GoldenEar Technology Triton One loudspeaker Page 2

The Triton One proved extraordinarily revealing of the effects of the various comparisons and tweaks I was making with the DS-PW. The effects of using different cables (three HDMI, one XLR) between the PW and DS were easily audible. The same with the beneficial effect of substituting Hi-Fi Tuning Supreme fuses for PS Audio's stock ones. And when, late in the listening period, PS Audio sent me updated firmware for the DS, the resulting improvements were obvious. The Triton One is a high-resolution loudspeaker, which had its payoff in listening to music as well as listening for the effects of system tweaks. With almost every CD I played in the DS-PW, I noticed musical details that had previously been inaudible or could be only faintly heard. Resolution had been one of the Triton Two's strengths as well. However, while I didn't have a pair of Twos on hand for direct comparison, my sense was that the Triton One is a significant advance on the already high resolution offered by the Triton Two.

When I played recordings of orchestral, choral, big-band, and rock music at impress-your-friends levels, the Triton Ones sounded quite spectacular, and showed little sign of strain. "Winter Wonderland," from Clark Terry and Frank Wess's Big Band Basie (CD, Reference RR-63CD), had the requisite punch but remained musical, and the speakers didn't protest, even though the level was a notch higher on the CAT preamp's volume control than my usual maximum. Audio Tools' sound-pressure-level meter app (C-weighted, fast) on my iPhone 6 gave a peak reading of 94.7dB; the actual level was probably higher, the reading of the meter limited by the clipping of the iPhone's input circuitry. Whatever the actual level, it was subjectively loud enough that if I'd played music at that level for visitors, I'm sure most of them would have asked me to turn it down.

One of the things I appreciated about the original Quads, when I had them, was that I could play the speakers at a low level and all the music was still there. They didn't have to be played loud. (And, of course, the Quads couldn't really play loud.) The Triton Ones were similar to the Quads in this respect: I didn't feel I had to play them loud to hear all the music. I think this is a testament to GoldenEars' high resolution. In fact, some of my best times with the speakers were late in the evening, listening at what, in audio-demo terms, would be considered barely above background level (C-weighted peaks in the low 70s)—but which my system and the Triton Ones rendered as very plausible illusions of listening to music in a concert hall or opera house.

The tonal balance was fundamentally neutral, the highs clean and extended; the various percussion instruments in Ana Caram's "Viola Fora de Moda," from the Chesky Records Jazz Sampler & Audiophile Test Compact Disc, Vol.1 (Chesky JD37), being clearly differentiated. Another test of transient accuracy that I like to use is All Star Percussion Ensemble, led by Harold Farberman (Golden Strings GS CD005). The instruments on this recording cover the entire audioband, including timpani and bass drum at the bottom. The sound through the Triton Ones had an appealing crispness, with no smearing of transients. However, I would avoid combining these speakers with components whose intrinsic sound is on the bright side: the Triton Ones will let you hear it.

In my review of the Triton Two, I noted that at times I could hear a box resonance in the midrange—a common problem with box speakers, and one not easy to fix. The Triton One's thicker walls and improved damping and bracing seem to have done the trick. The box resonance, while not completely absent—a task impossible to achieve even in theory—was much lower in amplitude than I remember from the Two, and was almost always masked by the music.

One of the Triton Two's strengths was its bass, which eclipsed that of just about every other floorstanding speaker of similar size and price that I've heard—so I was a bit surprised that, with the Triton One, GoldenEar chose to focus their efforts on bettering that performance—it sure didn't need it. I suppose it was a matter of building on what had already been accomplished—and, for many people, what most clearly distinguishes speakers from one another is in the area of bass extension and power. (Another reason for focusing on the bass was so that use of Triton Ones in a home theater might make it possible to forgo a subwoofer.)

Because each Triton One has three powered woofers and four passive bass radiators, one might predict that its sound would be heavy, with overemphasized bass. This was simply not so. As I listened to a variety of music, it became clear that GoldenEar had chosen to go for quality rather than mere quantity of bass. The low bass was certainly there—GoldenEar claims 14Hz, which I couldn't achieve in my listening room, but I think this was at least partly due to my use of the McIntosh tube amp and the size and shape of the room itself. In any case, I think faithful reproduction of the 20–40Hz octave is a more realistic target to strive for, and this was well within the One's abilities.

