Introduction to the GoldenEar Technology TritonCinema Two Home Theater Speaker System
While I was at CES 2011 last January, I had the opportunity to listen to a speaker demonstration from a company called GoldenEar Technology. The man doing the demonstration was none other than Sandy Gross, the co-founder of Polk Audio back in 1972 and Definitive Technology with Don Givogue in 1990. GoldenEar Technology is the next venture for Don and Sandy and their goal is to create outstanding speakers at an attainable price. Sandy demonstrated the new GoldenEar Triton Two Tower speakers which contain an innovative tweeter technology based on a folded ribbon design instead of a traditional aluminum dome tweeter.
I sat back and listened as Sandy played some of his favorite demo tracks on the Triton Towers. While the environment in a hotel suite is not optimal for a speaker demo, I remember how nice it was to escape from the noise of the show and just listen to some great music. I recall the Triton Towers sounding wonderful with a large and detailed soundstage. I immediately asked Sandy about getting a sample for review and, after many months of waiting, a pair of Triton Two Towers arrived at my house along with a SuperSat 50C center channel speaker and a pair of SuperSat 3 surround speakers. GoldenEar sells the complete set of five speakers as a home theater speaker system called the TritonCinema Two System which I’ll be covering in this review.
GOLDENEAR TECHNOLOGY TRITONCINEMA TWO SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS
- Triton Two Towers
- Design: 3-way with built-in 1200 Watt Subwoofer Amplifier
- Drivers: One Folded Ribbon Tweeter, Two 4.5″ Mid/Bass, Two 5″ x 9″ Woofers Coupled to Two 7″ x 10″ Passive Radiators
- MFR: 18 Hz – 35 kHz
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Efficiency: 91 dB
- Power Handling: 20 – 500 Watts
- Dimensions: 48″ H x 5.25″ W (front) x 7.5″ W (rear) x 15″ D
- Weight: 60 Pounds/each
- MSRP: $1,250/each USD
- SuperSat 50C
- Design: 2-way
- Drivers: One Folded Ribbon Tweeter, Two 4.5″ Mid/Bass, Two 4″ x 7″ Passive Radiators
- MFR: 60 Hz – 35 kHz
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Efficiency: 92 dB
- Power Handling: 20 – 200 Watts
- Dimensions: 4.75″ H x 27″ W x 2.5″ D
- Weight: 7 Pounds/each
- MSRP: $500/each USD
- SuperSat 3
- Design: 2-way
- Drivers: One Folded Ribbon Tweeter, Two 4.5″ Mid/Bass
- MFR: 80 Hz – 35 kHz
- Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
- Efficiency: 92 dB
- Power Handling: 20 – 200 Watts
- Dimensions: 12″ H x 4.75″ W x 2.7″ D
- Weight: 5 Pounds/each
- MSRP: $250/each USD
- GoldenEar Technology
- SECRETS Tags: Speakers, Home Theater Speakers
Design And Setup of the GoldenEar Technology TritonCinema Two Home Theater Speaker System
The left and right channels in the TritonCinema Two System are handled by a pair of Triton Two Towers, each of which comes with a 1200 Watt GoldenEar ForceField subwoofer built right into the speaker cabinet. The Triton Two Towers arrived securely wrapped on a pallet in two very large boxes. Each speaker carton weighs about 75 pounds and requires a bit of patience to carefully unwrap and cut through a lot of packing tape.
The Triton Two Towers are 60 pounds each and come with a base which screws into the bottom of the speaker cabinet using four screws. Once the base is attached, the speakers can finally be placed upright. The Triton Two Towers are four feet tall including the base, and only 15″ deep.The front of the speaker is 5.25″ wide and increases to 7.5″ wide in the rear. Looking at the speaker from the front, the Triton Two Towers remind me of the edge of an airplane wing, as the front edge of the speaker is curved. The top of the speaker is both slanted and curved, which also helps to minimize the apparent size of the towers.
The Triton Towers are well made and attention has been paid to the little details. The base itself has a piano-gloss-black finish and the GoldenEar logo is inlaid into the base and is smooth to the touch. The base has four rubber feet which I appreciated on my wood floors. A set of spikes comes with the towers if you want to use them on carpet. The top cover of the speaker has a gloss-black finish, matching the base.
