CES 2014: Loudspeakers under $15,000 - Part 2


GoldenEar Technology

Following closely on the heels of the award-winning Triton Seven floorstander (the least expensive Triton-series speaker to date) comes a new GoldenEar flagship: the Triton One floorstanders ($5,000/pair). The Triton One is, quite simply, the most ambitious and best-sounding GoldenEar loudspeaker to date and one whose design brief called for a mid-priced floorstander that could, in most every sonically meaningful way, do battle with products several times its price. Accordingly, the Triton One is a tall, deceptively slim-looking, three-way floorstander fitted with six active drivers, four very low-frequency passive radiators, and a built-in 1600-watt, DSP-controlled subwoofer amplifier. It is perhaps too early to say whether the Triton One actually meets its undeniably ambitious design goals or not, but first impressions at CES were very positive indeed.


Gradient’s US importer Tim Ryan demonstrated an unusual hybrid speaker product in the form of what Mr. Ryan terms the Helsinki Active loudspeaker system (starting at ~$14,800). The Helsinki Active comprises a set of Gradient Helsinki floorstanders, a pair of Gradient woofer modules, and a trio of  DSPeaker Anti-Mode Dual-Core 2.0 DSP modules (two used as electronic crossovers with the third used as room correction system). The result is a speaker that is open, airy, images like crazy, and that offer full-range bass, yet that is remarkably free from unwanted room interactions. As an upgrade that admittedly takes the speaker above the $15,000 price point, Ryan offers a purpose-built power supply upgrade to drive the DSPeaker modules.

Joseph Audio

Many listener’s have fallen under the spell of Jeff Joseph’s top-tier loudspeaker designs such as Pulsar stand-mount monitors or the flagship Pearl2 floorstanders, yet have yearned for models that are considerably more affordable than those two worthy designs. Well, Mr. Joseph has heard and responded to the desires of quality conscious but budget-minded audiophiles with not one but two new models: the Prism stand-mount monitors ($3,699/pair) and the Profile floorstanders ($6,999/pair). We spent a fair amount of time listening to both models at CES and have two observations.

First, the Prism will wow listeners in much the way the more costly Pulsar does, by offering what sounds and “feels” like big speaker performance from a compact monitor design. Think of the Prism, then, as a cost-reduced “Pulsar Junior,” of sorts. The Profile, though perhaps not as shocking to hear as the Prism at first listen, is simply an exceptional loudspeaker for the money—one that channels much (though not all) of the sonic goodness of upper-tier Joseph models for a fraction of the price.

Find Parts 1, 3, and 4 of this four-part report at www.hifiplus.com

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