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GoldenEar BRX Review (high-end Bookshelf Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 100 44.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 106 46.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 16 7.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 5 2.2%

  • Total voters
    227

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the GoldenEar BRX "reference" bookshelf speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,598 a pair.

BRX looks pretty fancy but doesn't weigh a lot:

GoldenEar BRX Review Reference Bookshelf Speaker.jpg


It is an unusual design in passive compact speakers by having dual passive radiators, one on each side:

GoldenEar BRX Review Reference Back Panel Compact Bookshelf Speaker.jpg


I worry about how compromised the cabinet is with all those large holes. BTW, the back is smooth. The textured look is from my lighting.

There is a grill which you may want to use as otherwise the bottom "chin" looks pretty ugly to me.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Reference axis was the center of AMT driver (aligned by eye). It is getting colder with the measurement room temp at 15 degrees C.

GoldenEar BRX Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

GoldenEar BRX Measurements Frequency Response Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


This is a kind of graph that makes you go "hmmm." For starters, the bass and upper midrange is quite uneven. I imagine this is due to the turning of the dual passive radiator on the bottom side. We then have a region of disturbance from 600 to 1000 Hz. The things get smoother but there is some resonance around 4000 Hz. Near-field response gives us some clues as to what may be going:


GoldenEar BRX Measurements Near field Driver Frequency Response Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


Seems like the midrange issue has dual causes: the woofer has bump there so seems like baffle compensation is not sufficient. At the same time the passive radiator is peaking. This will cause a directivity error due to its higher frequency and side firing radiator. There is a more pronounced resonance around 4 kHz which at first seems too low level. But it is competing with severe off-axis response of the tweeter so likely sends out some unwanted noise to the sides. Keep in mind though that these (near-field) measurements are approximate.

Back to our spin graph, the early window reflection is quite messy because the on-axis wasn't that clean to begin with:

GoldenEar BRX Measurements Early Window Frequency Response Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


Here is the simulated response in a room:

GoldenEar BRX Measurements Predicted In-room Frequency Response Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


I hate it when the bass response of a speaker is this uneven because the room adds to it so there is no direct path to equalization.

Directivity is variable due to beaming of the tweeter (being too large for the wavelengths it is producing):

GoldenEar BRX Measurements Horizontal Beam width Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


GoldenEar BRX Measurements Horizontal Directivity Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


This makes the sound room sensitive and potentially difficult to EQ or even assess.

Vertical is what we expect from a 2-way design with even more beaming due to larger size of the AMT tweeter vertically:
GoldenEar BRX Measurements Vertical Directivity Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


Distortion at low volume is good but gets out of line across the full audio band:
GoldenEar BRX Measurements THD Distortion Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


GoldenEar BRX Measurements Distortion Percentage Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


It is one thing for a small speaker like this to get distorted in bass. But one hopes that it doesn't spread to the rest of the spectrum as audibility thresholds become far more acute.

Impedance dips very low to 3.3 ohm:
GoldenEar BRX Measurements Impedance and Phase Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png



For fans of timing analysis, here is the CSD/Waterfall and Impulse response:

GoldenEar BRX Measurements CSD Waterfall Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


GoldenEar BRX Measurements Impulse Response Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


GoldenEar BRX Listening Tests and Equalization
I got off to a rocky start with this speaker. It left me with a very variable impression. One moment it would sound good, next moment not. So I pulled out the EQ to correct the response errors. I used both the on-axis response strategy and PIR. Neither were effective across more than one track in controlled blind testing. I would think I had an improvement, go to the next track and perform blind AB test and would like no EQ better. Very frustrating.

I took a different strategy of playing a bass heavy track and then listening to the radiator and woofer by themselves (I blocked the tweeter with my hand). The radiator was definitely falling apart with sub-bass at any above medium playback level. Trying to fix that, I dialed in simple but sharp high-pass filter:

GoldenEar BRX Equalization Reference Bookshelf Speaker.png


You would think you lose bass this way and you do a tiny but the overall impression was one of reduction in brightness!!! How is that possible? Again, I cupped my hand over the tweeter and listened to the woofer alone. With the filter in place you just hear warm bass. Turn the EQ off and it develops a sharper overhand which is likely due to severe harmonic distortion (higher order ones). With the filter in place, I lost any ability to play sub-bass but overall outcome was universally good.

But how good? I swapped out the BRC for Revel M105 which costs a bit less. This is its spinorama:

index.php


Ah, what a transformation. Tonality, detail and larger spatial image was all fantastic. It even had more tactile bass than BRX (no EQ was used in the comparison).

Conclusions
$1,600 is a lot of money to charge for small bookshelf speakers. You best deliver great performance. Alas, I am not seeing that in the BRX. Not that it is terrible but that clearly enough engineering was not put in there to create great tonality. It presents a very complex soundfield that likely is difficult to EQ (manual or automatic) to boot. Is it terrible? No, not by any stretch. The deviations are small but collectively left me aggravated.

