The BRX sits at the top rung of the ladder in GoldenEar’s Bookshelf Series—a lineup that includes the well-regarded Aon Models 2 and 3. This two-way compact employs a driver complement similar to that of the Aons, but the similarities stop there. The BRX goes a step further by tapping into the high-end technologies of the Triton Series Reference tower speakers. Barely topping a foot in height and finished in a deep, hand-rubbed black lacquer, the BRX cabinets look elegant. Edges are softly rounded, side panels flare outward slightly from front-to-back, where discrete grilles cover the passive planar radiators beneath.
Taking a look under the hood, there’s a lot going on inside the BRX’s well-braced enclosure. There are four drivers in total—two active ones, including a ribbon tweeter, otherwise known as Golden- Ear’s Reference High-Gauss High-Velocity Folded Ribbon (this is the same Air-Motion Transformer [AMT] type used in both the Triton Reference and Triton One.R.), and a 6″ polypropylene-cone mid/bass transducer, cradled in a cast-basket with GoldenEar’s focused-field magnet structure. The mid/bass cone has a proprietary curve for superior internal damping and speed. It’s also the same basic driver used in GoldenEar’s Triton Reference tower.
Positioned at either side of the cabinet are a pair of inertially balanced, 6.5″ passive planar radiators. They acoustically load the active mid/bass driver, as well as couple bass energy to the room. While passive radiators are less commonly used than ports, they tend to achieve the same goals, while avoiding the turbulence and resonances often found in some (not all) ported bass-reflex configuration. GE’s “balanced crossover” uses a floating configuration and sports high-quality film capacitors. Even the internal speaker wire has been sourced from the Triton Reference. The BRX’s sensitivity is rated at 90dB, with a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, which makes for an easy drive. But don’t scrimp on amp quality since the mid/bass driver likes power, and you’ll want to get the most sugar you can out of the sweet ribbon tweeter.
In sonic performance, the BRX is a natural, in the sense that it just seems born to play chamber and jazz classics. It reproduces the timbral and harmonic complexities and spatial qualities of real acoustic settings as if they are etched into its DNA. Tonally, the BRX has a neutral-to-warmish signature. Midrange octaves are rich and textured, with a more romantic timbral character that reproduces music in a mellower light, as if it has a softer rose complexion. There are no discernable audio suckouts in response. In this regard, the BRX has an especially deft touch with winds and layered strings, which it transmits with a buoyancy that lifts them within the orchestra. The BRX even stands up to the challenge of reproducing the blat of a trombone or the thick reedy airflow of a tenor sax, recreating both with recognizable heft and impact and only minor compression.
The BRX floats a compellingly dimensional soundstage in the listening room—a feature consistent with a speaker that seems to avoid the more confrontational, forward-leaning (okay, aggressive) signature of many small monitors. Imaging is very good and well-focused, but always rooted within the musical whole of the performance rather than standing outside it. In painterly terms, the BRX is more of a landscape artist than a portraitist. Rather than zeroing in on a closeup to the exclusion of the overall atmosphere of the performance, the BRX creates a canvas that takes in the larger picture. I’d describe its perspective as slightly relaxed, as if you were seated just a row or two farther back from the stage. BRX successfully walks the fine line between parts and wholes like few compacts I’ve heard in my listening room.
Its treble range is well-nigh effortless—agile, airily transparent, and non-fatiguing in the way ribbon tweeters tend to be. The critical sibilance range is smooth and natural. An excellent voice speaker, the BRX expertly registers a singer’s subtle shifts of emotion by means of dynamic and timbral modulations.