Issue 99


Old School:

Looking back at the Meridian 808


Michael Laurance really enjoys the latest from Cambridge Audio

Journeyman Audiophile:

Jeff Dorgay celebrates the CDs resurgence with GOLD NOTE

The Audiophile Apartment:

Rob Johnson puts his headphones on to listen to the new mini marvel from TEAC

Mine: It Should Be Yours

Killer chairs from Corbeau

LeBron Sneaks

Capture C-60 Cassettes

Sigma’s FP Mirrorless Camera

and more….


Esoteric N-01 Network Player

Mytek Liberty DAC

Aqua LaScala II DAC

Nagra Tube DAC

Naia Uniti Core


Playlists:  We share our readers choices from around the world

Future Tense

AVID Sigsum Integrated Amp

Pathos Logos Mk. II Integrated Amp

SVS Prime Pinnacle Tower Speakers

and more…

Cover Feature: Tubes

Jeff Dorgay reviews the dCS Vivaldi One

The Rega Apollo CD player

Everything seems to come around. With all the excitement for streaming building at a feverish pace, some people still like the old-fashioned way of serving up digital; namely, spinning a silver (or maybe gold) disc.

World-renowned turntable manufacturer Rega was one of the last manufacturers to produce a CD player, but when they finally did put their engineering mettle to the task, their players were brilliant. And very analog sounding. Years later, nothing has changed, and their new $1,095 Apollo is by far the most sonically engaging players we’ve heard at anywhere near this price. CD player? Have we gone mad in this world of curated playlists? Read on.

Taking up a tiny footprint only about 8 inches wide, 3 inches tall and 12 inches deep, the Apollo is meant to be a perfect bookend to Rega’s remarkable Brio integrated amplifier, but it looks awfully nice on the Quadraspire rack with my Nagra Tube DAC. Patterned after the rest of the players in their lineup, the Apollo uses the same Starship Enterprise shaped lid for the transport. Rega’s Roy Gandy is a brilliant man with a wacky sense of humor, so one never knows if this is on purpose or random. Either way, this manual lid assures that it is not another mechanism that will fail ten years later – Rega is always the master of simple elegance.

Fit, finish, and functionality is always top of the class, and the Apollo feels much more expensive than its price suggests. As well as feeling rather heavy for its price. The front panel features a large display, flanked by a power button on the left and 4 buttons to control transport functions on the right. That’s it. Perfect.

Quite the comeback

Several audiophiles that have ditched the compact disc in favor of streaming or vinyl have been sneaking back, with surprising results. On my recent podcast with John Darko of Darko Audio, he admits “I recently picked up a couple thousand CD’s at a great price recently. I like to start my day with a CD over the morning coffee.” Fascinating, captain.

Much as I love a well-oiled record player that’s set up to perfection, or a mile long Qobuz playlist, there is something pure about putting a disc in, pressing play, and hearing a full album from start to finish. “As the artist intended,” I believe the expression goes. Without having to get up and flip the record over. Not bad. Following Mr. Darko’s lead, I substitute the morning coffee for a dreadful bit of wheatgrass, and a copy of Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon. With absolutely no worries about network issues. Sixty-eight minutes fly by.

The Apollo comes out of the box with a sound that is tonally neutral, free of digital artifacts, and full of life. To get immediate perspective, the Apollo is put in comparison with a stack of Nagra Classic gear (amp, preamp, and DAC) driving a pair of Focal Stella Utopia Ems, with a dCS Bartok along for the ride in input two. The Apollo makes an excellent debut, and when switching back and forth between the much pricier competitors, the lines are quickly drawn.

Where was sound this good 30 years ago?

Had digital sounded this good, this natural 30 years ago, who knows how things might have shaken out in the music business? In the early 90s, big bucks digital was just starting to engage, but nearly everything for a thousand dollars sounded like rubbish. Harsh, brittle, and lacking in tone. I know, I was there.

Leave it to Rega, a company that’s always been a little bit behind on the trendy curve, (but over the top on the engineering curve) to build a player that’s this good for this price. Centered around the latest Wolfson WM8742 DAC chips and their own analog stage, all carefully implemented in a compact case. According to Rega’s Terry Bates, the players designer, the analog output stage is entirely different. (Again, you’d expect nothing less from Rega) He refers to it as “A discrete implementation of an op amp with a nod to forgotten about 1960s amplifier circuitry with class A output.” In short, Bateman calls the Apollo “greater than the sum of its parts,” and we concur.

