|Genesis Reference Power Amplifier Version 2.2 w/MDHR v1.3
Before I get into
the nitty-gritty, here is my approach about the business
I love and admire: A fine music system is the consequence
of having found the interaction or connection of two or more
components within a system that produces a combined effect
greater than the sum of their separate effects. Sounds simple
but is, in fact, easier said than done because the possible
system combinations likely number in the millions.
Those who have been into audio for some time know that the
proper reproduction of music cannot be achieved by simply
slapping together an amp, a preamp, speakers and source components.
This holds true even when a system’s components are
highly rated by some of the many reviewers who are presently
dealing out their opinion, including this one, of course.
However, I do my best to come up with audio synergy when
I assemble my own systems and employ what I have learned
over the years when I evaluate audio components. I am not
alone in my quest and — along with other senior audio
enthusiasts — there is Gary Koh. He is Genesis Technologies
principal and a man who knows very well that synergy is one
of the most important factors when assembling an audio system.
The GRF amplifier is said to be a design that allows a synergistic
system combination with the Genesis brand of loudspeakers,
and though I had the 5.3 at hand, I also used it with other
speaker brands. As I had a few brands in-house at the time
(still have), I was interested how the amplifier acts with
or reacts to various system combinations. What follows is
an evaluation of the Genesis Reference Amplifier as it behaves
with various components. However, first things first.
I had the MDHR component stacked on the power amplifier — all
placed on the handsome Genesis-designed acrylic stand. The
amp’s power supply was connected via a short umbilical
cord, hidden behind my own component stand. When the amp
is switched on via a toggle located at the amp’s rear
panel. A blue(ish) light reflects off the stand and renders
an almost intriguing, very elegant sight that all visitors
to my listening room noticed and liked. It’s a touch
of class, not often found in the rather austere designs of
the North American audio industry.
The amplifier module and the capacitor module are both 445mm
x 330mm x 86mm (w x d x h) and weigh in at 10.5kg. The power
supply is 228mm x 228mm x 114mm (w x d x h) and a meaty 15kg.
The acrylic suspension system adds another 3kg. The whole
stack measures 480mm x 360mm x 200mm.
This GRA/MDHR have been in my system(s) for about five months
connected, but not limited to the Genesis 5.3 loudspeakers
I reviewed a few months ago (see review among theses pages).
As I still had them in my house, all I had to do is disconnect
the Bryston 7BSST Squared monoblocks connected with Argentum
cables and replace them with the Genesis Reference amplifier.
My connected source components included an Origin Live turntable/arm
Dynavector cartridge Tom Evans phono preamp, the new (not
yet reviewed Atoll CD player as well as an Esoteric transport/DAC
and a Magnum tuner. The preamplifier used for this evaluation
was a modified Dolan. Though the amp came burned in, I still
operated it with the help of my tuner to burn in and prepare
it for thorough auditioning.
One of the first impressions was how the GRA handled high
frequencies. At extreme highs, the Genesis 5.3 loudspeakers
can sound a bit hard with some amps, but with the Genesis
amplifier, I couldn’t find any disturbing hardness,
braying or any other unpleasant sonic elements. I had a small
nitpick in the 5.3’s evaluation regarding the upper
midrange and lower high frequency region where trumpet and
cornets perform. I stated that “the G5.3s didn’t
render the smoothness they achieved in the very highs and
sounded a bit more severe — not unpleasant, but not
quite right” using the Bryston 7B SST Squared amplifiers.
This weakness all but disappeared with the Genesis amp suggestive
of somewhat better component compatibility.
However, the amplifier didn’t have to power the 5.3’s
woofers, and I wanted to find out about the amp’s sonic
personality across the audible frequency spectrum, including
its bass performance. Thus, for the next auditions, I connected
the Audio Physics speakers (also reviewed earlier) and played
back the same musical material I had used with the Genesis
This time, the amplifier was asked to perform not just in
midrange and high frequencies, but also provide bass energy
to the Audio physics speakers. And it did just that — and
it did it very well indeed. Bass resolution was exemplary
at the speakers’ published 35 Hz with ample harmonics
above that point, which made listening to pipe organ and
Hammond B3s a rather enjoyable musical experience. The Tempos
also sounded entirely relaxed. I never had the feeling that
the amp labored or that there were restrictions relating
to dynamics. Surprisingly smooth highs, clear midrange and
solid deep bass made this system sound musically pleasing
with but a few slight upper midrange dips (around 900 -1000Hz).