Removing the top cover gives you a view of how the speaker cover or sock is secured.
The speaker sock is secured with two independent fasteners. The first fastener allows for the tension on the drawstring to be taken up just by pulling the drawstring and sliding the fastener. Once the sock is tight, you can further increase the tension on the sides by using the small ace-bandage-style clip which provides that last bit of tension to make sure there are no wrinkles in the speaker covering.
You would normally not take the sock off the Triton Towers, but I decided to do so to see just how the speaker was constructed. Pulling the sock down the speaker reveals a perforated plastic cap at the top of the curved baffle.
The speaker cabinet is made from MDF and is only 11″ deep without the curved front panel. The perforated front panel is made from metal and reveals the driver complement underneath.
Each Triton Two Tower contains two 4.5″ cast-basket mid/bass drivers arranged in a D’Appolito configuration surrounding the high frequency tweeter.
The GoldenEar ForceField subwoofer in each speaker is comprised of two 5″ x 9″ long-throw quadratic subwoofers.
The subwoofers are coupled with two 7″ x 10″ planar infrasonic radiators which are mounted on each side at the bottom of the Triton Two Towers.
The radiator has a rigid surface and moves inside a rubber suspension like a traditional driver. The radiators help extend the bass response of the speaker by making use of the back wave generated by the subwoofers. The small panel with all the screws, just above the radiator, allows access to the interior electronics of the speaker.
The rear panel of the Triton Towers provides one set of speaker-level inputs and an input for LFE (low-frequency effects) from a receiver or processor. A volume control for the subwoofer allows for the adjustment of the subwoofer level. An IEC jack is also included for a removable power cord.
Each speaker has an Auto On/Off feature which automatically turns on the 1200 Watt DSP-controlled digital amplifier when a signal is received. The LED illuminates when an audio signal is fed to the speaker.
The next speaker in the TritonCinema Two System is the SuperSat 50C which is used as the center channel speaker in a home theater configuration. The SuperSat 50C is 27″ wide, 4.75″ high and only 2.5″ deep.
The speaker case is made from aluminum and is finished in piano-gloss black and weighs about 7 pounds. The driver complement on the SuperSat 50C is similar to the Triton Two Towers and contains two 4.5″ cast-basket mid/bass drivers arranged in a D’Appolito configuration surrounding the high frequency tweeter.
Here’s a close-up of the drivers in the SuperSat 50C. You can see the Multi-Vaned Phase Plug (MVPP) on the mid/bass drivers, which GoldenEar says helps the speakers achieve a smooth linear response.
Similar to the Triton Two Towers, the SuperSat 50C also includes two smaller 4″ x 7″ quadratic planar low-frequency radiators which help to increase the bass response of the speaker.
The rear panel contains one set of speaker-level inputs and has two keyhole slots for mounting the speaker on a wall or cabinet.
Since the speaker enclosure is curved, GoldenEar includes a unique mounting bracket which hugs the curved contour of the speaker enclosure while allowing for height and angle adjustment using a screw leveler.
This mounting bracket allows for the use of the SuperSat 50C on a flat surface and allows the speaker to be angled towards the listener for optimal performance. The SuperSat 50C also comes as a SuperSat 50 which can be mounted in a vertical position. The only difference between the 50C and the 50 is the orientation of the tweeter in the cabinet and the position of the GoldenEar logo.
The other two speakers in the TritonCinema Two System are a pair of SuperSat 3 which can be used for surround or rear channel applications, or both if you buy an extra pair. The SuperSat 3 is 4.75″ wide, 12″ high and only 2.7″ deep.
The speaker case is made from a non-resonant marble-powder -infused polymer and is finished in piano-gloss black and weighs about 5 pounds. The front covers on the SuperSat speakers are held in place by magnets and are easily removed by firmly pulling on the edge of the cover where it aligns with the speaker housing.
The driver complement on the SuperSat 3 is similar to the Triton Two Towers and contains two 4.5″ cast-basket mid/bass drivers arranged in a D’Appolito configuration surrounding the high frequency tweeter.
The rear panel contains one set of speaker-level inputs and has two keyhole slots as well as a threaded insert for mounting the speaker on a wall or cabinet.
