Genelec is one of the leaders in the studio monitor space, with a comprehensive range of professional monitors in its lineup. In this review, we check out the 8331 from ‘The Ones’ series, a sensational monitor that is practically flawless.
If you came to this review to validate that you should buy this monitor, you’ve come to the right place. The 8331 is innovative, powerful, sounds spectacular, and worth buying.
The Genelec 8331 is a true revelation of what a 3-way studio monitor can be. It overcomes several of the challenges of 3-way design and delivers unparalleled detail and precision. Let’s take a closer look at this impressive monitor.
I’m not going to mince words; the Genelec 8331 offers an incredibly detailed and reliable sound profile that will surely bring a smile to your face. Well, it certainly did for me.
First up is the incredible level of precision in the frequency response. Tight and on-point across the entire spread with barely a bump or dip. If you demand accuracy, the 8331 delivers it in spades.
The low-end is robust, lively, and accurate, allowing you to make informed and confident decisions in an area many monitors struggle with. The two racetrack woofers effectively match the output of much larger monitors with finesse and ease.
The Genelec 8331 offers impeccable sound quality.
The incredible detail carries into the midrange. Wonderfully dynamic and equally precise with a lush and engaging delivery. Whether you are dealing with vocals, instrumental compositions, or even sound effects, the 8331 offers a revealing and uncompromising level of detail.
Continuing in what is a near-perfect sound profile is the delectable top end. Crisp and bright without a hint of harshness. Studio monitors often sound brittle in the top end, but that is not the case here. Indeed a magical performance across the board.
Stereo imaging is superb, and the directivity is unblemished for a holistic sound spread that invites you to experiment and innovate within your mixes—a masterclass in intelligent design and precision engineering. I’ve always liked Genelec monitors, but this innovative design sets a new benchmark. Simply superb.
This is not a cheap monitor, so you must expect premium quality, and in this regard, Genelec doesn’t disappoint. This rugged monitor is up to the challenge of daily use and will become a staple of your studio for years to come.
There is no hint of any sloppiness in the components of this monitor. There are two concealed racetrack woofers, a diffraction coaxial midrange driver, and a diffraction coaxial tweeter. Expertly crafted and featuring protection circuitry to ensure longevity.
High-quality materials and superb design.
The die-cast aluminum cabinet is also outstanding and will not scuff easily. The rear panel showcases a series of dip switches for tuning control. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest fan of dip switches, as they can be finicky. But I’ve also become accustomed to them, so it is by no means a dealbreaker.
The connections are neatly recessed with a vertical orientation for easy mounting installation. As expected, the connection points are all secure and high quality. The included IsoPod is also fantastic. I have no complaints about the level of build quality and considering it is Genelec, I’m also not surprised. They have a superb reputation for their products’ quality, which continues here.
The Genelec features a frequency response of 58 Hz – 20 kHz (± 1.5 dB) with a low cutoff of 45 Hz at -6dB and a high cutoff of 37 kHz at -6 dB. As mentioned in the sound quality section, the response is ultra-tight and accurate.
Considering it’s a relatively small monitor, it packs a powerful punch with a maximum short-term SPL of 104 dB and a hefty 99 dB long-term max SPL. The compact form factor makes this monitor ideal for smaller studio spaces, and you’ll have ample headroom in a near-field environment.
The Genelec 8331 features multiple drivers in a compact form factor.
Harmonic distortion is exceptionally low, with no self-generating noise completing a near-perfect sound profile. Directivity is among the best I’ve seen, thanks to the point-source design of the coaxial drivers, directivity control waveguide, and minimum diffraction enclosure technology.
Powering this little monster is a set of three class D amplifiers. One 72W Class D Amplifier for the two racetrack woofers. A 36 W amplifier for the midrange driver and another 36 W amplifier for the tweeter.
The Genelec 8331 also offers a range of tuning features. I suggest using this monitor as part of a GLM setup for maximum flexibility. But even in standalone mode, you can still tune the monitor to suit your space and needs effectively.
You’ll likely be dealing with some low-frequency reverberance in a small studio space. This is where the Bass Roll-Off control comes into play, allowing you to adjust the cutoff frequency by -2 dB, -4 dB, or -6 dB.
The dip switches give you control over output in standalone mode.
Desktop reflection compensation is also available to deal with reflective surfaces like desks. Bass Tilt and Trebel Tilt controls complete the options and help deal with corner and wall placement, along with adjusting the top end if you find it subdued or overly bright.
However, the Genelec 8331 shines as part of a comprehensive system that is interlinked and calibrated with the GLM software. You’ll have access to automated acoustic equalization and alignment for a complete immersive setup ideal for Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D, 360 Reality Audio, and many more.
Highly versatile and extremely flexible, the 8331 is a perfect addition to any studio and can tackle a vast range of studio applications.
The Genelec 8331 hits it out of the park in the design category, both from an aesthetic standpoint and a technical one.
Let’s cover the most straightforward portion first. At first glance, the 8331 appears similar to other Genelec monitors since it inherits the minimum diffraction enclosure technology. But due to the coaxial design, it does stray into new territory compared to its other siblings.
It’s an unassuming monitor that prioritizes function above all else. The 8331 is also available in four colors. Dark Grey, White, Black, and Raw. This gives you maximum flexibility to help these blend into your studio environment.
The Genelec 8331 is available in multiple colors.
Now let’s dive into the long list of design decisions and innovations at the heart of the 8331.
First is the superb integration of a 3-way design into such a compact footprint. To achieve this, the two racetrack woofers sit behind the midrange and tweeter coaxial combination and radiate low frequencies through slots. This keeps the woofers hidden but also minimizes acoustic diffractions.
