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Neumann KH120 II Monitor Review

Rate this monitor speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 1 0.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 3 0.8%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 34 8.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 357 90.4%

  • Total voters
    395
OP
amirm

amirm

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An Audacity-based spectrum analysis of the entire track "Fading Sun" by Terje Isungset produces a low-frequency peak located at 33.0 Hz:
Full track analysis in this case can be misleading. What is special about this track is that when the sub-bass comes, it is by itself and not mixed with a bunch of other stuff. So it is a very easy bass distortion test. I have other tracks that are more full spectrum but they are not remotely as revealing as that one.
 

HQY

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Nice. What stands are those
Also how much was the benefit instead of one sub
I ordered the stands from sound anchors in 2018 originally for kh80s. they make good stands and racks. the subwoofer bases were also made by sound anchors originally for kh805. one of the reasons that I ordered 120ii rather than 150 or 310 is that i can continue to use the stands without ordering new stands for 150 or 310. the current price for stands is too much for me.
two subwoofers can play the bass easier than one subwoofer. and the result of ma1 alignment seems better than using one sub.
 

DanTheMan

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I just appreciate how well controlled the port resonances are on this front-ported speaker. Better than anything I’ve personally measured. I have both the ADAM A5X and the ARTist 5 which share the same drivers. The A5X definitely has less wind noise and compression coming from the ports than the ARTist 5 with their slot ports on the back, but they cause the sharp dip in the midrange (which is so narrow I doubt I could hear it). I don’t use either of them below 180Hz, but if I did I prefer to use the A5X. I’m betting this has the best of both worlds looking at the measurements. I don’t understand any of it however: why not just put great ports on the back of the enclosure? I guess it would cause problems with placement very near the front wall, but I’d think that would be a rare use case…. That’s going to lead to more intense comb filtering. Nonetheless, these ports are VERY nice. In fact I don’t see anything to really complain about on these speakers. Audible colorations should be very low and thus listening pleasure very high. My ADAM deviate by 1.7dB on axis. These are even lower with better bass. I do wish I could have another set of speakers. These are worth it. Maybe they are worth the subsequent divorce? We have philosophical differences regarding the number of high quality speakers necessary to achieve nirvana.
 

jdjung

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These have digital inputs which means it has a DAC and given these measurements would possibly mean it has a DSP equalizer? Isn't there a way to tell if there is DSP equalization by looking at the off axis response? Not to take away from what they have accomplished but would you consider this cheating since it would be like a passive speaker with DSP equalization leading to a ruler flat result?
 

HarmonicTHD

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These have digital inputs which means it has a DAC and given these measurements would possibly mean it has a DSP equalizer? Isn't there a way to tell if there is DSP equalization by looking at the off axis response? Not to take away from what they have accomplished but would you consider this cheating since it would be like a passive speaker with DSP equalization leading to a ruler flat result?

Of course it has a DSP in it. But why on earth would that be cheating? Since when is it cheating to reach excellent results with modern technology. And as we love car analogies - would you call it cheating too if one puts in a modern gasoline or even electric motor in a car instead of a steam engine.
 

jdjung

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Of course it has a DSP in it. But why on earth would that be cheating? Since when is it cheating to reach excellent results with modern technology. And as we love car analogies - would you call it cheating too if one puts in a modern gasoline or even electric motor in a car instead of a steam engine.
I'm not saying it is cheating, just asking would some people consider it cheating, thus the question mark. Also, couldn't we get similar results with less expensive speakers and DSP? I'm just trying to talk myself from my gear lust and my jaw dropping seeing the response and noise measurements which made me nearly insta buy these. What's the drawback of DSP? I believe I read somewhere DSP may have an issue with port resonance when listening off axis?
 
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Nuyes

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The best (2-way non-coaxial) active loudspeaker ever!!!!
 

edechamps

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These have digital inputs which means it has a DAC and given these measurements would possibly mean it has a DSP equalizer?

