Genelec has been a well regarded loudspeaker standard among recording engineers for years. Their line-up of powered studio monitors have become almost commonplace when stepping into any high end mixing or mastering studio. I've been a fan of Genelec for some time and have used many of their products over the years on my own personal work as a filmmaker. What many probably don't know is that Genelec has been making high quality powered speakers for the home for some time as well. Based on their professional line of products, the Genelec line of home theater speakers blurs the line between the professional and consumer world in such a way as to make it almost indistinguishable.
Case in point: the AOW312B loudspeaker reviewed here. The AOW312B is an on-wall powered loudspeaker that falls within Genelec's Architectural Series of products. Retailing for $10,999 each, which includes the necessary outboard amplifier, the AOW312B is not inexpensive, though considering their pedigree not completely outlandish either. For your money you get a three-way on-wall loudspeaker that measures in at 59 inches high by nearly 16 inches wide and seven inches deep and weighs a hefty 95 pounds. Compared to most on-wall speakers the AOW312B is massive, which is why they're mostly used in "cost no object" home theaters that are built from the ground up and are hidden behind a fabric wall versus being installed à la DIY next to your wall mounted HDTV. The included mounting brackets allow the AOW312B to be positioned either straight ahead or at a 15-degree angle for improved focus and imaging. If you're installing the AOW312B in a dedicated home theater utilizing a projection screen, make sure your screen is acoustically transparent (perforated or woven) to ensure the proper sound quality from a center mounted AOW312B speaker. Truthfully, if you're considering purchasing the AOW312B system for your home theater or studio you're going to want your local dealer to handle the lion's share of the installation to avoid any mishaps.
The AOW312B features a single 12-inch bass driver, which is powered by a dedicated 180-Watt amplifier, which rests inside the outboard amp. The AOW312B has a single five-inch midrange driver powered by a dedicated 120-Watt amp and a one-inch metal dome tweeter that gets its own 120-Watt amplifier. The AOW312B has a reported frequency response of 37Hz-21kHz and can reach movie theater-like volume levels of 116 dB for short periods of time and even hit 123dB peaks when necessary.
The AOW312B's outboard amplifier, or RAM4 as it's called, is pretty plain looking. Okay, it's a black box, designed to be rack mounted in a standard Middle Atlantic rack or the like. When rack mounted, the RAM4 amplifier takes up three rack spaces, measuring in at five and a quarter inches tall by 19 inches wide and 13 inches deep. The amplifier weighs a surprising 27 pounds, which is rather light considering its power output and performance. I can't think of any amplifier that is capable of churning out 400 plus Watts of power that weighs less than fifty pounds.
In keeping with their professional pedigree, the AOW312B doesn't connect to the RAM4 via traditional speaker cables and/or even interconnects; instead it uses Speakon cable connectors, which look a lot like balanced or XLR terminated interconnects, but instead of featuring three prongs they have a single, circular connector in the center. You can connect the RAM4 to your preamp/processor via balanced interconnects only.
Once installed and dialed in, the Genelec AOW312Bs sound nothing like any consumer grade home theater speaker you've ever heard because they really aren't home theater speakers. They're theater speakers and as such the AOW312Bs deliver big sound in a dynamic and grandiose way. The AOW312Bs are not harsh or brittle the way some theaters speakers sound, but they are a touch forward and incredibly nimble and I assure you they are capable of sonic feats you've never heard from a home system. The detail, impact and sheer scale the AOW312Bs are capable of reproducing is awe-inspiring. While I'm not sure I'd build a multi-channel music and movie system solely around the AOW312Bs, I can think of few dedicated home theater speakers that can recreate a true theater experience the way the AOW312Bs do.
Read The High Points, The Low Points and The Conclusion on Page 2