The SuperSat 3 won’t stand up by itself, so GoldenEar includes a very nice curved bracket which installs into the lower key-hole slot on the speaker. The bracket fits perfectly against the bottom of the speaker, contains a small wire guide to help in running speaker cable, and even comes with small rubber feet built into the bracket.
All of the speakers in the TritonCinema Two System share a proprietary tweeter design which GoldenEar calls their High Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR).
Unlike a more conventional aluminum dome tweeter, which moves back and forth to push air, the material in the HVFR tweeter squeezes the air between the folds in the ribbon to produce sound. The origin of the HVFR design goes back to the “Heil air motion transformer” which was invented by Oskar Heil and patented in the 70’s. While material science has come a long way since then, the diaphragm in the GoldenEar tweeter is a folded high-temperature film which moves inside a very strong neodymium magnetic field. Sandy explains that “the folded material has a much larger surface area than a conventional dome tweeter and this gives the GoldenEar HVFR tweeter greater dynamic range and lower distortion while the smaller folded footprint gives it greater dispersion than an unfolded ribbon of similar diaphragm size.This technology results in better impedance matching with the air in the room.”
I followed Sandy’s advice on setting up the speakers and kept the connections really simple. I connected my speaker cables, plugged the Triton Two Towers into the wall and told my processor that I had Large left and right speakers with no subwoofer. I then adjusted the volume of each speaker’s subwoofer to a blended 75 dB using the test tones in my processor. That’s all there was to it. If you haven’t used a set of speakers with built-in subwoofers then you might be hesitant to rely solely on the speaker cables as the only connection. The beautiful part of using this recommended approach is that all the work has been done for you by the engineering team at GoldenEar. You don’t have to worry about phase or crossover issues and you shouldn’t have to worry about what the bass management settings in the processor or receiver are doing if you have set the front speakers to Large without a subwoofer in the system. If you feel like you might be missing something or just have to use two extra cables, the Triton Two Towers do allow for the connection of a separate LFE input from the subwoofer outputs on your processor or receiver. This connection method is supported and does require that you still set your front left and right speakers to Large, but you do get to tell the system that you have a subwoofer.
For speaker placement, I followed the GoldenEar recommendation and placed the Triton Two Towers into a basic triangle configuration with the distance between the speakers matching the approximate distance to the main listening position from each speaker. I pointed both speakers toward the listening position with the speaker axes crossing just behind the listening position. I placed the SuperSat 50C above my TV and angled the speaker down toward my favorite listening position. I used the pair of SuperSat 3 speakers as traditional surround speakers and placed them to the side and slightly behind the main listening position.
The GoldenEar Technology TritonCinema Two Home Theater Speaker System In Use
For my listening tests, I was using an Anthem Statement D2 processor, Rotel RB-1080 and RMB-1095 amplifiers, and cables and interconnects from Cardas, Monster and Emotiva. I used an Oppo BDP-95 as my reference media player.I followed GoldenEar’s recommendation and let the speakers break in for about 60 hours before doing any serious listening. I also ran the speakers with Anthem Room Correction (ARC) which, as I expected, really smoothed out the bass response in my listening room. GoldenEar also suggested that I don’t overcorrect the speakers with ARC and recommended that I set the maximum EQ frequency in ARC to approximately 1.5 kHz as compared to the default of 5 kHz. I did follow this recommendation and my perception was that this really opened up the midrange relative to using the EQ frequency all the way up to its default setting.
The first thing that struck me when listening to music with the Triton Two Towers is their amazing sense of imaging. The Tritons are able to recreate a large soundstage but at the same time they provide an exceptional amount of precision and detail. I never found myself focusing on one speaker or the other, but instead I was always engrossed in the sound that was beautifully positioned in front of me. On track four, Don’t You Remember, from Adele’s 21 CD, the music starts with the strumming of a guitar that softly fades behind Adele’s vocals. The Triton Two Towers captured the subtle details of the guitar with ease. The intensity of the track increases as the drums start to complement Adele’s soulful voice. The Triton subwoofers produced a realistic bass response in my room that blended with the music without ever overpowering or distracting from the performance. Details in the music and in Adele’s voice were abundant and the Triton Two Towers just disappeared into the background.
