Genelec G Three active loudspeaker

My review samples of Genelec's G Three powered loudspeaker came with a little hand-sized green and tan cardboard card featuring a poem in bold black letters dated 1898:

At the cottage window a little bird sang.
And the light of the window did flicker.
And look. The roof up it sprang and the cottage became a house bigger.
Look. Into a world the cottage grew and the vast and wide too and filled with song was the air and like new was the sun's flare.

Below this boldly printed poem, in a smaller, finer font, it said, "Thank you for choosing Genelec. With this poem by Eino Leino (the national poet of Finland) we wish you broadening horizons and new shades of sound."

I was impressed that a globally respected manufacturer of professional-grade active loudspeakers chose not to loudly declare their obsession with accuracy, science, and measurements, choosing instead to present a poem by a 19th century Romantic poet.

Backstory
According to Wikipedia, "Genelec Oy is a manufacturer of active loudspeaker systems based in Iisalmi, Finland. It designs and produces products especially for professional studio recording, mixing and mastering applications, broadcast, and movie production. The company was co-founded by the late Ilpo Martikainen (1947–2017) and Topi Partanen in 1978."

If you've ever been to a fancy recording studio and stood near one of Genelec's big, triamped, 469lb 1035 studio monitors, you already know that Genelec makes some serious, fierce-looking, military-grade monitoring speakers. They are all active.

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Will Eggleston, Genelec Inc.'s self-described "chief cook and bottle washer," told me that "at the beginning of the 21st century, the popularity of home theater in America and Asia inspired Genelec to move into the home audio market. That is when Genelec introduced the LSE-series of subwoofers and replaced most of the 2-way series, like the popular 1030 and 1031, which came in 'Pro MDF' enclosures, with the 8030, 8040, and 8050, which come in cast-aluminum enclosures designed by renowned Finnish industrial designer Harri Koskinen. Since its introduction, the 8030 has been a popular choice in pro and semi-pro recording-mixing-mastering situations as well as in home environments among serious-minded audiophiles."

While the 8030 was a hybrid pro/home speaker, the G series took the next big step: It's marketed as a home speaker. I asked Will Eggleston how the G Three I'm reviewing is different from the venerable 8030.

"From an electroacoustic perspective, nothing. However, the G3A had chip-based class-A/B amps. The newer G3B has class-D amps like the 8030C. The G3 has white LEDs, while the 8030C has green. G3 are available in white, black, and RAW (footnote 1). The 8030C comes in dark gray, white, and RAW. Drivers, [crossover], and maximum SPL are the same. The tone controls are the same. The G3 has LED defeat; the 8030 does not. The G3 has a 10dB downward sensitivity adjustment; the 8030 does not. That's about it."

Genelec produces five G models; the G Three is in the middle, woofer-size, bass-response, and SPL-wise. Its RAW cast aluminum cabinet has, to my taste, a very appealing look. The G Three costs $1590/pair and is equipped with a bolted-on (but easily removed) rubber Iso-Pod base to physically isolate and angle the speaker.

This is just my second opportunity to review an active speaker. The first was KEF's little desktop LSX, which I reviewed in the April 2019 Stereophile. That speaker was a Wi-Fi'd, DACed, and DSPed lifestyle speaker; it was necessary to download an app just to get it running. In contrast, the active Genelec G Three is a 100% all-analog, powered two-way monitor. Its sculpted, cast-aluminum body encloses a 5 1/8" polypropylene-cone bass-mid driver and a 0.75" aluminum-dome tweeter, the latter fixed at the rear of a recessed waveguide. Each G Three is biamplified by two 50W class-D amplifiers fed by an active, line-level crossover at the G Three's input. Amps and crossovers are designed and built completely in-house.

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The G Three's rear panel features a sculpted reflex port and a recessed "connector panel" with an IEC power socket plus line-level RCA and XLR inputs, with Neutrik connectors. A single G Three is small backpack-size, a bit less than 12" high, 8" wide, and 7" deep. It is knuckle-rap solid and sturdy but weighs only 11lb.

When I clicked on "Compatible Accessories" at Genelec's website, I was amazed by how location-adaptable the G Threes are. The back of their thick cast-aluminum cabinet features four machined attachment pads for a mounting bracket, each with a pair of threaded bolt holes to accommodate a variety of stand, truss, wall, table, and ceiling mounts. Plus! You can buy a wheeled, industrial-strength Peli case designed to help world-traveling recordists pull two G Threes through airport security without hassle. For more robust engineers, Genelec offers a soft-padded carrying bag that holds two G Threes. Home-speaker status aside, for me, these options certify the G Three as a portable location monitor.

