Speakers: Golden Ear Triton 3+ $2500 per pair
Hot off the presses from GoldenEar is the Triton 3+. T3+ is a nice improvement from its predecessor, the T3. Sonically, T3+ is distinctly more clear and has more wallop with tighter bass.
Up top, T3+ uses GE’s lauded ribbon tweeter. The highs are as smooth as silk. T3+ images like all GE speakers- tremendously! This allows you to place the speakers conspicuously far apart and yet still achieve a remarkable centered vocal. This experience… of having your towers about 12′ apart- while delivering a rock solid center vocal has actually alarmed some of our customers on first audition. They’re sure we have a center speaker hooked up. Nope!
The mid/woof is a new 4.5” cast metal driver created specifically for T3+, it’s not just out of a bin, like so many competitors.
The muscle is delivered by an oval shaped, 5×9, powered woofer and two Quadratic Radiators. The on board amp is a powerhouse at 800w and features DSP control.
There are a number of things good about T3+. The size, price and sound, are all slam dunks. It’s a pleasure to get such a big image, and punch, out of sleek towers. And of course, due to the powered sub, you can tune T3+ for your taste, in your room. You can dove tail the bass in clean and lean, or you can pulverize if that’s your pleasure!
All told, T3+ is a very welcome speaker that will work in any room where she allows a sleek tower. Not too big. Not too little. And the sound is just right.
Integrated Amp: Hegel H-80, $2000, 80×2
Among the best electronic values in high end is the Hegel H-80. Its clarity and control are unparalleled for $2k. Your speaker starts and stops on a dime. Vocals can step out from a pack of instruments. The piano can be clearly heard in front of the orchestra.
What Hegel does better than anyone else in this range is pull back the curtain that veils your music. The intimacy that Hegel allows with fine speakers, will remind you of what separates for $10k achieve.
Hegel uses edge of the art parts and its patented Sound Engine circuitry. This is a current dumping, or feed forward control design. There’s no negative feedback! Hence the sound isn’t electronic sounding. Hegel’s damping factor runs over 1000. Most $2k integrateds top out at 150-200. Hegel has massive control!
On board is a marvelous DAC. Run your CD player, Sonos or computer straight in and get even more of the veil removed- because you’ll be hearing the DAC in the Hegel, not the DAC of your source. H-80 also has Balanced inputs if you want to go that route.
When you have high resolution speakers with ribbons like GoldenEar, please treat them right and run them with a Hegel!
CD Player: NAD C516BEE $300
Don’t throw your CDs away! While we’re happy to endorse Sonos grabbing music off your computer and throwing it to your Hegel digitally for convenience, we’re even happier to have you playing your discs.
CDs sound better! They don’t hiccup and cough like any computer based system is want to do. Even the best of computer based systems will have you tearing your hair out on occasion. And by the way, it’s good for you to actually get up once in a while to toss in a CD!
C516BEE is a good tracker and has a mellow sound. NAD uses a Cirrus Logic DAC- something often found in CD players for $1000 up! It has a finely tuned analog stage featuring op amps chosen specifically for their audio character.
But if you follow my advice and get the Hegel H-80 above, you’ll just be using the NAD as a spinner. You can run coax or optical out- and the Hegel does the singing.
Kimber Speaker Kable
Round your system out with a little Kimber Kable and away you go. Kimber Kable is braided to provide smooth, RFI free sound.