottom, the Total Victory IV is priced at $14,999, a significant step up from the Super Victory. The two models share the same drivers, but in place of the D'Appolito configuration with twin 7-inch midrange drivers, the Super Victory (SV) uses a single midrange positioned below the ribbon tweeter. For the bass the SV uses just one side-firing 12-inch Nomex cone woofer rather than two like the TV. The evolution of drivers in the Victory line-up is explained on the Coincident website so there is no need to detail it here. Suffice it to say that Israel has continued to refine his driver selection and further modify them to optimize their performance. This has simultaneously allowed him to minimize both the complexity and sonic imprint of the crossovers, providing additional gains. The Super Victory, Israel says, is a "tremendous value" at its price point. Consumer demand and the re-alignment of his product line would seem to bear him out. He wouldn't kiss one of his top selling models "goodbye" if he didn't believe the Super Victory was a superior loudspeaker.
With Consumer Confidence ratings at a 28-year low in the USA as I write this, you might suspect that to be the primary motivation for downsizing the Total Victory. However, you could easily argue that the SV brings superior technology to a wider number of people and is more suitable for more reasonably sized rooms. For me, the Super Victory at 47 by 9 by 17 (HxWxD in inches) was a huge step up in size from the Partial Eclipse II (37 by 8 by 12). While they were very close in efficiency at 92.5 versus 92 dB/W/m, there was an equally huge step up in sound quality that is commensurate with the approximate doubling in price. Compared to the Total Victory (52 by 9 by 22) and 95dB/W/m efficiency, I would expect there to be another significant gain in audible quality for the additional $5500, but unfortunately I have not heard the larger model.
The new Super Victory arrived while I was away at the High Point Furniture Market in North Carolina immediately after I attended the Montreal Festival Son/Image. Nevertheless, the timing was just right. Not only were the NCAA Basketball Championship and the furniture trade show behind me when I returned, my plate was full with the Montreal report yet to be written. I set up the Coincidents in the big rig and let them rip for two weeks as I listened from my home office, down a hallway at the other end of the house. I substituted my Plinius SA-100 for the hot-rodded Manley Mahis for the break-in period. Running the Plinius in AB mode, two things became immediately clear. Not only was this the best sound I have ever heard from my muscle amp, but the Super Victory sounded considerably different than either the Partial Eclipse with its Scanspeak Revelator tweeter, the Kharmas with their ceramic mid-range and tweeter, or the Von Schweikert VR-4SR MkII that had recently visited. This was going to be fun!
By the time I finished the Montreal report the SV had about 300 hours of break in, much of it at high volume since during that time Linda had been away on another mission trip to New Orleans. I switched the Plinius into Class A operation for some critical listening and it further improved upon the presentation in Class AB. Bass was very tight and fast, but not prominent. While it did not seem to go as deep as the VR in this early stage of the review, it was a little tighter and quicker. In comparison with the Kharma, which also uses a Nomex woofer, the SV went as deep, was a little faster, and had better tonal color. The tonal balance in the bass was just about the same as the Kharmas. Since I have not used the Plinius with the Kharma or the Partial Eclipse in quite some time, I will not speak about the mids and highs. The differences in the bass with the high current Plinius were readily apparent, as with a powerful amplifier the Super Victory does tight and fast bass exceptionally well.
With a sensitivity of 92.5 dB/W/m, the SV is really a loudspeaker for almost all amplifiers if the room is not huge and the volume is not dangerous. At 6000 cubic feet, with a wide opening into the family room and a doorway into the kitchen, I'm probably near the upper limit. Israel, after all, designs his loudspeakers with science and the aid of a computer. He doesn't pretend to break the laws of physics. Most of my listening was in the 85 to 95 dB range as that was where the SV really reigned supreme. The spl was measured at the listening position about 7 feet from the loudspeakers, which were placed about 8 feet apart, tweeter to tweeter. There were no precipitous drop-offs in quality as the volume was raised above or lowered below this range. The front of the loudspeakers were about 54 inches from the front wall, and the side walls were far to the left and right at unequal distances, largely out of contention. The listening triangle was close to equilateral and created a mid-field listening position without major reinforcement from the front wall or any bass node from the wall behind me. The vaulted ceiling, lowest behind the loudspeaker, did not restrict the sense of height of the soundscape with the SV, but it has never done so with any loudspeaker I have had here.
