Genelec 8050BPM by never
after 1 week of owning a pair of Genelec 8050, I thought I share my experience & review of these speakers.
Spoiler alert: long post coming!
To put things into a bit of perspective: I got into music production about 10 years ago. Did various audio work in the last years (advertising, film, etc) but mostly I'd say I make electronic music. In 2011 when I set up my first home studio, the quest for monitors ended with the Adam A7x. Since then I have listened to and had sessions on a number of monitors, on which I will briefly share my thoughts about, so you can see where I'm coming from:
- Yamaha HS5 & HS 8 - not impressed... I see them in a lot of studios but I feel the bass is floppy, the mids are too soft and they lack resolution.
- Genelec 8050 - <3
- Dynaudio BM12 - good and relevant speakers - everything was "there", but did not particularly tickled my senses
- Adam S3x - great power & low distortion. The sound stage is big and "in your face". You'd better have the room to accommodate these as the bass is King size. But I feel the overall image between the bass, mids & higs is not as "cohesive" and "seamless" and the ribbon tweeter "sticks out" rather then "integrating."
- Amphion Two18 - I don't know what anybody could say bad about these speakers. To me they sound great. Very natural, with big sound stage and an overall pleasant feeling. To my taste, I find them sounding rather a bit "dark" (as in tamed highs) and more classic sounding as opposed to "modern".
- Barefoot Mini Main - impressive audio experience (with impressive price )). I mixed some tracks on them (both electronic and piano recordings). The bass fills the room nicely, the mids & high mids are feeling rather silky, very pleasant and the whole sound is "there" for you to touch and work on it. It's impressive how they retain the dynamics and the resolution as you crank them up.
So... my pursuit for Genelec started several years ago, in 2014. I was at a friend's house and he had the 8050 on stands and I remember they REALLY got my attention right from the start. I remember being kinda intrigued by these speakers and very pleasantly surprised by their sonic footprint. In my mind I wondered why aren't more speakers delivering music this way... But what exactly about the 8050 did I like so much back then?
Before I dive into reviewing the Genelecs, some words about these 10 years spent making music on the Adams a7x - these are a pair of cool speakers with a pleasant sonic footprint and I would say they do have some strongpoints: the presence & bite in the mids & high mids (the ribbon twitter) and even a nice "analogue" warmth in the lowmids - electronic music at times feels "warm" on these speakers, while jazz or other acoustic recordings shine well and have room the breath and sound very natural. But more often I would find myself questioning mix decisions and to be honest, getting the low end in check on these speakers was never an easy task. When I got them, I remember saying to myself I don't need the extra bass on the Adam A8x and the A7X will be just fine. I craved more bass every day of my life with these speakers and while they are nice to have and make music on them, I think there is a line they don't seem to cross very good - when it comes to mixdowns or, in a broader term - audio engineering, the Adam A7x will fall short on a number of things, poor bass representation being the one that for me mattered the most. I think they are cool speakers but If anyone is serious about audio engineering should aim for something higher. With that being said, a random trivia fact is that Bonobo made an album or two on the A7x (but did he also mixed & engineered the material?). You get my point...
Last year I spent a month working on the 8050 borrowed from my friend so the experience further cemented my love for the Genies. I remember thinking I would be very happy to make music on these speakers all my life.
So it was becoming obvious that I need better speakers and I was already pretty much committed to Genelecs. Having drooled on all their models for so long, I was fantasizing about the 8260, or the 8351 & 8361 and my intuition is that they are outstanding speakers and one day I will grab them. But the time came and now I had to settle for the 8050.
I now work in a big space - open space attic, about 70sqm, angled roof ceiling, mostly wood, so the space feels nice.
Right out of the box - the 8050 felt just how I knew them - big sound stage, clear representation, low distortion, great stereo imaging and that very pleasant bass extension & articulation that mesmerized me in the first place when listening to them back in the day. What a pleasant feeling to hear that warm bottom end nicely filling the space and the whole song resting on those low frequencies...
I spent a couple of days auditioning them. Right out of the box - I set them up with Treble Tilt -2 db - Me too find the twitter a bit too sensitive. Later on I also reduced the Bass Rolloff -2 db as the sub freqs were filling the room too much and eating from the headroom, Input sensitivity is set to 0 - I feel any other setting sounds unnatural to me. I now have a very balanced sound and I feel the speakers breath nicely. I feed them through Apogee Duet.
So I was very pleased and impressed with them but only after a couple of days I started new projects from scratch, making some new music and also revisiting older projects. That's when my amazement truly skyrocketed and after about a week of non stop making music on them I feel like catching my breath for a second to share my opinions.
To be honest, I was becoming a bit frustrated trying to finish more music on the Adam A7x and wondering what can I do to up my game a bit? Last year I took an online mixing & engineering class with a well respected techno producer from Berlin. I remember at the end of the class we got into monitors and he looked me deep in the eye and kinda told me that I may want to consider some new speakers.
