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Why do my 8030As sound flat?

sthubbar, modified 14 Years ago.

Why do my 8030As sound flat?

Youngling Posts: 3 Join Date: 6/18/09 Recent Posts
I purchased a pair of 8030As to act as my primary audio speakers for my stereo Home Theater setup. These are the first pair of professional or audiofile quality speakers I have purchased. I firmly believe in ABX and double-blind testing. I did research and liked the idea of the Genelecs having the amp built in for easier installation and matching directly with the speakers.

Before purchasing, I had read some posts about how the Genelecs were meant for studios and have a very flat response, as opposed to hifi speakers that are more pleasing to listen to. I dismissed this, as I believed that measuring a flat response can determine a better sounding speaker. I still believe this, I just don't know why I still have doubts about the 8030As.

The good news about these speakers are that they are the cleanest and loudest speakers that I've ever heard. If turn them completely up, I have no pains in my ears because the sound is so clear, it is just that the neighbors quickly come pounding on the door because the sound clearly travels through several floors. I also realize the danger to my ears because they don't have the distortion of other speakers which would cause more physical pain and prevent me from listening at such loud levels.

What I don't like about the speakers is that I just don't get the "Wow" feeling from them. I was just in a local supermarket and they had some cheap home speakers with some DVD playing and it was really cool listening to the DVD. I would be embarrassed to put my expensive 8030A's next to this cheap speaker setup.

In my dream someone would be able to tell me some way to get that "Wow" feeling out of the Genelecs, though I expect people will just tell me that I'm out of luck, or should add a 7050B or 7060B subwoofer for the "Wow" effect.

The setup is that I have three sources, Cable, Satellite, and DVD that are using RCA connectors to connect to a source switcher, (I guess technically it is a pre-amp, though it has no other functionality, like volume control, beside switching 4 inputs to 1 output). Then I have RCA to BNC cables running from the switcher to each of the 8030A. (I supervised the making of the RCA to BNC cables and as far as I and the technician can tell they exactly follow the advise on the website. I can't imagine they are the problem.) I have the volume on the 8030As setup to about 50%. I have switch 1 ON because with it off, the sound is harsh and if I try to put the volume where speech is intelligible, the sound just is irritating to the ears. I also find without it on that the volume differential between different channel is much greater than with it off.

The speakers are about 8 feet apart sitting on a table. I have tried them 6" to 18" from the wall with no significant difference. I have settled on 12". They are about 12' from the listening position angled in to the center listening position. The room has regular height ceiling and average size. I used to have them in a small bedroom. BTW, I think all of the above aren't of great significance, I just put it here for full disclosure.

Here in China, the cost for a Genelec subwoofer is another US $1000 which I can swing, I just would really hate to put in that type of money and still feel like I do now.

I still love the Genelec and am glad I purchased them. I finally entered the world of "read" audio. :)

Thanks for any ideas.
ilkka-rissanen, modified 14 Years ago.

Re: Why do my 8030As sound flat?

Yoda Posts: 2564 Join Date: 3/23/09 Recent Posts

Thanks for your post and question as well as all the details of your setup. It is valuable to us to hear your opinion and subjective experience having just bought our products.

First, the 'wow' feeling you mention (and that we all experience in some occasions) is difficult to translate in terms of positive or negative technical performance. Our personal expectations are very different from one person to the other. But the bottom line is in your case that you are left a bit disappointed.

It should be noted, as background, that professional monitoring loudspeakers are made to reveal exactly and faithfully what has been recorded, mixed or edited. If the audio source has inherent problems, you should hear it. Also, if the mix is lacking bass for example, it is not the monitoring loudspeaker that should compensate for that and reproduce an audio mix that is in fact not faithful to the recording. With this in mind, you will most certainly discover that some recordings that you believed to be excellent in sound quality turn out to be lacking all 'wow' effects. It is just a fact and there is little one can do about this.

It would be useful to go through some trials and tests with your setup to maybe locate the source of potential problems that clearly compromise sound quality. Loudspeaker placement in a room is a very critical parameter that we should always consider carefully. Also the room acoustics itself often cause larger variations between room to room than most people think.

1. You mention that the DVD player is connected through analog RCA outputs. What brand/model it is? I ask because unless it has built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoders, analog RCA outputs carry only so-called downmixed signal which is clearly inferior to true DD/DTS signal (for example missing the whole LFE channel). If your DVD player doesn't have built-in decoders (quite normal actually), you will need an AV receiver/(pre)amplier which has these decoders. You should connect your DVD player to the AV receiver either through digital output (TOSLINK or COAX) or analog 5.1 output (RCA). Also both DVD player and AV receiver must have the right settings (speaker setup mainly) in order to operate properly. Do you also play regular 2 channel CDs through the DVD player?

2. Cable, Satellite, or DVD players do not necessarily have the highest possible audio sound quality. I would suggest that you connect your 8030A's to a quality CD player with well recorded material and listen if the sound quality is identical to the one you achieve with other sources.

3. You mention that there is a large volume difference between each speaker unless you enable the treble tilt. What happens if you physically swap the speakers? Does the difference stay the same? How about if you only swap the incoming signal cables between L and R speaker? Are the speakers positioned so that the surrounding environment is quite similar to both, or is the other speaker against a side wall/corner and the other standing in "free space"? Can you show us a picture of your room/speaker setup?

4. You mention that the 8030As are on a table. In that case the first reflections off that surface can significantly colour the sound, so I would suggest that you raise the 8030As to ear level and place them preferably on separate sturdy floor stands. That might clear up the midrange spectrum, and allow for more precise and natural bass reproduction.