I can't recommend the GoldenEar BRX. It doesn't deliver a better experience than budget speakers well below its price.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • GoldenEar BRX Frequency Response ASR.zip
    60.9 KB · Views: 66
Last edited:

enricoclaudio

Senior Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
488
Likes
757
Can’t open the review in my iMac nor in my MacBook Pro. Only opens in my iPhone.
 

enricoclaudio

Senior Member
Manufacturer
Joined
Jan 7, 2021
Messages
488
Likes
757
Fixed it. It was Bitdefender blocking it... Weird..
 

Spocko

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 27, 2019
Messages
1,203
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2,217
Location
Southern California
This is a review and detailed measurements of the GoldenEar BRX "reference" bookshelf speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,598.

BRX looks pretty fancy but doesn't weigh a lot:

View attachment 167476

It is an unusual design in passive compact speakers by having dual passive radiators, one on each side:

View attachment 167477

I worry about how compromised the cabinet is with all those large holes. BTW, the back is smooth. The textured look is from my lighting.

There is a grill which you may want to use as otherwise the bottom "chin" looks pretty ugly to me.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Reference axis was the center of AMT driver (aligned by eye). It is getting colder with the measurement room temp at 15 degrees C.

GoldenEar BRX Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

View attachment 167478

This is a kind of graph that makes you go "hmmm." For starters, the bass and upper midrange is quite uneven. I imagine this is due to the turning of the dual passive radiator on the bottom side. We then have a region of disturbance from 600 to 1000 Hz. The things get smoother but there is some resonance around 4000 Hz. Near-field response gives us some clues as to what may be going:


View attachment 167479

Seems like the midrange issue has dual causes: the woofer has bump there so seems like baffle compensation is not sufficient. At the same time the passive radiator is peaking. This will cause a directivity error due to its higher frequency and side firing radiator. There is a more pronounced resonance around 4 kHz which at first seems too low level. But it is competing with severe off-axis response of the tweeter so likely sends out some unwanted noise to the sides. Keep in mind though that these (near-field) measurements are approximate.

Back to our spin graph, the early window reflection is quite messy because the on-axis wasn't that clean to begin with:

View attachment 167480

Here is the simulated response in a room:

View attachment 167481

I hate it when the bass response of a speaker is this uneven because the room adds to it so there is no direct path to equalization.

Directivity is variable due to beaming of the tweeter (being too large for the wavelengths it is producing):

View attachment 167482

View attachment 167483

This makes the sound room sensitive and potentially difficult to EQ or even assess.

Vertical is what we expect from a 2-way design with even more beaming due to larger size of the AMT tweeter vertically:
View attachment 167484

Distortion at low volume is good but gets out of line across the full audio band:
View attachment 167486

View attachment 167487

It is one thing for a small speaker like this to get distorted in bass. But one hopes that it doesn't spread to the rest of the spectrum as audibility thresholds become far more acute.

Impedance dips very low to 3.3 ohm:
View attachment 167485


For fans of timing analysis, here is the CSD/Waterfall and Impulse response:

View attachment 167488

View attachment 167489

GoldenEar BRX Listening Tests and Equalization
I got off to a rocky start with this speaker. It left me with a very variable impression. One moment it would sound good, next moment not. So I pulled out the EQ to correct the response errors. I used both the on-axis response strategy and PIR. Neither were effective across more than one track in controlled blind testing. I would think I had an improvement, go to the next track and perform blind AB test and would like no EQ better. Very frustrating.

I took a different strategy of playing a bass heavy track and then listening to the radiator and woofer by themselves (I blocked the tweeter with my hand). The radiator was definitely falling apart with sub-bass at any above medium playback level. Trying to fix that, I dialed in simple but sharp high-pass filter:

View attachment 167491

You would think you lose bass this way and you do a tiny but the overall impression was one of reduction in brightness!!! How is that possible? Again, I cupped my hand over the tweeter and listened to the woofer alone. With the filter in place you just hear warm bass. Turn the EQ off and it develops a sharper overhand which is likely due to severe harmonic distortion (higher order ones). With the filter in place, I lost any ability to play sub-bass but overall outcome was universally good.

But how good? I swapped out the BRC for Revel M105 which costs a bit less. This is its spinorama:

index.php


Ah, what a transformation. Tonality, detail and larger spatial image was all fantastic. It even had more tactile bass than BRX (no EQ was used in the comparison).

