Manufacturer: BLUMENHOFER ACOUSTICS
nce again I received high-efficiency loudspeakers for a review and again they come from a country of our western neighbors. Looking back at all speakers of that type it seems to me that two European countries are current leaders when it comes to these: one is Germany, and the second - yes – it's Poland. I am sure one could surely name some other examples from various countries of the Old Continent, but just from the top of my head right now I can recall such brands as: the French Ocelia, Czech RD Acoustics, Finnish Existence, the Slovenian Natural Sound.
Same exercise for Poland and I immediately come up with much more names: Ardento, hORNS, Acuhorn, Bodnar, JAG, Inaudio, and probably still a few more slipped my mind at the moment. The list of German brands and only those I had a chance to listen to, includes: Bastanis, Avantgarde Acoustic, Cessaro, Acapella, Heco, Klipsch, Voxative, and of course Blumenhofer. I am a fan of this type of speakers so I grab every opportunity to get to know more and more of them. Recently, I tested for you the inexpensive and very good sounding Heco Direkt, and this time I shall review much more expensive model called Genuin FS 3 mk 2 by Thomas Blumenhofer.
This German brand caught my attention only in 2015 during the High End Show in Munich. The presentation prepared by the brand for the Show was so interesting that almost all the people that I talked to either at the Show or later, mentioned it as one of several most interesting ones. It's quite a rare case when the same presentation is praised by so many people, especially considering that Blumenhofer is not one of the biggest brands. The conclusion is simple – they managed to prepare something special and obviously their products are worth getting to know them.
The Blumenhofer Acoustics was founded in 2006, so it's by no means a new brand. The owner of this company has more than 30 years experience in audio business, although most of that time he was involved in professional audio. His previous company's, Blumenhofer&Schraub, reference list includes theaters, restaurants, clubs and discotheques. After more than 20 years of designing and installing audio systems in such places Thomas Blumenhofer decided it was time to get back to his teenage passion – building loudspeakers for home audio. He founded his own firm named Blumenhofer Acoustics with headquarters situated in a natural park in the south of Germany, not far from Munich. His goal was simple – to design and build high quality and high-efficiency loudspeakers.
Why these? I assume that the choice was at least partially influenced by his earlier activity in professional audio, or at least it could suggest some personal preferences. What are the main qualities of such speakers? Unlimited (as far as it's even possible for audio system) dynamics, immediacy, speed and purity of the sound. One way to achieve that is to build a multi-way, huge (usually very expensive) loudspeakers suitable only for very few systems playing in large spaces.
Or one can rather choose to build not that big, usually one- or two-way, high-efficiency loudspeakers to achieve a similar performance and our designer took this path. At the top of the Blumenhofer portfolio one finds admittedly huge speakers, I am talking about the Gioia series, but most of his creations are suitable for any "normal" room. FS 3 is the smallest representative of second from the top series Genuin, but even the largest model in the line, FS1, is "only" 116 cm tall and weights barely 60 kg. That's still far (in terms of size) from what many competitors offer.
Shortly after the Munich exhibition German brand finally got a distributor in Poland – the Warsaw based Audio System. Until now, I had an opportunity to review one of the models from the lower (than Genuin) series, Tempesta marked with the number "20" for "HiFiChoice". Already this reasonably priced model offered me a very pleasant experience. It may not offer the ultimate refinement, but was a very good match for a low power tube amplifier as well as for powerful solid-state (as well as a hybrid design NuVista 800). As I wrote in my summary: "Even with a rich, warm triode these loudspeakers delivered clean and transparent performance, impressing me with colorful, open and dynamic sound. With more powerful amplifiers they presented their slightly faster and more energetic side keeping the pace even with AC/DC. So it is clear that these are very good all-rounders, although I'd rather match them rather with slightly warm systems than with cold one, as with the latter sound could get too thin and too “cold."
Genuin FS 3 mk2
The second version (mk2) of the FS 3 model is a representative of the second from the top series of Blumenhofer loudspeakers Genuin. It is also a two-way design (one of the characteristic features of all Blumenhofers), not particularly big one (less than 1 meter in height and 25 kg in weight), featuring a 10-inch (250 mm – it is one of the differences from the first version which used a 200mm driver) paper woofer and 1-inch Mylar compression tweeter working in the waveguide mounted on a kind of frame on top of the main cabinet. What's more, the tweeter can be moved forward or backward, and a precise (to the millimeter) scale allows you to use the same setting for both of them.
