I'm thinking of buying a pair of Genelec one's. I keep changing my mind about what to go for.
The room that I use is small, I sit about 5 feet from the monitors. (I use Genelec 8330'S with a 7350 sub)
I may change to a room with a 12 foot listening distance.
So my question is. Should I go for a pair of of 8331S, 8341S with a sub or 8351B or 8361
Is there any downside to the larger monitors in the smaller room apart from the cost?
Genelec subs aren't cheap so I may not need them if I use the 8361S
It's difficult to get to hear any of my options in the south-west of England.
I would recommend against the 8331/8341 as main speakers, unless
you are a music professional specifically looking for a compact desktop mixing work setup, or considering them for surround duty in a multichannel setup.
The reason is simply that the 8351B is not that
much more expensive than the 8341 (and the 8331 is definitely
not meant for farther listening distances), and yet the 8351B comes with the same
coaxial midrange and tweeter as the 8361A --
which means it is capable of all the midrange/treble power and dynamics you could ever
want in a domestic environment.
The 8351B is almost certainly the "sweet spot" of the Genelec Ones range as it is semi-compact (can be comfortably carried around by a single human, unlike the monster that is the 8361A), has the most perfect technical measurements from the lower midrange upward of perhaps any speaker (edges out the 8361 slightly, though I can't hear the difference in my living room), and has the same
midrange and treble power as the 8361A at the expense of less midbass and bass power. But as others have said, the 8351A are by no means lacking in bass power especially when combined with competent subs that are well-integrated.
As for whether the 8361A needs a subwoofer or not -- I find that they sound much better with a subwoofer for music and movies with deep bass content -- for all the usual reasons (the 8361A do not extend to 20hz unless you get lucky with room gain), but only if it's properly integrated, of course. If you mostly listen to acoustic music and real instruments that don't go much below 30hz (pipe organ or orchestral bass drum are the only examples I can think of, aside from electronic/synthetic music), then you definitely don't need a subwoofer IMO with the 8361 in a living room environment.
But even then, some of us prefer a very warm in-room sound signature not just flat to 10-20hz, but a smoothly declining in-room frequency response peaking at +6 or +10db down to 10-20hz -- and that can only be accomplished cleanly with proper subwoofers. I find that the 8361 have so much midbass power, that with a 50hz crossover (the lowest GLM lets me set to calibrate their subwoofers), it sounds amazing even with my relatively underpowered 10" Genelec subwoofer. Even the 10" subwoofer does a great job filling in the deeper bass <50hz, and lets the 8361s and 8351s do the rest.
When they're all playing together, the results are truly amazing. My 5.1 Genelec 8361/8351/sub system is the best overall sound I've ever heard in my live, anywhere, period.
One last note on the 8361 vs 8351 with subwoofers -- the main difference is the 8361 has much more power in the midbass (100-200hz) and lower midrange (~500hz). Unless you have dual subwoofers you can co-locate with your speakers (which isn't usually optimal for bass), a high subwoofer crossover will lead to questionable bass quality where the bass is clearly localizable and coming from a different location vs your main speakers. So most likely you'll need a low crossover, but in this case, this is where the 8361 shines -- it offers significantly more power in the 80-500 region, which you might not think is essential, but I've come to realize how important it is.
In fact, having been through many speakers, I am quite confident that what people call tactile bass "slam" is describing what you hear and feel when you have a powerful and competent response for the crucial 100-500hz
range, and is not
about the deep bass (10-80hz)! If you have subwoofers playing at e.g. 100db at 20-80hz, and you're trying to replicate complex bass waveforms (with many strong upper harmonics), you will not
be hearing and feeling the full proper bass effect unless
your speakers can also replicate 100-500hz at the same SPL
This is important because many high quality subwoofers people buy can easily do 100db in the deep bass range, but most people's speakers cannot achieve anywhere close to this power in the 100-500hz range! This is precisely what yields the formerly elusive and difficult to solve (to me) "plenty of deep bass but still lacks something" effect you may be familiar with. Having very powerful 100-500hz SPL capability definitively solves
this 100%, in my experience. Note: It's no coincidence that a lot of pro audio gear that reproduces this tactile bass experience, happen to have a powerful response in the 100-500hz range -- even when they lack deep bass!
That said, the 8351B is no slouch here either. But the 8361A is definitely better, and it's definitely audible (to me at least) at higher SPL music enjoyment. With that said, if you're willing to tinker, you could definitely achieve the same or better results with a pair of 8351B's and a pair of Rythmik 12" subs co-located with each speaker, and would still cost less than a pair of 8361A's. But manually tuning a high midbass crossover is really really difficult, almost in DIY speaker territory -- so really depends on whether you want a buy-once-and-be-done setup vs how much you're willing to tinker.