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Genelec's 'computer' speaker elevates the state of the art

Genelec's mighty little 6010A is a professional-grade studio speaker, but can be used as a computer speaker.

Genelec isn't a big name outside the recording industry, but the company, founded in 1978, is a leader in professional monitor systems. More recently Genelec speakers are becoming known to discerning consumers. The company's active speakers have built-in amplifiers, like the tiny 6010A speaker I'm covering today, so it can be directly hooked up to an iPod, computer, or game.

Genelec 6010A speaker Genelec

I spent some time with the 6010A at the Audio Engineering Society convention held last week in New York. The listening conditions on the show floor weren't ideal, but on early Sunday morning it was fairly quiet, so I spent some quality time listening to these amazing speakers.

The 6010A is a little thing, just 7.1 inches high, and it weighs 3.1 pounds. The curvy cast aluminum cabinet feels really solid, a big step up from standard medium-density fiberboard or plastic computer speakers. The 6010A has a 3-inch woofer and a .75-inch tweeter; each driver is mated to its own internal 12 watt amplifier. The speaker has a RCA line-level input, and since it has on-board amplifiers, it must be plugged into an AC power outlet.

The 6010A doesn't make much bass, so it should be used with a subwoofer. I auditioned the speaker with Genelec's matching 5040A sub. The cylindrical design houses a 6.5-inch woofer and a 40 watt amplifier. It comes with a handy podlike control you can keep on your desk to adjust the sub's volume level. The 5040A extends the system's bass response down to 35 Hertz, and that should be deep enough to satisfy most listeners. The sub is just 9.8 inches high and 12 inches in diameter, and it weighs 13.9 pounds. It can be used with stereo 6010As or five 6010As for multichannel installations.

The 6010A ($375 each) and 5040A ($750) were designed by Genelec's R&D team with Finnish designer Harri Koskinen. The speaker and sub are available in white, black, or silver finishes.

The 6010A and 5040A's blend was so seamless I didn't even notice the subwoofer was being used, at first. As I played different recordings I started to wonder why these wee speakers were so powerful, and then I looked down and saw the 5040A next to my left foot. The 5040A isn't the sort of sub that booms or thunders. No, it just supports the 6010As, and makes them sound like bigger speakers.

Genelec 5040A subwoofer and remote volume control Genelec

For a monitoring system the prime goal is accuracy, and the Genelec system's resolution of fine detail is excellent. When I watched a music video with Lee Ritenour's smoking band perform "Poppa Was A Rolling Stone" I forgot about the speakers and subwoofer's size. The attack, dynamics, and power of the drums were beyond my expectations, and the electric bass unleashed a seriously funky groove. Vocals were well-balanced and natural, imaging precision was tightly focused, but did not expand wider than the speakers' locations on the desktop. The 6010As aren't "forgiving" speakers. If you play harsh sounding recordings, the music will sound harsh. They tell it like it is. I just received a pair of Emotiva Pro airmotiv4 desktop speakers ($399/pair), which aren't as revealing of recordings' imperfections. I'll review these speakers in a month or so.

The 6010A is a "nearfield" monitor, so it sounds best when you're sitting just a few feet away from it. The 6010A and 5040A are ideal for very small rooms and for listeners seeking accurate, high-resolution sound. Genelec offers a wide selection of larger models that would be more appropriate for larger rooms.