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Neumann KH420 vs Revel PerformaBe F228be or F328be

richard12511

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So I suppose one way of describing my objective here is this: I still do not find that the Genelec 8351B produce the same level of immersive soundstage that the Salon2’s did. Everything else about them is fantastic, but they do not immerse in the same way.

I know there are differing opinions on what dispersion pattern is ideal, but it seems that the Genelec’s sound best for electronic, hard rock, pop style music, while the Salon2’s I found better than anything else I’ve heard for orchestral, acoustic, soft rock, vocal, etc. music. I also heard the F328be and really liked them as well, as a really nice middle ground between the Genelec and Salon2’s directivity characteristics to my ears (which could be wrong, I suppose).

I cannot say that I know for sure what causes this difference, but one hypothesis is that the Salon2’s have a wider beam. It may also have something to do with bass directivity or consistency through the room (since a tower of woofers probably helps smooth out room modes), but I don’t know.

So my objective now is to determine what sound system I pursue next towards that wide, spacious, enveloping, immersive soundstage effect. I know I like the Salon2’s and also the F328Be. But I am also interested in exploring something new. However it’s of course hard to do this without fully understanding what actually creates that spacious enveloping sound effect.

Regarding the previously mentioned idea of setting up a 4.1 surround setup of Genelec’s, after giving this a lot of thought, I’m actually quite sure this will never quite compare to wide beam stereo speakers, and this can be demonstrated quite simply: Suppose we have a 4.1 setup of medium beam width, and a 2.1 setup of extremely wide beam width. Now imagine you are sitting in exactly the perfect center position in the room. Suppose in this case the 4.1 setup sounds at least as good as the wide beam 2.1 setup. But now consider there is a large couch along the rear wall. Varying the listener position along this couch, with the wide beam stereo setup, each position still hears the same relatively spacious sound. However with the surround setup, there is the awkward situation of someone in the rear left seating position having the rear left surround blaring in their ear, messing up the soundstage entirely, and likewise for the rear right seat.

Are the Salon2s not still an option? Based on your preference of wider dispersion, I would really look at them.

How do the Salon2s compare in terms of dispersion width to the F328Be(which you preferred). I'm currently wrestling with this question for my main guest room. Maybe @napilopez can show a similar comparison to what he did with the off axis of the Salon2/M2 for the Salon2/F328be?

Pros and cons (based on your preferences so far) of the options on my mind would be:

1. Bass consistency: If you're worried about bass consistency, the W371 blows all the other options out of the water. It has the largest number of woofers(4) spread out over the largest vertical space(2 10" woofers and 2 8" woofers spread over 55+ inches), and it has 5 different options based on what works best for your room. The Genelec webinar made it very clear how neutral the bass can be with those options.

ComplimentaryMode-min.png


It also has low frequency directivity control down to 50Hz, which has been shown to correlate with higher subjective scores. Second best here would be the 8C(imo). It only has 2 woofers, but I think the intelligent way it uses them is more beneficial (for bass consistency) than having an extra one (328Be).

2. Dispersion width. This may be the most important factor(given you preferred the Salon2 over the 8351b. I'm not sure how the F328Be compares to the Salon2, but it seems that Salon2 > F328Be > 8351 + W371 = 8C > KH420

3. Output. This is a tough one. I really don't know how to rank it. Best guess would be W371A + 8351b >= KH420 >= F328Be >= Salon2 > 8C. Being a single bookshelf, this is where the 8C really struggles. However, Erin's review shows that it's capable of 105dB full range at 4m, which seems pretty loud. 8361 + W371 would definitely have the most output(120dBish).

4. Low frequency directivity control. Shown to correlate with listener preference(paper linked above). W371 > 8C >>>> everything else.

