Unlike the 5040A the 7050B isn't downward firing, which will give respite to downstairs neighbours should you live in a flat and both subs can connect up to five speakers in total for true home cinema fanatics. Tinkerers will also be able to adjust the sensitivity, roll-off and phase of both speaker and bass to suit their taste.
All of which brings us to the biggest strength/weakness of the Genelec 8020B speaker system: its sound signature. In short it doesn't have one. Whereas mass market consumer brands push bass boosting proprietary enhancements and typically try to push a specific part of the mids, lows or highs to create a brand/sound association, the Genelec 8020B - and Genelec speakers across the board – are a blank page.
Given their professional ties the aim is to recreate your audio as neutrally as possible. This means feed them low bitrate MP3s and there is no effort to mask over the flaws, in fact the speakers will go out of their way to highlight them. Then again feed them high quality MP3s (minimum 256Kbps and higher), CDs or lossless audio and all the detail and finesse of the original recording comes across without the mucky fingerprints of a brand's particular sound signature all over it. In short: keep the Genelec 8020B on a high quality diet and you will be richly rewarded.
So how do the costs break down? At £290 per speaker we have to say surprisingly well with a £580 2.0 investment more than enough for the vast majority of users. Include the 7050B, however, at £709 this outlay more than doubles. Then again it allows for gradual investment evolving a setup from a 2.0 to 2.1 to 5.1 system over time. A further sign of the Genelec 8020A's professional aspirations is its use of XLR rather than RCA connectors, but pricing carries little premium over RCA cables and XLR is a standard which locks in place, something frustratingly overlooked by RCA.
A further value element to factor in is all Genelec speakers are active monitors, aka loudspeakers with built-in amplifiers and active. This assists accuracy – a vital aspect in Genelec's neutral sound reproduction – and reduces the risk of blown drivers, but also means audio sources do not need separate costly amplifiers. Consequently you can connect something as small as a smartphone or MP3 player directly to even a 5.1 8020B/7050B setup and it will provide the necessary additional power.
We asked at the start of this review where the line between enthusiast and professional equipment lies and in the strictest sense the Genelec 8020B speaker system crosses it. As such it won't plaster over poor quality audio, feature an Apple dock and it opts for professional cabling standards, but the flip side is its phenomenal, room filling audio available at prices below vastly less impressive consumer-focused alternatives. This makes crossing the professional divide worthwhile on this occasion and though the Genelec 6010A will be more than enough for the vast majority of users, the Genelec 8020B will amaze even the most demanding of home entertainment fanatics.