To simply put it in words, I would say that making music & taking mix decisions with the Genelecs 8050 is a smooth, streamlined and very enjoyable process. Taking mix decisions is now a matter of what I like & suits the song best, rather then "what should it sound like"... What is surprising to me is how fast you can take those decisions with these speakers. I will give you some examples:
- wanna crank up that analogue synth bass but those ugly low mids & mids make you sick? Quickly add some subtractive eq and get rid of them. Gain stage for level, eq some more, gain stage again and wow... It is now much easier to dig out the pure harmonic content of a sound and leave the nasty resonant stuff out
- tuning kick drums and hi-passing kicks & bass has become a very intuitive and obvious task
- delays & reverbs are now used with more moderation, being able to really hear the bigger ambience filling the song
- adjusting compression settings takes way less time as you can clearly hear the transient behavior and the dynamics changing by the increments.
There are a couple of things that are impressive about these speakers:
- the sonic footprint - I would say neutral, transparent & very balanced, although I feel they do have their own trademark sound. I think a lot of it has to do with the aluminum enclosure. I see a lot of people talking about the Genelec SPL & distortion figures and other specs but why isn't anybody talking about the metal enclosure? I think this has a lot to do with why they sound the way they do.
- the power and low distortion figures - the pleasant feeling that they hold up as you crank the volume up. Eventually you will hit the reds and they'll go into limiting but I don't see how anybody would want to monitor constantly at those levels. When you need to turn them up to check your mix or even crank them for that occasional home party they can take the beating with no probs.
- The amazing detail representation - I see people on forums claiming that you will get lost into details with the 8050. God... were they right... Sound designing is on another level! With the Adams, when I would make new music, I would always lay the groove really fast and then write & arrange the song, and after that I would try to fix problems in the mix and sound design. With the Genelecs I sound design on the fly and I quickly address problems as I stumble upon them. Believe it or not, yesterday I spent 2 hours eq-ing a synth bass. I kept removing nasty resonances and as I gain staged for correct level, new resonances would pop up that would need to be removed. I would gain stage again, and again... address new nasty frequencies that would pop up. In the end you end up with the purest undistorted sound that behaves naturally and is ready for the whole chain (compression, saturation, etc). But boy... down the rabbit whole I was... As I kept removing frequencies that sounded bad and gain staging accordingly and repeated the process over & over it felt like I was in this sonic fractal tunnel with no beginning and no end. For the moment... I was thinking of the fractal nature of sound and the universe and how interesting it is that no matter now much you "zoom in" on something, new stuff comes popping up, just like the waves of the ocean. I might get a lil bit philosophical here but the process reminded me of Mandelbrot's fractals
- The depth of sound, 3D imaging and the holographic character of music. The feeling that you live inside the music and the music is all around you. The space within the track (reverb, ambience) is lively and well represented, offering great immersion into any material.
- The bass extension & representation - I feel this is a strong point for the 8050. It's obvious what's going on in the low end and thus mix decisions come naturally without "guessing".
- The way they are built looks solid to me and these monitors made out of metal seem that they will endure the test of time.
I was trying to find some negatives on the 8050 and wonder what could that be? If I'd have to say, I would say that maybe the mid range (500hz-2k) is where I first noticed some slight lack of resolution. The woofer delivers everything below 1.8k, so with the bass freqs behaving so great, at times I think it's in the detriment of the mid frequencies who share the same driver & woofer and it's where I feel distortion appears first when cranking them up. The 8050 are 2 way nearfields, so with that being said, I can only fathom of how amazing the 8260, 8351 & 8361 could be. But not to say the midrange lacks in representation. I find it offers great reproduction.
So I feel a new era is beginning for me and I'm very grateful for this.
Electronic bass heavy music behaves marvelously well on the 8050. Hannes Bieger used a pair of these in his studio for years (I guess I said enough with this...). But so does acoustic music: jazz albums of Bill Evans and other solo piano recordings shine beautifully and retain the details, the warmth and the natural dynamics.
Orchestral strings and vocals stack up nicely to create a rich harmonic fabric, inviting you in into the sonic texture & placement of the elements.
I am well pleased with these speakers. For me, I knew it was going to be Genelecs for many years now. I settled on the 8050 because I wanted to have a good reference speaker that will last me for years and help me with what I do, making the process very pleasing.
I thought about getting the 8350 APM, but the price / quality difference did not convince me. After all, it's the same sonic footprint. I would have paid extra if it was for a jump to 3 way maybe... I also considered Neuman KH 310, but the price difference and the personal positive past experience with 8050 weighed in on the final decision. I think 8050 is up there with the best 2 way monitors there are. Just out of curiosity: which other 2 way monitors do you consider better than 8050 for maximum the same price, not more expensive? I'm curious of your options.
So that's about it - hope it helps anybody wanting to know more about this and it shines some light of my process and what these monitors factor in in my day to day music making.
Keep making the good sounds!