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Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Review

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor (powered speaker). It is on kind loan from a member. Despite its small size, this is an expensive monitor, costing US $5,900 for a pair. Of course you get amplification as part of the package.

The 8341 is an unusual design in that the woofers are hidden behind the front waveguide for the coaxial driver:

Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker Audio Review.jpg

There are dual, rather square woofers behind each vent.

Here is a shot of the back panel:

Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker Back Panel Switches Connectors Audio Review.jpg

Being a high-end monitor, there are a lot of features which I will let you read on your own elsewhere. The configuration you see is how I tested it. I performed a factory reset and left all the switches to off.

I was surprised there was no hard on/off switch. A momentary switch turns the unit on and off so it is always in standby. This is fine except that if you turn off the AC power to it, it will make an unhappy and long static noise before shutting down. I have tested a number of other powered monitors and have not experienced anything this bad.

The unit comes with squishy rubber stand. The bottom is not flat (?) so you need something there to balance it.

More on usability of the unit in listening test section.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections. It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room. All measurements are reference to tweeter axis with the grill removed.

Over 700 points around the speaker were measured (from 20 to 20 kHz) which resulted in well under 1% error in identification of the sound field emanating from the speaker up to 19.7 kHz (max measurement limit). Final database of measurements and data is one gigabytes in size.

Spinorama Audio Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker can be used. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Audio Measurements.png


Wow! This is one well behaved speaker. On-axis is quite flat for a speaker. Numerically as noted there is about 4 dB of variation from 45 Hz up.

Note that this measurement for the first time has a fix for the ripple we often see in powered monitored measurements I have shown in upper treble range. Without it, there would be a few humps and dips in 5 to 10 kHz.

Directivity Index which is a measure of how close the direct sound coming from the speaker (pointed at you) differs from sound that is sent to strongest reflections shows very good uniformity:

Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama directivity index Audio M...png


Ideal response would look like that arrow (angle is not critical) which is hard to achieve in a speaker.

Put this speaker in a typical room and predicted response that you are going to hear is this:
Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Predicted In-room Respons...png


Note that this is the response you want to see in a room. Having it flat (horizontal line) would sound too bright. So don't go absorbing all reflections as you will get that brighter direct sound.

We are done folks. Near perfect execution.

For the speaker nerds, the following sections dig deeper.

Advanced Speaker Measurements

As I noted above, these early reflections are needed to tone down the overall response from low to high frequencies:
Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama early reflections Audio M...png


Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Horizontal Reflections Au...png


Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Vertical Reflections Audi...png

Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Full Horizontal Reflectio...png


Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker CEA-2034 Spinorama Full Vertical Reflections...png


Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker SPL and Distortion Audio Measurements.png


Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker SPL and Distortion Percentage Audio Measurem...png


Eye-candy Speaker Measurements
Very controlled "directivity" shows a smooth fall off past +- 60 degrees:
Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker Horizontal Contour Audio Measurements.png


Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker Vertical Contour Audio Measurements.png


So feel free to move left and right and up and down with the sound still being uniform.

And the mostly useless waterfall graph:

Genelec 8341A SAM™ Studio Monitor Powered Speaker Waterfall CSD Audio Measurements.png


Spin data is enclosed.

Speaker Listening Tests
Per intended application, I performed my listening test on my desk/workstation. Speaker is elevated about 6 inches and pointed up a few degrees. Levels were matched to a JBL 305P Mark ii as a reference. Mono clip was played with one speaker at a time active.

The Genelec 8341A quickly showed what it is about with warm and highly balanced response. As much as I liked the JBL 305P Mark ii before, it just could not compete. It sounded much brighter -- an attribute which got worse when I pushed it to higher SPLs to keep up with the Genelec. Of course there is a massive price difference but we don't care about that. :D

All was not well. You may be wondering with measurements as good as posted, why the 8341 did not get the top honor panther and had to settle for the next grade down. I was quite surprised that as I turned up the volume, listening at just 1 meter or so from the speaker, it just would not get that loud. At first I heard a glitching/ticking sound which then moved into red LED coming up with much more distortion. The amplification is simply too low for the amount of bass this speaker produces.

