In practice, the system brings film soundtracks to life in ways lesser systems cannot. A great example occurs in the spectacular "Echo Game" scene from Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers [Sony]. In that scene, an ostensibly blind dancer poses in the center of a ring of stand-mounted drums, waiting for a challenger to fling hardened beans against first one, and later more, of the drumheads. After the drums sound, a team of percussionists starts to play, and the dancer's challenge is to improvise a dance in which she uses the weighted sleeves of her costume to slap precisely those drumheads struck by the challenger's initial throw. The sound design of this scene is extraordinary, using almost every sonic trick in the book to suggest the difference between the dancer's and the audience's point of view. Because the blind dancer depends upon hyperacute hearing to "see" her surroundings, she hears the start of the game with a heightened sense of timbre, dynamics, and especially spatial localization— all of which are captured in the sound design. Here, the Odyssey Major system does a stunning job, revealing the difference between the dancer's and the audience's soundscapes— and leaving many listeners wide-eyed with astonishment. Lesser systems won't reproduce all the subtleties this scene offers, and once you hear a soundtrack this sophisticated through a speaker system this good, you won't want to settle for less.
But what about Triangle's claim that the Odyssey system serves music lovers, too? Does that hold up? I certainly thought so when I listened to some favorite multichannel (and stereo) music recordings through the system. On Babatunde Olatunji's aptly named Circle of Drums [Chesky, Multichannel SACD], the Odysseys delineated the distinct timbres of each of the drums within Olatunji's ensemble, placing each instrument in a precise location within a broad soundstage encircling the listener. In fact, this "disappear-and-let-the-imaginghappen" quality—more than perhaps any other—drew favorable comments from impressed guest listeners. And this system also appealed in much the same way that fine stereo systems do. On the classic Heifetz/Chicago/Hendl recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto [RCA/Living Stereo SACD], the Odysseys reproduced the tone of Heifetz's violin with great clarity yet almost heartbreaking sweetness, and placed the orchestra (whose sound was beautifully weighted and balanced) on a broad, deep stage behind the soloist; the sound reminded me of listening to LPs through a good stereo system. My point is that the Odyssey Major really is a credible music sys-tem, not just a system for films.
Indeed, I found myself comparing the Odyssey Major to Von Schweikert Audio's similarly-priced award-winning System 12 (which I consider a valuefor- money champ in this price range). The comparison was instructive, because the systems offered contrasting sets of virtues. In general, the Odyssey sounded slightly more vivid and well defined (but with those infrequent hints of edginess), while the Von Schweikert system sounded smoother and offered wider dispersion, yet could have used a little more resolution. Down low, the Triangle subwoofer produced marginally clearer mid-bass than the Von Schweikert subwoofer, but overall the Von Schweikert sub offered greater power, control, and extension. I do think a system in this price class deserves a subwoofer with more power and bass extension than Triangle's Meteor 0.1 offers (might Triangle someday substitute its larger Meteor 0.1.5 sub without a price increase?). Finally, Von Schweikert's robust, wood-veneered speaker enclosures seemed better finished than Triangle's, but the Odyssey enclosures were nevertheless attractive (featuring piano-black end caps with wood-grain vinyl-clad side panels) and allowed for wall-mounting (which Von Schweikert's rear-vented L/R/C speakers do not). You could build a strong case for either, but the best news is that Triangle is finally offering Von Schweikert (and others) serious competition at this price.
For those building "convergence" systems that must perform well on music and films, Triangle's Odyssey Major system stands as a "must hear before you buy something else" option. Its warm, lively sound serves music faithfully, and brings film soundtracks to life as few others in this price range can