On the Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company CD, track six, “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?” with Bonnie Raitt, the Triton Two Towers easily allowed Ray Charles and Bonnie Raitt to be center stage in my room. Vocals were exceptionally textured and notes lingered effortlessly as the duo sang this great song. There was clear placement of instruments in the soundstage. From the detail in the electric guitar, to the snap of the drums and percussion instruments, the Triton Two Towers did an amazing job of bringing to life the warmth of these wonderful duets with Ray Charles. Sandy says that he calls this ability of the speakers to put the musicians in your room, “suspension of disbelief”.
I was really amazed at how I could listen to the Triton Two Towers for hours without experiencing the listening fatigue that often happens with speaker systems. This experience was consistent for me regardless of listening volume. I shared that observation with Sandy Gross and he explained to me that the reason for the lack of fatigue could be found in the ability of the HVFR tweeter to produce sound without much of the “hash or noise” that is produced from typical aluminum dome tweeters.
For high resolution music content, I explored an exquisite Blu-ray disc titled Chris Botti in Boston. If you don’t know who Chris Botti is, he is an exceptional jazz trumpet player and an amazing entertainer. This concert was performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra in 2008 and features performances with artists such as Sting, Josh Groban, Yo-Yo Ma, Katherine McPhee, and Steven Tyler to name a few. In addition to gorgeous video, the disc contains a reference quality 7.1 channel (96 kHz/24 bit) Dolby True HD soundtrack. There is easily something for everyone on this disc. On chapter five, Josh Groban performs Broken Vow and the Triton Two Towers in combination with the SuperSat 50C formed an expansive soundstage which showcased Josh Groban’s amazing vocal range. On chapter seven, Chris Botti and Mark Whitfield perform a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. While many people only know this song as the love theme from the first Shrek movie, this version is exquisitely beautiful. The Tritons captured the wonderful interplay of Chris Botti’s trumpet with Mark Whitfield’s elegant guitar work. The Tritons rendered each note from both instruments with ease. The high notes never sounded harsh and the long, slow notes from the trumpet and the picking on the guitar would effortlessly linger in the room and then quietly fade until another magical note took their place. On chapter 15, Billy Kilson performs on the drums with accompaniment from Chris Botti, Mark Whitfield, and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Billy Kilson’s drum work was just mesmerizing. I was really pleased with how well the Triton Two Tower subwoofers were able to create strong, subsonic bass response while not overpowering the performance. I was also impressed with how well the SuperSat 50C blended into the sound stage. The ability of the SuperSat 50C to contribute to the bass performance felt as if another small subwoofer had been added to the mix. The Tritons were positively addictive when it came to producing the beautiful music from Chris Botti and his friends.
I’ve never had the luxury of having a separate room for music and another for home theater, and I’ve always felt that speakers that perform for music do just fine for movies as well. I was definitely not disappointed with the TritonCinema Two System when it came to movies. The SuperSat 50C performed well in terms of bass response and overall vocal clarity. In Win Win, Paul Giamatti deals with family challenges and second chances. The Triton Two Towers and the SuperSat 50C presented the movie’s dialog with great detail and I especially loved the appropriate transition to Bon Jovi’s “Have a Nice Day.”I was already very pleased with the Triton’s bass response with music, and I was curious how the Triton Two Towers would handle some extreme subwoofer challenges.
In the opening minutes of the movie Priest, which is kind of a wild-west meets postwar-apocalyptic-vampire movie, a family is threatened by an unknown assailant. I was watching the characters eating dinner in a small cabin when my entire listening room begins to quake from the deep subsonic bass coming from the Triton Two Towers. I was shocked at just how much bass was coming from these relatively small towers. After shaking the room for more than a few seconds, the bass promptly comes to a dead stop as the vampire enters the room. The Triton Two Towers and the Super Sat 50C had no trouble producing this incredible bass and grabbing my attention for this scene.The SuperSat 3 did a great job with the sound effects in this movie, and I also enjoyed hearing some of Mozart’s Requiem on the sound track from this film.
