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Positive Feedback ISSUE 5
february/march 2003


j.m. reynaud

Trenté loudspeakers

as reviewed by Ed Morawski


trente.jpg (31723 bytes)





Magnapan MG12.

Plinius SA-102 amplifier and either an Audible Illusions Modulas 3 or E.A.R. 864 preamplifier.

Resolution Audio Opus 21 CD player, Aries turntable w/ JWM 10 arm and a Dynavector 20X cartridge.

Empirical Audio Clarity 7 speaker cables, Holophonic-PC interconnects, power cords.

Dedicated balanced power with Brick Wall Surge Supression.


If you happened to catch my report on CES 2003, you know there were very few things that really impressed me. I know the room acoustics are bad, but I firmly believe that gear should sound good under any circumstances. I agree it should sound better in the right environment, but it shouldn't ever sound bad. The same goes for break-in, in my opinion (as opposed to everyone else's!). Audio equipment, including speakers, should sound good out of the box and keep getting better the longer it plays. That's how I approach shows and dealer auditions. I would never take a component home hoping it will eventually sound good.

One of the CES standouts for me was the Jean-Marie Reynaud room, where they were playing a pair of Trente monitors. I was quite taken with these rather diminutive boxes. When I returned home, I discovered a dealer friend had the Reynaud line, and he gracefully provided me with a pair to audition at home. The cherry stained finish is just beautiful, and even the separate little tweeter pod on top matches the rest of the finish perfectly.

My first conundrum was the stand height. JMR sells something they call "Magic Stands," that I didn't receive, but I looked up their specs and found that they are about 28 inches high. Since the Trente is 20 inches tall, this puts the tweeter at over 48 inches, quite a distance over my head at the listening position (which is closer to 36 inches). I had a pair of metal stands that were about the same height, so I tried them. The Trentes looked a little strange towering over my head, but I proceeded. The first thing I can say is that the Trentes sounded way, way bigger than they look. Second, these are not your typical French speakers! At least they aren't like any French gear I've ever heard. No "laid back" sound here, but dynamic forcefulness tempered with balance.

As an aside, during my time with the Trentes, I was trying to decide on a permanent preamp for my system, and was blessed with the opportunity to try many units, both solid state and tube. The solid state contingent was represented by Parasound and Muse, while Audible Illusions and E.A.R. served up the tubes. The Muse, believe it or not, has been able to tame many a bright component, but is somewhat lacking in the lower-bass department, despite a massive separate power supply. The Audible Illusions, with recently acquired NOS Tungsram 6922 tubes, sounded really good with the Trentes, but the E.A.R. 864 blew them all away. (Look for a future review.)

After placing the Trentes on my 28-inch stands and about 24 inches from the back and side walls, I noticed that while the soundstage was as wide as my room, it was high. I felt as though I was front row center, looking up at the musicians. Alison Krauss and Union Station's New Favorite LP was my first test. It sounded magnificent! I had been a little afraid of the Trentes' tweeters, since they are very small and possibly metal, though I can't tell for sure. No worry there. The Trentes excelled at both ends of the musical spectrum. The highs were as clear as a country morning, with rich, mellow bass. Krauss' vocals came through in almost perfect balance to the lows and highs.

As break-in continued on the Trentes, I sneaked a listen each evening. There wasn't much change after ten or twenty hours, but at around thirty they exhibited a little sibilance on female vocals that was cured with more time and different cables. After fifty hours of play to make sure they were well exercised, I tried a few different heights and positions. At 15 inches off the floor (35 inches to the tweeter), the Trentes sounded considerably different, as the soundstage dropped right to the floor. I didn't like that at all. Using a pair of stands I had built, I cut them down to 20 inches so the Trentes would be at 44 inches. This seemed perfect, so I was now ready for a serious audition.

I love Eva Cassidy, especially the first track of Songbird, "Fields of Gold." I always visualize Michelle Kwan's ever-so-graceful skating when I hear it, but I wish Cassidy had had the benefit of a recording studio. While other speakers and components reveal every flaw in this recording, the Trentes were somewhat forgiving. I found this odd given their detail, but it was duplicated again and again with other recordings. I listened to another favorite, Lara St John's Bach Concertos, on CD, and the violins were positively soulful. St. John's passionate playing was well served by the Trentes, as they let go of every note, not holding anything back, just as St John does not hold back. If strings are one of the Trentes' strong suits, pianos are the reason for their existence. From Keiko Matsui's delicacy to Norah Jones' emotion to Diana Krall's coolness, the piano never sounded so good. There was no evidence of manufactured sound, no facsimile of music, rather a pureness of almost organic origin. My current reference speakers are Magnepan MG12s. I treasure them for their clarity of purpose and faithful reproduction of music, and I love the way they fill my small room with air and spaciousness, but now I feel my heart being tugged toward a new love. The Trentes are without a doubt the most musical speakers I have heard in a long time.

After about 100 hours, I managed to snag a pair of Magic Stands. Although they are very high, I was anxious to hear their special "Helmholtz resonator" design to see if it really had an effect on the sound. Indeed it did! With the Magic Stands, the Trentes' bass was punched up considerably. Not only was the low end more dynamic, but once I got used to the height, the highs seemed more distinct and the imaging noticeably better. Playing Alison Krauss' "So Long, So Wrong," the Trentes exhibited the strongest bass notes yet, in a superbly controlled manner. I imagine the excellent recording quality has a lot to do with it, but I was thrilled at how good it sounded.

As far as the other key components of the Trentes' music reproduction are concerned, imaging is above average, soundstage wide and not affected much by placement, and power handling more than adequate—I played them as loud as I could stand without any apparent stress. Their treble is exceptionally clear and grainless, and their bass is a perfect match for my admittedly small room. Finally, the mids are to die for, smooth and strain-free! The Trentes are very pleasing to the ears and the emotions, and exceptionally well balanced, in that no part of the audio spectrum seems to take precedence over another. The Trentes are a little pricey for monitors, but I doubt you can do much better with any speaker in their price range. Ed Morawski




Trentés: $2595/pr, cherry stained beech veneer, $2395/pr, satin black lacquer
Magic Stands: $350/pr, black

Zone Industrielle de Font Close
16300 Barbezieux - France
TEL: 33 (0) 5 45 78 09 38
web address:

US Importer:
500E. 77th Street Suite 2923
New York, NY 10162
TEL: 212. 734. 1041