4 Genelec 8010a Alternatives

music producer listening to alternative to geneloc 8010a studio monitor

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It’s obvious, but also frequently overlooked: you can only make music that sounds as good as your speakers.

One of the first and most important lessons any new producer should learn is the effect of your listening environment on the quality of music you can produce. People find audio a little hard to visualize- music is an ephemeral experience, yet powerful! So I like to use visual examples to make it easier to understand. Imagine you are drawing or painting, but your glasses are smudged, and you can’t see what you are doing clearly.

How can you know what you are doing, if it’s distorted? Yet this is the same issue you face when you try to produce or mix music with poor monitors.

As you dive into studio monitor options, you will quickly become aware of Genelec. This Finnish company was founded in the 1970s and developed a reputation among professional studios. Their monitors were never aimed at consumers or amateurs. Their prices are high, but their popularity in pro studios speaks for itself.

However, not every producer is ready to spend big on the Genelec studio monitor, the most popular of which is the Genelec 8010a so I’m here to break down the best alternatives that will still get the job done. In some cases, you may actually like the alternative more than the original. I’ll explain everything you need to know but if you just want to skip ahead you can see our favorite alternative options here:

Best Budget Option
PreSonus Eris E3.5

PreSonus Eris E3.5

  • High performance at budget pricing
Premium Pick
Neumann KH80

Neumann KH80

  • 4" drivers and premium quality means these studio monitors are an upgrade from the Genelec 8010a
Best All-Around Alternative
IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors

IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors

  • Great all-around balance of price, budget, and sound quality
Best For EDM
KRK Classic 5

KRK Classic 5

  • Prioritizes bass power which can be ideal for most EDM genres

But first, let’s make sure we fully understand what makes the Genelec 8010a so good so we know exactly what we’re looking for in an alternative.

The Music Production Industry Is Bigger But The Gear Is Smaller

Music production has changed, and a new paradigm has emerged.

The rise of streaming music services means recording music is no longer about creating a product to sell. Now, it’s about creating music to give out for free, in the hopes of building a fanbase and selling merch and concert tickets. The digital revolution means that music production technology has gotten easier to operate, much smaller, and cheaper to own.

Dedicated recording studios largely existed because no musician could reasonably afford recording equipment, or learn to operate it on the side. Now, more and more musicians of all stripes are picking up basic recording or production gear, and learning the fundamentals of studio recording at home. With just a phone, a little bit of gear, and a YouTube video you can now create beautiful recordings in a day.

With this new paradigm, the studio monitor market shifts. The shift has created a greater demand than ever for very small studio monitors. The potential reasons are numerous. If you are producing in a small room like a bedroom, large monitors can be a liability.

While smaller speakers have a smaller bass response, of course, larger monitors have issues in untreated small square rooms. Those bass frequencies can do more harm than good in a bedroom.

Another reason- perhaps you have a good set of large monitors, but you want something portable to take on the road. Maybe you have a secondary music room and you want speakers that do the job there. Or maybe you just want something inexpensive to learn on, before investing in a more powerful system.

Genelec 8010a Studio Monitor: Big Sound In A Small Package

Genelec has responded in kind to this new demand and introduced monitors that match this new semi-professional market. The Genelec 8010a monitors made a splash when they were released in 2014. Well, a ripple really since they were one of the smallest studio monitors released that year.

With their 3” drivers, weighing about three pounds each, their impressive sounds seems unlikely- if not impossible. Yet Genelec is not wasting its nameplate on them. Diminutive as they may be, these are no Logitech multimedia speakers. Their relatively steep price tag tells you that these are serious music production tools, but just in a small package.

Dozens of reviews attest to their value. The 8010a monitors have an impressive bass response for their size (their range starts at 67Hz, just above the sub-bass range) and overall, a much smoother and more transparent sound than their size would suggest. They are also shockingly loud and powerful for their stature.

These speakers aren’t going to take the place of larger speakers in serious studios. Yet their clarity of sound ensures that producers could use them to create rich and beautiful music, especially in genres where bass is not as crucial.

The Genelec 8010a speakers have more great features that make them ideal for many producers. They include built-in adjustable rubber bases, to easily isolate them from whatever surface they are placed on. The bases also make it easier to point the monitors directly at your ears without clumsy after-market maneuvering. These monitors are engineered for hardiness; their aluminum enclosures and metal speaker grills provide added protection on the go.

These are all definitely great features, but they’re far from impossible to find in an alternative.

4 Genelec 8010a Alternatives

So with all these positive things to say about these speakers, why am I writing an article about the best alternatives?

