Geneva’s XXL console looks like a grand piano, sounds like a theater

There’s no doubt about it: Budding audio company Geneva Labs makes some gorgeous speakers. When we covered the company’s XXL a few weeks ago, the piano lacquer frame and retro-modern aesthetic definitely drew us in. But what really got us excited was the sexy configuration of seven individually powered drivers, and the full slate of state-of-the-art digital inputs under the hood. Accordingly, we spent some time with Geneva at CES today to see what all that hardware would sound like in the flesh.

The XXL is designed to be both a beautiful stand for your TV, and also a sound powerhouse, thanks to almost 600 watts of Class D digital amplification spread across seven individual channels. It boasts three HDMI inputs, including an ARC (audio return channel) input to read your TV remote, and it can also connect to your mobile device via Airplay, DLNA, and Bluetooth. In short, there’s not much this cabinet can’t do.

As we cranked the XXL’s volume to rise above the CES showroom floor, the elegant white cabinet poured forth a massive force of Geneva XXL full on edit
sound, blasting bass in heavy helpings from its 8-inch downfiring sub, and revealing a thick and full midrange. Watching some movie content with the device, the 1-inch tweeters did a nice job with tactile details like rain drops, but felt the upper register was a shade bright, adding some extra sibilance to consonances. Most of that will likely subdue with some break in time, but it’s something to be aware of.

We couldn’t employ the superior AirPlay connection due to a lack of Wi-Fi at the show, but connecting our iPhone 5 to Bluetooth produced some great musical moments, including a particular good rendition of BIG’s “Hypnotize” which was powerful and smooth, and putting our hand on the top of the unit revealed almost zero resonant vibration, even at high velocity. We also noticed the EQ was extremely responsive, shaping the sound quickly as the big red digital meters followed our bass and treble adjustments. One odd thing we encountered was a bit of a pop in the speakers when we disconnected Bluetooth, which we are hoping was just a fluke in the test model. But all that hardware, function, and physical beauty will cost you. The price point as it stands is $3,500.

However, on our way out, we also stumbled upon the company’s prototype sound platform, which is much smaller, has a similarly gorgeous lacquer finish, and could be a great alternative to the XXL for the working-class crowd (read: most people). A quick listen to some dialog with the device revealed excellent potential, relaying a warm, and ruddy midrange with good accuracy. And when the demo video turned to some jazz piano, it was extremely detailed and smooth. We can’t relay a price point, but we can say it will likely be competitively priced in the sound platform segment, and that could foreshadow a serious contender for Geneva in the growing field. We were also assured we’ll get a review unit of the device once it’s available.

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As for the XXL, Geneva is taking orders now in red, black, white.

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