Center Channel Speakers
- Written by Gabe Lowe
- Published on 02 June 2014
GoldenEar SuperCenter XL Center Channel Speaker Review Highlights
Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity has long been a leader in reviews of all ranges of home theater and audio gear. This review covers the brand new high-end center channel speaker from GoldenEar Technology, the company founded by well-respected industry veteran Sandy Gross. The SuperCenter XL is designed to perfectly compliment the GoldenEar Triton Series Tower Speakers using the same fantastic High Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR) tweeter along with two 5.25" cast-basket mid/bass drivers and two 6.75" x 8" quadratic planar low-frequency radiators. Extending all the way down to 36 Hz, this center channel can handle any movie mix thrown at it without fail.
GoldenEar SuperCenter XL Center Channel Speaker Review Highlight Summary
- • The SuperCenter XL is designed to match the Triton towers
- • Bass extension is greater than with the SuperSat 60C
- • Fantastic sound stage created by the SuperCenter XL paired with the Triton Towers
- • The SuperCenter XL reproduces deep vocal ranges fantastically
- • Multichannel music applications are extremely well suited to the speaker as well
- • Highly recommended to round out a Triton cinema system
Introduction to the GoldenEar SuperCenter XL Center Channel Speaker Review
Late last year I put together a new home theater with all new speakers. It was the first time I made such a drastic change to my system in nearly 14 years. After auditioning a few different brands and models, I decided on the GoldenEar Triton Two towers for L/R, SuperSat 50 for surrounds, SuperSat 3 for rears, and a SuperSat 60c for my center channel. I loved every minute of it straight from the beginning, but I made this purchase knowing that at some point (likely CEDIA), there would be a new center channel model to more closely match the Tritons. True to my source's words, the SuperCenter and SuperCenter XL models made their debut and I was ready to test the XL (the larger of the two models). While I had been very happy with the performance of the SuperSat 60c, I wanted something with more power at the lower ranges that better fit my room.
Check out the video below, which shows the speaker from all angles and discusses its features.
GOLDENEAR SUPERCENTER XL CENTER CHANNEL SPEAKER SPECIFICATIONS
- Design: Three-way
- Drivers: One - HVFR™ High-Velocity Folded Ribbon High-Frequency Radiator; Two - 5.25˝ Cast-Basket Mid/Bass Drivers; Two - 6.75˝ x 8˝ Quadratic Planar Low-Frequency Radiators
- MFR: 36 Hz - 35 kHz
- Efficiency: 91 dB
- Dimensions: 29" H x 5.75" W x 11" D
- Weight: 21 Pounds
- MSRP: $799 USD
- SECRETS Tags: GoldenEar, GoldenEar SuperCenter XL, GoldenEar Center Channel, Triton Series
The SuperCenter XL speaker contains two 5.25" cast-basket mid/bass drivers, one High-Velocity Folded Ribbon (HVFR™) high-frequency radiator, and two 6.75" x 8" quadratic planar low-frequency radiators. Of course, if you have done any reading about GoldenEar, the ribbon tweeter is a key distinguishing feature of the product line, and is used to extremely positive effect in the Tritons and SuperSat speakers. I expected no less of its performance in the SuperCenter XL center channel speaker.
Design and Setup of the GoldenEar SuperCenter XL Center Channel Speaker
The first thing you notice about the SuperCenter XL is that it is on the larger side of center channel speakers, measuring 29 inches x 5.75 inches x 11 inches and weighing in at 21 pounds. The sides feature glossy piano black plastic, while the rest of the speaker is covered in understated black cloth, matching the design of the Triton towers. It looks great without calling much attention to itself - something you want from a center channel speaker.
GoldenEar recommends that if the speaker will be placed above or below ear-level, that the included feet be installed to angle the speaker up or down accordingly. There are pre-drilled holes in the bottom of the cabinet hidden behind the speaker grille cloth. Installation entails simply locating the holes through the cloth, using a small mallet or hammer to tap the brass inserts into the holes, and then using the adjustable rubber feet to position the speaker as desired. In my setup, the speaker sits below ear level underneath the screen on a speaker stand, thus, I angle the speaker up towards the main listening positions.
Setting up the speaker is very straight forward, as you might imagine. I connected up the existing wiring for my center channel to the standard 5-way binding posts using the simple screw-down method. I fired up my receiver and re-ran my Audyssey speaker setup routine to get the basic levels, distance, and crossover configuration. I then had to confirm that the center channel was set as small. Furthermore, I adjusted the crossover to 80Hz per both a recommendation from GoldenEar as well as my personal taste. Although the SuperCenter XL is rated to go down to as low as 36Hz, I still preferred that my Triton Two's subwoofers to do the heavy lifting in the low range (below vocal range). As a quick comparison, I had my SuperSat 60C set at 100Hz, so the SuperCenter XL was set to do a bit more work. You may recall from reading our previous review of the Triton Three towers, GoldenEar does recommend that you run the center channel in "small" mode while running the Triton towers in "large" as they integrate the ForceField powered subwoofer right into the loudspeaker. In this configuration, the bass range is directed to either side of the screen which helps maintain the presence of the bass in the center channel location in addition to getting a true powered subwoofer to reproduce the bass range as it does best. Having never run multiple subwoofers previously, I can truly attest to the benefit of this approach.
