Review: Genelec 8010A mini monitors

What’s good Vagabonds?

Today I’ll review the miniature 8010A monitors by the well-known and respected Finnish company Genelec. I have the dark grey finish, but they’re also available in white.

Because I’ve had them for quite some time I’ve been able to compare them extensively and how transferable mixes are in the studio.

When you unpack them the experience is really like those Russian matryoshka dolls. They are tiny! Setting up and angling is easy with the attached rubber feet. The speakers themselves have rounded edges which Genelec calls the Minimum Diffraction Enclosure and it feels like an odd mix of aluminium and plastic which is cool to the touch. Around the back are a couple of DIP switches for bass rolloff, bass, a dedicated ‘desktop’ setting and treble tilt and ISS,  a figure-of-8 power socket, a flared reflex port and a balanced XLR input. The ISS or Intelligent Signal Sensing turns the speakers off after 30 minutes of non-activity.

I mounted the minis on a pair of heavy-duty Innox desk stands and was off in minutes. The 3″ woofer and 0,75″ tweeter are powered by their own 25 Watt class D amplifiers with a frequency response from 67hz all the way up to 25khz. I started by playing Lee Hyorin’s ‘Money’ which is a modern Trap’n’B/Hip-Hop track with a lot of bass, complemented by the singer’s airy voice and some interesting arpeggios. I left the settings on neutral, turned up the volume slowly….

Impressions

….and I was literally blown away when the bass came in! Never had I expected the sound to be this full, certainly not coming out of speakers this size.

After my initial surprise I started playing with the DIP switches: I set the bass to -6 because I live in a small house and had to set up near the wall. I left the other settings untouched. If you need it, the Desktop setting scoops the middle to avoid reflections from the mixing desk in a larger studio, a place where they would sit rather awkwardly alongside their much larger siblings.

I played the track again and the balance was now much better. Then I played more material I’m familiar with. It became clear to me that the Genelec family sound has trickled down nicely to the 8010A. Having worked with the venerable 1030A a long time ago, the new family sound is less smooth and more forward than it used to be but with modern music this is what many engineers seem to prefer anyway.

The speakers like to be played at low to moderate volumes which is where I mostly like to keep it to avoid standing waves issues in my particular situation. I especially like how the speakers behave at a super low volume. You still hear everything; all the elements are there.

When playing at silly volumes at close range the limits of the speaker show themselves but overall I am really impressed. The imaging is very good, making it easy to make important panning decisions and likewise small EQ changes are immediately audible too. As for the frequency extension down low, I am happy to report that there is little smear and despite the seemingly high 67hz that Genelec specifies I am able to make most if not all low end decisions.

The sensitive area of 4khz used to be one of the main problems with my previous setup but this is no longer an issue.

Mixes seem to translate pretty well to other studios given the price and limitations of the Genelec 8010A. I’ve had the pleasure to work with the excellent Barefoot MM27 at a friend’s studio in Paris, France, where I was able to check some of the mixes I did. The MM27s are in a class of their own of course and revealed every and any flaw ruthlessly but overall there were no deal-breaking shortcomings with the mini Gens. If anything, I got to know my own system that much better!

Conclusion

At this price point and size, compromises had to be made like the figure-of-8 power connectors and the limited low end response but the aim of these speakers is not to reproduce the full spectrum. These speakers are to be put in OB vans, small project studios where space is limited, mobile producers like myself and even for those who just want a clean desktop speaker system.

Given their street price of just below £400 and the fact that you can still use them alongside the rest of the 80 series if you choose to upgrade later, I can definitely recommend them. If, like me, you have reasonable expectations of a 3″ woofer, you’re in for a surprise!

Let’s keep walking Vagabonds

Genelec 8010A dark grey, £398 – www.genelec.com