About a month ago, a pair of enormous shipping crates arrived at the New York apartment. Mrs. Synaphaï nearly freaked out.
The mini-coffin-sized containers contained a pair of back-ordered GoldenEar Triton Two speakers which were replacing a 15-year-old pair of Thiel CS5s.
Critics went ga-ga over the speakers early in the year, which piqued my curiosity (and caused a shortage). When no less a “golden ear” producer and listener than David Chesky raved to me about the speakers after a concert at Carnegie Hall a few months ago, I knew I had to give them a listen. Buying decent speakers is always a crap-shoot: they’ll inevitably sound different than they do in the showroom. I must have listened to about 20 models before I settled on the Tritons, and in the showroom I had to agree with more than a few critics who felt that these $2500-a-pair full-rangers matched and surpassed the performance of top-rated speakers priced five to ten times higher.
Once the heavily-padded shipping crates were opened and speakers removed, Mrs. Synaphai was surprised (read: relieved and thrilled) that they had a smaller footprint than the Thiels, are a hair taller, and made a better fit for the decor of our cramped New York digs.
After a few days of break-in, I started playing with placement, but was astounded at the clarity, neutrality, effortlessness at the top of the dynamic range, and dead-bang imaging even in the “worst” positions in our apartment’s main room.
The speakers have had more than enough break-in time, and I decided to satiate my turkey hangover by firing up a recently-released CD – featuring the late, woefully underrated Sir Charles Mackerras conducting Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique” with the Philharmonia Orchestra on Signum, recorded live at the Southbank Centre in February 2009 with a minimalist mic setup by the team of Misha Donat and Jonathan Stokes – at something resembling realistic volume level.
Mackerras gets the kind of passionate playing out of the Philharmonia one might expect from a certain Venezuean maestro who has just turned 30 – but with the kind of dramatic satisfaction that only comes with absolutely mastery of the symphony’s formal and structural challenges.
The uninterrupted playthrough of the Tchaikovsky was the first chance I had to give them an uninterrupted audition, and I’m certain that I made the right choice: the GoldenEar Triton Twos deliver authoritative five-figure performance at a fraction of the price. I’m buying the accompanying surround speakers early in 2012.
If music is an important part of your life – whether or not you’re an industry pro – you should at least give the GoldenEar Triton Twos a listen. And if you can’t shell out $2500, spoil yourself and order up the Mackerras Pathétique. That’s a luxury you can afford.
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in b minor “Pathétique”, Op. 74
Sir Charles Mackerras / Philharmonia Orchestra
Signum SIGCD-253 — Find a retailer