GoldenEar BRX (Bookshelf Reference X) loudspeaker

Loudspeaker manufacturer GoldenEar Technology was founded in 2010 by a team led by Sandy Gross, who over the decades was responsible for a succession of affordable high-performance loudspeakers from Polk and Definitive Technology (footnote 1). Gross continued that tradition with GoldenEar: Even the company's flagship, the Triton Reference, which I favorably reviewed in January 2018, was priced a couple of dollars short of $8500/pair. (GoldenEar was acquired by The Quest Group, the parent company of cable company AudioQuest, in January 2020; Gross continued with the brand as president emeritus.)

When Stereophile Editor Jim Austin asked if I would be interested in reviewing GoldenEar's new stand-mounted design, the BRX (for Bookshelf Reference X), which is competitively priced at $1599/pair, I was interested to find out if what I had liked about the brand's floorstanding models had trickled down.

The BRX
"Trickle down" is the appropriate term: The BRX does indeed feature technology from GoldenEar's Triton Reference. The 6" polypropylene-cone woofer is basically the same as the Triton Reference's upper-bass/midrange driver, with its cast basket, low-mass voice-coil, and what GoldenEar calls a Focused Field magnet structure, designed to better direct the magnetic flux into the voice-coil gap. However, the BRX's implementation of this drive-unit has a conventional dustcap rather than the ribbed pole-piece extension featured in the Reference. The BRX woofer is reflex-loaded with a pair of 6.5" flat passive radiators, one mounted on each sidewall so that their reactive forces cancel.

The BRX's tweeter is the HVFR (High-Velocity Folded Ribbon) unit used in the Triton Reference. This driver, which uses a neodymium magnet, is a development of the Air-Motion Transformer that was invented by the late Oskar Heil in the 1970s. An aluminum voice-coil is deposited on a plastic substrate, and the resulting diaphragm is folded into accordion-style pleats. When current is passed through the conductors, air is squeezed in and out of the pleats, generating sound. The Heil patent expired in 2004, and variations of this high-sensitivity drive-unit are now used by a number of speaker brands. The crossover is said by GoldenEar to use a "floating" configuration utilizing high-quality film capacitors, and electrical connection is via a recessed pair of binding posts on the speaker's rear panel.

Like all the GoldenEar models, the BRX, which is manufactured in China, features an immaculate high-gloss, piano-black lacquer finish. The cabinet is wider at the rear than it is at the front, and its base is fitted with rubber feet. A small lip at the bottom of the front baffle supports the magnetically attached, black metal-mesh grille.

Setup
I initially sat the GoldenEars on the 24" Celestion stands that I use for bookshelf speakers, these placed where the similar-sized KEF LS50s have worked best in my room. However, with the 24" stands, I found that I needed to slump in my seat to get the optimal mid-treble balance from the BRXes. I replaced the Celestion stands with the Sanus SF30 stands recommended by Sandy Gross. These 30" twin-pillar stands placed my ears just below the tweeter axis, which was 38" from the floor with the stands fitted with carpet-piercing spikes.

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The upper bass was a little lighter-balanced with the GoldenEars on the taller stands than it had been on the shorter Celestion stands, so I experimented with positioning. The woofer of the left-hand BRX ended up 30" from the LPs that line the nearest sidewall; the right-hand speaker's woofer was 39" from the bookshelves that line its sidewall. Both woofers were 72" from the wall behind them. I couldn't place the speakers any closer to the wall due to a raised platform behind the right-hand BRX that leads to the vestibule.

The BRXes were toed in to point directly at the listening position. Although I had filled the pillars of my Celestion stands with a mix of sand and lead shot to damp resonances, the Sanus stand's pillars are empty and not easily filled. The Sanus stands decouple the top plate from the pillars with cork washers; I added my usual pads of Blu Tack between the BRX's base and the stand's top plate and damped the pillars by resting cloth bags filled with lead shot against their bases.

Listening
Once I had finalized the positions of the GoldenEar BRXes, I started my serious listening, driving the speakers first with the Parasound Halo JC 1+ monoblocks that I reviewed in the June 2020 issue, then with the NAD M10 integrated amplifier that I purchased after my review in January. Initially, I didn't use the grilles, but I found later that the mid-treble balance was usefully a tad less forward-sounding with the grilles in place.

The dual-mono pink noise track on my Editor's Choice CD (Stereophile STPH016-2) acquired a bit of low-treble emphasis if I sat so that I could see the tops of the cabinets, but it sounded evenly balanced, uncolored, and smooth when I sat with my ears just below the BRXes' tweeters. With the grilles on, the central image of the noise signal was extremely narrow, with no splashing to the sides at any frequency. When I removed the grilles, a little more "Vertical Venetian Blind" effect was audible when I moved from side to side (footnote 2), the opposite of what I was expecting.