The Mahis On Steroids
Moving the Plinius aside, I returned to my reference Manley Mahis, but I must digress a bit here. These are not ordinary Manly Mahis. Like most of my other components, they sit upon Boston Audio Design TuneBlocks with a square of Sound Dead Steel IsoFeet atop the stainless steel ball of the TuneBlocks, held flush to the bottom of the chassis. This combination does an excellent job of sucking vibrations away from the signal path. But the real news here is the AVM (Blue Tube Goop) that I reviewed in my Mid-Winter Tweakfest. Painting a blue band around the small signal tubes tightened the focus from top to bottom. Painting the glass sleeve of the fuses tightened it up even further and refined the sound. These were both reversible trials, but like Van Gogh I fell victim to my own paintbrush. I painted the lowest half inch of the Russian EL84M power tubes. Then I opened it up and dabbed the goop on the soldered connection of the EIC power socket…and then the tube sockets…and then any solder connection I could reach with the little brush. Each extended application yielded noticeable results. I finally got a grip on myself before I painted any of the exterior black powdercoat. Whew! It was not unlike the mad Queen painting the roses blue down in the rabbit hole…and it was just about as scary. I couldn't scrap it off the circuit board like I could with the tubes and fuses. It was there. When it dried and cured the Mahi monoblocks sounded like a $5K pair of monoblocks — twice their original (and still current) price.
Initially, this created a problem. The amplifier was so tightly focused that it became tiring to listen for long periods with the Kharma. If I had the slightest bit of a stress headache — forget music. The question then became "Was it the amplifier or was it the loudspeaker?" The EL84M tubes are more linear than say a 300B tube, or even the EL34 to which it is quite similar. The EL84 is deep, tight and fast in the bass plus extended and fast in the treble. Furthermore, the transformer Manley has selected for the Mahi is designed to fortify the bass even further. The image of a small shark in Mahi clothing comes to mind. It is, after all, a small shark. In my preferred mode (triode) with minimum negative feedback into an 8-ohm loudspeaker it puts out only 14 watts. Upping the feedback and switching to ultralinear mode will increase the power, but at the expense of the three-dimensionality and the tonal color of the music. Your choice of amplifier will depend a lot on the size of your room and the degree to which you wish to punish yourself with the volume control.
This is where we return to the Super Victory. These loudspeakers solved the problem of irritable music I was initially experiencing with the tricked out Mahis and Kharma loudspeakers. With the Mahis driving the SV the music was fast, with excellent pace, rhythm and timing. The soundscape was very transparent as if more light were being beamed onto the stage. And the music was very involving, intellectually, drawing me into it and revealing the inner dialogues among the musicians. Emotionally, it was slightly less involving, but only in comparison with the intellectual involvement. The shortcoming with the Mahi was the prominence of the treble, which gave this combination a tonal balance that was tilted upward. The fast ribbon tweeter combined with the fast-extended EL84M tube revealed clarity and extension that my aging Boomer ears experience only when I am closer to the stage at a live performance. It was a real treat, but not the tonal balance I experience with most other tweeters. At the other end, the bass was tight and quick, but not as prominent as it was with the massive Plinius. (The Mahi, I can shot-put across the room; the Plinius I lift onto a dolly with a grunt). And the most important midrange you ask? Very close to perfect. If I moved the SV closer to the front wall it would probably fortify the bass and make the treble less prominent. Of course, I could always try another amplifier, too, which is exactly what I did.