Tracking through an original digital pressing of Peter Gabriel’s Security, (the fourth album to many of you) the dynamic range of this player is stunning, offering considerable weight and drive. The Apollo keeps the pace with the densely packed, thunderous drumming on the opening track, offering compelling low-level resolution during the quiet beginning of “Lay Your Hands on Me.” This is a ton of fun listening to a disc, long since ripped to NAS, that was one of the first CDs I purchased back in the 80s, with its massive “full digital recording” sticker on the cover.

The far reaches of the audio spectrum are equally well represented. The deep, growling bass at the beginning of Charlie Sexton’s “Plain Bad Luck and Innocent Mistakes” puts the Focals to the task and rattles everything on the coffee table. Sorry, you can’t stream Under the Wishing Tree on Tidal or Qobuz, so there are times when a player comes in handy.

The transport option

Where many of today’s digital enthusiasts add a modestly priced vinyl deck to their system to dip their toes in the pool of spinning black discs, the Apollo is a perfect choice for those going the other way. With so many CDs popping up at yard sales and in used CD stores, there’s a lot available for next to nothing. And you don’t have to worry about backing it up either.

Thanks to an optical and coax digital output on the back panel, the Apollo can be used as a transport for those with higher quality DACs, powered speakers, or an all in one product like the Linn Selekt DSM, or the Simaudio MOON 390.

Used as a transport with all of these proved excellent, but returning to the Nagra TubeDAC proved to be the best combination. The Apollo as transport feels right at home plugged into this $20,000 DAC, and when playing 16/44 files, the sound from this combo often sounds more musical than what is streamed.

A perfect partner

Regardless of what you plug the Apollo into, the results are highly rewarding. In the context of a primary budget system, it holds its own and often betters the sound of turntables at the same price point. While our Rega P3/Exact combination still offers a bit more warmth and palpability through the midband, the Apollo corners the market on dynamics, and low bass punch. The two together make a formidable pair, offering the best of both worlds for a reasonable price – but that’s always been the Rega ethos.

Yet plugged into a six-figure system, the Apollo doesn’t disappoint in the least. Of course, it does not have the finesse you’d expect from a DAC or player that costs as much as a used Audi, but the basics are firmly in place, and that’s what makes the difference between digital being engaging or not.

Whether you use an Apollo as a full function disc player, or merely a transport, it will serve you well. In addition to giving it one of our Exceptional Value Awards, we’ve purchased the Apollo for our permanent collection, and it will be receiving a Product of the Year award over at The Audiophile Apartment. Can you feel the love?

The Rega Apollo CD player

$1,095 (US Distributor)

The Mytek Liberty DAC

It’s the week of Halloween here in the Midwest, which mean a few things – crisp air, beautiful colors, falling leaves, and warmer clothes, but it also means the usual plethora of haunted houses. They pop up everywhere, and inevitably, someone tries to goat me into joining them on their adventure to one.

Each time, I politely decline. Seemingly without fail, the other party presses me about it, saying something like, “What’s the matter, don’t you like to be scared?” My reply is always the same, that people in costumes jumping out at you is not the definition of scared, it’s being startled. I am not interested in paying for the experience of being repeatedly startled.

However, in putting the Mytek Liberty DAC into my main listening system this week, I was just that- startled, but in a very good way.


The Liberty is conveniently one third the size of the Manhattan or Brooklyn Bridge from Mytek, making it a great fit into many systems. One control adorns the front panel, handling all source and gain duties. The black and gray finish sets off a sleek look, complimented by patterned vent holes in the top. Solid and well constructed, the Liberty is a featherweight component at only three pounds.


The disc I began my evaluation with (Jon Batiste’s Hollywood Africans)sounds even better now that the Liberty has a few hours on the clock. Using the Pioneer Elite DV79-AVi’s coaxial output into the first S/PIDF input of the Liberty- In particular, skipping to track 4, “Saint James Infirmary Blues.” I can hear Batiste’s lips part just before he sings. The reverb in this recording makes my room sound like an old New Orleans church. Voices come from the rafters, and the sax comes right out of the wall. It’s the piano, though, that pushes me back. Never has piano sounded this natural in my system or my room. I have always found it the hardest instrument to reproduce accurately. The Liberty gives it breath and life.

