GoldenEar Technology TritonCinema Three Speaker System
Price: $2,995 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.
If they had the capacity to feel, I’m sure each new GoldenEar Technology Triton Three tower loudspeaker would be experiencing a similar emotional state of inferiority as it gets dressed in a nice, new sock and sent out into the cruel, distortion-filled world. The inescapable truth is that the Triton Three is the fresh-faced little brother to the phenomenal Triton Two. And when I say phenomenal, I mean ph’ing phenomenal. They’re the kind of speakers St. Peter has at the entrance to heaven playing swelling, celestial music as the gates majestically open, allowing you to enter and high-five the saints, chitchat about what a dull place purgatory is, and join in complaining, “What, manna for dinner, again?” Knowing this, most loudspeakers would give up and resign themselves to living a life slumming among the mass-merchandised, poster-board-and-duct-tape-constructed, unbelievably sorry excuses for sound-emitting devices that infest the display shelves and stock rooms of the major chains. But the Triton Threes—maybe because of that sock pulled over their eyes—naïvely rush out into the world seeking fame and fortune.
Forget The Past
You can be forgiven (barely) if you haven’t heard of GoldenEar Technology because they’ve only been around since June 2010. But while the company may be young, the folks behind the brand are anything but newcomers in the business. In fact, if it’s true that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, then Sandy Gross must have a stupendously awful memory. After cofounding one of the best-selling loudspeaker brands around, Polk Audio, in the early 1970s, Gross did it again (oops!) and founded (with engineering partner Don Givogue) Definitive Technology in the early 1990s where, among other things, they pushed forward the concept of powered subwoofers in full-range speakers. Evidently, Gross and Givogue couldn’t leave well enough alone, and the pair is now intent on creating what’s shaping up to be another world-class speaker company.
I reviewed one of the first pairs of Triton Twos last year and was totally awestruck by how incredible—in the delicacy of the high end and the terrifying power in the low end—they were. Superlatives cracked and strained under the pressure of accurately conveying how well these speakers performed. Of course, for speakers (now) costing around $3,000 a pair, they damn well ought to have sounded good. Still, even at that price, the Triton Twos sounded better than they had a right to—that is, like a speaker that costs much more. Unfortunately for those of us whose ears happened to be in much better shape than our finances, all we could do was look forward to the day when GoldenEar would do the seemingly impossible again and engineer a way to squeeze most of that sound out of a more affordable package. The new Triton Threes are GoldenEar’s attempt to do just that.
It's In The Genes
As you’d expect of siblings, there’s a great deal of DNA shared between the Triton Twos and Threes. Both models feature gloss-black top caps and bases, with everything in between covered by a tightly woven, black grille cloth sock. Narrower in the front than in the back, the trapezoidal shape of the speaker cabinets provides multiple benefits. Visually, it gives the Triton towers their distinctive appearance; while from an audio standpoint, the non-parallel sides help reduce the effects of standing waves inside the cabinet. The most important benefit, however, Sandy Gross pointed out, is the fact that the Tritons end up with a relatively narrow front baffle. Narrow front baffles have their advantages because they minimize the time delay between when the sound radiated into the room from the driver itself reaches your ears and when the accompanying sound reradiated from diffraction at the edges of the baffle finally make it down the canal to your cochlea. The theory is that the longer the delay, the more likely it is that your brain is going to figure out you’re listening to a box and not an instrument.
A curved, mesh grille mounted on the front baffle under the cloth gives the impression that the cabinet itself has a rounded front—adding to the unusual looks. While it’s true to say that, visually, the Triton Threes are a slimmed-down version of the Triton Twos, it doesn’t fully convey the fact that whereas the Twos have a majestic, regal stature that commands attention, the more modest proportions of the Threes (44 x 7 x 13 inches) allow them to become a part of the room rather than the main attraction.