People could have numerous legitimate reasons to seek an alternative. Perhaps they want their research to be thorough before making a decision. Maybe the premium pricing is outside their budget. On the other hand, maybe money is no issue and they want to know if anything is available that’s even better.

I present here four alternatives to the Genelec 8010a studio monitors. I have chosen them based on several criteria- price, sound quality, and just a different flavor of music production.

Best Budget Option: PreSonus Eris E3.5

Best Budget Option
PreSonus Eris E3.5
  • High performance at budget pricing
  • Bass response of 80 Hz compared to Geneloc's 67 Hz but still sounds great
  • More than 15,000 five-star reviews on Amazon

There are now a number of very small monitor speakers, or even “monitor” speakers, on the market at extremely low prices. Sometimes confusingly low prices.

Some of these options actually present themselves as “multimedia” speakers,” but are categorized in stores or online with other studio monitors. You know, that kind of implied association. Think about how some very super-cheap ice cream is legally barred from using the term “ice cream” and instead is sold as “frozen dairy dessert.” This should also tell you all you need to know- you get what you pay for.

But that’s not the case with the PreSonus Eris E3.5 and they’re the big exception to the rule, standing head and shoulders above the rest in this category. At their budget-friendly price, it’s essentially miraculous that they can be called studio monitors in any sense of the word. The Eris speakers are slightly larger than the 8010a’s, with 3.5” drivers. They have great clarity, flatness of frequency response across the spectrum, and bass response.

You can hear exactly what I’m talking about in this great sound comparison between the Geneloc 8010a and the Eris E3.5. There’s no hype, just a back-to-back comparison of the sound across multiple genres to let you hear how this alternative holds up:

But just keep in mind, that all the positive reviews for these studio monitors (including the more than 18,000 five-star reviews on Amazon) are within the context of the price and size. Said another way, the Eris 3.5 studio monitors are exceptional for the price and for the size but they aren’t going to be the standalone best of the best across every category.

If you’re just comparing them out of context, the Genelecs are going to win across the board. The Eris 3.5’s are made of cheaper material, their bass response is not as low (80 Hz vs 67 Hz, a significant difference) their sound is not as clear and they are not as loud. But as you can hear from the video above, they still sound really good and even more so when you consider their budget-friendly price.

If budget is the most important consideration for your situation, you can’t do better than the PreSonus Eris E3.5. You can read more reviews, take a closer look at all the specs and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.

Premium Pick: Neumann KH80

Premium Pick
Neumann KH80
  • 4" drivers and premium quality means these studio monitors are an upgrade from the Genelec 8010a
  • 120 watts subwoofer and 70 watt tweeter offer plenty of headroom and power
  • Excels at mid-range tones

The Genelecs have the compact studio monitor crown when it comes to the 3″ driver category, it’s hard to debate that.

But of course, increasing size can offer an increase in power and quality- that’s simple physics. If you look at speakers with 4” drivers, the next size up from the 8010a’s (but still very small as studio monitors go) you find some very compelling choices including the Focal Shape 40 and another option from Genelec called the 8320a.

But the winner for me is the Neumann KH80.

All the monitors I just mentioned are premium products with premium pricing. They’re all backed by well-established and well-respected brands at the top of their field and they all have ingenious engineering to produce shockingly big sounds in small packages.

They’re also all designed for professional sound applications where space is at a premium (such as mobile rigs), and consumer/amateur needs are secondary. Translation: these are not made to trick green producers into dropping too much green. These are designed for professionals who need very small monitors for one reason or another.

So how did I come up with the Neumann KH80 as the winner? With all three options performing so well from a technical perspective, I have to admit that there’s some subjectivity involved. Just listen to the Neumann KH80 against the larger Genelec 8020D:

Yeah, it’s very close but it does illustrate just how clean the Neumanns sound. While these are a valid alternative, they’re also an upgrade compared to the Genelec 8010a’s. But if you want premium gear and you have the space for it, they are definitely worth considering. You can read more reviews, see detailed specs and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.

Best All-Around Alternative: IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors

Best All-Around Alternative
IK Multimedia iLoud Micro Monitors
  • Great all-around balance of price, budget, and sound quality
  • Weigh roughly half as much as the Genelec 8010a's
  • More than 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon 

We’ve looked at the premium options and budget choices- but what about something that’s in the middle of the road? You know, more of a moderate option. That’s where the iLoud Micro Monitors from IK Multimedia come into the picture. These are still relatively affordable but they also aren’t sacrificing much in terms of sound.

What they are missing though is the brand history of some of the other studio monitors on this list. Genelec has a long history of producing quality audio engineers products but IK Multimedia is a funny company, difficult to pin down. They were known foremost for software, including the fabulous Amplitube amp-modeling software (this producer personally uses Amplitube for pretty much all his electric guitar and bass tracks, in lieu of physical amps.)

