Brand new Vaughn Triode Jr II speakers that have only been used for demonstration purposes here. This is the lower cost Version of the Triode III that offers 95% of the Triode III's performance at significant savings. It uses the Triode II's wide range driver that covers the critical 80 hz - 5000 hz range with a different but excellent ribbon tweeter and different 12" woofer that just gives up 4 hz of low bass extension. 97 db efficient and 8 ohms impedance allows it to work with just about any amplifier and excels with SET, and other small tube and solid state amps such as First Watt. Here is what the last Audiogon buyer of the Triode JR said right after receiving the speakers:
The Triodes arrived safely. Been trying to wrap myself around how damn fine these things sound. They are all over stuff that I had only previously thought I might have heard a hint of.
After I reorient my audio ear, I will give you a shout.
This has been a spectacular success for me. These Triodes are every thing I had hoped and more.
I want to thank you for the work and planning that it took you to come up with a product you could put your name on. The Audio world is the winner here.
See the Vaughn Loudspeakers web site for more info and check out the review of the Triode III which the Triode JR is based upon reprinted below:
Vaughn Triode Mk III Loudspeakers Review Unheard, Unknown, But Unbelievable.... Dim the Lights and Get Ready Think about a romantic evening with lights dimmed, fine wine and your honey snuggling at your side and you have an idea of how the Vaughn Loudspeakers Triode IIIs make you feel. The Triode IIIs have a very intimate presence and ease about them. I didn’t expect these little known babies to sing like they did, and compete with speakers twice their $8,000/pair price, but they did indeed. I kept saying to myself as they improved day after day, “Are you kidding me?” No loudspeaker at this price should sound this good. For those outside of this hobby that price tag may sound like a lot of “ka-ching,” but we know better now don’t we? Especially for a quality loudspeaker that does it all well from top to bottom. Excellent, smooth high frequency extension, check. Deep articulate bass, check. But their biggest strength is beautifully textured, weighty midrange, highlighting subtle nuances in vocals. A bit of toe-in and the Triode IIIs completely disappear leaving voices dead center with instruments hanging in the air. Only a low powered SET amp is needed, since there is a built-in 300 watt class-D amp driving a 12 inch subwoofer. Yet, the Triode IIIs are smooth as silk and well integrated from top to bottom. Happenstance or Serindipity I had never heard of the Vaughn Triode III speakers or even heard of the company until I saw a used NAT Plasma R preamp on the web and began exchanging emails with its owner. I happened to notice during one of those exchanges that the email was signed Jim Jordan, Vaughn Loudspeakers, so I checked out the Vaughn website. The speaker line looked interesting, especially since they consisted of high efficiency speakers using full-range drivers, but with built in amps for plenty of bass. High efficiency speakers have had a special place in my heart, since owning a pair of Audio Note ANE SPE HEs, which when paired with a nice flea powered amp takes you to audio nirvana. I was also interested in trying a speaker that incorporated a full-range driver. So I asked Jim if he would send me a pair of his speakers for review. Jim gave me the thumbs up, but explained that he was working on a new version III of his Triode model, and would have them done soon, so I waited. The Big Day Arrives The Vaughn Triode III speakers arrived a few months later and to my great delight they were not only rock solid in construction but beautiful to behold. The exotic bamboo finish with inlaid accents on some edges was attractive, but as I mentioned to Jim, I would have preferred the same bamboo on the fronts. However, I really didn’t mind the marbleized laminate finish that came on the front of the review sample, but just liked the Bamboo better. “Hmmm…” I thought as I unpacked the speakers. If these speakers sound half as good as they look and felt I was in for a treat. The Triode IIIs did not disappoint. Especially when I figured out that I needed to turn on the built-in subwoofer, which I thought would automatically come on in the standby mode. Initial Impressions are Telling Once I had the speakers correctly up and running I was immediately struck by their gorgeous midrange. And this was fresh out of the boxes. What was to come was nothing short of breathtaking. While it took a fairly substantial break-in period (300 plus hours) for the Triodes III to really sing, once they were broken in I was awestruck by the extreme musicality of the speakers. While the top end and bass were exceptionally good, the midrange absolutely took the cake. Surprisingly, the voices were textured and palpable, and the nuances in vocals were mesmerizing, even right out of the box. How many hours do these bad boys have on them? Only 50? Impossible. In fact, they sounded so good from the get go, that I couldn’t resist the temptation to drop the needle on some vinyl. My first exploration of what the Triodes could do with vinyl was with Van Morrison’s regular commercial pressing of Common One. I was taken aback by the articulation in the bass on the first track of side one, “Haunts of Ancient Peace.” And the distinguishable inflections in Van’s voice were impressive even when compared to some tough competition, such as the far more expensive Revel Salon 2s, Sun Union Dragon Princes, and the ultra-revealing rebuilt vintage Quad ESL 63s. So, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. I couldn’t wait to put some time on these babies, since they already sounded more than decent without