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Midrange and tweeter
are driven from 120-watt power amps each which makes the total power per channel 390 watts, incidentally all class A/B. As stated before, separation into discrete frequency bands occurs on a DSP chip. When asked what advantage Genelec pursued over active analog filters, I was told that DSP definitely wasn’t any disadvantage. It really got the nod to enable comprehensive room optimisation beyond the more basic DIP switches for primarily bass/treble cut which the Syno models feature. And once DSP filtration is used for room adaptation, a digital crossover only made perfect sense. Touché!

An associated benefit of this decision is digital-direct drive. This places final conversion to analog directly ahead of the internal amps. To get more direct is nearly impossible. A corresponding demerit is obvious too. If you enter via analog signal, it’ll first be digitized, then processed in DSP, then converted to analog again. Unlike purely analog active speakers, this adds two conversion stages. At the end of the day it’s of course the results that really interest us.

Two inconveniences betray the studio origins. I could overlook the exclusively XLR analog input since balanced preamp outputs in home hifi are no longer rare. But I’d certainly not protest an optional RCA input. Where things get decidedly dicey for home users is the exclusive AES/EBU digital input. Here I must lobby Genelec to outfit a future MkII with an S/PDIF input and ideally also USB. Yes, some extra scratch could secure the necessary adaptors/converters but when I pay out over €9.000 for a speaker, I really don’t want to worry about bloody adaptors.

Which gets me to my second complaint – lack of standard remote volume. I am aware that I must only buy Genelec’s loudspeaker management software, install it on my computer, connect that via USB to a special box which then talks to one 8260 via Ethernet which then talks to the other 8260 via a second link and… phew… now volume can be adjusted with a fader in the ‘speaker network’. Cough. Believe me, nobody wants to deal with that outside a studio. Nobody! True, this software goes far beyond this volume control feature but it all does make for a rather inconvenient remote volume solution.

Whilst I’m on remote, it’s really the only option to regulate output inside the speaker, i.e. on the DSP chip. Of course one could default to ‘outside’ with a source for example but would it really be elegant to digitally trim output externally when DSP inside the speaker does further computation? Enough nitpicking now. Genelec’s loudspeaker management software or GLM can control up to 25 monitors and 5 subwoofers. Even in a studio this should make for quite the stout surround-sound setup. Included too is automatic room adaptation (AutoCal) plus 10 also manually adjustable filters (4 x shelving, 6 x notch). Room adaptation requires a microphone which drives up Genelec’s software bundle to €700. I think I’d ask my dealer nicely but firmly to handle this as setup service since beyond such initial use, most hifi clients will never need to use a microphone again (GLM without mic sells for €279).

As impractical as the volume control is, calibration was a cinch. Cable up, boot up software, run two sweeps, save the correction, finis. 10 minutes does it. Of course you could also spend 10 days and work your way through the 80-page software manual to explore all the details but it’s not mandatory. What does AutoCal do? In principle it levels out room modes. This reduces peaks while dips aren’t touched. Filling out the latter quickly taxes power amps to their limits and peaks are sonically more offensive. AutoCal won’t touch signal above 2kHz to deliberately limit corrections to the bass/midrange bands. If you wish to go beyond, you may chase manual perfection inside the software. Speaker path-length offset and concomitant level difference are automatically addressed (in my case a 3cm difference was sorted with a 0.08ms delay).

Sound. So? Does one hear the calibration effects? Absolutely. In my room however the delta of performance between default and optimized setup wasn’t huge. This was gratifying because I’ve spent some efforts at sorting out my room’s acoustics. Naturally that doesn’t help you. It’s thus important to not underestimate this feature particularly when one has fewer resources to control room acoustics and/or wants to mount the Genelec monitor directly to the wall (the necessary bracket is available as an accessory). For me the corrected Genelec played a tad more explosive and transparent. On the upside the bass particularly at higher levels was tauter and more defined, on the potential downside the overall sound moved slightly into the sporty/lean rather than opulent/warm – a classic trade-off. Regardless of level, further gains came from image focus which truly locked in and the vocal range got clearer though its timbres also lightened up a tad. Again these were nuances. For the review I primarily used the Genelec 8260 in optimized mode.