Spinning the classic track from Guy Clark’s album Texas Cookin’, “Anyhow, I Love You,” is where I got startled. I had listened to the song before having the Liberty in place, but now with it in the system, there was a striking new detail. Just before the female voices come into join Guy, I can now distinctly hear them inhaling in the left channel. To make sure I wasn’t losing my mind on this, I took the disc, and played on another system in my house, and that breath was not noticeable. Now, playing it once again through the Mytek Liberty, it is there, clear as day. When I first heard this, my head went right towards that speaker, thinking my wife was standing there, about to say something to me, but it was buried deep inside a 1976 recording. It made my heart race a little.

It also makes me crave a live recording, since this level of realism is getting so enthralling. On the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s gold release of Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive!,“Penny for Your Thoughts” rings in this room with striking clarity. Solo guitar with a crowd that I feel part of. Since the electric guitar is my other vice, I can’t help but indulge in the anthemic bliss of “Do You Feel Like We Do.” Everyone has that overplayed FM staple that never got old for them, and this is mine. There are a lot of huge dynamics in this song, lost if you only ever heard it on the radio. The peaks, which need to be played at concert volume, are large and full, with Frampton’s Les Paul Custom grinding big and fat out of both channels. The valleys get low, with a subtle ride cymbal, and then a pulsing high-hat, while the audience reacts. I’ve heard this song thousands of times, but the Liberty is giving me much more clarity from Frampton’s amps. I can hear more of the individual audience members. The iconic talk box solo sings with more soul. It’s a more elevated live listening experience, overall.

Just Ones and Zeros?

I’ve been doing the majority of my listening with the Pioneer Elite, but I did make use of all four digital inputs on the Liberty. With S/PDIF 2, I connected mt Sony ES changer, and utilized the Toslink input for my TEAC CD recorder. While the Mytek does a splendid job with all three of them, it will very quickly demonstrate that all transports are not the same. There are clear, audible differences between all three units, with the more expensive Pioneer Elite outshining it’s more economical cousins in my system.

Upon receiving the Liberty, I quickly made the decision that I wanted to utilize the USB input with my 6th generation iPod touch. I purchased a Lightning to USB and plugged in to find that there was no response. A quick call to the very friendly and very helpful people at Mytek provided a solution. Since the Liberty does not supply any power from the USB, a specific adapter needs to be used. With the procurement of an Apple USB 3 Camera adapter, suddenly, I was in business!

Here again, this is a fantastic experience. Playing the iPod digitally through the Mytek Liberty yields a remarkably satisfying, rich, event that I’ve never had from my little device before. My playlists are now suddenly far more useful and enjoyable, and not just for the car anymore.

Use of the Liberty

As a DAC, the Mytek Liberty is wonderfully straight-forward. The single knob to the right, when pressed, switches between the four input sources. When turned, it increases or decreases the output level. The LED display shows either your source or volume level. I am using the unbalanced RCA outputs, but ¼’ balanced outputs are provided as well. There is a built-in MQA hi-res decoder. Conversion is up to 384K, 32 bit PCM. Native DSD up to DSD256.

Getting into My Head

Besides being a stellar DAC, the Mytek Liberty is also a serious headphone amplifier, so it’s time to switch off these speakers, and cozy up to the system. Grabbing my Sennheisers and a copy of Blind Faith, I plug in. Here is where the multi-purpose control becomes very handy, as this is now the volume control. On “Presence of the Lord,” the Liberty instantly shows that it is right at home with the great Mytek products I’ve been hearing for years, including its big brother, the Manhattan. The Liberty presents a large soundstage in the headphones and loses me in this disc, rather than sounding like a couple of cans on my ears. Detail is just as sharp and striking coming out of the front of the Liberty as from the rear outputs.

Wrapping it Up

Mytek packs an incredible amount of sound and technology into a very small package with the Liberty DAC, and at a fantastic price. To get a DAC with this much striking detail, plus a formidable headphone amplifier, all in a 1/3 rack space is just amazing. I don’t like to be scared, but I might be changing my tune on being startled.

Esoteric N-01 Network Player

Listening to a slew of Peter Gabriel favorites, via NAS drive and ROON, I ponder in earnest the thought of life without a turntable.

Which trend to follow? The declutter lady, telling us to pare down to a minimal compliment of things that bring us joy, or the vinyl enthusiasts, that want us to condemn digital and buy as many overpriced LPs as possible? Even though I’m a life-long vinyl enthusiast, after living with the N-01 for some time now, this minimalist solution certainly is enticing, especially now with Qobuz and Tidal at my disposal.

