Note: Measurements taken in the anechoic chamber at Canada's National Research Council can be found through this link.
GoldenEar Technology is headed up by industry veterans Sandy Gross, formerly of Polk Audio and Definitive Technology, and Don Givogue, also formerly of Definitive. The company burst onto the audio scene a few years ago with the introduction of their flagship Triton Two, which features a powered subwoofer section, a unique folded-ribbon tweeter, an attractive curved front grille, and incredible sound for $1499.99 each. Since then their product line has expanded to include bookshelf models, on- and in-wall speakers, soundbars, and subwoofers. One of GoldenEar’s latest offerings is the Triton Seven, the smallest in their line of floorstanding Triton models. Unlike the other Tritons, the Seven lacks its own powered subwoofer, but it’s priced at only $1399.98 USD per pair, which is $600 less than the next Triton model up, the Three.
The Triton Seven looks similar to the other Tritons, but lacks the curved steel grille that gives the others their rounded look. It measures 39.75”H x 11”D, and is 7.25”W at the rear of the cabinet, 5.75”W at the front. The cabinet is also deeper at the base than at the top, its nonparallel surfaces designed to prevent the formation of internal standing waves. As with other GoldenEar speakers, the Triton Seven’s sealed Medite cabinet is covered with a cloth sock; to access the drivers, you remove the gloss-black top plate, then loosen and lower the sock. The curved base plate, finished in the same black gloss, softens the speaker’s otherwise angular appearance, gives it a contemporary look, and can be outfitted with spikes or rubber feet (both are provided).
Although I don’t think the Triton Seven looks as good as the larger Triton Two or Three -- I miss that curved grille -- it’s still a handsome, sturdy little floorstander. I appreciated its solid but reasonable weight of 32 pounds and relatively compact size; the pair of them were easy to position in my system and move around when required.
The same High Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR) tweeter that’s used in all other GoldenEar models is found in the Triton Seven in a D’Appolito array with two 5.25” midrange-woofers. (For a more detailed description of how a folded-ribbon tweeter “squeezes” air with a very thin folded diaphragm, see Hans Wetzel’s review of the Triton Three.) Because the Triton Seven lacks a powered subwoofer, a new, larger midrange-woofer was designed for it by GoldenEar’s engineering facility in Arnprior, Ontario, Canada. The driver is designed to have a long throw, and its cone is made of polypropylene. Unlike the midrange-woofers in the other Tritons and the bookshelf Aon, for engineering reasons related to bass loading, the Seven doesn't have GoldenEar’s patented Multi-Vaned Phase Plug (MVPP). Its low-frequency response is improved by the use of two 8” passive radiators. The midrange-woofer is said to have a powerful high-gauss magnet, and the HVFR tweeter uses a neodymium magnet. According to Sandy Gross, the Triton Seven’s crossover frequency is about 3.5kHz, its claimed sensitivity is 89dB, and its nominal impedance is compatible with 8 ohms.
Because I was finishing up my review of Axiom Audio’s LFR1100 speaker when the Triton Sevens arrived, I wasn’t able to set up the GoldenEars in my main system right away. Instead, they spent some time in my second system, driven by NuForce’s delightful DDA-100 digital integrated amplifier. Later, I moved the Triton Sevens into my main listening room, where I placed them about 9’ apart, which put them some 2’ from the sidewalls and 4’ from the front wall. My electronics comprised an Oppo BDP-105 universal Blu-ray player also used as a DAC and preamp, Axiom Audio’s ADA-1000 power amplifier, an Acer Aspire One 722 laptop running Windows 7 and foobar2000, and my usual complement of Analysis Plus and AudioQuest cables, ESP power cords, and Blue Circle Audio and Zero Surge power conditioners.
