Genelec is the top name in professional powered studio monitors. For more than 25 years, the made-in Finland monitors have offered professional studios the accurate sound and ease of use of a combined, amp/crossover/speaker. With the advent of surround sound the convenience of powered monitors has become even more important.
Product PointsApplications: Studios, project studios, broadcast, multimedia
Key Features: Two-way; 6.5-inch woofer, .75-inch metal dome tweeter; dual 90W amps; aluminum, diffraction-free cabinet ISO pod deskmount; wall-mount capable; variable DIP switches for treble, bass and level controls
Price: $1,150 each
Contact: Genelec at 598-652-0900, Web Site.
+ Smooth treble and midrange
+ Good bass for small driver
+ Compact size
+ Array of tone-tailoring controls
– Cramped DIP switch area
– No onboard unbalanced connector
The Score: The new Genelec 8040A offers audible improvement over the 1030A at about the same price.
Though I am convinced that ultimate speaker supremacy comes via the separate speakers and amps (the best speaker/amp combo would be one whale of a speaker) I am a fan of several Genelec models including the company’s latest subwoofers, the marvelous ribbon tweeter equipped S30D… and now the new 8000 series.
Tested here is the middle child of the 8000 series, the 8040A, priced at $1,150 each. This model is the eventual replacement for the1030A. It is housed in a compact (143/8 inches high x 9 3/8 inches wide x 8 13/16 inches deep), aluminum cabinet. The 8040A has been designed with totally new drivers and crossover. The 6.5-inch woofer works in conjunction with a bass reflex tube that flares out of the cabinet’s back.. It is claimed to produce bass down to 48 Hz (-2 dB) without the aid of a subwoofer. The 3/4-inch metal dome tweeter response is 20 kHz (-2 dB).
The crossover frequency has been lowered from 3.5 kHz to 3 kHz, which helps make the speaker smoother-sounding in its transition from midrange to treble. (The 8040A’s bigger brother, the 8050A, with an 8-inch woofer, crosses over at 1.8 kHz.).
Cabinet design, of course, plays an important part in accurate sound, and Genelec has spent a lot R&D dollars (or Euros) perfecting the aluminum cabinet used in the 8000 series. Cabinet highlights include theinternal bass tube/port for deeper bass extensionandthe Minimum Diffraction Enclosure shape that helps ensure correct sound dispersion .
Genelec even added the nifty little Iso-pod four-leg table top stand that decouples the speaker from a desktop, meter bridge or otherflat surface.
Around back there is a lot going on in a small amount of space. The 8040A has numerous controls via DIP switches that are nestled in a not-so-easy to get to location. Forget setting the controls in a dim room. Get a flashlight if you want to see which DIP to switch. Though somewhat difficult to adjust, the controls offer a lot of adjustment to get the speaker to sound its best in most environments.
Controls include bass rolloff (-2 dB, -4 dB, or -6 dB); a desktop low frequency control to compensate for meter bridge or desktop placement (attenuates by 4 dB in the 160 Hz range); bass tilt control(-2 dB, -4, dB or – 6 dB at below 100 Hz to compensate for close boundary placement) and treble tilt (+2 dB, -2 dB or -4 dB at above 5 kHz). An overall input sensitivity screw potentiometer allows for -6 dB to + 6 dB level changes to accommodate professional or consumer input. RCA cable connection is made by using an RCA to XLR adaptor cable (not included).
Genelec did a thorough job making the speakers mountable in almost any environment. Each speaker includes includes the Iso-Pod legs for desktop or meter bridge use. They can also be wall- or ceiling-mounted with Omnimount Series 30 or Kong and Meyer speaker mounts –via the threaded mounts on the back of the cabinet.
In the performance department, the speakers are rated at 48 Hz – 20 kHz, plus/minus 2 dB. Maximum peak SPL is 115 dB; maximum system distortion is rated at 2% for bass frequencies from 50 Hz to 100 Hz and .5 percent of frequencies from 100 Hz.
Amplifier power is listed at 90 watts for the woofer and 90 watts for the tweeter, in short term power. The amps are not rated in continuous RMS wattage. Amp distortion is listed at .05 percent at rated output.