The GoldenEar SuperCenter XL Center Channel Speaker In Use
I have watched a large variety of content with the SuperCenter XL in my system, but I chose to focus on a few films and shows that really demonstrate the strengths of the speaker. I began with the Blu-Ray edition of Disney classic The Lion King using the Home Theater-enhanced 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Mufasa is voiced by the incomparable James Earl Jones, who has one of the most brilliant voices in show business. The depth of his range makes him a perfect choice to flex the muscle of a center channel. I chose two scenes in the film that feature Mufasa's voice - the first is when he must teach Simba a lesson after he disobeys his father by going to the Elephant Graveyard.
As you would expect of a disappointed father, he is stern and uses a somewhat raised tone with his cub. Again, later in the film when the spirit of Mufasa appears to a now-grown Simba in the clouds, the depth of the voice and the power it conveys is integral to the story. The SuperCenter XL ensures that this is the case. There was no discernable change in imaging as the voice drops below the crossover point - demonstrating a seamless and unnoticeable handoff to the Triton towers. You really have to sit right in front of the SuperCenter XL to actually hear this shift. While the speaker does handle the voice duty, the sound is rich, deep and exactly what you want out of the center channel.
I continued with the Extended Edition Blu-Ray Disc of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The mountain troll scene contains voices from high to low all occurring in the presence of deep bass pounding when the trolls stomp around. The sound mix is fantastic, and the action on screen is transparent with the performance of the SuperCenter XL. As the talking moves around the front soundstage, it is truly a great example of how well the speaker also fits in with the Triton towers. It is a perfectly seamless sound image across the entire front of the room. As the fight between the trolls and the dwarfs rages, the clang of swords, the neighs of horses, and finally the shout of Gandalf are all conveyed outstandingly.
Moving on, I wanted to sample some music in a 5.1 mix. I popped in the newly released Sunshine Daydream film that captured one of the most notable Grateful Dead shows in the band's storied history. Taking place in Veneta, Oregon back in August of 1972, the concert was played in part as a benefit for a local creamery, but came to be part of Dead lore for several reasons, not the least of which it was captured in glorious 16mm film (mostly), and went unreleased from their vault for quite some time. After debuting for a single-day engagement in theaters across the country in 2013, the movie was released on DVD and Blu-Ray later in the year, complete with the newly mastered 96KHz/24-bit mixes (both stereo and 5.1 surround) taken from the original 16-track master reels.
As you can imagine, the sound quality is top notch, and the SuperCenter XL did its part magnificently. The show features many gems, one of which is Bird Song. The interweaving of the rhythm and lead guitars is a hallmark of the song, and it sounds fantastic as it leads right into Jerry Garcia's vocals which once again sound pure from the center of the stage. As the harmonies come in shortly after - it only gets better. For me, it was a very important characteristic of my home theater system that music would not have to take a backseat to movie soundtrack performance, and I am glad to say that the SuperCenter XL and its GoldenEar brethren sacrifice nothing in that arena. I have since watched other concert videos and live streams, and have not once been disappointed with the sound emanating from these magnificent speakers.
One other area that I wanted to cover is the performance of the speaker with regards to gaming. Gaming has arrived at a new golden age with the release of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, reaching new heights in terms of audio and visual fidelity. Indeed, many titles are basically playable movies, complete with fully developed characters and stories, but also with outstanding sound design, soundtracks, and photorealistic visuals.
One such game I purchased is Thief for the Xbox One. As the main character, you play a thief in a very dark, creepy city that has apparently been infected with a sickness (I won't go further than that in case any of you are planning to make your way through the title). The eerie-ness of the environment can only be fully realized with proper accompanying sound, and once again, the SuperCenter XL contributes greatly to the overall GoldenEar sound. One thing video games tend to enhance over a traditional film soundtrack is distance. For example, in this game, as you sneak towards guards that you try to avoid, or if necessary, decommission, you can hear their voices grow in volume. Likewise, if you throw an object, such as a bottle, you can hear the whoosh of your throw up close, and the subsequent shatter from an appropriate distance. The system really generates an excellent 3-dimensional presence around you as you play, immersing you in the experience. This was yet another requirement for my chosen system which the GoldenEar SuperCenter XL and its fellow speakers delivered.
Conclusions about the GoldenEar SuperCenter XL Center Channel Speaker
What more can I say? I have been extremely satisfied with my entire GoldenEar system, and the SuperCenter XL has been a fantastic addition. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with SuperSat 60C; in fact, it is an outstanding speaker as well. I feel that that model better fits under a flat panel HDTV or similar setup where space is limited. For a dedicated theater, I believe that the SuperCenter XL is a great choice. Not only is the range fantastic, but performance throughout that range is consistently superb. Between the Triton Twos and the SuperCenter XL I have a seamless, deep, engrossing sound stage that does seem more than the sum of its parts, and after all, isn't that exactly what your front speakers should do in a home theater? If you have invested in GoldenEar speakers already and need to select a proper center channel to go with your existing pair - the SuperCenter XL should be at the top of the list. Of course, the same goes if you are looking to upgrade your entire home theater system.