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Neumann KH80 vs JBL 308

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#1
TL, DR: JBL 308 hands down.

So I bought the Neumanns last month, intended as desktop speakers for my home office. But before setting them up for desk duty, I put them on top of my JBL 308 first gens for comparison.

I use the 308s with JBL 310s subwoofer, which has built-in 80Hz crossover XLR outs, which makes setup very simple.

They both sounded similar to me, at 2m listening distance. Neutral, great phantom center, very pleasing for many different genre of music. They don't sound the same, of course, but quite similar enough.

The biggest difference was the size of the sweet spot. JBLs have a huge, huge, huge sweet spot. Sound simply does not change as I move across the couch. Neumanns on the other hand, the sound changes slightly (I want to say in the 2-5Khz band) as I move my head and as I move seats.

Is this a fair comparison? No. JBL's are way cheaper. Those fancy wave guides must be magical.

Edit: I'm keeping them both. JBLs have high self noise (hiss) up close, even in the smaller models, which precludes usage from a desktop distance. But they are amazing speakers, and for $150 (on sale) each, they tilt the price to diminishing return scale in an extreme way.
 
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solderdude

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#2
Those fancy wave guides must be magical
That was the first thing that struck me when comparing some monitors. That waveguide works really well. Not magic though ... science.:)
 

solderdude

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#4
That must be the magic part as I don't think they use tubes.
 
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#5
I also use kh120 and JBL 306, 308, m2 and I had the same experience as you. The cause is a difference in the degree of directivity. Neumann has a relatively narrow directivity. This improves sound imaging by reducing reflections from the wall, but the sweet spot is narrow. Therefore, the sound varies greatly depending on the position of your head. Jbl, on the other hand, has a relatively broad directivity. Sweet spots are wide, but imaging can be blurry than Neumann. If the side wall is close.
 

daftcombo

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#6
JBLs have high self noise (hiss) up close, even in the smaller models, which precludes usage from a desktop distance.
I managed to reduce the hiss by 1) putting the volume knob on 6 and 2) plugging both on a separate power bar and the other devices on another power bar.
 

jhaider

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#7
Neumann has a relatively narrow directivity... Jbl, on the other hand, has a relatively broad directivity.
That's not what measurements show. Directivity as rated by Sound und Recording (their summary of their data):
KH80: 110ºH, 90ºV
KH120: 116ºH, 92ºV
LSR305: 120ºH, 80ºV
LSR308: 114ºH, 71ºV
LSR705P: 118ºH, 95ºV

Subjective differences are what they are, objectively JBL and Neumann have substantially converged on the same directivity targets.
 

GrimSurfer

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#8
Those fancy wave guides must be magical.
Not being critical of your post @LeftCoastTim, but I'm surprised how quickly the marketing term "wave guide" has caught on instead of the more common term of "horn". I raise this because the term wave guide was more commonly used to describe the chamber between an emitter/generator and an attenuator... like in a radar system where the microwave emitter and antenna can be separated by tens of meters.

Maybe somebody in the marketing department determined that wave guide sounded "cool". Maybe they stole a page from Bose and its wave radio. Dunno, but it is interesting to see this term sweeping across the audio world.

My fear is that, if the marketing departments have their way, we'll be calling everything from ports to transmission lines "waveguides". At this point, all meaning will be lost. Much in the same way as calling anything "audiophile" these days, which Audiosciencereview subscribers generally (and, imho, wisely) bristle at.

Getting back to your point about sound, the dispersion patterns make sense as studio monitors. Because such monitors are usually quite close to the listener (on a front wall or on a desk), I would imagine that a certain amount of dispersion helps. To narrow would constrain their placement. Too wide would affect soundstage at closer range.

The dispersion specs @jhaider posted were very interesting because it got me thinking about the vertical radiation pattern. 90 degrees wouldn't be ideal for conventional listening. The reflection points would be crazy. But if the listener is inside these reflection points, than the broad dispersal would reduce "beaminess". Or so one might reasonably think.
 

maty

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#9

Vintage57

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#10
FWIW I recently took delivery of KH420’s and one of the differences from my ATC 150ASL’s was the sweet spot is very focused and easily moved in out of, more so than the ATC.
I agree that it’s likely to be the wave guide. Horns in my experience use compression drivers.
 
