Geneva Lab Model L and Model XL Sound Systems | iLounge

Reviews

1

On the XL: relatively speaking, now THAT is big. In white or black, it seems like it would make a matching colored 5G or nano just disappear. 'Overwhelming' doesn't even begin to describe the impression I get from looking at these images. (IMO, I'm kinda thinking it's for someone considerably younger and hipper than moi, being the two-box, old-schooler that I am...)

I'm still not convinced with concept of this Embracing Sound technology and the premise for its handling of stereo imaging, but I suppose the proof IS in the listening. As with other direct-from-manufacturer products, it would really be better if the thing was marketed through retailers as well; I guess the consumer will have to trust the ears of reviewers for the time being.

Posted by flatline response on April 22, 2006 at 12:52 AM (PDT)

2

I wouldn't want this

Posted by nojok3 on April 23, 2006 at 8:19 AM (PDT)

3

Considering the pricing, it would be good to know how this system would compare to an iPod dock plus a comparatively priced choice of a stereo receiver, speaker system, and CD player.

I know what I think the outcome would be, but it sounds like this is an impressive setup and I'd like to know exactly how well it compares.

Posted by mattwardfh in Texas on April 24, 2006 at 12:15 PM (PDT)

4

I guess the real question is how it stacks up to whatever speaker/amp/preamp setup you could get for $1000. that isn't very much money at all in audiophile terms- if they sounded as good as most $1000 speakers, you'd have yourself a bargain. even then, you'd have to drop around another grand for amp/preamp even beginning to be good enough to do a good job with the speakers.

Posted by afolpe on April 24, 2006 at 6:09 PM (PDT)

5

Too bad I don't have a spare $1,000 laying around somewhere wink

Josh

Posted by Josh Powell in VA on April 24, 2006 at 6:17 PM (PDT)

6

I know it is a Swiss product but can you confirm the origin of the speaker. I would love to have a listen but getting one across the border, customs and all, is enough to dampen my enthusiasm.

Posted by Oink on April 24, 2006 at 8:21 PM (PDT)

7

RE: Oink's question on "getting one across the border", I can say on behalf of Geneva Lab Corporation that shipments to customers all originate within the United States and there is free ground shipping to customers in the continental USA and Canada.

Posted by george.emerson on April 25, 2006 at 7:24 AM (PDT)

8

These are very nice, but I could use a good set of powered computer speakers to do the same job for a lot less money. What am I missing here?

Posted by TulsaGent in Tulsa, OK, USA on April 25, 2006 at 8:20 AM (PDT)

9

RE: george.emerson - Thanks, yes, the price includes shipping to canada excluding the custom duties (a percentage) and the one I hate most, the brokerage fee, which based on my experience is a random figure off the air. I once paid a Cdn850 fee for a US1000 purchase off ebay! It was a pay it or the product is ours situation!

Posted by Oink on April 25, 2006 at 10:26 AM (PDT)

10

TulsaGent - there are no "computer speakers" that will sound like these. Even very good "computer speakers" are laughably poor compared with good quality component audio. There are truly very few good sounding speakers at less than $300/pair regardless. Certainly I have owned and listened to plenty of dirt-cheap ($100 - $150) speakers, but I don't expect them to do very much other than be less annoying than even cheaper alternatives.

If you cannot hear the difference, then it doesn't matter for you. But for others for whom high quality sound is critical, the Geneva systems are apparently in the running. I'd love to audition one for myself.

Posted by BradPDX in Portland, OR USA on April 25, 2006 at 10:53 AM (PDT)

11

A few comments: regarding the comparatively priced choice of receiver, speakers, and CD player, we have floorstanding speaker setups in the general price range of the XL, and we could write up a comparison, but honestly, what value would that be? There are literally thousands of systems that could be assembled for the $1150 total asking price of XL and the stand, and assuming we put together ten of them and found XL superior, there would surely be ten more that it would fall behind.

So, the simple answer is this: L and XL are the best-sounding iPod speaker systems we've heard overall, but we're also fairly confident that alternate systems with equivalent or superior audio quality (and versatility, especially in optical input) could be assembled for the same prices. As much was suggested in the review, particularly in the stereo separation and whole AV system references, where Geneva's one-piece offerings (and iPod Hi-Fi) do well for their dimensions, but fall short of what could be accomplished more easily with three separate speakers.

However, since the appeal of both of these systems is as much artistic and minimalist as anything else, simply reducing the comparison to component costs would miss the point. How much is a Picasso painting worth on components? Canvas: $10, oil paints: $8, brush and labor: $100. You get the picture.

Tulsa, et al: These sound radically better than powered computer speakers. Geneva needs to find a way to let people experience them for themselves.