Having heard the GoldenEar Triton Seven during its impressive debut at the 2013 International CES, in Las Vegas, I expected a lot from this little speaker in my system. Even in my small family-room system, it impressed me with its full sound and excellent imaging when paired with NuForce’s DDA-100, a compact, 50Wpc integrated amplifier. Recordings such as And I’ll Scratch Yours, a Peter Gabriel tribute album (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Universal), highlighted the speakers’ ability to produce a deep soundstage and a clean midrange that served voices especially well. The somber covers of “Games without Frontiers” and “Mercy Street” by, respectively, Arcade Fire and Elbow, floated cleanly resolved voices eerily between the Tritons.
During the Triton Sevens’ short time in my smaller system, I was pleasantly surprised by how well they reproduced film dialogue in two channels. Dialogue was intelligible at all times, with stable and well-defined center images. Even at low levels, the Triton Sevens let me follow the hilarious, expletive-laced exchanges of Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock in The Heat. Nor did the GoldenEars lack authority when the soundtrack’s funky music kicked in. The rap vocals were reproduced with a tight center image, and the pulsating beat was taut but satisfyingly deep.
As much as I enjoyed the sound of the Triton Sevens in my smaller system, they really showed their mettle when used with a more powerful amplifier in my main listening room. While the Axiom ADA-1000 is specified to produce 125Wpc into 8 ohms, at only $1340 for the five-channel version, it’s a sensible pairing for the similarly high-valued GoldenEar. Kevin Gray’s remastering of Holly Cole’s Don`t Smoke in Bed (SACD/CD, Manhattan/Blue Note/Analogue Productions CAPP 049 S) sounded lush and natural through these speakers. Cole sounded sultry and sexy, with only a hint of the sibilance that pervades this recording; even the deep notes of David Piltch’s bass were highly articulated.
The soaring vocals in “Gortoz a Ran -- J’Attends,” from Hans Zimmer’s score for the film Black Hawk Down (16/44.1 FLAC, Universal), are an excellent test of midrange clarity, and the Triton Seven was admirable in this regard. Denez Prigent’s powerfully sung Celtic lyrics were reproduced without strain and had a grainless, crystalline quality. The voice of Lisa Garrard, who also sings on this track, was not only smooth and sweet, but sounded extremely natural. The sound was transparent, with little coloration. It reminded me of the larger GoldenEar Tritons and the bookshelf Aon 3, which I’ve also listened to -- all have exhibited a similarly uncolored sound.
The HVFR tweeters blended flawlessly with the midrange-woofers, resulting in a smooth sound overall and an exceptionally deep soundstage. Eric Clapton’s Unplugged: Expanded and Remastered (16/44.1 FLAC, Rhino) sounded expansive, considering it was being played through relatively small speakers. The soundstage reached well behind the GoldenEars, giving this live recording a great sense of atmosphere. In “Tears in Heaven,” Clapton’s world-weary voice was placed slightly to the right of center and above the height of the acoustic guitars, which were also slightly forward. In this very vivid sound, the pluck of each guitar string had a lively quality. The specificity with which each voice, guitar, and the piano and percussion were placed was astounding. While the strings may have been pushed slightly forward, the otherwise neutral sound, large soundstage, and vivid imaging made these speakers a pleasure to use.
Every GoldenEar speaker I’ve heard has had a spacious, full-bodied sound that was extremely easy to listen to. The Triton Seven might lack the powered subwoofers of its larger brothers, but it still had much of the big, appealing sound that I’ve come to expect from GoldenEar speakers. Following Sandy Gross’s suggestion, I placed the Triton Sevens about 9’ apart -- a little more than usual for my listening room, but I was able to achieve a huge but stable image between the speakers. The futuristic sound of Daft Punk’s soundtrack for Tron: Legacy (16/44.1 FLAC, Walt Disney) inundated my room with layers of complex, textured electronica. This album’s “Solar Sailer,” one of my torture tracks for low-frequency response, sounded wonderful through the Triton Sevens. Admittedly, the very lowest bass was missing, but I was surprised by how low these speakers did go, and the control they exhibited over the bass. Daft Punk’s more pop-oriented Random Access Memories (24/88.2 FLAC, Édition Studio Masters/Columbia), which is a little less dynamic than the Tron: Legacy soundtrack, was punchy and tight. Listening through the GoldenEars to the many energetic, disco-inspired tracks of this high-resolution download was just plain fun.
