In the early 1970’s Sandy Gross helped co-found Polk Audio and then teamed with Don Givogue in 1990 to found Definitive Technology. Now, Sandy Gross and Don Givogue have joined forces once again to create a third loudspeaker company: GoldenEar Technology. To say that these guys have speaker manufacturing in their blood would be, if you’ll pardon the pun, a gross understatement. But look deeper and you’ll see a common conceptual thread that links all three of these firms across the decades: namely, a passionate commitment to the idea that high-end audio should be accessible to the vast majority of music and movie lovers—not just to an elite few with the deepest of deep pockets.
I would say that Sandy Gross and Don Givogue have consciously taken a pragmatic approach to high-end audio, which might seem like a contradiction in terms to some, but that is a concept that Gross and Givogue have, over the years, turned into an art form. In practice this means several things. For starters, it means that Sandy and Don understand, appreciate, and enjoy legitimately great high-end audio components—the kind that deliver no-excuses performance first and last, and that reach that elusive place where science and art merge, yielding no small amount of sonic magic. It also means, however, that Gross and Givogue are painfully aware that relatively few would-be enthusiasts can actually afford the top-shelf components whose sound they so deeply admire (spirits are willing, but wallets are not). Faced with this dilemma, and never being ones to accept the status quo, Gross and Givogue have made it their near-lifelong mission to figure out ways and means of building speakers that deliver genuine high-end performance, yet can profitably be sold at Everyman prices (thus providing what I call, “high-end sound for the rest of us”).
This is not, of course, a new idea, but the truth is that while many speaker makers have learned to talk the talk, few can actually walk the walk, which is a shame. The road to hell, as the old saying goes, is paved with good intentions, and in the loudspeaker universe I think it is also paved by ostensibly good product designs that are crippled by inadequate engineering resources and a lack of manufacturing know-how, or that fall prey to half-baked business plans.
What’s really needed in order to get the job done, and what Gross and Givogue are uniquely well qualified to provide, is the elusive combination of vision, experience, genuinely keen and discerning ears, a restless and inventive streak that won’t settle for mediocre solutions, pure technical know-how and lots of it, and, importantly, proven business and customer service models that have stood the test of time. Put all these ingredients together and what you get is GoldenEar Technology.
GoldenEar’s first product was the flagship Triton Two floorstanding loudspeaker ($2449.98/pair), which has been winning friends, blowing minds, and influencing people since the moment it debuted last fall at CEDIA 2010. Now, we have a chance to audition GoldenEar’s TritonCinema Two 5-channel surround system ($3499.95), which consists of a pair of Triton Two floorstanders used as left/right main speakers, a SuperSat 50C center channel speaker, and a pair of SuperSat 3 satellites used as surround speakers.
Interestingly, the system neither specifies nor requires standalone subwoofers, since both of the Triton Two floorstanders contain highly capable, built-in powered subwoofers of their own. All elements of the system are precisely voice-matched to one another with the sonic results that are, as you’ll learn in a moment, breathtakingly good. As a result, the TritonCinema Two system not only offers stunning value for money, but is exceedingly good when judged by any standard (meaning the attractive pricetag seems, well, like extra icing on the cake).
Important note: while this may not be the first review you read of the TritonCinema Two system, we believe it may be one of the first to cover the final production version of the system (just like the ones enthusiasts will be able to buy). The fact is that early GoldenEar press samples of the Triton Two’s (including the ones sent to The Perfect Vision) were identical to the pilot production models first demonstrated at CEDIA 2010. The Perfect Vision learned, however, that GoldenEar had made small but significant improvements in the control circuit for the Triton Two subwoofer amplifier—changes that have been incorporated in all production model Triton Two’s shipped to GoldenEar dealers. Accordingly, TPV elected to delay its review until its Triton Two review samples could be retrofitted with final production-version amplifier control boards, which proved to be a good decision. The change essentially redefines the neutral tonal balance point for the user-adjustable subwoofer amp, giving the production Triton Two’s an even clearer, better balanced sound than the CEDIA demo units exhibited (plus a more usable real-world range of amplifier adjustments).