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Geithain RL 901K vs Neumann KH420

drdredd

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Hello Audio Friends!

What a pleasure to find this lovely discussion-based website. Big thanks to all the members and the creator of the site.
I am looking to upgrade my monitoring system and am hoping for some insight on this big decision.

*A little background:
I begin as a music producer in 2015, working primarily on headphones and jbl305 very budget oriented. As my love for creation continued, I found myself more and more fascinated with tone, dynamics and space. I began feeling more connected to the mixing and mastering process, eventually allowing writing music to fall to the side as I focused on training my ears and improving the acoustic response of my room. Fast forward nine years and I am currently working full time freelance in the broadcast and live-concert world(as well as some mixing, mastering and recording). This puts me in a very special position to be able to fuel my love for music post-production work with the earnings. :D

Now on to my current setup. Right now, I work in a medium sized room (21ft x 17ft x 9ft) with plans to move up to a slightly larger (30ft x20ft x16ft)ish room. Currently treated fairly extensively with rockwool giving a relatively flat +/- 5db frequency response (not to shabby in the time domain either). But with the new room I plan on building a non-environment space with panel traps etc. In the mean time I am quite eager to upgrade my monitoring system. My first upgrade was to the Adam T7V+Adam T10S sub, roughly 5 years ago. I had mixed feelings about the system at first, which grew to a strong dislike. The whole system sounded cheap, somewhat hollow and not at all accurate. Regardless of placement, room eq, etc. I believe this is to be expected from a system in the budget range.

Eager to find better sound I became fascinated with the work happening with a Texas based DIY company called GR Research. They offer fantastic quality to price considering they ship you parts and you build the speakers at home. This produced my current setup, GR Research NX Studio 6.5" monitors (open baffle tweeter with closed cabinet woofer) with what they call the double trouble open baffle sub (two 12" drivers wired to a rhythmik amp). The setup is awesome. The high end is pristine and open, the space is very nice and "3D". The ONLY reason I'm craving an upgrade is this: The overall tonal balance of the system. Because this DIY company focuses on HI-FI listening, the whole system has a smiley face curve. Of course, I can compensate by turning down the sub but then it feels too thin. Especially for the work I end up doing with Hip Hop and EDM. The open baffle sub as well is very cool, but I find it beginning to give pretty intense distortion at higher SPL (90-95db). For these reasons and more I am looking at upgrading to a professionally built speaker that I can grow with and rely on for the years to come.
*end of background

This brings me to the thread topic. I spent many nights reading threads on this site and on Gear Space looking for an "end-game speaker" in my budget around $10,000-$14,000 USD. I began a deep dive on the thread by Audiovisjon called "high end nearfield". It began as his quest to listen to all the high-end nearfield monitors he could get his hands on and turned into him falling in love with and eventually upgrading his whole system to Geithain. Prior to reading this forum I had my heart set on the Neumann KH420. It has the low end, the great measurement and high spl I'm looking for. But after reading this forum, I became eager to find out more about Geithain. The phase relationship of that speaker seems brilliant in design. The cardioid bass I'm sure would be instrumental in low frequency management, BUT the struggle many of us find with this company is accessibility. I have a trip to Germany (already planned for other reasons) near end of year. So, I could wait and have a listen for myself, hit Neumann while I'm at it and call it a day, BUT I found a GREAT deal on some Geithain RL 901K's (used for 5k less MSRP). This has tempted me to pull the trigger and have them shipped before they are unavailable!
I also looked into PSI but I hear they can be analytical and overpriced (as well as inaccessible in the USA), so these two speakers are the front runners in my consideration.

I know the main rule of thumb is to listen to speakers in my environment before making a large purchase, which may be possible with the Neumann's but I doubt will be possible with Geithain(I am USA based). So, any help in this decision would be greatly valued.

Summary Questions:

-Differences between Neumann's KH420 and Geithain RL 901K
-Importance of hearing a speaker before purchasing. (will I be blown away be Geithain no matter what??;))
-Is there any difference between 2011 built RL901K and what I would get from a RL 901K built today?

Current listening position 2 meters from speakers.

Kind Regards,
Drdredd
 

thewas

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Welcome here! :)

Summary Questions:

-Differences between Neumann's KH420 and Geithain RL 901K
-Importance of hearing a speaker before purchasing. (will I be blown away be Geithain no matter what??;))
-Is there any difference between 2011 built RL901K and what I would get from a RL 901K built today?
Some quick responses:

- Without EQ I would go for the 901K due to their cardioid bass, also they are tuned more "euphonic" than the also great KH420, a friend of mine who isn't producing but just listening to music swapped his KH420 for a pair of 921K (which are similar to the 901K, mainly just a bit smaller).

- In that price class you ideally should listen to both as individual tastes/preferences differ.

- Since MEG is quite a conservative (in a good sense) manufacturer I doubt so, but why not sending them an email?
 

dziemian

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I had a pair of geithain 901k speakers. I found them too massive for home use. I prefer a pair of smaller speakers with controlled directivity and a few separate subwoofers to even out bass in the room with multisub organizer or dirac live bass control.I liked the sound though
 

TylerR

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I would also look into the Genelec 8361a if possible. They compare favorably to the Neumann KH-420 and are also coaxial so they have great directivity in both the horizontal and vertical domain. Measurements are available for both the 8361a and KH-420 here at ASR.
 

