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Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Neumann KH 80 DSP Active Monitor (speaker). It was kindly sent to me by a member. The KH 80 costs US $500 each which is quite pricey for a small speaker.

And small it is:

Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Audio Review.jpg

Unfortunately there is no good sense of scale above but let me emphasize that these are quite small speakers.

Here is a shot of the connectivity and controls:

Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Back Panel Connectors Audio Review.jpg

The power connector is a figure-8 socket on the left tunnel beside the power switch. I appreciate the skinny flexible cable. Likewise the XLR/TRS combo socket is on the right. This way, you can wall mount the speaker and not worry about the wires. This also meant that I had a hell of a time getting my signal cable out of that narrow channel. I literally had to get a pair of needle noise pliers to pull them out.

There is an Ethernet like socket which with some "hub?" you can connect to an iPad and only an iPad to set up EQ and control the unit. Who was in charge of the product marketing to make this an ipad-only feature? Either do it right or don't do it at all. Put in Bluetooth if this is just for control and let either device types to connect. Yes, the microphone on Android is less known than apple product so test and recommend a couple of models (e.g. Samsung). I have an iPAD but can't be bothered to pull it out just to play with this speaker.

The switch settings for testing (both measurements and listening) were as such:
Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Dip Switches.jpg


It was a "balmy" 57 degrees F in the "lab" which is 11 feet above sea level.

CEA/CTA-2034 Spinorama Speaker Measurements
As usual we start with our master spinorama graph:
Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Spinorama CEA CTA-2034 Audio Measurements.png


As noted, I calibrated the setting to 106 dB @ 0.3 meters which translates to 90 dB at 1 meter. Scream now if you don't want this to be the standard moving forward. Audibly this was loud requiring ear plugs but not stressing the speaker. I need the signal to be loud enough to be well above (at least 40 dB) above noise floor.

I also upped the number of points to 20/octave. This unfortunately made the analysis phase take over half hour. :( So I like to go back to 10 points or something like it.

On to the results, clearly the DSP is put to good use to flatten the on-axis response. There is some dip around the crossover which as I will show gets exaggerated in full room response. Otherwise, a rule was used to create that response graph.

Since the "woofer" is so small, and the waveguide so large, there is essentially no directivity issue. Our early window graph for example looks very similar to on-axis/listening window meaning we should have an easy time EQing the KH 80.

Here is the estimated in-room response:
Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Spinorama CEA CTA-2034 Estimated In-room R...png


Here we better see the loss of energy around crossover frequency. Then again I could draw the line sloping down a bit more and make that less prominent. See more in listening tests.

I don't have any distortion measurements for you. I am working on a much more extensive suite of measurements there and didn't want to hold up this review for that.

Advanced Measurements

Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Spinorama CEA CTA-2034 Early Reflections A...png


The ceiling reflection accentuates our dip around the crossover frequency so best to absorb that if the room is not already too dead. Ditto for rear wall.


Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Spinorama CEA CTA-2034 Horizontal and Vert...png


Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Spinorama CEA CTA-2034 Full Horizontal and...png


I think this the most similar vertical and horizontal axis performance we have seen from any speaker tested so far. That is reflected in our horizontal contour plot:

Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Horizontal Contour SPL Map Audio Measureme...png


Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor Active Studio Pro Speaker Vertical Contour SPL Map Audio Measurements.png


Enclosed zip filer has the exports. Look forward to some analysis of those to deal with the quandary of listening tests next.

Informal Listening Tests
Listening tests as before were with JBL LSR305P on my left as the anchor/reference and the Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor on the right. Levels were matched using pink noise.

The first noticeable thing was that the KH 80 was most similar to LSR305P than any other speaker I have tested so far (which is not a lot). With other speakers you would immediately hear strong accentuation or lack of energy with the differential being quite large relative to the JBL. Here, all the spectrum was here.

I was then surprised that I did not prefer the KH 80 considering that it has even smoother response than the LSR305P. There were two issues here:

1. The scale was too small. This may be a visual bias but the KH 80 sounded more like a little computer speaker than a large speaker that the 305P sounds like. It was a more focused sound emanating from a smaller source. This was a much smaller issue than #2 though.

