Having worked in and around recording studios for 30 years, I cut my teeth on professional gear before broadening my horizons to the vast consumer audio/video world. In studios, you quickly learn that trustworthy monitors are essential. Every tracking and mixing decision hinges on what your monitors tell you; if they mislead you with any inaccuracy, your recording will suffer.
The monitors I learned to trust most are those from Genelec, a Finnish company famed for its powered professional loudspeakers. Of course, pro Genelecs would sound great in a home. But would a Genelec "consumer" package sound as good? This system based on the company's Model 6020A compact satellite gave me the chance to find out.
As with other Genelecs, the 6020A satellite is an active speaker. It contains amplification, an electronic crossover, and protection circuitry. It's the smallest Genelec, measuring a scant 9.5 inches tall. Each satellite uses a beefy die-cast-aluminum cabinet (rounded to reduce edge diffraction) housing a 3/4-inch aluminum dome tweeter and a 4-inch paper cone woofer. Both drivers are behind punched-metal grilles. The speaker is biamplified, with each driver receiving 20 watts.
The front of the cabinet has a power LED and an integrated on/off switch and volume control. Around the back are RCA and pro-style XLR inputs and a power-cord socket. Four DIP switches allow simple EQ adjustment of -2 dB treble tilt and -2, -4, and -6 dB bass tilt, and they also engage an autostart mode.
The cabinet is supported by rugged rubber feet mounted on rails. The rails are easily removed, and the included bracket and bolts allow wall mounting. In fact, Genelec recommends wall mounting, leaving clearance for the cabinet's rear port.
Five identical 6020As are employed in this 5.1-channel system; there is no horizontal center speaker. As Genelec unapologetically notes, ideally the center-channel speaker should match the front left/right speakers exactly. Fortunately, the company's two-way speakers are small enough to make such an approach practical.
I placed the compact but hefty satellites on speaker stands, with the center-channel speaker underneath my display, vertically, where it fit quite nicely. With conventional speaker cables suddenly rendered useless, I rummaged through my closet - um, audio-research archive facility - for the longest RCA cables I could find, as well as extra extension cords (since each speaker needs a power socket). I connected each satellite to my receiver's preamp outputs.
The Model 5050A is Genelec's tiniest subwoofer, but it packs a 70-watt amplifier, an 8-inch front-firing driver, and two 8-inch side-firing passive radiators. The driver is covered by a heavy metal grille that could conceivably be removed and used to barbecue chicken, and the radiators can be covered by removable grille cloths. This all comes in a cabinet that's not much bigger than a cubic foot. The sub accepts both XLR and RCA inputs, and it also has RCA jacks for left in/out, center in/out, and right in/out for passing signals through an internal high-pass filter. A volume control varies level. DIP switches select four different phase settings and a bass rolloff of -2, -4, or -6 dB. A link-out jack lets you daisy-chain additional subs.
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