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Neumann KH 310A Review (Powered Monitor)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Neumann KH 310A active monitor (speaker). It was kindly sent to me by the company for testing. I see it discounted to US $2,200 (each) as of this writing.

This is one dense and heavy 3-way speaker:

Neumann KH310A Review Active 3-way monitor.jpg


I was relieved to find "rack mount" ears to grab onto for lifting it:

Neumann KH310A Review Rear Panel Input XLR Active 3-way monitor.jpg


Nice to see big heatsinks in the back indicating good amount of power on tap. Testing was performed with all the switches as you see.

What you don't see is a port.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

The system performed over 1000 measurement which resulted in error rate of more or less 1%.

Temperature was 58 degrees F initially. Past experience indicates that there may be some impact on bass response of Neumann speakers so a second measurement was performed after heating up the room to 68 degrees (it dropped back to 64 at the end of testing).

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.

Reference axis was the border between tweeter and midrange.

I consulted with Neumann on the results you see here.

Neumann KH 310A Measurements
Acoustic measurements can be grouped in a way that can be perceptually analyzed to determine how good a speaker is and how it can be used in a room. This so called spinorama shows us just about everything we need to know about the speaker with respect to tonality and some flaws:

Neumann KH310AMeasurements Spinorama CTA-2034 Frequency Response Measurement.png


Response basically matches Neumann's published anechoic results, sans the slight shelving in low frequencies and that one dip. Their measurements also shows a dip but it is above 100 Hz. Cause of the dip is unknown and Neumann is investigating. It is not material though as the room impact will be massive in this region but it is nice to know where it is coming from.

Even with a little shelving which Neumann thinks is still related to temperature, response is quite flan on axis. There is as much as 0.7 dB error in my microphone by 20 kHz so with that taken into account, agreement with Neumann data is excellent.

Directivity is very good as seen by how closely the upper lines mirror each other and their difference as plotted down below.

Early window reflections are as a result very good:

Neumann KH310AMeasurements Spinorama CTA-2034 Early Reflections Frequency Response Measurement.png


While not the target for this speaker, if you were to use the speaker in far-field, domestic listening space, this would be the potential response:

Neumann KH310AMeasurements Spinorama CTA-2034 Predicted In-room Frequency Response Measurement.png


I have not looked to see why it became more uneven than I expected. Still, we are talking speakers here and this is a very good response.
EDIT: I had the scales wrong. It was too zoomed in. Corrected.

Interpreting near-field response of the sound producing elements is always complicated by the port. Without it, we have rather textbook responses in KH 310A:

Neumann KH310AMeasurements Spinorama  Driver Frequency Response Measurement.png


Notice that the dip around 80 Hz is still there so that is not an artifact of the complex process Klippel NFS uses to generate its anechoic response.

Distortion is kept well under control even at the higher 96 [email protected] meter:

Neumann KH310AMeasurements Spinorama  Distortion vs Frequency THD.png


Very low bass creates a bit of issue with distortion exceeding 100%:
Neumann KH310AMeasurements Spinorama  Absolute Distortion vs Frequency THD.png


Beam width control is excellent but naturally a bit asymmetrical:

Neumann KH310AMeasurements horizontal beamwidth.png


Here is the same as a contour:

Neumann KH310AMeasurements horizontal directivity.png


Vertical directivity is very good due to use of mid-range and careful design:

Neumann KH310AMeasurements Vertical directivity.png


Neuman KH 310A Near-field Speaker Listening Tests
I know many of you think that looking at the measurements biases you in listening tests. But I must say, the very first impression of what hits my face and ears is often a surprise. I figured the KH 310A would sound good but not this good! I always start with female vocals to see if their brilliance is reproduced without harshness. The KH 310A blew me away with how it managed this careful trick! I could not believe the level of clarity, balance, yet detailed sound with zero harshness or lispiness.

Best of all, I could turn up the level as high as I wanted. This created nothing but delight as I played some of my tracks with dynamic high frequency tones such as Gruzzo by Daniele Di Bonaventura and Alfredo Laviano:


The bass was absolutely clean. It was a delight to listen to what Neumann calls "DRY BASS." It was a relief to not hear bloated bass that would all of a sudden fall of a cliff when turned up.

To make sure there was enough of it though, I queued up the track Bad News by Melody Gardot:


Wow, wow, wow! This is some impressive bass coming out of this speaker! It was resonating not only my desk and chair but my entire loft! I cranked it way up and then I could detect a bit of distortion but if you were not looking for it, you would be plenty satisfied.

I wish I had a second one and time to sit back and listen for hours and hours. Nothing has sounded this impressive and dynamic on my workstation desk. I simply put the speaker on half inch of padding with no messing with alignment and any reason to reach for EQ. And received total, absolute pleasure.