2. The JBL had a bit more "zing" and clarity as a result that was just lacking in KH 80. Focusing on the graphs, I noticed that the 305P has good bit of peaking (relatively speaking) in and around the frequencies that the KH 80 is weak in. Since I was doing my listening tests using Adobe Audition, I pulled up its parametric EQ and dialed up the 1.8 khz area by about 3 dB. That made a big difference and brought the response and signature much closer to that of JBL. The good directivity meant that there was no ill effect to such a boost.

I figured if this worked, I would bring up the bass a bit to better match that of 305P. Big mistake. Sound went to hell and fast. This thing is optimized for what it already can there.

I am super anxious to see what the Olive preference score says about KH 80 versus the JBL 305P. If it ranks the KH 80 higher then we have some work to do to rationalize my informal listening tests. If so, then I need to expand my listening tests to be more formal and in better environment than just my desk.

Conclusions
The Neumann KH 80 DSP Monitor measures quite well and seems to be competently designed.. This may make it a very good fit for pro use in recording and mixing. For hifi listening though as I noted, I still prefer the JBL LSR305P. The JBL projects a larger image, has more bass performance and detail in mid-range. It is also cheaper. So personally I would not use the KH 80 DSP but you have the data to decide for yourself.

Net, net, we have some work to do to better objectively qualify performance of speakers like Neumann KH 80.

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

Skipped lunch to do this review and save money. But now I am feeling hungry and weak! Need to run out and get some food and need money for that. Please donate what you can using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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thewas_

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amirm

amirm

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#7
Is there a simple way to translate the data presented into a sense of whether this (or any other speaker) can play without too much distortion at a decent spl (85-90) from a distance of 10ft? I am trying to assess which speakers would be suitable for my media rooms.
 
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amirm

amirm

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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #9
Is there a simple way to translate the data presented into a sense of whether this (or any other speaker) can play without too much distortion at a decent spl (85-90) from a distance of 10ft? I am trying to assess which speakers would be suitable for my media rooms.
Once I perform my distortion/SPL tests, yes. For now, these are very small speakers so I don't recommend them for far field listening.
 

thewas_

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You mean this?



The difference is very small between theirs and mine. Do you know what they mean by "interpolated?"
Sorry, one of my two links was wrong, corrected it, meant also this one from Prof. Goertz:


KH80-FRQ-1024x764.jpg
 
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amirm

amirm

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Sorry, one of my 2 links was wrong, corrected it, meant also this one from Prof. Goertz:
What is their measurement technique?
 

thewas_

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What is their measurement technique?
Class 1 measuring room allows measuring distances up to 8 m and offers free field conditions from 100 Hz upwards. All measurements are made with a B&K 1/4″-4939 measurement microphone at 96 kHz sampling rate and 24 bit resolution with the Monkey-Forest audio measurement system. Measurements below 100 Hz are performed as combined near-field/far-field measurements.
 
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amirm

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Sorry, one of my 2 links was wrong, corrected it, meant also this one from Prof. Goertz:
And why doesn't this match the manufacturer response which is dead flat?
 
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amirm

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Class 1 measuring room allows measuring distances up to 8 m and offers free field conditions from 100 Hz upwards. All measurements are made with a B&K 1/4″-4939 measurement microphone at 96 kHz sampling rate and 24 bit resolution with the Monkey-Forest audio measurement system. Measurements below 100 Hz are performed as combined near-field/far-field measurements.
Well, that is the problem then. Calibrating those two measurements techniques and stitching them is always subject to some variation/inaccuracy. The Klippel system was designed precisely to fix these issues.
 

Sancus

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@amirm Do you hear any hiss or hum one or 0.5 meter away? I want to use it as my desktop speaker. Thanks
Neumann specs hiss at <20dba @ 10cm and based on the fact that I have to put my ear almost inside the wave guide to hear it on my own KH80, I suspect this is accurate.

Is there a simple way to translate the data presented into a sense of whether this (or any other speaker) can play without too much distortion at a decent spl (85-90) from a distance of 10ft? I am trying to assess which speakers would be suitable for my media rooms.
I personally don't think these have enough output or bass to be used on their own outside the nearfield, but they work great as surround speakers at 2m distance with a sub, which is what I bought them for.
 

thewas_

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And why doesn't this match the manufacturer response which is dead flat?
It is very flat (no bass drop until 65 Hz where it falls sharply) and very close to the manufacturers measurements, are you confusing the blue lines which are some optional room filters?
 
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