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GoldenEar Technology Aon 2 review: These bookshelf speakers roll, but can't rock

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MSRP: $399.99
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The Good The GoldenEar Technology Aon 2 is a slice of audiophile performance you don't need to mortgage your house for. The soundstage is unlike anything else under $1K with a very detailed performance. The speakers are unobtrusive yet nicely finished.

The Bad Rock music can sound forced and confused. If you like the look of exposed drivers, the "grille sock" is sadly not removable.

The Bottom Line The GoldenEar Technology Aon 2 bookshelf speaker offers soundstages that would give John Williams the chills but it's no rock and roll brawler.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Sound 7
  • Value 6

Review Sections

If you have limited space in your living area, a set of bookshelf speakers makes good sense. They're able to be mounted on top of existing furniture -- such as an eponymous bookshelf or, better yet, an AV unit. That's exactly the sort of environment where models such as the GoldenEar Technology Aon 2s are designed to shine.

Originally conceived as professional near-field monitors -- the type of speakers you'd find in a recording studio -- the Aon 2s preceded the larger, well-received Aon 3 and offer a more affordable price ($799 versus $999). Despite their control room origins, GoldenEar is selling the Aons as consumer speakers.

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Golden Ear's sleek new Aon 2 speakers are beautifully designed.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Aon 2s are quite unobtrusive to behold, as they are bound almost entirely in acoustically transparent material -- only a piano-black plastic cap and wooden base alert you that there's a physical speaker in there. The unique truncated pyramid design is said to reduce pesky internal standing waves.

Though the grille "sock" is not removable -- you can only cinch it down -- underneath it lies a "folded ribbon" tweeter and a 6-inch cast frame bass/midrange driver. Instead of the traditional bass ports there are twin, 6.5-inch planar low-frequency radiators mounted on the speaker's side panels.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The speakers are rated at up to 200W per channel and the passive bass drivers help them reach down to a claimed 42Hz. Meanwhile the tweeters can reach up to a dog-bothering 35kHz.

Despite the provision of the passive bass drivers, the Aon 2 isn't as capable with bottom end as the larger Aon 3 -- a model that our own Audiophiliac Steve Guttenberg prefers. If you listen to choral, orchestral, jazz or acoustic music, the Aons are for you. The speakers themselves completely disappear and offer a wide soundstage in which individual elements are tantalizingly imaged.

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