The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said there are no second acts in American lives. But what about third acts? Speaker impresario Sandy Gross is a cofounder of two of the best-known companies in the home theater/audio biz: Polk Audio and Definitive Technology. Ever since Gross and design partner/Def Tech cofounder Don Givogue exited the industry a few years back, we've wondered what they've been up to. Deep- sea fishing? Bird watching? Chess? Turns out the answer is none of the above. Predictably, the pair went back to what they know best: making speakers.
It's unusual for us to associate the names of specific individuals with the products we cover in Sound+Vision. Gross, however, is not your typical speaker-company president. Rather, he's a dedicated audiophile who likes to have a hand in all aspects of the biz, from design and production to packaging. There are even stories about him getting directly on the phone with customers! That sort of thing is fairly common in the high-end audio arena, but it?s almost unheard of in the affordable-audio arena where Sandy and Don made their mark.
Taking past history into account, it should come as no surprise that the stated mission of the duo's new venture, GoldenEar Technology, is to deliver high-quality speakers at an affordable price. GoldenEar's inaugural product range includes the Triton Two towers, the SuperSat 50/50C LCR speakers, the SuperSat 3/3C LCR satellites, and the ForceField 3 and 4 subwoofers. The speakers can be bought individually or in pairs, and GoldenEar also offers 5.1 or more-channel packages for surround sound setups.
Confident that a stereo-only configuration would suffice to show off its stuff , GoldenEar sent us the Triton Two towers. The Triton Two's cabinet flares out gently from a slim 5 1/4-inch width in front to a 7 1/2-inch width in back. The cabinet is fully enclosed in black mesh except for its top surface and base, both of which sport a piano black finish. A perforated steel element located on the front baffle (under the mesh) serves as an acoustic "lens" to optimize lateral dispersion. The resulting arched front helps to give the Triton Two a stealthy, disappearing look: When viewed straight on, the speakers appear slimmer than they actually are.
Other concerns that contributed to the Triton Two's unique cabinet design were a need to maximize internal volume and to create non-parallel walls for smoother response. Each speaker packs a good amount of hardware. A built-in subwoofer section contains a 1,200-watt, DSP- controlled amp driving two 5 x 9-inch "racetrack" woofers coupled to a pair of 7 x 10-inch passive radiators. The rest of the speaker's driver complement includes two 4 1/2-inch mid/bass drivers arranged directly above and below a folded-ribbon tweeter. (GoldenEar calls this a High Velocity Folded Ribbon — HVFR for short.)
That HVFR tweeter, which is similar in design to the one found in MartinLogan's Motion Series speakers (click here to read the review), is worth a few words here. Derived from the Heil air-motion transformer — a technology birthed during hi-fi's heady experimental period in the 1970s — it consists of a pleated film positioned within a magnetic field that makes the pleats open and close in an accordion-like manner, thus squeezing air to create sound. A benefit to this design is that the tweeter's relatively large surface area (8 inches, as opposed to a 1-inch conventional dome tweeter) allows for more sound to be generated with less motion, which increases driver efficiency and minimizes distortion.
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