"These speakers are positively exhilarating. You sit before them in awe of their musicality, their lack of obvious colorations, their detail, "power", sound staging and their ability to just get the hell out of the way of the music." , appears to like the Genesis APM1.
Many thanks go to Genesis Technologies for their help and for providing the review sample.
Genesis APM1 Specifications:
Cabinet Dimensions: 64½"H × 11"W × 25"D
|(All specifications as per manufacturer)|
Genesis Technologies APM1 Loudspeaker
Now this is fun! Getting to spend time with some of the best examples of speakers from any price class is guaranteed to be a good time, but getting to spend time with the better speakers from, let me say, "the more exalted price classes" is pure joy! Although Ive been aware of Genesis Technologies for years, Ive never had the pleasure of auditioning them before. So it was more out of curiosity than anything else that we sent a letter to Genesis requesting a review sample. We were quickly and enthusiastically offered an "APM1", whatever that was! As it turns out, the APM1 is a speaker that has been available overseas for well over a year and is only recently being distributed here - in the good old US of A. While it is true I had no knowledge of the specific speaker, I knew quite a bit about the company and I expected good things.
Unless you are really new to audio, you will probably know the principles of Genesis too. Arnie Nudell became one of the fathers of high-end audio when he co-founded "Infinity" in the seventies. In their heyday, Infinity was world renowned as an innovative and top shelf speaker manufacturing firm.
Paul McGowen is another well-known staple of the high end. As the "P" of "PS Audio", his expertise and experience in electronics design needs no qualification to the veteran audiophile.
Last, but not least, there is Mark Schifter. OK, Mark may not be as well known by name as Misters Nudell and McGowen, but Ill bet you know of his work. Mr. Schifter was co-founder of Audio Alchemy - an extremely popular line of budget priced electronics which primarily dealt in the digital domain (unfortunately, the company met its demise shortly after Mr. Schifter left the company a couple of years ago).
Now that you know the three principles involved with Genesis Technologies, Arnie, Paul and Mark, you know where the model designation "APM1" comes from. The APM1 is indeed the product of a three-way collaboration. Mr. Nudell contributed copious amounts of technical "know-how" regarding speaker design. Mr. McGowen designed the electronics with regard to the 500 watt servo controlled active subwoofer and Mr. Schifter, with his marketing savvy and his sense for what people want, was largely responsible for the styling of the speaker which represents a departure from past Genesis designs.
General Speaker Description
The Genesis APM1 is a 4-way 5 driver speaker. At the bottom of the speaker is the 15 inch metal cone woofer with its 500 watt amplifier in its own sealed sub enclosure. Bridging the midrange and bass are two metal 6½ inch "mid bass couplers". Midrange is handled by a 5 inch titanium cone and the treble is accomplished via Genesis oft seen one inch planar magnetic tweeter. What looks to be the rear panel of the speaker is actually a grill cloth stretched around a frame. The rear of the speaker box is open allowing the backs of the speaker drivers to radiate sound directly to the rear of the room. As the tweeter is a closed back design for which rear propagation is impossible, a second identical unit is mounted on the rear. This creates a "dipolar" radiation pattern as the forward radiated signal is out of phase with the rear. Di-poles offer several advantages over mono-polar and bi-polar designs. First, as they make use of the rear signal bouncing off the rear wall and back into the room (albeit with an appropriate amount of time delay ensuring no image smear) they lend a definite sense of "space" to the music presentation. Secondly, dipoles create a "null" (the resultant severe decrease in output as the signal from the front of the speaker blends with the out of phase signal from the rear thereby canceling each other out) out to the side of the speakers. This sharply reduces the effects of potential side-wall reflections at the listening seat which aids both imaging and clarity. This makes possible in room speaker placement that may be problematic for other designs.
On the rear of the speaker are the single pair of binding posts. First, as the speaker includes a powered sub-woofer, by definition, they are bi-amplified, so a second set of binding posts is not needed. Secondly, Genesis does not see the need for an option for bi-wiring and Im happy to take their word for it. They do however provide the option for connecting the powered sub section directly to the LFE output on a Dolby Digital" surround processor. A flip of a toggle switch provides the break between the sub and the rest of the speakers drivers. For music, Genesis highly recommends feeding the APM1s with a single input via the speaker binding posts.
