null Home is where The Ones are...
Home is where The Ones are...
We’re certainly more accustomed to seeing Genelec’s flagship Smart Active Monitor range, The Ones, gracing high end production studios. The list of accolades from producers and musicians worldwide who appreciate the extraordinary imaging, accuracy and transparency of the world’s most compact three-way studio monitors, is extensive to say the least. However, there is no reason that a private residence cannot benefit from the same levels of performance as a professional studio — and that is exactly what Jarno Vihonen decided for his Joensuu home in eastern Finland.
Jarno — a self-confessed audiophile — is no stranger to Genelec, having used them in his living room for years to enhance his movie-watching and gaming experience.
“A plethora of creators, from musicians to sound designers for video games use Genelec loudspeakers as the tools of their trade,” he explains. “Above all, I want to recreate that sound in my home environment and hear their work exactly as they intended it to sound. Genelec’s GLM calibration software works to correct the worst humps and slopes in frequency response that come with the peculiar shape of my listening space.
“My initial setup was a 5.1 configuration implemented with compact 8020B loudspeakers and a 7050B subwoofer,” he continues. “As living room setups go, that was pretty advanced for its time, although once The Ones were released, there was no question of me not investing — I upgraded to my first Ones setup with the 8351As in the L-C-R positions, plus 8340A two-ways as rears. Size-wise it worked perfectly for my living room space, and in terms of audio reproduction, it was a class above. However, when I met Pasi Pönkkä from Genelec through one of their ‘Calibration Tours’ he made it sound even better.”
I want to recreate sound in my home environment and hear their work exactly as they intended it to sound
Genelec offers regular Calibration Tours in Finland for which customers can register online and explain their Genelec Smart Active Monitoring setup. A Genelec specialist then arranges a time to visit each customer to discuss loudspeaker placement and the room’s acoustics, before using their deep knowledge and extensive experience to help the customer perform some fine-tuning of their setup. “I found talking to Pasi about my setup, as well as others that he had worked on, very insightful,” recalls Jarno. “He was obviously very experienced in working with clients to get the most out of their systems in a variety of spaces, from home setups using The Ones, to professional studios for top recording artists.
“Pasi’s manual fine-tuning of the system’s GLM calibration settings yielded improved results over my own purely automated calibration, plus I also got some pointers as to how I might tackle some of the challenges that my asymmetric space presented.”
“Jarno’s unusually shaped space definitely warranted some special attention when it came to calibration,” agrees Pasi. “GLM’s AutoCal automatic calibration algorithm has been a fantastic tool for the majority of circumstances but when there are particular anomalies to overcome, as in this instance, a bit of manual tweaking can make a real difference. It also happens that some customers in home environments prefer a bit more ‘air’ or ‘flavour’ in the tone rather than a completely flat calibration — and so some subtle manual fine-tuning can also help in this situation. But, the new GLM 4.1 update — which features the next-generation AutoCal 2 algorithm — does a lot of this work automatically, so customers should find that there is generally much less fine tuning required now after the initial AutoCal calibration.”
GLM’s new, next-generation AUTOCAL 2 algorithm has contributed tremendously to the end result
After the Calibration Tour, as Genelec expanded The Ones range with new models plus an upgrade to the 8351A, Jarno was tempted again, specifically to upgrade his front row of 8351A loudspeakers. “I had initially thought about upgrading to the same size of speaker, going from the 8351A to the 8351B which offered increased SPL, greater LF extension and additional room compensation controls. But ultimately, I settled on the larger, more powerful flagship 8361A which promised the ultimate listening experience. My aim was also to future-proof my setup in case I have the opportunity to build a bespoke space for an immersive system with Dolby Atmos and the like, in the future.”
In upgrading to the 8361As, Jarno also decided to tackle some of the acoustic challenges inherent in his unusually shaped listening space which features a double height ceiling in certain areas. All the speakers were repositioned, including his recently upgraded surround speakers (now 8341As) and the 7380A subwoofer. He also added pleated curtains to dampen reflected sound from some of the bare spaces in the living room, as well as some cleverly concealed acoustic panels to help with reverberant sound.
So, now that the new setup has ‘bedded in’, how does Jarno feel about the results? “At first glance, I thought the 8361As were comically large — any pictures of them don’t really do the size justice,” he says with a grin. “However, I’m used to it now so it’s less of a shock!
“When it comes to the listening experience, I’m really enjoying it; the new speakers add a very substantial layer of nuance, especially in the lower frequencies. I’d liken the difference to running the 8351As uncalibrated versus calibrated — the low end was always there, but when uncalibrated it could sound overbearing in my space. I think beyond the upgrade in hardware (as well as the physical size of the speakers over what I had previously), the availability of more nuanced calibration controls on the 8361A model, and GLM’s new AutoCal 2 calibration algorithm, have contributed tremendously to the end result.
“Also, in switching over to the larger speaker, I’ve found my subwoofer doing far less of the heavy lifting, since I’m no longer passing the lower frequencies from the main speakers to it. As such, it’s now free to exclusively handle LF when playing surround media like movies and games, which also makes a considerable difference. I’m really loving what we’ve achieved here, it’s everything I’d ever hoped it would be.”
Thrilled as he is with the current setup, Jarno’s ambitions don’t stop there: his aim is to expand the setup further with overhead speakers for an immersive setup. “Video game developers are slowly but surely moving on from traditional surround sound to adopting Dolby Atmos for their next-generation titles. That’s my goal for future upgrades — although it’s one that I’ll probably put off until I have a new space to work with, though!”