On hand for review was a pair of M23SE pure Class A monoblocks from TubeMagic Canada that I had admired at the Montreal show this past spring. They put out 20 watts with a pair of 300B tubes and made very nice music with a pair of Martin Logan loudspeakers in Montreal . At more than twice the price of the Manley Mahis, they weighed in at more than twice as heavy with their massive transformers. I'll save the details of the M23 for the review, but I'll share that the tonal balance with the Super Victory was much more even with the 300B tubes. The bass had a lot of tonal color and was more prominent, but not as tight or as fast as with the Mahis or the Plinius. The top end was smooth, but didn't draw as much attention as it did with the Mahis. And of course the midrange is what the 300B is known for and the M23SE certainly did not disappoint here. Likewise, when I installed a TubeMagic CD1 vibration dampening platform under the digital front end, the Super Victory communicated the improved resolution of the source and subsequent improvement in transparency.
It should be no surprise that Coincident markets their M300B Frankenstein MK II monoblocks for use with their loudspeakers. For those who like their music loud, or who have large listening rooms Coincident offers their higher powered 211PP Dragon monoblocks. These amplifiers are both designed by Israel who has the chassis and transformers built to spec off-shore. The final assembly and quality control are done with parts he supplies in Canada . It is probably safe to assume they are synergistic with his loudspeakers. He also uses a wide variety of both tube and solid state power amplifiers in developing his loudspeakers to enable him to advise people of the results they can expect with their amplifier of choice. With the relatively high sensitivity and build quality of the Super Victory that choice is wide open. The ribbon tweeter he uses, for example, has a track record of zero defects in his loudspeakers.
An opportunity to drive the SV with first rate solid state gear came with the arrival of an Aaron 1.A.1 integrated amplifier. Newly imported from Germany , the Aaron line has been flying under the radar of even our esteemed editor who regularly covers the Munich show. Consider it a lesser known, younger brand roughly equivalent to mbl. At about $5700, this is Aaron's entry level amplifier and it is very close in cost to the entry level mbl integrated. As with mbl, the Aaron line rockets into the stratosphere of affordability. A review will be forthcoming.
Like every other change I have made to my system these past few months, the Super Victory clearly revealed the change to solid-state amplification. It is hard to hypothetically imagine sonic imaging becoming more focused with even greater pinpointing of instrumentation... until one actually experiences it. The Aaron raised the bar with seamless transition across the audible spectrum. At a live performance (at the reasonable volumes I was listening) I would never be able to hear the nuance and detail from where I seemed to be seated in front of the soundstage. Listening was hyper-real, not unlike a night in the Adirondack Mountains when I came upon a pond that was so still the stars reflected on its surface were as clear and brilliant as the stars in the sky above. The Aaron revealed the same level of tonal balance in the bass that the other amplifiers had shown, a level I would call appropriate, but definitely not a bass with accentuated slam.
Perhaps this is simply a consequence of my large listening room. At the upper end the treble was precise, smooth and extended, but neutral, not sweet. And the midrange was as solid and focused as I've ever heard in my listening room. All of the typical accolades apply with the Aaron, which surprised me somewhat since I am basically a tube fan. What I missed was some of the depth and three-dimensionality often associated (but not always delivered) with tubes. But what was gained from this level of quality with solid state was certainly very engaging. I'll have more to say in the review of the Aaron. In particular, I want to explore the sense of emotional involvement with this combination that seemed to be not so much a factor of the equipment, per se, as a consequence of my own emotional state at the time of listening. The equipment, here, is so neutral and so revealing that it takes itself out of the emotional equation.
In reviewing the Partial Eclipse II I pointed out how vulnerable they were to being tipped over with the standard spikes screwed directly into the bottoms of the cabinet. Israel 's response was to design a very handsome set of extenders that broadened the loudspeaker's footprint by four inches. They are now offered in three finishes: matte black, polished aluminum and at a higher cost, polished chrome. The extender feet come standard with the SV, as do the oversized, dual-tapered brass spikes. The natural cherry finish of the review sample came equipped with matte black extenders and this combination is very handsome. I set one loudspeaker up with the extender feet and one with only the spikes to compare the difference in stability. The SV is a much larger loudspeaker than the Partial Eclipse II. Not only does it have more mass, but the 12 inch woofer seems to concentrate more of the weight closer to the floor than on the Partial. The extenders certainly add stability, but I was not terribly concerned about the loudspeaker set up without them. My grandpups visit only rarely around here; your situation may be different.