The binding posts deserve special note here. I love them! They are encapsulated in a plastic housing which effectively prevents the shorting of the amp should a spade lug work its way loose and fall against the opposite post. There is a guide in this "housing" into which the spade lug passes in order to make contact with the gold plated hardware within. The "screw down" is actually covered by a knurled plastic casing too, which makes it very easy to tighten down. Single banana plugs are also accommodated, but I didnt use them.
On the rear of the speaker are some of the usual adjustments one is used to seeing on the rear of sub-woofers. There is the low pass frequency adjustment that is continuously adjustable and there is the volume pot. There is no need for phase adjustment as the physical location of the sub-woofer is fixed in relation to the rest of the speaker drivers. There are also midrange and tweeter level controls which are designed to give you some latitude toward tailoring the sound to you room. The range of adjustment is rather limited ensuring that neither offer a great enough variation on the sound to muck up the works. I followed the owners manuals prescribed initial adjustments and was never inclined to make a change. OK, maybe I experimented a bit, but I wound up back where I started!
With regard to the myriad of adjustments, I have to tell you one thing. A friend of mine has auditioned these speakers several times. He has heard them sound terrific and he has heard them sound terrible. Particularly in light of the adjustments available to the bass, one needs to make sure that the speaker is properly set up for audition. What may sound like a poorly performing speaker may more likely be one suffering from poor dealer set-up.
I'll start with aesthetics first, because if you have to deal with a significant other, this speaker had better look good or how it sounds will not matter as you will never get a chance to hear it in your home!
Perhaps some will think that the aesthetic properties of this speaker represent its biggest success and indeed, I think they may have a point. These speakers are large, make no mistake about that. A 220 lb. speaker with a 15 inch sub-woofer is a serious addition to any room! But with a beautifully finished cherry front baffle only 11 inches wide that gracefully "bows" a bit backward as you reach the top, these speakers are really something to behold. Additionally, once you get 25 inches off the floor, the depth of the speaker decreases to only 11 inches making their height the only potentially imposing dimension. At 64½ inches high, they could proudly take their place flanking todays large rear projection TVs and look completely appropriate.
Initially, my wife freaked out at the sight of these speakers. They arrived the week before Easter and her first thoughts were of our expected guests impressions. Well, within a day or two and after some minor furniture shuffling on my part, she actually started to like their looks (she immediately loved the sound, which didnt hurt matters!) and eventually remarked that they looked "classy". She was right, they certainly out classed the furniture in the room!
While on the subject of their size, I made one pleasant discovery. A speaker of this size and weight does not need spikes. They are by definition quite stable and firmly coupled to the floor. So with no spikes to deal with and with a large smooth base, I can (and do) easily move these speakers about the room by sliding them across my close pile carpet. I can slide them out into the room for serious listening, then slide them back against the wall when we have company and space is at a premium. Thats nice.
Another reason I chose to talk about aesthetics first is because talking about the sonics of these speakers is extremely difficult as they test the limits of the critical ear. They are so good, so musically satisfying, so successful at what they do, one has to sit in front of them and say to him/herself, "OK, what can I nit-pick about these speakers?" One requirement of a speaker in this class is that it have no obvious character of its own. At this price level, a speaker should move out of the way leaving close to nothing between you and the music. At this the Genesis Technologies APM1 succeeds admirably.
These speakers are positively exhilarating. You sit before them in awe of their musicality, their lack of obvious colorations, their detail, "power", sound staging and their ability to just get the hell out of the way of the music.
You would think that a speaker the size of the APM1s would live for large scale bombastic" overtures and you would be right, but-oh&do they excel at small scale music. My first hint that these were truly wonderful sounding speakers came when I put on Jennifer Warnes "Famous Blue Raincoat" (BMG D100356). My first few days with these speakers were spent listening to this CD over and over. Its still in my "hot" stack of CDs. After cueing up track #4, "Joan of Arc", I was struck by the purity of her voice in contrast to the somewhat raspy voice of Warnes duet partner and the songs author, Leonard Cohen. There were the two of them, in my room, standing before me (as opposed to on their knees with most speakers!) clearly defined in space, the soundstage extending far behind them and well out beyond the boundaries of the speakers. A welcome bi-product of speakers of the APMs dimensions is image height. Not only are images taller than one may be used to hearing them, but the sound stage is taller and there is much more sense of vertical space than on shorter speakers.
