- Manufacturer & Model
- GoldenEar - SuperCenter Reference
- $1,899.00 Each
High-Performance Reference-Level center channel speaker
1 – GoldenEar Reference High Gauss Neodymium, High Velocity Folded Ribbon Tweeter (HVFR)
2 – 5.25” Reference High-Definition Cast-Basket, Focused-Field Magnet Structure, Bass/Midrange
2 – 5.25” Reference High-Definition Cast-Basket, Focused-Field Magnet Structure, Bass/Midrange
Drivers equipped with Multi-Vane Phase Plugs
2 – 6.75” x 8” Quadric Planar Passive Low-Frequency Radiator
1 – 7” x 10” Quadric Planar Passive Low-Frequency Radiator
Frequency Response: 33Hz – 35kHz
Nominal Impedance: 4Ω
Recommended Amplifier Power: 20 – 350 Watts
The top of the SuperCenter lineup, and the perfect match for large GoldenEar home theater systems, is the reference-level performance, SuperCenter Reference Center Channel Speaker. Only 35” wide, it includes four 5-1/4" drivers utilizing the focused-field magnet structure developed for the Triton Reference series, the GoldenEar Reference High-Gauss High-Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR) tweeter, and three passive planar infrasonic radiators. The unique 2.5-Way, linear-phase crossover network employs a balanced topology that reduces stray capacitances for dramatically improved clarity. In addition, the crossover utilizes precision film capacitors and other precision components to blend the drivers seamlessly at the crossover point. There are three separate internal chambers, a larger one in the center which contains two 5-1/4˝ drivers with Multi-Vane Phase Plugs, which perform up to the crossover point of the tweeter (3300Hz) and are acoustically coupled to the larger, 7˝ x 10˝ passive radiator in the top-center of the speakers. Two smaller chambers, each containing a 6-3/4˝ x 8˝ passive infrasonic planar radiator coupled with a proprietary 5-1/4˝ driver engineered for a robust low-frequency response.
I’ve had the distinct pleasure and opportunity over the last couple of years, thanks to AV NIRVANA, to listen to, review, and enjoy a variety of speakers in my listening space. That opportunity (as opportunities oft do) led to thinking about what would make my room and system sound better.
So, I sat down with myself for a serious conversation about the state of my AV system. It went something like this.
“Hey! Are you there?” I asked Myself.
“Now, Self, where else would I be?” Myself snarkily replied.
“Hmmm… Good Point!” Self thought to himself.
“Is there any part of our home theater that we are dissatisfied with?” he asked of himself. Then, after a good amount of introspection, we came together with a thought.
“I’ve noticed that, compared to some speakers we have had the opportunity to listen to lately, our old friend, the BG Radia CC-220 Center Channel Speaker is somewhat boxy sounding by comparison, and it doesn’t match, timbre-wise, with our current right/left speakers.”
“Yes! I concur! We should replace it! But with what? Are we currently happy with our front, right and left speakers?” we mused.
“Yes, we are happy with the front speakers!” we said.
“So, if we are happy with the sound and timbre of the GoldenEar Triton One.Rs we are currently using, shouldn’t we start our search with GoldenEar?” we postulated. “Yes!” everyone chorused.
Having previously heard the SuperCenter Reference at a local GoldenEar dealer when I auditioned and purchased the Triton One.Rs, I was sure it would be a good match.
So, having agreed in principle, I decided to give the GoldenEar SuperCenter Reference a serious audition. An order was made, and a speaker was received.
The GoldenEar SuperCenter Reference arrived via UPS, housed in a heavy-duty cardboard box with the contents proudly emblazoned on the exterior. The speaker was secured in the box with a closed-cell foam girdle around the center of the plastic-wrapped speaker, and each end was secured between closed-cell foam end caps. The speaker was wrapped in a plastic bag with soft foam protecting the two piano gloss black end caps already mounted on the speaker. The only other items in the box were the setup/instruction guide that covers the entire range of the SuperCenter lineup, four tap-in brass bushings, and four screw-in rubber feet. The bushings and rubber feet are optional, depending on your speaker placement requirements.