I continued listening with the miss-matched footing and didn't pay any attention to it until a manufacturer was about to visit. I felt a need to tidy up the listening room to avoid embarrassment so I installed the unused extenders with the SDS IsoFeet under the spikes to match the other loudspeaker. Expecting the sound to get better, or at least remain the same, I experienced uncertainty at first and eventually concluded that adding the extender feet to the second loudspeaker actually degraded the sound a bit. The possibility of this occurred to me when I was placing the foam pads on the inside of the extenders where it meets the wood cabinet. Wouldn't the spongy foam isolate the chassis from the extender (and subsequently the brass spikes), thereby disrupting the transfer of energy to the floor…or in my case the IsoFeet? (Israel encouraged me not to remove the foam, as the extenders will mar the woodwork).
I listened carefully to most of my compilation CD with the extenders in place and then removed them and replayed the disc with the feet mounted directly into the cabinet. For both trials I continued to use the IsoFeet. There was no uncertainty. The music was more focused without the extenders. This contradicts not only Israel 's claims, but also the positive feedback posted on his website, most of which was largely unqualified. There are several variables here, not the least of which is my use of the very effective SDS IsoFeet. But were the others using the extenders on joisted wood floors or concrete? If they were on wooden floors, were they using cups or pucks under the points of the spikes? Does anybody else use pillars in their basement directly under their loudspeakers to minimize the vibrations in the floor? And are there audiophiles on Mars? Back to the listening room I went.
Step One: I spun through my compilation CD with the spikes directly into the cabinet and the points on the SDS IsoFeet to re-establish my reference. It was very highly focused and very transparent.
Step Two: I removed the SDS Isofeet and put the points directly into my carpeted, joisted wood floor. The sound became much warmer (less focused) and less transparent. It also seemed to recede a bit and gain a more depth in the soundscape. Most interesting, my EEM (emotional enjoyment meter—my foot dangling over the footrest of my recliner) began tapping away with delight. By anyone's standards, except perhaps the most elite manufacturers and audiophiles, this was still very good music reproduction.
Step Three: I installed the Extender Feet with the points again into the carpeted floor as above. Just as Israel and the consumer comments on his website indicated, the sound did tighten up by a noticeable degree. But I noticed my EEM registered a little lower. The music was more focused and my interest in the music became a little more cerebral and a little less emotional.
Step Four: I slid the SDS IsoFeet under the points, still using the Extender Feet as above. The music tightened up even further and gained even more transparency. The soundstage moved closer to me and decreased in depth. My EEM took another drop and the music continued to become more cerebral and less emotional.
Step Five: Coming full circle, I removed the Extender Feet, screwed the spikes directly into the cabinet and placed the SDS IsoFeet under the points. The music tightened up even further, the sound stage moved closer yet and the depth of the soundstage decreased even more.
The EEM fell almost completely motionless, but my mind was more actively engaged in "watching" the musicians and enjoying the interplay of their instruments. It was a more analytical, but very engaging experience. And no doubt the outstanding transparency of this configuration contributed to these results.
So there you have it: an inactive tone control completely removed from the circuit, albeit a little difficult to adjust on the fly. It would seem that we were both right. Israel claiming that the Extender Feet improved the sound was demonstrated in the move from Step Two to Step Three. My claim that the Extender Feet degraded the sound was shown (in reverse) by going from Step Five to Step Four. But "being right" is not what it is all about. The exercise pointed out that in my system with my joisted wood floor there is a range of focus and a range of emotional involvement that work inversely with each other. Increasing the focus decreased my emotional involvement, but increased my cognitive involvement. Certainly, with different systems, different loudspeakers, different floors, and probably with different music, our preference will vary. The good news is, armed with this knowledge, you get to choose and tune your rig the way you want for your own musical enjoyment. The Super Victory, to its credit, telegraphed every change I made. It is practically a sonic window without glass.
