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Another KH120 vs 8030CP thread

LeonidKogan

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Apr 6, 2024
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Hello,
I'd like to sidegrade my passive setup (LS50 Meta + Hegel H200 + REL T/Zero MKIII + REW) to active monitors for financial reasons and convenience. They will be used in the same scenario on my desk, 1.1m apart (from center of the tweeter), 1.5m away, 11m2 room.
I narrowed my choice to Genelec 8030 and Neumann KH120a, the first version. I don't need DSP monitors as I will keep my REL sub and use REW instead of integrated correction which costs extra. I think I read almost all threads on this subject and looks like most people buy them for music production, I will use them only for listening so I guess my requirements are quite different.

I listen to classical music mostly so wide and deep soundstage is very important to me, as well as precise imaging and instrument separation. This is something measurements won't tell so I'm asking precisely for your subjective experience. I like those factors a lot about LS50M, however I feel like they are a bit boxy and constrained due to bad HF extension, I'd like them more airy, but I'm afraid the Genelecs might be shockingly fatiguing (unless it can be fixed with EQ), as LS50M are super smooth and warm sounding. I think I would like to stay as close to LS50 tonality as possible, just with a bit more extended treble. In this department KH120 looks like a safer choice, but on the other hand I heard their soundstage/imaging is somewhat worse than of 8030.
I don't care about SPL or bass since sub will take care of that. I'm also a bit worried about Genelec's hiss, if it's inaudible from 1.5m then I'm fine with it, but just wanted to notice that classical music often goes down to extreme pianissimo and there hiss might dominate the music.
I was also considering APS Klasik 2020, but I don't want to be bound to just one perfect sweetspot, even though I don't move around much.
I'm curious what you guys think.
 
The directivities of the LS50 Meta and KH120 are too similar (except between 1.5 and 2 kHz) for a big difference in treble just from it and not from different EQ or on-axis tuning:

newplot (1).png

I had bought a pair of KH120 to replace my good old non meta LS50 (with EQ) at my desktop setup and in the end I kept the LS50 as with EQ there wasn't really big tonality and at a desktop setup I prefer a coaxial design due to the more consistent reflections from the table surface due to its better vertical directivity. If you want a bit more airy treble you can easily get further with a bit of EQ, feel free to send me a PM if you want me to design some filters for you (I own also the LS50 Meta). The 8030 have though a bit wider treble directivity but still the mentioned disadvantage of being a non coaxial design.
 
I have the 8030As and LS60s... I would say subjectively the Genelecs are a smidge brighter, (I happen to like it) but I don't listen to the LS60s nearfield so it's not really a valid comparison. I think the LS60 and LS50 should sound relatively similar in those ranges. I would say soundstage is a strength of the Genelecs.

As @thewas mentioned I don't think you're going to find gross differences in tonality between any of them.
 
In this department KH120 looks like a safer choice, but on the other hand I heard their soundstage/imaging is somewhat worse than of 8030.
I wouldn’t consider it probable that the soundstage/imaging of the Neumann KH120 is inferior to the Genelec 8030 (why should it be?), since the imaging of my KH150‘s is at least on par with my 8351B’s. The phantom centre of the KH150 is razor sharp, and I don’t succeed in getting the phantom centre of the Genelec as good as that of the Neumann. They also don’t sound the same.
 
I wouldn’t consider it probable that the soundstage/imaging of the Neumann KH120 is inferior to the Genelec 8030 (why should it be?), since the imaging of my KH150‘s is at least on par with my 8351B’s. The phantom centre of the KH150 is razor sharp, and I don’t succeed in getting the phantom centre of the Genelec as good as that of the Neumann. They also don’t sound the same.
Thanks, what are the main differences in sound in your opinion? Is there anything you perceive as a brand signature sound regarding Genelec and Neumann?
All things considered I think I should be happy with either choice, perhaps the KH120a will have a bit better bass but it doesn't matter much when I have a sub.
 
Is there anything you perceive as a brand signature sound regarding Genelec and Neumann?
I don’t think signature sound is the proper term here, given the fact that both companies strive for maximum neutrality, and given the CEA 2024 measurements of both speakers. And I only know well the KH150 and the 8351B. I decided to put the Neumanns besides the Genelecs again today, to help me answering your questions and to refresh my memory. I use the Genelecs in combination with the (big!) 7370 subwoofer and GLM, and the Neumans without sub, listening distance is 9’. I haven’t used the DSP of the Neumanns yet (they’re that good, haha).

Both sound really good, of course. Before I thought that a good way to give somebody else an idea of the sound differences would be to say that the Genelecs use ‘a touch of variabel loudness control’ and the Neumanns don’t. After listening and AB comparing a lot again today, I would say the Neumanns sound a bit more ‘lean’ and the Genelecs a touch ‘enhanced’, if that makes sense. The Genelecs are a bit more prominent in the treble, the Neumanns a touch more in the midrange, in comparison.

My musical taste is quite eclectic (‘everything that sounds good’), be it that I listen a lot to classical music nowadays too, like you. But I also really like a variety of male and female singers, and when it comes to voices, whether we’re talking about some of the greatest voices of all time (Jacques Brel, ‘Orly’, Ella Fitzgerald, ‘Solitude’) or some of the many fabulous voices of today (Cecile McLorin Savant, ‘Le Mal de Vivre’, Olivia Dean, ‘Everbody’s crazy’, Anette Askvik, ‘Under the Tallest Tree’, Arisa, ‘Bene se ti sta bene’, Lhasa De Sela, ‘La Frontera’, Ana Moura, ‘A Case Of You’, The Teskey Brothers, ‘I’m Leaving’, Eric Bibb, ‘Where The Green Grass Grows’, Bruce Cockburn, ‘Pacing The Cage’, to name a few), the KH150 never ceases to amaze me. Voices really sound the way they should sound to my ears, so well balanced, so realistic, and soo engaging. The same with strings, piano, saxophone, you name it. And imaging is perfect.

All things considered I think I should be happy with either choice
You’re absolutely right, you can’t go wrong with the both of them. Preference between these two is a personal thing. I hope to add a KH750 subwoofer to the KH150’s one day, and the new KH120’s are very similar to the KH150’s, just a bit smaller.

I own the KEF LS50 Meta at a desktop setup too and am also curious if there would be a significant step up by upgrading to a Genelec of Neuman.
I couldn’t say. I never really understood the hype of the original LS50’s, they weren’t for my ears. But the meta’s are a step up, that’s for sure. I suppose it comes down to the question whether you’re satisfied with your current sound or not. When there’s nothing to complain about anymore you’ve found your perfect speakers and you can stop searching the rest of your life..
 
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