The SuperCenter Reference is an attractive speaker. Overall, it presents as neutral within its surroundings, sensibly eschewing the shiny piano black finish on the top of the other Reference series speakers for a less reflective and more innocuous gray sock wrapping the speaker body. The gray “sock” tightly hugs the speaker and is pulled taut with drawstrings hidden behind the removable end caps. The high-gloss, piano black end caps appear to be wood, but upon removal and inspection proved to be sturdy plastic. The plastic end caps attach to the speaker using four pin-in-cup fasteners on each piece.
The back surface of the speaker is broken only by the recessed binding post/serial number box offset to the right of the center. The 5-way binding posts are robust and capped with a 9/16” hex head. They appear to be brass and are non-ferrous. The bare wire/pin opening is large enough to directly accept a 10-Gauge, possibly 9-Gauge, wire, or pin.
If your installation requires sitting the speaker on a shelf or tabletop, GoldenEar offers a neat solution. Hidden under the “sock” are four small indentations in the cabinet bottom. The SuperCenter Reference comes with four tap-in brass bushings and four small rubber screw-in feet that screw directly into the bushings after they are installed. You can install the bushings right through the cloth “sock” after locating the holes by rubbing your finger across the bottom of the speaker. Once the holes are found, install the bushings by placing them over the indentations and then tapping, gently rapping with a hammer until the brass bushings are flush with the bottom of the speaker. Next, install the feet into the bushings and safely place the speaker, without fear, on your fine furniture. Because the rubber feet are threaded, the feet can be adjusted slightly (0.5” or so), allowing the speaker to be canted somewhat (up or down) depending on your needs and the rearmost bushing/foot placement. Only three bushing/foot combos are typically used as they are configured in a triangular arrangement (see below), two in front and one in the rear center.
As luck (or planning) would have it, I use a speaker stand, so there was no need for me to tear into the “sock” or install the feet.
Construction and Design
The SuperCenter Reference uses trickle-down technology from the other GoldenEar Reference speakers (Triton Reference, Triton One.R, and the BRX). The same High-Gauss High-Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR) Reference Tweeter is used for the high frequencies. Four 5.25” drivers are used for the bass and midrange. These feature a similar design but slightly smaller size than the mid/bass drivers found in GoldenEar’s other Reference Series models. Two of the woofer/midrange speakers are optimized to operate at 500Hz and down in the frequency spectrum, while the two centermost drivers (flanking the tweeter) are optimized to the mid-bass and midrange up to the crossover point of 3300Hz.
The cabinet of the SuperCenter Reference is all machined MDF that varies from 15mm (0.6”) to 30mm (1.18”) in thickness, depending on structural need. The cabinet interior is divided into three separate chambers. The 12mm (0.47”) MDF chamber divider panels provide plenty of bracing/reinforcement. When whacked with my little rubber mallet, the ultra-rigid cabinet returns only a solid “THUNK!”. The larger center chamber houses the two bass/midrange drivers flanking the HVFR Tweeter. This chamber is coupled to and is tuned by the larger Passive Infrasonic Planar Radiator in the top center of the cabinet. Flanking the center chamber are two separate chambers that house the two more bass-centric bass/low-midrange drivers, each coupled to the smaller Passive Infrasonic Planar Radiators on the top of the cabinet. The passive radiators tune all three chambers to the same frequency, much like a port on a conventional bass reflex speaker. In addition, each chamber is stuffed with a Dacron batting to provide some additional damping and control of the backwave of the bass/midrange drivers.
There are included feet that can be attached to the bottom of the speaker, allowing it to sit directly on furniture, leveling, or canting the speaker as required.
The tweeter is GoldenEar's proprietary version of an AMT (Air Motion Transformer/Heil Driver) type speaker. The SuperCenter Reference uses the same High-Gauss Reference HVFR (High-Velocity Folded Ribbon)version of the driver found in GoldenEar's upper-end Triton Reference, Triton One.R, and BRX speakers.
Two of the woofer/midrange speakers (on the outside extremes of the front panel) are 5.25" High-Definition, Cast-Basket drivers with a low-mass voice coil coupled to a powerful High-Gauss "Focused Field" motor assembly. The “.5” part of the 2.5-Way crossover is a low-pass filter passing the 500Hz and below frequencies to the two bass/mid-bass drivers. In addition to the crossover's low-pass filter, to a lesser degree, the drivers are mechanically optimized and tuned for the bass/mid-bass range of 500Hz and below.
