Lars-Olof Janflod is an electrical engineer by education and has spent the last 40 years in the professional audio business. Out of these 40 years the last 20 years has been with Genelec in the capacity as the worldwide sales manager being responsible for building up the network of independent distributors that serve Genelec today. Lars kindly gave his views on some of the critical aspects of loudspeaker design and installation.
AT – Many of our readers will be familiar with the common audio performance parameters such as frequency response, distortion and colouration but there’s quite a bit of confusion about what are the really important performance issues with regard to monitor loudspeaker performance. What do you consider these to be, and how have they influenced your design philosophy?
LJ – Genelec´s philosophy since the founding of the company and its first product in 1978 has been, and continues to be, the ability to effectively calibrate our monitors acoustically so that at the listening position, one can enjoy a flat frequency response and thus neutral reproduction. One very important criteria in this respect is the on and off axis frequency response. Through our waveguide technology (DCW) we have successfully managed to design monitors with even off axis frequency response.
AT – Do you favour designing professional monitoring speakers for a listening environment which is fairly dead or for a more ‘natural’ listening environment (assuming for this point that the listening room has been treated to diffuse standing wave responses). Please explain the reasoning behind your preference.
LJ – It is not possible to design a speaker for a particular environment or rather for a specific environment if you want it to work equally well in another setting. Through calibration and proper placement of the monitor we can deal with most environments and achieve a good result. The preference is, of course, to have good acoustic conditions.
AT – Is there a significant difference in design approaches for nearfield loudspeakers as opposed to for ‘whole room’ monitoring.
LJ – We generally say that the design of a loudspeaker is about choosing a set of compromises. These compromises should be the one that best suits what you want to achieve. The acoustic properties of a large box are naturally different to the ones of a small box etc. Large baffle surface will give different dispersion characteristics compared to a small box. However, at Genelec today we design speaker boxes of aluminum with rounded corners, minimising these acoustic properties.
AT – How important are the frequency sensitive directional properties of speaker systems and are there other important issues to consider when designing monitor speakers to offer a stable stereo image?
LJ – It is very important, hence our use of waveguides. Having said that, another factor which maybe even more important or equally important is how you set your monitors up in your room. Do you have them symmetrically set up? Do the left monitors “see” the same things as the right monitor? Meaning, are there any objects in between each one of the loudspeakers and the listeners’ ears? Our “Monitor Set Up Guide” which can be downloaded from http://www.genelec.com/catalogues-brochures, offers a comprehensive guide to how your monitors should be setup. Each model will behave slightly differently but there are some straight forward rules that will apply across the board that will help you craft a good setup and extract a good sound.
AT – Coming back to listening environments, a reality seems to be that many people are trying to monitor in less than ideal acoustic environments. They may make an attempt to deal with the worst of the room’s standing waves and may sometimes over deaden the listening environment. Is there anything which can be done within the monitor speaker design to lessen the effects of poorer listen environments? Can DSP processing play a useful part?
LJ – All listening environments are different so trying to design speakers for all those would be impractical. We always recommend customers get the room right first. As this often does not happen we have to work with the situation to find a solution and provide our customers with systems that can cope. Our DSP systems and their AutoCal algorithm do a really good job in providing customers with a good result in environments that are far from ideal.
AT – Are there significant advantages in designing monitor speakers and their power amplifiers as a ‘matching pair’?
LJ – Genelec has taken another approach. We design our monitors at such narrow tolerances that any speakers of same model can match any other speaker of the same model. There are definitely significant advantages with this approach.
AT – What advice would you give to readers in respect of selecting and installing monitor speakers (and power amps) for their studios.
LJ – Selecting the right monitor is not difficult once you know what it is you are going to do in terms of recording in the space and have then taken into consideration the acoustic properties of your room. We provide a monitor setup Guide which covers all you need to know and be aware of and are easily accessible to offer our expertise on the specifics of your requirements. The following is taken from our Monitor Setup Guide:
The basic points to address can be broken down into the following categories;
With spaces presenting particular challenges, it is possible to address them case by case, however, if you stick to these basics you won’t go far wrong.
Our thanks to Lars and the team at Genelec for their views and advice. You can check out the Genelec product range at www.genelec.com