Conclusions
$1,600 is a lot of money to charge for small bookshelf speakers. You best deliver great performance. Alas, I am not seeing that in the BRX. Not that it is terrible but that clearly enough engineering was not put in there to create great tonality. It presents a very complex soundfield that likely is difficult to EQ (manual or automatic) to boot. Is it terrible? No, not by any stretch. The deviations are small but collectively left me aggravated.

I can't recommend the GoldenEar BRX. It doesn't deliver a better experience than budget speakers well below its price.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
I had to laugh at the title "high end Bookshelf Speaker", so this begs the question: at what point does one cross into "high end" territory?
 

buzwork

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 22, 2021
Messages
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As a comparison here are the Stereophile measurements.

With the ASR ethos of objectivity in mind, I really, really like the BRX despite Amir's measurements, although I probably shouldn't, apparently, heh. I have a pair of Revel M105 and I can't pick a favorite between the two. I also don't listen >90db in most situations which is where the BRX appear to really struggle.

I was really surprised to see this outcome. It's not terrible but I was certainly expecting better.

Thanks @amirm for the work you do for the community!
 

ROOSKIE

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
1,356
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2,348
Location
Minneapolis
Hmmm, just to many other/better options and these can't even rock out to make up for it all.
Oh well. How about that budget Monoprice next ;) (any Polk R100 or R200's been turned in to ASR?)
Really curious about it.

Anyway, this speaker is one that I'd love to see IMD testing on.
 

Maiky76

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
346
Likes
2,674
Location
French, leaving in China
This is a review and detailed measurements of the GoldenEar BRX "reference" bookshelf speaker. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $1,598.

BRX looks pretty fancy but doesn't weigh a lot:

View attachment 167476

It is an unusual design in passive compact speakers by having dual passive radiators, one on each side:

View attachment 167477

I worry about how compromised the cabinet is with all those large holes. BTW, the back is smooth. The textured look is from my lighting.

There is a grill which you may want to use as otherwise the bottom "chin" looks pretty ugly to me.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Reference axis was the center of AMT driver (aligned by eye). It is getting colder with the measurement room temp at 15 degrees C.

GoldenEar BRX Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

View attachment 167478

This is a kind of graph that makes you go "hmmm." For starters, the bass and upper midrange is quite uneven. I imagine this is due to the turning of the dual passive radiator on the bottom side. We then have a region of disturbance from 600 to 1000 Hz. The things get smoother but there is some resonance around 4000 Hz. Near-field response gives us some clues as to what may be going:


View attachment 167479

Seems like the midrange issue has dual causes: the woofer has bump there so seems like baffle compensation is not sufficient. At the same time the passive radiator is peaking. This will cause a directivity error due to its higher frequency and side firing radiator. There is a more pronounced resonance around 4 kHz which at first seems too low level. But it is competing with severe off-axis response of the tweeter so likely sends out some unwanted noise to the sides. Keep in mind though that these (near-field) measurements are approximate.

Back to our spin graph, the early window reflection is quite messy because the on-axis wasn't that clean to begin with:

View attachment 167480

Here is the simulated response in a room:

View attachment 167481

I hate it when the bass response of a speaker is this uneven because the room adds to it so there is no direct path to equalization.

Directivity is variable due to beaming of the tweeter (being too large for the wavelengths it is producing):

View attachment 167482

View attachment 167483

This makes the sound room sensitive and potentially difficult to EQ or even assess.

Vertical is what we expect from a 2-way design with even more beaming due to larger size of the AMT tweeter vertically:
View attachment 167484

Distortion at low volume is good but gets out of line across the full audio band:
View attachment 167486

View attachment 167487

It is one thing for a small speaker like this to get distorted in bass. But one hopes that it doesn't spread to the rest of the spectrum as audibility thresholds become far more acute.

Impedance dips very low to 3.3 ohm:
View attachment 167485


For fans of timing analysis, here is the CSD/Waterfall and Impulse response:

View attachment 167488

View attachment 167489

GoldenEar BRX Listening Tests and Equalization
I got off to a rocky start with this speaker. It left me with a very variable impression. One moment it would sound good, next moment not. So I pulled out the EQ to correct the response errors. I used both the on-axis response strategy and PIR. Neither were effective across more than one track in controlled blind testing. I would think I had an improvement, go to the next track and perform blind AB test and would like no EQ better. Very frustrating.

I took a different strategy of playing a bass heavy track and then listening to the radiator and woofer by themselves (I blocked the tweeter with my hand). The radiator was definitely falling apart with sub-bass at any above medium playback level. Trying to fix that, I dialed in simple but sharp high-pass filter:

View attachment 167491

You would think you lose bass this way and you do a tiny but the overall impression was one of reduction in brightness!!! How is that possible? Again, I cupped my hand over the tweeter and listened to the woofer alone. With the filter in place you just hear warm bass. Turn the EQ off and it develops a sharper overhand which is likely due to severe harmonic distortion (higher order ones). With the filter in place, I lost any ability to play sub-bass but overall outcome was universally good.

