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Genelec 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System (HT208B/HT206B/HTS3B) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 April 2008
Article Index
Genelec 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System (HT208B/HT206B/HTS3B)
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Music and Movies
My first impressions of the Genelec HT system were telling and didn’t change much over the course of all of my listening sessions. First was how well-balanced the speaker system sounded. My experience with other two-way passive loudspeaker designs was that, although they did well (given that the drivers had to cover a lot of ground), I could always pick out the weak areas where they crossed over to the lower frequencies. The HTS3B blended seamlessly and effortlessly with the HT208s and, try as I might, I was unable to punch any holes in the handoff of lows and highs. The same was true for tonal quality, where the Genelecs did sway ever so slightly towards the brighter side, but portraying higher frequencies with more definition than does my current reference, the far more pricey Revel Studios, which are not any less resolving but perhaps more polite in their high frequencies. For instance, on Mickey Harts Dafos (Rycodisc CD), the hand tapping on the drum on “Dry Sands” through the Genelec system had a bit more palpability and immediacy to the soundstage than I remember through my Revel Studios. This effect added to the spatial cues, which are plentiful on this recording. More three-dimensionality would serve well here, as the reverberation in the large area where Dafos was recorded takes on more life. Dynamics, both micro and macro, were simply stunning in their clarity and definition. This was evident on the opening of “Ice of the North,” where notes on the xylophone were presented with visceral impact. The sustained tone and decay were well-defined and natural in their ease. The soundstage was wide and slightly laid-back on this two-channel recording; you could easily pinpoint the instruments within it.

The HTS3B was given the pressure cooker test with “Caves of Kronos” which utilizes the Beam, a custom-made stringed instrument that Mickey used effectively at many Grateful Dead shows and successfully uses here to vibrate the marrow of your soul. This track has brought many subs to their respective knees with the subterranean thunder. The Genelec did quite a respectable job of keeping everything sorted out through most of this track. The opening starts with a group of Aboriginal rain sticks. This is a bright section of the recording, and the Genelec system portrayed this appropriately and with intensity. Transients are ultra-quick, giving this segment much more impact and aural excitement through the Genelec system. Relative to the subwoofer, I have yet to hear one that doesn’t beg for mercy at the end of this track. While there were some signs of flinching, I will say that the Genelec was the best of the all the woofers I have subjected to this evil test, specifically not sounding congested or distorted, especially in the deepest registers.

The midrange on the Genelec system was quite enjoyable and would portray warmth and an open-sounding midrange bloom if that was what the recording offered (think of tubes as part of the recording process). For male vocals, I had to break out Shawn Mullins’ Soul’s Core (Sony Music CD). ”Twin Rocks Oregon” has a wonderful tonal quality to it that is captivating and alluring. Mullins’ vocals are pinpoint accurate and hung suspended back behind the speakers, with a nice amount of air surrounding both his vocals and the acoustic guitar. You could hear a wonderful resonance from the body of the guitar that added to the soundstage, inviting me to increase the volume at each verse. In case you were worried, the smaller HT206Bs can put out prodigious amounts of sound, despite their size and modest price. My ears ran out of gas before the Genelec HT206Bs did.  I could not get them to sound distorted, bloated or congested, even at breathtaking SPLs of around 100 dB throughout my listening sessions. Find me an audiophile speaker that can do that, even if it’s dressed up in bird’s-eye maple veneer and can live through being shot point blank right in its Kevlar tweeter.

For female vocals, I put in Sheryl Crow’s The Globe Sessions (DTS) on DVD-Audio. I love “The Difficult Kind,” as it highlights Crow’s vocal prowess and extended vibrato shows she is more than a pretty face and has some real chops. The detail of vocal textures and nuance are highlights of this recording, allowing the Genelec system to capture the infinitesimally small attributes of the voice with added definition and clarity. Sometimes sultry and sometimes whispery, Crow’s voice through the Genelecs compelled me to listen and, when I lured other non-audiophile-type listeners into my room, the effect was the same. People were dumbfounded that there is better audio than the one-fourth CD resolution crap on their iPods and the Genelec system was the preacher giving the sermon.

Once the guys from Genelec finished setting up the system for me, we watched a segment from War of the Worlds (Paramount Home Entertainment). In Chapter Five, the townsfolk are examining the crater produced by the lightning strikes when subterranean rumbling starts. After the crater lifts, then sinks, the subsonic control of the HTS3B gave the feeling of the ground collapsing around us. When the first articulated leg of the Martian machine extended itself up and out of the pit to come down crushing the car in front of Tom Cruise, the leading edge transients of the glass breaking were eye-blinking in their intensity. The high-pitched squeal of metal cut right through me. I found myself flinch under this sonic assault, which could be as loud as a public theater with easily three times the resolution. The electro-sizzle of the death ray and the poof of vaporized bodies were palpable and tangible through the HT208s. The Genelec system added stellar dynamics to this scene and will play much louder than you would probably want to play them, which I did all too frequently. Let my wife go talk to the divorce lawyer if she must. I was just having some good, clean fun.

Since we are on the subject of giant machines, I got a hell of a kick out of Transformers (Paramount Home Entertainment) on HD DVD. In Chapter Two, a helicopter that has encroached on restricted airspace is instructed to land on the tarmac surrounded by heavy artillery and Special Forces. Much to the dismay of the solders, the helicopter starts doing some very un-helicopter-like things. The sound of mechanical whirring and appendages folding and articulating as they took on new shapes were captivating in their clarity. After the enemy Transformer concluded its transformation, it opened fire on the solders with an intense staccato gunfire that rattled the windows and gave me goose bumps with how well-defined the sound was at such high volumes. Later, in the desert, when the scorpion machine attacked the Special Forces survivors of the first assault, the weapons it used against the solders were tangible and well-defined, underscored by subsonic roar and blasts of the battle and tearing metal that the Genelecs handled with aplomb. The character of the recording was never adulterated or congested.


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