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GoldenEar BRX Review (high-end Bookshelf Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 98 45.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 100 46.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther

    Votes: 14 6.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 5 2.3%

  • Total voters
    217

Webninja

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A few years ago I was close to buying the Golden Ear 3 something tower. With the powered woofer, they give a good wow effect when demoing in a store. A sort of wall of sound feeling, but the longer I listened, the less I liked.

Glad to see one tested, and would be curious to see one of their towers measured.
 

Vict0r

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Amir, subjectively, does the cheap Wharfedale you recently reviewed favorably SOUND better to you when compared to this expensive BRX?
 

pma

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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?
Bass distortion reflects in subjective change in midrange and treble. This is absolutely normal, no wonder here. Such is hearing.
You have also reduced cone excursion and this has reduced all distortions like intermodulations etc.
 
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fordiebianco

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I really, really wanted to love the Golden Ear Triton 5s, but when I listened to them I found them uncomfortably bright. Went to buy Q-Acoustics. Figures.
 

F1308

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Worst thing this loudspeaker does ?
Frightening potential Triton Reference buyers and invite them to look elsewhere.
 
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mrmoizy

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Are ribbon/AMT/planar tweeters just eye candy at this point, a must have for boutique brands to justify their prices? What are their redeeming qualities again? I rarely see smooth treble response from them, and directivity is always sub-par. But I guess they bring that "sparkle"? I'm a skeptic, I think they need more advancement. A good dome tweeter in a waveguide for me.
 

beaRA

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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.
There is an R100 on its way to @hardisj.
 

PeteL

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Bass distortion reflects in subjective change in midrange and treble. This is absolutely normal, no wonder here. Such is hearing.
You have also reduced cone excursion and this has reduced all distortions like intermodulations etc.
Interesting, but also interesting is that it goes the other way too. Distortion in the lower mid range can fool us into thinking that there is more bass than there is. That is a common trick at mixing, since many people listen to music on smartphones speakers that pretty much don't give anything below 300 Hz, Adding harmonics to a Bass line, will not only let people hear the actual melodic line, but trick your brain into thinking there is actual bass being produced.
 

617

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Are ribbon/AMT/planar tweeters just eye candy at this point, a must have for boutique brands to justify their prices? What are their redeeming qualities again? I rarely see smooth treble response from them, and directivity is always sub-par. But I guess they bring that "sparkle"? I'm a skeptic, I think they need more advancement. A good dome tweeter in a waveguide for me.

This is an interesting question and to a certain degree I agree with you. The vast majority of AMT/Ribbon/Magnetostat tweeters do show higher distortion at higher cost than a good fabric or metal dome, but they have some interesting qualities and have a place in high performance speakers.

For one, really good ribbons do have an intrinsically flat and smooth axial response with crazy HF extension. Distortion is an issue, but in a 3 way design such as the BMR, it can be mitigated. In general, the RAAL and Viawave tweeters are extremely high end units, but they can be misused.

Another positive trait is that their relatively large vertical and or horizontal dimension actually makes them a better match for a midwoofer in the crossover region, since they will have a narrower dispersion at these low frequencies compared to a small dome. This, coupled with a modest waveguide, is why the AMT units in ADAM monitors perform so well off-axis.

I've actually investigated whether the assymetrical radiation of a ribbon could actually make the assymetrical radiation of an MTM work better than a dome tweeter, essentially creating a speaker with wide horizontal and narrow vertical directivity, but with a smooth overall power response and DI. It's not an easy thing to simulate but I suspect it can be done.

A more niche use of the ribbon is that they can actually play very loud if you make them big enough. There are ribbon tweeters used in sound reinforcement systems, and they are so fundamentally different from compression drivers that I suspect they offer designers a lot of flexibility there.

An even more niche use of the AMT/Magnetostat is that they don't require back chambers to make sound, so they are ideally suited to dipole speakers. John Kreskovsky the dipole guru used B&G units in his early designs.

However - if you see a ribbon or AMT, flush mounted, in an 'audiophile' two way speaker, you are right to be skeptical.
 

beefkabob

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What a mess. If these were 400 each, sure. But 1600? Scam city.
 
D

Deleted member 28042

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$3200 a pair for this? Good grief...
These are $1600 for a pair. It's a direct competitor the KEF's LS50 meta from my perspective. For what it's worth, the speaker under review here is a class B Stereophile recommended component. Michael Lavorgna at Twittering machines listed it as one of the best loudspeakers he listened to this year. I've not heard it so I have no opinion of my own.
 

beefkabob

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The numbers speak clearly. OK, not a scam. Just a ripoff at 1600 a pair.
 

ROOSKIE

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My JBL 4309's didnt measure as well as some would want in some key areas and yet they sound incredible to me compared with many other speakers, including some that suggest a better sound in some measurements but don't please me as much as the 4309's .
Who knows? For some folks these Golden Ears may have a special something-something.
I will say that unlike these Golden ears the 4309's can rip and the waveguide does a fantastic job. Plus the trebble is extremely detailed yet never ever bright or harsh. Really quite lovely while hitting some life sized SPLs.
 

LTig

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Based on the measurements (FR, HD) and the price I voted for the headless panther.
 

MerlinGS

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These are $1600 for a pair. It's a direct competitor the KEF's LS50 meta from my perspective. For what it's worth, the speaker under review here is a class B Stereophile recommended component. Michael Lavorgna at Twittering machines listed it as one of the best loudspeakers he listened to this year. I've not heard it so I have no opinion of my own.
Being a Stereophile class B recommended speaker has little objective value. There are numerous examples of products being classified as class A or B products that had horrendous measurements, but the reviewer thought was an example of audio excellence. There are even examples of JA describing poor speaker measurements as being excellent (see P.S. below). As to Michael Lavorgna, his reviews appear to be totally subjective, in the brief read a gave to some of his reviews, he seems to attribute magical qualities to cables and electronics that are often attributed in "high end" audio reviews. So credibility is an issue. Furthermore, the positive reviews by both parties mentioned do not address the very poor measurements of the speaker in question, which will, in fact, reflect poor audio reproduction; i.e. yes there are elements of audio reproduction measurements in speakers/headphones that can be argued provide limited value when assessing speakers/headphones audio quality, but there are also measurements we know reflect poor reproduction and poor sound quality.

The aforementioned notwithstanding, I have not heard the BRX nor the LS50, my comments are merely a response to the above-noted appeal to authority as a means of diminishing the findings in this review. The authorities are questionable at best, and the measurements provided here do not reflect a well designed speaker.

P.S. JA's measurements at Stereophile, although poorer than those provided here, do reflect the same findings as Amir's, yet JA concludes "The GoldenEar BRX offers excellent measured performance, but it is a somewhat demanding load for the partnering amplifier".
 

anphex

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Is this directivity narrowing regarding the highs and ribbon tweeter issue or are there speakers who handle this better?
 
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