A few years ago, at an audio show, I was given a CD-R of deep-bass demo tracks by Poh Ser Hsu, of subwoofer manufacturer Hsu Research. Featured are such audiophile favorites as Béla Fleck's "Flight of the Cosmic Hippo," Mickey Hart's "Kodo Drums," etc. The Triton Ones sailed through them, the bass always tuneful and firm. In music that didn't reach down into the deep bass, there was no midbass emphasis to give a false impression that there was deep bass. If anything, there appeared to be some weakness in the midbass; the voices of male singers—primarily baritones and basses, tenors to a lesser extent—seemed to lack some chest resonance. This could well have been due to the speakers' interaction with my room; JA's measurements might shed some light on whether this is a characteristic of the GoldenEars.

The Triton Ones were soundstaging champs: the stage was wide, higher than the speakers themselves, and presented great depth when called for. Imaging was precise, a precision only enhanced when the PS Audio DirectStream DAC was updated with the latest firmware. Playing the "Depth of Image" tracks (34–42) from Best of Chesky Jazz and More Audiophile Tests, Vol.2 (Chesky JD68), I could hear the difference between the sounds of the acoustic clicker at 50', 60', and 70'. I fancied I could even hear the difference between 70' and 80', but I wouldn't swear to it.

Class A Sound for a Class B Price?
To answer the provocative question posed by that subhead: No, I don't think that GoldenEar Technology's Triton One delivers the quality of sound you can get from speakers like MBL's Radialstrahler 101 Mk.II ($70,500), Sonus Faber's Amati Futura ($36,000), Vivid Audio's G1 Giya ($65,000), Wilson Audio Specialties' Alexia ($48,500), or YG Acoustics' Sonja 1.3 ($106,800). If you yearn for and can afford one of these Class A superspeakers, go for it.

And yet, the mere fact that it's not unreasonable to compare the sound of the $4999.98 Triton One with the sounds of speakers costing tens of thousands of dollars more per pair says a lot about the GoldenEar's level of performance. For the audiophile who doesn't have—or doesn't wish—to spend the money for cost-no-object speakers, yet wants sound quality that approaches what such expensive models can produce, I recommend first listening to the Triton One. You may decide that it's all the speaker you need.

GoldenEar Technology
PO Box 141
Stevenson, MD 21153
(410) 998-9134

goodfellas27's picture

I have read a number of comments from listeners/reviewers who found the dispersion of the High-Velocity Folded Ribbon tweeter (HVFR) to be quite limited. CNET observed " I did note some treble softening when I stood up; so it appears that the tweeter's vertical dispersion is limited."

You have the same problem "the tweeter axes fired somewhat over my head."

I am surprise that a 5K speaker have such limitation; a poorly design choice.

John Atkinson's picture
goodfellas27 wrote:
CNET observed " I did note some treble softening when I stood up; so it appears that the tweeter's vertical dispersion is limited."

You have the same problem "the tweeter axes fired somewhat over my head."

Look at the measurements. Yes, the tweeter's output falls more than 5 degrees above axis but as the tweeter is already 40" from the floor, this is not an issue. As Bob Deutsch said, the back of the speaker can easily be raised slightly for those whose ears are lower than 40".

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

goodfellas27's picture

How about home theater room with stadium seating? If the speakers are pointing to the first row, the second row in a stadium seating style setup wouldn't have the best possible sound coming from tweeter because of this limitation. In my view, this is an issue and should be addressed. For $5,000, it should not have these types of limitations.

John Atkinson's picture
goodfellas27 wrote:
How about home theater room with stadium seating? If the speakers are pointing to the first row, the second row in a stadium seating style setup wouldn't have the best possible sound coming from tweeter because of this limitation.

Again refer to the measurements. As the balance is optimized on or below the tweeter axis, to solve this problem all you need do is tilt the speakers back slightly. But to be fair, as Stereophile is concerned exclusively with music playback, we don't consider potential issues with use in home theater systems.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

winefix's picture

I have has these for over 4 months now in a dedicated room with stadium seating (2 rows)
Trust me, for 5k they are the biggest bargain in the history of speakers. They smoke my previous speakers (Gallo, Magnepan,) The only speakers I have heard at CES that sound better are 3-4x the price. (Magico, Wilson, ML) Even then there were not that much better.
I would not worry about nit picking about the tweeter dispersion, unless you have unlimited funds, in which case money will buy you 5% better tweeter dispersion. The Triton ones are the real deal and will get you 95% of the way there (for 2 channel and HT)

w1000i's picture

I believe for 5000$ you may have better option with Monitor Audio Gold gx300.

corrective_unconscious's picture

I agree they have fairly limited horizontal dispersion starting at a fairly low frequency, but so do other speakers.

