Genelec 1029.LSE PowerPak

Quality Surround For Small Studios
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Quality Surround For Small Studios

If you’ve been itching to board the surround bandwagon, and have a small studio equipped with multichannel I/O, say hello to the Finnish-designed Genelec 1029.LSE PowerPak. Conveniently bundled as a matched set of five 1029A satellites and a 7060A sub, the PowerPak eliminates the need to mix and match components. No worries about weak links or incompatibilities in the chain. This rig is an all-family affair.

The recommended playback environment is a space of up to 3,000 cubic feet. The ideal listening distance is 6.5 feet — but you can stretch it to eight feet if necessary. If the 1029.LSE PowerPak is too small for your room, Genelec offers other surround solutions and components for larger spaces.

An easy-to-follow and very useful surround setup guide is included with the system. In just over an hour we had the PowerPak installed, calibrated, and flying with our Pro Tools HD system running Pro Tools 6 and Waves’ 360 Surround bundle. A handy “audio tape measure” tool is also included to aid in the setup process. Bravo! One setup note: You’ll probably need to buy speaker stands for the left and right rear satellites. But good news on that front: The 1029As can be screwed onto most mic stands with a simple adapter.

The 1029s have been on the market for several years, and have risen in popularity thanks to their clean performance, solid build, and small footprint. “The 1029As are plenty loud in the near field,” says Frank Wells, editor of EQ’s sister mags Pro Sound News and Surround Professional. “They hold up well in the mid-field, and have a sonic performance that belies their size.” It didn’t take rocket science to figure out that a matched subwoofer for the 1029s would make for an attractive small-room surround package. What did require serious brainpower, however, was the sub itself. What Genelec came up with was unique . . . and potent.

Like the 1029A, the 7060A looks impressive from the outside, with its tank-tough industrial housing and densely populated I/O panel. But the real story is inside its casing. Genelec explains: “The ‘secret’ behind our LSE [Laminar Spiral Enclosure] is the way a long vent with a large cross sectional area has been fitted into a small space. Such a vent allows the movement of large amounts of air at low speed, which is necessary to maintain a constant frequency response over the full range of low frequencies. But it must be smooth with no acute angles, or the performance will deteriorate.”

Clever indeed, but the proof is in the performance. How did LSE fare? In a line: This sub kicks ass! Its solid, punchy bass thoroughly blanketed our mid-size test studio — and almost shook the fixtures loose on a couple of “pedal-down” occasions.

But more than just oomph, the 7060A shines in its integration with the satellites. It’s the nerve center of the setup, so in order to take advantage of the onboard bass management and other features, you must patch all signal into the sub first, then out to the satellites. To that end, the 7060A’s I/O panel provides seven inputs (six main channel inputs and an LFE/.1 channel input), seven outs (the six main channels and a “sum” LF out for daisy-chaining a second sub), and row of DIP switches for toggling Redirect on/off, choosing the LFE upper-limit frequency point, activating the test tone, and tailoring roll-off and phase.

The Redirect feature can be helpful when you want to confirm there are no excessive frequencies going to the LFE channel; if the bandwidth is set to 85 and Redirect is on, any frequencies above 85 Hz are sent to the center channel.

A side note: There are other LSE-series subs in the Genelec line — the 2-channel 7050A, the larger and more powerful 7070A, and the grand-daddy 70701A, with dual 12" drivers. Timber!

For small rooms, the 1029.LSE PowerPak is a home-run rig. From top to bottom, it delivered clean, clear sound with no perceivable frequency gaps or holes. But it isn’t exactly budget priced, nor is it alone in the marketplace. There’s no shortage of worthy competitors out there (too many to name here), so get your ears on as many systems as possible before settling on your rig of choice.

Monitors are as subjective a category as there is. Recent queries on the Surround Professional forum revealed that few people posting used the same rig; the selection was all over the map. Personally, I’ve loved the sound of the Genelecs for years, and have logged many hundreds of hours of studio time with them. I’ve heard a few folks say they find Genelecs to be a bit too “flattering” to the mix. Let your ears decide.

Subjectivity aside, the stone facts are the rock-solid, quality build of this system and Genelec’s reputation for being at the top of their game. Frank Wells summarized the PowerPak by saying: “The transition between sub and the main speakers is smooth and transparent. The sub has plenty of punch, handling transients well while providing all the deep bass I asked of it. The bass manager is full-featured and flexible. For small room setups, or for a relatively portable system, the PowerPak delivers first rate performance at a reasonable price — minus the guesswork and hand wringing that can accompany the selection and configuration of a surround monitoring system.”

Chalk up another win for the Finns. Hyvüü Suomi.

WEB EXTRA Genelec LSE: The Inside Story

While Genelec's LSE (Laminar Spiral Enclosure) subwoofer technology has been winning much praise, little has been said about the background to this unique low-frequency speaker design.

“The 'secret' behind the Genelec-developed Laminar Spiral Enclosure technology is the way that a long vent with large cross sectional area has been fitted into a small enclosure,” says Genelec. “Such a vent allows the movement of large amounts of air at low speed, which is necessary to maintain a constant frequency response over the full range of low frequencies but it must be smooth with no acute angles or performance will deteriorate. Like all the best ideas it is clever but basically simple.”

Ilpo Martikainen, Genelec's co-founder and accomplished recording engineer, explains: “Suddenly something flashed in my head, I took a piece of paper and drew a spiral. If we could make it from sheet metal, it would make a very long and smooth tube.”

Thinking it too difficult to manufacture, the spiral concept was put on hold. “But a little later, Ilpo decided to build some prototypes in his garage,” Genelec reports. “They measured well in the R&D Lab and so further development work followed. This included a fresh look at how that metal spiral might be manufactured. That problem was solved by our own mechanical engineers, who designed and made an unique metal bending machine that uses two rollers to draw the metal in where it is bent by a third. That machine is now at the heart of LSE production, precision bending metal with all parameters under digital control.

“The metal spiral is then held rigid by grooved side panels. Following the addition of a bass management system and power amplifier positioned to gain cooling effect from the vent air flow, the LSE subwoofer is complete.”

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