Aesthetics and Design
Beauty is more than veneer deep with Coincident loudspeakers. Aside from the new Pure Reference model, which requires additional though not substantially different comments, speaking about one is speaking about all. They are cut from the same cloth. The website illustrates the interior design and construction techniques such as CNC machining, veneered interiors on the 1-inch thick MDF and spline joint construction. This stuff fascinates me as a furniture retailer, but if you've read this far, it will probably appeal to you as well. There are also plenty of technical details that I cannot verify without deconstructing one of the loudspeakers. I'll choose not to do that, but one detail needs elucidation. Most of us know the majority of loudspeaker enclosures are built with MDF, but how does the type used by Coincident differ from most? So what about MDF hardwood you ask? Israel 's response to my inquiry was so informative I asked his permission to share it here since the information is not on his website. He wrote:
"Our MDF is actually almost 50 percent more rigid and 40 percent less resonant. This translates to a huge sonic difference. Our boards have hardwood veneer bonded to them on both sides with a special hard drying adhesive under extremely high heat and pressure. This ensures that the veneer will never peel or bubble no matter how humid or hot the conditions. The sonic benefit of the adhesive we use in addition to the double sided veneering is a furthering of the overall rigidity and non resonant quality for which we strive in all our enclosures.
We have experimented within MDF hardwood (which is made of mostly hardwood trees) but found that while they were very rigid, they were much more resonant between 40Hz to 120Hz. Good for furniture, less appealing in loudspeaker enclosures. It took me 4 years of experimenting and measuring numerous substances, from birch plywood to ceramic based materials to granite and mineral composites and pure hardwoods to settle on the MDF we eventually use exclusively because it proved to have the best balance between high rigidity and low resonance which accounts to a large degree for the transparent, neutral or un-box like qualities of Coincident speakers."
As a furniture industry insider, I wonder how the impending regulations requiring testing and paper documentation of formaldehyde emissions will affect the availability and importation of loudspeakers. (Formaldehyde is found in the glue of many such wood products). Perhaps the audio industry will be granted an exemption or find a loophole. Storm clouds may be forming, but don't shoot me; I'm just the weatherman. The narrow floorstander with side-firing woofer has long been a design cliché, but like fine leather furniture the value lies in the quality of the materials and execution of construction. The design lies in small details. Details like furniture grade cherry wood veneers, the beveled edge around the top and sides of the front baffle, the Coincident logo in a routed slot placed below the midrange driver so your guests don't have to get down on the floor to read it. The single set of speaker wire connections are placed low on the back to minimize the visual intrusion of the cables on the monolithic shape. The quality and effectiveness of these Coincident-made binding posts is excellent, and the use of a single set of speaker cables has both aesthetic and financial benefits. Israel will provide dual sets if you intend to bi-amplify the SV, but he insists bi-wiring offers no benefit per se.
One detail that at first seemed out of place was the miss-match of the beautifully figured veneer from one cabinet to the other. When the woofers were firing outwards, the veneers facing each other on the insides did not match each other. But closer inspection revealed that when entering the room from one side or the other, the outside veneer of one speaker matched the inside veneer of the other very closely. I found this to be equally as pleasing as the book-matched orientation on my smaller Partial Eclipse loudspeakers. The fronts of the SV were reasonably well matched and the tops were covered in very interesting matching veneer with a sprinkle of Birdseye figuration. The back panels were covered by the most interesting pieces of cherry veneer, appreciated only when connecting the cables. There is no mistaking that this is a loudspeaker, especially since there is no grille cloth. Nor is any pretense made for it being an object d'art. The large rectangular shape of the ribbon tweeter is cause for question by those unfamiliar with ribbon tweeters, but does not confuse the purpose, particularly if the side-firing woofer is in view. I tried the woofers in both orientations and found little difference in my very wide room, so I left them facing outward so they were not in view from the listening chair. (The SV, like the Kharmas, were faced straight ahead rather than angled toward the listening position). Thankfully, the tweeter is black, although a smoked chromed finish with matching Extender Feet might raise the elegance quotient for more formal settings, particularly in the black wood finish.