During my time with the overachieving Triton Sevens, I compared them to the similarly overachieving but smaller and much less expensive Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 45 bookshelf speakers ($398/pair). Although I love the sound of the little Definitives, the larger GoldenEars surpassed them in a couple of respects. The StudioMonitors’ soundstage was not nearly as large, and they sounded a little closed-in by comparison. Clapton’s Unplugged: Expanded and Remastered was more confined to the space between the speakers, whereas the GoldenEars’ soundstage extended farther beyond the speakers. The bass was also fuller, deeper, and more controlled. While the Definitives did an admirable job for bookshelf speakers, the waves of undulating bass in Daft Punk’s “Solar Sailer” were a tad looser and not as deep, and the up-tempo beat of “Giorgio by Moroder,” from Random Access Memories, was not as precisely defined.
The ultra-silky midrange smoothness of KEF’s R900 ($4999.98/pair) was apparent with the voices in “Gortoz a Ran -- J’Attends,” and compares favorably to other loudspeakers at almost any price. Lisa Gerrard’s voice was equally impressive with the GoldenEars, but the more challenging male voice of Denez Prigent was a little smoother through the KEFs. Not surprisingly, the much larger KEFs could play louder and go deeper than the Triton Sevens, which gave the subterranean bass of “Solar Sailer” a truly ominous quality.
The same could be said of the bass of Definitive Technology’s BP-8080ST ($2998/pair), with its powered subwoofer section, which went even deeper and could play ridiculously loud. The Definitives lacked the precise imaging of the GoldenEars, but their soundstage was very large, if not larger. The overall sound of the Triton Seven sat squarely between the fresh, clean sound of the Definitive BP-8080ST, with its massive bass, and the ultra-refined sound of the KEF R900. The GoldenEar wasn’t quite the equal of either of those more expensive speakers, but neither did it suffer to any great extent in comparison. The Triton Seven was an excellent all-around performer with sound that belied its diminutive stature and price -- it was as at home playing film soundtracks as it was in a high-quality two-channel system.
I was bit skeptical when I first heard that GoldenEar was releasing a Triton model without a built-in powered subwoofer. When I first heard it at the 2013 CES, I was impressed, but after having it in my own system for an extended period, I can say that it is a worthy addition to GoldenEar’s line of excellent products. Let’s face it -- not everyone wants or needs a big full-range speaker. If your needs are a tad more modest, the Triton Seven will still provide the big, impressive sound that I’ve come to expect from GoldenEar’s larger floorstanding speakers, but from a smaller, less expensive package.
. . . Roger Kanno
- Speakers -- KEF R900, Definitive Technology BP-8080ST and StudioMonitor 45
- Amplifiers -- Axiom Audio ADA-1000, NuForce DDA-100
- Sources -- Oppo BDP-93 and BDP-105 universal Blu-ray players (BDP-105 also used as a DAC-preamp), Acer Aspire One 722 computer running foobar2000
- Speaker cables -- Analysis Plus Solo Oval 9, Audio Magic Xstream
- Interconnects -- Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval Black
- Digital cable -- AudioQuest Carbon USB
- Power cords -- Essential Sound Products MusicCord-Pro ES
- Power conditioners -- Blue Circle Audio Peed Al Sea Thingee, ZeroSurge 1MOD15WI
GoldenEar Technology Triton Seven Loudspeakers
Price: $1399.98 USD per pair.
Warranty: Five years parts and labor.
PO Box 141
Stevenson, MD 21153
Phone: (410) 998-9134
Fax: (410) 356-0808