The Hifitrends.com Product Of The Year is an award given to an exceptional product that has passed across our desk– or through our listening room– this past year.
It’s not a “Best Of” award, it’s just us giving recognition to gear we found to have extraordinary value and performance within its category.
Also, since we cover low-cost, high-performance gear, you can expect our selections to be more affordable than some of the stuff you see on other Hi-Fi Product Of The Year lists.
Product Of The Year 2019-Loudspeakers: TRIANGLE BOREA BR03 Bookshelf Speakers
We listened to a lot of speakers this year, and we found a lot of gems around $500 a pair. The Paradigm Monitor SE Atom Bookshelf Speaker wowed us with its finesse (especially in the midrange) for $300.
Another speaker that caught our attention was the PSB Alpha P5 Bookshelf Speakers (which got a Product Of The Year Award from Stereophile). I loved the deep bass combined with the sweet highs; it’s a speaker that sounds good with any music.
But back in October, I got a hold of the $549 TRIANGLE BOREA BR03 Bookshelf Speakers, part of the French speaker specialists’ new “budget” line, and I knew they would be my pick for the Product Of The Year speaker.
At $549, they cost a little bit more than the other speakers I mentioned, but damn are they worth it!
The BR03 is further proof that it’s an excellent time for people looking to get into the hobby. It’s funny because it seems like reviewers like me say that every year. It makes sense because every year, speaker designers find ways to give us better sound for less money.
Part of it is due to advancements in materials and manufacturing. Designers have better materials to choose from, and it’s cheaper to get stuff made. The other side is technology. Designers have better tools to measure performance so that they can get more from less.
That means you can get a lot more for $550 than you could even a couple of years ago.
Someone just starting without a ton of money can get some amazing speakers like the BOREA BR03 right out of the gate, instead of settling and immediately longing for an upgrade.
TRIANGLE released the BOREA series calling them “The new standard of quality performance for budget compact loudspeakers,” and I initially thought that was just some marketing speak. But after hooking them up to my Audiolab 6000A integrated, I said, “Wow! They may have something here!”.
First of all, I want to talk about design. TRIANGLE is known for sleek, sexy, speakers, and the BOREA BR03 bookshelf is that. The dark Walnut finish I received is super classy, plus the silver accents around the woofer and tweeter make them look more expensive than they are.
As usual, TRIANGLE finishes off the look with some fabulous chrome five-way binding posts in the rear. The reflective nameplate surrounding the binding posts adds to the stylish aesthetic.
The designers extensively brace the large cabinets to cut down on distortion caused by internal vibrations. They also use a foam gasket where the 6-inch cellulose bass driver meets the bracing to absorb vibrations coming from the transducer’s movement.
The 6-Inch cellulose paper midrange/bass driver is mated to a 25mm silk dome tweeter in a 2-way configuration. They pull the cellulose driver from the more expensive Esprit Ez series with the intent of duplicating the smooth, natural sound of those speakers.
The tweeter is ensconced in what I describe as a shallow horn loading with a silver phase plug. The combination gives the speaker a fuller sweet spot while at the same time projecting the high frequencies clearly throughout the room.
TRIANGLE uses horn-loaded tweeters a lot, and it’s evident they have become quite skilled at taking advantage of the benefits of such an arrangement while mitigating the disadvantages. I say this because, during listening tests, I didn’t hear a lot of the shoutiness I’m accustomed to hearing from horns, especially in budget designs.
When it comes to sound quality, to say I’m impressed by the BOREA BR03 is an understatement. If I had to sum up these speakers in a word, it would be “balanced.” They don’t play up any particular part of the audio spectrum; they give you what the music demands.
Their perspective is somewhat laid-back, which is nice to me, since it gives the speakers a chance to draw you in with the music, instead of being in your face all the time. It also makes them easy to match when it comes to electronics.
They pretty much sound good with any quality amp, scaling up well when you pair them with better gear.
It’s a relatively big standmount (almost 15 inches tall!) speaker designed to give you sound comparable to a floorstanding model, and while they don’t have the thump of a tower, they do dig deep.
Rated at 46hz on the low end, the BR03 gives you just enough well-controlled rumble to add sufficient weight on more bouncy tunes, while not being too boomy on songs that just need some fill-in. Port chuff is minimal when they are pushed, something I love.
The treble is nice and sweet, very smooth. The mids are also very smooth. Vocals come across clearly with a beautiful live quality.
If I had any quibbles about the BR03, it would be the soundstage, it’s not as wide as I would expect from a standmounter, but it’s wide enough when combined with the convincing imaging.
They’re not the most transparent when compared with speakers on the next level like the Kef LS50 or even their big brother the Esprit EZ, but when compared with speakers at their price point, they may be the most transparent I’ve ever heard.
I think the TRIANGLE BOREA BR03 Bookshelf Speakers are the new kings around $500. Their design, clarity, and range are head and shoulders above anything in their price range. That’s why I highly recommend them, and I am making them our product of the year in the speaker category.