Playing everything from Elgar to Rimsky-Korsakov, the Trinities faired surprisingly well on even the most bombastic works. Even the explosive pyrotechnics of the shipwreck from the Reiner Scheherezade were delivered with an enthusiasm that belies the size of the tiny cabinets, clarity, speed and positional precision off-setting the lack of real low-frequency power, the sheer speed of the dynamic response making up for a lack of genuine heft. Of course, the results depend on the matching amplifier, as with any small speaker, and here the benefits of bi-amping the Trinities with the modestly priced Audionet really came into their own, maximizing the crisp dynamics and surprising sense of substance, making this an astonishingly cost effective combination. Indeed, the extending, grumbling bass passage that opens the Gorecki 3rd Symphony showed a measured sense of swelling power, of even ebb and flow that escapes many a larger speaker, while the immediacy of a small-scale track like Bill Malonee’s ‘Solar System’ has a tactile intimacy and lucid clarity that talks straight to the listener. Nonetheless, moving up to the RADIA or Belles mono-blocs produced a greater sense of foundation and richer tonal balance, a deeper, more woody tone from the bowed basses in the Gorecki, more chest from Bill, a more emphatic thwack from the snare – at a not inconsiderable increase in price, it has to be said.
Even so, the volume and dimensionality that these amps bring to images, the warmth and easy pace they deliver, really brings a track like ‘Solar System’ right into the room. Malonee’s guitar becomes a living, vibrant thing, its harmonic signature comprised of so much more than just the strings, while the space around and behind him goes a long way to conjuring a believable sense of presence (and not a little personality). As stepping stones go, the Audionet provides a pretty firm footing, but with a speaker that possesses the lucid clarity and resolution, the poise and precision of the Trinity, the added scale and more sophisticated tonality delivered by bigger amps is readily apparent, actually making the satellites an even more credible standalone option. So, perhaps you don’t need a Torus at all? Spend the money on a bigger, better amp and you’ll be laughing? Errr… not exactly; in fact, not even close…
performance commanding your attention, gripping you deep inside. Yes, you get more bass – but it’s what the system does with it (or what it allows the system to do) that’s more important than the simply presence of quantity.
Which brings us naturally to the question of quality. The Torus goes very, very deep – especially for a unit that’s so compact (I’m not sure any sub can really claim the label “elegant” but the Wilson Benesch gets way closer than most) but what’s really impressive is the transparency, harmonic detail and texture of the notes it produces. The familiar, deep, pellucid drops of the bass riff that opens the Cure’s magnum opus Faith, have a shape and attack that I’ve heard only rarely indeed, and then from speaker systems at many times the price of the Trinity and Torus. And I include the Trinity advisedly; when so much of the melody is both carried and driven by the bass guitar, pitch and placement of the notes becomes super critical, a quality that comes from the top-end extension provided by the sphere, as well as the phase coherence of the system as a whole. Faith can be sluggish, even turgid on way too many systems, yet there’s no ignoring the driving urgency and frenetic insistence of a track like ‘Primary’ – just so long as you get the bass right. Here, those rapid, chopped chords, played low on the neck have a tangible solidity and purpose, propelling the track to its inevitable, off-beat, off-key, off-kilter finale. At no point across the album do proceeds lag. The space that envelops ‘Other Voices’, the multi-textured layers of ‘Faith’ itself, the craft that’s gone into Mike Hedges’ production, all are effortlessly unraveled, to the benefit of these tight and carefully woven songs. Just listen to the spatial array created by the drum pattern that opens ‘All Cats Are Grey’ and you’ll hear exactly what I mean. Even in their richer, warmer, more expansive mode with the bigger amps, adding the Torus to the mix produces a far from subtle increase in quality and performance. For the first minute of the Bill Malonee track there are no bass fundamentals to speak of, just acoustic guitar, voice and snare. Yet, adding the Torus transforms the timing and integration of the instruments. The picked melody is more fluid, quicker and more sinuous, the snare more snappy and insistent, the space around the instruments much more apparent, with walls and a floor. Suddenly the music takes on a feeling of underlying urgency that dovetails perfectly with the lyrics. Now, anybody who has played with subs before should be far from surprised by this – at least if they got a sub to work properly. Time and again people expect a sub to add more whereas what it actually does is deliver more, a nice but crucial difference. So, if we look at the Bill Malonee track, what we’re hearing from the increased bandwidth is a greater sense of spatial and temporal accuracy; things are happening when and where they should. Actually, to some extent they always were, it’s just that now you can hear that much more clearly. So yes, when you play that long, meandering opening passage from the Gorecki you’ll hear more weight and texture from the basses, the floor and walls of the auditorium, but it’s the added sense of shape, direction and purpose that’s more important, the dark, brooding tension that hangs behind the music. Without it the opening bars quickly drag, the attention wanders, the music meanders… Add the sub and you’ll be riveted to your seat, the brooding menace of the I’ve always been aware of it, always loved its ability to catch the attention. What I’ve never been aware of before is the way it evolves throughout this haunting track – a bit like hearing McCoy Tyner’s piano artistry emerging from ‘My Favorite Things’ for the first time, something the Trinity and Torus also unravel with consummate ease (and thanks DDD, the mono pressing is fantastic!).