They keep getting smaller but somehow the sound of these Genelecs still holds together.
Text: Andy Stewart
Although they look like one of those toy footballs little kids kick around after a game of Aussie Rules – the ones that cause you to tear a hamstring as you try and send them 80 metres downfield when you’re an adult – the new Genelec 6010As are well worth having a good listen to if you’re in the market for desktop speakers. They’re hard to take seriously in some respects, given their munchkin-like proportions, but once audio is playing through them, their physical size takes a back seat.
I’ve been using these diminutive rear-ported two-ways in the studio alongside my Quested VS2108As for the last few weeks, in what looks to be one of the greatest mismatches of all time. The Questeds house eight-inch drivers in their substantial enclosures while the Genelec 6010As sport much smaller three-inch drivers – if indeed three inches constitutes a ‘driver’ at all. But amazingly, the two models don’t sound vastly different in terms of their tone.
The main distinction between them lies in their presentation of the audio image. The image from the Genelecs appears much smaller, offering less physical scale in the same way a small TV presents a smaller image: it has a ‘tonal balance’ similar to the larger models, what differs is simply the size of the picture it presents. The 6010As are primarily designed to be viewed up close, while the Questeds are better viewed from a (relatively) greater distance. Surprisingly, while the Genelecs might sound much smaller than the Questeds in a physical sense, they don’t sound significantly thinner, particularly when combined with their associated sub, the new Genelec 5040A. The 6010As perhaps lack a whisker of low-midrange presence, but I must admit, I wrestled with this notion for the duration of their visit, since it was hard to tell whether this low-midrange shyness was a product of their incapacity or merely my eyes and brain conspiring against them, trying to convince me of their flawed nature: ‘Something has to give here Andy! I mean, look at them!’
Like all the models in the new Genelec range, one of the things that struck me about these new tiny desktop speakers, once they were set up in my (still incomplete) studio, was that the die-cast aluminium enclosures seem to impart virtually no corruption upon the signal. Proportionally identical to the larger models in the Genelec range – and sporting the same ingenious Iso-Pod rubber feet – the 6010A enclosures seem to have little or no resonance of their own, even though it must surely be there somewhere in the sound. The speakers feel controlled and balanced without there being a shred of honk or bark. Indeed, if anything, I would argue the 6010As could have a touch more midrange about them, if only to help your brain make sense of their size.
Designed primarily for use around a desktop or laptop audio environment, the 6010As work a treat in close proximity to the listener, especially if you’re cramped for space. Set up around my 15-inch Apple laptop, the Genelecs stood not quite as tall as the screen, and in this configuration they didn’t seem tiny at all, but rather, perfectly proportioned.
TAKING UP THE REAR
The rear connections of the 6010As tell the real story of where these speakers are designed to function best. Audio connections occur via unbalanced RCAs and power is taken up via figure-eight cables. There are three calibration dip switches on each speaker that affect the bass response of the enclosures. The first of these cuts the bass response by 2dB at 100Hz, the ‘tilt’ of which seems to kick off at the speaker’s crossover frequency: 3kHz (according to the published plots). With the second (middle) switch engaged, this tilt becomes more pronounced, cutting the bass frequencies by up to 4dB, and with both engaged, it extends down to –6dB. The third of these switches (on the right) is what Genelec describes as the ‘Desktop Control’. This dip-switch places a fairly broad dip into the audio response, centred around 200Hz (it’s a bell cut, not a high-pass filter). This control cleans up the frequencies that generally become emphasised when speakers are placed on a table top. All these controls are simple enough to use, but it’s a matter of taste whether they’re engaged or not.
The final rear control is a recessed input sensitivity (volume) pot, which requires a flathead screwdriver (or a long fingernail) to manipulate. I’ve had these controls wound flat out the entire time I’ve been using these monitors, since there are no markings or steps of any kind (beyond the less than helpful markings for Min and Max) around the outside of the pots. In my opinion, this makes the input sensitivity controls all but useless, given that they make it basically impossible to balance left and right with any accuracy. In my opinion, token ‘sensitivity’ controls such as these are worse than no controls at all. All they do is make me doubt the speakers’ accuracy with respect to volume.
WITH THE SUB
In combination with the Genelec 5040A sub, the 6010As make a great little 2.1 system. The sub itself looks like the lid off one of those telephone exchange routers you see on the street corner, and underneath its sturdy domed die-cast aluminium cranium are more RCAs (for connecting and managing a 5.1 system), a downward firing 40W 61/2-inch bass driver and port, and more dip switches for calibrating the sub’s volume and phase coherence within the system. There’s also a fancy system volume control knob that connects directly to the sub via a mini-jack, to enable the whole system to be turned up and down as one. The knob itself looks like a ‘chip off the ol’ sub,’ as it were, sporting the same proportions and three-legged stance as the sub enclosure itself, albeit very much smaller. The volume controller feels nice and weighty under the hand and does the job well. As a total system, the three components work seamlessly together.
By themselves, or in combination with the 5040A sub, the Genelec 6010As are a very respectable set of powered desktop monitors. They’re more than capable of providing a balanced tone smooth enough and true enough to allow the listener to make meaningful decisions about the audio they’re working on, despite their small stature. Built well, eminently adjustable on their fantastic little rubber feet and small enough to pack in your luggage, the 6010As are remarkable for their size. Mind you, don’t expect them to act as substantial nearfields in a large control room – if you’re in the market for monitors and your space is large, the 6010As will struggle. Used in the right context, however, they work remarkably well.