The loudspeakers look really good due to the beautiful veneer and original shape of the cabinet. There are no fancy, flashy elements - it is an octagonal, veneered (there are two standard and a lot of special veneers, the latter cost extra) box with a wider, slightly tilted back front panel and a narrower back, set on three solid, adjustable spikes. FS 3 mk2 feature dual speaker jacks that allow user to bi-wire this loudspeaker. Manufacturer provides users with decent jumpers made from a piece of cable that allow them to use a single speaker cable.
This is an 8Ω model with a declared efficiency of 92 dB which means almost any amplifier, even low-power tube one, can be used to drive it. Blumenhofer features one additional feature – a jumper that enables impedance linearization circuit. It is recommended for use with tube amplifiers. Of course this is only a recommendation and each user should find the optimal solution that meets his expectations best. To use these jumpers one places them in appropriate sockets located between speaker terminals.
Recordings used for the test (a selection):
Japanese issues available at
The Blumenhofers just missed the fantastic Air Tight ATM-300 Anniversary amplifier that I just reviewed for HiFiKnights, which is an improved, anniversary version of the Japanese 300B SET, that High Fidelity readers might remember from Wojtek's review (see HERE). So instead I drove them with my modified Art Audio Symphony II with Western Electric 300B tubes, the transistor Audia Flight FLS-4, as well as with the hybrid Musical Fidelity NuVista 600 integrated amplifier. This confirmed the versatility of these speakers – they sounded bit differently driven by each of these amplifiers, but each time I really enjoyed what I heard. Let's start my assessment by saying that these are loudspeakers for both, low-power tube amplifiers and for those who prefer powerful, solid-state beasts; With the latter a common sense in terms of using volume control is highly recommended, but I could say the same describing any speakers. What really matters is the actual quality of performance the amplifier one wants to use with Genuin is able to deliver. I suggest using the best amp you can afford. And don't forget to feed it with signal from a high quality source if you want to hear what these beautiful boxes have to offer.
Shortly about one more, very important factor if you want to get the best from Genuin. You need to take proper care about their placement in your room. It will take probably more time and effort than usually but it will definitely pay off. You need to find proper distance from the wall behind them and right toe-in angle, plus you can play with tweeters until you find the optimum setting. Don't worry, when you do you'll know it right away as if it just clicked in the right position. You will notice a large, very large, stable soundstage with big, tangible precisely placed phantom images on it.
I started my listening session with these speakers replacing my Ubiq Audio Model One in a setup I'd been listening to for previous two weeks with the remarkable Vermeer Audio TWO (a DAC and preamplifier in one) driving the Audia Flight FLS-4 power amplifier. Do you remember what I wrote at the beginning, that the designer of these speakers for many years worked in professional audio industry? And that probably that's where his passion for highly dynamic, open, direct sound comes from? Genuin FS3 mk2 are a perfect confirmation of this theory. They also prove that the above-described sound, usually associated with the stage audio systems, that are not particularly liked / respected by audiophiles, does not rule out refinement, resolution and saturation of sound that we expect from loudspeakers with an audiophile price tag on them. This combination of features provides a unique performance that wowed so many people during Blumenhofer presentation in Munich.
Though it seemed to me that my own Ubiq Audio Model One are in this respect better than most and it is not easy to match, not to mention, beat them in this respect, the FS3 mk2 proved to me that regardless of the music genre, they were able to play it in an even more lively, energetic, fresh way. They did it also at low volume levels, although there is no denying that they like to play loud. Interestingly, this presentation is not driven or winded up with the bass performance which another feature differentiating these speakers from typical stage ones. These boxes will not provide you with a free liver massage, or make your wall vibrate.
The bass plays the lead role only if that is the idea behind a recording one listens to. So when I decided to play Marcus Miller his bass was in the spotlight. It was rather fast, tight (which is partly due to his playing style), well differentiated, but not so deep and powerful as it would be playing live. I remember from fantastic Warsaw concert that quite a few times I felt the lowest sounds deep in my belly, but still the most important was the speed and energy Marcus played the music with. These sound qualities were presented by Blumenhofers is a very convincing way and they winded up the whole presentation of this type of recordings, they made it so fast, dynamic, and energizing.
The bass is rather tight, punctual, fast but it doesn't go very deep to seismic levels. One gets the impression that these speakers operate mainly in the mid- and upper bass area. Except, when comes a moment when there are some deep, low sounds in the recordings and one realizes that these are very present in the presentation. In other words, Genuins are capable of reproducing even the low bass when it is actually needed, even though most of the time they sound ... less massively, lighter than many other loudspeakers. However, in this case that “lightness” of the sound is, from my point of view, quite desirable. It is not a result of a restricted bass reproduction, except for limitations that come from the size of the woofer and cabinet, but the general easiness, speed, and energy-rich performance combined with the presentation of a higher, beautifully “illuminated” part of the band (I'll get back to that).