I set up the 8040As in two places: out in the open on Apollo stands and as computer workstation monitors on Raxxess stands about four feet in front of the work area and six feet apart. My room is pretty clean sounding if you stay out of the corners, so I did not have to make any tone tailoring adjustment (Whew! I missed out on having to squint at those tiny DIP switches).
I fed signals to the speakers’ XLR jacks from my Legacy High current monitor preamp that supplies line level from my Macintosh G5 computer workstation/Benchmark DAC-1 D/A converter. (I also used a Midas Venice 160 for line source signals). Alpha-Core silver balanced XLR cables connected the speakers to the line source.
The speakers were angled in toward the listening position, and I used stands that put the tweeter at exactly the listener ear height, as the manual suggests. After a 30 minute warm up, I routed different types of audio through the Genelecs and began the subjective evaluation.
My first impression was that the speakers were smoother sounding than the 1031As, which I always thought had an edge to the high mid and treble. With the metal dome tweeter and the compact little amps, the 8040As sounded good with my 24-bit/96 kHz sampling jazz guitar recordings of a Stromberg Montreaux jazz box and some prerecorded SACDs ofbig band music. For example, the horn section on a Rosemary Clooney SACD reissue, Girl Singer showed good bite from the horns without being harsh or fatiguing.
For a small monitor, the bass was solid and tight to about 50 Hz in free-standing space and a little louder when I placed them against a wall. The rear port did not have any major exaggerated effect on the bass as I have heard on other rear-ported speakers when located next to a wall.
In the closefield, on axis dispersion was excellent with a detailed stereo soundstage. When you move back at moderate volumes, however, the fine detail diminishes. This is a very good closefield front speaker or surround monitor, but it is not a midfield or farfield monitor; it is not designed to be.
I found the same to be true when I hooked the 8040As into my reference mid/farfield system (DVD-A/SACD and home studio high resolution recording playback) just to see how they fared. If I had the listening position at 4 – 5 feet max, the treble detail was excellent, at seven feet the detail started to diminish.
In comparison to a pair of powered, soft-dome tweetered NHT Pro A10s, a speaker no longer made, but one of the best small powered speakers I have ever heard), the Genelec held its own in the imaging department, and had more deep bass. The NHT Pro however, had the impression of slightly more air and dimension in the treble.
I did not have on-hand the well-reviewed LSR6328s that I evaluated last April, which had bigger woofers, but were in the same price range. From my recollection, the LSRshave more bottom and air in the treble, but it is a larger speakers that happens to be within a couple of hundred dollars of the Genelec’s price point.
Since Genelec sent the 8040A with a new 10-inch, single woofer Genelec 7060A subwoofer, I felt obliged to try out the trio together. This subwoofer works with most systems to provide bass management from mono, LFE, stereo or surround sources. The 10-inch powered woofer system kicks tight, loud bass down to 29 Hz, which makes it a perfect match for the 8040A when extra bass oomph is needed.
With the sub engaged, the 8040A/sub combo offered a perfect, nearly full spectrum, frequency response. The routing of 85 Hz and under bass to the sub relieves the low bass duties from the 6.5-inch woofer — making it slightly cleaner in the mid and bass. Still, without the sub, the little Genelecs are pretty clean and could play plenty loud without getting harsh.
My quibbles are few; the aforementioned cramped DIP switch location, and no unbalanced input for quarter-inch or RCA. Either one of those connection options would add flexibility to the system.
Although I am still a separate speaker amp kind of guy. I have warmed to powered speakers. At any price, my favorite powered monitors continue to be the much more expensive ribbon monitors from Genelec and ADAM as well as the Klein + Hummel O300D monitors I reviewed last spring.
But as a pair of lower-than $2,500 powered speakers, the 8040A should work well for pro recording and editing chores and as small-room surround. Although pricey when compared to the influx of Chinese-made powered monitors that are permeating the U.S. market, you can’t argue with Genelec’s top quality.
Apple G5 computer with Lynx PCI card; Legacy High-Current monitor preamp; Midas Venice 160; Alesis MasterLink; Apollo and Raxxess speaker stands; Esoteric DV-50 and Yamaha S2300MkII “universal” high resolution players; Westlake PE unbalanced interconnects, Alpha-Core cables and Kimber Cable power cables.