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"...a well-engineered speaker; the midrange and treble sounded quite clean..."
"Voices, in particular, sound surprisingly uncolored..."
"I'd recommend this speaker to anyone..."

Pinnacle Classic Gold Surround Speaker
Home Theater  May 1999
Is this the surround speaker Gandhi and Einstein would choose?

by Brent Butterworth

Everywhere I look, I see these Apple ads with a picture of some maverick like Einstein, Gandhi, or Jim Hensen, and the words "Think Different" alongside.It may be easy to get dead people to endorse your product but in the real world, it's not so easy to "Think Different".PINNACLE Speakers tried years ago to solve the problem of dipolar versus direct-radiating surround speakers with a radical corner speaker design; I thought the speaker worked very well, but the idea was so different that it never took off.

The company has introduced a revised, improved version, now called the Classic Gold Surround.  It mounts against two side walls, not wedged up against the ceiling like the original.  It certainly looks more normal this way, and the white finish and small size definitely make it decor friendly.

The original corner surround used a single 3-inch "woofer" and a cone tweeter; the new one uses two 3-inch "woofers" and a 3/4-inch metal-dome tweeter.  Adding a second 3-inch driver doesn't exactly make this speaker a bass powerhouse, but adding a real tweeter does make for a big improvement.

I tried the Classic Gold Surround mounted in the back corners of our L.A. listening room, in a system comprising a Yamaha RX-V2095 receiver, Paradigm Monitor 3 main speakers, and a Paradigm CC-350 center. To better evaluate the speaker's sound quality, I also mounted them in the front corners of the room and listened to stereo CDs.

On music recordings with discrete sounds (as opposed to ambience and reverb) in the surround channels, like the DTS CD of Marvin Gaye's Forever Yours or the new King Crimson DTS DVD > Deja Vroom, dipolar surrounds sound wrong--they make instruments sound artificially diffuse, when in real life you would easily be able to pinpoint the location of an instrument playing behind you.  But the Classic Gold Surround reproduces this type of material perfectly.  The instruments sound distinctly placed, and quite realistic, thanks in large part to the Classic Gold Surround's excellent tweeter.

I find direct-radiators very distracting for movies--the effects in the surround channels tend to blare out at your and call attention to themselves in an unnatural way.  But with the Classic Gold Surround, the reflections coming off the two walls directly adjacent to the speaker give it a more spacious sound than you'd get with a direct-radiating speaker on a stand. Even though I think a good pair of dipolar surrounds gives you the best sound on movies, the Classic Gold Surround gave me a sound that was diffused enough that it never distracted me.  I felt like I was hearing a natural ambient soundfield, rather than a pair of speakers.

The Classic Gold Surround is a well-engineered speaker; the midrange and treble sounded quite clean on stereo music CDs. Voices, in particular, sound surprisingly uncolored; the crossover between the little "woofer" and the tweeter is obviously well executed.  I found that the speaker sounds best when it's positioned high on the wall, so that there's about a 15-degree angle between your ears and the speaker.(For aesthetic reasons, that's where you'd probably want to mount it in the first place.)

I'd recommend this speaker to anyone, even those who don't own PINNACLE front speakers. I don't think matching between the front and surround speakers is all that critical--thanks to the differing acoustical environments that the speakers will occupy, and to the filtering effects of your ears' pinna, it's nearly impossible to get your front and surround speakers to sound the same, anyway.  If you're looking for the perfect compromise between dipoles and direct radiators, you should "Think Different" and go hear these.

Performance: 87
Build Quality: 79
Ergonomics: 90
Features: 80
Value: 92

Home Theater           May 1999

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