GoldenEar BRX 5.1 Loudspeaker System Review

hccbestbuybadgev3Mark Craven enjoys the highs and lows of a premium compact 5.1 system from American audio marque GoldenEar

US brand GoldenEar was the third loudspeaker company founded by famed designer Sandy Gross, following in the footsteps of Polk Audio and Definitive Technology. Gross has now left, but his parting gift is the £1,499-per-pair Bookshelf Reference X.

This moderately sized bookshelf (or standmount, although GoldenEar doesn't sell any matching stands) is the last design to bear Gross's input, and joins two other pre-existing smallscale models in the Bookshelf lineup – the Aon 2 (£899) and Aon 3 (£1,100). However, it doesn't share much in common with those, instead being designed more as a baby brother to the brand's high-end Triton Series floorstanders. In other words, it's GoldenEar's premium smallscale model, and ripe for deployment on both front and surround duty in a multichannel system where larger loudspeakers aren't desired or possible.

Braced For High Velocity
The BRX's aesthetic design is typical of the brand, which means it's perhaps a bit of an acquired taste. The speaker is wider at the rear than the front, and its MDF enclosure is given a hand-rubbed piano black lacquer that looks swish but will show up finger prints. Curved magnetic grilles can be attached, although these sit on a protruding lower (plastic?) lip that looks a bit incongruous. Build quality is excellent, though, and the curved top to the cabinet is a nice touch.


The BRX features front-facing HVFR tweeter and 6in bass/mid, plus side-facing passive radiators

Adding to the somewhat unusual look, when grilles are removed, is GoldenEar's HVFR (High-Velocity Folded Ribbon) tweeter, which is the same drive unit that graces the manufacturer's pricey (£11,000) Triton Reference model. This driver claims a reach up to 35kHz, which should make any break-up modes inaudible. It's joined on the BRX by a 6in bass/mid driver with computer modelled cone geometry, also a trickle-down from GoldenEar's Reference products.

Unusually, there's more bass low-frequency potential here, as the left/right sides of the speaker house (grille-covered) 6.5in auxiliary radiators, in place of a more conventional bass-reflex cabinet design.

Superheroic Siblings?
Our system features BRX models fore and aft. For the centre, we're using GoldenEar's SuperCenter X (£799), the smallest of the brand's dedicated centre speakers. Okay, I say small – it's actually 50cm wide, the space necessary to fit a driver complement of two 5.25in bass/mids, one HVFR tweeter, and a 10in x 7in auxiliary radiator that sits up top and is again covered by a grille. The cabinet is again black, although not quite as glossy, and its shape is more of a match for the trapezoidal Aon models. So this system isn't ideal for those who fuss about a uniform aesthetic.

Our system subwoofer is GoldenEar's SuperSub X (£1,549), which carries on with the more-drivers-than-you-might-think vibe. Two 8in woofers, fed by a rated 1,400W ForceField onboard amp, are horizontally opposed, while top and bottom sit 10.5in x 9.5in radiators. All this is in pursuit of a claimed low-end trawl of 12Hz (albeit with no quoted roll-off).

The sub is cute enough, and also slightly trapezoidal. Rear panel connections and controls are set-and-forget (there are no preset EQs, for instance). One minor niggle is that it has a blue LED status light which I couldn't work out how to dim. With lights-off viewing, the glow it placed on my side wall was sometimes distracting.