Speaking of diffractions, the Minimum Diffraction Enclosure delivers on its design intentions. It keeps the response as flat as possible thanks to the gently curved design and precise engineering.
The coaxial design that Genelec employs here is also a step above other point-source coaxial designs I’ve come across. There are no irregularities that can often plague poorly engineered coaxial setups.
The coaxial design is highly effective.
Genelec has also improved the design further thanks to an advanced reflex port design that helps deliver rich low-end performance while maintaining a small enclosure. It’s low noise and provides satisfying bass without distortion or compression.
The Genelec 8331 performs just as well horizontally as it does vertically and offers mounting points. An IsoPod is also part of the package.
The Genelec 8331 is a remarkable monitor and a testament to the skill and prowess of the Genelec team. Every part of the 8331 design is an exercise in careful and thoughtful design with direct and successful implementation.
This is one of the most astonishing aspects of the Genelec 8331. 3-way monitors tend to be large and bulky to accommodate the three drivers and, as a result, rather cumbersome to integrate into studio spaces. But thanks to superb design, the 8331 bucks this trend and offers a compact monitor that can comfortably squeeze into tighter spaces and be a viable part of a small studio space.
The Genelec 8331 has a small footprint compared to other 3-way monitors.
Using aluminum in the cabinet helps keep the unit’s weight down while improving EMC shielding and allowing heat-sinking capabilities for the amplifiers. At just 15 lbs. (6.8 kg), you could practically use these as part of a travel rig. Compact and lightweight without impacting performance or durability.
The Genelec 8331 is ideal for use within a multi-unit setup. You’ll have a primary XLR input along with an XLR output. The use of XLR is superb, thanks to the locking mechanism that will ensure everything stays connected.
The Genelec 8331 can be part of a full GLM network.
But the main draw of the 8331 is the GLM network connectors. This opens up the flexibility to combine a whole system connecting to the GLM application. The Genelec 8331 is a professional monitor with connections to match, so don’t expect any consumer-oriented bells and whistles here.
Value is subjective and even more so regarding the 8331. I won’t beat around the bush; this studio monitor comes with a hefty price tag that will sting, but that is where perspective is required.
For a professional studio setup, you inevitably need to invest accordingly to achieve the results you desire. And in that regard, the 8331 is reasonably priced. These are a good choice even for a working professional that wants capable monitors for their home studio. If your job and reputation depend on your ability to make accurate and confident decisions, the 8331 fills that role perfectly.
If you are a hobbyist, these are overkill. You can get by with cheaper monitors that will still deliver excellent performance. But if you have the money to spend, the Genelec 8331 is a spectacular choice that will consistently impress you—a significant investment but very much worth every dollar.
It is challenging to find any negative reviews for the Genelec 8331. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise. There is little to fault with this monitor. Nearly every review praises this monitor for its sensational sound quality and the innovative design of this compact 3-way monitor.
One of the benefits of a completely integrated system like Genelec offers via their GLM software is the ability to work with immersive audio.
You might already be familiar with surround sound that aims to deliver you a 360-degree horizontal audio experience. Immersive audio adds a layer of height and three-dimensionality to your work.
The Genelec 8331 is perfect as part of an immersive audio studio.
Immersive audio has become a staple in cinema applications with formats like Dolby Atmos, but it has also become a part of music production. It allows artists to take their creativity into a third dimension and give their listeners a unique and engaging experience. Its popularity has also seen it added as a dedicated category of the Grammy Awards.
As the technology becomes increasingly utilized, more home audio setups are employing this dynamic component. For the most part, it’s for home theatre applications. But the growth of immersive audio in music is also a gateway to enjoying the latest cutting-edge music production techniques.
Three-way monitors are popular for medium to large studio spaces. If you have the room, you can look at alternatives to the more compact Genelec 8331. Below is a quick look at some of these other options.
Neumann KH 310 Review
Neumann is another well-respected audio manufacturer offering 3-way studio monitors. The KH 310 is among the best they offer and comes at a price similar to the 8331.
- Superb accuracy and tight response for consistent and reliable performance.
- Straightforward tuning controls that are readily accessible and easy to adjust.
- Large and bulky compared to the Genelec 8331.
Neumann KH 310
ADAM Audio A8H Review
If you can’t stretch your budget for the 8331, the A8H from ADAM Audio is worth exploring. It features an X-ART ribbon tweeter for ultra-detailed high-frequency delivery.
- Ruler flat response that stays true to the source material.
- A more approachable price point that will suit bargain hunters.
- Not everyone likes the audio profile of ribbon tweeters, as they can seem slightly harsh.
ADAM Audio A8H
HEDD Type 20 MK2 Review
The final alternative I want to highlight is the Type 20 MK2 from HEDD. This front-ported 3-way monitor is a good choice if you want to mount these close to a wall and you want a traditional 3-way design.
- Highly detailed sound profile that brings details to the forefront while maintaining accuracy.
- The front-ported design performs well, but you can also plug the hole for a sealed enclosure experience.
- Much like the A8H, the tweeter does produce a unique high-frequency response that might not suit some people’s tastes.
HEDD Type 20 MK2
Should You Buy?
The Genelec 8331 is as close as it comes to perfect design and implementation. It delivers unmatched sound quality that is detailed, accurate, and not boring in the slightest. The small form factor is also highly appealing and allows this to be a part of a wide array of studio spaces.
From an outsider’s perspective, the price tag might seem high, but you can spend a substantial amount more and not come anywhere near this level of quality. If you have the money and want one of the best 3-way monitors on the market, the Genelec 8331 should be at the top of your list of options.