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Neumann KH420 Review (Studio Monitor)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 2 0.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 2 0.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 26 6.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 392 92.9%

  • Total voters
    422

Tangband

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Earl Geddes has felt that edge diffraction is very detrimental to the sound of a speaker. He had studied the issue and wrote a paper on the topic for the AES IIRC.
If you use big waveguides, such as the ones used in this KH420, you dont need a rounded cabinett.
The waveguides take away the diffractions from the side of the cabinett at higher frecuensies ( higher than about 600 Hz in this case ) and below that freq where the bass unit is at work, a rounded cabinett doesnt matter.
 

Keened

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Now that you’ve said this first, I didn’t have solid facts to prove it but I was wondering if this wasn’t priced based on corporate/industry standards myself. Which is why I would pause to consider consumer segment alternatives before I spent over 10 grand on a pair of these (although with their frequency response one might be able to forgo the costs of a sub in some listening spaces).
I don't actually know unfortunately; I only have a growing understanding of how techno-economic trends shaped the evolution of music. This feels very much in line with previous behavior but without actual books it's all conjecture.

I absolutely would never suggest someone spend $10 grand on this in a consumer segment generally. I think people can achieve the sound pressure levels and fidelity they need for less. Specifically by using a pair of 8"-10-12" subwoofers that will run maybe $1500 and some good source DSP+measurement loops. But it would start getting close, that would have to be ~$4-5K once it's all totaled up. Expanding the number of channels arbitrarily going forward would be difficult though.

So I guess it really comes down to what is the system's intended outcome?
- Ambient music: directivity is a hindrance rather than an asset.
-/+ Domestic distance: If you can afford the speaker you can probably afford the house they fit in.
+ Strict classic 2-ch: you could easily do worse and it would take effort or money to be better.
- (Doesn't really look great though if it's a S T E R E O you're looking for and not a 2-ch system.)
+ Modern 2.X system: You could do better with just some effort, but it's no slouch and is clearly a worthwhile contender.
++ Multi-channel systems: It doesn't quite bring it's own +.1 with each channel, but it's pretty close and very flexible in usage (good jack of all trades).
 

test1223

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If you use big waveguides, such as the ones used in this KH420, you dont need a rounded cabinett.
The waveguides take away the diffractions from the side of the cabinett at higher frecuensies ( higher than about 600 Hz in this case ) and below that freq where the bass unit is at work, a rounded cabinett doesnt matter.
Yes and no. Yes the effects of diffraction is lower with waveguides which beam more, but it isn't gone. The egg like scape of the ones isn't by chance the way it is, you also got diffraction effects in the baffle step frequencies. The way around is flash mounting the KH420. But the diffractions of the mid and high waveguide and the diffractions of the bass driver are still problems. The design of the KH420 high and mid waveguide also try to lower negative effects of the nearby other waveguide. And the oddly looking ring around the woofer is also a design feature to lower the negative effects of such diffractions.
 

Frgirard

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Yes and no. Yes the effects of diffraction is lower with waveguides which beam more, but it isn't gone. The egg like scape of the ones isn't by chance the way it is, you also got diffraction effects in the baffle step frequencies. The way around is flash mounting the KH420. But the diffractions of the mid and high waveguide and the diffractions of the bass driver are still problems. The design of the KH420 high and mid waveguide also try to lower negative effects of the nearby other waveguide. And the oddly looking ring around the woofer is also a design feature to lower the negative effects of such diffractions.
The kh420 can be flushing mounted in A STUDIO. Replace this speaker in his market context.
 

Frgirard

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Neumann should Start offering more color options
KH420 would look great in white
Klein hummel did that. No great success and a long delivery time
For my o300 the normal delevery time was 3 days.
With the paint feature, 6 weeks and 100 euro by speaker.
In 2009.
 
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Frank Dernie

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I guess the 8361 and KiiThree have built in DSP and the KH420 doesn't? Might close that $4K gap a little
The fact that the KH420 does not have built in DSP but still performs this well is a big plus for me.

Firstly it means the drivers and cabinet are fundamentally good and don't need much correction to work properly and secondly past experience indicates it may have a longer life. My experience is that analogue electronics is more long lived and spares more available than anything digital and won't get to the stage where it is hardware incompatible with firmware changes.

I also don't want a computer as part of my hifi any more, but that is a personal foible.
 

FeddyLost

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Basically you just proved the point that “studio monitor” vs “hifi” is an artificial marketing distinction (though sometimes a cabinet finish distinction) not an audio function or performance distinction. Also as in this case sometimes the phrase “studio monitor” is used as a meaningless marketing hook for a speaker sold through hifi channels.
You are right in this case. I don't know the background of marketing these speakers as "studio monitors" without even offering them through pro channels, maybe for hi-fiers that need "studio vibe"?
Anyway, I still beleive that making "big bookshelves" for home duties is not really justified from designer point of view.

Yes but doesn’t it seem like the “studio grade” surcharges you refer to above would be foolish for someone in the consumer market to absorb? Admittedly it’s an outstanding piece but surely there are comparable alternatives that are priced for consumer segments?
Personally I thought about studio subs, but choose "hi-fi-ish" ones as they are good enough for my purposes and have better price/performance ratio.
If I needed complete standalone system "analog stereo in" for subwoofer augmentation, It would be difficult to avoid studio subwoofer as they are well suited for such use case.

