Genesis II.5 loudspeaker system Page 4
Moreover, the II.5s resolved space to an extremely fine degree. The spatial relationships between instruments, discrete reflections, and reverberation were portrayed with razor-sharp resolution. Every aspect of the sound was laid out before me with clarity and precision.
Some of the credit for the wonderful sound I was getting goes to the source and amplification components, particularly the Audio Research VT150 monoblocks and Mark Levinson No.30.5/No.31 DAC/transport combination.
As much as I liked the II.5s, I must list a few caveats for potential purchasers. First, the II.5's tonal balance changed considerably with listening height. A normal listening axis 36" from the floor resulted in a treble rolloff and lack of air and extension. You need a fairly high seat to get the best from these speakers. You can compensate for this treble rolloff with a slight toe-in (or by tipping the loudspeakers forward slightly), but the result isn't as good as no toe-in and a listening height of at least 40".
Second, the II.5's ability to reproduce frequencies down to 16Hz reveals any spurious low-frequency noises in a recording. Thumps, door closings, and air conditioners not even heard on other loudspeakers suddenly become distractingly audible through the II.5s. A good example occurs at 1:49 into "Dog Breath Variations," from Zappa's The Yellow Shark. Raising the II.5's low-frequency limit (from the remote control) to 25Hz still produced deep bass, but ameliorated some of the distracting noise. Interestingly, the outer edge of the soundstage space contracted slightly when the bottom half-octave was removed.
Another difficulty that arose from the II.5's tremendous ability to deliver lots of very low bass was that the room could become overloaded. Resonances became more pronounced, making loudspeaker positioning much more critical. The smaller the room, the greater the problem. In my moderate-sized room, the II.5s had some lumpiness that I couldn't get rid of. ASC's Tower Traps helped considerably, but I never got as smooth a bass reproduction in my new room as I used to in my old room. Extensive experimentation with loudspeaker placement is essential to getting the smoothest bass from the II.5.
The Genesis II.5 loudspeaker system restored to reproduced music many elements missing from the presentations of other loudspeakers. Specifically, the II.5's dynamics, bass power, extension, and ability to play loudly without strain were simply astounding. Quite apart from these qualities, the II.5 excelled at presenting natural timbres, fine musical detail, and portraying transients with lifelike speed and zip. The II.5 was remarkable in that the sound was vivid and highly detailed without being etcheda rare balance. Finally, the II.5's soundstaging was spectacular.
On the down side, the II.5's prodigious bass output can overload many rooms. The bass had a tendency to be weighty and lumpy rather than lean and tight. Careful placementand optimum tuning of the woofer amplifier controlsis essential to minimizing the II.5's potential bass liabilities. A high listening position is also a must: the typical 36" listening height is just too low for the II.5 unless you sit a long way away.
Nonetheless, the Genesis II.5's unique musical abilities put it at the top of my list of under$30,000 loudspeakers. In my opinion, these speakers are significantly better in many respects than some highly regarded products in the $15,000$20,000 price range. If you're shopping for $15,000 loudspeakers, you must audition the II.5 and consider revising your budget. Considering what they do musically, the II.5s are a bargain.
The Genesis II.5s have been a musical revelation for me. This loudspeaker will keep you riveted to the listening seat, playing record after record, CD after CD. If you can afford them (along with the level of source components and amplification needed to realize their full potential), you may come to regard the Genesis II.5 as I did: as an essential part of your musical life.