Conclusions
Neumann KH 310A shows the dedication of the design team to absolute objective perfection. Somehow the recipe here goes even beyond that producing a combine sound that delighted me and glued a smile on my face that has yet to disappear. Yes, $4,400 for a pair of these speakers is a lot of money. What you get though is design engineers perfecting the sound reproduction and not leaving you with the job of EQ to get there. Elimination of bass port (I think) has resulted in very clean low frequency response.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I am going to strongly recommend the Neumann KH 310A Active Monitor. I live for days like this when a company cares to give us the best sound reproduction we can get.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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MZKM

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Preference Rating
SCORE: 6.2
SCORE w/ sub: 7.6

Frequency response:
+/-2.0dB 100Hz-10kHz
+/-2.4dB 34Hz-20kHz
+/-4.0dB 30Hz-20kHz

Spinorama 2.png

The horizontal directivity graphs use the average of the + & - angles (and have been so for a while)
Horizontal Directivity 2.png
Horizontal Directivity Normalized 2.png
Vertical Directivity 2.png
Vertical Directivity Normalized 2.png
chart 3.png
All graphs/data
 
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OP
amirm

amirm

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As good as expected from a reputable company like Neumann.

Now the only question is... KH 420 when? :)
That depends on how many complaints I get on that "bass shelf" and temperature thing. :) It took a lot of work to get closer to perfection and cost me the time to review other speakers. If we can leave anal commentary on them, I can ask for more speakers to be tested.

BTW, this testing came about because members asked for it. So let them know what else you want tested.
 

napilopez

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While not the target for this speaker, if you were to use the speaker in far-field, domestic listening space, this would be the potential response:

View attachment 94741

I have not looked to see why it became more uneven than I expected. Still, we are talking speakers here and this is a very good response.

Thanks @amirm! Looks like a fantastic speaker, as expected.

As I have officially designated myself the scaling police, I'd just like to point out to readers that the above graph is much taller than the usual, so it makes the PIR look worse than it is.

Here's the Genelec 8341 graph, for instance:
1605914838314.png


So if we match that, we get:
1605914879839.png


Which does not look so bad.
 
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amirm

amirm

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As I have officially designated myself the scaling police, I'd just like to point out that the above graph is much taller than the usual, so it makes the PIR look a little worse than it is.
Ah, good catch. I have to always manually set that as Klippel just auto scales but forgot this time. Corrected. Was wondering why it looked that way as I was typing the review....
 

thewas

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Thanks for the review @amirm , the measurements are not a surprise given the detailed data provided from Neumann but am glad that you enjoyed it as much as I did when I had a pair for a test, its cleanness and never tiring sound from its fantastic mid range driver are still references for me.
 

temps

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Fantastic speaker... great performance.

Final nail in the coffin for preference scores, for me. This gets a 6.2, top 5 speaker... fantastic, you'd think. That's only 0.03 ahead of a 4" monitor, 0.11 behind a 5" monitor, both of which roll off an octave higher, with the next third of an octave heavily degraded by distortion.

If the score is so heavily weighted towards directivity over response, rename it to something else. Time to go back to "Olive score" or "directivity rating" - preference score sounds far too empirical and definitive for a measure with such enormous flaws
 

thewas

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Here also a direct comparison of the ASR estimated in-room prediction and the MMM measurement I had done at a friends place who owns a pair (when I had a pair for tests myself I unfortunaly did only single sweeps):

1605916046323.png


Matches quite well as usual above 500 Hz, only in this case at the real room the treble is a tad less, but the room had also quite some acoustic absorber elements.
 
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Pearljam5000

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That depends on how many complaints I get on that "bass shelf" and temperature thing. :) It took a lot of work to get closer to perfection and cost me the time to review other speakers. If we can leave anal commentary on them, I can ask for more speakers to be tested.

BTW, this testing came about because members asked for it. So let them know what else you want tested.
Genelec 8351B /8361A
Thanks.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Genelec 8351B /8361A
Thanks.
Despite being a member here and getting exceptional results from the reviews, they have not reached out to offer any speaker for testing. Suggest contacting them and asking them to do so. :)
 

JustIntonation

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Thank you for the measurements and review!

As I wrote on Gearslutz, I used to own the O300 and had a mixed impression of it. I didn't like its high crossover point of 3.3 kHz and the woofer/bass felt somewhat constricted. It seems they fixed these issues with the KH310 by significantly lowering the mid-tweeter crossover point to 2 kHz and using a better woofer.
 
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MarsianC#

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8361A has been done by S&R. 8351B will measure great too, why shouldn't it? All Neumanns too, as you probably already know.
I see no need for measuring these speakers again.

woofer/bass felt somewhat constricted
It was. KH310 can handle quite a lot more in bass. Unfortunatly, the old K+H archive is down, measurements were available there. Directivity is similar, but with constant (very slow) narrowing with rising frequency. Almost all old K+H speakers were designed like this.
 

Pearljam5000

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8361A has been done by S&R. 8351B will measure great too, why shouldn't it? All Neumanns too, as you probably already know.
I see no need for measuring these speakers again.
I meant a full review with listening tests.
The 8341A scored higher on ASR than the KH310, so I wonder how they compare for example.
 
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