Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

To Hans Wetzel,

I am going to be purchasing a pair of bookshelf speakers and have narrowed my search to two sets: Energy CB-20 or the GoldenEar Aon 3. Do you have a preference? I am interested solely in sound quality. Regardless of the pair selected, I am going to be supplementing them with a sub.

I appreciate any insight you could give!

Brad H.

Energy makes some very good speakers for the money, as demonstrated by our review of the RC-10 back in 2006, and the CB-20 that you mention in 2009. It's interesting, though, that you have narrowed your search down to the CB-20s, which are $350 per pair, and the Aon 3s, which are $1000 per pair.

In terms of outright performance, the Aon 3 that Doug Schneider recently reviewed is the easy answer. Its folded-ribbon tweeter, 7" bass driver, and pair of 8" passive radiators makes for a compelling, if unconventional package. The Aon 3 will likely produce a larger, more robust sound than the CB-20 due to its larger cabinet and more capable drivers. Its treble will likely sound a bit "airier" and the bass will be noticeably deeper and tighter than the Energy's. All in all, the Aon will cost you almost three times as much as the Energy, but will probably provide a commensurate increase in performance. The best part of the Aon 3 is that it goes low enough that you might not see a need for a subwoofer.

If you're dead set on getting an accompanying subwoofer, however, I would probably go with the Energy CB-20. They're a capable set of bookshelf speakers that, with the right sub, can probably get you deeper bass than the Aon 3, and for less money to boot. . . . Hans Wetzel