GoldenEar Technology Triton Reference loudspeaker Page 2

The Triton Reference is a lot more sensitive than other speakers I've had in my room in recent months, or even years—I had to turn down the volume control on the DACs I was using by 10dB or so to set the playback level to what I'm used to. I used the MBL Corona 15 monoblock amplifiers during Gross's visit, which he didn't feel were quite optimal for the Triton References. As I was scheduled to measure the Pass Laboratories XA60.8 monoblocks, to accompany Jim Austin's review of the Passes in the December 2017 issue, I hung on to them after the testing. My review findings are based on driving the GoldenEars with both the MBL and Pass Labs amps. In addition, my auditioning was split into two periods of six weeks separated by a month, due to my having to have the listening-room ceiling replaced and rebuilt after Labor Day. (The joys of owning a century-old house.)

I stuck with the subwoofer level set by Gross during his visit: each control was at its detented midpoint. The 1/3-octave warble tones on Editor's Choice extended cleanly and evenly from 200 to 100Hz, with then the 80Hz band somewhat attenuated, and the 63Hz and 50Hz bands louder. The 40Hz band was also attenuated, although, as is always the case, the 32Hz tone was boosted by the lowest-frequency mode in my room. The 25Hz tone was easily audible at my normal listening level, but the 20Hz tone was rolled off. The half-step–spaced tonebursts on Editor's Choice were reproduced evenly, other than the 64Hz toneburst, which was louder than those to either side.

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When I listened to the GoldenEars' cabinet sidewalls with a stethoscope as music played, they seemed acoustically inert. However, the rear wall was rather lively, though I could hear none of the midrange coloration with solo-piano recordings that might have stemmed from this behavior. (Solo piano is very revealing of colorations due to the lack of masking—if some notes are emphasized, there is nowhere for them to hide from the listener.) In fact, piano recordings sounded consistently superb through the Triton References: naturally balanced, with a convincing spread of sound from low bass to high treble. (Again, this was with the subwoofers set as Gross had left them.)

In heavy rotation here in recent months has been a CD of piano duets recommended to me by Amazon. Recorded in concert in 2014, it features Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim, born in Argentina a year apart, and both high in my personal pantheon (Deutsche Grammophon/Euroarts 479 392 2). I first became familiar with the CD's final track, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, as arranged by the composer for four hands, when I recorded a performance by Wu Han and Max Levinson at the 1996 Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, for possible release as a Stereophile CD. Rights issues prevented this from happening, unfortunately, but listening to the unreleased files in the years since, I grew to appreciate how the reduction from the massive orchestral forces usually employed revealed so much more of Stravinsky's musical mischief making. Through the Triton References with the volume as high as I could bear—SPLs at the listening seat were typically in the high 90s, with peaks reaching 106dBC (Studio Six iPhone app set to Fast)—the power of the pianos was in full evidence when the 5/8 pounding starts to announce The Naming and Honoring of the Chosen One. These GoldenEars played loud without strain or overload.

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DG's recording places the pianos closer to the listener than mine—the Berlin audience is noticeably noisier—and the Triton's midrange was slightly on the forward side of neutral with this CD, which perhaps reduced image depth a little. The soundstages of some of my own recordings were not as deep as I'm used to, and the central image of the pink-noise track on Editor's Choice was somewhat wider than the pinpoint I experienced with the KEF Reference 5s. However, the imaging was stable, and the pink-noise image didn't widen or wobble at some frequencies. I wondered if the broadening of the image and the slight reduction in soundstage depth was due to early reflections from the rather bulky grille (see Measurements sidebar). Therefore, with care, I removed the grilles—each is held in place with two bolts in the speaker's base, and slides up and away from retaining clips to the sides of the front-firing drivers. But the soundstaging remained unchanged; in fact, the treble balance was now a little brighter. I replaced the grilles and resumed my listening.

Even with the grilles in place, the Triton Reference's high treble balance sounded more natural in my room than had that of the big KEF, and the high frequencies were clean. Not that that helped the CD version of this issue's "Recording of the Month," Robert Plant's Carry Fire (Nonesuch 563057-2). I agree with Robert Baird that this album is musically inventive, but the CD mix is so relentlessly overcooked that even the Triton References couldn't make it listenable.