IK has been expanding into more and more hardware, with fascinatingly mixed results. They have released several tiny audio interfaces aimed at recording into tablets and phones, bypassing computers, and hinting at the upcoming stage of technological wonder in music production. Some of their hardware gets rave reviews for functionality and price. Others get panned for low build quality, compatibility issues, and terrible customer service. In fact, I have seen single IK products where the reviews are split down the middle.

Overall, it seems IK has a coherent goal- to create a new generation of prosumer music production gear and software, to generally be the lowest-price in their class without sacrificing professional quality. As I’ve said, the results seem mixed so far.

But the praise for the iLoud has been pretty unanimous. IK’s strange marketing angle almost undersells their products. To me, “iLoud Micro Monitor” screams cheap knock-off, like an outdated Bluetooth speaker. But these speakers are the best in their price range and class. They proudly proclaim to be the “smallest and lightest reference speakers in the world.”

Indeed, they have 3” drivers just like the Genelec 8010a’s, and unbelievably weigh about half as much.

How do they compare professionally? Well, they sound really good and you can hear a great sound comparison between the iLouds and the Genelec 8010a in this video:

Even though they sound great, and definitely hold their own against the Genelecs, the iLouds are certainly more in the “prosumer” class while the Genelecs are in the “pro” class. The iLouds have some odd design decisions, like no balanced inputs, and have a Bluetooth function. These hint at their target market’s needs (no professional engineer has ever wished their main studio monitors were Bluetooth.)

In use, they are not as clear or transparent as the Genelecs, but more so than the PreSonus Eris E3.5. Most reviewers are blown away by their bass response, possibly the best in class- they claim a range down to 50 Hz, which is outright magical for 3” drivers.

So if you are looking for extremely portable and shockingly powerful speakers, the IK iLoud Micro Monitors are a great choice, especially if you work on music with powerful bass, like hip-hop or EDM.

You can read more reviews, take a closer look at the specs and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.

Best For EDM: KRK Classic 5

Best For EDM
KRK Classic 5
  • Prioritizes bass power which can be ideal for most EDM genres
  • 5" speakers are the largest on this list but they also pack the most power
  • Can lack clarity in the mid-range which can be a deal breaker for some. 

Enter the legendary iconic yellow speaker cones.

Throughout this article, I’ve stressed the importance of transparent monitors for the best versatility. You want to avoid speakers that “color” your sound. But some people want a colored sound- the bottom line is that it might feel good to produce certain genres of music in this context.

If you work on hip-hop, pop, EDM, or trap, consider the KRK Classic 5. They have 5” speakers so they are the largest on this list but they’re still not going to break the bank. They are less portable, but better designed physically. Since they are larger, you can expect more powerful bass.

Many producers praise the KRK Classic but they’re usually the same producers that prioritize bass power and high-frequency clarity. Despite some of the marketing language around these studio monitors, the mid-ranges are just not as clear and that’s what I mean by colored sound.

You can hear exactly what I’m talking about along with a great review of using these to mix in this video:

Definitely popular in the EDM scene but might not be for you if you’re mixing classic rock. Still, they’re a good alternative to the Genelec if you’re okay with some specialization. You can read more reviews, take a closer look at the design and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.

Conclusion

What studio monitors can you name? Any producer who hasn’t researched the topic in depth may only be able to name two: The classic white-coned Yamaha HS series and the flashy yellow-coned KRK Rokit series.

The two are among the most popular studio monitors for amateur and semi-pro producers, as well as the most eye-catching. The Yamaha HS series are modeled after their iconic NS10 series. These were a staple of pro studios in decades past (Thriller was mixed on them, for instance) so they carry an air of tradition and credibility. I don’t think it’s possible to have even a passing interest in music production without noticing KRK Rokits, which so many fresh producers once favored.

But now the KRK Rokits are discontinued and being replaced by the newer models like the previously mentioned KRK Classic 5.

Yet as long as people have been recording music in studios, there have been dedicated studio monitor speakers. Most models come in different sizes, suited for different sizes of rooms. But the basic purpose of studio monitors has never changed. To hear the music you are working on clearly and accurately. To create music that you know will sound good on any system imaginable, from tiny FM radio or phone speakers to bone-shaking club systems.

If you are in the market for small but surprisingly powerful studio monitors, you have a range of options to suit different styles and budgets, even when you’re specifically comparing them to one product- in this case, the Genelec 8010a. From extra small to extra large, you have a lot of options and I hope I’ve helped you figure out which one makes the most sense for you.

Enjoy the music!