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GoldenEar Triton Five: Some of the best-sounding speakers under $5K only cost $2K

When speaker designer and GoldenEar Technology founder, Sandy Gross, called me up to tell me his company’s new Triton Five speaker was performing far better than expected, I got the feeling I was going to have a problem. Then, when I heard the Triton Five at CES 2015, I knew I was in for it. I just awarded the GoldenEar Technology Triton One a perfect 10 rating — I even said I would marry the damn things — and they totally deserve my raves … that’s not the problem. The problem is, I like the Triton Five speakers even more,  and they cost $3,000 less. That’s right, the best-sounding speakers I’ve ever heard under $5K only cost $2,000/pair.

And now I get to explain myself.

Lest you think I’m on GoldenEar’s payroll or perhaps a man prone to rampant hyperbole, hit the Googles and take a look at what my colleagues are saying about the Triton One. See? Everyone is raving. In fact, the consensus among the pros is that the entire Triton series is truly revolutionary. But the Triton Five? They absolutely rock the speaker world’s foundation to its core. That a pair of speakers can sound this good for just $2,000 speaks volumes about their creators, and forces into question the current state of the high-end audio industry.

GoldenEar Triton Five

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

To be fair, there are some very competitive speakers out there around the $2,000 mark, including those from Aperion, SVS, PSB, B&W, Paradigm, KEF, and even GoldenEar’s own Triton Two and Three — but what I heard from the Triton Five during my brief demonstration has them all beat.

Before I go on to explain why the Five are so great, let me first explain why I feel the Triton One are still a best-in-class speaker. In a word: Bass. The Triton One can deliver gut-punching low end unlike anything else in the Triton lineup, thanks in part to a combined 3,600 watts of built-in amplification. That kind of power will allow you to go without a separate subwoofer in a home theater rig, and it will deliver huge sound in the most cavernous of spaces … stuff the Triton Five can’t quite pull off.

But when it comes to midrange clarity and presence, and overall balance from top to bottom, the Triton Five take the crown. The larger 6-inch drivers at use here (the largest mid/woofers in use across the Triton lineup) add upper midbass punch, and cast a warm, rich glow that makes everything from the meatiness of an upright bass to the resonant thwack of a brush hitting a snare drum seem that much more realistic.

The top end, of course, is what really sets GoldenEar’s speakers apart, thanks to a folded ribbon tweeter that must get sprinkled with some kind of magic fairy dust at the factory, because it sounds better to me than most of the folded ribbons employed by competitors.

Then there’s the bass, handled by a combination of the Five’s dual 6-inch woofers coupled to four 8-inch passive radiators in each speaker, two on each side. I would characterize the bass as remarkably musical, with deep tonal accuracy, and just enough slam to let you know they’re packing enough heat to handle nearly any type of music you may throw at them. GoldenEar says the Five get all the way down to 26Hz, but we’ll find out how that plays out in a more conventional setup when we perform our full review later this year.

Add it all together and the Triton Five deliver the kind of pure musical bliss some people pay upwards of $10,000 for.

GoldenEar Triton Five

Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Sandy Gross knows I’m partial to brass, so he treated me to a very well-recorded rendition of Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. Now, I’ve played this piece myself countless times, and listened to multitudes of orchestras perform their take on this well-recognized selection through a wide array of speakers and amplifiers, and I’ve never heard a blend between the fundamentals and their overtones quite like that before. It was organic, natural, free-range, and cage free — really, how do I communicate the realism here? Let’s just say that the Triton Five did as well as I would expect from speakers twice their size and five times their price.

The following selection played for me was that of a Japanese jazz trio’s rendition of the classic standard, “Misty.” This was no lullaby of a ballad, though. Rather, the song took the form of an uptempo swing reminiscent of the great Ray Brown Trio, or perhaps Oscar Peterson’s Trio featuring Ray Brown. The etch of each and every piano string strike was so realistic, I could hear the individual hammers as they struck, each chord as coherent and resonant as the piano itself. The drums, too, were resolved with incredible detail, exposing the transient strike of each drum head and cymbal, followed by the warm, full-bodied ring that followed.

All of this came from a speaker a fraction of the Triton One’s size, and with a smaller footprint, too, likely making them a much easier addition to most folks’ rooms.

Granted, this was a brief audition, and GoldenEar Technology’s setup, from hardware to acoustic treatments, is something few can or will duplicate at home. Still, this isn’t my first go-round with the Triton series, and I know from experience they never disappoint once you take them home. I’ll tell you more about it when I get a pair in for myself.

Pre-orders for the Triton Five are being taken now through authorized GoldenEar Technology dealers, with delivery anticipated to begin sometime this Spring. You can find a list of dealers at GoldenEar’s dealer locater page.