The shipping box was labeled "Birdseye", but the actual finish was unmistakably fresh cherry veneer. (The printed boxes were probably a carryover from an earlier model). Over the course of several months, the light cherry finish darkened to a rich medium finish that accentuated the variegated grain pattern. It is normal for this to happen with cherry wood with a light natural finish when exposed to light. My six year old Partial Eclipse finish has darkened even further achieving a very rich patina. A dark red cherry stain is also available and would certainly look appropriate in more formal or traditional settings with camelback sofas and wing chairs. The light cherry finish is my pick for either contemporary or casual country décor. The third finish is black lacquer that is contemporary, for sure, but could carefully be tied into country or traditional settings by a good decorator with sympathetic leanings toward audiophiles. While the selection of finishes is not large, it covers most of the bases. And since exotic veneers are not offered, it earns my approval as a member of the Sierra Club.
Although the Super Victory lacks the "Oh, Wow" factor of more expensive looking loudspeakers like the Kharma, it emanates quality in a way that lets it fit in comfortably without raising objections, providing the room is large enough to handle its tall stature. They towered 8 inches higher than my reference Kharmas and in their light cherry finish they seemed very much larger than the piano black Kharmas — although this diminished somewhat as the finished darkened. Linda has expressed on numerous occasions how much she likes their appearance — and having accompanied me to the Montreal show frequently over the past decade, she has seen a lot of loudspeakers.
Check, Double Check
To solidify and verify my findings, I ran the amplification gauntlet once again, starting with the Aaron and moving down through the TubeMagic to the Mahis before finally switching back to my reference Kharma loudspeakers. Four months have passed since first receiving the SV, but the arrival of two additional amplifiers, each requiring a break-in period has made for a long, drawn-out review period. As time consuming as it was, it enabled me to become very familiar with the loudspeaker. In this final check, the differences among the amplifiers, while still present, were not as dramatic as they seemed when I first installed each of them. Partly this was because of the break-in effect of the amplifiers, but also because the SV was further settling in. I will not deny the possibility of my increasing familiarity with the loudspeaker becoming an additional factor.
The biggest surprise occurred when I re-installed the Mahis. The upward tilt of the treble was no longer prominent or distracting and the irritation I had experienced after treating them with the AVM was no longer present. Perhaps my head was just in a better space. As good as the modded Mahis seemed, the more expensive amplifiers still proved to be better and more refined. However, the Mahis were a lot closer to them than the roughly $3000 price difference would indicate. In the end, I can say I suffered with none of these amplifiers. The only question that remained was whether a powerful amplifier in the 400 to 1000 watt range would provide the kind of bass slam that some audiophiles demand. Sorry, I can't help you on this count. After listening to the Mahis drive the Coincidents, I put the Kharma Ceramique 2.2c back into the rig. The Kharmas were slightly less transparent and less focused, obscuring some of the micro-dynamics. But the Kharmas seemed to disappear more completely than the Super Victory. I thought at first this had to do with the HDF material used in the Kharmas, or the more sculptured shape attainable by Kharma since they use a painted finish, rather than wood veneer.