Hence the recordings of my favorite double bass sounded a bit differently than with Ubiqs. The latter deliver a lot of wood in the sound, while Blumenhofers, in comparison, shift the accent more to the strings. They impressed me with the speed of attack and long, rich decay. It is in the middle stage, sustain, where the soundboard plays key role, thus giving Ubiqs some advantage. Is this really a downside of FS 3 mk2? In my opinion, no, it's not. They distribute accents differently delivering bit faster, more dynamic and at the same time bit less rich sound. This is, however, more of a matter of different interpretation than an actual downside of these great speakers.
You can always place these speakers closer to the wall behind them – in my room there was 50-60 cm distance there - or change the distance between bass-reflex port and the floor, which will result in a bit more powerful performance. Except that, in my opinion, the presentation when I did it was less realistic, not so natural, not so unconstrained. Some of this amazing speed is also gone, bass is more powerful but not as tight, and the soundstage not as impressive anymore. These are not huge changes, but clear enough to, without much doubt, choose one of these settings as preferred one. So what we have here is a classic quid pro quo and each user has to choose the option that will best suit his expectation. The sensitivity of these loudspeakers to their positioning in a room proves to be rather an advantage, not a disadvantage, because it gives user more options to adjust the performance to the room and personal needs. I preferred to listen to them placed as described at the beginning, as this positioning delivered most lively, natural sound that also differentiated FS3 from most other loudspeakers.
As already mentioned, the dynamics of this presentation is outstanding. This is a lively presentation that energizes listener like a cup of delicious Italian espresso! Just remember that, as with any stimulant, you shouldn't overdo it :). It is easy with FS 3 mk2 to get stuck in one's rock and roll albums collection forgetting about the whole world, housemates and neighbors, because this presentation works like an addictive drug. That's not a mellow presentation that allows you to sit back and relax - limbs involuntarily tap out the rhythm, the head nods and shakes in all directions, and your unlucky (or lucky) neighbors may find out how good a singer are you. And, as already mentioned, with Blumenhofer there is this involuntary tendency to pump up the volume beyond regular listening level.
After a few hours of having that much fun common sense told me to slow down, after all I'm not in my 20s (or 30s) anymore. Instead of the next AC/DC, Aerosmith, or Van Halen album I played a purely acoustic album by Rodrigo and Gabriela. In anticipation of the new album, which is to be released soon, I played an older one, 11:11, and already the first track proved clearly that electric current is not at all necessary to rock... The heavy metal past (and probably just heavy-metal souls) these two nice musicians have behind them was exceptionally well audible. This album gave me a chance to appreciate the dynamics not only in macro but also in micro scale and the latter turned out to be as spectacular as the former.
The speed and precision of plucked and stroke strings (and soundboxes) were impressive. The proportion between the extremely fast attack phase, a good sustain (better than in the case of double bass, probably because guitars are smaller), and flawless decay (whenever there was any time for these). This performance was based bit more on strings than wood, but this time it came rather from the musicians' style, rather than the Blumenhofer's character. The clarity, transparency and naturalness of the sound, supported by high resolution and the insane level of energy together created one of the best presentations of this album, I happened to hear.
I've already mentioned the exceptional spaciousness of this presentation because Genuin FS3 mk2 optimally positioned in a room are capable of offering a truly exceptional performance in this regard. They rendered a large three-dimensional soundstage. It's width was a bit bigger (but not by much) than a distance between speakers. As previously the highly dynamics and energetic performance kept me playing more and more rock 'n roll albums, now, after the first live album, I kept looking for next ones to play.
Let me add, that at this stage my 300B SET took the lead as it offered by far most tangible, natural, organic presentation, that couldn't be matched by any other I had at my disposal at the time. Although these are particularly versatile loudspeakers delivering great performance with every, high quality amplification, when it comes to acoustic music, vocals, and especially live albums recorded in small clubs, it is the company of SET that renders best effects.
When it comes to this type of loudspeaker it seems safe to assume that midrange is their huge advantage and it is. Though with the SET this part of the band sounded even richer, smoother, it was more colorful, but not colored and which is kind of obvious, amazingly palpable. Interestingly, even with the 300B amplifier the presentation always began on the line connecting speakers, never in front of it. Everything was happening behind it, and yet this feeling of the musicians and singers presence in my room was overwhelming. Blumenhofers were able to present a lot of information including the tiniest details and subtleties. Not just the “musical” but also “non-musical” ones such as audience reactions on live recordings and vast amount of information about the acoustics of the room. Combined with the so many times already emphasized dynamics and energy of this presentation all these elements created a genuine, engaging picture of the events taking place live.
