GoldenEar only began life in 2010, and the Aon 3 bookshelf monitors are the first product the company has sent us.
We’re always excited when a new brand comes along, especially when it sounds like a ’90s Bond film.
These are some of the most unusual speakers we’ve tested recently. They might interest people with white cats and oversized armchairs, or anyone simply looking to move away from traditional rectangular cabinets.
The Aon 3s are shaped like pyramids with the tops chopped off. They’re wrapped in a black cloth in place of a conventional grille, and capped with glossy plastic at the top and bottom. The top part can be removed, allowing you to lower the cloth grille and strip each speaker down to its waist.
We’re told the speakers are designed to play with cloth in place (it should come off only for servicing). This is a little odd: for an area supposedly off-limits to users, the top plate comes off far too easily. In fact, it slips and slides about in place, begging to be removed. We’d expect a higher level of build and finish on a set of £1000 speakers.
At the front there’s a folded-ribbon tweeter and a 7in cast-basket mid/bass driver. There are no reflex ports, but on either side of each speaker you’ll find an 8in passive radiator.
A wacky design, then, but what’s the point? Massive, wide-open sound. The Aon 3s take themselves out of the equation, leaving you music without the sense that you’re listening to it through speakers. There’s an airy feel to the presentation that we quite like.
It’s an agile sound. It feels a little lightweight, but it’s tonally even. We listen to Eminem’s No Love – one of the hardest, harshest tracks we know – and the treble is never too forward. Meanwhile, the midrange is delicate, with nuanced and gently delivered vocals.
Moving down to the bass, and we find it sounds a little insubstantial, lacking the power and authority of some rivals.
We take a listen, for comparison purposes, to the Award-winning KEF LS50 speakers and it’s apparent that the GoldenEars fall short in a number of areas.
The KEFs give a greater sense of identity to instruments, with more clarity to the leading edges of notes.
It doesn’t help that the Aon 3s don’t time particularly well, feeling vague with any track that depends on a sense of drive for entertainment.
The GoldenEar Aon 3s are a mixed bag.
The unusual design is interesting, and we like the spacious feel of the sound, but ultimately there are too many issues to warrant more than three stars. You can buy much better speakers for £1000.