In addition to its woofer, tweeter, and biomorphic curves, the G Three's front panel features a retina-scorching white-LED power-indicator light, which mercifully, as Eggleston said, is "defeatable" via a switch on the back panel.

When the G Threes are switched on, the signal-sensing Autostart function powers them up as soon as an input signal is detected. An hour after playback ceases, the G Threes go into standby mode.

Setup
Like its G-series siblings, the Genelec G Three is designed to be used as a nearfield monitor—to be listened to at close range, where direct sound dominates sound reflected from room boundaries. When I first unpacked them, I set the G Three's EQ to "Tabletop" and listened as they sat on my 4'-wide desktop, about 3' apart and 3' away, with a wall directly behind them. In that extreme nearfield environment, they sounded clean and sharply focused down to at least 65Hz but not as transparent or 3D as they sounded when I moved them to my main system, in the same positions I put my Falcon LS3/5a Gold Badge speakers. As I experimented with placement, it occurred to me that these G Three monitors might even deliver genuine high-resolution sound while sitting on a decorator-friendly bureau top.

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On the G Three's back panel is a row of DIP switches that Genelec calls "Tone Controls," which allow users to attenuate gain (–10dB) and adjust bass for "flat anechoic response" (0dB), "Free standing in a damped room" (–2dB), "Free standing in a reverberant room" (–4dB), near the listener on a table or other reflective surface (–2dB), and "In a corner" (–4dB). I experimented with the 0dB and –2dB settings, but I did most of my listening at –2dB, with the G Threes positioned on 24" stands about 11" from the wall behind them. The G Three's manual recommends pointing the speakers "directly at the listening position," which I did.

Listening
My first impressions of Genelec's G Three remained true throughout my audition: pure and precise with a surprising amount of well-articulated bass for such a small speaker. In its tweeter region (above 3kHz), the G Threes preserved more air, atmosphere, and dimensionality than my in-house KEF LS50s, GoldenEar BRXs, or Falcon LS3/5a Gold Badges. They didn't go as low or move as much air, but, in terms of bass tone and tactility, the G Three was like a smaller, tighter version of GoldenEar's BRX standmount. In its tweeter region the G Three was distinctly more detailed than the BRX. On both sides of its 3kHz crossover region, the G Three was quieter and more seamless than my LS3/5a. I needed only a few tracks to realize that the G Threes play more clearly and more open than any speaker I had on hand to compare them to.


Footnote 1: "RAW" is an unfinished-looking bare-aluminum finish that reminds me of the corrugated aluminum utility buildings are often made of. These speakers in RAW would look slick in a modern loft, against a wall of interior brick.—Jim Austin
COMPANY INFO
Genelec
US contact: Genelec Inc.
7 Tech Circle
Natick, MA 01760
(508) 652-0900
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
paulchiu's picture

Herb,

Did you use the Genelec G Three with a wireless streamer?

rerun712's picture

HR: I took a look at the setup for Falcons but didn't see a distance from listening position (guessing around 65" based on distance between the speakers). Perhaps I missed it. I am curious about your distance from the G3s and whether they'd work in a more conventional two channel set up?

Herb Reichert's picture

only 5-7 feet from the Falcons; but I imagine the G3s would work almost anywhere in most any room that is not too big. They can play loud and soft without distorting. And they are EQ adjustable.

h

paulchiu's picture

Herb,

Did you use the G3s with a wireless streamer?
I have pairs of Audioquest Sydney RCA sitting around waiting for action.

Paul
UWS

remlab's picture

..is that it proves, without a doubt, the accuracy of JA's measurements.

Glotz's picture

and HR. Too few understand without them.

It's funny it seems that their words only matter when measurements are provided... even more so when those measurements are positive.

Trust is rare thing these days. Sad.

Posh_Tippler's picture

Read about these Genelecs on Audio Science Review and bought them based on the detailed review and recommendation. Couldn't be happier. Prompted me to sell my Klipsches, Omegas, Sonus fabers, Vandersteens, Pass Labs, Haflers. BTW unlike certain opinion and suggestion based web magazines who shall remain nameless, ASR puts it all out there for the customer to take in and digest. No profit motive, no adverts, no smoke and mirrors and no hoary Golden Ears declaiming what "Audio Should Be!" in their biased, befuddled and financially conflicted opinions.

Truth is a rare things these days. Sad.

Glotz's picture

Smug retorts need substance. ASR puts out measurements and the only judgment Amir passes is measurement based only.

Moreover, what everyone buys on the ASR's site IS the best measuring gear and ONLY that. Another lie.

Other pretending that there's a recommendation based on sound in his writing is an obvious lie.

No one in this magazine tells 'what you should buy'. Only you and the posters on ASR believe that bs. You make up stuff just like the misinformation you consume. Stereophile even has a emphatic statement of this in their recommended components for the past 20 + years. (Where they don't tell you what you should buy ever..)

