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Reviewer: John Potis
Analog Source: Rega P9 turntable, RB1000 & Hadcock GH Export arms, Benz Micro MC Silver, Rega Super Elys & Garrott Bros Optim FGS Cartridges
Digital Source: Accustic Arts Drive 1/Audio Aero Prima SE DAC
Preamp: Bel Canto Pre2P
Power Amp: Art Audio Carissa, Bel Canto e.One REF1000 and Canary CA 160 monos
Speakers: Hørning Perikles, Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference 3, Ohm Acoustics Walsh 4 with 4.5 mk.2 upgrade
Cables: JPS Labs Superconductor and Superconductor FX interconnects and speaker wire, Furutech Digi Reference digital
Power Cords: ZCable Red & Black Lightning, JPS Power AC, Analog AC, Digital AC and Kaptovator power cords
Powerline Conditioning: Balanced Power Technology 3.5 Signature Plus with ZCable Heavy Power Cord
Sundry Accessories: Vibrapod Isolators and Cones, Ultra & ZCable Extra Heavy ZSleeves, Viablue QTC spikes under speakers, Auric Illuminator
Room Size: 12' by 16' with 9' ceiling
Review Component Retail: G7.1c SE $6,500/pr including Spectral Stands ($650/pr when sold separately); S4/8 $4,000 in high-gloss automotive
|I don't usually make a habit of writing previews to my reviews. I usually write when I feel like writing and review products as they come due in the queue. However, I'm making an exception for the Genesis G7.1 Signature Edition loudspeakers and Genesis S4/8 subwoofer. I do this for a couple of reasons. First, the Genesis combination is shaping up to be one of the best and most enjoyable speaker systems to ever grace my room. I'd like to give readers a heads-up on them. How very reasonable of me, no? Of course, there's an element of self-serving interest here as well. Providing this heads-up will simultaneously fulfill a degree of responsibility owed to readers who just may be in the process of purchasing this type of system as well as allow me to take some additional time to actually enjoy the system - something I frequently fail to do. So take this preview as a provisional recommendation. Seek this system out if you're in the market and take your own measure of its performance. As for my own measure? Well, as they say, don't hold your breath. I'll be enjoying the Genesis system for a while and using these speakers to evaluate a few other components before I get around to reporting back on them. In the meantime...
At 23 ¾"high, 7 ¾" wide and 11" deep, the 30-pound Signature Edition of the Genesis G7.1 convertible loudspeaker is a lot more speaker than I pictured in my mind's eye after gazing at them on the Genesis Advanced Technologies site. Anything but mini. Think JMlab Mini Utopia size. Think maxi monitor. Genesis also quotes a frequency response of 50Hz to 36kHz. This again didn't communicate the grandeur and weight of what I was to hear upon firing these maxi-minis up sans subwoofer. With a sensitivity of 87dB at 1watt/1meter, the nominal impedance is said to be 6 ohms and Genesis recommends a minimum of 45 tube watts per channel (60 solid-state watts) and a maximum of 250/500 watts for tubes and solid-state amplifiers respectively.
Like all Genesis products, there is an element of dipolar radiation with the G7.1c. Unlike most Genesis speakers, however, the G7.1c Signature is only dipolar through the range of its rear-mounted tweeter. Distinctive among many speakers that use a rear-mounted tweeter, the G7.1c Signature doesn't default to a cheap tweeter there. It's the same Circular Ribbon tweeter used on the front of all Genesis speakers. This is because to achieve true dipolar radiation throughout its operating range, the output from the front tweeter must match that of the rear. Genesis is close-mouthed about the crossover points but they do reveal that the rear-mounted tweeter has a slower roll-off and greater extension into the midrange than does the front tweeter to extend the range through which the G7.1c SE is truly dipolar. Output levels are the same front and back.
|Up front and flanking the tweeter are two 6-inch Titanium cone mid/low frequency drivers. Around the back, the G7.1c Signature has a lot going on. First, there's the high-frequency level control, said to have an extremely limited range of operation - merely plus or minus 1dB, affecting both tweeters in tandem There's also a rear tweeter on/off switch that turns off the driver should a minimum distance of 12 inches from the front wall be impossible. There are also two sets of binding posts although the speaker is not equipped for bi-wiring. The second pair of posts is labeled thru and is indeed a pass-through for feeding a full-range signal to a subwoofer's high-level inputs.
Also found on the back is a rocker type switch labeled stand-alone and with sub. One chooses the position of the switch based on whether or not one is using a subwoofer. The switch actually controls a low-frequency tuning circuit. Left in the stand alone position, the speakers' low frequency extension and output are optimized for use without sub. When switched to the with sub position, a few things happen. First, the speaker's low-frequency extension is reduced as is its bass output. Also realized is a slight elevation of the speaker's impedance, resulting in a G7.1c SE that is now easier to drive and better suited for mating with a subwoofer.
Build, fit and finish of the G7.1c SEs are absolutely first rate. With a high-gloss Corian fascia (Genesis calls it a shield) emulating the look of polished granite and a piano black lacquered enclosure, the G7.1c Signature is both understated and eminently classy. As well as any pair of speakers can, they'll mate with the most elegant of decors. As can be seen in the pictures, the G7.1c Signature's shield is longer than the enclosure proper. Pictured by itself, it may look a little strange. But place the speakers on a pair of stands and the bottom of the shield extending past the stand's platform provides as neat and finished a look as I've ever seen before. It makes the speaker and stand blend as one and looks so much better than a conventional speaker deposited after-thought on a stand.
