null Genelec 8341s power Gavin Lurssen’s portable reference setup

Genelec 8341s power Gavin Lurssen’s portable reference setup

Genelec, the global leader in professional loudspeakers, has long been a go-to choice for top audio professionals, and GRAMMY®-winning mastering engineer extraordinaire Gavin Lurssen (Queens of the Stone Age, Ben Harper, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss) is no exception. “I started in the early 90s working for the late Doug Sax at The Mastering Lab, and recording engineer George Massenburg was a regular client of Doug’s for lots of his projects, through him I was first exposed to their 1031A and 1030A monitors.

I was particularly taken with the 1030A’s after hearing them in a mix room at what was then Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood, so Doug surprised me with my own pair, which I still own. In fact after all these miles I just had them re-coned and the amps rec-capped but kept the original bulletproof tweeters. Like most mastering engineers, I own multiple sets of monitors, but the Genelec 1030A’s have been an important reference for me over the years, especially when it comes to a mobile environment. Fast-forward to a few years ago, before the pandemic: I enjoyed going to these weekly lunches and meetups in Burbank with professionals in the audio industry; it’s a great way to see friends and colleagues and to stay on top of the latest tools and trends as well. I usually interact with the manufacturer reps that are there, and so it’s no surprise that I gravitated toward the new technology from Genelec! So that began my journey with the 8341A Smart Active Monitor™.”

Lurssen has made the 8341’s a centerpiece of his portable reference setup, which he uses to do much of his preliminary work. He notes, “There are various ways in which a near-field monitor can be useful to a mastering engineer. And one of the most useful things is to be able to go mobile, while still being able to listen to and evaluate mixes and give feedback to clients with confidence, no matter where I am set up. And accuracy is the name of the game. The Genelec 8341As provide me with very, very accurate playback, even if I'm in a compromised environment. When you have something like 8341s, if you put them in the road case and take some computer gear with you, you can actually set up a pretty accurate listening environment. You can travel around and evaluate things that way. So if I'm traveling, I can take them with me. I can evaluate anything that anybody sends and have discussions with them as they go through the process, which a lot of clients rely on me for. I can also listen after the fact and have access to any project I get access to, and this is very helpful at times when discussing projects with clients after they have received their reference materials or even masters. Also if my mastering partner Reuben is working on something and I need to give it a listen, I can listen in a remote environment and discuss what's going on with the project. We frequently do joint projects where we rely on each other and the client will get both of us. There is another value too, when mixers work on smaller speakers there are often issues regarding the bass, and big discussions ensue. So if I take these near-fields into my studio environment and integrate them, I can listen to what the mixer is listening to and we can further the discussions. The great thing about this mobile setup is that you can save the settings of each environment so that once you strike the room it takes mere moments to setup and be listening. So they are multi functional to me, like a Swiss army knife, I will call them a Swiss army speaker, or Finnish army speaker (pun intended).”

So through the use of GLM, these speakers allow me to match my workflow to any room, which lets me travel a lot, which is frankly important in the current music business.

The accuracy of the 8341As comes from their high level of adaptability and optimization for any room – a result of the advanced proprietary technologies that Genelec speakers are known for. Lurssen adds, “Through Genelec’s GLM software, these speakers have the capability to measure the room and adjust themselves. And then on top of that, you have the freedom to make further adjustments based on personal preferences, using reductive EQ to create the curve you are looking for. So through the use of GLM, these speakers allow me to match my workflow to any room, which lets me travel a lot, which is frankly important in the current music business.”

Lurssen sees mastering as the last line of defense against a sub-par recording: “A meticulous recording, production, and mixing process is optimal, but you can also get away with a lot in those early steps. You can skimp all along the way, and I think you can even mix in a compromised environment, but as long as there is great mastering, the end product will be a highly professional record. But again, accuracy is the name of the game – if I know exactly what I’m hearing, I’m able to contribute that step that puts the finishing professional touch on things. And tools like the 8341A are one of the tools that I rely on for that accuracy, and for the work to translate across any device. I would also say they help me work more efficiently, in confidence they inspire to the process, which is also borne out of the accuracy they provide.”

I don’t lose my focus, and my ears don’t get tired. It’s a smooth and accurate sound, and it always tells the truth

He also praises the 8341As for their ability to give him what he needs in long sessions without ear fatigue: “I emailed George Massenburg and asked, ‘Why is it that I can sit in front of these Genelecs all day and not get fatigued, when every other speaker that I listened to with DSP fatigues me?’ he replied that we could talk more about that next time we saw each other in person but that there was much under the hood going on. There’s something about how the Finnish engineers that develop these products are implementing the technology available to them that results in a speaker that I can really use in long sessions. I don’t lose my focus, and my ears don’t get tired. It’s a smooth and accurate sound, and it always tells the truth.”

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Kit list

2 x 8341A