They definitely have limited vertical dispersion, but some people think that's a design goal (as in MTM arrays.)

We have a troll.

goodfellas27's picture

Corrective_Unco, the problem with these is the vertical dispersion; hence, Sandy had to adjust the base of the speakers to move it alone the 'Y' axis (Vertical) Not many speakers have this limitation, from my understanding --specially the ones with dome tweeters. I am not saying they sound bad, but they should work on this for their next speakers.

corrective_unconscious's picture

As I explained, going by the data, the horizontal dispersion is somewhat limited with these Heil drivers starting at pretty low frequencies.

If that fact doesn't affect you in any sense then that's fine.

Again, as a matter of fact, many speakers are actually designed to have limited vertical dispersion. If you don't like those speakers then avoid them.

jmsent's picture

Compared to what? The vertical dispersion is limited by the fact that the tweeter is longer than it is wide, and the fact that the system uses an MTM configuration which by nature tightens the vertical pattern around the crossover point. From the graphs the horizontal dispersion looks very good, even out to 60 degrees off axis. What forward firing box speaker does better?

corrective_unconscious's picture

You are agreeing with me that the vertical dispersion is restricted. I said that is the case for many speakers, starting with the many which are designed, on purpose, to have a limited vertical dispersion through the use of MTM arrays and other means.

Some people consider limited vertical dispersion a benefit.

So there should be no excuse for your not understanding that much regarding my posts - the restricted vertical dispersion here is not surprising in the least. It is not necessarily something requiring a remedy, as the previous, uninformed post suggested. It depends what a buyer wants or expects or believes about vertical dispersion.

What I posted is that it is the horizontal dispersion which is surprising. (Again, the vertical dispersion is not a surprise, as we know from how the tweeter is deployed.)

Since you require assistance, even the conventional, two way, Pulsar has a similar horizontal dispersion drop off, if starting a little bit lower. But this is compared to the multi way Golden Ear...which given this factor and my expectations is, therefore, surprisingly limited in its _horizontal_ dispersion.

If you cannot think of any speakers which have wide horizontal dispersion then I suggest you ask around, maybe ring up Harman or KEF or Gallo.

Hope that helps you with whatever grievance you were voicing.

goodfellas27's picture

You have any articles supporting you claim? Most dispersion problems are vertical with this tweeter. The link I pasted before support this, alone with this review and the one from CNET. It's my opinion, but still base on fact.

From the link:

"A ribbon tweeter uses a very thin diaphragm (often of aluminum, or perhaps metalized plastic film) that supports a planar coil frequently made by deposition of aluminium vapor, suspended in a powerful magnetic field (typically provided by neodymium magnets) to reproduce high frequencies. The development of ribbon tweeters has more or less followed the development of ribbon microphones. The ribbon is of very lightweight material and so capable of very high acceleration and extended high frequency response. Ribbons have traditionally been incapable of high output (large magnet gaps leading to poor magnetic coupling is the main reason). But higher power versions of ribbon tweeters are becoming common in large-scale sound reinforcement line array systems, which can serve audiences of thousands. They are attractive in these applications since nearly all ribbon tweeters inherently exhibit useful directional properties, with very wide horizontal dispersion (coverage) and very tight vertical dispersion. These drivers can easily be stacked vertically, building a high frequency line array that produces high sound pressure levels much farther away from the speaker locations than do conventional tweeters."

corrective_unconscious's picture

Although it's nice to know that CNET is your source for high end audio information.

Now, many buyers and the designer might consider the horizontal dispersion of this Golden Ear model appropriate. That is different. I was surprised to see how limited _that_ attribute of the speaker is...given how wide the horizontal dispersion "should be" according to you august source that you quoted, needlessly.

Guiltyrocker's picture

Since this speaker is at the same price range than the Def Tech Mythos STLs, it begs the question. Which is the better speaker for the money? Several people have stated that the vertical dispersion of the High Velocity Folder Tweeter is an issue, maybe the STL is the answer here? I would love to see which of these speakers sounds better, for the same price Def Tech offers a remote (which controls the bass of both speakers at the same time), a sexier-looking speaker, removable covers (not cloth), aluminum aircraft-grade enclosure, and the list goes on. It also has an amazing magnesium-aluminum tweeter with no vertical dispersion issues. I can tell you that I am not a fan-boy of def tech, however, having heard the STL at a local best buy, I was extremely impressed with the speaker. For a speaker at this price, I certainly was expecting more from Golden Ear, having seen the STLs this speaker does seem like a good deal to me. I will go to a store tomorrow to hear this speaker and see what the deal is, I can tell you that it has a really high bar to reach having experienced the STLs. We'll see.