That's very likely, yes. EQ is cheap, so it makes sense Neumann would use that to improve the response, especially in a $1K speaker. I expect most active speakers to have some kind of integrated EQ these days. There's no reason to leave performance on the table by not using it.

Isn't there a way to tell if there is DSP equalization by looking at the off axis response?

No. Why would you think that? DSP changes on-axis and off-axis response in exactly the same way. It cannot change one independently of the other. In other words: DSP cannot affect directivity.

Not to take away from what they have accomplished but would you consider this cheating since it would be like a passive speaker with DSP equalization leading to a ruler flat result?

It's not cheating. This is precisely what every single speaker manufacturer should do: use all the tools at their disposal to make their product better. Yes, passive speakers can't do that (or at least not as easily). That doesn't mean active speakers are "cheating". It just means active speakers are a better technology.

Also, couldn't we get similar results with less expensive speakers and DSP?

In theory, yes.

In practice, you can't use DSP to fix directivity, so you'd still need a speaker with excellent directivity to get close to this one. The only way to achieve good directivity is through better acoustic design (i.e. waveguides, cabinet shape, etc.), which usually doesn't come cheap (though there are notable exceptions).

Also, using DSP to fix a speaker response is far from trivial and is not really something that the average user would have the time/motivation/skills to do. You would need to set up the DSP itself, and more importantly you need to obtain precise anechoic measurements of the speaker so that you can invert its response (you cannot do this by measuring it in-room, because the reflections will mess up your data).

Now you could of course use Amir's measurements to do this, and some do. However I have a suspicion that you still wouldn't be able to get to Neumann levels of accuracy by doing this because, given the insane levels of precision shown in this review, I'm willing to bet that Neumann measures and calibrates each individual speaker at factory, whereas you would only have measurements for the unit that happened to have been measured.

What's the drawback of DSP?

EQ peaks require the speaker to work harder, potentially reducing its maximum output level. However this is also something that can be measured and accounted for, and it is (see Amir's distortion graphs).

I believe I read somewhere DSP may have an issue with port resonance when listening off axis?

Resonances would show up on measurements. Do you see a resonance in Amir's off-axis measurements? No? Then there is no problem.

This is the beauty of accurate, thorough speaker measurements: what you see is what you get. It doesn't matter if there is DSP, what material the cabinet is made of, what the drivers are, where the port is, etc. The measurements show you the end result that you will hear, and that's all that matters. Spend $X, get this response. That's it.
 
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unpluggged

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I'm not saying it is cheating, just asking would some people consider it cheating, thus the question mark. Also, couldn't we get similar results with less expensive speakers and DSP? I'm just trying to talk myself from my gear lust and my draw dropping seeing the response and noise measurements which made me nearly insta buy these. What's the drawback of DSP? I believe I read somewhere DSP may have an issue with port resonance when listening off axis?
If you don't like DSP, get the KH 120 A while they are still available (it's already listed as archived product on Neumann website) and judge for yourself as to how much of a "cheating" DSP would bring. I personally would not mind built-in phase and frequency response linearization, extended LF response and room correction features.
 

jdjung

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If you don't like DSP, get the KH 120 A while they are still available (it's already listed as archived product on Neumann website) and judge for yourself as to how much of a "cheating" DSP would bring. I personally would not mind built-in phase and frequency response linearization, extended LF response and room correction features.
I love DSP. I don't think DSP is cheating. I already stated this above. I know some old school audiophiles that want every component to be separate and discrete, such as a separate amp, DAC and passive speaker setups. I haven't gone through the entire thread, but I know some people will be upset that they can't use their own DAC to bypass the KH120 II DAC using the balanced/RCA inputs. I personally don't think the DAC matter that much as long as they are in Amir's "excellent" region of his chart, given how good DACs are now a days.

I enjoy using PEQ for my headphones. I do prefer the easier route if the results are excellent. This is why I went with and bought the KEF LS50 Wireless 2 vs the KEF LS50 META. I also absolutely love the Qudelix and Roon with PEQ.
 

jdjung

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That's very likely, yes. EQ is cheap, so it makes sense Neumann would use that to improve the response, especially in a $1K speaker. I expect most active speakers to have some kind of integrated EQ these days. There's no reason to leave performance on the table by not using it.



