14.4.2017

Neutrality is the safe choice

In many walks of life, it is wise to stay neutral. This saves you from a lot of trouble and enables you to see to the bottom things. It is usually good to avoid a bias.

This is also true in audio monitoring – neutrality is the safe choice. In fact, if you do a small study on the history of recommendations to the frequency response of the loudspeaker at the listener’s ears, already by the break of 1900 audio engineers were using equalization to render the audio colour free. Remember, at these days we did not even have access to modern style equalizers. The vacuum tube amplifiers were really very straight-forward and achieving equalization in those days required some creative thinking and foresight.

The concept of uncoloured audio, or neutral audio, has always existed.

The standardization of the frequency response at the audio engineer’s ears started early in the Nordic countries. By 1992, the Nordic public broadcasting corporations had created the second edition of the famous N-12 recommendation, recommending the accuracy for the flatness of the frequency response at the listener’s ears.

Already by 1994, the International Telecommunication Union was full on board with this development, and published a similar recommendation, the ITU-R BS.1116. This recommendation is surprisingly similar to the Nordic N-12 recommendation. The key aspects of obtaining presentation of the original recorded audio are defined using few basic concepts – the magnitude response at the listener’s location presents all frequencies at the same level, the loudspeaker does not delay certain frequencies more than others, the listening room reverberates in the same way at all frequencies and is quiet enough to allow hearing of details in audio, and the loudspeaker radiates clean, neutral audio in a controlled fashion, having sufficiently high directivity to keep any unwanted sound-colouring characteristics of the room acoustics at bay. A very simple and sound definition.

Since its inception in 1978, Genelec has been designing monitoring loudspeakers and subwoofers with this sound principles in mind: neutrality is the safe choice. Today, this development culminates in the 8351 acoustically coaxial monitors, radiating audio in a highly-controlled fashion and having neutral frequency response on and off the acoustical axis, and the Smart Active Monitoring concept, using advanced flexible, computer optimized filtering, to compensate for any room colorations with surgical accuracy. Neutrality is the safe choice, allowing hearing of details and nuances in the recorded audio. And this is what Genelec delivers.  

Aki Mäkivirta,

R&D Director