The other two 5.25” woofer/midrange speakers are like the speakers above, utilizing the same “Focused Field” motor assembly. However, these speakers feature an additional tech-tweak centric to the midrange, adding the Multi-Vane Phase Plug (MVPP) assembly to the driver's center. The Multi-Vane Phase Plug minimizes cross-apex wave propagation interference and provides the midrange with additional “focus, clarity, and smoothness.” These two drivers are optimized to operate through the bass/midrange and right up to the crossover point to the tweeter (3300Hz).
The “Focused Field” architecture found in the Reference series of bass/midrange of drivers is designed to precisely direct, or focus, the magnetic flux of the motor assembly into the voice-coil gap to increase control and efficiency and reduce distortion. This technology and design are used throughout the GoldenEar Reference series of speakers in the mid-bass/midrange drivers.
Passive Radiators – The SuperCenter Reference has three Passive Planar Infrasonic Bass Radiators on the top, hiding under the “sock” that wraps the speaker. These three passive radiators tune the speaker cabinet via mass, damping, and compliance, much as a port tunes a speaker cabinet via port length and diameter, allowing each woofer/midrange to operate more effectively within its optimal range. Inertial mass and tuning are supplied by a suspension/damping system of sorts that is attached to the front planar surface. This interesting system connects using a linkage system consisting of a clapboard tube that travels through the center of the passive radiator's basket to a “spring” system at the bottom of the basket. The “spring” material appears to be a stiff cardboard/woodchip composite to supply the needed compliance. The “spring” is topped with a small MDF disk to add more inertial mass and provide a solid support for the screw and locking “airplane nut” that couples the top and bottom surfaces through the connecting tube.
The crossover used in the SuperCenter Reference is a 2.5-Way, 3rd-order, balanced crossover design providing an 18dB crossover slope, with the electro-mechanical crossover frequency’s set at 3300Hz and 500Hz. This higher crossover point makes perfect sense considering the types of drivers used. In addition, the crossover is a unique “Linear-Phase, Fully Balanced Crossover" topology using high-quality film capacitors and other precision parts. This type of design is said by GoldenEar to reduce stray capacitances, thereby providing “dramatically improved clarity.”
The 35” wide SuperCenter Reference rested comfortably on my Sanus Center Channel Speaker Stand, the same stand that has traditionally held my BG Radia CC-220 center channel speaker.
The wired connection was made using twin-lead Belden 5T00U 10-Gauge speaker wire (7-Gauge equivalent) terminated with brass spade lugs on one leg and locking expansion-style brass banana plugs on the other leg. Amplification was one channel on my five-channel Parasound Halo A52+ (255 watts Class AB into 4Ω).
Audyssey correction was run to eight places, and the Audyssey calibration effective range was then restricted to 600Hz and below using the Marantz/Audyssey MultiEQ app.
The SuperCenter Reference was paired with my GoldenEar Triton One.Rs on the right and left, four BG Radia SA-320 in-walls for the surrounds, and four Polk RC-6 speakers for the ATMOS overheads. Two Rythmik F18 subwoofers were used for the LFE.
Since a center-channel speaker is most often a part of the home theater environment, and now the burgeoning multi-channel audio market, I left the Audyssey on and the system subwoofers engaged throughout all listening sessions.
My modest test setup consists of REW used with a MacBook Pro and a MiniDSP UMIK-2 microphone. Of course, the other component of my test setup is MY ROOM. So now, in full disclosure mode, these are measurements performed in my less-than-perfect room and within the limitations of my test equipment. These measurements are not meant to supplant or contest the measurements given by the manufacturer. Instead, these measurements offer a comparison point from a real-world environment.
The first set of measurements (Figure 1 below) shows the frequency response of the GoldenEar SuperCenter Reference at 1-meter. I’ve included the full range measurement for reference with and without Audyssey. Both curves are relatively flat in my room from about 55Hz to beyond 20kHz, where my equipment limitations kick in. The frequency response stated by GoldenEar is 33Hz to 35kHz with no ± dB rating supplied. Indeed, the upward climb of the bass response starts in earnest right at 33Hz. There is some usable energy present at even lower frequencies, according to my measurements, and a small bump at about 22Hz. The higher frequencies extend beyond the modest capabilities of my test setup (and my aging hearing), but there is a clear indication the response continues beyond the 20kHz point.