Hoary Golden Ears? You're nuts if you think TAS was ever serious about that. But you're looking only for the negative, much like all of the ASR cultists instead of being transparent and losing your anti-social attitude.

There is room for all of us. But don't bs anyone here.

And lastly before you use my language to feign smugness, look at your message and find the actual truth.

Glotz's picture

I never commented to the negative about Genelec speakers in any way, shape or form.

Stereophile provides both listening reviews and measurements. That too me is far more comprehensive and wrought over decades of experience. ASR can't claim either.

And semi-personally, I wonder why you would buy anything without a return policy. Sounds like you don't trust your ears, cause that's a lot of gear selling... and it also sounds like you sold a lot when a lot of other factors could have been addressed. Cables included.

What is out today is far more engineered with better technology, across the entire industry and globe. Decrying gear from decades ago is obvious and indicative of that time period.

Posh_Tippler's picture

Well done sir. A reply composed entirely of straw man fallacies! Voice of America should be proud of such talent!

Further thoughts:

Do people in advertising even go to college? If yes, do they dropout early due to "personal reasons"?

Foods for thought Herb, John, ...Fremer, et al: "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. By Their actions shall you know them."
-St. Peter Aczel @ Matthew 7:20.

Yea Friends, let us not forget St. Peter Aczel @ Matthew 7:15:

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

Perhaps ye shall repent your ways and beg forgiveness of the multitude. Perhaps not.

Regardless, I wish ye all peace and humility in your journey to the stars!

-P_T

Glotz's picture

It smells quite foul. And you so valiantly almost-argue yourself out of the paper bag.

What happens when Amir kicks it or no longer wants to produce report after report correlating sound quality based on measurements? Are you hoping another other semi-retired guy who likes performing tests more than listening to music can find all of the time it takes to produce hundreds of 'reviews'? And gosh I really hope that person never creates a false narrative while producing those pictures and graphs (like ASR).

I could only wish. Instead, this magazine realizes the environment that every American must weather and succeed in (especially in the age of the internet).

We as consumers that actually buy stereo equipment must endure the woeful deluge of commercial assault and wade through the murky waters of marketing to find the truth in music.

Fortunately, we have trusted journalists that respect the livelihood of cottage-industry engineers and business owners that create the gear we buy. They tell the truth, but they respect the company and designer that has put their entire lives on the line to produce bespoke audio components.

They do this by focusing on the positive, active listening for musical enjoyment, rather than decrying a product based on speculative and theoretical suppositions.

It's the concept of listening and reporting with measurements versus implicating components based on a limited and inadequate measurement group and then arbitrarily spewing value on a small subset of objective findings.

A $12,000 preamp with worse measurements than my $3000 Benchmark HPA-4 will still sound better 9 times out of 10.

When parts quality goes up, the 'immeasurables' become more audible.

Glotz's picture

That you are the only 'sucker' in the room... (See P.T.'s laundry list of sold, used-components that he was never happy with.)

"Prompted me to sell my Klipsches, Omegas, Sonus fabers, Vandersteens, Pass Labs, Haflers."

Full Circle Burn.

Lol.

Posh_Tippler's picture

My butler tells me I may have hurt your feelings with my plain speaking.

To that I say "Toughen up buttercup!" Life isn't for the faint or weak hearted. Anyone sitting around with enough time on her hands to reply twice to singular postings clearly doesn't have enough to do Karen.

Get a dog. Join a bridge club. Tutor an underprivileged child. There's a whole bright shiny world out there.

But YOU have to take the first step.

Glotz's picture

M'kay.

Posh_Tippler's picture

Sorry, can't hear you anymore over the sound of my glorious Genelecs.

:)

tenorman's picture

Beautifully written and informative - thank you HR

Herb Reichert's picture

tenoman. I am honored that you read it and pleased you enjoyed it. I really enjoyed writing it. And those speakers are a revelation.

peace and fireflies,

herb

remlab's picture

.

Herb Reichert's picture

remlab,

Something tells me we've met or know each other. Is that possible?

peace and summer storms

herb

Hi-Reality's picture

Thank you Herb and John Atkinson for this brilliant analysis. It is hard to imagine the Audio Realism level delivered by diverse Genelec active speakers and their GML software can be matched or exceed by any loudspeaker / amp combination from traditional "HiFi/Audiophile" brands.

We are in fact considering to deploy Genelec 8320A 4 inch Powered Studio Monitor (SAM) and Genelec 7350A 8 inch Powered Studio Subwoofer with GLM software as reference in our "Hi-Reality Machine" prototype #5.