Doctacosmos's picture

I recently heard these monsters and thought they were very good. Surely not lacking in detail and like the review stated, no smearing of transient response. I would actually consider them too good for music if that's a thing. The most minute of details have generous amounts of body and are gratuitously layered from one another. During movie playback this ability proves to construct blueprints rather than paint an abstract leading to exact representation of what the producers intended. This combined with sight and imagination creates an otherworldly enigma that undoubtedly would be hard to sustain with many other speakers. However, the layers of details I spoke of and monstrous dynamics makes it a little hard to for your ears to cope with it as a musical presentation for some genres due to the fleshing out of undertones rather than them melting away.

Doctacosmos's picture

The engineering mindset of this speaker was to sound good. I would never listen to this speaker and say to myself" they should have went dome." that would win most ignorantthing to say title of the year

Sup's picture

I demoed these next to some B&W 802Ds. I absolutely thought the Tritons sounded better. So I bought em. Slam, impactful, fast, dynamic as hell and refined at the same time. They just never sound like they are even trying. They really do not give a damn what genre of music you play on them. If you demo them make sure they are broken in and that the subs are dialed in correctly. Lots of speakers are good at some things and I notice most audiophile speakers are voiced to bring the vocals front and center. I believe this is why most only sound good on certain types of music and I believe this robs them of impactful dynamic swings.

ednazarko's picture

I laughed out loud at the "no dispersion" trolling. I've had Triton 2 speakers in our stupidly designed family room (ceiling way too high, open space design lengthwise way far back beyond where seating would go at its limit, continuing the high ceiling all the way; opens up on one side halfway back; in other words, one of those contemporary houses designed without audiophiles in mind). I brought them home on a trial from the dealer, having read all the tut-tutting about Heil drivers. The speakers filled the space. Didn't matter if you were sitting, standing, or flopped out on the floor, there was very little difference in sound. In fact, one of the things that impressed me the most was how much of the good sound was there in the kitchen area off the family room, and in the living room. Good enough that guests sometimes get up in the middle of a dinner and wander trancelike into the family room to listen to something that they'd never heard sound like THAT before.

I just heard the Triton 1 speakers yesterday at an event organized by an electronics store, with Sandy in attendance. Of course there was a chair of exactly the right height in the sweet spot. I spent maybe two minutes there. One side of the setup the wall was near the speaker, the other wall was a good 10 feet or more away. Very high ceiling, very long room. The sound did vary, minutely, if I went all the way over to the wall far from the system, but even less than I expected. Sitting, standing, even flopped on the floor (yes I did... it was clean, so why not) the sound was very consistent. Sandy's demo disk has a lot of acoustic music, no surprise. Finger snapping on one song was freakishly real in space, no matter where your head was (other than looking away...). Most striking was the bass - on the Triton speakers the bass has always been three dimensional, and when Sandy talked about how much of the bass energy comes from the side radiators versus the front facing woofers, it suddenly made sense.

I also heard the new 2+, and there is a noticeable (although not huge) improvement over the 2. More dimensionality, more air.

And now I'm reading reviews trying really hard, REALLY HARD, to convince myself I don't need the Triton 1, and should just upgrade my Triton 2 setup to 2+. Cost IS an object. But I can't get the sound of the Triton 1 out of my head. The bass was 3 dimensional in a way that was spooky. I know that people say bass isn't directional, but if you've been IN a band or orchestra (union musician for 10 years, rock to orchestras and everything in between) it absolutely is directional, and I could tell you exactly where the bass was on stage from almost any position in the room when listening to the Triton 1. That's why I fear I'll be forking over for the new Triton 1 speakers. The dimensionality was just so striking.

Seriously, if you're reading the review thinking about them, go listen, stop reading theoretical criticisms. I saw a lot of speaker orders being written up yesterday afternoon and watched the only in-stock Triton 1 and 2 sets being hauled out to peoples' cars.

WLV's picture

I remember the B&W DM1 loudspeaker. It has a huge 31 inches woofer and a curved electrostatic radiator for mids and highs. To have good, real bass, you need a huge driver. All modern loudspeaker fail since they use small diameters drivers for reproducing the bass. As for mid and high, no driver beats the electrostatics. And it is Quad.