Recommended Reference Component“Sometimes the speaker marketplace seems a tad crowded, with too many models that seem like mere variations on a theme,” Philip Beaudette writes in the conclusion to his review of the GoldenEar T66 loudspeaker (published on May 1 on this site). “GoldenEar is legitimately doing something that most of its competitors aren’t, and built-in powered subs are what the brand has become synonymous with.” GoldenEar, which was founded in 2010 by Sandy Gross and Don Givogue, was sold in 2020 to The Quest Group, parent company of AudioQuest, primarily a cable brand. The T66 is the first loudspeaker released after this acquisition, and it carries on GoldenEar’s tradition of incorporating a self-powered bass section into each tower.

Measuring 48.8″H × 7.5″W × 14.75″D, the T66 is a “big speaker,” Philip writes. Viewed straight on, though, thanks to its narrow front baffle, it isn’t imposing, he notes. The preinstalled aluminum base expands the T66’s footprint to 11.8″W × 17″D. The T66 is currently the sole member of GoldenEar’s new T Series but could easily be mistaken for a Triton Series model. Unlike the Tritons, however, which come only in Gloss Black lacquer, the T66 is also available in Santa Barbara Red. It is priced at $6900 per pair (prices in USD) in the black finish, $7200 in the red. Philip’s review samples, as seen in the accompanying photos, had the Santa Barbara Red finish.


The T66 is a three-way design with one Reference HVFR (high-velocity folded ribbon) tweeter, which is GoldenEar’s take on the well-known AMT (air-motion transformer) design, two 4.5″ midrange/bass drivers, and two 5″ × 9″ oblong subwoofer drivers driven by a 500W RMS amplifier. Bass output is supplemented by a pair of 8″ × 12″ planar passive radiators, side mounted opposite each other. Unsurprisingly, the T66’s internal wiring comes from GoldenEar’s sister company, AudioQuest.

Since the T66’s subwoofer section is self-powered, the speaker is easier to drive than it would be if it had a purely passive bass section. This and its higher-than-average voltage sensitivity—the company claims 91dB (2.83V/m), which is in line with our own measurements—allow the T66 to readily reach high volumes. Nominal impedance is specified as 4 ohms, which also matches our measurements, an easy load to drive for a well-designed amplifier.


To optimize the T66’s sound for the listening space, its bass output can be adjusted. GoldenEar suggests starting with the default setting and then varying it experimentally. Philip did experiment, and found that in his listening room, a slightly higher setting was optimal, letting the built-in subwoofers supply the right amount of bass without calling undue attention to themselves.

With the proper bass level dialed in, Philip enjoyed a well-balanced sound and an evenhanded presentation. “Even on a raucous track like Spiritualized’s ‘Medication,’ from Pure Phase (LP, Fat Possum Records FP1752-3), the T66 speakers managed to deliver the rawness of the guitars and intensity of the harmonica without them coming across over-etched.” He also determined that even at high volumes, the T66s did not break character, maintaining their composure at levels that would likely inflict hearing damage if sustained for long. “For such big speakers,” he quips, “they did a fine disappearing act.”


The speakers’ ability to disappear into the room and into the music was something Philip noticed again playing Low + Dirty Three’s cover of Neil Young’s “Down by the River,” from the CD release of In the Fishtank 7. He writes:

The music is sparse and open, and the recording reflects that with a cavernous quality, capturing the vast, brooding atmosphere. The track builds slowly, culminating in Mimi Parker’s beautiful, haunting voice. She’s restrained in her delivery, bestowing a sense of calm that is, in itself, a juxtaposition to the dark subject matter. I note these things because it occurred to me, as I listened to this tune through the GoldenEars, that I wasn’t paying attention to the stereo system at all: I was focusing on the music, not the sound. The T66 towers just did nothing wrong, insofar as I barely noticed them. They effortlessly conveyed the huge acoustic space, and their ability to uncover everything happening on the track made for a vivid and immersive presentation.

Philip also found the GoldenEar speakers to be “commendably resolving.” Playing Jeff Buckley’s “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over,” from his Live at Sin-é (Legacy Edition), once again on CD, he recounts, “Buckley’s voice sounded intimate, matching the ambiance of the coffee house where it was recorded. His trembling vibrato was palpable as the T66 towers communicated the nuances in his voice.” On another track from that album, “Mojo Pin,” Philip writes that he could “sense the strain at the back of [Buckley’s] throat when he sings ‘Screaming down from Heaven,’ so realistically was it reproduced.”


Other musical selections Philip played demonstrated again the T66’s balanced sound and ability to reveal details. The sonic characteristics that Philip discerned in the T66 were also revealed in our measurements. The on- and off-axis frequency-response plots, from the bass through to the treble, are quite flat and consistent, which corresponds to that evenhandedness Philip heard—a neutral sound, in other words. The level of distortion the T66 induces across much of the audioband is laudably low even at a high output level (90dB, in our testing, at a distance of two meters under strict anechoic conditions, which is equivalent to more than 96dB at one meter in a room).

Comparing the T66 with his own reference loudspeakers, the Monitor Audio Gold 300 5G floorstanders ($9500/pair), which are also a three-way design with an AMT tweeter, Philip found that apart from their markedly different appearance, the two pairs had quite a different sound. Listening to “Hold On,” from the CD release of Tom Waits’s album Mule Variations, he noticed that the GoldenEar pair “delivered more weight from the upright bass, and their fuller, warmer demeanor made [the song] sound bigger.” But, as clean as the T66s were, the Gold 300s were a touch more revealing. Waits’s baritone is the focal point of his recordings. It is rough and well worn, and the Gold 300s better exposed its full hoarseness, delivering it “like a coarser-grit sandpaper,” Philip writes.

Still, the T66 and Gold 300 had a lot in common, which is unexpected given how different they look. In fact, listening to Tori Amos’s “Caught a Lite Sneeze,” from her Boys for Pele, on CD, Philip found the two pairs “incredibly similar” tonally, both being so well-balanced. “Where they differed was in the scale of presentation, which is where the GoldenEars distinguished themselves,” he writes. “This was particularly evident with the percussion, and was apparent from the opening drum sounds, which were more propulsive and powerful through the T66 speakers. They imparted a sense of impact that the Monitor Audios were unable to equal.” Philip’s main takeaway from this comparison is that the T66 offers a better value: “for $2300 less, the pair of T66s came close to matching the resolution of the Gold 300s, while producing far more bass.”


SoundStage! has reviewed many GoldenEar speakers since the brand’s founding 14 years ago. But until now, only one GoldenEar model has earned both our Reviewers’ Choice and Recommended Reference Component awards: the Triton Reference, which Doug Schneider reviewed in November 2017 on this site. It now shares this distinction with the T66.

Manufacturer contact information:

2621 White Road
Irvine, CA 92614
United States
Phone: (949) 800-1800
Fax: (949) 800-1888