August 15, 2009
Genesis G7.1f Loudspeakers
I was attracted by several
things about the Genesis G7.1f loudspeaker, which I first heard, however briefly, at the
2009 Consumer Electronics Show -- things that would seem to make it attractive to a large
segment of todays audiophile marketplace.
First is the price: $7999 USD per pair. Yes, its
higher than entry level for a high-end floorstander, and still expensive for most people
-- more than triple the price of the EgglestonWorks Dianne ($2500/pair), which I wrote
about back in May. But eight grand is accessible to many in an audiophile marketplace that
routinely sees überspeakers costing six figures, and a midpoint that seems to hover
somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 per pair.
Second, the G7.1f, at least on paper, has the makings of a
good value for its configuration alone: its a five-driver, three-way loudspeaker
with an active bass section. The active (i.e., powered) bass section at least
implies that it will have good low-frequency extension and therefore might not need such
reinforcement from a subwoofer. Not to mention that it shouldnt need as much power
from a partnering power amplifier to reproduce energy-sapping bass frequencies. The
EgglestonWorks Dianne is a two-way, all-passive loudspeaker, and thus has limitations in
absolute output capability and deep-bass extension. The Genesis G7.1f proposes to address
these areas; as such, its price seems more reasonable.
Third, the G7.1f has a rather small footprint (48"H x
12"W x 14"D) and a manageable weight (82 pounds), all wrapped up in an
attractively finished package sure to be welcome in many living rooms.
On paper, therefore, the G7.1f could be a winning
formula: decent price, reasonable size, three-way configuration, and powered bass. Sign me
up for a review pair.
The basic specs of the G7.1f are impressive. Genesis claims
a frequency response of a low 22Hz way out to 36kHz, +/-3dB -- a very wide bandwidth.
Sensitivity is pegged at 89dB/W/m, with a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, indicating that it
should be appropriate to pair the G7.1f with a modest power amp.
Starting at the bottom of its driver complement is a
side-firing 8" aluminum-cone woofer powered by its own internal 180W class-D
amplifier. A servo system, rarely seen in todays active subwoofers, is used to
ensure that the driver operates in a linear fashion with low distortion. Essentially, the
servo continuously monitors the woofers movement and compares it to the input
signal. When the woofer is "off track" -- i.e., its output doesnt
match the signal input -- a corrective signal is applied to the woofer to maintain linear
motion. Examples of times when the woofer might not operate linearly, according to
Genesis, are when the woofer is not moving fast enough to track the music, or not stopping
at precisely the appropriate moment. A servo system corrects for these conditions. Genesis
claims that nonlinear distortions in the bass section are reduced dramatically over active
systems that dont employ a servo system.
In regard to setup, the G7.1f is unusually flexible. The
powered bass section includes a Bass Gain control -- a continuously variable knob that
lets the user dial in the desired amount of low-frequency grunt. At the other end of the
frequency spectrum, a Tweeter control tailors the high-frequency output of the
proprietary, circular, forward-firing ribbon tweeter. These are potentially valuable
controls: Do you have a large room that needs a bit more bass, or a smaller room that
requires you to place the speakers close to the front wall? No problem -- just turn the
G7.1f's Bass Gain control up or down to achieve the level of bass appropriate for your
room, speaker placements, and taste. Same goes for the highs: If youre in a highly
absorptive environment and need a little extra HF zing, the Tweeter adjustment is
there for just that reason.
As for the rest of the drivers: A 6" titanium-cone
mid-woofer is placed above, and another below, the ribbon tweeter, which itself is offset
to one side of the cabinet. (Genesis recommends you place the speakers so that the
sidepanels closer to the tweeters are facing each other.) With the offset tweeter, this
wouldnt be classified as a strict DAppolito array, in which the woofers are
mounted directly over and under a centrally mounted tweeter, though the G7.1f benefits
from some of the advantages of that type of configuration. For instance, with two
mid-woofers you should expect lower distortion in the midband; each driver is being
stressed less to produce a desired output than it would be if it were acting alone.
Although the G7.1f is considered a three-way loudspeaker,
it does have one more driver to consider: a second circular ribbon tweeter that fires to
the rear, its output out of phase with the output of the front tweeter. This phase
relationship of the G7.1fs tweeters makes the loudspeaker a dipole in the highs. The
goal of this arrangement, according to Genesis, is twofold: First, the rear-firing tweeter
adds some extra energy in the uppermost treble, which could theoretically make for an
airier, more spacious sound. Second, since the rear tweeter operates out of phase with the
front tweeter, there is some acoustic cancellation where the tweeters soundwaves
meet, at the sides of the cabinets. This means that less energy is radiated off axis, and
therefore there are fewer sidewall reflections to contend with. The upshot is that
youll hear more direct sound than you would without that rear tweeter. Off is an
option for the rear tweeter as well. This would come in handy if, for instance, the
speakers were placed really close to the front wall.
Last, it appears that some effort was expended to make the
G7.1f a visually attractive speaker that will be acceptable in a variety of listening
environments. It has a slim profile and an excellent two-tone finish of automotive-grade,
high-gloss paint. The build quality appears to be what you would expect from a speaker at
its price point -- which is to say, very good: the paint was free from defects, the driver
openings were precisely cut, and the speakers produced no untoward noises while I was
listening to them. The G7.1f is a feature- and technology-packed loudspeaker that aims to
be suitable for a large number of sonic tastes and interior décors.
