'Mensch' is a Yiddish word which means a whole lot more than 'man', its German source. A mensch is a 'quality dude' (to use current patois), the kind of person who possesses any of a number of virtues, but the main one is integrity, Considering what a rare beast a mensch is in the world of hi-fi, the loss of a mensch is a serious blow. And when Arnie Nudell left Infinity a couple of years ago, I felt that the community had been somewhat diminished. And, no, I'm not after an 'Order of the Brown-Nose' award, nor am I bucking for a pair of free speakers.
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Nudell, whatever I thought of Infinity speakers (loved some, loathed others), impressed me because of his tenacity/stubbornness, his frightening passion for music (eg, he listens to open reel tapes as a primary source; he refuses to give up on making me love classical music) and his love for the world of high end audio. So maybe I shouldn't have worried. Somehow, I knew he'd be back. And he's returned in style, with an entire range of speakers and subwoofers, produced in collaboration with another audio ace, Paul McGowan of PS Audio origins.* Paul's expertise with electronics, naturally, led to him designing the Genesis crossovers.
So strong were Nudell's beliefs, as embodied in Infinity products, that I was dying to learn how he'd come up with something new without contradicting over 20 years' worth of track record. And however dissimilar the Genesis models may seem to Infinity speakers, they are consistent with the Nudell philosophy.
The line-up includes three full-range models, called rather preciously 'imaging modules', plus two subwoofers. The latter are prime Nudellisms, as both are self-powered with servo amplification -- just like the IRS and (sound of dust being blown off a speaker) the original Servo-Static. And I wonder how many audiophiles smiled knowingly when Nudell announced a new subwoofer called the Servostak? Anyway, the imaging modules (two 2-way and one 3-way) employ Kevlar coned woofers and ribbon tweeters. Not ribbons of the Kelly/SD/Apogee/Magnepan variety, but spiral types which look, from a distance, like 1in dome tweeters. So, again consistent with the past, the Genesis speakers are hybrids.
The biggest departure from Infinity practice is the enclosure architecture. All three imaging modules are housed in cylindrical enclosures reminiscent of the sorely missed JR loudspeakers of the late 1970s. The baffle is flat but narrow, with the sides curving back; the Genesis speakers can boast of minimal interference from cabinet 'edges'. The baffle area is covered with a material which absorbs initial reflections, while the enclosure itself is fashioned from a triple laminate made of a wood fibre core, an inner layer of damping material and an outer layer fashioned from a 'high-pressure laminate'. The latter contributes to the gorgeous looks: high gloss black.
The materials and the shape combine to form a rigid, inert enclosure immune to the smearing and distortion created by internal standing waves and unwanted resonances. The model under review, the entry-level IM-5200, weighs but 18kg, so mass cannot take credit for producing the 'deadness'. But the speaker is as 'unboxy' as a Celestion SL700 or a Sonus Faber, so the enclosure shape and the choice of material work very well indeed.
Arrival times have been handled through the age-old practice of tilting the speaker. A 10-degree slope is recommended, so Genesis makes an attractive, dedicated stand which does the trick. But I do wish that the company had chosen another name for the stand beside 'Foundation'. Once Cliff Stone hears about it... (Someone really should talk to Arnie about names. 'Foundation', 'Servostak', 'imaging modules'' -- even the company name is off the peg, a reminder of a so-so speaker from a decade ago, its sole claim to fame being drivers with lime green trim. Or was that Bolivar? Dunno. I forget. Or I'm trying to forget.)
The IM-5200 is a 'pricey mini', one which will, in the UK, compete with all manner of quality boxes. With a tag reading '£759', it will face off against Celestion SL600s, the Sonus Faber Minuetto, myriad speakers from Spendor and KEF and Rogers and Monitor Audio and anyone else with a stand-mounted speaker fighting for a home with customers spending between £500 and £1000. Its looks will help to make it stand out from the crowd, but the novelty value of a cylindrical enclosure and a proprietary tweeter won't complete the sale. From £500 on up, the market is filled with clever designs eschewing the mere 'cone and dome in a walnut box' recipe common to most speakers below that price point. So the Genesis has to cook.Read more about the IM-5200s on Page 2.