At $6500 per pair, the G7.1c Signature represents a fair jump from the regular G7.1c's sticker price of $4,350 in wood veneers and $4750 in high-gloss automotive finish. Some of that marginal investment goes toward an included pair of stands that's manufactured by Germany's Spectral and retails for $650 separately by not being included with the base model. Like the speakers themselves, these stands are beautifully done up. My pair came with a clear glass bottom plinth though real customers will get a stand with a gloss black base to match the speakers. Either the customer or the dealer will have to assemble them. Not difficult to do, the upper platform and the bottom plinth of the stand are spaced apart by two dissimilarly sized brushed aluminum tubes (that you can fill with any combination of lead shot or sand). Everything's held together via truss rods and counter-sunk screw heads. Believe me when I tell you that assembly is a lot easier than packing them back up for their return. But that will become my problem. The stands also come with two levels of carpet-piercing spikes. Admittedly, $650 is a lot for speaker stands even if it only represents 10% of the speakers' purchase price but I have to say that the Spectral stands are exceptionally well-finished and look fantastic. Aesthetically, they are fully commensurate with a speaker that looks as good as the G7.1c SEs do.
|What else does the Signature version bring to the table? Well, just about everything is upgraded. I'm told that only the drivers are identical. The Corian shield looks great but its value extends past cosmetics. Corian is much more inert than MDF and said to offer far superior damping characteristics. I also know that it's extremely expensive to work with and probably represents a great deal of the Signature's increased cost of manufacture. Genesis also says that the cabinet is stiffer and all crossover parts are upgraded. The internal wiring becomes Cardas Golden Ratio. Even the binding posts are upgraded to premium silver-plated solid billet Cardas.
S4/8 Servo Subwoofer
When it comes to creativity, I guess a tip of the hat must go to Genesis for their imaginative naming of the S4/8 subwoofer. I'm going to take a wild stab and guess that the "S" denotes a subwoofer and, let's see... the 4/8 may just indicate the drivers used - four 8-inch ribbed aluminum cones. It's just a working hypothesis, mind you. I've not verified it yet. I'll let you know if I'm corrected later on.
All kidding aside, the S4/8 is a beautiful subwoofer as well. At first I thought its only cosmetic failing was that its control panel couldn't be mounted on the rear due to the woofer's front and rear-mounted drivers. Depending on where you place it, its controls and wiring may be visible. Then I figured out that it could be placed such that the drivers fire parallel to the front wall in which case the single piece of black trim that runs the length of the subwoofer on only one side now makes sense. Chalk one up for Genesis after all!
|Other than that, the S4/8 is a fairly straight-forward affair - with the exception that unlike a lot of other subwoofers, it has no high or low level stereo outputs wherewith to pass a bass-filtered signal back to the speakers. Recall that the G7.1c SEs are intended to come before the subwoofer. Genesis is serious about placing the speakers first in the chain. The sub's stereo input is achieved via two sets of shrouded Genesis binding posts and preamp-level left and right RCAs or balanced XLRs. There is a low-level mono output via RCA and balanced XLR, presumably for stringing a series of subwoofers in series. Lastly, the S4/8 features a separate LFE input with its own gain control. Through it, you can tweak the subwoofer's levels for home theater playback without affecting the stereo input's levels, enabling a seamless mix of home theater and music performance. Pretty cool, this. In other words, if you have a dual purpose stereo/home theater system, you can adjust the subwoofer for exaggerated bass effects on movies without having to readjust it back for natural music playback.
Also found on the control panel is an on/off switch that, while not noted, incorporates a sleep circuit that turns the subwoofer off if it hasn't seen a signal for 35 minutes. There's also a phase switch that toggles between 0 and 180 degrees. On the inside of the panel will be found the 500-watt servo-controlled Class-D discrete MOSFET switching amplifier. At 24" by 22" by 11.5", the 87.5 lbs S4/8 is a solid subwoofer. It's also every bit as well finished as the speakers are. Mine came in an automotive gray/silver with the aforementioned black accent that looks great. Genesis rates the S4/8 as covering 20 to 140Hz at +/- 3dB with an input impedance of 33 Kohms.
Arnie Nudell, chief engineer at Genesis, has always been about servo-controlled subwoofers, going as far back as his 1968 days as founder of Infinity and his seminal product, the Servo Static One loudspeaker. In a nutshell, a servo- controlled subwoofer involves a small device called an accelerometer which is placed on the woofer cone to provide motion feedback to the amplifier which then senses irregularities to provide a compensated signal back to the woofer. Servos are said to drastically cut distortion and nonlinearities yet have as many critics as adherents. As always, the proof will be in the pudding. My experience with servo subs thus far has always been good.
Coming hot on the heels of two excellent examples of just how good an inexpensive loudspeaker can be (the Axiom M80 and Gallo Reference 3.1), this Genesis system seems poised to demonstrate just how much performance can be stuffed into a room of moderate size once the budgetary purse strings are loosened up considerably. So the question seems to be this: are we talking about an incremental increase in musicality and/or realism; or are we still below the threshold of diminishing returns where marginal returns equal or exceed the marginal rate of investment? You can go listen and judge for yourself or you can stay tuned. If I were you, I know I'd go get a listen for myself. That said, hopefully someone will stay tuned and flip the -- virtual -- page...