The BRXes reproduced the 1/3-octave warble tones on Editor's Choice with good weight down to the 50Hz band. The 40Hz tone was just audible, as was the 32Hz tone, which got some help from the lowest-frequency mode in my room. The 25Hz and 20Hz warbles were inaudible. The half-step–spaced low-frequency tonebursts on Editor's Choice spoke cleanly down to 50Hz, with no emphasis of any of the tones. When I listened to the speakers' top panels with a stethoscope while these tones played, I could hear some low-level vibrational modes between 256Hz and 512Hz. Overall, the enclosure is well-damped, however.


Footnote 1: Interviews with Gross can be found here and here.

Footnote 2: Also known as picket-fencing. See the entry in J. Gordon Holt's Glossary.

COMPANY INFO
The Quest Group dba GoldenEar Technology
2621 White Rd.
Irvine, CA 92614
(949)790-6000
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Bogolu Haranath's picture

As a less expensive alternative to Parasound JC1+, one of the good choices would be the Mark Levinson 5805 integrated amp ...... Stereophile measurements show ML 5805 can handle 2 Ohm loads :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Thank you JA2 for reviewing the ML 5805 and doing the 'heavy lifting' :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1 should include the ML 5805 as one of his reference (integrated) amplifiers as a part of his reference amplifier arsenal :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is it possible for JA1 to do the EPDR measurements in retrospect, for at least some of the class-A speakers? ...... The impedance and phase measurements are already available for those speakers :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1 says, "I don't have time for that EPDR measurements ..... Go buy the Parasound JC1+ amps" ....... Just kidding .... Just kidding :-) .......

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
Is it possible for JA1 to do the EPDR measurements in retrospect, for at least some of the class-A speakers?

I have started doing that. The Volti Razz review now has the EPDR figures - https://www.stereophile.com/content/volti-audio-razz-loudspeaker-measurements - and I will be adding more as time goes by.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture
Thank you JA1 ...... You are a gentleman and a scholar :-)
Bogolu Haranath's picture

TG liked the sound of Volti Razz speakers better with the Bel Canto e1X amp ...... EPDR measurements explain the reason in a better way :-) .......

Anton's picture

I love 'stand mounts.'

They make for easy in n' out for switching speakers, which makes for awesome shoot outs!

These seem like winners.

I've been ogling the Legacy Calibre, too.

I also watch for Sonus Faber Extremas, but the have simply refused to depreciate worth a damn!

Thanks again for this review. Any chance you will keep it around for more comparisons?

Last question: Would have any working memory of the Crystal Cable Arabesque speaker for a few comparison comments?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Crystal Cable Arabesque speakers ($20,000/pair) are certainly memorable for their looks :-) .......

Anton's picture

Good work, man.

;-D

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Another audio component whose beauty is only skin deep :-) ........

John Atkinson's picture
Anton wrote:
Thanks again for this review.

You're welcome.

Anton wrote:
Any chance you will keep it around for more comparisons?

Herb Reichert now has the BRXes for a possible followup review.

Anton wrote:
Last question: Would have any working memory of the Crystal Cable Arabesque speaker for a few comparison comments?

Too many speakers have passed through my listening room for me to be able to offer any thoughts on the comparison. Sorry.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

My 'crystal ball' says, HR likes the sound of BRX with LKV PWR+ and Bel Canto REF600M ...... Both have 3rd harmonic distortion and both can handle 2 Ohm loads :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

BTW .... May be HR could do a follow-up review of the Parasound A21+ ($3,000) :-) .......

remlab's picture

By what Sandy Gross and company pull off for the price. I don't care where its made. Exceptional engineering, design, and quality control.

dial's picture

Can these little boxes really be powered by my 2 X 250 W 3D LAB. Nano Amplifier ?!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If they can handle 2 Ohm loads, yes ....... JA1 used 450 watt JC1+ amps in his review :-) .......

dial's picture

Well for this I don't know, it's class D 250 is on 8 ohms of course, why always these load problems with speakers !

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Not all 2-way bookshelf speakers are 2 Ohm difficult loads ...... BRX is an exception ...... If you are not sure about your amp handling 2 Ohm loads, consider other bookshelf speakers which are easier loads, listed in Stereophile :-) ......

dial's picture

Good advice, also I'll ask the manufacturer, Charles Henry DELALEU, in September due to holidays.

remlab's picture

they usually don't measure this well. Very similar to the Elac, at least in this case

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It would be a good idea, if GoldenEar uses the same tweeter for their top model speakers :-) ......

remlab's picture

to subjectively compensate for the extremely deep bass response on the other models

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Some of the young people who can hear up to and above 15 kHZ, have complained about harsh treble in GoldenEar top models in the Stereophile web forum :-) .......

remlab's picture

Especially in how it relates to the loudspeaker's efficiency is much, much better than the Elac

remlab's picture

and I examine everything he does with a keen interest, but Sandy's got him beat on this one.

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