TOWER SPEAKER REVIEWS

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Brent Butterworth Posted: Oct 01, 2013 6 comments
Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crazy-affordable prices
Great cosmetics for the money
Minus
Sounds a little unrefined

THE VERDICT
It’s not without flaws, but the $500/pair XL7F tower delivers a surprising value.

I actually did a double-take when I added up the price of Fluance’s XL7 speaker system. Two tower speakers for the price of a good pair of minimonitors. A center speaker for the price of a cheap Blu-ray player. A pair of minimonitors for the price of … well, an inexpensive pair of minimonitors. And the whole shebang for about what most Sound & Vision readers I know would spend for a decent subwoofer. Shipping’s free, too!

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 10, 2008 2 comments
I'm a big Samuel L. Jackson fan, but I didn't totally buy his performance in Black Snake Moan. Jackson plays a righteous old man who takes in a trashy nymphet (Christina Ricci) to set her straight. I was especially intrigued with the story because Jackson's character was loosely based on R.L. Burnside, who didn't just sing the blues, he lived them. Up to the point where Jackson picked up his guitar, he was perfectly fine. But when he started to sing, his performance didn't ring true. It comes down to authenticity. Acting is one thing; singing with a voice that sounds so rough it bleeds is something else. Come to think of it, I could say the same about great speakers. It's one thing to design a speaker that measures well, but that doesn't necessarily make for a great-sounding speaker.
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 24, 2011 4 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $23,247 (updated 3/16/15)
At A Glance: Highs to die for, uncolored midrange, tight bass • Cinematic soundstage • Flawless build quality

Going for the Beryllium

Focal first became a household audio name in the 1980s. Located in Saint-Etienne, France, the company furnished driver units for a number of well-known speaker manufacturers, among them Wilson Audio Specialties. Wilson continues to use an exclusive version of a Focal inverted titanium-dome tweeter. With that exception, Focal has long since kept all of its driver production in-house for its own complete lineup of loudspeakers for the consumer, professional, automotive, and multimedia markets.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Jul 23, 2006 0 comments

Focal, the French speaker and speaker component manufacturer formerly doing business as Focal-JMLabs, has always made a point of getting great sound at shows. While I didn't run into Focal at Primedia's Home Entertainment 2006 show in Los Angeles this June, I did hear some music in the MBL room that morphed into another sale for Amazon. As I work on the final edit of this review I'm listening to the just-delivered Jeff Buckley rendition of "Hallelujah" from his 1994 album <i>Grace</i> (CD, Columbia, CK 57528). The memory of what this song sounded like on the <a href="http://blog.ultimateavmag.com/he2006/060206mbl/" target=new> $47,000/pair MBL 101E speakers</a> is still fresh. At just 1/10th the MBL's price, Focal's Profile 918 speakers get me very, very close to the fire-branded goose bumps I felt in LA last month.

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Ultimate AV Staff Posted: May 26, 2006 0 comments

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Michael Trei Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
Trickle-down economics, audio style.

While those on the left and right sides of the political fence are bound to debate the pros and cons of trickle-down economic theory for the rest of time, it's hard to deny the way in which many high-tech developments that began life in projects bearing stratospheric price tags eventually came to benefit the masses, in products we can use every day. Today, many of us can afford gadgets like GPS navigation systems and laser pointers, whereas a few years ago this type of technology was available only to the largest institutions and military powers. This access to technology has had a major effect on today's audio components; for example, most of the latest surround processors have far more computing power than the in-flight computer used for the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 20, 2005 0 comments

Focal-JMlab has been manufacturing speaker drivers and systems from its home base in Saint-Etienne, France, since 1980. They first became known to audiophiles in the US for their range of Focal drive units, particularly their inverted-dome tweeters. The latter were used by a number of makers of speaker systems. One of them, Wilson Audio Specialties, has likely been Focal's most loyal customer over the years, having used various Focal drivers in most of its models since the original Wilson Audio Tiny Tot, aka the WATT, was produced in the mid-1980s.

Steven Stone Posted: May 09, 2004 0 comments

The history of high-end audio and video is littered with companies who made fine products but failed. Kloss Audio/Video, California Audio Labs, and Dunlavy Audio are but a few of the illustrious firms that did not survive. Genesis almost joined these ranks. Founded in 1991 by Arnie Nudell, Paul McGowan, and Mark Shifter, Genesis quickly made its mark with outstanding speakers and digital electronics. Yet in December 2001, Genesis closed its doors.

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Steven Stone Posted: Oct 02, 2005 0 comments

When I reviewed the Genesis 6.1 speaker system I liked it so much I still use it as my reference in my upstairs home theater system. Now Genesis has a new, smaller speaker called the Genesis 7.1c that shares much of the G6.1's technology&mdash;and a level of performance that can equal its more expensive sibling in most conventional home theater situations, and in some environments even better it.

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 14, 2015 4 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,998/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Sleek tower design
Huge soundstage!
HVFR planar magnetic folded ribbon tweeter
Minus
Black is the only finish

THE VERDICT
At less than $2,000 per pair, the Triton continues the GoldenEar value tradition with superb sonics at an attainable price.

