Focal Sopra 2's vs Titron GoldenEar Reference speakers


Hello there, After a long and drawn out process, I’m finally down to a couple of choices for my New Speakers. The two speakers are the Focal Sopra 2 and the Golden ear Triton Reference Speakers/ I’ll either buy the golden ears new or buy second hand sopra’s 2’s only used for 2 months. The price is the same either way. I have heard both speakers in perfectly attuned rooms that were tweaked out. The last set of speakers I purchased sounded very different in my NON dedicated listening room than they did in the store. After this speaker purchase " which is a big one for me at these prices" I don’t want to even think of buying new loud speakers for years. I’m not one to change his gear often. Though I do change my underwear everyday. That was a very poor attempt at humor. If any of you reading this have heard both of these speakers, I would love to hear your thoughts on them good, bad or indifferent. My non dedicated listening room DIMENSIONS are 8 FEET HIGH,20 FEET LONG and 14 FEET WIDE. I will be using Mcintosh solid state preamp and power amp for the new speakers. After the speaker purchase, future purchases and time spent reading about hi-fi will be dedicated to room improvements. I like to listen to music loud, very rarely do I listen at low volumes. I’m 50 percent split on the music of my youth, Metal and punk. The other 50 percent Diana Krall, Duke Ellington
and more audiophile like music. It seems to me at the 11 Canadian price point it’s hard to find a speaker that does it all well. I have to admit I’m a huge mark for the look of the sopra 2 loudspeaker. Of course the Golden ear reference come with built in woofers which is a plus. I’m not a big bass head though. If any of you fine people could offer me your opinions or some insight to either speaker, It would be greatly appreciated. I;m a bit antsy as this is a big purchases for me and I don’t want to mess it up. A huge thank you for taking the time to read this long winded post. Would love to hear some strong opinions. Enjoy the music.

Mikey

Ag insider logo xs@2xriverboat
Riverboat, both of these speakers are fantastic choices.

The Triton References punch way above their weight and in terms of image size and placement and of course deep bass they are hard to beat. The Triton R are very musical and excel at dynamics.

Based on having Mcintosh gear we would advise you to seek out the Focals. the Golden Ears are on the warm side and the Focals Beryilium tweeter is more detailed so the combination with the Mcintosh which is very laid back would favor the Sopras.

With different equipment it might be different. 

Hope that helps.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Golden Ear dealers
I have never heard a Golden Ear speaker whose treble I did not find harsh and fatiguing, especially at high volumes.


The Focal treble isn't perfect either, but to my ears was a lot easier to listen to for extended periods.


Focals also are often "discerning of amplifiers." That is, "hard to drive." Make sure you have tried it with an amp similar to yours or you'll get tubby, or weak bass at home.
Erik, hard to believe that is what you heard, most Heil AMT drivers are distinctly less bright then metal dome tweeters, 

A Heil AMT is a folded piece of mylar and such the resonant frequency  and break up modes are way lower then a metal dome or ribbon driver.

Most Heil Drivers sound distinctly less bright. 

We heard the Triton 1's the older version as a couple of stores usually they sounded boomy on one demo they sounded bright. 

The new Reference versions are wonderully smooth. The Focal's tend to be a bit more resolute in the treble. 

We heard the Sopra II at Axpona and they were not sounding that good, the much less expensive Triton 1R smooked them at Axpona.

We have heard the Sopras before and thought they were very good hence our recommendation. 

Dave and Troy 
Audio Doctor NJ Golden Ear dealers
I find Focal to be bright, and the Tweeter (for better or worse) to be the star of the show.  I just don’t find them to be overly coherent either because I’m so focused on the Tweeter.  The McIntosh Electronics (depending on vintage) may be able to tame things a bit for you.

The GE’s... they do what they do.  I’ve never found them to be offensive as they are generally smooth.  They image pretty well and throw a big soundstage. I do like bass.. and they do that in spades!

I listen to a lot of metal/hard rock still and both of those categories would point me toward the GE’s assuming you are truly down to those 2 speakers.  