5. Price. This is where the W371 kinda falls apart imo(it's overpriced). I kinda view the 8C as being a miniture(less output and less sophisticated) version of the W371, for about 1/3 the price. In terms of price, what can you get the F328Be for? Given the 35hz extension, you probably need to add subs for full range. For 2.0 listening, I'd most likely go for the 8C, KH420 or Salon2. All three of those give you full range sound for around $10,000(I've seen used Salon2s for that).
 

Sancus

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This is a tough one. I really don't know how to rank it. Best guess would be W371A + 8351b >= KH420 >= F328Be >= Salon2 > 8C.

Really, you think the KH420 plays louder than the 328Be? The 420 is similar in size and output to the 8361A. It's really tough to compare because the 328Be has such low distortion, but at 40hz the 328 is playing 80dB with 40dB of distortion, ~1%. The KH420 is up to 3% already.

We don't have a high SPL test of the 328 but given the displacement difference I think it's:
W371A >= F328Be >= Salon2 >= KH420 >8C.

The W371A has much more woofer area(1x14" + 1x12" = 5.34x8"), but it will waste some of this headroom to perform its magic much like the D&D 8C does, so available output will vary based on your setup but should be comparable to the big floorstanders.

Price. This is where the W371 kinda falls apart imo(it's overpriced).

Yeah although of course there is no other way to get that perfect coaxial sound with floorstander output levels :)

E: The W371A actually has a 14"(!!!) main woofer.
 

richard12511

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Really, you think the KH420 plays louder than the 328Be? The 420 is similar in size and output to the 8361A. It's really tough to compare because the 328Be has such low distortion, but at 40hz the 328 is playing 80dB with 40dB of distortion, ~1%. The KH420 is up to 3% already.

We don't have a high SPL test of the 328 but given the displacement difference I think it's:
W371A >= F328Be >= Salon2 >= KH420 >8C.

The W371A has much more woofer area(1x14" + 1x12" = 5.34x8"), but it will waste some of this headroom to perform its magic much like the D&D 8C does, so available output will vary based on your setup but should be comparable to the big floorstanders.



Yeah although of course there is no other way to get that perfect coaxial sound with floorstander output levels :)

E: The W371A actually has a 14"(!!!) main woofer.

I didn't look as carefully as you did at the specs. I'd go would your judgement over my own.
 

Sancus

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Varying the listener position along this couch, with the wide beam stereo setup, each position still hears the same relatively spacious sound. However with the surround setup, there is the awkward situation of someone in the rear left seating position having the rear left surround blaring in their ear, messing up the soundstage entirely, and likewise for the rear right seat.

Yes, this does seem like a potential issue with a 4.1. On my 5.1.4, the surround speakers are quite close to the side seats(about 0.6m), and this isn't really an issue w/Auro3D upmixing. The reflections aren't loud enough from any individual speaker to be considered "blaring". It's more of an issue with tv/film, honestly :p Longer distances would help, if your surrounds are 3m away then a shift of 0.5m doesn't change apparent SPL very much of course. And having a center prevents any stereo soundstage issues. When I sit in a side seat, everything sounds pretty much the same except shifted to the left/right commensurately.

I think to beat stereo you need to start with 5.1 at least, and 5.1.2 with front heights to enable Auro3D is probably the best "minimalist" config. It's a lot more than 2 speakers, though.
 

Vintage57

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Sancus

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Fact, the KH420 is at 3% at 40hz, but it’s at 96dB vs 80dB for the 3288Be’s.
Apples and banana.

You're right, that's not a fair test. We don't have high enough SPL tests of the 328Be and distortion is non-linear, the 328Be might stay at 1% up to 100dB. It just doesn't seem physically possible for a 10" woofer to beat 3x8" woofers in double the cabinet volume, both ported. There's just too much displacement advantage.
 