The Audyssey calibration did not affect the speaker's response to an overlarge degree, supplying a bit of smoothing in the mid-bass and midrange. All subsequent measurements are with Audyssey engaged.
In Figure 2 (below), the measurements shows the off-axis response, again at 1 meter. First, I measured directly in line with the tweeter in the horizontal plane. Then, maintaining the 1-meter separation, I measured the speaker’s response at 30˚, 60˚, and 90˚ (directly to the side of the front plane of the speaker cabinet).
Drop-off was mild, and the response was relatively smooth, right up to the 60˚ off-axis measurement, where it started to degrade significantly. I consider any measurements beyond the 30˚ mark purely anecdotal since it would be unusual, to say the least, to be sitting beyond such an angle in a normal theater seating position.
I did include one vertical axis measurement (BLUE Trace). I placed the UMIK-2 at 5’ above the floor, giving me about a 30˚ angle off the center axis of the tweeter when maintaining the 1-meter separation. This measurement position resulted in a slight drop in all frequencies from 600Hz and up to the limits of my test equipment. However, bass, mid-bass, and the lower midrange remained unaffected. Interestingly, the vertical off-axis and the on-axis measurements came together between 6.5kHz and 8.5kHz (the extra-crispy range). This curve seems consistent with the cone-style drivers used in the speaker for the low end and midrange.
But the metrics that count with a center channel speaker are from the seating position. So, with that in mind, Figure 3 (below) is the full range measurement from the center of the seating position in my home theater.
The above is a snapshot with the Audyssey on, then off. Audyssey contributes only a bit of smoothing through the bass, mid-bass, and midrange at the listening position.
Part of the job description of a center channel speaker is that it should have excellent horizontal coverage. So, I measured from four positions to vet the horizontal coverage across the front row of seating. Starting with dead center (ear level), I moved to the extreme left (just outside the armrest of the leftmost seat). Next up was the extreme right position (just outside the armrest of the right-most seat) and finished back at the center position, but this time 7’ above the floor (about 4’ above seated head level). Figure 4 below shows Frequency response vs. SPL at those positions.
The chart shows a 3 – 4dB drop in the midrange and, somewhat surprisingly, a dip in the mid-bass at the right and left seating extremes. As a quick test, I simply moved from seat to seat while listening to dialog from an episode of Halo on Paramount+. I noticed no particular shift, change in the sound character, or dialog clarity with this simple test. So, while it may be noticeable as a measurement, I consider it an audible non-issue.
GoldenEar recommends a modest break-in period of 40 ~ 60 hours for this speaker. However, with the amount of listening I do, that number quickly receded in the rearview mirror because of reviews and plain old day-to-day listening. The GoldenEar SuperCenter Reference sounded great right out of the box, and I didn’t notice any overt improvement (or degradation) as time went by.
My listening during this session would concentrate on multi-channel audio and home theater.
Reaching into my multi-channel music stash, I started with the film version of Pink Floyd’s fifteenth studio album, the 2014 release, The Endless River (Apple TV 4K – iTunes, 5.1 surround). This album is based on music composed and recorded during the 1993 and 1994 Division Bell sessions. Purportedly, many hours of music were recorded in those sessions that did not make the album and were left mostly unfinished. Sadly, Pink Floyd’s keyboardist Richard Wright passed away in 2008, leaving the music, and the possibility of starting any new projects impossible or finishing any old projects was unlikely at the time.
Then, in 2013 Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmore and percussionist Nick Mason decided to revisit the recorded music and, with select studio musicians, finished the album based on Richard Wright’s keyboard parts as a tribute to Wright and his foundational contributions to the sound of the band.