In your shoes... I would lean GE.  But then again, I don’t care for the Focals.  I find them sort of bright and a bit lean in the bass.
I thank you all for the great information and opinions, Lot's to think about.
One thing is certain ,the Xover parts and drivers In the Sopra are quality custom built in their factory, and Xover has name brand  parts the Tritons are all made in China. The Sopra is more fleshed out and refined . Parts quality does count. 
Also the cabinets are much nicer .
Judas priest and tool as well as many others sound excellent on my GE triton 2's. I've used them with tube, solid state, and digital amplifiers and never heard any harshness. 
One thing is certain ,the Xover parts and drivers In the Sopra are quality custom built in their factory, and Xover has name brand parts


Having a Focal brand on the caps doesn’t make them in house. Last time I looked, Focal used Axon/SCR/Solen caps, rebranded.  If you have a source, with pics of new parts, let me know.
Erik, hard to believe that is what you heard, most Heil AMT drivers are distinctly less bright then metal dome tweeters,

@audiotroy - I listen to AMT's from Mundorf every day, which are as expensive or more than a lot of top end Be tweets. They are in my main system. I adore them. The GE sounded nothing like them. In fact, when I looked at online reviews, the frequency response was distinctly ragged and not like AMTs.


Like with any other tech, the devil is in the implementation.
Regardless of who makes what parts, I encourage everyone to listen for themselves, and when comparing these two speakers, listen at your desired volume, and keep my points in mind.


At the end of the day, I won't be happy or unhappy either way, since the money isn't coming out of my wallet. :)


Best,

Erik
To the OP, I have the Triton References with a McIntosh solid state amp and tube preamp.  Sound is to die for in every sense of the word.  I find the Focal extremely bright, heard the Sopra 2 many times, can't stand them  That BE tweeter is like an ice pick picking at my brain.  I am using a Mac MC 302 300wpc amp and a C2500 tube preamp.  The system is extremely musical and sounds great at any volume from very low to extremely loud.  To the naysayer who complains that the GE are manufactured in China, if they weren't, they would sell for thousands more.
You're talking about two very highly regarded speakers here and either should serve you well. A couple of points to consider. Both of these speakers have sensitivities over 90 db. I think the Focals are 91 db and the Triton References are over 93. While you didn't specify the power of your amp, either one should be very easy to drive. However, the Tritons each have an 1800 watt Class D amp to handle the low frequencies which go as low as 12 HZ. That, combined with the higher sensitivity allows you to use a low wattage tube amp should you choose. I wouldn't think such an amp would match as well with the Focals. The Vocals don't go as deep (34 HZ) if that matters. 

Regarding the comments about the upper range. Quality speakers such as these are not just thrown together with quality parts. There is a lot of engineering that goes in to "voicing" the sound. I think most get it right enough to avoid harsh or shrill top ends. Such aspects, when heard, are most likely related to room acoustics which are difficult to get right. 

If loud and deep is what you like, you cannot beat the Triton References or the Triton 1r for the price.

J.Chip
Erik has my complete support in terms of the quality of the GE AMTs. That's the main reason I bought Focal. Focal tweeters sound smoother and have better off axis behavior in my experience. 
The Arizona Audio/Video Club held a shootout in February 2019
of the Focal Kanta 2s vs the GE Reference.
Powered by a Hegel 590 Integrated. Room 25 x 35 x 8. 10 Absorbing panels were also employed.
We have about 40 members in attendance. Music was varied from classical to vocal to Blue Grass.

The final tally was about 1/2 for each product. The Focal edged the 
GE by a couple votes.

I sat on the side and changed speaker lines
but felt I preferred the Focal sound. Although the GE's
bass kicked Focals butt. 

From my observations the Sopra which are a notch up from Kantas
should be significantly better. 

I do caution you on your "Prices about the same" statement.
When comparing prices if the Focal is used, so should the GE
In which case the GE would have a significant price advantage.
Kanta 2s seem a closer pairing.




I have found that with my Sopra ll's removing the metal cover over the tweeter widens the sound stage and smooths out the treble. 

ozzy
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 Again, thank you all for your opinions and insight. I have a few questions. Regarding the goldenear Triton 1 R’s, What percentage would you put on these in terms of being equal to the the reference. I read the reviews and what people write about them in the forums and I get the impression they are 95 percent the equal of the references and 3 grand cheaper. What percentage would you put it at? Can you sit 8 feet away from the 1 r’s and feel a punch in the gut at loud volumes? Obviously the bass on the reference will win out every time. Leaving base aside, how close are the r 1’s to the big Daddy’s?
  Regarding focal, how would you compare the Kanta 3’s which are cheaper than the sopra 2 ’s and a more recent model with bigger woofers? Do these speakers play Big?