Vintage57

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You're right, that's not a fair test. We don't have high enough SPL tests of the 328Be and distortion is non-linear, the 328Be might stay at 1% up to 100dB. It just doesn't seem physically possible for a 10" woofer to beat 3x8" woofers in double the cabinet volume, both ported. There's just too much displacement advantage.
I would have agreed with you regarding displacement until I experienced it for myself. Previous to the KH420’s I had ATC 150’s which have a massive 15” bass driver. You would think that an 10” would have no chance to compare in clean output. Wrong, the 10” walked all over the 15”.
The bass is the main reason I sold the ATC and bought the KH420. They both have great dome midrange drivers which are hard to beat.
The KH420 must have some factory equalization in the active crossover but it’s so well designed it punches much over its size.
 

thewas

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echopraxia

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Are the Salon2s not still an option? Based on your preference of wider dispersion, I would really look at them.
They are an option, but given that I’ll probably have multiple speakers across multiple rooms over time, it seems like this would be a good opportunity to try something new first in case I like it better. And if I don’t, as long as it’s still a good option for another room, no harm done :) I’m pretty confident I won’t be disappointed with anything from either of these brands.
 
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echopraxia

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I would have agreed with you regarding displacement until I experienced it for myself. Previous to the KH420’s I had ATC 150’s which have a massive 15” bass driver. You would think that an 10” would have no chance to compare in clean output. Wrong, the 10” walked all over the 15”.
The bass is the main reason I sold the ATC and bought the KH420. They both have great dome midrange drivers which are hard to beat.
The KH420 must have some factory equalization in the active crossover but it’s so well designed it punches much over its size.
These distortion measurements (purple line is THD) posted on Neumann’s website are interesting:

1630538135285.gif


1630538148750.gif


Versus the highest SPL (96db) distortion measurement of the F328Be:

1630538190569.png


It is interesting that the Neumann’s distortion in the midrange is so dramatically lower than the F328be, unless perhaps there is a distortion “floor” in the ASR measurements that isn’t in the measurements posted by Neumann?

Edit: The F328Be distortion does seem a good amount lower than the KH420 at 100hz (-50db vs -40db). In fact, it’s only above 200hz that the KH420 distortion beats the F328Be.
 
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mkt

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Yes, this does seem like a potential issue with a 4.1. On my 5.1.4, the surround speakers are quite close to the side seats(about 0.6m), and this isn't really an issue w/Auro3D upmixing. The reflections aren't loud enough from any individual speaker to be considered "blaring". It's more of an issue with tv/film, honestly :p Longer distances would help, if your surrounds are 3m away then a shift of 0.5m doesn't change apparent SPL very much of course. And having a center prevents any stereo soundstage issues. When I sit in a side seat, everything sounds pretty much the same except shifted to the left/right commensurately.

I think to beat stereo you need to start with 5.1 at least, and 5.1.2 with front heights to enable Auro3D is probably the best "minimalist" config. It's a lot more than 2 speakers, though.
Toole, chapter 15, "Symmetric front-back arrays, it seems, contribute nothing to envelopment." The 5.1 arrangements in Figs. 15.6 and 15.7 do pretty well. Quad not so much. Don't tell the quad guys
 

thewas

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Either way, the bass distortion at 95-96db is impressively close between these, and the Neumann distortion doesn’t seem to increase much at 100db either.
We should keep also in mind that the active KH420 is internally equalised to linear free field 20 Hz which makes its low bass distortion more impressive compared to the F328be which at 20 Hz is dropping almost by 10 dB:

1630538870311.png 1630538964497.png
 
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echopraxia

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We should keep also in mind that the active KH420 is internally equalised to linear free field 20 Hz which makes its low bass distortion more impressive compared to the F328be which at 20 Hz is dropping almost by 10 dB:

View attachment 151023 View attachment 151024
Oops that’s right, I was comparing (visually) the relative distortion at the bass frequencies compared against the fundamental frequency response, but forgot that the attenuated bass frequency response on the F328 means even the relative response isn’t comparable — since in the “96db” test, it’s only actually playing 30hz at 80db.