In Transformers, Dark of the Moon, the TritonCinema Two System did everything I could ask for in recreating this sci-fi spectacle from director Michael Bay. While the story and the acting may not be the best, this movie is all about special effects and of course sound effects. When the paratroopers are approaching Chicago, there is a scene where the rotors on the transport plane sound like they have just ripped through the room. This scene is an excellent test of bass response and the Triton Two Towers and the SuperSat 50C produced more than enough bass so that each turn of the rotor blades could be felt pushing air throughout the room. From the mayhem of the battles, the crashing of buildings, to the laser cannon blasts that could be felt throughout the room, the TritonCinema Two System managed to effectively recreate this movie in all its sci-fi glory.
The GoldenEar Technology TritonCinema Two Home Theater Speaker System On the Bench
The distortion measurements were taken with the microphone at one foot from the mid/bass driver for the 100 Hz, 1 kHz, and THD+N vs. Frequency tests. The measurements were taken with the microphone at one foot from the tweeter for the 10 kHz test.
Triton Two Tower Measurements:
At 100 Hz and 90 dB output, THD+N measured 0.45317%.
Since the Triton Two Towers have built-in subwoofers, I wanted to see how the speaker performed at a much lower frequency. At 50 Hz and 90 dB output, THD+N measured at 0.87512%.
At 1 kHz and 90 dB output, THD+N measured a low 0.33780%.
At 10 kHz and 90 dB output, THD+N measured 0.47793%.
This graph shows THD+N vs. Frequency with 1 kHz set to 90 dB. Distortion is generally low throughout the spectrum but rises as the frequency approaches the lower limits of the built-in subwoofer at 20 Hz.
SuperSat 50C Measurements:
At 100 Hz and 90 dB output, THD+N measured 5.53330%. This gives you a sense for the limits of the passive radiators. Although the speaker is rated at 60 Hz, it has higher distortion values at lower frequencies. GoldenEar recommends that a high-pass filter be used with the SuperSat 50C to redirect bass to the very capable Triton Two Towers. In this case, a filter of approximately 120 – 140 Hz would be appropriate.
At 1 kHz and 90 dB output, THD+N measured a low 0.39071%.
At 10 kHz and 90 dB output, THD+N measured a low 0.39596%.
This graph shows THD+N vs. Frequency with 1 kHz set to 90 dB. Distortion rises as the frequency goes below 140 Hz.
SuperSat 3 Measurements:
At 100 Hz and 84.6 dB output, THD+N measured a high 34.09903%. Although the speaker is rated at 80 Hz, it was not able to produce low distortion output at low frequencies in my tests. I did not drive the speaker to 90 dB in this test since I was very close to clipping. These results weren’t surprising since the SuperSat 3 is not intended to drive bass frequencies. GoldenEar recommends that a high-pass filter be used with the SuperSat 3 to redirect bass to the Triton Two Towers. In this case, a filter of approximately 160 – 180 Hz would be appropriate.
I wanted to see how the SuperSat 3 performed at a more reasonable low frequency, so I re-ran the test at 160 Hz and 90 dB output. THD+N measured 5.60427%. This result reinforces the benefit of filtering bass away from the SuperSat 3 and to the Triton Two Towers.
At 1 kHz and 90 dB output, THD+N measured a low 0.34857%.
At 10 kHz and 90 dB output, THD+N measured 0.50947%.
This graph shows THD+N vs. Frequency with 1 kHz set to 90 dB. Distortion rises significantly as the frequency goes below 200 Hz.
Conclusions About the GoldenEar Technology TritonCinema Two Home Theater Speaker System
Sandy Gross, Don Givogue and their team at GoldenEar Technology have done an outstanding job creating the GoldenEar TritonCinema Two System. The entire system can easily be used to create a multi-purpose theater for superb performance with both music and movies, and the Triton Two Towers can certainly stand on their own as the cornerstone of an excellent two-channel system. Each speaker is well built with strong attention to detail. The outstanding drivers coupled with the exceptional performance of the High Velocity Folded Ribbon tweeter gives each speaker in the system the ability to reproduce sound with wonderful clarity.Together, the Triton speakers produce a sound stage that is thoroughly enjoyable and frequently addictive. I certainly enjoyed the opportunity to experience the TritonCinema Two System speakers and highly recommend them. If you are looking for new speakers, by all means give the GoldenEar Technology speakers an audition.