In 2004, Genelec launched its 8000 MDE Series, a line of midprice powered monitors designed to complement the company's 7000-series subwoofers and to form stereo and surround systems that work in any type of mixing environment. The MDE (minimum defraction enclosure) monitors are characterized by strong aluminum casings that have large internal volumes and curved exterior edges. Each 8000 MDE Series monitor comes with Genelec's Iso-Pod (isolation-positioner decoupler), which is a mounting stand that allows the speaker to be positioned vertically or horizontally. It also insulates the cabinet from the surface on which it sits.
FIG. 1: The Genelec 8030A can be -positioned with the aid of a unique insulating stand called the Iso-Pod, which can be -adjusted forward or backward to change the -speaker''s angle.
Until recently, the 8030A was the baby of the family, with its 5-inch woofer and ¾-inch metal-dome tweeter (see Fig. 1). The newer 8020A has a 4-inch woofer. The 8030A drivers are powered by 40W amplifiers that can generate 105 dB (peak) SPL in a close-field environment. The unit's compact low-frequency driver extends to 58 Hz. Studio owners who are working on hip-hop and other styles that have a bone-crushing bottom may want to beef up their system with Genelec's 7050B (stereo) or 7060A (surround) subwoofer, which gives you a frequency response extending to 25 Hz.
Even without the subwoofer, however, the 8030A is a great match for studios that have limited space and that cater to sound-design, voice-over, or editing work — when accuracy and first-rate imaging are required. Genelec has infused the 8030A with the better quality that is generally found in the company's higher-end monitors.
Breaking the Mold
The 8030A's looks differ from Genelec's traditional designs. Its rounded corners, molded front and rear sections, and sturdy metal grille covering both drivers give the monitor the look of a speaker designed for heavy-duty (even exterior) sound-reinforcement work. But some obvious features signal that the unit is designed for studio use.
Genelec wisely placed the unit's volume pot, power indicator, and power switch on the front panel. The pot is positioned a bit too low, and its ultrathin lip is hard to grasp if you have a large thumb and index finger. You can, however, easily move the pot back and forth using one finger. The rounded power toggle switch is simple to press, and the LED is large and prominent. The rest of the front panel is vacant except for the concave woofer grille, the tweeter grille, and the wave guide, which allows for smooth on- and off-axis response.
FIG. 2: The 8030A''s rear panel hosts a recessed I/O section and a small cavity that contains DIP switches for the monitor''s bass rolloff and EQ features.
The rear panel (see Fig. 2) hosts the high-quality (if somewhat limited) features that are typical of Genelec monitors. A recessed cavity at the bottom of the monitor allows for upward insertion of a power cord and balanced XLR cables (a female jack for main input and a male jack for output to additional monitors or to a satellite and subwoofer system). As many as six 8030As can be connected together. The 8030A's volume pot controls the level at the XLR output, so the first monitor in the chain gives you a master volume control for the entire system if you keep all the other pots turned fully clockwise.
Above the connector section is a small recessed area containing four DIP switches that you can use for bass rolloff or subtle EQ adjustments (what Genelec calls tilts) to make the monitor match your room. The first switch (Treble Tilt) attenuates the response above 5 kHz by 2 dB. The second switch activates an 85 Hz highpass filter for use with subwoofers. The third and fourth switches are used singly or in combination to engage three degrees of bass attenuation: -2, -4, or -6 dB. Those may be helpful when the monitors are placed close to walls or corners that generate bass buildup.
At the top of the monitor's rear section is a reflex port created from a long, curved tube that ends in a wide flare, giving you improved bass articulation. A number of strategically placed mounting holes allow for bottom or side positioning of the novel Iso-Pod, wall or ceiling mounting with brackets, or standard mic-stand mounting.
I was eager to hook up the 8030As to see if they would be a logical replacement for my older powered monitors. The 8030As fit better on my workstation desk and in the control room that I use than my main speakers do.
In getting a pair of Genelecs at this price, I expected that there would be some trade-offs, and they became apparent during setup. The lack of balanced TRS inputs meant that I had to drive the 8030As from my FireWire-equipped mixer using XLR outs instead of from my high-quality USB interface. The recessed DIP switches were inconvenient — most new powered monitors have slider switches for those functions. (I happened to have a stereo miniplug headphone adapter nearby, which turned out to be a perfect DIP-switch tool.)
The Iso-Pod works like a computer-monitor stand, except that you can't easily slide the speaker back and forth because of the friction necessitated by the rubberlike padding. It's easier to turn the monitor on its side and slide the pod into a new position. That requires some trial and error to find the optimum angle, especially when the monitor is mounted vertically. When positioned fully forward, the Iso-Pod gives the 8030A an approximately 30-degree downward angle; when slid all the way back, the upward angle is about 10 degrees. If you put your monitors on a surface that's slightly below ear level (such as the riser on my workstation desk), you may need an additional prop to point the 8030A directly at the sweet spot. The Iso-Pod gives you more flexibility when the monitor is positioned above ear level.
Packing a Punch
I liked the sound coming from the 8030As. I tested the monitors on a variety of material, including CDs by Shania Twain, the Black-Eyed Peas, and Herbie Hancock. The 8030As offered crystal-clear highs, excellent definition and transient response, and superb imaging. The isolation and interplay between contrasting elements, such as bass guitar and stereo reverbs, was consistently distinct. The Genelecs gave new life to CDs that I thought held no more surprises. The 8030As sounded as good as I've ever heard for monitors of their size.
I did conclude, however, that the Genelec subwoofer is a required component. Although I could mix bass elements on the 8030A that would sound fine on systems with enhanced low frequencies, the monitors didn't give me the rich low end that I need for working with various music styles. I wouldn't use the 8030As for hip-hop or dance music. I tested the 8030As on my own mix of a jazz-rock instrumental that has a tightly constructed bass-synth and bass-guitar arrangement. I loved the definition that the 8030As gave me, but I didn't like the subdued bottom.
Flexible and Expandable
The 8030A is one component in a product line that has something for everyone in a wide range of prices. If you need to mix in a tight space and don't need to hear deep-bass frequencies, the 8030A, with its superb definition and imaging, is an excellent choice. If you know that a 2.1 or a 5.1 system is right for your room, the 8030A can be an excellent foundation. (You can also save a few bucks by selecting the smaller 8020A along with your chosen subwoofer.) If you need deep bass but don't want to go with a subwoofer, Genelec also offers the larger 8040A and 8050A. And if you've been a fan of Genelec's high-end monitors, as I have been for years, you will love the price and the performance ratio of the 8030A.
Rusty Cutchin is an associate editor of EM. He can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
powered close-field monitor
OVERALL RATING (1 THROUGH 5): 4
PROS: Excellent sound. Superb imaging and transient response. Compact size. Front-mounted volume pot, power switch, and power indicator. Adjustable stand.
CONS: DIP switches for rolloff and EQ features. XLR connections only.
Analog Inputs (1) balanced XLR Analog Outputs (1) balanced XLR Peak Output SPL 108 dB SPL Woofer 5" Tweeter ¾" metal dome Crossover Frequency 3 kHz Frequency Response (free field) 58 Hz-20 kHz (±2 dB) Power Output RMS
(woofer/tweeter) 40W/40W Dimensions 7.4" (W) × 11.8" (H) × 7.6" (D) Weight 12.3 lbs.