But how good? I swapped out the BRC for Revel M105 which costs a bit less. This is its spinorama:

index.php


Ah, what a transformation. Tonality, detail and larger spatial image was all fantastic. It even had more tactile bass than BRX (no EQ was used in the comparison).

Conclusions
$1,600 is a lot of money to charge for small bookshelf speakers. You best deliver great performance. Alas, I am not seeing that in the BRX. Not that it is terrible but that clearly enough engineering was not put in there to create great tonality. It presents a very complex soundfield that likely is difficult to EQ (manual or automatic) to boot. Is it terrible? No, not by any stretch. The deviations are small but collectively left me aggravated.

I can't recommend the GoldenEar BRX. It doesn't deliver a better experience than budget speakers well below its price.

----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Hi,

Here is my take on the EQ.

These EQ are anechoic EQ to get the speaker right before room integration. If you able to implement these EQs you must add EQ at LF for room integration, that is usually not optional… see hints there: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...helf-speaker-review.11144/page-26#post-800725

The raw data with corrected ER and PIR:

Score no EQ: 4.5
With Sub: 6.9


Spinorama with no EQ:
  • Not Flat
  • Not Smooth
  • Some resonances
  • Smooth DI good for EQ
GoldenEar BRX No EQ Spinorama.png

Directivity:

Better stay at tweeter height
Horizontally, better toe-in the speakers by 10/20deg and have the axis crossing in front of the listening location, might help dosing the upper range.
GoldenEar BRX 2D surface Directivity Contour Only Data.png
GoldenEar BRX LW better data.png


EQ design:

I have generated One EQs. The APO config file is attached.

Score EQ Score:
with sub:

Code:
GoldenEar BRX APO EQ Score 96000Hz
November232021-113831

Preamp: -2.2 dB

Filter 1: ON HPQ Fc 55.91,    0.00,    1.30
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 172.24,    -3.69,    0.85
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 516.55,    2.37,    2.45
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 758.09,    -3.43,    1.33
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 1349.04,    -1.81,    5.09
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 3782.10,    -1.82,    6.88
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 4453.55,    -0.99,    2.87
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 12329.22,    -1.64,    0.90

GoldenEar BRX EQ Design.png


Spinorama EQ Score
GoldenEar BRX Score EQ Spinorama.png


Zoom PIR-LW-ON
GoldenEar BRX Zoom.png


Regression - Tonal rising directivity makes the tonal ascending ON, just listen off axis a bit.
GoldenEar BRX Regression - Tonal.png


Radar no EQ vs EQ score
Some improvements
GoldenEar BRX Radar.png


The rest of the plots is attached.
 

Attachments

  • GoldenEar BRX Reflexion data.png
    GoldenEar BRX Reflexion data.png
    148.1 KB · Views: 55
  • GoldenEar BRX Raw Directivity data.png
    GoldenEar BRX Raw Directivity data.png
    479.6 KB · Views: 37
  • GoldenEar BRX Normalized Directivity data.png
    GoldenEar BRX Normalized Directivity data.png
    324.2 KB · Views: 53
  • GoldenEar BRX 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    GoldenEar BRX 3D surface Horizontal Directivity Data.png
    427.3 KB · Views: 47
  • GoldenEar BRX 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    GoldenEar BRX 3D surface Vertical Directivity Data.png
    419.2 KB · Views: 36
  • GoldenEar BRX 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    GoldenEar BRX 2D surface Directivity Contour Data.png
    273.1 KB · Views: 28
  • GoldenEar BRX APO EQ Score 96000Hz.txt
    438 bytes · Views: 37
  • GoldenEar BRX LW data.png
    GoldenEar BRX LW data.png
    143.9 KB · Views: 32

buzwork

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The distortion above 100hz is really awful for a 6.5". There are many 5" speakers with far less. And it's not even all 2nd harmonic.
Not to nitpick, but it's a 6" driver with a pair of 6.5" radiators.
 

buzwork

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Messages
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True. My bad, corrected.

And thanks for sending these in. We always learn more, good or bad.

:)

I knew purchasing these, and sending them to Amir, would be a risky endeavor since they're really an unusual design. I gave them a good month of listening and was very impressed with them. My subjective opinion was similar to those of Guttenberg, JA1, and Herb Reichert; they sound good. Even better after running ARC with a sub (both an SVS SB1000 and an SVS 3000 Micro). There are definitely some issues listening off axis or having the tweeters situated too high or too low but in my treated listening room in the basement I just can't find much fault with them. But, some people like Bose and I'm just an enthusiast with no particular qualifying background in audio, so there's that :)
 
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