Zaireeka

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Since you're going to germany you should also give a listen to the GGNTKT M-1. I found them quite impressive and slightly better than my actual 8351A tbh.
 

dfuller

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I would also look into the Genelec 8361a if possible. They compare favorably to the Neumann KH-420 and are also coaxial so they have great directivity in both the horizontal and vertical domain. Measurements are available for both the 8361a and KH-420 here at ASR.
FWIW, if you like one chances are you won't the other. They don't sound all that similar in spite of both measuring excellently.
 

test1223

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I would buy the ME Geithain speakers. There are rarely any on the second hand market since they sound very good, and they are very robust and can be repaired if anything gets damaged. So there is almost always a buyer around the corner. If you don't like them which is unlikely you can sell them again probably without any loss.
 

SSS

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The Geithain speaker (don't know the model type but was cardioid bass response) I listened to them in a relatively big recording studio monitor/mixing room and in a hifi hi-end studio shop with roomsize of a small living room. Both times I was impressed by the very natural sound. Unfortunately I never got to listen to the Neumann KH speakers. Thus I have no comparison impression. But for sure the Geithain is a very good speaker. I know, hard to get in the USA. Living in Germany for me it was easier.
 

lashto

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heard both and have both on my "list". I'd be quite happy with any of them.

Can't really help since those were only short sessions at audio shows or stores. And never side by side.
I just thought the Geithains (particularly the big 801K) were a tad more ... enjoyable. One may even say 'more musical' but I do not want to lose my ASR card :). And it could have been the room, the playback chain, the music, my mood, ...

My only (obvious) advice: go and hear em first!
The Neumanns are 'everywhere' but it's very hard to demo the Geithains, even around Europe. You can book a visit at their factory/showroom via website. Or maybe you know someone from a German studio. Those are like the BBC speakers of Germany, lots of tv and music studios use them.
Or you can visit the Munich High End Show, they usually participate (just check the exhibitors list online).
 
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dachermann

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Owning the KH420, KH120, O198 - if I had the space, I would go for the 901K. To be brutally honest, with your budget the differences are marginal and mirror more your taste than quality. You can be happy with either Neumann, Geithain, Genelec or any other manufacturer in this price range.
 

dachermann

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I don’t know the pricing in the US - however, for 14k€ you would get in EU the KH420 with 2x KH870. This combination is huge but is above a 901K. I combined mine KH420 with customized BMS 12S330 subwoofers and I could not be more happy. Anyway, with your budget you can purchase an end-game solution.
 

LeonidK

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Geithain doesn’t have a room at the Munich show, they have an open space exhibit. You can look and ask questions, but not listen.
 

rpki

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Both are fine speakers. But since you use them for your business, I would look at support in case of failure. Imagine your Geithain fails - it could take weeks to get them fixed from the US.
 

prestigetone

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Neumann
I had a pair of geithain 901k speakers. I found them too massive for home use. I prefer a pair of smaller speakers with controlled directivity and a few separate subwoofers to even out bass in the room with multisub organizer or dirac live bass control.I liked the sound though

What do you have now?
 

poopy

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I demoed the KH420, 8361a and RL901K. Demos the same day. KH420 vs RL901K at the same shop in treated room, one after the other one.

I was stunned by how well-balanced the RL901K sounded and also the width/depth of the soundstage. Cardioid design? 16'' woofer? Superposed coaxial? All together? Memorable moment for sure.

When I demoed the Mantas (Sigberg Audio), I had a very similar impression. Both are cardioid and coaxial design.

Only drawback of the RL901K is their size and weight. Certainly not for a living room unless big room.
 

Pearljam5000

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I demoed the KH420, 8361a and RL901K. Demos the same day. KH420 vs RL901K at the same shop in treated room, one after the other one.

I was stunned by how well-balanced the RL901K sounded and also the width/depth of the soundstage. Cardioid design? 16'' woofer? Superposed coaxial? All together? Memorable moment for sure.

When I demoed the Mantas (Sigberg Audio), I had a very similar impression. Both are cardioid and coaxial design.

Only drawback of the RL901K is their size and weight. Certainly not for a living room unless big room.
How the KH420 is and 8361 compared to the Geithains?
 

Ron Texas

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I would go with Neumann or even Genelec over Geithains. I prefer the support of a larger more established company which is selling mainly to the pro audio market over a boutique manufacturer, especially when spending a lot of money on a complex product like an active loudspeaker.
 

Paffi

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I would go with Neumann or even Genelec over Geithains. I prefer the support of a larger more established company which is selling mainly to the pro audio market over a boutique manufacturer, especially when spending a lot of money on a complex product like an active loudspeaker.
More established company? You must be joking, do you know how long me geithain operates already and what kind of customers they have....?
 

poopy

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More established company? You must be joking, do you know how long me geithain operates already and what kind of customers they have....?

Agreed. From Ron's perspective, assuming he is based in North America, Geithain has no or little presence there. Their customer service is almost non existing based on my experience.
If I were based in North America I would certainly not buy anything from Geithain.

Don't get me wrong though. I was way more impressed with the RL901K than any Neumann or Genelec I demoed.
 
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