No. Why would you think that? DSP changes on-axis and off-axis response in exactly the same way. It cannot change one independently of the other. In other words: DSP cannot affect directivity.



It's not cheating. This is precisely what every single speaker manufacturer should do: use all the tools at their disposal to make their product better. Yes, passive speakers can't do that (or at least not as easily). That doesn't mean active speakers are "cheating". It just means active speakers are a better technology.



In theory, yes.

In practice, you can't use DSP to fix directivity, so you'd still need a speaker with excellent directivity to get close to this one. The only way to achieve good directivity is through better acoustic design (i.e. waveguides, cabinet shape, etc.), which usually doesn't come cheap (though there are notable exceptions).

Also, using DSP to fix a speaker response is far from trivial and is not really something that the average user would have the time/motivation/skills to do. You would need to set up the DSP itself, and more importantly you need to obtain precise anechoic measurements of the speaker so that you can invert its response (you cannot do this by measuring it in-room, because the reflections will mess up your data).

Now you could of course use Amir's measurements to do this, and some do. However I have a suspicion that you still wouldn't be able to get to Neumann levels of accuracy by doing this because, given the insane levels of precision shown in this review, I'm willing to bet that Neumann measures and calibrates each individual speaker at factory, whereas you would only have measurements for the unit that happened to have been measured.



EQ peaks require the speaker to work harder, potentially reducing its maximum output level. However this is also something that can be measured and accounted for, and it is (see Amir's distortion graphs).



Resonances would show up on measurements. Do you see a resonance in Amir's off-axis measurements? No? Then there is no problem.

This is the beauty of accurate, thorough speaker measurements: what you see is what you get. It doesn't matter if there is DSP, what material the cabinet is made of, what the drivers are, where the port is, etc. The measurements show you the end result that you will hear, and that's all that matters. Spend $X, get this response. That's it.
Thank You! The section on directivity was what I was, "tip of the tongue", thinking. In terms of port resonance I had believed that at different volume levels the resonance can be more or less pronounced and is more difficult to EQ away since the resonance would fluctuate based on volume. I suppose if a speaker manufacturer created an active EQ that shifts at different volume levels, that could be also corrected for. Is there any software that has active EQ?
 

unpluggged

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I know some old school audiophiles that want every component to be separate and discrete, such as a separate amp, DAC and passive speaker setups.
Well, too bad for them, but then this is not an audiophile product ;)
 

Sancus

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Now you could of course use Amir's measurements to do this, and some do. However I have a suspicion that you still wouldn't be able to get to Neumann levels of accuracy by doing this because, given the insane levels of precision shown in this review, I'm willing to bet that Neumann measures and calibrates each individual speaker at factory, whereas you would only have measurements for the unit that happened to have been measured.
Yeah, Genelec and Neumann do both measure each speaker at the factory and tune EQ accordingly. That's why they don't do pair matching, the KH 120 II matches every single speaker of the model made within +/-0.45dB(great for multichannel!).

If you tried to duplicate this yourself on cheaper speakers with data from one speaker you run into the unit variance problem. It's still usually an improvement but you can't match Neumann that way.
 

jdjung

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Yeah, Genelec and Neumann do both measure each speaker at the factory and tune EQ accordingly. That's why they don't do pair matching, the KH 120 II matches every single speaker of the model made within +/-0.45dB(great for multichannel!).

If you tried to duplicate this yourself on cheaper speakers with data from one speaker you run into the unit variance problem. It's still usually an improvement but you can't match Neumann that way.
Yeah it would start getting a bit crazy trying to EQ each channel then eq away variations of port resonance of each channel based on volume. Conclusion, buy the Neumans. Hahaha!
 
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heflys20

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I'm not saying it is cheating, just asking would some people consider it cheating, thus the question mark.
I'd have question the sanity of anyone saying DSP is "cheating". Lol. But I digress...The conversation has moved on.
 
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