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The next three or four hours were spent whisking through my music collection whilst messing with the rear-seated DIP switches, various tilt-back angles and distances for my table-top sound. That’s one way to spend your time but weren't the Genelecs just supposed to accompany me while I got some work done? When I still caught myself the next day with a small screw driver performing ass worship on the 8030A whilst fumbling with their bass tilt to dial in track-specific values between –2dB and –6dB, I called it quits and took all these toys away to be able to work. So the Finns hopped onto the tall stands instead.

But not before I ran a baseline set of familiar amp/speaker combo by way of Denon’s PMA-2010AE and Thiel SCS4. Factoring the costs of a decent speaker cable into the bill this would set you up about 3.5 times north of what the Genelec 8030A will cost you. Pears and apples. Never mind, it’d still be some kind of reference. Once the Finnish minis took pride of place and delivered the first few bars of tunes, I got spooked again. No, I’d not go as far as invoking plain superiority. In the direct comparison two relative weaknesses arose. Whilst the Thiel is neither a bass nor SPL monster, she clearly went farther than the Genelec, no real surprise given her easily doubled size. In fairness one has to ask who’d in the first place would use a mini like the Syno 30 to energize 30 square meters of space. Something about half that size would seem more appropriate.

Given that context, things turned upside down. Based on the 8030A’s puny dimensions, it was absolutely shocking what was delivered on pressure and LF depth at 3 meters distance and 100m² room volume without any misgivings as long as I didn't exceed 85dB at the ear. Above that dynamics compressed until it finally clipped hard. But mindful of the ground rules, civilized on the throttle and not playing music which lives or dies on true infrasonics—Genelec specs out 58Hz which seems spot on—I’d call this A/B (cough) nearly a matter of taste. Both speakers were tonally balanced, the Genelec was fresher and more open on top whilst the Thiel made more bass. The midband of the American was a tad more sonorous, the Finn’s more direct and wiry. Voices with the latter were thus a bit brighter or more open which depending on recording or song either had my vote or not. Matter of taste like I said.

Plainly better however I thought the Finns' microdynamic differentiation and resolution particularly from the midband on up. With folk band Beirut’s album The Flying Club Cup, I noticed this especially with the glockenspiel, ukulele, snare and accordeon. The transient rise of notes was more clearly worked out to sound more immediate or less coddled in cotton if you want stronger wording. That being the case the Genelec also played it rhythmically more urgent and in the pocket. Macrodynamics showed limitations again versus the Thiel and with those also the soundstage which despite all its precision and liberation from apparent sources felt less generous and room-filling to be more chamber-music accuracy and compact. But back on price Genelec’s Syno 30 aka 8030A offered decisively more than I ever figured possible. Hats off!

In a second comparison against a rather more affordable combo (Abacus Ampino with Quadral’s Aurum Megan VIII, still 30% costlier if no longer x 3.5) the activators again impressed with their soundstage sorting, tauter timing and increased magnification power. True, the Quadral/Abacus duo was capable of higher undistorted levels but sticking to room levels, the Genelec had the better vocal plasticity with Regine Spektor’s "Poor Little Rich Boy" and her trademark clicks—the lady works over her piano stool with a drumstick—not only sounded less filtered i.e. harder in the positive sense but their decays were less truncated to make for more believable room sound.

I got similar results with PC Harvey’s "Catherine", albeit a few octaves lower. While I believe it’s probably a very gingerly played bass drum, I’d not swear to it yet clear was that with the Finns there were longer decay trails and that room ‘echo’ was more tacit. I’d call the Genelecs the more audiophile speaker with the proviso that in my big room truly elevated levels were out of the question. But with the included subwoofer I had a solution for just that.

A sub doesn’t merely add low-down testicularity but when properly filtered also relieves the main speakers which no longer need to dig as deep to allow higher playback intensity for what remains. In my 30m² space mo louda was definitely welcome. The predetermined handover freq between 5051A sub and 8030A monitor is 85Hz. This requires activating the respective low-pass filter DIP switch on the latter. The sub requires no such adjustment. This kicked off a tuning session which primarily consisted of determining phase and volume settings for the subwoofer.