  On a completely separate matter, h0w do you all feel about buying speakers from DIY companies like salk and teketon? If something goes wrong I guess you have to package it up and send it back to them. And for me there would be the border stop as I’m in Canada and then off to the company. You can’t get your dealer to send it back or take it as it would have to go back to where it came from sent from your home. I don’t know, is that risky business for the owner?
Thank you for reading.
I have the Triton 1r's driven by an old Classe Audio Fifteen amp (175 W) through a Prima Luna Dialogue Premium preamp. My listening position is about 8 feet away and rarely do I need to move the volume control on my preamp beyond 9 o'clock. I've also found it necessary (in my room) to turn the bass driver amps down to 9 o'clock as well. Probably will switch out to a pair of lower powered tube mono blocks down the road. If i turn the volume up with my 175 W amp, the Triton 1r's can peel my skin off. 

J.Chip
Both of these speakers are far from neutral to my ears, with the Golden Ears being the less refined of the two. Either would be a terrible choice for punk rock IMO, but the Focals would be the easy choice between the two.

As for the GE AMT, it's not a Heil, not remotely close.
helomech,

Curious, what speakers would you consider neutral in the price range?

ozzy
@ozzy 

If talking large, full-range speakers, a used pair of Revel Salon 2s, which have a superior Be tweeter to my ears. Those or an old pair of Spendor SP100s. Different sounds, but each produces a superior top-to-bottom balance, and with smoother highs, IMO of course.
For what its worth, at AXPONA 2019, the Triton 1r's were very favorably reviewed. One of Absolute Sounds reviewers considered the GoldenEar Triton 1r's to be the "best sound for the money" calling it "no contest".

J.Chip
I find Focal very bright and fatiguing to my ears. Just my opinion
@mmporsche ………….

I second that!
I would suggest the OP widen his search. I believe Elac offers some of the best bang for the buck. Andrew Jones is an engineering genius and much of his knowledge has been distilled in the lower cost Elac loudspeakers. If you are unfamiliar with Andrew Jones, Google him. Better yet, audition his speakers. No affiliation, just a fan after meeting him at RMAF and hearing his speakers. 
Don't buy any speaker if you cannot try it at home. I know that the speakers are big and heavy but the room as you already said has enormous influence on the sound 
Listen to Martin-Andersen. I would go for the Goldenears simply because most dealers will let you try for a period before final commitment. There is nothing worse than getting speakers that do not play well with your system or room. When you buy used, you may not be able to return them. Food for thought.
Also, I truly believe the Triton 1Rs are spectacular at the price. Very well integrated top to bottom. They are probably one of the top 5 bang for buck speakers out there. The Paradigm Persona 3F would be one to consider at your price. They punch above their class too, but I still lean to the 1Rs.
I heard both of this speakers they are both good, but I prefer the focal quality of sound, they are connected to esoteric components, they look good too...
The Sopra 2’s aren’t bright; that would be your crappy electronics and poor setup.  
Have to agree with Emcdade, the new Sopras are fantastic and the new sound of Focal is way less metalic then the older versions.

At Axpona the Sopras on a Naim Uniti Nova sounded very good, but that system was not amazing. 

The Golden Ear's at Axpona sounded amazing, the system was not a super expensive one but we think it was more expensive than the Nova however, the speakers cost almost 1/3rd the price

The take away was the Golden Ear Tritron 1R were spectacular at Axpona.

We were so impressed by the demo there we signed up to be Golden Ear dealers on the spot after having mixed feelings about them for years.

After having our demo pair for a few weeks they are very impressive, not as transparent as we would like, but smooth, big soundstage, fantastic bass.

On a few passages they were spooky as certain effects and voices on some tracks just popped out of the loudspeakers. 

As a home theater rig again spectacular.

The Golden Ear Tritron 1R are just an insane bargain and they do give more expensive loudspeakers a run for their money. 

On our last client demo we compared the Tritron 1R to the Legacy Signatures, the Paradigm Persona 3F and the PSB T3, each speaker had a few strengths, the Golden Ears won for price, performance, deep bass and of course stunning value, the only issue is they come in one color gloss black.  We were going to switch in the Kef Reference 3 but ran out of time.