Regards, Babak
Founder, Hi-Reality Machine
Youtube channel: Hi-Reality Sensorium

Rethep's picture

Nice review.

But, the song 'Melena' is not on my album "Sera Una Noche"! Maybe you meant another one?

Very beautiful music of Cheng Gong Liang. The instrument played is a cither called ghuzeng in China. About the same cither in Korean, is called 'gayageum', and in Japanese: 'koto'.

More of this instrument: Liu Fang, who also plays pipa, and also in Korean music are many beautiful pieces, on gayageum.

"Sault" is very special, indeed.

Herb Reichert's picture

on a hard drive

h

patrickf.orlando@gmail.com's picture

Man, these are some ugly looking speakers.

Posh_Tippler's picture

Such outstanding performance as noted by both the reviewer and the technician and yet none dare call them "Reference Speakers" despite that fact that's how they are used by recording studios and their objective performance clearly dictates. Pray tell what must these highly engineered and competent speakers provide to be included in that hallowed list? Is it sweet kickbacks to the editor? Free trips for the reviewer and technician? Splashly full page ads in the print magoo?

Do tell...

DarkStar_64's picture

Those are the ugliest speakers I have ever had the misfortune of laying eyes on! They look like something from around 1984 to use with your Atari video games... Just sayin'. ;)

orfeo_monteverdi's picture

[please forgive my poor English]

Hello all, I am a new member here (Stereophile reader since a long time though).

Thanks Herb for your review. Always a pleasure to read you.

When I saw the anechoic response of the active G Three, measured by JA, I immediately recognized a similarity with the passive Harbeth M30.2 Anniversary's response (that you reviewed in Mar 2018, and rated as 'class A - restricted LF' speakers). I could not wait, I had to check at once, and I found back JA's measurements in a snap.

Indeed, except that the Genelec have a somewhat smoother low-mid/bass-emphasis, it seems (to me at least) that there is a similarity between the repective anechoic response of each speaker, especially taking the Genelec measured on HF axis (see green curve: had Genelec wished to mimic a BBC-dip around the 3 KHz region, they might not have acted otherwise; of course, I am not suggesting that mimicking a BBC-dip was Genelec's goal, nor that yet another debate about the BBC-dip should be triggered again).

Genelec G Three anechoic response. ACTIVE
Cf. Anechoic response on HF axis at 50" (green)
Stereophile Aug 2022

Harbeth M30.2 Anniversary - PASSIVE
Stereophile Mar 2018

Herb, did you have the opportunity to compare (even 'privately') the Genelec G Three with the Harbeth M30.2 Anniversary?
(you may no longer have the M30.2 under the hand).

I am aware that comparing a passive with an active speaker has limited pertinence, as an amplifier has to be used to do so in the case of the passive, which acts as an unpredictable variable (and, for sure, on other measurements than anechoic IRR, we all can note that the two speakers are dissimilar).

It is also possible that a large part of the difference between G Three's and M30.2's Anniversary lies in the presentation: more forward and "monitoring" for G Three, more "mid-hall" for the M30.2, both delivering musical rendition that would be considered as enjoyable by the same listener, each speaker giving him the feeling to sit on a different seat in the same concert hall. BUT, the differences may be much greater than that. Therefore my question.

CONTEXT

I own a pair of M30.2 Anniversary quickly bought for the hasty setup of a 2nd system in the countryside, during the lockdowns, in order to survive musically speaking. They are setup in a 40m² former stable, made of brick wall with a ceiling made of curvated little vaults; the room acoustics is astounding. I initially did not figured out "how much" I would survive thanks to those little marvels on classical music, the most demanding of all (I attend live acoustic, unamplified, performances nearly each week, in the best seats of the best concerts halls - it fine-tuned my ear-brain over the years; as I am still young, as I obsessively protected my ears while I went in clubs, I am still very demanding regarding treble, its naturalness, and its flawless integration with the medium; the latter being preferably to-die-for; as for bass: as soon as cello is more or less OK or vaguely credible, I am happy).

I do not intend to switch, or ditch the M30.2. I just wondered if we could achieve a similar result with the Genelec G Three as a commmon gift for a girlfriend's birthday (or for myself, in a 3rd system in an office/sleeping with wobbling wood floor and walls; tone controls could be welcome here).

PS: I struggled with the HTML tags by respect of all members' eyes; so I HOPE that the link to my hosted picture will pass...

Kind regards from Europe.

Orfeo

Herb Reichert's picture

I did compare them to the Harbeth 30.2s and yes they do sound alike. They both have that 'monitor sound' that I tend to favor. But the active G3s are more subtle and more dynamically awake than most any passive box speaker I've encountered.

kind regards from Brooklyn,

hr

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