Genelec G Three active loudspeaker
My review samples of Genelec’s G Three powered loudspeaker came with a little hand-sized green and tan cardboard card featuring a poem in bold black letters dated 1898:
At the cottage window a little bird sang.
And the light of the window did flicker.
And look. The roof up it sprang and the cottage became a house bigger.
Look. Into a world the cottage grew and the vast and wide too and filled with song was the air and like new was the sun’s flare.
Below this boldly printed poem, in a smaller, finer font, it said, “Thank you for choosing Genelec. With this poem by Eino Leino (the national poet of Finland) we wish you broadening horizons and new shades of sound.”
I was impressed that a globally respected manufacturer of professional-grade active loudspeakers chose not to loudly declare their obsession with accuracy, science, and measurements, choosing instead to present a poem by a 19th century Romantic poet.
According to Wikipedia, “Genelec Oy is a manufacturer of active loudspeaker systems based in Iisalmi, Finland. It designs and produces products especially for professional studio recording, mixing and mastering applications, broadcast, and movie production. The company was co-founded by the late Ilpo Martikainen (19472017) and Topi Partanen in 1978.”
If you’ve ever been to a fancy recording studio and stood near one of Genelec’s big, triamped, 469lb 1035 studio monitors, you already know that Genelec makes some serious, fierce-looking, military-grade monitoring speakers. They are all active.
Will Eggleston, Genelec Inc.’s self-described “chief cook and bottle washer,” told me that “at the beginning of the 21st century, the popularity of home theater in America and Asia inspired Genelec to move into the home audio market. That is when Genelec introduced the LSE-series of subwoofers and replaced most of the 2-way series, like the popular 1030 and 1031, which came in ‘Pro MDF’ enclosures, with the 8030, 8040, and 8050, which come in cast-aluminum enclosures designed by renowned Finnish industrial designer Harri Koskinen. Since its introduction, the 8030 has been a popular choice in pro and semi-pro recording-mixing-mastering situations as well as in home environments among serious-minded audiophiles.”
While the 8030 was a hybrid pro/home speaker, the G series took the next big step: It’s marketed as a home speaker. I asked Will Eggleston how the G Three I’m reviewing is different from the venerable 8030.
“From an electroacoustic perspective, nothing. However, the G3A had chip-based class-A/B amps. The newer G3B has class-D amps like the 8030C. The G3 has white LEDs, while the 8030C has green. G3 are available in white, black, and RAW (footnote 1). The 8030C comes in dark gray, white, and RAW. Drivers, [crossover], and maximum SPL are the same. The tone controls are the same. The G3 has LED defeat; the 8030 does not. The G3 has a 10dB downward sensitivity adjustment; the 8030 does not. That’s about it.”
Genelec produces five G models; the G Three is in the middle, woofer-size, bass-response, and SPL-wise. Its RAW cast aluminum cabinet has, to my taste, a very appealing look. The G Three costs $1590/pair and is equipped with a bolted-on (but easily removed) rubber Iso-Pod base to physically isolate and angle the speaker.
This is just my second opportunity to review an active speaker. The first was KEF’s little desktop LSX, which I reviewed in the April 2019 Stereophile. That speaker was a Wi-Fi’d, DACed, and DSPed lifestyle speaker; it was necessary to download an app just to get it running. In contrast, the active Genelec G Three is a 100% all-analog, powered two-way monitor. Its sculpted, cast-aluminum body encloses a 5 1/8″ polypropylene-cone bass-mid driver and a 0.75″ aluminum-dome tweeter, the latter fixed at the rear of a recessed waveguide. Each G Three is biamplified by two 50W class-D amplifiers fed by an active, line-level crossover at the G Three’s input. Amps and crossovers are designed and built completely in-house.
The G Three’s rear panel features a sculpted reflex port and a recessed “connector panel” with an IEC power socket plus line-level RCA and XLR inputs, with Neutrik connectors. A single G Three is small backpack-size, a bit less than 12″ high, 8″ wide, and 7″ deep. It is knuckle-rap solid and sturdy but weighs only 11lb.
When I clicked on “Compatible Accessories” at Genelec’s website, I was amazed by how location-adaptable the G Threes are. The back of their thick cast-aluminum cabinet features four machined attachment pads for a mounting bracket, each with a pair of threaded bolt holes to accommodate a variety of stand, truss, wall, table, and ceiling mounts. Plus! You can buy a wheeled, industrial-strength Peli case designed to help world-traveling recordists pull two G Threes through airport security without hassle. For more robust engineers, Genelec offers a soft-padded carrying bag that holds two G Threes. Home-speaker status aside, for me, these options certify the G Three as a portable location monitor.
In addition to its woofer, tweeter, and biomorphic curves, the G Three’s front panel features a retina-scorching white-LED power-indicator light, which mercifully, as Eggleston said, is “defeatable” via a switch on the back panel.
When the G Threes are switched on, the signal-sensing Autostart function powers them up as soon as an input signal is detected. An hour after playback ceases, the G Threes go into standby mode.
Like its G-series siblings, the Genelec G Three is designed to be used as a nearfield monitorto be listened to at close range, where direct sound dominates sound reflected from room boundaries. When I first unpacked them, I set the G Three’s EQ to “Tabletop” and listened as they sat on my 4′-wide desktop, about 3′ apart and 3′ away, with a wall directly behind them. In that extreme nearfield environment, they sounded clean and sharply focused down to at least 65Hz but not as transparent or 3D as they sounded when I moved them to my main system, in the same positions I put my Falcon LS3/5a Gold Badge speakers. As I experimented with placement, it occurred to me that these G Three monitors might even deliver genuine high-resolution sound while sitting on a decorator-friendly bureau top.
On the G Three’s back panel is a row of DIP switches that Genelec calls “Tone Controls,” which allow users to attenuate gain (10dB) and adjust bass for “flat anechoic response” (0dB), “Free standing in a damped room” (2dB), “Free standing in a reverberant room” (4dB), near the listener on a table or other reflective surface (2dB), and “In a corner” (4dB). I experimented with the 0dB and 2dB settings, but I did most of my listening at 2dB, with the G Threes positioned on 24″ stands about 11″ from the wall behind them. The G Three’s manual recommends pointing the speakers “directly at the listening position,” which I did.
My first impressions of Genelec’s G Three remained true throughout my audition: pure and precise with a surprising amount of well-articulated bass for such a small speaker. In its tweeter region (above 3kHz), the G Threes preserved more air, atmosphere, and dimensionality than my in-house KEF LS50s, GoldenEar BRXs, or Falcon LS3/5a Gold Badges. They didn’t go as low or move as much air, but, in terms of bass tone and tactility, the G Three was like a smaller, tighter version of GoldenEar’s BRX standmount. In its tweeter region the G Three was distinctly more detailed than the BRX. On both sides of its 3kHz crossover region, the G Three was quieter and more seamless than my LS3/5a. I needed only a few tracks to realize that the G Threes play more clearly and more open than any speaker I had on hand to compare them to.
Footnote 1: “RAW” is an unfinished-looking bare-aluminum finish that reminds me of the corrugated aluminum utility buildings are often made of. These speakers in RAW would look slick in a modern loft, against a wall of interior brick.Jim Austin
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US contact: Genelec Inc.
7 Tech Circle
Natick, MA 01760
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