• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Neumann KH420 Review (Studio Monitor)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 2 0.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 2 0.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 27 5.9%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 423 93.2%

  • Total voters
    454

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,876
Likes
7,975
Location
BC, Canada
Thanks for detailed comment.
For stereo music playback only which would you choose?
Well, just on the fact that I don't need as much dynamics, I would choose KH420 (over S360), since it has less distortion at higher frequencies.
But that assumes I'm okay with their size.

In reality, I'd just get the 8351/8361 (plus subs) for music playback, since it's more compact form factor than KH420/S360 and I won't need S360/KH420's higher dynamic handling and extra amplifier power. I think that KH420/S360 are overkill for music listening.


UPDATE: see my updated thoughts on this
 
Last edited:

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
2,319
Likes
3,279
Well, just on the fact that I don't need as much dynamics, I would choose KH420 (over S360), since it has less distortion at higher frequencies.
But that assumes I'm okay with their size.

In reality, I'd just get the 8351/8361 for music playback, since it's more compact form factor than KH420 or S360 and I won't need S360 or KH420's higher dynamic handling and extra amplifier power. I think that S360, KH420 become overkill for music listening.
I see the appeal of KH420s for music listening - they don't need subs.
 

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,876
Likes
7,975
Location
BC, Canada
I see the appeal of KH420s for music listening - they don't need subs.
I edited my comment above to indicate that I'd like 8351/8361 (with subs).

But I can see the appeal of KH420 without subs for music playback. Im okay with that, assuming I can live with their size. :) They're CHUNKY BOIs
 

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
2,319
Likes
3,279
I edited my comment above to indicate that I'd like 8351/8361 (with subs).

But I can see the appeal of KH420 without subs for music playback. Im okay with that, assuming I can live with their size. :) They're CHUNKY BOIs
They're the kind of speakers I'd want to flush mount in a dedicated control room.
 

Sancus

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 30, 2018
Messages
2,499
Likes
6,351
Location
Canada
I don't totally disagree with your analysis, though I will point out that the 8361A, S360, and KH420 all play more than loud enough for even THX reference at 4 meters. And THX is dumb, you'd be good out to maybe 8 meters at the more realistic Atmos spec(-3dB to -6dB relative to THX).

1. S360 tweeter seems to have higher distortion beyond say 2khz, vs KH420.

My understanding is that high 2nd harmonic distortion is characteristic of compression tweeters(see JBL M2 for another example). It's worth noting that harmonic distortion above 7-8K is irrelevant since the resulting tone will be at frequencies where your hearing sensitivity is terrible to nonexistent depending on age. Even very young people can't hear >16khz that well.

2. KH420's frequency response starts to drop (limiter kicking in), somewhere beyond 5khz (seems like 3db) and then drops like a rock beyond 10khz (more than 6db)

The reason so many speakers have tweeter limitations and it's not considered an issue is because real content simply doesn't have loud tones at those frequencies. If you're listening to some music you'll be hitting at least 110-120dB at 100-200hz before you hit 100dB at 5khz, and that's the worst case. For films it'll be more like 20-30dB difference, probably.

aiCrq8j.png


I would never consider tweeter output when picking a speaker. It just doesn't matter unless your primary use is test tones(hey, some people are using speakers for research).
 

Pearljam5000

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
2,702
Likes
2,885
Well, just on the fact that I don't need as much dynamics, I would choose KH420 (over S360), since it has less distortion at higher frequencies.
But that assumes I'm okay with their size.

In reality, I'd just get the 8351/8361 (plus subs) for music playback, since it's more compact form factor than KH420/S360 and I won't need S360/KH420's higher dynamic handling and extra amplifier power. I think that KH420/S360 are overkill for music listening.
It's unfortunate you can't use the 8361 without subs
It would have been perfect
Another annoying thing is the KH420 used to cost much less than 8361
I just can't get a break :facepalm:
 
  • Like
Reactions: CMB

Sancus

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 30, 2018
Messages
2,499
Likes
6,351
Location
Canada
It's unfortunate you can't use the 8361 without subs
It would have been perfect
Another annoying thing is the KH420 used to cost much less than 8361
I just can't get a break :facepalm:
Well there's a lesson for you, prices rarely go down but frequently go up :p The longer you wait, the more you can expect to pay!
 

