September 07, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
Soundbars, those long, horizontally mounted speakers that have been replacing satellite setups over the past few years, were prominent at the CEDIA Expo this year. And no wonder—they’re compact and offer a significant improvement over a television’s built-in speakers, and they take less effort to set up than a collection of individual units around a room. The high-end Loudspeaker company Golden Ear brought out its answer to that category, but with extra attention to the audio and surround experience.
The SC3DA SuperCinema 3D Array ($999.99) isn’t a replacement for a full set of 5.1 speakers, as many soundbars try to be. Instead it packs a left, center and right channel into one speaker bar, so you get the aesthetic appeal of a simple front setup. Separate surrounds are needed for a full surround sound experience, so you’re not sacrificing any accuracy.
Proper imaging can be difficult with a soundbar. Golden Ear achieves that by building in six cast spiderleg-basket 4.5-inch bass-midrange drivers and 3 High-Velocity Folded Ribbon tweeters (HVFR). The unit is covered by a piano-gloss-black-finished cabinet of aerospace-grade extruded aluminum with a non-resonant marble-powder-infused baffle and end-caps. It can be easily wall-mounted using its keyhole mounts or threaded brass inserts, or shelf-mounted using its adjustable rear supports.
In the design, one of the goals of Golden Ear founder Sandy Gross was to address an acoustic problem involving crosstalk between left and right loudspeakers and listeners’ contralateral ears, especially when the left and right channels are situated very close to each other, as is the case with a soundbar. The soundbar uses special 3D image optimization technology to achieve a wide 3D front soundstage with virtually no acoustic coloration.
Golden Ear recommends matching the speaker with a pair of rear surrounds such as the SuperSat 3s or a pair of Invisas in-walls (see below) and a powered ForceField 3, 4 or 5 Subwoofer.
In addition to the LCR soundbar, Golden Ear showed off an assortment of new architectural speakers for in-wall/ceiling installation. The company’s Invisa Series speakers all feature a flangeless design to make them blend into the room and incorporate GoldenEar’s high-definition drivers, folded ribbon tweeters and complex crossovers. The 525, 650 and 7000 models all come standard with a round, magnetically attached grille and have an optional square grille available. Retail Prices: Invisa 525: $249 each, Invisa 650: $299 each, Invisa HTR 7000: $499 each, Invisa MPX: $499 each.
Check out a review of Golden Ear’s Triton Two speakers here.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.