Conclusions
I don't need to tell you that the Genelec 8341A is exceptionally well-designed speaker. For studio work, it should be wonderful if you don't need to impress your customers with how loud it gets. For home use in larger spaces, it is bound to lack power -- at least as far as how I evaluate speakers. :)

Of course, I am happy to put the Genelec 8341A on my recommended list. Just don't expect it to blow you away with volume. Look forward to testing its larger brother at some point in the future.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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amirm

amirm

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Forgot to mention that I found the issue with SPLs being incorrect with active monitors in the spin graphs. It is a limitation in klippel software. Fortunately there is a way to manually intervene and I did that. It is now close enough to the in-room calibrated measurements (see the SPL & Distortion graph).
 

Sancus

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Wow, this has exceptional correlation with the manufacturer's published measurements. Genelec's not messing around.

Note that this measurement for the first time has a fix for the ripple we often see in powered monitored measurements I have shown in upper treble range. Without it, there would be a few humps and dips in 5 to 10 kHz.

So, what was the issue and the fix? Don't leave us hanging ;)
 

Arnandsway

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Great speaker! Thanks for setting up a reference speaker (except for SPL).

I wonder about the fix, would it be possible to correct the previous tested speakers? If so, it sounds like a lot of work, but only if you would post the corrected data, we could make corrected spins via Vituixcad or something like-wise. :)
 

Cortes

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I sold my valve amp, and my Proac 1SC and bought some 8331's. Fantastic decission, simplest setup and best sound I've ever had in my office.

@Amir. There's something more with the Genelecs SAM, the GLM kit. In a few minutes you have frequency response calibrated for your room.

I was looking for options, and I found nothing for my small office like the 8331+GLM correction.

Finally, for more bass Genelec sells fantastic subwoofers that integrate in a trivial way with the GLM kit.
 

Tircuit

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“There are dual, rather square woofers behind each vent.”

So each monitor has four woofers?
 
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amirm

amirm

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So, what was the issue and the fix? Don't leave us hanging ;)
I need to hold on to my trade secrets. :D

There is a microphone protection widget that holds the mic with four micro switches and a PCB. Should the cage around the mic touch the speaker with slightest amount of force, measurements stop. The PCB is about twice the diameter of the microphone. Even though it has an angled deflector on it, it still causes reflections back into the cone of the speaker. Because the measurements are performed in near field, this reflection causes cancellations and peaks that show up at the right frequencies.

There were two fixes. One was to remove the microphone protection which is what you see in this review thread. I am not happy to do this generally as it is risky. So I ran a second experiment where I added tons of padding around the speaker. Those results are very close to not having the protection cage. So likely that is what I will go with.

Note that the same "problem" is a huge benefit. Because the measurements are performed in near-field and hence high signal to noise ratio, reflections from the rest of the robotic structure don't matter.
 
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amirm

amirm

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I wonder about the fix, would it be possible to correct the previous tested speakers?
Unfortunately not. The problem creeps in during measurements. So I can't fix it after the fact.

We could however apply smoothing to that region.
 

Sancus

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6 grand and they don't get loud? So they're near field only. Probably gotta move up to the $8000 8351B for mid-field.

Should probably go straight to the 8361A if you want to play loud without a sub, they have 8db more than these 8341a. That said, adding subs(or the very pricy W371A woofer modules) would help I'm sure.
 
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Sancus

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There were two fixes. One was to remove the microphone protection which is what you see in this review thread. I am not happy to do this generally as it is risky. So I ran a second experiment where I added tons of padding around the speaker. Those results are very close to not having the protection cage. So likely that is what I will go with.

Isn't this something that Klippel should provide some sort of solution to? Surely their other customers also run into this problem?
 

q3cpma

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Incredible. But if I were spending this kind of money, I'd go right for the 8351B. That SPL thing is kind of strange when Genelec says:
Long term max SPL
≥101 dB

Maximum long term RMS acoustic output in the same conditions with IEC weighted noise (limited by driver protection circuit) at 1 m.
and it says the bass amplifier provides 250 W.
 
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