Esoteric’s N-01 weighs in at $21k; a world class DAC and streamer (or network player, as they call it)

For those not familiar, Esoteric is the premium division of TEAC, the same company that brought a full line of incredible tape decks to the world in the 70s and early 80s. All Esoteric components are hand built and hand tested to the highest specification.

Ultimate versatility

With optical, USB, AES/EBU and RCA digital inputs along with the Ethernet connection, chances are a great many of you will be using this as a DAC via an analog preamplifier, and the N-01s output level up all the way. Thus negating any issues with a very slight loss of resolution at the lowest levels. There is also a USB slot on the front panel [町田1] to accommodate a USB stick. This has to be the most inconvenient way of transmitting music ever – so I did not bother with this at all, but if this is how you do it, it will be a welcome addition. There is a second USB slot on the rear panel as well, adding to the N-O1s flexibility.
Of course, you can use the front panel USB port for an external hard drive, which could be handy for out of town guests to bring their music. As someone who is as territorial as a Chow-chow when it comes to letting others add random devices to their hifi system, if you’re coming to my house and you can’t find something on Tidal, Qobuz, or a NAS with 12,000 CDs on it, we probably shouldn’t be listening to music together anyway. But you can, with the N-01.

Besides, plugging in an external drive to the front panel takes away from the aesthetic of the N-01. Like all Esoteric products, the N-01 is beautiful to behold. Their casework is some of the best in the business, and I appreciate that their products all have a similar look and feel. This is a massive box, weighing in at just under 60 pounds, and it comes in a box that’s about half the size of a dishwasher – you’ll have to get through four sets of cartons to get to your N-01.

There’s as much beauty lurking inside the casework of the N-01 as there is on the outside. The power supply is separated from the signal carrying electronics by a thick, Nickel plated, pure steel plate. The bottom half of the N-01 reveals four massive toroid power transformers and two banks of capacitors that you might expect to see in a power amplifier. That a DAC has such a massive power supply speaks volumes. And the attention to detail everywhere else is equally fanatical.

A quick look at the spec sheet reveals that the N-01 plays everything. Everything from the lowest resolution MP3 to the highest resolution DSD file and MQA, so it’s safe to say this component is future proof. I’ve never been a DSD fan, so this is the only aspect of the N-01s performance I can’t comment on directly, with enough depth to have meaning. But if you have a NAS full of DSD files, I’m sure it will be up to task. All of the DSD files I’ve heard in the Esoteric rooms at shows have been fantastic.

All of my listening was done within the ROON environment, with the N-01 as an endpoint. This works incredibly well on a number of levels, but primarily because it is so much better at integrating multiple storage and streaming locations. It also eliminates the more cumbersome user interface available with Tidal or Qobuz.

Initial listening

Functionality aside, the N-01’s spot-on neutral tonal balance. Some components can impart a sonic signature that is either overly etched and hyper-detailed, or slightly warm, this leaves the end user making other compromises in the audio chain to “tune out the difference.” Starting with a neutral source lets you fine tune elsewhere in your system, assuring much more longevity (i.e. the need to upgrade later) for said component. A good thing when spending $20,000.

Those needing an upgrade, can add the G-02X clock ($6,500) or the G-01X Rubidium clock. Staffer Tom Caselli uses the latter in his digital front end and claims a massive increase in sound quality, as it should for the price. Past experience with adding a clock in the context of our players has always been the ability to achieve another level of refinement – dare we say a more analog like presentation. This gives you an excellent upgrade path with your N-01, should you need even more performance.

The N-01s grain free sound immediately puts you at ease, with a palpability quickly putting arguments to rest. Tracking through a bit of Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Ross, as well as the excellent Jackson Five: The Stripped Mixes, there is a delicacy afoot here that is rarely associated with digital playback.

Acoustic instruments come through with an excellent balance of tonal accuracy and saturation. The N-01 never sounds “digital.” Pianos, violins, and other stringed instruments breathe with the correct amount of attack and decay to further paint the illusion of real instruments in a real space – provided the rest of your system is up to task. Finally, the N-01 paints a large, but not overblown sonic landscape in your listening room that feels right from a sense of scale. Where some components can only offer up a huge, three-dimensional sonic picture, the N-01 expands and contracts as the music demands – a true sign of engineering prowess and maturity.

