I’ve reviewed a number of great speakers over the last few years, all of which have had prices to match. The GoldenEar Triton One is an exception. It provides both extraordinary sound quality and value for money. It does not fall short in a single major area of performance, it is intensely musical, and it sells for a semi-affordable $5000 a pair. It is also a speaker that has produced an exceptional amount of unsolicited praise from outside listeners, regardless of musical taste—even among the set that regards any visible stereo equipment as an assault on its room décor.
This doesn’t mean that the Triton One is free of sonic compromises or design choices—issues I’ll get to later in this review. What is particularly striking about these design choices, however, is their focus on reproducing acoustic music with a natural mix of midrange and treble energy, and deep bass extension.
This focus should be the standard for all loudspeaker designs, but too many competing speakers exaggerate the upper midrange to get apparent detail at the expense of natural midrange warmth and treble air, emphasizing a “forward” sound at the expense of the soundstage perspective of live music. Others exaggerate deep bass energy at the cost of bass detail, as well as added room interaction. In contrast, the Triton Ones are striking to the extent they never emphasize one type of music or approach to recording over musical realism. The end result is long-term listening pleasure.
Features, Technology, and Their Impact on Core Sound Quality
I did not reach these conclusions without having to overcome some initial prejudices based on reading the manufacturer literature. Too many adjectives and superlatives, too many features, and too much technobabble. Once I began listening, however, I could hear the benefits of the Triton One’s design features, and quickly put the inevitable marketing hype aside.
The Triton One’s folded-ribbon tweeter provides some of the smoothest, break-up-free, non-resonant upper-octave musical detail I’ve heard at any price. It also is well integrated with the 5.25" cone midrange drivers positioned above and below it in a D’Appolito configuration. The midrange drivers operate in an unusually large two-chamber enclosure that is sealed off from the enclosure for the bass drivers.
This combination of drivers provides extremely realistic response from the lower midrange up to around 15kHz. It does so without the exaggeration or hardening of the upper midrange that can impress for a few hours or days, but then becomes irritating and creates fatigue when you listen to the upper range of instruments like piano, clarinet, flute, violin, and recorder, or female voice. The drivers in Triton One also have the clarity, speed, and accuracy necessary to reproduce brush and cymbal detail realistically (as well as applause, if you can treat applause as a percussion instrument for a moment or two).
This may be the result of the fact the Triton One seems to have a slight dip in response in the area where the ear is most sensitive to excess upper-midrange hardness and energy, but its tweeter then has a smoothly rising frequency response from around 7–8kHz upwards to 15kHz, where it then slowly drops back down to flat response at 20kHz. This rise occurs after the limit—or well above the limit—where most people can hear musical detail in the upper frequencies, but below the limit where listeners can detect the presence of high-frequency data as a contribution to musical air and life.
The end result is that the rising response of the Triton One at the higher treble frequencies produces an added touch of life and air that is far more musically realistic to me than “punching up” the upper midrange to get detail that you will never hear at any normal listening position with live music.