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But when a recording had been mixed with musical intelligence, the big GoldenEars stepped out of the way. The haunting piano-and-drums intro to "September in Montreal," from Canadian singer-pianist Anne Bisson's Blue Mind (FLAC, Fidelio FACD025), was crystal-clear, and the sound and size of her voice were both superbly natural. At Sandy's subwoofer-level setting, however, the kick drum and double bass were too ripe. When I backed off the controls from 12 to 10 o'clock, this recording's low frequencies were in better balance with the midrange.

The bass had been a factor with Robert Plant's Carry Fire CD. When I selected "Fortune Teller," from Plant and Alison Krauss's Raising Sand (24/96 ALAC file, Rounder 11661-9075-2), on NAD's Masters Series M50.2 digital music player, to remind myself that this album had been much better recorded than Carry Fire, I had to turn the subwoofers down another notch. I found that while Sandy's default setting of the Triton Reference's subwoofer level was perfect for solo piano and chamber music, and while classical orchestral sounded a touch too magnificent, I was not going to complain about that. But when I wanted to rock out, I had to remember to turn the subwoofers down before the music started. This may be due to my room not being quite large enough for a large speaker like the Triton Reference, but it may well also be a function of the specific tuning of the powered woofers, which goes for weight and power rather than absolute low-frequency definition.

Summing Up
GoldenEar Technology's Triton Reference isn't quite as exquisite a time slicer as the top-of-the-line speakers from Magico, Rockport, Vandersteen, Vivid, and Wilson, all of which I've auditioned in the past year. What it does do is offer an expansive, almost always involving sweep of full-range sound for a price that is a small fraction of what any of those models cost.

COMPANY INFO
GoldenEar Technology
PO Box 141
Stevenson, MD 21153
(410) 998-9134
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Shangri-La's picture

The Triton One was rated Class B borderline Class A. Does the Reference earn a spot in Class A (Restricted Extreme LF)? I'd love to find out now without having to wait until March for the updated recommended components spring 2018. Thank you.

Staxguy's picture

Why Restricted Extreme LF?

The Reference extends to 12 Hz (12Hz – 35kHz), when Class A (Full Range) loudspeakers extend to mostly around 32 or 40. (Though they say, 20 Hz for Class A).

Eg. Revel Studio 2, 32Hz–45kHz, –3dB.

Even a "Full Range" Class A Loudspeaker, which you would expect would show up in the "Restricted Extreme LF" section (Class A), does not.

Eg. KEF Blade 2, 40Hz - 35kHz (±3 dB).

Etc.

At least the Wilson Alexandria XLF ($210K, Extended Low Frequencies) shows up, fitting the category, and bopping under 20.

Eg. Wilson Alexandria XLF, 19.5 Hz - 33 kHz (+/-3 dB).

The limit of our hearing they say, is 20 Hz on the bottom.

Even subwoofers tend to do worse than the Triton Reference, bopping flat at around 16 Hz in my experience, of those of which I've owned.

The B&W DB1 Subwoofer, which is a Stereophile Class A Subwoofer Recommended Component, only gets down to 17 Hz.

Eg. B&W D1B, 17 – 145Hz, ±3dB.

Nothing wrong with the Triton Reference Low Frequncy (12 Hz) Extension.

You'd need the Eminent Technology TRW-17 to really do better, and hit a 1 Hz.

eg. http://www.rotarywoofer.com

That 1 Hz to 30 Hz +/- 4 dB (after all, subwoofers can have worse tolerances, we'd want +/- 1.5 dB for a loudspeaker, 20 Hz to 20 kHz, minimum response, though 100 kHz, today) is actually what we could call a subwoofer!

Ah, humour.

Restricted Extreme LF, my ass.

Shangri-La's picture

Your obsession with the bottom part pun intended is certainly commendable.

Class A (Restricted Extreme LF) has speakers that extend lower than Class A full range, e.g. PSB Image T3 comapred to Revel Studio 2 and KEF Blade 2. So to me restricted LF is more like Class A- (overall performance and price wise) than literal restricted LF.