So while the 328be achieves -35db THD at 30hz in the “96db test”, it’s only actually playing 30hz at 80db in this case, whereas we know the KH420 has -30db at 30hz at an actual 95db. And, we also have data showing the KH420 achieving -28db THD at 100db actual SPL. That is definitely very impressive performance from the Neumann.
 

Sancus

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These distortion measurements (purple line is THD) posted on Neumann’s website are interesting:

Those are pretty useful, didn't know they were there. Picking 200Hz because it's the lowest frequency the 328Be is ACTUALLY playing at 96dB, it's -58dB THD, -76dB 3rd harmonic. The KH420 @ 95dB is -55dB THD and -65dB 3rd harmonic respectively. So I conclude that the 328Be does in fact almost certainly have greater output capability, but it's closer than I would've thought. Of course, distortion is still non-linear etc so you can't extrapolate all that well from these numbers.

It does seem like the 328Be has a bigger difference between 2nd(higher) and 3rd harmonic(lower) than the 420, but I don't know if this relationship is typically non-linear as well.
 

napilopez

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Are the Salon2s not still an option? Based on your preference of wider dispersion, I would really look at them.

How do the Salon2s compare in terms of dispersion width to the F328Be(which you preferred). I'm currently wrestling with this question for my main guest room. Maybe @napilopez can show a similar comparison to what he did with the off axis of the Salon2/M2 for the Salon2/F328be?

I've been summoned! Unfortunately, we don't have NFS results for the Salon2 yet, so I can't do the most accurate comparison, but Soundstage Network's anechoic results should suffice as their directivity measurements have correlated closely with Amir's before. 60 degrees horizontal is the widest overlapping angle (the NRC uses 15-degree increments), plus it's a typical angle for sidewall reflections, so it's what I'm using for this comparison. Keep in mind the NRC also uses a different listening window calculation (+/- 15 degrees for both horizontal and vertical), but that shouldn't affect these results much.

Below I've plotted the Listening Window, 60 degree measurement, and a "60-degrees directivity index" for each speaker. (Ignore the tall spikes at the ends of the graph, that's a small glitch)

Salon2 vs F328Be vs 8341B.png


It seems @echopraxia's ears were not lying =] The Salon2 is, as expected, much wider than the Gelenec in the range where it counts. The F328Be and the Salon2 are actually very similar throughout most of the important range, from roughly 1-10kHz, but the Salon2 ultimately ends up being a little wider due to the bit of a directivity mismatch at 1kHz with the F328Be. What goes on beyond 9-10kHz is unlikely to be of major importance for spatial presentation, but we see the Salon2 does drop off highly in this region.

That said, this is just one angle. I've noticed that sometimes speakes have a quicker or slower 'directivity roll-off' at further angles. If If I estimate the F328Be's 75-degree angle in VituixCAD by interpolating the 70 and 80 degree results, and compare it against the Salon2's measured 75 degree angle as actually measured by SSN, the Salon2 appears to maintain its wide directivity a little more (not to mention the 1kHz problem remains in the F328Be):

Salon2 F328Be 75.png


Although the F328Be does appear to be a little flatter than the Salon2 and it has better controlled vertical directivity per the spinorama, the Salon2 is still the slightly wider speaker and appears to have better controlled horizontal directivity overall. Indeed, I'm quite sure the Salon2 is still the widest directivity speaker that also has directivity this well-controlled that I've seen anechoic data for (and I've messed with the data for a LOT of speakers). I think the spinorama graph alone significantly underestimates the Salon2's performance.

Couple that with better bass output (per Harman's spins, the NRC measurements arent reliable below 100Hz), and IMO the Salon2 still reigns as the best of the Harman speakers in terms of my interpretations of the measurements.
 
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echopraxia

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Thank you @napilopez for that great analysis. This certainly does reinforce the hypothesis that what I’m looking for is wider dispersion, in that I’ve owned the Salon2’s and also heard the F328Be side by side and really like them too.