Also, to respond to an e-mail inquiry: the radios in L and XL are acceptable but not fantastic on reception. They are easy to tune, and if you are willing to play with the external antenna a bit, you can get them to a superior level of performance, but out of the box, Tivoli's iPAL is a superior, less expensive tuner. This point was glossed over in the review because it's a relatively small part of the product's aggregate appeal.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on April 25, 2006 at 3:39 PM (PDT)

12

Although I feel both the iPod HiFi and Geneva speakers have received fair reviews and good ratings on this site, I'm concerned by a perceived negative attitude towards the iPod HiFi which I believe carries over to the Geneva L and XL in their final evaluation. When first announced, the iPod HiFi was almost universally reviled for falling far short of expectations; a point which I found confusing considering it was designed as an extension of the iPod. One of the main reasons for the iPod's early success was it's simple elegance in both form and function. It appealed to people outside the usual "techie" crowd; grandparents, women, children, the "tech illiterate", etc. Having now had the opportunity to audition the HiFi, I've become enchanted by the implementation. Truly in the mold of the iPod it's meant to complement, the HiFi succeeds in doing exactly what it was designed to do: provide very good quality, room filling sound in an understated package without all the hassles normally associated with audio of this quality. My five year old daughter can use it without effort, my parents could set up and use this system completely without help.

Which is why I'm concerned by how both the HiFi and Geneva systems are being perceived. They are being labeled deficient in not providing video outs, not working well with home theatre systems, not including this input or that, missing feature x or y. It would appear both these systems provide exactly the level of functionality their target audience are looking for. People who want high quality music; simple to operate and easy to integrate in their homes (it might come as quite a shock to some that a great number of people have no interest in hooking their televisions to their stereos; in surround sound or home theatre.) Often derided for it's understated design, I feel the iPod HiFi would be welcome in far more well decorated rooms than the products which perhaps appeal to a "geekier" crowd. Although a "gear head" could perhaps put together a more full featured and better performing set of separates at a lower cost than the XL, I doubt strongly the jumble or wires and boxes would have anywhere near the appeal and ease of use of the Geneva products.

Like the iPod before them, the Geneva speaker systems and iPod HiFi are distilling todays high tech consumer electronic components down to their most useful features and presenting them in packages that more easily integrate into the average person's lifestyle. I applaud them for the very points that are often listed as their flaws and look forward to adding the little HiFi to my B&Ws; and PSBs.

Posted by StephenPM on April 25, 2006 at 7:32 PM (PDT)

13

Stephen: The truth of the matter is that many different types of people (listeners) now own iPods, so it's no surprise that one person's con will be another person's pro when it comes to speakers. For true audiophiles, the very description of an ultraportable speaker system will be a complete turnoff, but for others, it may be appealing. We've had a chance to see almost all of the various options, and we try to take into account many different types of readers when we review new speakers.

So, having said that, there are now many speaker systems for the iPod that can be described in the ways you described the Hi-Fi - Altec's iM7, Bose's Sounddock, and others among them. None require a genius to set up or operate, and really, the biggest difference is how much of that "very good quality" you get for the dollar. Our assessment is that you get the most quality for the dollar with the iM7, which is aggressively priced and attractively designed, a bit less value with the SoundDock, and a bit less again with the Hi-Fi. For $250 ($175 now if you shop around), IM7 achieves solid sound (with user control), the best portability, arguably the most interesting design, and also video-out - the only major thing it lacks is the ability to drive its speakers at the insanely high volume levels of the Hi-Fi. I'd find it hard to imagine your five-year old or parents would have a problem using the iM7.

The Hi-Fi does a good, but not great job at all of these things. It was basically designed to appeal to a person who demands somewhat superior audio performance and is willing to pay a fairly substantial premium for it. (The Genevas are the same, but we liked the sound a lot more than the Hi-Fi's, which didn't impress us as much on the high-end as we'd expected.) In our view, this is a nichier approach than Altec's, resulting in a product fewer people can afford, and find a reason to justify... but we can appreciate why some people are willing to pay more, and our ratings try to suggest just how much better one can do for the dollar, all factors considered.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on April 29, 2006 at 1:31 PM (PDT)

14

I have a question about the stands for the L. Is it essential to buy these for the sound or do they sound fine on the floor?

Ed

Posted by EddieJ on May 7, 2006 at 11:37 PM (PDT)

15

i purchased 2 L's (different rooms) and was blown away. friend came over
and loved it so much he bought one from me right there.

i then went straight to the web and bought an LX to replace it! needless
to say we have means to do such things...

two points are missing in this discussion of the Geneva Labs loudspeakers.

1) this system is CHEAP! the sonic reproduction you get is effortless and amazingly energetic - you will be hard pressed to produce anything sounding close to the LX for under $5k using audiophile quality components (sorry Jeremy just a reality). and needless to say you could spend twice that and still not get the mix right. a well balanced amp/speaker combo is a hard thing to find and Geneva Labs obviously obsessed over this one point to all our benefit.

now i have a excellent ear and exposure to friends with expensive tastes and the LX speaker sonicly goes toe 2 toe in fidelity and richness of sound with a friend's $30k component stereo featuring a "pass labs X1 pre-amp", a "Pass 250 amp" and "B&W 802D" loud speakers. after spending an evening drinking beer and listening to tunes (at the volume set to ~70) he remarked - "impressive sound, not at all stressed or over driven, definitively a nice, rich sound and the stereo separation is eerie. who makes these again?"