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,876
Likes
7,975
Location
BC, Canada
Here's my current thoughts (which might change tomorrow :oops:):

Are you listening to music with subs?
- I'd get the 8351/8361 (+ music subs) for music playback in a living room, since it's more compact form factor than KH420/S360. So for music, by going with 8351/8361 (+ music subs), you won't require the S360/KH420's higher dynamic handling, extra amplifier power, and larger cabinet volumes. By going with Genelec Ones, you gain vertical directivity (which is important if you're walking around the room and listening to music, instead of sitting in one spot), smaller form factor (can be placed in most living rooms without issues) and looks (I think the eggs are very pleasing to look at). Any decent-measuring subs will help 8351/8361 deal with room modes (frequency dips and peaks). Deepest frequency extension is not needed for music playback (unlike for movies where 20hz extension in the bass and at reference levels, is the goal). So you can choose subwoofers that aren't as capable for music playback as subs needed for movies. So you save some money on subs here. By "music subs", I mean subs capable of outputting down to 25hz, since music rarely goes lower, unlike movies which extend to 20hz.
- Neumann KH310 (+ music subs) can also be used here, but I'm choosing Genelec Ones due to their smaller form factor mostly. I think the eggs are more aesthetically pleasing to fit in a typical living room than KH310. :p KH310 don't need the dynamics of KH420, so they'll work for music playback with no issues.

Are you listening to music and don't want subs?
- I can see the appeal of KH420 (with no subs) for music playback in your living room, because they go down to 24hz (at -6db point)(anechoic) (which means in room, with boundary gain it will be deeper) which is enough of extension for music listening. This is a lower extension than Genelec 8361 (which is 27hz) or S360 (which is 35hz). In terms of output, KH420 would have plenty of volume (in SPL) for music listening. This is because KH420 can already output enough volume for movies at reference level, so music playback (which is usually at lower SPL) is no problem. KH420 is an option if you can accept the large sized speaker in your living room. This is a deal breaker for my living room, but everyone's use case is different.
- Genelec S360 (with no subs) is not recommended for music, since it's -6db point is 35hz (or +11hz higher than KH420), so eventhough it has enough output, it just doesn't extend very low, so you'll need to add music subs just to match KH420's extension.
- Genelec 8361 (with no subs) can be considered here, since it's -6db point is 27hz. I personally think 8361 still needs subs, but I can see a person thinking this can work as well.

Are you watching movies with reference level of playback?
- For higher than music level of playback, meaning for movie reference level of playback, KH420/S360 (+ movie subs) are needed. In a home theater, cabinet volume doesnt matter (it’s assumed your home theater room is big enough to have such large speakers placed without issues) and vertical directivity is not important (if you’re watching movies, you’re sitting down and not moving around, so vertical directivity is less critical). The goal for movies is to achieve 20hz bass extension, and at reference level of playback, which means capable subwoofers are needed, ideally 15" or higher woofers. Two subwoofers will be needed to even out the room modes (frequency peaks and dips) and to hit reference level of playback (down to 20hz and with plenty of output). You’ll need to spend more money to get the "movie subs" (down to 20hz) for movies.
- Genelec 8361 (+ movie subs) can also be used for movies, as we've seen by Sancus's home theater build and noted in the post above.

Important note:
1. A lot of these speakers can be used for movie playback. But I think if you start talking about the most capable speakers that can be used, you have to exclude speakers. For example, both KH310 and KH420 can be used for reference level of movie playback. KH420 would handle dynamics better and with better distortion handling than KH310. So we can exclude KH310 from this discussion. But in reality, KH310 is a very capable speaker, so I'm not completely dismissing it just because it's a bad speaker. Ahh, speaker recommendations are hard.
2. Hard for me to say what is music playback I'm referring to, but if we assume you're listening to -10db from reference level (of your AVR) for movies, then I would assume -15db to -20db for music playback.

You can use my 'subwoofer comparison' spreadsheet to find subs for either movie or music playback.

Peace. :)
 

Pearljam5000

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
2,702
Likes
2,885
Here's my current thoughts (which might change tomorrow :oops:):

Are you listening to music with subs?
- I'd get the 8351/8361 (+ music subs) for music playback in a living room, since it's more compact form factor than KH420/S360. So for music, by going with 8351/8361 (+ music subs), you won't require the S360/KH420's higher dynamic handling, extra amplifier power, and larger cabinet volumes. By going with Genelec Ones, you gain vertical directivity (which is important if you're walking around the room and listening to music, instead of sitting in one spot), smaller form factor (can be placed in most living rooms without issues) and looks (I think the eggs are very pleasing to look at). Any decent-measuring subs will help 8351/8361 deal with room modes (frequency dips and peaks). Deepest frequency extension is not needed for music playback (unlike for movies where 20hz extension in the bass and at reference levels, is the goal). So you can choose subwoofers that aren't as capable for music playback as subs needed for movies. So you save some money on subs here. By "music subs", I mean subs capable of outputting down to 25hz, since music rarely goes lower, unlike movies which extend to 20hz.
- Neumann KH310 (+ music subs) can also be used here, but I'm choosing Genelec Ones due to their smaller form factor mostly. I think the eggs are more aesthetically pleasing to fit in a typical living room than KH310. :p KH310 don't need the dynamics of KH420, so they'll work for music playback with no issues.

