AXPONA 2018: GoldenEar’s new Triton Reference redefines ultra high-end performance and value


GoldenEar’s Triton series of speakers has been a overachieving since its debut. From the Triton One, on down to the Triton Seven, all are serious competitors at and above their price point. My gut reaction to the GoldenEar brand is that of two things: affordable and award winning. Typically their design philosophy doesn’t scream high-end aesthetics, but here at Axpona, it looks like Sandy Gross (Mr. GoldenEar himself) has set out to create a speaker that delivers the high-end experience on all fronts.


The Story

I’ve been lucky to be close to a dealer in my home state that proudly carries GoldenEar and from my loitering visits and chats with the staff, they really do like the brand for all the value it offers. Having heard the Triton One model on plenty of occasions, and with various electronics, I felt that I would be familiar with its sound signatures. So when I found myself covering the GoldenEar room this year, I knew I’d be ready to discern the Triton Reference’s expected improvements with ease.

AXPONA 2018 Coverage brought to you by Zesto Audio

Before entering the room hosted by Saturday Audio Exchange, I ran into Anthony Chiarella of PrimaLuna, who is perched outside of the room with a few of the PrimaLuna amplifiers and preamplifiers turned belly up, undressed, with inner workings exposed. I ask, “Anything new?”, to which he replies with a smile, “No, just showing off what we do best.” From there we talk about business and the genesis of PrimaLuna teaming up with GoldenEar for the show, and it came down to one simple phrase “value in high-end audio.” Which is always a nice thing to hear. So much of the marketplace is reaching upward of six-figures regularly when it comes to system building. It’s relieving to see an ultra-reference speaker debut at a show, that still keeps in focus it’s intended value market. Kudos!

The Sound

Referencing back to my local dealer who carries the entire GoldenEar product catalog, I feel well prepared to lend my opinion on sound to this room as my local hi-fi shop is also a PrimaLuna dealer, and has exhibited the combination before and to my recall great success.

The Triton Reference at first viewing looks a lot like a Triton One, albeit given a few extra inches in height and some of the most luxurious gloss black lacquer I’ve seen outside of a piano. From there the riding similarities really do come to a halt. The sound I’m hearing on a large scale concert band piece is that of mass in motion. The weight of the sound as it enters the room from the east blasts across the audience with tight impact and delightful sizzle. I haven’t even been seated yet. This is the off axis sound I am recounting here.

Show-goers are always more vocal in a room run by Sandy Gross, as he is one of the most approachable brand principals in high-end audio. Attendees were petitioning Sandy to play more of this and more of that, turn it up, give us more. I join in and ask, “Can we hear that song you were playing when I walked into the room yesterday?”, to which a few others chimed in humorously, “Yes, let’s do that one.”

Sandy fired up “Life In The Bubble” by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, and the room was once again shaking. This is not the Triton One, this is a whole new creature. Cymbals and organ trickle in from the beginning, warm and delicate, bongo drums and snare rush in to a window washing effect.

The first thing that comes to mind is how much bigger this speaker sounds than the Triton One. How can you take a container of almost the same size and squeeze in so much more performance? What wizardry is this? Along with the hefty output, it comes at you refined as well as anything costing $60K at the show. It’s that good.


I take a knee next to Sandy and ask how much this speaker will retail for, and I’m expecting Vandersteen 7 money. He says, “Under $9K for the pair.” I cut a face like I had just found out I was adopted, and tell him “You should be ashamed of yourself.” He laughs.

Sandy Gross has put his thumbprint on many a great speaker branding, and it sounds as if  GoldenEar history stands to repeat itself. The Triton reference speaker is all-new from the ground up, and boy does it have the minerals to take on some really esoteric and, to be honest, very expensive competitors. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better value and cure for upgrade-itis.

The System

  • GoldenEar Triton Reference Loudspeakers – $4,250 ea USD
  • PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium HP Stereo Power Amplifier – $3,899 USD
  • PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium Preamplifier – $3,199 USD
  • McIntosh Labs MCD550 SACD/CD Player / DAC – $6,500 USD

All cabling by AudioQuest


  1. Sounds like a natural competitor for the new Magico A3. Would be great to see a side by side review of those and the Triton Reference.

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