Disclaimer: the Pass Labs and B&W setup are an experience, more authoritative and POWERFUL - if you will - but not more detailed and only slightly richer and more natural. but the XL's sound is clean, detailed, wonderfully rich and worthy of being in the same conversation as such standards as Pass Labs and B&W - which you can't say about any other iPod stereo, period!

in short, the LX sounds AMAZING and is a poor audiophile's wet dream! end of story on the performance. if your not an audiophile then get the
apple hi-fi and move on or get the L or LX and understand in person how low your standards really were.

2) the size is not an issue, it is a feature. the LX, like the B&W 802D
loud speakers (176 lb each btw) are not small and that is the point,
these are furniture and both the B&W's and the Geneva Labs look the part. it is just an necessary evil, if you want to produce life like detail and fullness, you need a solid cabinet. btw, just to put things into perspective, the Pass Labs 250 amp alone weighs 100lbs... the whole Genevalabs LX system is just 66lbs.

hope this comment helped the guy who is looking for an outstanding audio
experience, cant afford $5-$10 grand (just to start), but wants to be in
the audiophile game. without hesitation, i give both the LX and the L my highest recommendation.

Posted by moosammy on June 4, 2006 at 1:11 PM (PDT)

16

First. I'm a snob. I waited 4 years to purchase a sound system for my living room -- nothing had the balance of style and capability that suited my interested. I liked the looks of the system. No cable or component clutter. Check. Good Sound Maybe. 30 day tryout. Check. I ordered the XL.

Second. It is freakin' awesome. B+ rating was wrong. The sound is mind blowing good.

Third. I popped in the sound check CD (included) and the surround demo fooled my cat. The critter was looking all around the room for things that were not there. And, I'm sure my cat's ear is way better than mine or anybody elses.

If you have an aversion to cables and desire for the best sound, then this is the system for you.

I can't wait until my friend Kevin comes over -- he's got a ton-o-cash in specialty speakers and high end tube amps. This thing really will go up against very very high end gear. And if you want to play a CD or use your Ipod, then the only cable is power which is easily hidden.

I plan on using an airtunes port for the line in -- that way I can stream my digital library; should work with movies played through itunes too. All good.

P.S. Unpacking is tricky -- the unit is heavy -- the box claimed it was 104 lbs. The stand was 28 lbs.

Posted by chrisbarnes on June 23, 2006 at 11:53 AM (PDT)

17

I suppose from the earlier comments, I'm not most people: I bought the XL and the stand for my office, to run an ipod or satellite radio as we see fit. Our office decor is 'sumptuous modern' in NYC, so the XL fits in aesthetically. I hoped it would sound good as well, and since there are several musicians in our office, we were skeptical of the XL. Now we're all saving for home models; it just sounds that good. My only criticism is that the remote is pretty clunky, and is lacking in features. I also feel that the led was a wasted opportunity; why doesn't it run across the top with the listing of the song being played?

Posted by mseydel on July 6, 2006 at 11:43 AM (PDT)

18

We're giving the Model L a try and will use their 30 day return policy if not satisfied. We've used a JVC mini-system in the kitchen/dining/lounge area of our townhouse because we didn't want stacks of components, wires and speakers. However, over the years, satellite radio along with iPod docks and cables began to dongle up the area. We looked at Bose SoundDocks, Apple Hi-Fi and other solutions, but all required additional components to acheive all-in-one solutions or sounded no better than our mini-system. Having everything in one box (excepting the sat radio) on a stand with placement options and quality audio reproduction really appeals. Yes, the price seems high. But the practicality, placement versatility, and improved audio seem worth it. I'll let you know.

Posted by djones18 on July 12, 2006 at 7:49 AM (PDT)

19

Revising my review- the customer service at Geneva Labs overpromises and under-delivers. This was a corporate purchase of an XL, which showed up with a damaged grille. We had to call 8 times to get the pickup scheduled, and we were assured that it would be done promptly and seamlessly so that we would not be without a device. Over two weeks later, the defective unit has been removed, but we still haven't seen our replacement. Very shoddy.

Posted by mseydel on July 24, 2006 at 9:08 AM (PDT)

20

Since Geneva Lab's speakers are not available in stores for a listen, can anyone tell me how the L and XL models compare in sound quality to the Klipsch ifi? I have heard the ifi's in a store and liked the sound. They have an 8" subwoofer. The L model does not. If I want at least the quality of the ifi, does that mean I should buy the XL that has two 8" subwoofers?

Posted by afvespa on August 3, 2006 at 7:30 PM (PDT)

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