Hugo Decelle, Owner and Manager of the company TRIANGLE.
How and when did you come to Triangle?
I arrived at Triangle in September 2011 with the project at the time to set up offices in Asia. I had just finished my studies, this project had a taste of adventure and exoticism that I liked. In the end the reality was quite different and in mid 2012 I joined the head office in Soissons for a very different adventure. At that time the former team was leaving for TRIANGLE and my mission was to support all operational aspects of the company to ensure its transition. This led me to a much larger and longer adventure than I could have imagined. I went through all the departments: logistics, procurement, marketing, sales. I had the chance to travel, not to Los Angeles or to tropical beaches, but to warehouses, factories and trade shows to understand all the aspects of our business and to understand what this strange market of high-fidelity is all about. A market that mixes economic reality with the affections and passion of a community that fundamentally loves what they do.
How was the father/son transmission?
Looking back and thinking about the events that led to his withdrawal from society, I think I was very lucky. In a Transmission of this kind there are three stages: training, joint management and withdrawal. The training was difficult but pleasant, there are so many things to discover and so many things to do that one forgets, the difficulties, fatigue and stress. With time we just remember what we learned and what made us progress. The period of common management is the most difficult, we reach maturity, it is time to make our decisions and to put forward our convictions and often they are different between father and son. This period had to be temporary at all costs because otherwise I wouldn’t have lasted. It’s too hard to mix the emotional and the rational, the private and the public. Moreover, you never behave the same way with a colleague, a boss and the man who raised you.
And one day in 2015 when we were debating an umpteenth divergence for the umpteenth time, he made the decision to retire and leave me alone. I admire that decision because I know it’s a difficult one. I, in turn, have to trust men and women who manage whole sections of the company and letting go is an extremely difficult thing for me.
When you arrived, how did you manage to manage the «Renaud de Vergnette legacy», (the creator editor’s note), while assuming your choices? Did you have to go through a period of observation?
Part 1: the finish
It was hard! At the beginning there was a certain nostalgia for the man but it was not very exacerbated because he had left the company in 2007, 4 years before my arrival. What we faced was nostalgia for the good old days, for a good period when the company was bigger, with more people and where there was a certain serenity in the future. To understand Triangle it makes us understand where we come from. We are from Picardy, a region that prospered before being hit hard by the crisis and deindustrialization. When it came to plant closures, Soissons was on the front line and that was a hard blow for all those who now live and work in that region. It was necessary to convince people internally, to prove that the game was not over, that a lot still had to be done. Except that in Picardy, rhetoric does not work, it is through work, self-sacrifice and time that one proves oneself. It’s only after 5 years that I had real legitimacy with the team.
Part 2: The Renaud de Vergnettes legacy. However all his difficulties are only temporary and Renaud’s true legacy is intangible. His legacy is the Triangle brand, it’s 40 years of work, passion, whole generations who fell under the charm of these speakers and who keep today a moving memory of their Hifi system. And this heritage there it is not managed, it is taken with gratitude and humility. For my part, my role is now to guide the company on a path that preserves the values, the specificities in short the essence of the brand while adapting with this profound change that the market has been undergoing for years. And for this reason I try to remain attentive and not to keep any preconceived ideas.
What are the major axes of the Triangle personality? Do you wish to make them evolve with time, and if so, how?
I don’t think that I would not wish or be able to change TRIANGLE’s personality. TRIANGLE has a romantic personality, which means that our choices are guided more by our emotions than by reason or technical criteria. We work to design products that touch us from a musical point of view but also aesthetically because both aspects are vectors of emotions. Renaud de Vergnettes is an aesthete and he has always developed products with the sensitivity that characterizes him. This has given birth to dynamic, lively loudspeakers that give pride of place to a wide sound stage. This to be taken then to these loudspeakers and this so particular sound identity.
And I won’t change that because we are touching on a crucial point that makes High Fidelity unique compared to other markets. It is that through the product and the sound expresses a will and an act, not just a product to make money or follow a market trend. So my goal is to preserve this identity, to pass it on to the new team member and to ensure that each product, even if it differs from traditional loudspeakers, has this identity. Work is now being done on how more modern speakers with integrated amplification and networking capabilities will in turn be able to express all these aspects of the TRIANGLE identity. The AIO loudspeaker is a first step in this direction and we will continue to work on it.
On what fundamental criteria is Triangle different from its competitors?
As I said before, it is this personality and sound identity that sets us apart from other loudspeaker manufacturers. It is from this that all the specificities of TRIANGLE loudspeakers are derived.
What type(s) of technology do you use?
Over the last forty years a lot of technology has been developed to ensure increasingly accurate sound reproduction in line with our identity.
We could talk about a lot of things but I always like to mention three technological choices and three orientations that make Triangle sound what it is today:
1 / Tweeter horn:
We favour the use of a TRIANGLE single horn tweeter. It’s a titanium dome combined with a compression chamber (horn) which favours high efficiency and very little distortion. A lot of work is also done on the phasing part to reduce the effects of the directivity of the horn and to ensure an optimal dispersion of the high frequencies in the room.
