Every once a while, when audiophiles hunt for the perfect bookshelf speakers, they end up buying something that looks aesthetically pleasing. Speakers like the JBL L100 Classic or the Wharfedale LINTON Heritage look great and sound great – but at what cost!
Will you buy a pair of bookshelf speakers that don’t look good? Well, meet the GoldenEar AON3. The AON3s are no where near good looking. These don’t even have a contemporary design – the looks are polarizing. However, the specs on paper are impressive.
- Dimensions: 9″ W x 11″ D x 14″ H.
- Frequency Response: 38 Hz – 35 kHz.
- Sensitivity: 90 dB.
- Nominal Impedance: Compatible with 8 ohms.
- Driver Complement: One 7″ cast-basket bass/midrange driver, One High-Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR™) high-frequency radiator, Two 8″ side-mounted planar low-frequency radiators.
- Receiver Amp: 10 – 250 Watt/channel
I was a big fan of the JBL Control 1 bookshelves – simply because it preformed really well for the asking price. Unlike the AON3s, the JBLs clearly lacked the finesse, punch, elegance, and most importantly the, unfailingly clear highs that you can listen for hours. This is what you’d expect for a pair of really well-designed bookshelf speakers retailing at ~$900.
No fancy magnetic grills. No fancy wood/veneer finish. Just plain and hefty cabinet design that doesn’t sound hollow when you tap on it. Built out of MDF, the peculiar design is due to its function, not aesthetics. The function being – to reduce standing-waves from building up and messing with the sound due to its tapering, non-parallel sidewalls.
Now, to the subjective bit – sound quality. Our ears are tuned different. The manufacturers of HiFi systems have to deal with these nuances – the sound coming out of the JBL L100 Classic will not appeal to everyone. So does the sound coming out of these GoldenEar AON3s. Just too many factors involved in balancing the equation. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to tell you how these sound when powered a run off the mill amplifier like the Cambridge Audio SR10, fed by the Schiit Modi 3 DAC.
Stacy Kent’s The Ice Hotel, calms your nerves. The AON3s reproduce the depth of the music effortlessly with the mid-bass and HVFR tweeter making the instrument separation so noticeable, without muddling the vocals. The vocals stand out, rich and bang in the middle of the speakers that are separated by a 6-feet. Well, the speakers just disappear – this is no exaggeration.
Patsy Cline’s Back in Baby’s Arms, makes you wonder how good 2-channel stereo could be with such immaculate sound stage and stereo imaging – lets me appreciate the recording that was done decades ago!
KJ Yesudas’ Harivarasanam, gives me the goosebumps – how can his voice be so deep, rich and yet so graceful? The AON3s fill the room with Yesudas’ rich, deep, baritone voice, reverberating deep within, long after the song is over.
The Pan Flute of Zamfir’s The Lonely Shepherd, reiterates the fact that Quentin Tarantino has a great sense of music (for the choice of music in his movies – Kill Bill, Django Unchained, etc). Such is the finesse of AON3s big bold sound stage that let’s me sink into the music, appreciate it as a whole, not missing the nuances of it.
With the recently launched GoldenEar BRX getting rave reviews, you should try getting the AON3s for cheap – the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Satisfying audiophiles listening to many genres in music.