Outstanding imagery and the speakers’ knack to delineate
detail, led me to believe that I am hearing the amplifier’s
characteristics, while the loudspeakers faithfully reproduced
the musical signal they received.
Just when I was about to pack everything up, I received a
pair of Focal Choral 836V loudspeakers and an Allnic L 3000
(tube) preamplifier. I decided to connect both to the Genesis
amplifier — and I am glad I did. This system combination
revealed quickly that the Focals were a match made in audio
heaven, though I believe that the Allnic preamp also contributed
greatly. The speakers responded superbly. I heard clearly
what the amplifier does best — bass resolution to the
loudspeakers’ specified 38Hz, added bass harmonics,
smooth but well articulated highs, transparent but not-in-your-face
mids and an astonishingly well-defined tonal equilibrium.
Detail, soundstage dimensions, focus on instruments and vocals
and that very hefty dose of musicality showed that this system
combination was great. Though powerful and dynamic, the GRA
never showed excessive muscle, but rather handled the entire
musical signal with a touch of refinement, almost as though
it wasn’t there. That is a rare experience for this
listener who is forever looking for sonic signatures. This
amp has one, to be sure, but it is written in almost invisible
ink. Was this system arrangement synergy at its best? Well,
I decided to revisit the Genesis 5.3 loudspeakers, this time
using the Allnic L 3000 preamplifier. I auditioned the system
with the same program material I had used earlier and the
number of improvements I clearly heard took me aback. Better
texture, improved harmonic composition and more refined midrange
and high frequencies showed (again) that system synergy is
important, though difficult to ascertain. Seems that the
amp “likes” the tubed Allnic.
I spent many enjoyable hours listening to the Genesis system
including the company’s own interconnects and speaker
cables. I thought that the cables did a pretty good job,
although I believe this is where improvement can be made
to elevate the performance. This will cost, of course,
and it isn’t going to be cheap. I believe that most
audio enthusiasts might be quite happy with the results
obtained by the Genesis cables, which I believe are priced
according to performance — they are good, but not
superb; but then again, superb will set you back a few
thousand bucks, perhaps as much as $15k. However, the Genesis
cables (or premium brands with which you are familiar)
will likely provide a satisfactory system arrangement because
the components match harmoniously and correspond or cause
to correspond in some essential respect. In my setup the
lower priced Argentum cables also did a good job. Gary
Koh seems to have found audio synergy at a reasonable price,
proving again that it can be done without forking out a
small fortune. The Genesis Reference power amp and its
MDHR companion connected to the Genesis 5.3 loudspeakers
with the Genesis cables render synergy and make beautifully
music and make music beautiful.
When one hears good audio it’s usually because someone
has assembled a synergistic audio system. When one hears
great audio, it’s not only because of a wining system
combination, but also because of the components’ capacity
to recover and provide the listener with ample harmonics — the
building block relating to component frequencies of a complex
oscillation or wave. In essence, it is music’s overtones
accompanying a fundamental tone, and it is my believe that
we can never have enough harmonics to capture an intricate
musical arrangement and the character or quality of musical
sound or voice as distinct from its pitch and intensity — timbre.
I suppose, that Class D amplification has reached maturity
with the Genesis Reference Power Amplifier the proof of this
accomplishment. It brings together technology and musicality
and eliminates the myth that Class D amplifiers are only
good for bass. My take on technology is that I don’t
care about it from the technical viewpoint, but appreciate
greatly what it can do for the industry I love, the music — and
me. Great job Gary.
|Genesis Reference Power Amplifier Version 2.2 with
MDHR (Maximum Dynamic Headroom Reservoir) Version 1.3
|Genesis Advanced Technologies
|654 South Lucile Street
Seattle, WA 98108
|Amplifier v2.2 : $8000.00
MDHR v1.3: $4000.00
There is a lot of detailed information on the Genesis website,
but the following are highlights of the important information.
It is important to understand that the Amplifier works quite
well without the optional Maximum Dynamic Headroom Reservoir.
