GoldenEar Triton Reference Loudspeaker

hfnoutstandingThe top model in this slimline range takes on the big boys – do built-in subwoofers give it sufficient clout?

Our admiration of what GoldenEar's Triton Five model achieves for the money [HFN Mar '19] also prompted a desire to hear what the Maryland company could do when going for broke. Its ambitiously named 'Reference' flagship is definitely playing with the big boys at £9495, and with brands better known, at least in the UK. So it has its work cut out…

At first glance, the Reference looks very much like a scaled-up version of the Five, complete with a slimline enclosure, countering its relatively imposing near-1.5m height with a sub-24cm width. But while the Triton Five has an encompassing acoustic cloth 'sock', here there's a more conventional grille of half-circular profile over the front, designed to remain in place, and also grilles in the lower half of the piano-lacquered gloss side panels.

The tall but slender profile works well in visual terms and it's all a long way from some of the Brobdingnagian speakers we've had through editor PM's listening room of late, from the looming Focal Grande Utopia EM Evos [HFN Dec '18], to the eye-catching Avantgarde Acoustic UNO XD horns [HFN Feb '19] and tombstone-like ATC SCM100SE actives [HFN Apr '19].

Bass Bonanza
All three of those behemoths have some sub-bass trickery going on. The French Utopia EM uses electromagnets in the bass units' motors, along with offboard energisers, and the ATC is fully active, but both the UNO XD and Triton Reference speakers have active subwoofers built into the same enclosure as the rest of the drivers. Yes, that means the References need their own AC mains supply, but it opens up some intriguing possibilities. They can either be used just as conventional speakers, with speaker-level connections from an amp or – as in a home theatre configuration – with the sub-bass section fed from the LFE output of an AV amp or processor, and the rest of the drive units powered via speaker cables.

Squeeze Box
So what we have here is essentially a two-way loudspeaker sitting on top of a subwoofer. The main driver array is built around GoldenEar's version of the Heil Air Motion Transformer tweeter, which the company calls its 'High Gauss Reference High-Velocity Folded Ribbon'. This works concertina-like, squeezing air rather than pushing and pulling it as does a conventional dome-type tweeter. In this version, exclusive to the Reference model, the diaphragm is the same as that found in, for example, the Triton Five, but there's 50% more neodymium-enriched magnetic material, thus boosting sensitivity.


Straddling this are a pair of 15cm mid/upper bass drivers, which feature a specially developed polypropylene cone, a low-mass voice-coil and GoldenEar's Focused Field magnet structure that is designed to direct magnetic force into the surroundings of the voice coil. These drivers sit in their own asymmetrical enclosures within the main cabinet and, in place of a conventional dustcap on the end of the 'motor', have a finned extension of the pole-piece protruding through the centre of the diaphragm.

The bass section of the speakers, which occupies much of the internal cabinet volume, uses three 'racetrack'-shaped oval drivers, or 'Long-Throw Quadratic Reference Subwoofers', each 25x15cm. These again use that Focused Field magnet design, and are powered by a 1.8kW Class D amplifier, with the bass crossover and output level managed via custom DSP. Meanwhile, the 'upper half' of the speakers uses a conventional passive crossover to distribute signal to the tweeter and twin mid/bass drivers.

GoldenEar Technology
Stevenson, MD, USA
Supplied by: Karma-AV Ltd, York
01423 358846