yet settling in from shipping across the country. I was drawn into my listening room day after day to get another taste, even though I wanted to wait until full break-in… and it kept getting better as the days went by. Where would it end? Uhhh, do I really have to send these babies back? Maybe not. Besides, I justified to myself, these speakers are way smaller, and lighter than my main two sets of speakers , even at over 100 pounds apiece. And they sound pretty good, nah, much better than good, particularly in the mids and pretty close to other tough competition in other respects, and they need more break-in. How can that be? The anticipation of how much better these speakers could get was killing me. It Keeps Getting Better After about 100 hours of break-in, the Triode IIIs sounded so musical that I kept running upstairs to my reference system to see if I was imagining how good these speakers were or if they really did sound more musical than I remember. CD after CD confirmed my initial impression that the Triode IIIs were more engaging than my three times more expensive reference speakers. Perhaps they were not as refined sounding but they were more engaging and simply drew you into performance after performance. With about 200 hours on the Triode IIIs, one of my favorite female vocalists, Eva Cassidy, entered the picture, and boy did she ever. I was mesmerized by the interaction of Eva’s voice with the acoustic guitar on “Water is Wide,” track 3 of the American Tune CD. And as “God Bless the Child” began I was floored by the inflections and subtle nuances of Eva’s songbird voice. I was transported to the performance and forgot about the review. What more can I say. I had to stop taking notes and just listen and then listen again to take down my critical listening points. As the guitar solo began I could hear the echo of the venue; probably the studio walls. I was so drawn into the performance that I had to snap myself out of a trance after the echo from the pluck of the last guitar note. Track after track I was pulled into the musical performance, transporting me from my listening room into the enjoyment of the music. Little did I know, the fun was just beginning, as the first amps, heavily modded vintage Eico HF 60s (about 50 wpc into the 8 ohm load of the Triode IIIs) were great, but the sound would soon get much better with other amps I had on hand. Let the Serious Listening Begin Once the Triode IIIs had about 300 hours on them, and they seemed to reach maximum improvement from break-in, I hunkered down for some serious critical listening. First with the Eico HF 60s, then a prototype of the new 9 wpc Wavelength Duetta v3 Stereo 300B SET amp ($5k) that Vaughn sent along with the speakers. The Triode IIIs were voiced with a Wavelength amp, so I suspected they would sound good together. But, what I didn’t expect was how good they would sound. These babies were really singing with the Duetta. But after a day of listening I decided to try some toe-in (pointing about a foot to each side of my ears) and was immediately floored by how much the speakers did a disappearing act. The singers were now more focused with the voices dead center and instruments hanging in space around the room. It was shocking how much album after album sounded like live music not just good music coming through speakers. The Duetta added weight and texture to the midrange that was not there to the same extent with Eicos. And the presentation was ohhh sooo relaxed. Sweet. I Put the Triodes Through Their Paces and They Rose to the Occasion Enter the new Carver Cherry 180M mono blocks (200 watts @ 8 Ohm, 230 watts @ 4 Ohm and 215 watts @ 2 Ohm) that had recently arrived for review. Why not give them a listen since I wanted to put some break-in time on them. But, I did not expect what happened next. A whole new level of details, nuance and weighty depth and warmth not previously present to the same extent as with the low power SET amp. Yeah the SET was excellent and was admittedly more intimate sounding and its power more suited to the Triode IIIs, but the Cherry180Ms in some respects seemed to propel the Triode IIIs to a different stratosphere. Lovely warmth with detail gently flowing into the room, like with the Duetta but with an added umph. More weight and texture. Wooo. One caveat from the much more powerful Cherries is that I had much less control of the volume especially through the remote since a small touch would jump the volume substantially on my NAT Plasma R preamp. So, owners of Triodes would likely want to go with a lower powered amp like the Duetta for maximum flexibility. Weeks later when the Carver Cherry 180Ms were fully broken in they really made the Triode IIIs sing. Stay tuned, a full review of the Cherries will be forthcoming. But, the bottom line with the Triodes was they sounded great with both a flea powered stereo amp and a pair of powerful tube mono blocks. So how about on a medium powered amp you might ask? Surprise, surprise, surprise, as Gomer Pyle once said. The next test for the Triode IIIs was the moderately powered, but fabulously articulate VAC 30/70 Renaissance Mk III Signature Mono Blocks. The VACs are push pull amps putting out 70 wpc, but the nice thing about them is they have negative feedback controls that effectively reduce the volume sensitivity, if needed, and are loaded with wonderful vintage tubes; four Western Electric 300Bs per side driven by two Ken Rad VT 231s with two RCA VT231s as input tubes. The result is a surprisingly articulate, detailed but refined sound for tube amps, with a wide and deep soundstage. I just didn’t expect the Triodes to be able to convey the attack, sustain and decay of notes that the VACs are capable of conveying on much more expensive speakers. I was wrong. On track 11, “Tired,” of Adele’s 19 CD, my mouth was