What is more, GoldenEar has fitted the production-version Triton Sevens with all-new, long-throw mid/bass drivers—ones that dramatically up the performance vis-à-vis the firm’s previous mid/basses. Audio journalists and dealers who heard the prototype Triton Sevens at CES 2013 are in for a real surprise, because the difference these new mid/bass drivers make is a large one. They offer audibly higher resolution and quicker transient response than GoldenEar’s previous mid/basses did, which is saying a mouthful given that the original drivers were already quite good.
Second, the mid/bass drivers also offer superior dynamic performance across the board, not just in the sense of being able to play more loudly (although they certainly can do that), but also in the sense of revealing far subtler shadings of dynamic expression.
Third, the new drivers have significantly higher excursion limits than their precursors did, which means they not only play gracefully at higher output levels but also offer much more extended bass response than before. Unbelievable though this may seem, when augmented by the Triton Seven’s passive radiators, those little mid/bass drivers produce authoritative (and I mean really authoritative) low-end response that extends well down into the 30Hz range.
Finally, the Triton Seven enclosure is special. The slender towers are designed to provide the desirable damping characteristics of a transmission-line enclosure with the low-end weight, power, and efficiency of a sophisticated passive radiator-equipped system. To this end, GoldenEar strategically positions what are said to be very effective though costly damping materials directly behind the twin mid/basses in the upper part of the tower. The damping materials give the speaker excellent driver control through the midrange, upper bass, and midbass regions. But, as frequencies descend, the damping materials allow the towers to “open up,” permitting back-wave energy from the mid/bass drivers to couple with their associated passive radiators in an extremely efficient way. The result is bass that is taut, tuneful, and rhythmically correct, yet offers the kind of low-frequency weight and slam typically associated with much bigger speakers. Not a bad day’s work for a pair of 5.25" drivers, eh? (Hint: You can probably win wagers among audiophile friends by daring them to guess the size of the Triton Sevens’ “woofers.”)
Put all of these factors together and you get what I think is— dollar for dollar—the finest affordable high-end loudspeaker I’ve yet heard (and I say this from the perspective of being an enthusiastic user of Magnepan 1.7 planar-magnetic loudspeakers, which many of my colleagues and I consider the greatest single bargain in all of high-end audio). Let me offer some observations based on real-world listening experiences to help support that statement.
One of best qualities of the Triton Seven is its almost eerie sense of focus. This became clear for me as I listened to a series of tracks from Anne Bisson’s Portraits & Perfumes [Camilio Records]. Ms. Bisson has a distinctive voice that is light and breathy yet full of underlying richness and hints of wry humor just waiting to be released. If you have ever heard Ms. Bisson speak or sing, you might agree that her voice is unforgettable. When I played Portraits & Perfumes through the Triton Sevens there was that voice—sounding palpable, present, richly textured, and real—looming between the loudspeakers and positioned just a few feet behind them. One might expect (or at least hope for) such moments of realism from loudspeakers carrying steep price tags, but it is a real rarity to hear them served up by speakers selling for just $1399/pair. But with the Triton Sevens, moments of realism like these seem to occur early and often.