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Desktop speakers: Genelec 8320A, Neumann KH-80, AudioEngine A5+

sweetsounds

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This site clearly became the go-to place to pre-select equipment on their measurements. Thanks a lot!
I was looking to upgrading my dated Logitech desktop speakers to listen more to music. My desk is against the wall, so a particular situation.

Because of the limited space on a desk, I selected the above for a test-drive based on size and score. I followed Amir's approach on spending time in mono first and only then trying stereo. I used the Peter Verbeek's Peace frontend to Equalizer APO to dial in the filter settings. Source was a SMSL SU-8.

Visual impression: all very different, Neumann's cube design vs. the 90s look of the Genelec and the rustic Bamboo wood of the AudioEngine A5+. The 8320 size-wise is really small and takes the crown for a not intriguing appearance on a desk, especially in white. The AudioEngine has that living room look and is imposing in comparison.

Many tracks were tried: the most revealing were pink noise (Chesky Records CD) and very dynamic music (Yosi Horikawa, Bubbles/Wandering). Female voices like Diana Krall or Jennifer Warnes reveal the cozy factor and finally Fraunhofer Saitenmusik Dreissig is great to check note attack.
Electronic Music we used Philippe Cretien, Le Chat Noir with lots of richness. For exakt positioning the Te Deum of the Westminster Choir is always good.
Phasing is the off-voice in Roger Waters' Perfect Sense.

Mono listening: as there are no recommendations yet for the 8320A, I dialed in 3kHz, +1.5dB, Q=2 based on other sites. No correction for KH-80, and the EQ for AudioEngine from Amir plus a 50Hz, +1.5dB, Q=1.4, because the bass was lower than Genelec.

The 3 behaved quite differently: Neumann had a bright sound, at first sounding accurate, but after a while it caused me some headache. The recessed bass sounds out of sync from the higher frequenc behavior, drum tracks lost their power (Brent Lewis, Dinner at the Sugarbush). If you like revealing upper linearity with little frequency tilt, this is for you. It excluded it for me in my set-up.

The Genelec was very impressive, authorative bass, not so revealing in the highs and very punchy. The Genelec (and somewhat Neumann) had another issue: from 80cm away one could clearly hear the position of tweeter and woofer, they didn't blend. I wonder if that depends on the radiation pattern of the tweeter. So they sounded smaller, maybe that was also observed by Amir on the 8010.

The AudioEngine was not so punchy in the bass, very enjoyable to listen to and maybe a little less precise in the highs. Amir's setting filled really nicely in, best heard on the pink noise. I got carried away and spend hours listening to music.

Overall I still preferred the Genelec in mono by a little, the most round sounding, especially for electronic music.

Interestingly we noticed speaker burn-in, when switching to stereo. Since we had listened in mono before, the second speaker sounded different for the first 30 minutes, especially the Genelec. The sound started unbalanced, we thought of a model variation and tried factory reset, swapped position, no change, but the effect gradually disappeared.

Stereo image: the AudioEngine won for me. The speakers really disappeared and voices and instruments were well positioned left to right. Despite the formal lower speaker preference score, this was a pleasure. It gives you the "be there" effect and again made me forget, that this was a test, not a listening session.
Vertical stage size was a little limited. Here the Genelec were better on the jumping balls in Horikawa's Bubbles. Also their depth is really good for the size (John Campbell, Way Down in the Hole). Their well behaved frequency made them shine on tracks like Michel Godard's Trace of Grace.
Yet, the locatability of the Genelec tweeter made the stage image collapse sometimes (especially for higher pitch noises like applause) and pulled me out of the music.

You won't go wrong with either, they are all very good for the price. It was interesting to hear that even monitors have a quite distinct sonic character.

Edit: mistake, the 8320 was used, not 8020
 
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YSC

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I personally feels the Audioengine A5+ is more of a ease of use speaker with all those connectivity Neumann and Genelec is more on accuracy, but it seems like Genelec have more default room mode corrections to choose for easy optimizing it in your home environment, and they did have a lot of useful online tutorial for setting them up correctly (for my use I place them very close to rear wall, and engage the -2db bass (-4 as suggested by genenlec did made the mid bass flat, but suck out too much upper bass for my liking) and the 150hz desktop reflection dip switch is perfect for my desk) Neumann are even flatter than the 80x0 but you will need the DSP to make it sound correct in real room, the switch on the back don't seem to be very intuitive, but you can always use the Neumann software to handle that in software.
 

Twelvetone

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I'd encourage adding the IK Multimedia MTM to this conversation (for near-field use -- not enough poop for far-field other than in closet-sized rooms). I've been listening to a pair for a month and am very impressed. As long as you don't demand head-banger control-room levels, they've got plenty of output, at least for me, before onset of audible distortion, and extremely flexibly accurate.
 
OP
sweetsounds

sweetsounds

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I actually tried with and without. The EQ made only a small difference on the Genelec. It made a bigger improvement on the A5+. On music I takes a moment to even realize, but quite hearable on pink noise.
The Neumann had a much whiter noise pattern BTW.

I will try the GLM room correction system when I get it.
 

q3cpma

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I actually tried with and without. The EQ made only a small difference on the Genelec. It made a bigger improvement on the A5+. On music I takes a moment to even realize, but quite hearable on pink noise.
The Neumann had a much whiter noise pattern BTW.

I will try the GLM room correction system when I get it.
Strange that you found such differences, as both the 8320A and KH80DSP certainly are flat on axis.
 