Cue up track #2 - "Bird On a Wire" and the initial drum "whacks" are something to make you sit up and take notice. Transients are handled with complete and total aplomb and there is a "fullness" and a "richness" to the body of the drum that almost causes words to escape me. So detailed are the speakers that you hear the decay of the drum in perfect focus until it sinks into the dynamic floor of the music. In general, the Genesis APM1s make me keenly aware of differences in drum tuning. When I hear a drum, I dont get a "thwack" followed by a "thud". I get a musical event from a musical instrument.
On "First We Take Manhattan" percussion is sharp with cymbals which are completely lacking in overdone splash. Electric bass is focused and articulate.
Concentrating on vocals here, you can hear that something was different in the recording chain among the different cuts. While "Joan of Arc" is remarkable in its clean sweetness, the vocals on "Bird on a Wire" contain just a hint of congestion. It still sounds great but the speakers throw into sharp relief the relatively minute differences here.
While extremely detailed, the APM1s are not what you would call "sterile" or "analytical". While they let you hear into the recording to let you know exactly what is happening, they never do so in a manner that becomes detracting from the music. They are always musically involving and spiritually captivating. I used the word "exhilarating" before and will use it again as they make the heart race with their combination of "musicality" and "majesty". Low level detail is presented with extraordinary finesse whether you are talking pianissimos or just a light touch on the volume control. Ive done a lot of late night listening through these speakers and Im still amazed at the complete sonic portrait I get at low volume levels. Details dont sink into obscurity, bass does not become anemic and the image and soundstage do not implode. In short, those who must restrict their listening volume can enjoy most of the best aspects of these speakers, too.
Moving on to another favorite CD - Jesse Cooks "Gravity" (ND63037), track #1-"Azul" is mesmerizing with its depiction. A wide and deep sound stage with a spooky realism about the lead guitar and a bass that is full bodied with no bloat or boom lead the list of reasons why. The guitar is resonant and natural. My father-in-law perfectly summed up the APM1s performance when he said that they "set a new standard for this CDs reproduction". They certainly do.
"Into the Dark" is stunning with its sound stagings width and breadth. Bass is solid and natural and lays a bedrock foundation for the song - perfectly in keeping with the songs natural acoustics. Guitars naturally appear in acoustic space with no hyper detail and unnatural "etching". Every nuance of the recording is presented with unmistakable precision. The APM1 produces a slightly laid back perspective with the lead guitar placed just slightly behind and between the speakers, the accompanying guitars are way out to the sides and all other instruments are placed further back on the stage.
Dave Grusins "West Side Story" (N2K-10021) has spent considerable time in my CD player. "Tonight" over the APM1s was a lesson on why the stand up bass has it all over electric basses. The bass is presented with a harmonic richness and accuracy of timbre that lets all the "woody" resonant qualities come shining through.
"Maria" is elegant in its simplicity with the solo voice emanating from a vast soundstage with a beautiful piano accompaniment. The dynamic contrast before and after the full orchestra kicks in will leave you spellbound.
Moving onto something a little different - Roger Waters "Amused to Death", I noticed something Ive never heard with this CD before. Waters fans will recognize this CD as being encoded for "Q Sound". A pseudo surround processing for reproduction over two speakers which places images out to and sometimes beyond the 3 and 9 oclock positions. What the APM1s do differently was with respect to these images. While placement is as I have heard them before, it is their relationship to the rest of the sonic picture that is different. These images now have real depth and are presented with the same perspective as the rest of the image. These images in the past were presented more like voices located in the middle of nowhere, separate and distinct from the main picture in front of me. They are now presented as part of the "big picture" leaving me with a cohesive 180º panoramic image.
Imaging, in general, was not up to the razor sharp focus one gets from a lot of mini monitors. Image outlines were not quite as delineated as some, but I dont miss this aspect of performance. This minor caveat is more than compensated for by the wonderfully expansive sound staging. Image depth is excellent even with the speakers placed relatively close to the rear wall which put the front of the speakers about 33 inches into the room making the speakers rear about 8 inches from the rear wall. Sound stage width routinely extends well beyond the lateral placement of the speakers. Image height was also beyond the reach of these mini monitors. As I said before, the musicians are no longer forced to their knees.