The result was the 2014 release of The Endless River. The album is mainly ambient in structure, with only one track containing vocals. Both praised and panned by critics at the time, the album holds up well as an ambient and atmospheric gem. The filmic content of the “movie” seems a bit disconnected, overwrought, and even distracting at times, but the sound is excellent (just close your eyes :-). The center channel plays a reduced role with multi-channel music not containing vocals. In this case, it provided a subtle reinforcement to the overall sound anchoring the center image when needed and filling in the center when the ambiance went wide. That all changed when the only tune with vocals, “Louder Than Words,” was presented. The vocals went center stage and, with it the center channel speaker. The sound presented was clear, focused, and easy to listen to.
In the past, I have noted that my center channel often needed to be “toned down” when listening to multi-channel music. Fortunately, I did not hear the same with the SuperCenter Reference. As I’ve discovered, the difference in timbre between my old BG Radia CC-220 and my newer right/left mains (GoldenEar Triton One.Rs - December 2019) caused it to stand out when used with multi-channel music. The differences made the old center channel sound “in-your-face” garish. It never seemed to be a problem with movies and dialog, but I was constantly “dialing it back” with multi-channel music. It was not a level-matching problem, as I had checked it manually several times. Instead, it was a tonal/timbral issue. The GoldenEar SuperCenter Reference speaker blended perfectly with the Triton One.R’s and delivered an eminently supportive and balanced sound.
Staying with Pink Floyd, I cued up the 2011 SACD remake of the Floyd 1975 classic, Wish You Were Here. The surround channels are used for both effects and ambiance in this release. I sampled the effects-laden “Welcome to the Machine” and the more straightforward “Have a Cigar.”
Once again, the SuperCenter Reference flawlessly tracked the effects across the front channels. More importantly, the sound field was much more organic and together than I had previously experienced with my BG CC-220 center.
Vocals, when centered, were clean and powerful and never sounded chesty or congested. In fact, the clarity of the vocals and midrange instruments bordered on startling.
Next on SACD was the inaugural 2002 release from songstress Norah Jones, Come Away with Me. This SACD differs from the Pink Floyd release by not being so effects driven. Instead, the surrounds are used primarily for ambiance. The center channel usage on this release is somewhat more subtle and mainly focuses on centering the vocals while reinforcing the more center-panned instrumentation. Ms. Jones’ voice was well rendered with a rich and organic sound and no trace of heaviness. The little bit of piano in the center sounded very good, while the upright bass sounded warm and woody with just the right amount of weight. The SuperCenter Reference, once again, blended perfectly with the other speakers in the system and remained balanced and neutral sounding throughout the entire album.
Movies and Video
As befits the usage profile of a center channel speaker, I watched a wide variety of videos that included TV, Cable, and Movies.
I have been watching the Paramount+ Sci-Fi/action series Halo (Apple TV 4K – Dolby ATMOS) and enjoying it tremendously. It is loud and bombastic, with great action sequences and special effects. I watched the last two episodes of the season and found the SuperCenter Reference paired perfectly with my Triton One.Rs rendering the sometimes-loud action through the center channel without issue. In addition, the dialog was clear and upfront and presented with clarity and focus while never sounding compressed, stressed, or strained at any volume.
It seems to be a time for Indiana Jones-like flicks with the release of Uncharted, followed closely by The Lost City. I streamed The Lost City on iTunes (Dolby ATMOS) via my Apple TV 4K and found it a fun ride.
The dialog was clear, focused, and very natural sounding in the various scene environments. Effects panned seamlessly across the front, and the handoff to my dissimilar surround speakers never sounded unnatural, forced, or stood out in any way.
Wanting more, I watched one of my guilty pleasures, 2017s Transformers: The Last Knight (Dolby ATMOS). While roundly panned and criticized upon release, I find the movie to be a fun, disconnect-the- brain-and-who-cares-about-an-actual-plot, romp‘em-stomp‘em-beat‘em up, robots-of-mass-destruction, kind of film. Unfortunately, the headlining stars of the show, Mark Wahlberg as Cade Yeager and Laura Haddock as Viviane Wembly, came across as wooden and shallow and were constantly upstaged by the secondary characters. The real standouts of the film, in my opinion, were Sir Anthony Hopkins as Sir Edmund Burton and Jim Carter as the voice of the sociopathic, robot butler, Cogman. And, of course, all our guests from Cybertron.
