Test Report: GoldenEar Technology Triton Three Speakers

GoldenEar Technology may have had the fastest rise to the top of any speaker manufacturer in history. The company started less than 2 years ago. Yet its very first product, the Triton Two tower speaker, was named Sound+Vision’s 2010 Audio Product of the Year — and practically every other audio publication raved about it, too.

It shouldn’t have come as too big a surprise, though. GoldenEar is the creation of Sandy Gross, a co-founder of Polk Audio and Definitive Technology, and engineer Don Givogue, the other co-founder of Def Tech. Still, to have people comparing your $2,500-per-pair speaker to $10,000-per-pair models is an accomplishment.

GoldenEar designed the new Triton Three for those who found the Triton Two too large or pricey. At $999 each, the Three sells for $1,000 less per pair than the Two (which just went up to $1,499 each) and stands 4 inches shorter. So it’s not a radical change from the original.

Nor do the guts represent a radical change. The Three uses the same High-Velocity Folded Ribbon tweeter found throughout GoldenEar’s speaker lineup. The HVFR employs a thin ribbon diaphragm that’s folded about 20 times. It works sort of like an accordion, squeezing the folds in the diaphragm to force air in and out, thus making sound. The midrange driver is the same 4.5-inch cone, but where the Two has a pair, the Three has just one.

Like the Two, the Three incorporates a powered subwoofer, although it’s got less oomph. The Three has just one oval-shaped woofer to the Two’s two. Also, the Three’s dual passive radiators are smaller, and its 800-watt internal amplifier is only two-thirds as powerful.

The powered sub section presents some advantages over using a separate subwoofer. Because the woofer has its own amp, Givogue and his team could use a digital low-pass filter on the woofer to fine-tune the blend between the woofer and the midrange driver. The digital filter is a complex series of first-order filters at different frequencies, while the midrange uses a passive, second-order high-pass filter. (The midrange/tweeter crossover is also passive.) A knob on the back lets you adjust the level of the subwoofer section so that it balances perfectly with the midrange and tweeter, and an LFE line-level input lets you get optional added oomph when playing movies.

The disadvantage of the powered sub section is that you have to position the towers where the midrange and tweeter drivers work best, at least a couple of feet from any nearby wall. (With a subwoofer, you’re free to position the sub as well as the satellite speakers wherever they work best with your room’s acoustics.)

If you’ve hung on my every word here, you now know what a fascinating and complex engineering exercise the GoldenEar Triton Three is. Now it’s time to take a seat in the listening chair see if the engineering worked. I tried connecting the Threes to my Denon surround-sound receiver and running a separate LFE connection to the speakers’ line inputs, but for my taste, I didn’t find a great advantage in doing this. I tend to keep the bass level the same for music and movies, but I know some people really like an extra 3 or even 6 dB of bass for movies, so I’m sure some home theater enthusiasts will find this connection valuable.

Incidentally, those who want to expand the Triton Three into a full home theater system can add the matching SuperSat 50C center speaker and SuperSat 3 surround speakers.