I wonder if the Swiss made, roughly equally priced, PSI Audio A25-M are at the same level and the Adam Audio (German like Neumann) S5V for twice the price are even a step further.
New A25-M are improved over older gen, but I think they will still not match KH420s with raw power and directivity.
S5V is totally DSP+PWM so their reliability will heavily depend on manufacturer's support and stocks.
At this level it's really beneficial to compare at your place with your use case.
 

Vict0r

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Thanks for the review! I chuckled at the thought of you sitting there, holding on for dear life while the speaker was blasting away at you.

"ASR-recommended listening volume: 106db" :D
 

Frgirard

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You are right in this case. I don't know the background of marketing these speakers as "studio monitors" without even offering them through pro channels, maybe for hi-fiers that need "studio vibe"?
Anyway, I still beleive that making "big bookshelves" for home duties is not really justified from designer point of view.


Personally I thought about studio subs, but choose "hi-fi-ish" ones as they are good enough for my purposes and have better price/performance ratio.
If I needed complete standalone system "analog stereo in" for subwoofer augmentation, It would be difficult to avoid studio subwoofer as they are well suited for such use case.


New A25-M are improved over older gen, but I think they will still not match KH420s with raw power and directivity.
S5V is totally DSP+PWM so their reliability will heavily depend on manufacturer's support and stocks.
At this level it's really beneficial to compare at your place with your use case.
Better price performance ratio?
When i bought my kh420 a proac d28 costed the same price.
 

Ilkless

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Unquestionably the best hearing experience I have had. Phenomenal separation and tonally correct. Fantastic dynamics.

One hopes a next gen 420 is coming soon with a larger version of the KH310's trick woofer design that has a corrugated surround.
 

Robbo99999

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That’s too bad. Would you be willing to read Erin’s spinorama review and share your top line opinion as to how they might compare?

I'm not Amir, lol, but they look great re frequency response and reach even lower than the Neumann speaker. They have higher distortion though. Directivity is good, just like this Neuman speaker. They seem very similar, I would use price as a deciding factor....and I might lean towards the Neumann speaker for the lower distortion, whilst being aware that I don't think the slightly lower reach in bass of the Dutch & Dutch is a significant factor.....you'd probably have room gain that would boost the lower end of each speaker anyway to give you more lower reach than you could ever hope for.

EDIT: after reading more about the Dutch & Dutch they're really quite different, rear facing subs built in......but the end results in the spinorama seems comparable......surprised to see the Neumann having less distortion given the Dutch & Dutch have included rear facing "subs" into their speaker.
 
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mmi

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Something that exists cannot be a myth, and there are many successful speaker designers who design speakers differently for domestic and consumer use. Whether you think it is necessary is another matter.

The overwhelming weight of evidence is that speakers designed for consumer use do not look anything like these. If you honestly think these would be considered an attractive addition to a domestic environment, you’re not being honest with yourself.
I mean really???

Let’s get something straight. There are no rules, dictated by you or anyone else, regarding: what is attractive; allowed personal taste; validity of said personal taste.
 

DWI

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Every speaker will sound terrible if the room is not treated. Speakers like the KH420 though will sound better than many Hifi Speakers because of its dispersion characteristics in a typical home environment.
Untrue. I‘ve had several speakers over 35+ years that have sounded fabulous in untreated rooms. No doubt millions of people have had the same experience.

Neumann has been part of Sennheisser for decades. The professional and consumer divisions are of similar size, so its not like they don’t know about consumer audio. You’d have thought that if they saw a consumer market for their professional speaker technology they’d have done it by now.
 

mmi

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Untrue. I‘ve had several speakers over 35+ years that have sounded fabulous in untreated rooms. No doubt millions of people have had the same experience.

Neumann has been part of Sennheisser for decades. The professional and consumer divisions are of similar size, so its not like they don’t know about consumer audio. You’d have thought that if they saw a consumer market for their professional speaker technology they’d have done it by now.
>10K is not the consumer audio market, it is well in to luxury. Also Sennheiser just sold off their entire consumer portfolio to focus on their business and professional operations. I think they have a pretty good idea about their market segments and what they are doing.
 

thewas

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Neumann has been part of Sennheisser for decades.
The studio monitor part (which used to be Klein + Hummel) is not so long belonging to Sennheiser (which renamed the monitor products from K+H to Neumann).
 

hmt

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Untrue. I‘ve had several speakers over 35+ years that have sounded fabulous in untreated rooms. No doubt millions of people have had the same experience.

Neumann has been part of Sennheisser for decades. The professional and consumer divisions are of similar size, so its not like they don’t know about consumer audio. You’d have thought that if they saw a consumer market for their professional speaker technology they’d have done it by now.
How many Neumann Monitors do you have listened to in this spaces?
 

thewas

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I‘ve had several speakers over 35+ years that have sounded fabulous in untreated rooms. No doubt millions of people have had the same experience.
As hmt correctly wrote, a loudspeaker with smooth directivity like a good studio monitor will sound rather better in an untreated room than a typical "highend" loudspeaker with a pine tree form direcitvity.
 

MarcosCh

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I mean really???

Let’s get something straight. There are no rules, dictated by you or anyone else, regarding: what is attractive; allowed personal taste; validity of said personal taste.
Well there actually are, and i am not familiar with them, maybe others can comment, but a pair of these consum 120W when iddle, slightly higher than 0.5W... and i am not certain they have a stanby mode (maybe they do).

Othet than that, if you don't have kids, they might be ok... :D
Screenshot_20220502-112957_Gmail.jpg
 
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