There was one more remarkable, key element of the presentation when Genuin were driven by 300B amp. The treble delivered by German speakers is very clean, open and vibrant. When SET adds to this set of features its intrinsic pinch of tenderness and sweetness, the result is nothing short of stunning. We get beautifully lit (but too bright!) presentation which is remarkably fresh and crisp, but you won't find there even a hint of aggressiveness or roughness. Sibilants sound naturally, metal cymbals hit hard with a stick provide deep, but lively sound, the upper tones of brass instruments are very open, with an appropriate dose of sharpness, but of a natural kind, that never bothers listener, never irritates. How resolving, selective and precise these speakers were became even clearer to me when I listened to tracks with drummers using brushes instead of sticks and even in the fastest passages individual brushes never blended into a continuous noise which happens on lesser speakers. In this case the presentation was amazingly colorful, vibrant, open and airy.
I am rarely truly impressed with presentations at audio shows. Simply the acoustic conditions there do the presentations no favors and maybe even subconsciously I always feel that what I hear is far from the true potential of presented systems. In the particular case of Blumenhofer there were so many people appreciating it that they simply couldn't all be wrong about it. Well, maybe they could, but apparently they weren't. These are brilliant speakers, though of course not necessarily for everyone (but such speakers that would satisfy everybody never were and never will be made). They deliver fast, dynamic and energetic sound, despite the fact, that bass does not play a leading role.
The Genuin FS3 mk2 do not go down to seismic levels. They deliver a coherent, smooth performance emphasizing bass notes only when it's actually needed, but still using a fast, tight, rich, well-differentiated and controlled version of it rather than seemingly more powerful but less controlled, hence less realistic slam that some other speakers use to overwhelm listener. The other band's extreme, treble, is beautifully illuminated, but never too bright, it is smooth, open, full of air and beautifully vibrant. That creates an impression that one can hear more information than on other speakers. Both the bass and treble form a coherent, colorful but not colored whole together with very rich, smooth, palpable and resolving midrange.
These are versatile speakers, meaning they will perform great with a 8 W tube SET as well as with several-hundred watts solid-state. There will not be most likely a first choice of heavy metal or hip-hop lovers, but rock fans will appreciate the extremely energetic, fast and dynamic performance. Live recordings sound sensationally well on these loudspeakers, especially acoustic and electric ones recorded in small clubs, where the room acoustics play a big role. Together with particularly natural presentation of vocals and instruments, this ability to show the ambiance, everything that is happening around the musicians, the dynamics between them on the stage, creates an exceptionally convincing and engaging performance.
Combination of several unique features – reasonable size, being a great match for any type of (high quality) amplifier and this particularly addictive, energetic performance will mean for many users that they will have finally found their dreamed speakers. Once you have Blumenhofer Genuin FS 3 mk2 you'll be much more likely to replace all other components in your system rather than speakers. The latter may stay with you for many, many years. If you can afford them you should check them out, if you can't better don't listen to them as they are highly addictive.
The Blumenhofer Genuin FS3 mk2 is a medium-sized, two-way floorstanding loudspeaker. This is the smallest representative of this, the second from the top, line in German manufacturer's portfolio. It features a down-firing bass-reflex cabinet with a 250 mm woofer with cast basket and a paper cone operating up to 1200 Hz. The octagonal enclosure is made of 18mm thick birch plywood using company's concept of "harmonic construction". Thomas Blumenhofer does not advocate damped enclosures, he developed ways of distribution of excess energy by means of appropriate design.
The front, wider baffle is slightly tilted back, the rear, narrower panel is vertical. The sides of the speaker make up a total number of six planes with matched pairs positioned at carefully chosen angles. These are tuned in such a way as to respond to specific frequencies. No parallel baffles (because the front, remember, is tilted back, and so it is not parallel to the rear wall) limit the formation of standing waves, and the whole design developed to control the behavior of the bass chamber.
On the main cabinet one finds a horn featuring a 1-inch Mylar compression tweeter. The waveguide is mounted on a metal frame. The latter is attached to the housing using a single screw which allows user to move the horn forwards or backwards. A precise (to the millimeter) scale makes it easy to set both horn at exactly the same distance from the front of the cabinet. On the back panel there is a black panel with robust, dual speaker terminals. Between them there are two more sockets for installation of (included) impedance linearization jumpers. These are useful mostly when speakers are used with tubes amplifiers. Users using single speaker cables don't need to worry – in boxes they will also find a decent jumpers. Each speaker features three extremely robust, adjustable spikes.
Specifications (according to manufacturer):