But “star power” and “plot” is not why I watch a Transformers flick. Instead, I watch because the action is intense and loud, with effects bouncing all over the surround sphere… and the silliness just naturally appeals to me.
The GoldenEar center channel offered solid support of the effects at any volume asked of it. And, once again, the SuperCenter Reference was unflinchingly clear and focused, delivering concise and understandable dialog when needed, even above the constant din of a mechanized throw-down.
I listened to and watched various other programming from different sources, and the GoldenEar SuperCenter Reference performed flawlessly at any volume. Center channel content was rendered cleanly and clearly, and dialog was presented with clarity and focus, whatever the source material.
Summary and Closing Thoughts
So, did I find the perfect match for my current right and left mains? I would have to say yes! The GoldenEar SuperCenter Reference matched my GoldenEar Triton One.Rs full-range speakers in every respect.
The SuperCenter Reference supplied a satisfying bottom end that created a respectable foundation and solid “SLAM!” when the material called for it. The midrange was eminently smooth and liquid sounding while providing an extremely satisfying clarity overall with both voice and instrument. The GoldenEar Reference HVFR tweeter supplied extended, shimmering, crystalline highs and never sounded harsh or overwrought. Moreover, the SuperCenter Reference performed without complaint, never exhibiting any signs of stress or strain at any volume I asked.
I don’t know why I had “dissed” the importance of timbre matching across the front channels. It is important. The one complaint that I have had for my BG Radia CC-220 center was that it tended to “stand out” when used for multi-channel music. I always had to “back it down” to get it to play nicely with many of the speakers I have reviewed over the last two years. And that included the GoldenEar Triton One.R speakers that I use as my front right and left reference speakers.
What was the issue? It wasn’t level matching. I had carefully done that. Installation of the SuperCenter Reference immediately painted a picture of the real problem. It was timbre, tonal balance, voicing… pure and simple.
So, did I shoot myself in the foot, as a reviewer, by going with a speaker voiced directly toward the GoldenEar Reference speakers? No, I don’t think so. Everything I’ve heard thus far says the SuperCenter Reference is a very balanced and neutral-sounding speaker. My BG CC-220 could, on occasion and depending on the material, sound a little tubby in the mid-bass and a tad boxy or congested in the midrange. I have yet to hear any hint of that from the SuperCenter Reference.
I also had a chance to run the SuperCenter Reference with a pair of GoldenEar BRX speakers on hand for review. Again, the SuperCenter Reference blended perfectly with the more bass-shy BRXs and provided the desired synergy across the front-of-house speakers.
Was this a good purchase and the correct selection for my system? Yes! So far, so good! Color me happy for now. I’ll not be looking at anything new for a while (yeah, right!), or at least that is what I told my wife.
GoldenEar, now owned by the Quest Group, offers a quality product that remains one of the best “performance to value” leaders in the industry.
GoldenEar offers a five-year warranty and an extensive dealer network. The SuperCenter Reference is highly recommended!
A parting conversation…
“Sup?” I replied.
“What’s next for the room?” Myself asked.
“Hmmm… I know we promised to lay low, not buy anything. But I’m thinking of additional room treatments, maybe some acoustic noise reduction and control. Maybe even some corner bass traps would be nice!” I replied.
“That sounds good! How will we sell that to you know who?” Myself mused.
“Not sure… Let’s think about how to spin it and get back together tomorrow!” I replied to Myself.
“Right ‘O!” echoed the answer.
Specifications: GoldenEar SuperCenter Reference Center Channel Speaker
Frequency Response: 33Hz to 35kHz
Impedance: Nominal 4Ω
4 - 5.25” Cast-Basket Bass/Midrange drivers (two with Multi-Vane Phase Plugs)
1 - High-Gauss Reference HVFR™ High-Velocity Folded Ribbon High-Frequency Radiator
2 – 6.75” x 8” Quadric Planar Low-Frequency Radiators
1 – 7” x 10” Quadric Planar Low-Frequency Radiator
Recommended Amplification: 20 ~ 350 watts
Dimensions: 35˝ (88.9 cm) W x 5-3⁄4˝ (14.6 cm) H x 11˝ (28 cm) D
Weight: Speaker - 31lbs (14 kg) Shipping - 38lbs (17.2 kg)
Last edited by a moderator: