“Show, don’t tell.”
It’s a mantra that’s drilled into the head of every writer by every good editor. But if you belong to neither of those professions, it may be a phrase that you don’t entirely understand. Let me give you one perfect example.
As we were preparing to tour Triad Speakers’ manufacturing facilities in Portland recently, my fellow journalists and I were given a detailed rundown of the company’s completely custom speaker-building process—how a speaker ordered today will typically be shipped in four-to-six days. How this results in very minimal inventory. How the process allows for the sort of customization for which Triad is known.
Here’s showing: about halfway through our tour of the factory, an unfinished wooden box popped out of a flap and onto a conveyor with the word “FRIDAY” stamped on it in blue. That means, we were told in an offhand manner, that this naked piece of folded and glued wood would be fitted with drivers and electronics, veneered, finished, affixed with its custom grill, packaged, and headed out for delivery on Friday.
“This coming Friday?”
“This Friday, yes.”
I glanced at my phone. It was Thursday.
Another perfect example: as we circled through the area in which speakers are veneered, one cabinet on display stood out from the pack. It was rough-hewn, rustic, course to the touch. Knotted in places. Definitely a far cry from the gorgeous sheen on the speakers surrounding it. As it turns out, the cabinet was hand-crafted for a customer who wanted a cinema system built out of reclaimed wood from an old barn.
You can listen to someone thoroughly explain the custom ordering and manufacturing process and it still doesn’t quite sink in. See a speaker built from a piece of barn in less than a week, though, and it’s hard not to get it. There’s custom, and then there’s Triad custom. And virtually every element of the manufacturing facility speaks to that ethos.
Just about every Triad speaker begins its life in this room, where a single piece of wood is cut and shaved and sculpted with computer precision into the exact shapes required to assemble the final product.
Of course, computers can’t do everything. Here, a craftsman carefully fills and sands the horn for a Triad cinema speaker until the surface is utterly flawless.
A rare look at the inside of a Triad InWall Bronze/4 Surround cabinet as it’s being folded and glued into its final form.
This OnWall LCR soundbar was crafted to perfectly match the length of its eventual owner’s TV (up to 82 inches). Why not just make its soundbars in batches, matched to the width of the most popular TVs? Because that would involve keeping an inventory of speakers on-hand, which is something Triad keeps to a minimum.
This picture was taken on Thursday, which means the raw, unfinished, driverless InRoom LCR you see here was destined to leave the factory in finished form the very next day.
You want a custom finish? Triad can give you a custom finish. Seen here is the computer screen where finishes are mixed with absolute precision to match the owner’s wants and needs.
One of the most interesting things about seeing the Triad manufacturing process in person is just how much of the construction is done by hand. Other than the cutting of the cabinets, virtually nothing in the factory is automated—likely a consequence of how many of the company’s products are truly one-off.
Speaking of “one-off,” check out this truly unique InRoom LCR, crafted from wood reclaimed from the homeowner’s barn. It’s certainly not to everyone’s taste, but Triad isn’t trying to please everyone all the time. Instead, the company focuses on the individual desires of its customers, one at a time.
Custom speakers need custom grills, of course. Here, we see one of Triad’s craftsmen inspecting the grill for a made-to-order LCR soundbar...
...and here we see him sizing and folding the grills for one of the company’s InWall speakers.
Needless to say, as fast as the manufacturing process is, no speaker leaves the Triad manufacturing facility without passing through stringent testing before it’s boxed and packed and sent out the door.
Just about the only thing Triad doesn’t make or assemble is the boxes for its speakers. That’s handled by an outside company that pre-assembles the packaging on a per-speaker basis and delivers it to the factory, where it awaits its finished product.
What factory tour would be complete without a good demo? Here, Triad’s Steve Colburn treats us to a Dolby Atmos demo powered by a 7.8.4-channel Triad speaker system, comprised of InRoom Silver LCRs (with the InRoom Silver Height Module affixed, of course) at front and back, with OnWall Silver Surrounds on the side walls and two InRoom Silver Subs in each corner. Despite the lack of dedicated in-ceiling speakers (or perhaps because of it!), the demo was one of the most seamless and cohesive object-based surround demos I’ve heard to date.