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Neumann KH420 Review (Studio Monitor)

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    Votes: 2 0.4%
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amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Neumann 3-way, active speaker (monitor). It is on loan from the company and costs US $5,195.
Neumann KH-420 G Review Active 3-way studio monitor speaker.jpg

Speaker was too heavy to lug to the loft where my main system is so you have to put up with the cell phone picture above and listening tests there. Back panel shows extensive controls although this is not a DSP speaker:
Neumann KH-420 G Review Back Panel Active 3-way studio monitor active speaker.jpg


I must say, I like the styling of the back panel! I imagine it is visible in some studio settings so might as well give it some class as you see here.

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.

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 documented to be half-way between the centers of the tweeter and midrange. I eyeballed it as being just below the bottom edge of the tweeter waveguide. Measurement temperature was about 61 degrees F (16 degrees C).

Neumann KH420 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 KH-420 G Measurements Frequency Response anechoic Active 3-way studio monitor speaker.png


You expect the company to deliver, and deliver it does! Other than a minor dip around 50 to 60 Hz, frequency response is flat and extends to both ends of audible spectrum. We exchanged measurements and company's on-axis response has a smaller dip to the tune of 0.8 dB. This has been a continuing theme with Neumann speaker bass response. Either they are wrong a bit here, or Klippel NFS is. No way to adjudicate. Doesn't matter anyway as your room will wildly modify that region so what the speaker outputs is pretty secondary other than amount of SPL it produces.

Using our far field model, this is our early reflections:
Neumann KH-420 G Measurements Early Window Frequency Response anechoic Active 3-way studio mon...png


It nicely sums to a smooth line indicating off-axis response is very similar to on-axis albeit, with desired falling off of the high frequencies. As a result predicted in-room response looks just as we want to see it:
Neumann KH-420 G Measurements Predicted in-room Frequency Response anechoic Active 3-way studi...png


As indicated, horizontal beam width and directivity are highly controlled:

Neumann KH-420 G Measurements Horizontal Beam width anechoic Active 3-way studio monitor speaker.png


Neumann KH-420 G Measurements Horizontal directivity anechoic Active 3-way studio monitor spea...png


Vertically response is not as perfect but the midrange helps it to be better than a 2-way:
Neumann KH-420 G Measurements Vertical directivity anechoic Active 3-way studio monitor speaker.png


I suspect you buy this model to get high output power and that is precisely what you get:
Neumann KH-420 G Measurements THD Relative Distortion Active 3-way studio monitor speaker.png


Neumann KH-420 G Measurements THD Distortion Active 3-way studio monitor speaker.png


As a bonus, here is the response at 106 dBSPL:
Neumann KH-420 G Measurements 106 dBSPL THD Distortion Active 3-way studio monitor speaker.png


I had to hold on for dear life as I sat some 7 feet away from the speaker despite having hearing protection! Strong breeze followed after the sweep finished courtesy of the front firing ports! Clipping indicator did turn red and as you see, the tweeter amplifier is limited to either protect it, the driver, or both. Fortunately your music rarely has such high level of energy at high frequencies so actual impact of that is very small to nil.

For some reason I forgot to run the waterfall test but here is the impulse and step responses:

Neumann KH-420 G Measurements Impulse Response anechoic Active 3-way studio monitor speaker.png


Neumann KH-420 G Measurements Step Response anechoic Active 3-way studio monitor speaker.png


Neumann KH 420 G Listening Tests
Review picture shows the listening spot (although I did rotate the speaker some for the picture). The room has nearly 30 foot high ceiling and is a massive open space. It is also on the reflective side.

The performance of the KH 420 was superb. The bass at times was quite scary and it causes resonance in the entire house. You felt like you were in a vibration chamber with tracks that extended down to 20 Hz and lower. Mind you, I could get the driver to bottom out, crackle and clipping light to come on. But by then I was a heck of a lot more scared than the speaker was! :)

The midrange driver was the top star here bringing clarity and dynamics to female vocals that gave you goosebumps. Then the tweeter would chime in with superb resolution of its own. Add the bass response per above and the picture was compete.

I put my ear next to the tweeter with music paused and I could not hear anything over ambient noise level.

Conclusions
We have grown to expect excellence from Neumann but not power capability. The KH420 nicely remedies that producing a speaker that you could buy and forget about upgrading ever again. Every bit of the system oozes excellence in engineering which comes across both looking at it and hearing it. It also has an advantage over some other studio monitors in that it looks more like a "normal" speaker.

It is my pleasure to add the Neumann KH420 to my recommended list. Will be sad to see it leave.....

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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VintageFlanker

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At last! This has been pending for how long? 6 months?

Kudos for your work, Amir !:cool: Astonishing speaker, as expected.

It is on loan from the company and costs US $5,195.
Each*;)

BTW, actual price in EU, is a steal, at less than 8k€ tax inc. for the pair. So 2k cheaper than the (not available anyway) Gen 8361s.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Flat from 20Hz? That's amazing! Goodbye subwoofers!
I meant to note that there is absolutely no need for a sub unless you want to play extremely, extremely loud!
 
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amirm

amirm

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It is not even that expensive considering the performance. Impressive.
Yeh, it is a joy to setup a system. I just grabbed a Topping DX5, ran XLR cable to it and I was in business! The DX5 has volume control so I was all set.
 

Jim Shaw

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Remarkable. I put this under the category of 'See, it can be done.' Is the $5.2k price for one or two of these gems?
 

DjBonoBobo

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Thanks for the review!
What was your subjective impression/feelings compared to the Genelec 8361A?
I know it's been a few months - too bad a direct comparison of the two wasn't possible. So I don't mean a precise comparison (that's better done via measurements anyway), but rather your feeling on how the two differ?
 

F1308

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I don't quite understand...40 Hz you say ?
It is announced as having a free field frequency response of 26-22000Hz (±3dB).
 
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amirm

amirm

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What was your subjective impression/feelings compared to the Genelec 8361A?
I didn't listen to them in the same space. I think the KH420 has deeper bass. The Genelec a bit better overall tonality.
 
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