Triangle is a French manufacturer of high-end speakers and the Elara is their entry-level series of speakers. The range is made up of both passive and active variants, and what I’m looking at today is one of the active models, specifically the $649 LN01A bookshelf speaker. They also make an active floorstanding model, the LN05A.
As an old-school amp/speaker kind of guy, it took me a while to warm up to active loudspeakers in the hi-fi space. I had doubts about whether they would be effective at reproducing music in a way that would satisfy audiophiles. But advances in technology, primarily with digital amplification, have paved the way for simple all-in-one or just add source audio solutions that actually sound good.
Over the last year or so, speaker manufacturers have rushed into the active speaker market, and after listening to several models I have softened on the idea. While I actually like the exercise of system matching, I can definitely see the benefits of buying a pre-matched setup.
Not everyone has the time or desire to read tons of reviews and find dealers to audition equipment. A set of active speakers takes a lot of decisions off your plate. The amp, speakers, and sometimes the source is selected for you, you just need to decide if you like the sound.
Not to mention the setup is a heck of a lot easier. You usually have just one speaker wire and a power plug to connect, then you are ready to go. You have to admit that’s pretty cool.
Triangle makes some very fancy speakers, and while the Elara design is not quite as fancy as some of their other models, it still has some class in a minimalist kind of way. They come in black and white finishes.
I was sent the black pair which has some stylish flourishes like a bronze ring painted around the tweeter waveguide and the Triangle brand name stamped in bronze on the bottom of the front baffle. Adding to the overall clean aesthetic is the lack of holes or screws showing on the front, screws are hidden under rubber rings, and grills are magnetically attached. The five-way binding posts in the rear are made up of shiny aluminum. It’s a nice looking package.
The cabinets are robust with cross bracing to combat coloration from unwanted vibrations. The walls are 18mm thick around back and sides, and the front baffle is 21mm thick. Set into the baffle is a 135mm dish-shaped midbass/woofer constructed from treated paper. Dust caps are eschewed to maximize utilization of the woofers surface and to support its rigidity. Above the woofer is a 25mm silk dome tweeter with neodymium magnets.
As this is an active speaker set, the left speaker is equipped with 2 x 50w Class-D amplification. The right speaker is passive and is driven by the left via a supplied speaker cord. The two speakers have standard binding posts, so you should, in theory, be able to use any speaker wire, however, the manual recommends to use only the included wire.
Around the back of the left speaker, there is an assortment of inputs including a combination line/phono input with selector switch, a 3.5mm aux input, along with two digital inputs, one optical and one coax. The two digital inputs are mated to a Wolfson/Cirrus Logic WM8761 DAC chip supporting inputs up to a maximum 192kHz/24bits.
There is also a sub output which is full range, you’ll have to use the crossover on your sub to blend the output with your speakers. A 60-70 Hz cut off is recommended. There is also a volume knob on the rear of the speaker.
Operation of the ELARA system is pretty straight forward. As stated before, you just need to plug the power cord into the left speaker, then connect the supplied speaker wire to both speakers and then flip the power switch on the powered speaker. There is an led on the front of the powered speaker that lets you know the speakers are turned on, it lights up blue if you are using Bluetooth and green for any of the other inputs. Speaking of Bluetooth, it’s the 4.0 variety with aptX.
Input selection must be done from the remote, along with most other operations. If you lose it, your ability to use the system will be greatly reduced, since you need it to do Bluetooth pairing, mute the speakers, or activate the tone controls. There are separate tone controls for Bass and Treble with 6 steps of adjustment for each one. There is no way to tell what step you are on, so you have to literally play it by ear. There is a button on the remote that will set the sound adjustment back to the default settings by tapping it once.
For my sound tests, I both streamed TIDAL via Bluetooth from my LG V40 via aptX, and I also streamed from my phone using TIDAL connected to the Google Chromecast Audio. The Chromecast Audio was connected to the LN01A with the digital optical cable connected to the Elara Toslink connector, in order to utilize the internal Wolfson DAC.
The Bluetooth connection sounded good, but there was a noticeable difference between the aptX and the Wi-Fi stream. The sound from the Chromecast Audio was more transparent and open, but for a quick listening session, it was decent. I enjoyed the Wi-Fi connection more, so all the impressions given from here on out will be from that source.
Overall I found the LN01A speakers to be lively performers. They dug down much lower than expected from such a relatively small speaker and they remained very composed at higher volume levels. Bass was moderately articulate and fast, mids were a little laid-back but still detailed, and treble was sweet never tilting towards brightness. While they lacked a little focus and transparency, they did a good job of disappearing, allowing you to concentrate on the music.
Despite lacking a little bit of focus, I liked the imaging overall, instruments were separated nicely across the soundstage and vocals when recorded to appear in the center, presented in the center right where they were supposed to be. Listening to La Flamenca Maria, by Jane Bunnett & Maqueque, the ELARAs nicely separated all the various instruments of the band along with their vocals.
Jane Bunnett’s flute was beautiful and airy, the drums were weighty, and the rap on the conga was perfectly punctuated and separate from the drum set next to it. The stick on the lead singer’s Guiro sounded so natural. The various vocal solos were also very distinct and natural. You could not only hear their placement, but you could also hear their emotions and different singing styles very clearly. I loved the way the music just unfolded in front of you, not jumping out in any odd ways. This is a sign of a good speaker.
One listen and you can tell that these speakers were designed with musicality in mind. They play very big and warm and envelop you in the music. They are very easy to use and setup and the build quality of the speakers are top notch. If you are looking for an active bookshelf that has a high-end pedigree, then you need to check the ELARA LN01A out.
Type Active Speaker – Bass Reflex
Ways – 2
Sensitivity – (dB/W/m) 89
Bandwidth – (+/- 3dB) 56 HZ – 22 KHz
Power Output – 2 x 50W
Nominal Impedance – 8 ohms
Minimal Impedance – 4.5 ohms
Inputs – RCA, AUX, Optical, Phono, Bluetooth 4.0 A2DP aptX
Output – Subwoofer
Dimensions – 165 x 235 x 291 mm
Net Weight – 9.5 kg
Gross Weight – 11.2 kg
EAN Code – (black / white) 3660216004956 / 3660216004963
I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My thirst for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.