Was there anything that Ive found missing with these speakers? Well, kinda. I found myself missing one aspect that I have experienced with only one other speaker - complete and utter transparency. While superbly transparent for a dynamic design, they fall just short of that of electrostatics. Some say that that kind of transparency can only be achieved in a design having no crossovers through the critical midrange and that may indeed be the case. To be fair to the APM1, the electrostatics Ive heard dont have its dynamic capabilities, dont have its "rhythm" and are MUCH more difficult to live with in several respects including size of "sweet spot" and both lateral and horizontal dispersion. So this is a trade-off Im more than willing to live with.
Leaving the most obvious performance characteristic for last, Ill now tell you what these speakers do to my room on large-scale bombastic material. Thats right, what they do to the room! What they do to the music is just as you would expect and as I have described, but what they do to my room and its suspended floor is just unbelievable! Track #10, "The Battle of Sterling" from "Braveheart" (London 448 295-2) is all but unplayable at anything close to realistic volumes. The drums and bass just make my room sound as if its coming apart at the seams! Ive never experienced so much rattling and vibration. The APM1s possess much more bass potential and power than I will ever be able to appreciate in this room. I would love for it to not be so, but it gets to the point where I cant hear the music over the room noise! Bass performance is everything one would expect from two 15 inch servo controlled woofers - just sure up your floors first!.
I did have one fly in my ointment though. On material with high levels of infrasonic content (i.e.-T-Rex foot stomps and cannon fire) the APM1s drew too much from my little 100 watt per channel Classe CA100 causing its protection circuits to trip and shut down the amp. No music I played ever caused the amp any problems, but I had to step up to the two hundred watt per channel (350 into the APM1s 4 ohm load) Adcom GFA5500 or down to my 90 watt per channel tube conrad-johnson MV100 for the real pyrotechnics. That my cj could handle what shut down my Classe CA 100 surprised me, but there it is! It was the cj that ended up being my amp of choice with the APM1s, but I have to say that the Adcom did an admirable job with them as well. The moral of this part of the story is to choose your amp carefully not only in terms of "testicular fortitude", but as these are very revealing speakers, in terms of sound. Dont rely on specs here, try several amps out to see what you need or what works!
A word on Value vs Price
At $7,500* a pair, the APM1 is not a cheap pair of speakers, but depending upon ones viewpoint and needs, they just may offer a heck of a lot of value. Consider the home theater enthusiast who loves good music too but has only room for one system. A good 15 inch sub-woofer for the theater will set him back close to $2,000. If he is a bass freak (there is one deep inside all of us!) he may even want two subs. His bill? Around $4,000. Instead of going the separate sub-woofer route, he can have a pair of APM1s with two 15 inch drivers and 1 kilowatt of bass power for the same money and for an additional $3,500, he gets a world class pair of music transducers too. Lets not even mention all the floor space he saves in the deal. Its something to think about for those to whom the price initially looks out of reach.
The Genesis Technologies APM1 is an excellent speaker by any yardstick with handsome good looks to match. They have an "out of the box" natural and neutral tonal balance that can be tweaked to compliment most rooms. The fully adjustable bass section means that you have all the flexibility of a subwoofer satellite system just about guaranteeing a sure fit into any surroundings or to any taste. With dynamic capabilities beyond what most people will require in real world listening rooms and with clarity and musical detail (at any listening level) as good as anything I recall ever hearing, they are one of the most musically satisfying speakers Ive ever heard. Even if you dont think you are in the market, I highly recommend that you seek out a pair for a proper audition. Just for the joy of it!
Good luck and listening,
* When the Genesis APM1 were submitted to SMR Home Theatre, their suggested retail price was $7,500. They have since been increased to $9,500, but, even considering this increase Mr. Potis would like it made clear that his recommendation remains. [SMR]
More information about Genesis Loudspeakers can be found at the Official Genesis Web Site.
Text © John R. Potis Jr.; HTML © SMR Home Theatre and Images © SMR Home Theatre, Genesis Technologies and John R. Potis Jr., cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.
Last updated 02 June, 1998
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