2 / The use of Paper on the mids
Since the creation of Triangle, we have been favouring paper-membrane midrange speakers that give such a natural reproduc-tion of the human voice. The Medium is a key point in the sound history of Triangle and a particular importance is given to this loudspeaker. We are working to develop increasingly lighter and stronger paper diaphragms and new generations of small-pleat suspension systems that provide excellent control of speaker movement and high precision.
3/ Fast and accurate bass
We have always favoured fast and dynamic speakers. We use reasonably sized speakers that emphasize fast, clean bass with material. The midrange comes out more transparent and natural. We use several technologies depending on the range but always with this importance in the control and speed of the loudspeaker.
Triangle has a strong tradition of innovation and modernity, while retaining certain virtues of the past (high yield, compression….) Is this compatible with the development of more «mainstream» products aimed at a more general public?
Of course! We must never forget that we are acousticians. Our job is to work on loud-speakers and cabinetwork with a certain field of constraints (size, volume, budget…) and to make a musical object capable of conveying the emotion of music. Our work can therefore be applied to any type of loudspeaker as long as they reach a sufficient level of quality according to our standards. The «mainstream» products inform us about the evolution of music listening and TRIANGLE is there to accompany and be inspired by these evolutions but always offering a quality of manufacture and an acoustic quality superior to what is done in the « mainstream « products. For the moment the active loudspeaker market is still limited to price levels too low to apply all the technologies of high-end loudspeakers but this is changing. Every year the market is ready to spend more and more money to buy higher quality connected speakers. We are therefore working on future models over the next few years that will incorporate more of the above technologies.
11 years after the takeover, what is your assessment of the brand’s activity?
Very positive! The company is doing well, it is financially healthy and a new team brings a new dynamism to the TRIANGLE adventure. However, the challenges remain immense. The audio industry, and more particularly the High-Fidelity industry, has been undergoing profound changes for years. We have to be very attentive to understand these evolutions and meet the expectations of this new generation of the 21st century, connected, mobile and in search of experience and not of good consumption. But we won’t give up for anything in the world, we are doing what we love and these challenges are pushing us forward, which is very positive.
What is the France/Export sales ratio?
50/50. Triangle has historically been more present on the French market. We are working to develop sales in other key markets in Europe, North America and also in Asia. It is now essential to cover all these markets because more than the commercial potential, it allows us to define fundamental trends that are expressed simultaneously in China, the USA and France.
How many products do you manufacture per year?
The quantity of products changes according to the levels of the years and our inventory levels. To give you an order of magnitude we sold 25,000 speakers last year.
Is the manufacturing still 100% French?
All development and engineering is carried out in France in our workshops in Soissons. Each loudspeaker and each technology is developed by Triangle according to precise specifications. We are a small manufacture (18 people) and we have therefore decided to manufacture the top-of-the-range Signature / Magellan series in France and to entrust the production of our other products to subcontractors in Asia. We have our own quality team based on site ensuring that all products meet TRIANGLE quality standards. The reason is that in our opinion Triangle’s added value comes from its acoustic expertise, its R&D department and all the engineering that goes into developing and manufacturing high quality loudspeakers. We have decided to focus on this more than on building new assembly lines.
What type of electronics do you use in your developments?
It’s a highly political issue. We always try to use a wide range of amplifiers for our listening and comparison purposes. What we try to do and always listen to with the current amplifiers on the market is to put ourselves in the shoes of a new customer who is going to buy his system. We will therefore listen to the range speakers with Nad, Marrantz, Yamahaa, Onkyo…. Then we will test our superior models with Primare, Musical Fidelity, Cambrige, Unison Research, Hegel and even Naim. Then on the very top of the range we will switch to accuphase, Pass lab, audio research… In short each time we try to listen to our speakers with a concern of price coherence and with current amplifiers.
What’s your personal system like?
I can tell you which one I’d like to set up because I’m in the middle of moving. I’m thinking of leaving on two-way monitors which, in my opinion, offer a more harmonious and balanced restitution even if we lose in the low frequencies. Probably a pair of Duetto.
The reflection is now on the integrated amplifier, I must decide between a musical Fidelity and an Accuphase. For the source I’m more streamer than CD or vinyl, but I haven’t yet found the product I like the most, I’m still looking for it.
What will be the next new Triangle products?
A lot of things are in the pipes right now. At the end of 2018, we launched the AIO 3, our first multiroom loudspeaker, and we are now in the process of rolling out this technology in a series of products that will be released during 2019. At the same time we are about to launch a new series of entry-level loudspeakers replacing our current Elara range. And last but not least, something important is happening on the top end of the range, I can’t tell you more but it should happen if all goes well towards the end of 2020.