Genelec are better known for their medium and large‑sized pro studio monitors, but as Paul White discovers, their new mini active monitor could be tailor‑made for the smaller private studio.
When working in a small project studio, most, if not all the mixing tends to be done using small, near‑field monitors, but few of these are accurate enough to produce reliable mixes. Genelec's recently launched 1030A active monitor loudspeaker could change all that; although it measures just 312 x 200 x 240mm, it has a very respectable bass response, and produces the type of detailed sound we've come to associate with Genelec.
Genelec's DCW Directivity Controlled Waveguide technology (distinguished by a dish‑shaped tweeter baffle) lends identity to an otherwise conventional appearance. The baffle controls the dispersion pattern of the speaker, directing more of the sound toward the listener — the aim being to make the speaker more tolerant of imperfect room acoustics.
The active crossovers and power amplifiers are built into the rear of the cabinets, and include DIL switch controls to help match the speakers to the room in which they are used. There are three sets in all: Treble Tilt, Bass Tilt, and Bass Roll‑off. All provide four settings, one of which is flat. The Treble Tilt provides shelving lift or cut above 4kHz, while the Bass Tilt switch brings in a shelving cut a little below 600Hz. The Bass Roll‑off provides varying degrees of roll‑off below 100Hz.
Also on the rear of the cabinet are the mains input, power switch and fuse, a balanced XLR for the line‑level input, and a recessed trimmer to adjust the input sensitivity by plus or minus 6dB. The mains power may be switched for 115V or 230V operation.
The cabinet is made from MDF (medium‑density fibreboard) and finished in black. There are two slit‑shaped ports, one on either side of the tweeter. Because of the close proximity of the drivers, the 1030As may be mounted either upright or on their sides.
The 19mm metal dome tweeter is loaded by the DCW and protected by a fine metal mesh, and the bass and mid‑range is handled by a high efficiency 70mm driver, featuring a composite polymer cone fitted in a soft, roll‑rubber surround. The 1030As are capable of producing SPLs in excess of 115dB with a ‑3dB response from 52Hz to 20kHz, which is quite remarkable for such a compact system. Though the speakers are unshielded, a magnetic shielding option is available at extra cost.
Twin power amplifiers are built into each speaker cabinet, rated at 80W of short‑term power to the bass driver and 50W of short‑term power to the tweeter — presumably the 'short‑term' provision in the rating is part of the driver protection system. The amplifiers also include driver protection circuitry, particularly important when working with synthesizers that can generate large amounts of audio energy across the entire audio spectrum for long periods.
An electronic, two‑way crossover (operating at 3.5kHz) drives the power amplifiers. In addition to the environmental controls already discussed, an 18dB‑per‑octave subsonic filter comes in below 50Hz, and a low‑pass filter with a 12dB‑per‑octave slope comes in at 25kHz, to protect against ultrasonic and RF finding their way into the active crossover.
With the name Genelec on the box, I didn't expect to be disappointed — and I wasn't. Many small speakers either produce little bass or so‑called 'one‑note bass', but the 1030As were better than expected in this area. At high listening levels, a touch of boxiness inevitably creeps in, but on the whole the bass remained strong, assertive, and reasonably accurate. Very deep bass was obviously absent, but for pop mixes, where most of the kick occurs in the 50‑100Hz region of the spectrum, they held up pretty well, delivering a reassuring slam in the chest. I thought the mid‑ and high‑frequency detail was handled particularly well, and although I felt the tweeters had a slightly forward sound, it wasn't harsh or intrusive.
The 1030As are ideally suited to those who are short of space, but still need a monitor they can rely on while mixing. Despite a feeling that Genelec's larger monitors provide a more open, dynamic sound, the shortcomings of these little speakers are relatively minor, and they certainly manage to capture the overall Genelec family sound, while providing adequate level when used in the near‑field. Genelec envisage the 1030As being adopted by both private and commercial users, and although at over £1000 a pair they might seem costly for near‑field monitors, when you add up the cost of a good power amplifier and a pair of quality speakers, there isn't a huge amount of difference. The1030As are a convenient one‑box solution to small‑studio monitoring problems and are capable of a high level of performance. Don't let the tiny box size put you off — believe me, they sound a lot bigger than they look!
- Frequency Response: 52Hz to 20kHz +/‑ 2.5dB.
- Max peak acoustic output (when mounted as console‑top near‑fields): 115dB or greater.
- Dimensions: 312 x 200 x 240mm.
- Weight: 7kg each.
- Amplifier Power: Bass 80W, Treble 50W
- Drivers: Bass 170mm, Tweeter 19mm metal dome in proprietary waveguide.
- Convenient, compact format.
- Well‑balanced, detailed sound.
- Good bass performance.
- The price will still frighten off some private users who could really benefit from such a high‑quality, small‑sized system.
A compact and versatile monitor, suitable both for the discerning small studio owner and for the producer needing an accurate mobile reference speaker.