I’ve known quite a few speaker designers and owners of high-end companies, but GoldenEar Technology’s CEO and co-founder Sandy Gross is the only one who’s an avid art collector. He paints a little, too, but mostly expresses his creative side through the sound of his loudspeakers. Gross has developed a keen ear as a decades-long veteran in the speaker business, co-founding Polk Audio and later Definitive Technology. In 2010, he launched GoldenEar Technology at the CEDIA show in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jun 10, 2014 40 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $4,998/pair

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Three forward-firing active woofers with four side-firing passive radiators and a 1,600-watt amp
Remarkably open, balanced sound quality
Extremely dynamic
Minus
They’re really, really heavy

THE VERDICT
GoldenEar Technology’s Triton One is Sandy Gross’ magnum opus and provides an astounding performance-versus-price ratio.

It’s not an overstatement to say that Sandy Gross is a legend—a double legend, as a matter of fact, since he’s in two entirely different industries’ Halls of Fame. In high school, Gross was an award-winning racecar designer. With his best friend, Howie Ursaner, the Gold Dust Twins (as they were called) were a professional racing team that competed around the country. (At one point, Ursaner won a Corvette. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to legally drive it—because he was only 14 years old.) That was during the late 1960s and early ’70s, a time generally considered to be the Golden Age of Racing—slot car racing, that is.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Oct 24, 2013 3 comments

Triton Seven Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

ForceField 5 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE 3,594

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Deep bass extension from dual passive radiators Remarkably full midrange Rearward rake with non-parallel front and rear baffles
Minus
You’ll need to find a new home for your current speakers

THE VERDICT
The Triton Sevens provide rock-solid high-end performance for a mid-fi price.

It begins with a fairy tale (of sorts). Once upon a time (say, around 2013), a little company named GoldenEar made three bears—no, sorry, three tower speakers. The first speaker was tall and big with a deep, deep voice. But it was too big and too expensive for a hungry little girl roaming the forest—no, I mean, for some of the people shopping through a forest of tower speakers at the A/V store. The second tower was shorter and a bit smaller. Its voice was deep, too, but not quite as much as the papa tower’s voice. Sadly, it was also too big to fit comfortably in some people’s rooms, and still too big for some of their budgets. Then GoldenEar made a third tower speaker, even shorter and less expensive, and this speaker was… Well, that’s what we’re here to find out, isn’t it?

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 10, 2016 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $7,750 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
New DSP for low-frequency tuning
Totally redesigned midrange drivers
Balanced crossover with polypropylene capacitors
Minus
Bright blue power LED on back of tower

THE VERDICT
With the hindsight of four years of product development, GoldenEar reboots their very first speaker with updated drivers, crossover, and low-frequency DSP—to quite stellar results.

Unfortunately, the first GoldenEar Technology Triton Two loudspeaker I ever saw didn’t work. It wasn’t the result of shoddy workmanship, chintzy materials, or some brutal, shipping-induced internal hemorrhage of crossovers and cables. Truth be told, the speaker wasn’t technically a Triton Two because, at the time (in early January during CES 2010), GoldenEar Technology didn’t officially exist. The tall, dark tower standing silently in front of me was a cosmetic mock-up of what would become the Triton Two— GoldenEar’s first speaker. In other words, this mute monolith, wrapped in black fabric, was merely a hollow shell of its future towerful self.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Jan 27, 2012 0 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
Price: $3,195 (updated 3/10/15)
At A Glance: Little brother to the Triton Two • Built-in, powered subwoofer • Folded-diaphragm tweeters

Those of us who are “the baby of the family” know the ever-living hell of growing up surrounded by older siblings. In addition to the incessant abuse—both mental (teasing, taunting, terrorizing) and physical (wedgies, wet willies, purple nurples)—there’s the oxygen-depleting cloud of expectation that swirls around your every step, especially if you’ve had a particularly zealous overachiever blazing the familial trail ahead of you. By the way, for those parents who aren’t aware of it, “Why can’t you be like your brother?” isn’t, in most cases, a terribly motivating exhortation. Unless, of course, said brother happens to be a ne’er-do-well who lives off the proceeds of an obscenely large trust fund, drinks absinthe with impunity, and eats fresh beignets heaped high with powdered sugar for breakfast (at noon) every day. (That’s my kind of role model! Bring it on, sibling rival…) Unfortunately, few of us are blessed with the kind of bottom-feeding low-life for an older brother or sister who makes you look like a shining star just for getting out of bed and watching cartoons in the morning. Instead, we’re doomed to a life of waking up knowing that the rest of the day is likely to be nothing but another disappointment to our parents, grandparents, and every ancestor who ever walked (even remotely) upright.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Mar 31, 2011 15 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $3,745 (updated 3/10/15)
at a glance: Folded diaphragm tweeters • Built-in 1,200-watt subwoofers with DSP • Super-slim center and surround speakers

Squeeze Me. Please Me.

Laurels can be an extremely comfortable and cushy thing to rest on. (They’re good for the environment, and they’re hypoallergenic.) Companies and individuals often rely on past successes to carry them along like giant helium-filled balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Just because you were the first to do or invent something doesn’t necessarily mean your next project or idea will be any better than a picture painted by a monkey throwing his poo at the zoo. As the investment caveat goes, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” That being said, though, how can you not be pee-in-your-pants excited when a true giant in the speaker industry says he’s going to start a new speaker company?

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