Solo or ensemble use

Using the N-01 with the Pass XS Pre, the Nagra Classic, and the conrad-johnson GAT 2 preamplifiers all proves excellent, with the neutrality of the N-01 merely allowing the sonic signature of these top shelf preamplifiers shine through. A similar result was achieved using the N-01 by itself with the Pass XA30.8, the McIntosh MC275 and the Luxman M-900u power amplifiers. As someone who prefers a slightly warm tonal balance, I particularly enjoyed the combination of the N-01, the MC275 and my Quad 2812 speakers. Thoughts of living without a turntable again filled my head.

Embellishment aside, further critical listening reveals the N-01s ability to separate fine musical details within densely packed recordings, delivering fantastic musical pace, no matter what the selection. Even though said CSN tracks possessed slightly more tonal saturation, the air around the four musicians’ voices was greater, and the distinction of their vocal character easier to discern.

More choices

With so many recent arguments about MQA, I submit that not all MQA decoders are created equal. That being said, the N-01 does a fantastic job at unfolding MQA files. Every A-B comparison on Tidal between the standard 16/44 and MQA version had the MQA rendition revealing more musical information in every sense. Comparing some MQA tracks on Tidal to 24/96 proved to be a mixed bag – for now, we’re going to relegate that to differences in mastering and internet arguments. Suffice to say again, MQA performance through the Esoteric is some of the best I’ve experienced.

Esoteric offers their own Sound Stream app for those not wishing to use ROON, but now that this device is fully ROON compliant, it’s somewhat of a moot point. I loved just plugging it into the network and getting down to business with my music collection.

Esoteric combines multiple 32-bit DAC chips and a 35-bit D/A processing algorithm to process the digital signal with full 35-bit resolution. With old school 16-bit chips falling back in fashion, I prefer the logic behind processing with extended bit depth and that Esoteric implements it to perfection here. There are multiple upsampling and filter settings, but as with my experience with dCS and a few other manufacturers, I saved myself hours of agonizing and second guessing, using it at the factory settings.

Maybe the factory guys are on to something, because that always seems like the best balance of overall musical priorities. Other settings may provide a slightly warmer tonal balance or something else, but it always ends up being the thing that you keep changing, relentlessly. I found bliss with the factory settings.

What’s in a name?

Because the Esoteric N-01 has such a high-quality DAC built in, with the ability to add a clock later, should you wish, it seems a bit of a misnomer to label it a mere “network player.” I like to think of it as a destination level DAC that just happens to stream files. It certainly seems like a much better value proposition from this angle.

The Esoteric N-01

MSRP: $21,000


Preamplifers Nagra Classic, Pass XS Pre

Power amplifiers Pass XA200.8 monos, Nagra Classic, Audio Research REF160M

Cable Cardas Clear

Speakers Focal Sopra no.3 w/REL 212 subwoofers

The GoldenEar Triton Five Speakers

If you’ve ever experienced a set of GoldenEar speakers, you know that their founder and head concept guru Sandy Gross is a master of great sound without breaking the bank. And for a good reason, he’s a music and hifi guy to the core, with decades of experience.

Where the top speakers in the Triton range include powered woofers, the Triton Five is an entirely passive design, taking advantage of a pair of 6-inch drivers coupled to four side-firing 8-inch passive radiators. As with all Tritons, the Fives have a slender form factor, making them incredibly easy to integrate into your listening space. A 90 db/1-watt sensitivity means that they are equally easy to integrate into whatever gear you might be using.

The GoldenEar site claims that the Triton Fives “deliver exceptional performance with moderately priced receivers while allowing you to appreciate the subtle qualities of the world’s finest audio components.” We’ve been listening to the Fives for some time now, and have had the opportunity to audition them with an extensive range of components from vintage receivers to components costing 100 times the $1099.99 (each) price of these speakers.

The short story? They pass with flying colors.

Utilizing the same HVFR (High-Velocity Folded Ribbon) tweeter as their top speakers, the Fives have much in common with the $10k/pair Triton REF speakers. Because the Triton REF speakers are more prominent, with larger LF drivers, and a built-in powered subwoofers, they move more air and have more dynamic capability. But at less than concert hall levels, the Triton Fives share a core sound with the REFs. The primary voice, transparency, and colossal soundstage you love in the Triton REF is just here to less of a degree. That’s a pretty amazing feat of engineering for slightly over $2k/pair.

