Will they beat out my old KEF speakers?

I used to be an audio engineer and I used to design large sound systems,  but I have been out of that business for about 7 years so I asked around to my friends from college that work in or own successful recording studios and asked them what they used for an accurate near field reference monitor and a couple of them recommended the Genelec 8030A.

In the past 7 or 8 years the DSLR sensor technology has improved a ton, but I would guess that speaker technology has not improved hardly at all. In all the videos you have watched in my office you have seen my KEF Q30 (1993-96) which are about 18 years old and I love them. When I purchased them I compared them to a ton of speakers at the time they beat out everything including ones that where 3 times the price.

I will tell you that the Genelec’s are much more accurate from 500-5khz than my KEF’s but they don’t go down as low as my KEF’s which is OK since you can also buy a subwoofer for the Genelec’s as well. The transient response of the Genelec’s are also better than my KEF’s, what I mean by this is when you listen to a piano track the quick sudden rise of how the piano is struck is more accurately reproduced than my KEF’s.

The Genelec speakers are self powered which means in this case they contain a 40watt amp built in side. I am not crazy about this idea, I prefer to have my amplifier separate. They also come with only one input and it is an XLR which for the average Joe might have no clue what to do with them. You might might be thinking that 40watts doesn’t sound like much but when the speakers are only one meter away and the efficiency of the speakers is 100dB 1w @ 1m which means that with just one watt it will be 100dB which is pretty loud and you will have plenty of headroom.

Is it time to retire my old KEF’s for the Genelec’s, not yet since I am not wild about the built in amp and including a subwoofer. I am not apposed to spending a lot on speakers and these are expensive coming in about $650 per speaker. I can’t tell you how many blind tests I have been in that most expensive doesn’t win, so my quest continues.

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18 comments

  • I have a pair of Emes PinkTVs from Germany had them for about 6/7 years they still do me. I also don’t like to use subs and generally don’t really need it. I paid about $1600 cash back then. Near fields haven’t really improved much and I think they have reached their quality to price ratio, the prices sure have come down. I don’t think any near fields can be accurate or flat. Got to spend big $ for real studio monsters to get close to that.

    Most near fields can be useful, once you get accustomed to their particular sound and you learn how it translates to lots of other systems. Nearly 100% of people are listening to 16bit or MP3, Most listen on PC’s, ipods, MP players, TV, Car, small stereos. Maybe less than 10% have a big expensive stereo and less than 1% of a % would ever get to hear the original quality in a studio. Interesting thought huh?

    anyway I’d like to hear the Neumann KH120’s. 🙂

  • Hi Dave….great review of the Genelec 8030A but….I’m not sure if I agree 100% about the idea of having the amp built in causes the speaker to deteriorate.
    I have a very old set of Genelec 1029A. I’ve had them about 12 or 13 years and…they sound as good today as they did at the beginning. They also have both standard jack and XLR inputs.
    I have two albums out that were recorded using the 1029A’s. I love these speakers.
    The 1029A’s would also be much cheaper than the 8030A’s.

  • I never thought about the fact Active speakers could get hotter (therefore reduce life span.) I think I’m still going to look for some good active speakers though, passive speakers seem to cost a little bit more to start with (but could change speaker/amp part later if something breaks etc.) however for me I don’t have the space to set an external amp up. One day I should just stop saying “Maybe another day” after looking at the cost, and just do it.

  • Hi, Dave. Nice review. Have you heard the KRK Rockit 5’s? I wonder how they compare to the Genlec’s? I saw and heard these monitors at Walter Biscardi’s studio when I visited him there a few months ago. He’s got a great write-up on his edit suites on his blog: Anatomy of an Edit Suite

  • Glasd someone else likes them, we just bought a stack for our edit suites at work. I had no idea they were so well regarded. they do sound sweet.

  • Thanks for the review Dave I have been searching for a pair of powered monitors with XLR inputs to use with my new Benchmark DAC (which is brilliant btw). I think I will give these a shot and if so will report back.

  • Used them a few days now, not much bottom end and very true through the range. If you mix much production music I really think you would need a Sub too.

  • Regarding the Built-in Amp:
    The real benefit is not having the amp in the speaker, rather than not having a passive crossover network in there. Those tend to eat quite a bit of power, are much more difficult and expensive to design an build, and introduce impedance-problems not found on biamped systems with active crossovers, as found in these Genelecs. These Genelecs have not one, but two 40W Amps, one for the Woofer, and the other for the Tweeter. All of the fine-tuning of the crossover takes place with line-level signals, hence requires no big inductors, and can be much more sophisticated. Each amp has to amplify only the signal for its associated transducer.

    Back in the days, it was too expensive to have several amplifiers per speaker, so a passive crossover was more economical. Nowadays, it’s much less expensive to add a second amp channel than a complex passive crossover network. A good active crossover needs some good low-noise opamps, resistors and small capacitors (nano Farads), but no big expensive inductors or high-voltage capacitors in the 1000-µF Range. This is the future, as it also wastes less energy in passive components.

    I have the 1029A, bought them used ’cause the 8030 were too expensive for me at the moment.

  • these are monitors not speakers, they have to self powered. you don’t want low end you want accuracy, these are neutral for a reason, the genelec 8040 are an industry standard.

  • Really happy with my cambridge audio s30 monitors which for the low price seemed to have nice full sound to my ears.. Is all subjective though.

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