YSC

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so did you use the dip switches on the KH80 and 8320? I think using both without EQ and with the desk setting or all default setting would be a better comparison than EQing them at first, it's always better to not modify the raw FR when doing subjective comparison or else you would easily biased on the EQ effects instead of the speaker
 
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sweetsounds

sweetsounds

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On the KH80 I chose the Small Desk setting, the 8320 doesn't have DIP and I don't have GLM, so it was default.

Regarding pink noise sound differences: what you hear is not only on-axis but spatially averaged. It could be that the in-room with all reflections on the table is different for the Neumanns.

To be noted: the speakers were sitting on the table, tilted by about 10 degrees.
 

YSC

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On the KH80 I chose the Small Desk setting, the 8320 doesn't have DIP and I don't have GLM, so it was default.

Regarding pink noise sound differences: what you hear is not only on-axis but spatially averaged. It could be that the in-room with all reflections on the table is different for the Neumanns.

To be noted: the speakers were sitting on the table, tilted by about 10 degrees.
if so then it maybe better to try the KH80 on default also, and 8320 without that 3kHz, +1.5dB, Q=2 EQ you mentioned so the comparison would be more apple to apple, as I guess the desktop situation causing the 150hz peak in bass and that's what affects your impression on bass.
 
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sweetsounds

sweetsounds

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Follow Up: The GLM kit arrived together with the speaker stands for the Genelecs.
Raising them improved the effect of locatibility of tweeter and woofer. Looks good, too, and holds them firmly in place

Then I ran the calibration with GLM ... and my jaw dropped. My setup is difficult with the speakers close to wall and corners, desk etc.
Everything improved: stereo image, clearness in the highs without being over-aggressive (the piano in Midnight Sugar is unreally real) and the bass is crisp and cleaned up.

So despite the easiness and style of the AudioEngine, I stayed with the Genelecs and an empty bank account :facepalm:
 

carewser

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I have a pair of A5+ and I think they sound good, albeit a little lacking in the bass department. I was comparing them to my Kanto Tuk's tonight which also sound good but also lack deep bass. ZEOS basically said he thought the Audioengine's sounded boring while he ranted about how great the Tuk's were which I found puzzling because i've A/Bed them and I don't hear a huge difference between them even though they use completely different drivers. It's funny how so many people think Genelec's are the last word in accuracy but Audioengine speakers actually offer slightly flatter frequency response than Genelec's. I know nothing about Neumann speakers other than they seem unusually fond of dome midranges and like the Genelec's, are studio monitors
 
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Sancus

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It's funny how so many people think Genelec's are the last word in accuracy but Audioengine speakers actually offer slightly flatter frequency response than Genelec's.

??? I mean not even close, what are you talking about? A5+, 8030C. Genelecs are much flatter and also have better controlled directivity.
 

LTig

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.To be noted: the speakers were sitting on the table, tilted by about 10 degrees.
As you already found out placing a speaker on the table is a bad choice. You have to put them on stands, ideally so high that the tweeters are at ear height. This improves not only FR but also imaging.

It would have been interesting to EQ the KH80DSP using its internal DSP and then compare it with the EQed 8320.

FWIW: I use 8020a on stands at ear height with or without a sub and REW measurements revealed that no EQ was required.
 

carewser

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??? I mean not even close, what are you talking about? A5+, 8030C. Genelecs are much flatter and also have better controlled directivity.

As the OP mixed up the Genelec models, so did you. Remember, we're talking about the 8320A and not the 8030C. Given how many different speakers Genelec makes, it's little wonder they get mixed up
 
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Sancus

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I stand at least partially corrected. The A5+ speakers are +/-1.5db while the Genelec's are also +/-1.5db

https://audioengineusa.com/product_tech_specs/a5-classic-speakers/

https://www.genelec.com/8320a#section-technical-specifications

Every Genelec speaker I'd ever read about was +/-2db so I figured they all were but obviously not, and if Amir has tested them both and says the Genelec has flatter frequency response than the Audioengine's then i'd take his word for it since he has no dog in the fight. Meanwhile, I own a pair of the Audioengine A5+ and thought they had the flattest frequency response around :mad:

Well, sorry to disabuse you, but manufacturer specs are generally useless. All you have to do is look at the A5+ review to see it's around +/- 2.5dB and that's just on-axis, which is considerably less important than the off-axis response. Genelec is one of very few manufacturers that publishes specs which can generally be confirmed by 3rd parties.

I'm not saying the A5+ is a terrible speaker. It isn't. It's quite decent for the price. Much worse, more expensive things have been reviewed. But there's a reason that Genelec/Neumann get mentioned over and over on these forums -- it's because they're on a fairly short list of manufacturers that publish real, verifiable measurements that stand up to scrutiny and prove they're some of the best out there.
 

AnalogSteph

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The Genelec (and somewhat Neumann) had another issue: from 80cm away one could clearly hear the position of tweeter and woofer, they didn't blend. I wonder if that depends on the radiation pattern of the tweeter.
This statement here struck me as odd - these are fairly small speakers and 80 cm should be easily sufficient for proper driver integration. I am using the rather larger K+H O110 (KH120A predecessor) at half that distance, and one of the things that impressed me when I got them was how much more consistent these were in the vertical axis than my previous speakers. Granted, that's about the very minimum you'd want to use, but still.

I can only speculate that desk placement may have screwed up the directivity - mine have always been on low desk stands.
 

carewser

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Well, sorry to disabuse you

Well it's better than abusing me

There's no question that third party testers like Amir are more objective than the manufacturers as third party testers don't have a dog in the fight. Regardless, it's disappointing that my esteemed A5+ speakers aren't as accurate as they claim but at $400/pair I can't say i'm shocked

By the way, anyone reading this thread will probably be confused as I completely changed my previous post following the confusion about which Genelec model was being discussed and Sancus quoted my original post
 
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