The Genelec Story - A few Benchmarks of our Journey
InspirationIn order to present something inspiring, first you need to have inspiration yourself. It was the enthusiasm for sound and electronics of two young students, Mr. Ilpo Martikainen and Mr. Topi Partanen, some 40 years ago, which later made them become founders of Genelec.
They did not know it at that time, but such foundation was needed before ideas and products could become visible.
The same can be seen in the work of many of our friends: the desire to reach their dream, the motivation to achieve something remarkable, the willingness to put their heart into their work. Before it can come out, one needs to have the internal flame.
No wonder one of the values of Genelec is Enthusiasm. This is something we share with our customers.
Roots in BroadcastIn 1976 YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company was building a new radio house in Pasila, Helsinki. Mr. Juhani Borenius, who worked as an acoustician for YLE, asked his friends at a post-graduate acoustics seminar if they could make an active monitoring speaker. First Ilpo Martikainen and Topi Partanen asked what it was, and two weeks later they had the first sample. The prototype was far from perfect but promising enough to raise serious interest. In 1978, after two years of serious research and development, Genelec Oy was founded and the first speaker, the S30, was ready.
For its time the speaker was very advanced both electronically and acoustically. The customer specification was advanced as well. In addition to normal requirements to be measured in an anechoic chamber, these specifications detailed acoustic performance also in a control room.
Together with the requirement for consistent performance, high reliability, easy serviceablity and guarantee for extended spare part supply, this made a challenging start to match the most demanding customer needs of the time.
Meeting those specifications required lots of engineering, measurements and testing. Precision tone controls, driver unit protection circuitry, advanced amplifier topologies – all of which have been part of our monitoring speaker design ever since – were developed in 1978. A proprietary HF ribbon driver was developed as well.
No wonder one of the values of Genelec is Belief. Belief in our own ideas, instead of copying others, enables contributing to something unique in the industry. This belief has been rewarded with an uncomparable trust among our customers, for about 30 years in broadcasting and expanding all over the world and into new segments and applications of high precision sound reproduction.
Sound ReinforcementAt its best, sound reinforcement was half of the business of Genelec. The company installed many drama theaters in Finland (among others the National Theatre, City Theatres of Rovaniemi and Kuopio, etc.), the congress hall of the new Cardiologic Hospital in Moscow, the Moscow Circus and even two recording vans for YLE. The last contract job was Tampere Hall and the last reinforcement system supplied went to the Royal Opera in Madrid.
Genelec wanted to become known as a monitor manufacturer above all, and so the decision was taken in 1989 to apart from sound contracting. It became clear that the decision was the right one. But the years spent in contracting taught many valuable lessons – among other things knowing what the life of a contractor is. It is a profession of its own. What could have taught better how to listen to the needs of contractors – whether for commercial installations or for high class residential installations for home entertainment? The basis of the best-in-class speaker systems is there for these expanding applications.
No wonder one of the values of Genelec is Respect which includes our relation and attitude to customers, fellow employees, partners, competitors and environment.
Expanded OfferingThe first ten years of Genelec were basically a struggle to stay alive. By 1985 Genelec was producing 12 speaker models. Genelec’s press release that year tells that there was a rumour going around at the 77th AES convention in Hamburg: that the purpose of the event was to show the complete Genelec speaker family.
Right after the decision to concentrate on monitoring speakers an opportunity opened to design a very loud and clean Control Room Monitor. Soon after its introduction in London in 1989, the 1035A became very popular in major Japanese studios and paved way for new types of monitors combining very low distortion and coloration with high output - an unprecedented combination that far.
The 1990’s were a time for establishing a position as leading manufacturer of active monitoring speakers. New, smaller products were developed, the brightest pearl perhaps being the 1031A in 1991. Nowadays, regarded as the most important product of the 90’s in the pro audio business, it is also known as the mother of all modern two-way active monitors.
Our current offering is the most complete on the market place, from the very compact 8020A to the massive 1036A, for any location of any size. With its reputation for excellence and uniquely extensive offering Genelec has also been the benchmark and target for many competing offerings. At Genelec we regard this as a compliment. Our later product releases show that our ability to surprise positively again and again with new proprietary technologies and designs has only been inspired by the attention to details.
This is easy when one of the values of the company is Honesty. We share facts, and our specifications stand the most advanced measurements. The more our customers and partners know the better for us also. We are here for sustainable and mutual success.
Directivity ControlIn 1983 Genelec made its first drafts of the 1022A which came into production in 1985. This was a radical development from the shape of the 1024A. The aim was to eliminate diffraction by making the cabinet rounded and to control the directivity the drivers were recessed in a carefully formed waveguide. The result was acoustically breathtaking with the typical pressure response falling into a +0.75 dB window.
This was the starting point of our proprietary Directivity Control Waveguide™ (DCW™) technology, which has been used ever since in our speaker designs, large and small. In the conventional rectangular enclosures the DCW™ houses the tweeter and the midrange drivers, and in die-cast enclosures the DCW™ is integrated into the enclosure itself. With properly controlled directivity the off-axis response is much flatter than otherwise, which means a wider listening area with the same tonal characteristics as when listening to the speaker on-axis. At the same time edge diffractions are minimized.
