It’s been nearly six years since a tall, dark, and handsomely slim pair of Coincident Total Eclipses first cast their spell on me at the 2000 Consumer Electronics Show. I couldn’t believe such fabulously fast, tight, and well-defined bass could be had from a speaker with two 10" sidefiring woofers, driven by a 24-watt tube amp. I knew then that I simply had to have a set of these highly efficient transducers, and squirreled away enough green to purchase a pair. The Total Eclipse has been my reference ever since.
I’ve now been asked to see how well the new mid-model Coincident Super Eclipse III measures up. Based on its more modest size and price, one would expect the Super Eclipse to sound similar to the top-of-theline Total, but on a somewhat lesser scale. Surprisingly, save for an extra half-octave of bass, the Super Eclipse actually sounds better than the Total—and costs $2000 less. Now that’s my kind of speaker.
While the Total Eclipse does have deeper as well as fuller bass, I could easily live with less on the bottom end in exchange for the midrange liveliness and sparkle exhibited by the Super Eclipse III. The latter’s additional impact and quickness is due, at least in part, to the use of smaller 5" midrange drivers versus the larger (and slower) 6.5" units used in the Total. The larger midrange drivers afford the Total larger-than-life images, but this comes at the expense of specificity. In comparison, the Super has a more realistic soundstage, with images that are still convincingly life-sized as well as more precisely focused.
According to designer Israel Blume, the Super Eclipse III also utilizes improved internal wiring over my earlier version Total Eclipse. Both speakers employ identical Scanspeak Revelator tweeters flanked by dual SEAS carbonfiber midrange units in a D’Appolito configuration. The Super has dual, papertreated side-firing woofers similar to those used in the Total, but smaller 8" units.
Due to the mirror-image design, the Super’s side-firing woofers can be positioned facing inwards towards each other or outwards towards the sidewalls of a room. I’ve always preferred the latter. In my experience, positioning the woofers towards each other usually results in one-note bass. Positioning the bass drivers facing outwards may require more experimentation and set-up time, especially in smaller rooms, but eliminates the homogenized bass and gives a much wider, more expansive soundstage. Of course, every listening environment is different, so it’s a good idea to try the speaker both ways to determine which configuration works best for you.
In addition to being exotic, Chesky’s Circle of Drums disc provides a superb illustration of the kind of expansiveness and “big sound” of which the Super is capable. When I listened with eyes closed, the soundstage extended nearly wall-to-wall beyond the outside of the speakers, and reached almost to the 9.5- foot ceiling of my listening room. The Super doesn’t have the kind of earthpounding bass that will chase the moles out of your backyard, but following in the tradition of all Coincident speakers the bottom end is tight, fast, and very well articulated.
The Super Eclipse does need some break-in time. Straight out of the box, it sounds a bit thin and dry. Although I let the Supers play ’round the clock for nearly two weeks, several hundred hours should be sufficient. Also, if your budget permits, I highly recommend the optional “outrigger” extender feet ($280). They not only improve overall performance, but the enhanced stability prevents the beloved family pet from launching a speaker across several tube amps and into the fireplace. (Don’t ask me how I know.)
As far as amplification goes, I’m not sure I agree with the opinion that Coincident speakers only sound good with tube gear. In my experience, it just depends on the amp. If forced to choose, I’d most likely go with tubes over solidstate, but mainly because it makes sense to take advantage of the Super’s superefficiency. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t be happy with the right solidstate amp. As it did with the recently reviewed B&W 800D [Issue 156], the Meridian G57 came through like a champ with the Super Eclipse. The G57 did a nice job of showcasing the Super’s exceptional smoothness and clarity, bass definition, top-to-bottom coherency, and dynamic potential. Truth be told, I preferred the Meridian G57 over a few of the tube amps I auditioned.
That said, the majority of my listening was via tube gear, namely the 23W Mactone MA-300B stereo triode power amp (see sidebar). I suspect that Blume may design his speakers around the 300B tube, as I haven’t experienced this caliber of tonal richness and musicality since the Tenor OTL amps came to town. I also spent time with an absolutely gorgeous pair of vintage Atma-Sphere Novacron OTL amps. Although the Novacron didn’t have quite the dynamic sizzle or lush detail of the Mactone, its gloriously full and silky smooth midrange was to die for.
While I found the Super Eclipse to be a more resolving as well as less forgiving speaker than its big brother, it was by no means brutally revealing. In fact, one of the most impressive aspects of the Super was its high level of clarity, smoothness, and sophistication. I’ve owned units costing more—the Dunlavy SC-IV comes to mind—that wouldn’t hold a candle to the Super’s refinement. The high frequencies were as clear and extended as the associated equipment would allow, with no audible smearing. The Super also has a nicely balanced topto- bottom presentation, without any obvious humps or bumps along the way.
Perhaps love is blind, but I have no complaints about the Super. I don’t even mind the no-grilles look. In fact, I prefer it. Aesthetically, covering a speaker with grille cloth is like putting hubcaps on a car—I prefer my wheels with the lug nuts showing.
The Coincident Super Eclipse III will easily outperform its $6000 price tag when it comes to smoothness, clarity, and transparency. Its impressive three-dimensionality, coherency, and midrange sparkle—combined with its bottom-end articulation and dynamic punch—more than make up for any lower-frequency extension limitations. For the tube lover, the Super’s abundant sensitivity is a dream come true. When paired with the likes of the spectacularly musical Mactone, the speaker’s richly detailed and vibrant tonal colors are absolutely stunning.
Lately, early morning has become my favorite quiet time for listening, before the chaotic onslaught of daily life rears its ugly head. Along with that initial sip of freshly ground coffee, there’s nothing quite like the sanctity of hearing Eva Cassidy’s voice wafting through the house at first light of day. I can’t tell you what an enjoyable, sanity-preserving listen the Super has been. This is one classy speaker.