A final double check comparison turned up some interesting findings. While the Kharma is listed at 89 dB/W/m efficiency, it sounded almost as loud as the 92.5 dB/W/m claimed for the Coincident, although I did not measure the difference. Both loudspeakers are an easy drive for tube amplifiers. The Coincident is definitely more focused than the Kharma, but the Kharma seems a little more dynamic with a little quicker pace, rhythm and timing — at first! The slightly longer decay of notes from the Kharma fills the microseconds between the notes giving the impression of quickness. Once I became accustomed to the Coincident with its quicker decay, that loudspeaker seemed more accurate. But was it more enjoyable? It's a pathos or ethos question. The Kharma presents a more emotionally stirring interpretation of the music, while the Super Victory, with the spikes directly into the cabinet and sitting on the IsoFeet, presents a more cognitive or objective rendition. Of course you can fine tune the SV with the Extender Feet and SDS IsoFeet to some degree, or soften the music at various points of the signal path if you like.
Finally, my most interesting discovery, as I listened in nearly complete darkness (with my reading lamp turned off) the Coincidents aurally disappeared just as well as the Kharmas. It seems that the peripheral visual presence of the lighter enclosure of the Coincidents caused my brain to connect the music with the loudspeaker in a way that the piano gloss black Kharmas did not. Significant? Perhaps, but not enough to go to loggerheads with your interior decorator or significant other over what finish to select. This is about the music, after all, not hockey. Better to go to lager heads and turn out the lights. (My critical listening, by the way, is not done under the influence of alcohol). A minor shortcoming of the SV was the shift in tonal character in the vertical plane at the listening position. From where I sit my ear is level with the midrange driver, but raising up causes a shift in the midrange that is probably eliminated by the D'Appolito configuration of the more expensive Total Victory IV. This will not normally be an issue unless you're an "air-baton" kind of guy who likes to jump up and conduct the orchestra himself. There were also times when I thought the SV was a little shy in the bass and the thought of adding a second woofer seemed like a good idea until I realized that would probably add another $2000 to the price. A quick listen to "Master Tallis's Testament" on Pipes Rhode Island convinced me that the SV does indeed go as deep as claimed; handling the deep organ notes even with the 14 watt Mahis. The mid-bass was certainly taught. But to get the lowest reaches taught, where it equals the depth of the VR-4SR, you will need to step up in the amplifier department.
The Von Schweikert VR-4SR MkII loudspeaker reviewed in January, 2008 is a near competitor at $12,000 and is an outstanding loudspeaker. It gives a more holographic soundscape and deeper soundstage with its rear firing supplemental tweeter and global axis crossover. It also digs as deep but with a slightly fuller the bass. But the VR-4SR is a more complex loudspeaker requiring additional isolation of the upper and lower units to get the high degree of focus that the Super Victory delivers in a single-box design. Amplification choices are more restricted and complex to get the best out of the VR and cabling is also more difficult to optimize the design. To reach its fullest potential, you may have to spend considerably more for amplification and cabling with the VR than you will with the SV.
In today's marketplace my Kharma Ceramique 2.2c is a significantly more expensive loudspeaker that should more fairly be compared with Coincident's new Pure Reference. Nonetheless, the Super Victory went head to head with the 2.2c; besting it in some respects, while differing in others. For those wishing to reach the upper tier of high-end audio without spending unreal sums of money, the SV could easily be the cornerstone of an outstanding rig. Not only does it do most of what a speaker should do, it gives you a window to examine the upstream components. Thus, allowing you to easily adjust the music to suit your taste whether it is the pursuit of some absolute standard, or simply music that makes you tap your toe. With its reasonably high efficiency and tube friendly design, it will probably plug into whatever gear you have right now. From that point onward, it will it will keep you from going musically astray or spending your money foolishly. In these tough economic times the Super Victory makes huge sense. This one is a real winner!
Impedance: 10 ohms (always between 8 - 16 ohms)
Power Requirements: 3 watts to 500 watts
Frequency Response: 25 Hz to 35 kHz
Dimensions: 47 x 9 x 17 (HxWxD in inches)
Weight: 125 lbs. each
Price: $9499 per pair
Coincident Speaker Technology
19 Strauss Road
Ontario, Canada L4J 8Z6
Voice: (905) 660-0800
Fax. (905) 660-1114
E-mail: [email protected]