My subjective impressions of the Salon2 vs F328Be comparison I wrote here seem to align very well with this data. My impression that the F328Be treble sounds smoother than the Salon2 is probably due to the naturally flatter frequency response of the F328Be (however it is interesting that it looks like the Salon2’s frequency response might be correctable with DSP, since the normalized off-axis response is so good), and the somewhat more focused (but still pleasantly wide) spatial sound also aligns well with your graphs.

It also makes me think I should rule out the KH420, or other interesting options like the D&D 8C or Perlisten S7t, because all these still have much narrower beam width than these Revel speakers.

This is assuming beam width is what explains this perception, but this hypothesis certainly does seem to be the most likely one. For example, another speaker whose soundstage characteristics I really love is the Ascend Sierra RAAL Towers, which also have very wide mids and treble (even though they have a “directivity mismatch” in the upper bass / lower mids).
 
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echopraxia

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Yes, this does seem like a potential issue with a 4.1. On my 5.1.4, the surround speakers are quite close to the side seats(about 0.6m), and this isn't really an issue w/Auro3D upmixing. The reflections aren't loud enough from any individual speaker to be considered "blaring". It's more of an issue with tv/film, honestly :p Longer distances would help, if your surrounds are 3m away then a shift of 0.5m doesn't change apparent SPL very much of course. And having a center prevents any stereo soundstage issues. When I sit in a side seat, everything sounds pretty much the same except shifted to the left/right commensurately.

I think to beat stereo you need to start with 5.1 at least, and 5.1.2 with front heights to enable Auro3D is probably the best "minimalist" config. It's a lot more than 2 speakers, though.
Out of curiosity, why would this be an issue with 4.1 but not 5.1? I can’t imagine how the addition of a center channel would alleviate consistency issues with the rear surrounds at extreme seat positions.

In particular, what I want to remain possible in a music room setup is at least “good” sound even from a couch spanning the rear wall. It seems like the closer you are to the rear corners (if there are surrounds located there), the more distorted the soundstage will be due to the SPL of the surround increasing at 1/r^2 as r approaches 0 (as well as it’s time of flight decreasing), whereas with only wide beam front speakers there are no such “singularity artifacts” in the rear sound field to contend with.
 

Sancus

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Out of curiosity, why would this be an issue with 4.1 but not 5.1? I can’t imagine how the addition of a center channel would alleviate consistency issues with the rear surrounds at extreme seat positions.

Maybe I misunderstood your original statement, but the stereo soundstage gets spatially distorted as soon as you move off-center, and it's not because of reflections at all, it's because the phantom image created by the direct sound doesn't work properly unless the listener is in the center. Using a center speaker stabilizes the soundstage so that it is no longer highly dependent on the listener's position. The surround speakers add envelopment/width of the soundstage/whatever you want to call it, but that's all they do. It also fixes the timbre problem that stereo has due to comb filtering but that's not directly relevant.

The question about whether the surrounds are disruptive or not is purely one of distance to me. If they have to be right against a listener's ears, then yeah, that's going to be a problem. If you have at least 0.5m distance though, I don't think the likely 3-4dB change going from, say, 1m in the center to 0.5m is going to be a deal breaker. More distance is better of course, if you can manage 1.5m-to-speaker for side seats and 2m for center seat, that's only going to be a change of maybe 1.5-2dB in most rooms. (using Toole's 3-4dB DD standard throughout here, not 6dB) I doubt most people could even notice that considering the levels of the surrounds in general are going to be heavily masked by the far louder fronts.

Toole, chapter 15, "Symmetric front-back arrays, it seems, contribute nothing to envelopment." The 5.1 arrangements in Figs. 15.6 and 15.7 do pretty well. Quad not so much. Don't tell the quad guys

That's true but we're not discussing quad here really(rear surrounds), we're discussing sides, which do pretty well for envelopment in that study even without the center.
 
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