literally hanging open on the bass notes and how precisely they were communicated with both weight and articulation. Two days later after the VACs settled in from the move into the basement listening area, and with 5 hours of continuous warm up I wandered down to give a listen and almost fell off my chair. The Amy Winehouse Frank CD was playing and the bass on track 10, October Song, was so tuneful and distinct, something I thought was heretofore a bit lacking from the Triode IIIs. Not anymore baby. On the next track 11, What Is It About Men, the music was so engaging that as I started to take notes I had to stop typing and just listen, getting drawn in by Amy’s voice and its unique inflections. Then I heard the reverberations of instruments that I never previously noticed on this CD, hanging in the air, no speakers just instruments. Pretty cool. How much are these speakers? Really?! So musical, so involving, so un-box-like. My legs were moving to the beat, as I was continuously pulled into the music, track after track. One of the last tracks ended with the announcer giving directions to the doors, which took me right into the venue with trumpet playing in the background and the snare drum hanging in the air. Was it time to leave? Nah, I want to start the CD from the first track. So I did. Many little nuances on Amy’s Frank CD literally jumped out that I never heard before. Where was all this stuff? I didn’t remember hearing most of it on my reference speakers which are way more expensive. Perhaps they were subtly in the background, but I just didn’t remember the details coming out this way. From the crispness of the snapping noises, to the kick of the bass drum, track 2, “You Sent Me Flying,” highlighted the resonance of Amy’s tone. Again, I didn’t recall hearing into the music with the voices like this before on my reference speakers. I closed my eyes and just took it all in; then pulled myself back out so I could take some more notes… musical… real music in space,… lots of air around the instruments… speakers gone and just hearing the music, etc. etc. etc. Back to the feet moving… I really like these speakers… end of notes, back to listening. More distinct note interplay on track 3 between kick drum and sticks hitting the top edge, then in comes that articulate bass, lots of stuff going on here and I hear it all in a new vibrant and distinct way. But, not over the top or edgy way, very musical….like live music… Next up, “When you walk in the bar And you’re dressed like a star” Amy was singing while I am looking around for something else to throw into my CD player, but wait…I stop in my tracks as the guitar comes in on track 5 (Know You Know), then Amy’s voice and they are both right in the room. I hear the reverberation of the strings yet again. Pretty sweet. All I hear is music baby and I like what I hear…as I floundered through the stacks of CDs another song comes on and draws me in yet again. “There is no greater love than what I feel for you…” is just beautiful, as the flute floats in and out, then the Sax. The interplay is just gorgeous so my eyes close again. Amy’s voice is dead center and so involving. I love the mids. The rest is really good but the midrange is to die for. And this is not really an especially well recorded CD, so I know the best is yet to come. And it did on every well recorded CD I threw into my player. But, the remarkable thing was that even the ok CDs sounded excellent, with a hint of warmth thrown in for good measure, which seemed to hide the edginess of not so good CDs. Weeks later when I was sure that the Triode IIIs were completely broken in, I decided to do head to head listening between the Wavelength Duettav3 and the much more expensive VAC mono blocks. While the music experience was great on both, I consistently noted on vinyl after vinyl and CD after CD that the VACs could be characterized as more on the articulate side of the equation, while the Duetta was more laid back and in the euphonic camp. I liked both and they both definitely had their strengths, but I believe that the ultimate decision on which amp is better with the Triodes is really a matter of personal preference for the type of sound you may prefer long term. I personally leaned toward the Duetta because I prefer a warmer more relaxed presentation. But, every time I fired up the VACs I was happy to hear all the subtle nuances brought a bit more forward, and the attack, sustain and decay of notes being more readily discernible. These were details that were just not that noticeable with the Duetta. I really enjoyed hearing the Triode IIIs sing, albeit in different ways, with both amps. So, in the end, perhaps with speakers as good and chameleon-like as the Triode IIIs, you might like to have your cake and eat it too by having the flexibility of having several high quality amps on hand to change the sound character based on your mood for the week. What I noticed as the most distinct impression left by the Triode IIIs was their extremely musical relaxed character and beautiful midrange. No matter which amp I mated with them, the Triode IIIs did a virtual disappearing act after they were properly toed in, leaving only the music for your listening pleasure. What could be better? That is why the Triode IIIs are a very easy speaker for me to wholeheartedly recommend. Even better, Vaughn offers a free in home trial, so you may want to bit the bullet and give the Triode IIIs a listen if you are in the market for a speaker anywhere near this price range. I suspect you won’t be disappointed. Jim Jordan, founder of Vaughn Loudspeakers, was a pleasure to deal with and was always responsive to my questions. He provided me with the history of how he started Vaughn, and his design philosophy, which I have provided below in its entirety for your reading pleasure. Happy listening!!!