In our music reviews we hope to give you insight into those select few recordings which offer more value than average in one respect or another. Our mission is to really expose not just works which the performance it self is top notch, but those which also have outstanding sound quality.
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Equipment Review, Golden Ear Triton II Follow-Up Review & cheapo suggestions tooPublished 2014-11-29
Pictured here is all the amps I tested with these speakers, results below; Our Reference Rogue Cronus Magnum (bottom), Marantz Network Receiver immediate right of Triton II's, followed by the 10wpc Jolida FX10, and Marantz Integrated PM5005 ($499.00 40w/p/c mentioned by the customer below) but W/O the sources built into the Marantz M-CR510 30w/p/c) which I suggested as the ultimate source below. The customer preferred this choice as the PM5005 has a nice sounding phono stage built in, and his source is to be our exceptional Music Hall mmf2.2 turntable.
With St. Nick just around the corner, here’s an Absolutely Absurd thought for a Full Range System suggestion!
…as even though we’ve only been in town a few weeks, we’ve learned many of our record buying customers are great appreciator’s of “classical” and other more challenging forms of natural music” for a typical stereo to reproduce believably! These are the people who can immediately identify the timbre of a real piano, flute, cello, etc., and when they hear that coming out of a pair of speakers, (non-live event), they really appreciate it!
So, though we are not yet a fully functioning Hi-Fi store, as we have only brought in a few of our favorite things, here’s a suggestion if you wanted to circumvent the usual expenditure to achieve a similar result…
…and at the same time, a follow-up review, of the amazing Golden Ear Triton II Speakers…
By now, anyone who’s visited us and sat down for a spell in the “Hi-Fi side” of our new record store, knows we’re rather fond of our new Golden Ear Triton II speakers. Of the four models of Golden Ears we have, these are the ones who have been getting the most customer interest as well. Because of this, I decided to test the reality of some of their touted merits. The biggest of which, is their rated efficiency of 91db. The average speaker has an efficiency rating in the mid 80’s, (each single number step is twice as efficient) so a rating of 91db suggests they “should be” real easy to drive with lower powered amplifiers. It’s interesting though, that in our particular industry (consumer electronics), the governing body that sets the rules for product claims, “the FCC” does a very poor job of placing any meaningful limits on what manufacturers can claim. Watts per channel for instance is an excellent example. Haven’t we all done the preverbal double take when seeing the little plastic stereo boom box at the local chain store, claiming “100 watts per channel” (w/p/c)….now do we actually believe that if we connect said plastic boom-box amplifier to a pair of “real speakers” of ANY EFFECIENCY RATING, that the little microchip amplifier there-in, will drive them??? For most of us who have some grasp of basic electro-mechanics, lets’ hope not! However, watts per channel has caused a surprising amount of confusion over the years, as many customers try to make decisions about what to buy and connect together. And far too often, results-versus expectations, end up pretty far off. This rather loose FCC standard is a major reason that our more respected amplifier manufacturers build in safeguards, preventing customers from over driving amplifiers when connecting to less efficient speakers. So to get back to my story, I had a couple of customers audition the afore mentioned speakers. One plans to drive them with our Rogue Cronus Magnum amplifier which will definitely do the job, and with great ease and musical integrity. The other however has a more conservative budget and was mentioning that with the Triton’s high efficiency rating, he was considering a very modestly amplifier with a low power rating of about 40 w/p/c. So knowing that rated speaker efficiency, rated amplifier power, and a few other variables does not guaranty that any given set of components are going to behave as expected, I decided to put said assumption to the test. Now here’s where it gets interesting. First, I grabbed a 30 w/p/c amplifier, similar to that suggested by the customer. Also, let me say that I use about 20 different standards to measure amp/speaker performance. Two of the more appreciable standards are “size of sound stage” and “enjoyable frequency range” or (top to bottom fullness). (Really makes a difference with classical music). With these two standards, I was simply amazed by what I heard. The 30 w/p/c solid state (receiver/amp) was giving almost the same level of performance as our reference amplifier (straight amp), to which these speakers had been connected. The reference amplifier is about 100 w/p/c. and costs about 5x as much. Of course, the other harder to define characteristics were being done with somewhat less integrity, but for most people, it would be difficult to identify what those performance differences actually equate to, especially in monetary terms. The second test, which involved an even lower powered amplifier (only 10 w/p/c), of course, netted yet completely different results. This time, due much in part to the type of amplifier, it was (fully tubed), the sound stage was still surprisingly impressive, but the tube sound actually made the overall system synergy seem like a much more expensive rig, with a sweet liquid (almost euphoric) midrange usually reserved for much more expensive systems. Now to be fair, our reference amplifier (is also an all tube design also), but unlike the dramatically less expensive one I used on this second test, known for its over the top tube sound, our reference amp is of much higher integrity and sounds more like solid state, especially in terms of its accuracy and control. But more to the point, I have to conclude, that Golden Ear Triton II truly has been conservatively rated at 91db, and it demonstrated to me, that it is a much more rare speaker attribute in today’s loosely rated industry. Obviously, Sandy Gross and Co. knows a thing or two about speaker design, in that a high efficiency rating does not automatically equate to “easy to drive”. Other factors, such as stable impedance characteristics, also play a significant role in true speaker efficiency. Especially if one plans to use a lower powered amplifier to drive them with. To which Golden Ear is obviously in tune!
…This almost tempted me to go get that boom box amplifier and hook em’ up…but perhaps that’s a bit silly, after all, these are serious speakers built to very high quality standards. And as I’ve learned in playing with these with several different source components, ones which will absolutely pay you back with greater and greater sonic rewards, as you improve various elements throughout the system, from speaker wire to turntables. This allows them to give every ounce of musical nuance, detail, and range, that the ultimate source has to offer, and makes for a very fulfilling and satisfying musical experience!
So in summary I must say, yes Virginia, there really is a low powered amplifier solution to a Golden Eared system. And it could get you amazingly good performance at a cost not much more than the speakers themselves. Imagine, a $3000.00 pair of full range speakers, being 4/5th the part of a $3500.00 sound system. For most people, and this industry at large, this is absolutely Absurd!
Pictured above are all the amps I tested with these speakers, the least expensive combo I suggest would be the Marantz M-CR510 as this would give you multiple sources and a decent sounding 30wpc amplifier all in one box for a paltry amount of $499.00
and for a complete technical review on the amazing Triton II's check this out.