GoldenEar Triton Reference: A real reference speaker for under $10K a pair? Yes, please!
Every year HTSA, a major industry organization, selects one audio product to be honored by their auspicious Audio Product of the Year award. Three years ago GoldenEar's Triton One was so honored. This year, in an unprecedented repeat of this honor, GoldenEar's new top-of-the-line flagship, the Triton Reference, was similarly honored and chosen as the 2017 HTSA Audio Product of the Year. The photo shows GoldenEar President, Sandy Gross, accepting the award.
The January 2018 issue of Stereophile, which will hit newsstands at the end of this week, features GoldenEar Technology's flagship Triton Reference loudspeaker on its cover, with a review inside from John Atkinson. When GoldenEar's co-founder and president Sandy Gross visited JA last July to set the speakers up in his Brooklyn listening room, John asked Sandy about his loudspeaker design goals, his preferences in sound quality, his tastes in audio, and the state of the high-end audio market.
Piero Gabucci, Co-Editor at SECRETS OF HOME THEATER AND HIFI, writes, "I offer no rhetoric, no extraneous wit or hyperbole in my simple and honest admiration for the T-Ref as these are top to bottom, first class reference quality speakers. The GoldenEar Triton Reference Loudspeakers are aural satisfaction at its finest: not simply excellent sound reproduction but soulful, engaging and sublime musical art."
Per SECRETS: a “Product of the Year” is a product that not only sets the bar for its category, it is a product that we believe will inspire real innovation and progress from its competitors. We consider new technologies, performance and value; and when a component excels at all three, we afford it this prestigious recognition.
GoldenEar Technology’s Triton Reference was never meant to be. At the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, Sandy Gross, who cofounded GoldenEar with engineer Don Givogue, told me that the Triton One ($4999.98 USD per pair) he was then demonstrating was the biggest, most expensive loudspeaker his company would ever make. (I reviewed the Triton One for this site in April 2015.) But, as Gross later told me, as soon as the Triton One was released, people began asking for more speaker -- and at a higher price. As well versed as Gross is in the speaker business -- before GoldenEar, he cofounded Polk Audio with Matthew Polk, and, with Givogue, Definitive Technology -- he’d never anticipated that kind of pressure. He thought he should do something about it.
But GoldenEar’s model-naming scheme presented a bit of a problem: typically, the lower its number, the higher in the line that model is in terms of price and, typically, cabinet size, driver count, and parts quality. Logically, the next model up would be named the Triton Zero or 0.5 -- but neither sounded good for a flagship speaker priced at $8499.98/pair. They called it the Triton Reference.
I’d thought the 54”-high Triton One was big when I set up a pair of them in my room, but the Triton Reference’s main cabinet is 4” taller, 1.25” wider, 2” deeper, and a lot heavier: 108 pounds vs. the One’s 73 pounds. The increase in weight has to do with a larger, beefier, better-braced cabinet; bigger drivers with more robust motors; and a sturdier plinth that measures 13.63”W x 22.25”D. Like the plinth of the One and other Triton models, this one is made of Medite, a medium-density fiberboard, but for the Reference a 0.094”-thick steel plate has been added. Rubber feet and floor spikes are included. I have carpet, so I used the spikes.
The Triton Reference also boasts a touch of elegance not found on previous GoldenEar towers: instead of a “sock” of black fabric covering all but the small top panel, the Reference’s sides, rear, and top are finished in a polished, piano-black lacquer. Cloth is used only on the front, to cover the metal grille that protects the drivers, and on the lower part of the side panels, to cover the passive radiators. Although I got used to the look of the One and other Tritons, the Reference’s high-gloss lacquer looks a lot nicer to me, and befits a speaker at this higher price. I also like the way the side and rear panels form one seamless piece with the top; on the lower-priced towers, the sock is topped off with a shiny snap-on cap.
The One and the Reference are both three-way designs with the same general driver configuration: four passive radiators, three woofers, two midranges, and one tweeter. However, the drivers themselves are different. GoldenEar doesn’t specify their speakers’ crossover frequencies, but Gross told me that the Reference’s woofers hand off to its midranges at 90Hz, and the mids to the tweeter at 3kHz.
Read the full review here.