Are you listening to music and don't want subs?
- I can see the appeal of KH420 (with no subs) for music playback in your living room, because they go down to 24hz (at -6db point)(anechoic) (which means in room, with boundary gain it will be deeper) which is enough of extension for music listening. This is a lower extension than Genelec 8361 (which is 27hz) or S360 (which is 35hz). In terms of output, KH420 would have plenty of volume (in SPL) for music listening. This is because KH420 can already output enough volume for movies at reference level, so music playback (which is usually at lower SPL) is no problem. KH420 is an option if you can accept the large sized speaker in your living room. This is a deal breaker for my living room, but everyone's use case is different.
- Genelec S360 (with no subs) is not recommended for music, since it's -6db point is 35hz (or +11hz higher than KH420), so eventhough it has enough output, it just doesn't extend very low, so you'll need to add music subs just to match KH420's extension.
- Genelec 8361 (with no subs) can be considered here, since it's -6db point is 27hz. I personally think 8361 still needs subs, but I can see a person thinking this can work as well.

Are you watching movies with reference level of playback?
- For higher than music level of playback, meaning for movie reference level of playback, KH420/S360 (+ movie subs) are needed. In a home theater, cabinet volume doesnt matter (it’s assumed your home theater room is big enough to have such large speakers placed without issues) and vertical directivity is not important (if you’re watching movies, you’re sitting down and not moving around, so vertical directivity is less critical). The goal for movies is to achieve 20hz bass extension, and at reference level of playback, which means capable subwoofers are needed, ideally 15" or higher woofers. Two subwoofers will be needed to even out the room modes (frequency peaks and dips) and to hit reference level of playback (down to 20hz and with plenty of output). You’ll need to spend more money to get the "movie subs" (down to 20hz) for movies.
- Genelec 8361 (+ movie subs) can also be used for movies, as we've seen by Sancus's home theater build and noted in the post above.

Important note:
1. A lot of these speakers can be used for movie playback. But I think if you start talking about the most capable speakers that can be used, you have to exclude speakers. For example, both KH310 and KH420 can be used for reference level of movie playback. KH420 would handle dynamics better and with better distortion handling than KH310. So we can exclude KH310 from this discussion. But in reality, KH310 is a very capable speaker, so I'm not completely dismissing it just because it's a bad speaker. Ahh, speaker recommendations are hard.
2. Hard for me to say what is music playback I'm referring to, but if we assume you're listening to -10db from reference level (of your AVR) for movies, then I would assume -15db to -20db for music playback.

You can use my 'subwoofer comparison' spreadsheet to find subs for either movie or music playback.

Peace. :)
Great comment (as always)
But also its more complicated than just the SPL
The coaxial design of the 8361 vs traditional 3-way design of KH420
Which gives the best soundstage?
Which has the better tonality?
More textured and tight bass?
Etc etc :)
It's almost impossible to choose without hearing them side by that (and that's also almost impossible)
 

dfuller

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 26, 2020
Messages
2,319
Likes
3,279

Pearljam5000

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
2,702
Likes
2,885
This is an effect of placement and room, primarily. Dispersion characteristics play into it a bit.

They're equals. Flat on axis, smooth off-axis.

Mostly a consequence of room, but also the design. KH310s are far tighter sounding than most of the smaller Genelecs IME.
Well that's disappointing ( considering the price of the Ones)
 

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,876
Likes
7,975
Location
BC, Canada

test1223

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2020
Messages
307
Likes
317
How so? Can you elaborate?
It is a very complex topic and you have many aspects in short: A uniform RT60 (speaker as source and microphone at the listening position) is a good start to get good sound. Since alle speaker beam the sound differently you have to optimize the room according to the speaker and listening position.

The power di of the 8361 is more linear over frequency and you get more energy in the higher frequencies compared with the other two speakers (which is in general a good thing). The listening distance should either be a bit lower or you can thread the room more easily with wide band absorption if the sound is too bright or with diffusers to get really good envelopment (a lot of people never heard good envelopment from a stereo set up but you can get it). It is more easy to absorb only higher frequencies than absorb only mids or bass frequencies, therefore the 8361 is the speaker which provides the best power di (from the three here) to adjust the sound with room acoustics.

The power di of the KH420 show a more narrow beam in the higher frequencies compared to the mids therefore absorption panels which didn't attenuate the higher frequencies or using only diffusers might help that the overall sound didn't get to dark or that you get details and preserve envelopment.

The S360 is more similar to the KH420 than the 8361.
With both speakers you have to pay more attention to the wall where the main beam of the speakers is directed to (typically the back wall). A diffuser or some reflection panels help that you preserve some envelopment and get rid of the distinct back wall reflection. With wide band absorption at the backwall you might take out the room to much (depends on the listening distance). Both are more suitable if the listening distance is higher and you didn't want to threat the room that much compared with the 8361.
 
Top Bottom