I set up the G7.1fs about 10 apart and 7 from
the front wall of my Music Vault listening room, firing straight ahead as recommended by
Genesis. After some experimentation, I left the rear tweeter on -- it produced an airier
sound in my room. I began with the Bass Gain control at 12 oclock, and fine-tuned it
from there throughout the review period. Partnering components included a Behold APU768
preamplifier-DAC driving a pair of Classé Omega Omicron Mono amplifiers. The digital
source was an Apple MacBook. Also used were Shunyata Research Hydra V-Ray II and Guardian
Pro Model-2 power conditioners; Shunyata Research King Cobra and Anaconda power cords; and
Shunyata Research Aurora-IC interconnects and Aurora-SP speaker cables.
I enjoy reviewing loudspeakers so much because I hear more
profound sonic differences among various models of loudspeaker than I ever have among
components of any other product category. The G7.1f convinced me of this once again -- as
its performance was a stark contrast from that of several other speakers Ive
recently had in the Vault, and identifying its sonic signature was relatively easy. But
thats not to say that the G7.1fs complex design didnt present a few
wrinkles of its own.
When reviewing the EgglestonWorks Dianne loudspeakers last
May, I said, "The Dianne wasnt the most neutral speaker Ive ever heard --
it seemed voiced to remain listenable with recordings both good and bad. Its
top end softened bright recordings ever so slightly while warming up the lower midrange,
to make voices sound full and dense." The Genesis G7.1f proved, in some ways, the
antithesis to the Dianne. Specifically, from the midrange up through the highs, the
Genesis was ultradetailed and sharply focused -- just the opposite of the Dianne. This
made the G7.1f more critical of bad recordings, but it also revealed more inner detail
from good recordings, allowing me to hear far deeper into the texture of music. The G7.1f
was a very honest-sounding speaker, seeming to reproduce what I fed it while adding
little editorializing of its own. The word neutrality kept showing up in my
listening notes, whether I was listening to jazz, pop, folk, or classical. I found myself
admiring the G7.1f for its ability to draw out details previously hidden in my music. I
could listen to it for long periods without fatigue.
For instance, voices, both mens and womens,
were reproduced with a crystalline clarity and strict definition that encouraged me to
explore all types of music. Pulling out some old standbys, such as "Gravity" and
"Restless," from Alison Krausss Lonely Runs Both Ways (CD, Rounder
610525), was instructive and enjoyable. Krausss voice never sounded syrupy, bogged
down, or veiled. The sound of the G7.1fs is best described with that old cliché: a clear
window on the recording. The bluegrass strumming was clear and peppy, with sharp leading
edges that made the sound quick and articulate. The G7.1f never gave me the sense that it
was romanticizing the sound in any way; instead, it presented music with little
Imaging and soundstaging were definite strengths of the
G7.1fs. The depth of stage on "Tall Trees in Georgia," from Eva Cassidys
Live at Blues Alley (CD, Blix Street 10046), was deep and well defined, just as it
should be. Cassidys voice was a touch forward of where Im used to hearing her,
however. This didnt strike me as particularly bothersome or incorrect -- the image
of her voice was still well back from the plane described by the speakers front
baffles, and quite detached from their cabinets. But this different perspective took some
getting used to. The club patrons glasses tinkling in the background on this track
were about as well rendered as I can remember hearing them, proving to me that the
G7.1fs reproduction of high frequencies was clean and precise.
The Bass Gain control proved to be a boon for, well, doing
exactly what its claimed to: give the owner the ability to dial in more or less
bass. I prefer a slightly upward-tilting (in terms of in-room frequency response) bass
range for fuller lows and strong punch in the upper bass. The G7.1f was able to provide
just that. At the 12 oclock setting the bass reproduced by the G7.1fs was just a
touch light in my room, but when inched up around the 2 oclock mark, things became
far more suitable for the types of music I listen to. The Fairfield Fours
"These Bones," from I Couldnt Hear Nobody Pray (CD, Warner Bros.
46698), was reproduced with remarkable transparency and admirable fullness. I could hear
well into each singers voice, such was the singers physical separation from
the others within the well-defined soundstage thrown by the Genesis speakers. The lower
registers were full-bodied and chock-full of energy, which is a must for making this track
sound realistic. With the Bass Gain setting at the 2 oclock mark, there was a
dramatic improvement -- more meat on the bones, so to speak -- vs. what I heard with the
control just two clicks lower.
The G7.1fs werent as efficient as Id originally
thought they might be. They actually liked a bit of power. They didnt push back that
hard against my Classé amps, but I did use a higher volume setting on my preamp than
Im accustomed to. I advise a high-current, at least moderately powered amp for the
G7.1fs (at least 150Wpc, I think). With a good dose of juice, these speakers should reward
you with excellent dynamic range and the ability to produce healthy output levels. I
dont think I ever really stressed the G7.1fs too much, though I did detect a
slight hardening of the upper frequencies, and reached the limits of the powered woofers,
when I pushed them really hard with such complex tracks as "Max-O-Man," from
Fourplays The Best of Fourplay (Warner Bros. 46661-2). The woofers did
bottom-out on this track, making a sharp crackling sound. But with 99% of my listening
sessions, this was not an issue.
I give Genesis a lot of credit for aiming high with a
product whose price doesnt break six or even five figures. Theres a lot of
substance in the G7.1f that gives it the performance potential and flexibility to acquit
itself well in a variety of rooms and systems. That it succeeds on almost all counts, and
truly excels in a few, is good news indeed for audiophiles shopping for a pair of speakers
for around $8000. That it has good looks and excellent build quality are expectations met
-- ones that make it a complete package, with no striking flaws that would preclude a
recommendation. I give the G7.1f a thumbs-up, and suggest you audition it yourself to see
if it offers your ideal combination of sonic and aesthetic attributes.
. . . Jeff Fritz
Genesis G7.1f Loudspeakers
Price: $7999 USD per pair.
Warranty: Five years parts and labor.
Genesis Advanced Technologies, Inc.
654 S. Lucile Street
Seattle, WA 98108
Phone: (206) 762-8383
Fax: (206) 762-8389