The Fives join a concise list of speakers that deliver a vast look at money no object performance at a very agreeable price. These are speakers that you can build an incredible system around without giving up your vacation plans.

Yes, there are a couple of mini-monitors at the 2-3k level that might offer a bit more midrange accuracy or more “pinpoint imaging,” but they are specialist speakers. The Triton Fives are a real full-range speaker that can fill your listening room and be the anchor to your system without a subwoofer.

Begin at the beginning

Knowing Sandy Gross shares my love for vintage audio, my listening begins in earnest with a Dynaco Stereo 70 that was recently restored by our buds at Gig Harbor Audio. This classic amplifier has a soft, inviting sound, and the resolution of the Triton Fives fleshes out this character. The presentation is big, spacious, warm, inviting, and slightly rolled off on top. It’s a ton of fun and a great place to start your hifi journey. A similar sonic experience is offered by the original PrimaLuna ProLogue One, as well as the current EVO 100. 30 watts per channel of tube power is all you need to get into the groove.

Switching to the new Prima Luna EVO 400 monoblocks and the Audio Research REF160Ms is a different story. There’s plenty of extension at both ends of the frequency range here. Sandy was using the big Prima Lunas at Axpona, and if you were there, you know how great that sounded. Putting some significant power behind these speakers shows off their high degree of resolution and imaging ability. With amplification that’s up to the task, the Triton Fives do a remarkable job clarifying and unscrambling slightly compressed recordings that you might have thought unlistenable. That’s the mark of a great speaker at any price, but pretty much unheard of at two grand a pair.

The GoldenEar site says you can enjoy the Fives with a basic receiver, and that’s true. These are some of the most amplifier friendly speakers we’ve spent time with. However, we’d suggest going for quality over quantity. We had incredibly great results with the $2,400 Sugden A21SE integrated, which is about 40 watts per channel. But it’s all power supply and is single-ended class-A.

Tracking through Rick Springfield’s “That’s When I Found You” sounds like a big, unintelligible ball of sound on my LS-50s, yet through the Titan Fives, there’s a wealth of information that wasn’t coming through. Switching to something better recorded, with a much larger soundstage (in this case, The Police’s “Tea in the Sahara”), is expansive, with the speakers vanishing in the room. Again, this is what high-performance audio is all about, and it’s well within your reach. A beginning to end listening of Synchronicity is enlightening, the Fives creating a soundfield that extends well beyond the speaker boundaries, with plenty of height information as well as the other two dimensions. And if you really want to hear some treble clarity, wait for the bell in Queen’s “Bicycle Race.” Awesome – it sounds like there’s a vintage Schwinn right there in your listening room.

Easy to optimize

Thanks to their narrow front baffles, and broad horizontal dispersion, GoldenEar speakers are always easy to set up, even for the uninitiated. Ironically, you don’t have to be a “Golden Ear” to get them 90% of the way, yet an hour or so of fine-tuning, should you be so inclined will offer benefits in imaging and spatial placement.

The Triton Fives didn’t take a ton of time to break in, they sound great out of the box (and fortunately they are not terribly heavy, so one person can set them up) and benefit from about 50-100 hours of play at a moderate level. A little less if you’re playing a lot of bass-heavy program material. At that point, they lose a touch of mid-bass fog and really deliver the goods. You might want to consider doing a rough set up, and then after a week or so, really spending an afternoon making the final adjustment.

I followed Sandy’s lead, placing the Fives about 12 feet apart in my 16 x 25-foot listening room on the long wall. Experimenting with the long and short wall, I preferred the long wall, with them toed in a little bit more than usual. This offered a really spacious sound, and I am biased towards an immersive soundstage. So, if you’ve got the room, spread the Fives out until they separate into two mono speakers, and then pull them back together about 6-12 inches. That should have you in the ballpark.

GoldenEar does it again.

Everyone who’s experienced the GoldenEar Triton Fives is thrilled with them, so add us to the list. This is a high-end speaker with a budget price tag because the designer has made the right choices. The cabinets are functional and only come in one finish – gloss black with a fabric front. One SKU means a massive scale of economy. Looking closer, you see the deceptively simple cabinets have a curved shape with no even surfaces to create cabinet resonances.

Basic black goes with everything and makes for an elegant speaker that has had the budget spent on sound quality. And that earns the Triton Fives a spot on our Product of the Year awards list at The Audiophile Apartment. Great sound, great value, great price.