John Atkinson's picture
Shangri-La wrote:
The Triton One was rated Class B borderline Class A. Does the Reference earn a spot in Class A (Restricted Extreme LF)? I'd love to find out now without having to wait until March...

Apologies but you will have to wait. The ratings are determined after consultation with all of Stereophile's reviewers.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

SNI's picture

Why bother about the low frequency response, when the cumulative decay looks as it does?
This is not only one of the most important measurements in a speaker, it is also by far the most difficult to get right.

tonykaz's picture

It's hard to imagine ( or forgive for that matter ) choosing to Manufacturer in China, especially now that there is an abundance of talent in the East Coast ( as well as Canada ) sitting idle. But then again, Golden Ear might be aiming at selling in Walmart stores.

I just called my local home theater dealer Paulsons and had a nice chat with Peter who tells me that Paulsons sell the hell outa Golden Ear, they put on quite a show with that powered woofer and all. They also carry Revel and B&W stuff ( he says that the lower range of B&W are also Chinese ( more disappointment--What the hell ! )

The good News from Paulsons is that LG & Sony OLED 4k monitors start at $1,500. Middle range $2,500 , 77" OLED is $10,000+ although I don't watch any dam TV but I might like a BIG monitor for my desktop iMac.

Tony in Michigan

Corsentino's picture

Your desktop iMac is also made in China, as are my Mac Pro, iPad, iPhone and Mac Book Pro. Are you disappointed in those products? In a perfect world everything would be manufactured in the USA to high quality standards and be affordable as well. Unfortunately thats just not the case given the realities of manufacturing. What I can tell you is that I own a pair of Goldenear Triton Reference Speakers and I couldn't be happier with them. Their build quality, performance, and value are all exceptional.

mrkaic's picture

These are some good looking speakers.

tonykaz's picture

Yes, of course, you're quite right.

It's silly to think that the guys in the White House can do anything about it.

We're in the 21st Century

Thanks for explaining.

Tony in Michigan

Mills543's picture

I think Corsentino was pointing out the fact that you are bashing products made in China... from a soapbox that was made in China. Apparently that DID need explaining to you. And as he points out, the GE stuff is well made and amazing sounding. I own a pair of the Ones (Reference's on order!). Couldn't be happier. While it would be GREAT if they were made in the US, I don't see how they could be better for it. That said, I love that my VPI table is all US made.

tonykaz's picture

Yes, you too are quite right.

Unfortunately I have no other supplier of Soapboxes to choose from, do I ? Can I feel disappointed for it ?

I'm not at all bashing anyone's design or products.

I'm distraught from Manufacturers choosing to take their shops to Asia, we at GM almost did the exact same thing. But we didn't, we brought the Asian Shops here. ( it was a tough decision )

I understand owners defending their decision to buy GE.

I do not support deliberate Corporate decisions to off-shore. ( to the lowest wage workers )

And, I'll wager an Acoustic Sounds Vinyl that every one of GE's owners would much rather their loudspeakers were made locally.

Paradigm & Emotive are both bringing their manufacturing back to the States, I'm told.

Tony in Michigan

ps. On the other hand, there are Established Asian Electronics Companies that manufacture and sell to a World Marketplace.

Having said all the above, No one brags about being made in China but they do go out of their way to say they are made in the USA. ( when they can )

David Harper's picture

The new Honda Civics are built in an American plant in Indiana, and a Canadian plant in Ontario. The ones built in Indiana have had quality control issues. The ones built in Canada are excellent. Superior fit and finish compared to the to the American built cars. "Built in America" has nothing to do with quality.

dmineard HT's picture

I have heard a lot of the GE Tech speakers and the Triton 2, 2+ and 1 are outstanding. The Reference speakers are just that...a reference quality speakers. OUTSTANDING.

The C50 and C60 are very good and the XXXL and XXL are so good as center speakers, especially XXXL outstanding center channel speakers.

Quality of construction and reliability are important but the sound is what is number 1 with these speakers. Don't lose sight of the objective friends.

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