Please, consider the various issues mentioned above and let us know your findings!

Best regards,
sthubbar, modified 14 Years ago.

Re: Why do my 8030As sound flat?

Youngling Posts: 3 Join Date: 6/18/09 Recent Posts
Thanks for the detailed response.

1) The brand of the DVD player is call Nontaus. I think it has built-in Dolby Digital because there is a menu option to configure the Dolby Digital. I have it set to "Stereo" with the Subwoofer turned off. I don't play 2 channel CDs through the DVD player.

3) I must have gave you the wrong impression about the sound and the treble tilt. I don't have a difference between the two speakers, it was just that without enabling treble tilt the volume seems "harsh".

4) Putting them on floor stands might not work so well right now. I'll keep this good advise in mind in the future.

How about your opinion about this:

Assuming that 75% of my listening is TV programming, either satellite or cable, would you suspect that the audio that is broadcast on those media contains enough low frequency energy that I you would recommend adding a 7050b to the setup?
christophe-anet, modified 14 Years ago.

Re: Why do my 8030As sound flat?

Jedi Knight Posts: 188 Join Date: 3/23/09 Recent Posts

Thanks for your answers and comments. Regarding your question about LF audio content of TV programs, it is hard to give a general rule about it. For sure some TV channel broadcast quite wide audio bandwith, and with the growing number of multichannel programs broadcasted, the presence of LF energy in TV programs will only increase.

So, taking into account the above facts, it might be a sensible move to complement your system with a 7050B suwboofer.

Best regards,
hidden-driveways, modified 14 Years ago.

Re: Why do my 8030As sound flat?

Youngling Posts: 7 Join Date: 5/20/09 Recent Posts
I would like to emphasize that having your speakers at ear level is a very important factor in getting the most out of the 8030A. When I first bought my pair, I had them sitting on my desk beside my computer monitor. I knew that they needed to be lifted up 200 mm or so to be at ear level, but I didn't own anything that I could put them on top of. A few months later I bought the right sized boxes that my 8030A could sit on, and when I set them up I was REALLY surprised at how much better they sounded.

Also, I would try turning the volume all the way up on both speakers. Control the volume elsewhere. This way you know for sure they are even. I'm no expert, so perhaps this isn't the best idea, but this is what I do and it works well for me.

Hmm... but this has got me thinking...

You may want to explore the "gain structure" of your home entertainment system, and make sure it's set up properly. I've noticed that sometimes when you have multiple home entertainment electronics hooked up, that the volume could be set too high in one device, and sending either a distorted signal - or a signal without much headroom to another device. Sometimes when there are multiple devices that have volume controls they can conflict and constrict one another. It's kind of hard to explain, but you may need to even things out in your system a bit.
subfunk, modified 14 Years ago.

Re: Why do my 8030As sound flat?

Youngling Posts: 9 Join Date: 8/28/09 Recent Posts
i think you simply chose wrong, you want home hi fi speakers i guess. (maybe you did not understand the difference between a home hi fi speaker and a professional monitor speaker)

genelecs are not supposed to give you a cheap "wow" feeling, they are supposed to be tools for a studio and mixing tracks, therefor being rather 'cold' and precise and ultra flat in there response, telling you 'the truth' about a mix / track... that easily means things can sound odd and dull / boring... simply because they are produced badly, therefor showing the true nature of the track (music / recording)...

also a +1 on hidden driveways, genelecs are very fussy about the setup / positioning... it took me over half a year in my setup moving them bit by bit in just centimeters / even millimeters to find the perfect position, it's worth it!!!

now it's a hundred percent... and i gained about 40% from the first positioning when i started to set up the studio...

and all that said, i personally enjoy as well just listening to CDs on them... and mixing / producing on them is a dream in my eyes anyway... the only other monitors i can tolerate and mix on... are a few models from dynaudio and PMC, the rest is not even worth a mention in my ears.

and again back to the topic, maybe you should check B&W speakers out, with a good amp they are a pleasure for playback... a studio monitor is not necessarily the best choice for your needs.

BTW, hey Hidden Driveways... nice to meet you here agin ;)
lizzyjakers, modified 13 Years ago.

Re: Why do my 8030As sound flat?

Youngling Posts: 1 Join Date: 5/19/10 Recent Posts
There should be a wrong setup in your equalizer. So your home entertainment is so flat. Try to refix it again dude.
andreas, modified 13 Years ago.

Re: Why do my 8030As sound flat?

Padawan Posts: 61 Join Date: 4/8/09 Recent Posts
"Harsh" sound usually relates to poor room acoutics. Treble from the speaker reaching you ears is then a combination of direct sound and reflected sound. Especially modern "empty-furnished" rooms are much too bright and suffer from early "treble overload" wehn linear speakers are used. And especially at listening distances of 12 feet, so ca. !!! 360 !!! cm , it is honestly a bit to much to expect best sound.

You were right to activate the treble cut switches. If you prefer dull and rather boomy hifi sound - nothing wrong about it, we cannot fight about taste - then really add a sub and get that kick bass mixed with your laid back treble. With Genelec high quality products, when you feel advanced enough to properly tune your room, you can always go back and go for that balanced linear professional sound. You then have at least made the right purchases to be able to do so. And yes, get a 3rd 8030a for center playback. In poor acoustics there is nothing more important than a dedicated center channel. In a studio !and! close range listening (aka "near field") the phantom center source image between two speakers will just be fine. But you are not listening in a studio. Alternatively, try to decrease your listening distance, if nothing of the above is an option (better room acoustics, a subwoofer, or a better 2nd hand home cinema pre-amplifier, can be bought cheap with a dedicated center channel).