I tried it with and without and decided that high-end sound
is more important than the price one pays for it. The MDHR
connects easily via 20 amp Neutrik connectors and adds power
supply storage of about 180.000 µF. Lethal voltages
are stored in the unit and remain there for some time even
after the unit has been disconnected.
The company states that the Genesis Reference Amplifier uses
proprietary designs and circuits, high quality components,
and state-of-the-art Class D amplifier modules.
The design objective is to produce a load-invariant, wide-bandwidth
amplifier have some of the characteristics of a low-powered
tube amp with the reliability, power, and control of a high
power solid-state design.
The GR-Amp challenges the status quo of music amplifiers
by marrying the advantages of tube (emotion, imaging, soundstage,
and portrayal of tonal colors) with solid state (control,
dynamics and accuracy). It uses a modified Class D power
amplifier module with innovative power supply technologies,
and resonance and vibration control to achieve this.
The Genesis Dynamic Power Delivery Supply (DPDS) is designed
to deliver current into a non-linear, dynamic, rapidly changing
musical load, leading to a sense of power with finesse. The
origins of the DPDS comes from the principles of tube amplifier
design – and
adds a Class D amplifier module to switch current to the
connected loudspeakers. Thus, it is able to deliver high
power, as well as very quick bursts of speed and dynamics.
The optional Maximum Dynamic Headroom Reservoir component
extends this ability to loudspeaker impedances of only one
ohm — stability
under almost all conditions. A newly developed low-current
regulated voltage supply has broad bandwidth noise rejection
so that incoming noise does not intrude on the music signal.
The electronic regulator used in the GR-Amp exceeds the specifications
of an excellent choke. It is an exceedingly fast discrete
circuit and not a generic design. Spectrum analysis up to
16 MHz shows a very high bandwidth, as no apparent degradation
at that frequency. The circuit is of low enough impedance
to outperform commercial regulators by at least 10dB. This
is despite the fact that no loop feedback is used in this
circuit. It is not a shunt device, it is not a capacitative
multiplier, and it does not employ chokes. Genesis would
like to credit Engr. Nigel Pearson for the design of the
SRVS — a discrete design whereby each
component is hand selected to get the optimum result.
A lot of attention was given to resonance and vibration control,
with emphasis on reducing noise from the power supply feeding
into the amplifier. To avoid RF (radio frequency) and electro-magnetic
interference, the GR-Amp has an outboard power transformer.
With the transformer moved outside of the chassis, the amplifier
provides a much quieter environment in which to operate.
To further reduce the vibration/resonance within the chassis,
the signal and power circuits are isolated from each other.
The signal circuits are softy “hung” using a
neoprene “hammock” from the top cover of the
chassis, while the power circuits are stiffly mounted on
the bottom plate using plastic posts. It is done so as to
avoid the development of vibration and resonance of the two
different circuits to different frequencies.
In an effort to further control resonance Genesis engineered
a dedicated acoustic suspension system for the amplifier.
It is designed approximating the suspension system of a race
car, but made of a solid acrylic suspension frame, neoprene
shock absorbers, and steel spikes. It isolates the amplifier
from floor or structure-borne vibrations, and yet at the
same time allows any vibration in the amplifier chassis to
be “sunk” to
Other features that have been incorporated include a grounded
Faraday cage steel chassis for RFI and EMI rejection; all
internal power and signal wiring using silver strands with
a copper core and PTFE dielectric. The silver strands are
wound so tightly together that the strands “imprint” on
each other and combine to act almost as a solid-core wire.
Thus, the internal wiring has the makeup of both solid-core
as well as stranded wire. All critical components are matched
to less than
+/- 1% tolerances; a special circuitry keep components energized
without wasting a lot of electricity; a high-power, high
current relay power switch power (instead of typical rocker
or toggle) assures minimal signal degradation of the power
The amp is rated at 180w or 360w per channel (@ 4ohm); current
limited to 20amps for 20ms; frequency response is from10Hz
to 50kHz +0dB/-3dB; power Bandwidth is from18Hz to 36kHz;
input impedance is 100k Ohms (Balanced or Single-ended);
damping is 2,000 minimum at 4 ohms; gain is 26dB. The inputs
are balanced XLR and/or single-ended RCA; the output is ETI
CablePods™ 5-way binding posts.