The take away is the Golden Ear Trion 1R are vastly superior to the older non reference models and the fact that a $6k loudspeaker can easily hang with $10k and above models is testment to what a great job Sandy Gross did with the new models.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ Golden Ear, Legacy, PSB, Paradigm, KEF dealers
I’ve owned GE triton 1s. Paired w aesthetix eclipse amp & pre. I loved the smoothness of the muds and high end. Detailed but not harsh. The bass, being adjustable, helped keep the sound right for me. I replaced them with Burmester speakers bc I liked the ribbon tweeter sound but with more detail in the middle. I kept the GE and moved them to a home theater application where the bass really shines. I do agree that the GE product punches well above its weight class. Good luck. Get what you ears tell you to get
I have had a pair of Sopra No2's since they first came into the U.S.  It's been mentioned by others the importance of matching an amp to this (and in my opinion) or any speaker for that matter.  I first auditioned the Sopra's with a Naim integrated amp (I believe it was around 80 wpc), and found them to sound "thin" and "lifeless".  I later heard them driven by a McIntosh MC452 and was absolutely smitten.  I find the smoothness of the McIntosh amps pairs well with the Sopra's.  I have mine driven by an MC452 with a McIntosh C2500 tube preamp, a very nice combination, so nice, I'm off the "upgrade train", probably for a long, long time!
@ejr1953...........i have the GE Triton References with a McIntosh C2500 tube preamp and an MC302 power amp. Like you, I am off the upgrade train as well.
EJR the Naim Uniti Nova is hardly a thin and lifeless sound with the Sopras, the issue is that many Naim dealers use Naim cables which are really okay sounding, because the amplifiers are designed to be used with a cable with a known inductance, and  many higher end cables are low inductance, with better speaker cables the Naim Nova sounds really good, however, with $14k speakers we do like to see more expensive electronics used as the speakers will sound far better. 

So we would agree with your choice of the better Macintosh gear, if you heard the Sopras with the higher end Naim separates you would have also been smitten 

As per the battle of these two great speakers you couldn't lose with either. we would agree with the Sopras having a bit clearer midrange and top end,  with the Golden Ears having a smoothness and deep bass that is better than the Sopras.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor Golden Ear dealers
Just sharing my experience as it relates to the OP - After an extensive search last year I purchased a pair of Focal Sopra 2's and never looked back. The other two contenders were Wilson and Revel but I was concerned they were too tough to drive. I'm pushing the Sopra's with a Prima Luna Dialogue Integrated (+/- 42 wpc/25 in triod) and power is never an issue in a 14x20 room with vaulted ceilings. The bass is full, deep, fast and sometimes even earth shaking. I am surprised when others say the Sopra's are bright. I've listened to them with numerous SS and tube amps and the tweeter is one of the high points.

I also hear the Sopra's at AZPONA this year but they were in a huge room without their own 'space' and definitely wasn't the best I've heard them. The Focal rep was apologetic that they weren't set up properly and also should be mated with the better Naim amps. He also share his opinion that the Sopra 2 was a significant step up from the Katana (for what that's worth). I also heard the Golden Ear for just a few minutes but to me and my brother it wasn't doing anything special so we moved on. (I wouldn't consider our brief experience with the GE any kind of review or opinion). I'm not a big fan of subs or powered speakers but that's just me. 

In general, I find the Sopra 2 very easy to live with - easy to drive, easy to place and are very musical regardless of the genre. It's always inviting, involving and thrilling. While no speaker does everything well, the Sopra 2 does a lot right. If your able to get a good deal on a pair I doubt you'd feel any buyers remorse. 

Good luck on your decision and happy listening!
I wrote a review of my speaker Journey and the Focal Sopra 2 speakers.
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/my-speaker-journey-and-focal-sopra-2 

ozzy
As with any advice ones needs to filter on some of the generalities, quality type of comments.  The “spkr A blows spkr B out of the water” is pretty useless.  

Many get attached to their choices and once someone slams their product of choice, the sophomoric comments begin.

No one hears what you hear and you really need to listen to the products or take a leap of faith, which can obviously be risky.

I've heard GE’s (ref) twice in two different settings (home, dealer) and they are nice speakers for sure and do things well, but have never been wowed by them at all.  There is a certain disconnect.  IMHO I see them more cut out for HT settings.  The details of why I feel that way doesn’t really matter. Others may think they are the best spkr in the world.

There is so much that depends on getting the most out of every spkr (room, placement, acoustics, electronics) thus its important to do as much research and actual listening if possible.  

There’s also ones priority.  IOW, on one extreme some just want a good rig and don’t care much about all the details, time and work to get it dialed in and on the other extreme there are those that painstakingly devote a significant amount of time and resources (not necessarily big $) with setup, acoustics, power mgmt, isolation etc.  Neither one is better or worse as it’s really person dependent.