Nor are the drivers familiar, offthe- shelf units drawn from the usual suspects. Key Wilson-Benesch design goals are wide-bandwidth and consistent phase response, which has led them to adopt directly connected midrange drivers, running full-range. The smooth mechanical roll-offs such an approach demands pretty much necessitate the creation of dedicated drivers and the Trinity’s bass-mid unit is a prime example. Dubbed the W.B.One (Wide Bandwidth One) this uses a woven polymer cone (based on Isotactic Polypropylene) and a vented motor assembly, all built in-house. The tweeter is the same modified Scanspeak unit used in all the other W-B speakers, retained because Craig Milnes feels that its performance advantages (especially when it comes to interfacing with the bass/mid driver with a simple, first-order crossover) outweigh those delivered by more recent, wider bandwidth designs. Instead, he employs the increasingly common Murata super tweeter, dubbed The Sphere in W-B parlance.
Put all this together and you have a conceptually simple speaker – electrically speaking it’s about as simple as it can be – but executed with extraordinary precision and the application of considerable materials technology. But what I find really interesting is the parallels that exist between the Trinity/Torus system, the Wilson set-up and another speaker that’s impressed me recently – the Reference 3A Grand Veena.
The Duette/Trinity comparison is fairly obvious: both are high-quality standmounts with dedicated supports and the option to add a sub-woofer (extending both their bandwidth and ambition). But despite clear differences in the design of those sub-woofers, both are used in conjunction with main speakers run full-range, their respective controllers simply rolling the lowfrequencies in underneath. Likewise, both encompass (even encourage) the use of a second sub-woofer for ultimate performance. But where the WatchDog is a passive design demanding the user to provide amplification (which does allow complete electronic continuity across the full bandwidth), the Torus controller has inbuilt amplification that can be run from high or low-level inputs. Both units benefit from placing their electronic elements external to the sub-woofer cabinet proper, and given the clear audible benefits of running the WatchDog with the same amp that drives the main speakers it would be nice if the Torus could offer the same facility – especially as the controller already incorporates a (currently unfiltered) low-level output.
Similarities between the Trinity/Torus system and the Grand Veena might be less obvious but if anything are even closer: Both systems employ a direct connected, in-house midrange driver; Each use a specifically modified version of the same Scan tweeter with a first-order crossover; Both employ a Murata super-tweeter and both add extra bass to the mix to extend the system bandwidth around the clarity of that filterless mid-band.
What’s more, all these speakers are astonishingly comfortable with even quite modest amplification, a factor that changes the budget balance considerably. Excellent with basic electronics, they flourish and grow with better source and amplification components, turning traditional notions of system priorities on their head.
Do I see a theme developing here? Certainly there’s an emerging appreciation of the importance of extended bandwidth coupled to good phase and dynamic coherence. Having said that, each of these speakers is also quite distinctive, and the Trinity/Torus system is no exception. Run both as a 2.0 and a 2.1 set-up, they were used with a variety of electronics, including VAS and Emille valve amps, the Belles MB200 monoblocs, Hovland RADIA and also an Audionet Amp V, a five-channel unit supplied (and distributed) by Wilson-Benesch, allowing me to bi-amp the Trinities to great effect. Although the intrinsic adjustability of the Torus means that it has the same go-anywhere versatility that has made the Landrover a worldwide success, in practice it performs best placed between the speakers and with its “hub” the same distance from the listening position, significantly easing integration. In my dedicated listening space (dedicated in the sense that hi-fi sensibilities trump all others) that presented no problem. In less forgiving environments a less obtrusive placement is possible, while using paired subs would certainly open the possibility of less symmetrical arrangements configured to exploit the room modes. With the sub between the speakers, set-up is extremely simple; the further it (or they) strays from that position, the harder you are going to have to work. In that respect the Torus can’t rewrite the laws of subphysics – performance will be defined by the quality of the set up and integration.
Faced with any sub-woofer it’s awfully tempting to reach for the biggest, baddest discs you possess. But in fact, if you really want to understand what it is that subs bring to the musical party then what you really need is small-scale works, just a voice and a few acoustic instruments. Conversely, for a small speaker to work effectively it has to possess sufficient weight and scale to satisfy with larger works, and if the Trinity is to serve as an effective steppingstone to a full three or four box speaker system, then that’s where we need to start.