Loud and CleanIn 1988 Genelec spent a lot of efforts to design the loudest and cleanest control room monitor in the market. The design was started by recording the actual sound pressure level at a drummer’s ear, since musicians often want to hear their playing at its natural volume in the control room. A high output low distortion midrange driver, a new 3 kW amplifier, a large DCW™, improved driver thermal protection and amplifier diagnostics had to be developed.
The 1035A was introduced in 1989 and it soon became very popular in both UK and Japan. New woofers appeared in the 1035B revision at the end of 1993. Based on the 1035B, the new flagship 1036A was developed in 1997. Its 19 Hz low frequency cut-off implied the use of a larger enclosure and dual 460 mm (18”) woofers.
Aluminum for Heavy MetalMany people think a good speaker enclosure must be made from wood based material. That is not the case. The first Genelec die-cast aluminum model was the 1029A, introduced in 1996. The birth of this small miracle was triggered by our Italian and French distributors who saw the need for a smaller product. Die-cast aluminum offered, among stiffness and other benefits, large internal volume in relation to the external enclosure size.
As this technology proved its value, it was natural to continue on this route. Co-operation with Harri Koskinen, one of the most acknowledged industrial designers of our time, lead first to the birth of the 6040A (2002) and then to the launch of the 8000 Series (2004). With the curved and stiff Minimum Diffraction Enclosure™, advanced DCW™, optimized die-cast aluminum structure, high performance reflex port design, new low distortion drivers with sophisticated filtering technique, versatile mounting features and Iso-Pod™ (Isolation Positioner/Decoupler), these products set a new standard in two way monitors.
At first – and form a distance – some people were mistaken to believe these smoothly curved speakers were made in plastic, as was customary for rounded shapes. But a closer look revealed the true construction. The extremely durable semi-matt finish and acoustically optimized metal grilles allow for intensive handling without damaging the monitor. It is light metal and capable of handling demanding monitoring with minimum distortion!
How Deep is Deep?When a prototype of the Genelec Laminar Spiral Enclosure™ (LSE™) subwoofer was shown to some distributors in 2001, the first reaction was astonishment. “This can turn out to be a total flop or a great success. Basically a subwoofer cannot look like this. On the other hand, if somebody is to redefine the subwoofer, it should be Genelec.”
Introduced in 2002, this revolutionary and patented subwoofer has proved a great success. The spiral-shaped design yields an extremely rigid enclosure exterior while also forming the subwoofer's integral port. Air flow in and out of the enclosure’s interior through the spiral-shaped port is totally unrestricted, which results in an extraordinarily accurate and responsive low-frequency system with very low distortion, matching the quality of the main speakers.
With multichannel audio, professional and consumer systems must be able to reproduce all frequencies from each channel. Main monitors, subwoofers and crossovers should work together to provide a flat response for each channel. To link the subwoofer(s) seamlessly to the main monitoring system, you need a sophisticated bass management and this is what Genelec 6.1 Bass Management System does.
Sound and FormIndustrial design has been in the company agenda for more than 20 years. In an acoustical product its form is part of its performance. We have created many breakthroughs in our field and we are proud to introduce bold initiatives. The aim is consistency – not conservatism. As Genelec stands for long lasting value, the same holds for the form language itself: it is modern but timeless.
When Genelec introduced the 1022A in 1985, it raised many eyebrows. Likewise, when we renewed our two way range with the 8000 Series in 2004 the change appeared radical for many at the time, as it did not follow the square box conventions. Now the new form with its performance improvements is well accepted – actually it has become a new standard. For us a change is always for a reason: improved performance.
AutoCal™ - Designed to AdaptActually the requirements issued by the Nordic Broadcasting companies in the late 70’s (N12-B) implied an active speaker that should have room response controls. Hence, as explained earlier, the first S30 active speaker had already bass, midrange and treble level controls, as well as a bass roll-off control. Since then our room response controls have become ever more refined.
The power of DSP opened new possibilities for controlling the monitoring system. As we had developed the Minimum Diffraction Enclosure™ for the 8000 Series, the logical extension was to continue from this acoustically solid foundation and develop the 8200/7200 Series DSP monitors and subwoofers, introduced in 2006. Extensive experience from hundreds and hundreds of on-site studio measurements had given us good understanding of the challenges of the varying listening environments.
The power of the DSP technology and in-house software development were harnessed to bring measurable benefits for the customers. Our GLM™ – Genelec Loudspeaker Manager™ - software brings the entire DSP system together under PC and Mac computer network control. Together with AutoCal™ this system can match every speaker of a multichannel system, including subwoofers, with unprecedented accuracy to the listening environment in a few minutes. It is the most complete, versatile and easy to use automatic calibration system so far developed. It is like having a Genelec acoustical product specialist on hand any time you wish.