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#11
That's not what measurements show. Directivity as rated by Sound und Recording (their summary of their data):
KH80: 110ºH, 90ºV
KH120: 116ºH, 92ºV
LSR305: 120ºH, 80ºV
LSR308: 114ºH, 71ºV
LSR705P: 118ºH, 95ºV

Subjective differences are what they are, objectively JBL and Neumann have substantially converged on the same directivity targets.

Since I owned both speakers, I also took measurements. I remember that the jbl lsr 308 was less attenuated than the Neumann kh120 in the 45 'off axis measurement.
 

q3cpma

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#12
FWIW I recently took delivery of KH420’s and one of the differences from my ATC 150ASL’s was the sweet spot is very focused and easily moved in out of, more so than the ATC.
I agree that it’s likely to be the wave guide. Horns in my experience use compression drivers.
Do you have more to say about the Neumanns? Since I'm very interested in this brand, especially their KH310, I think opinions would be valuable to me.
 

Vintage57

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#13
In my case I find the Neumann’s to be better at lower volume levels than the ATC’s. For example I hear the same punch at 80 dB that I get with the ATC’s at 90 dB. The room may be too small for the ATC’s or it might take less energy to move 2 smaller 10” drivers vs 1 large 15”. My room shows no modes with either speakers according to my measurements with XTZ pro II sound analyzer. I’ve only had them for 2 weeks and haven’t had the time for more in depth analysis. I can say that at this level the similarities are more numerous than the differences.
 
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#14
Not being critical of your post @LeftCoastTim, but I'm surprised how quickly the marketing term "wave guide" has caught on instead of the more common term of "horn". I raise this because the term wave guide was more commonly used to describe the chamber between an emitter/generator and an attenuator... like in a radar system where the microwave emitter and antenna can be separated by tens of meters.

Maybe somebody in the marketing department determined that wave guide sounded "cool". Maybe they stole a page from Bose and its wave radio. Dunno, but it is interesting to see this term sweeping across the audio world.

My fear is that, if the marketing departments have their way, we'll be calling everything from ports to transmission lines "waveguides". At this point, all meaning will be lost. Much in the same way as calling anything "audiophile" these days, which Audiosciencereview subscribers generally (and, imho, wisely) bristle at..

To my knowledge, wavelength guide is a term that has been scientifically defined in acoustics. see here. It is difficult to separate the horn and waveguide from now, but the horn existed first. The soul is a concept that exists for amplification. Through impedance matching, they existed to match the poor tweeter power of older speakers with the woofer. Waveguides, on the other hand, are designed to control directivity. The soul also plays a role in controlling directivity, but it's hard to say it was born for controll directivity.

To sum up, if that focused on amplification, it's called horn. If that focused on directivity control, it's better to call it waveguide
 
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#15
The term "amplification" may not be a good distinguishing characteristic for horns. Horns control dispersion, which increases directed energy along a defined plane. They don't amplify signals... at all.

Wave guides control direction while minimizing signal losses to an *attenuator*.
 
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#16
The term "amplification" may not be a good distinguishing characteristic for horns. Horns control dispersion, which increases directed energy along a defined plane. They don't amplify signals... at all.

Wave guides control direction while minimizing signal losses to an *attenuator*.
Yes. It's not amplification for sound power. It is close to concentration. The terms are borrowed to distinguish them from waveguides.
 

JohnYang1997

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#17
JBL sounds very harsh and hard not smooth or actually detailed. Imaging is also not present. Sounds a lot more like PA than monitors/speakers for enjoyment. I picked yamaha hs7(not 5 nor 8). Very good sounding speakers. For mid range speakers, I pick eve sc205 for a step up version of hs7, smooth detailed nice imaging.
 
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#18
Since I owned both speakers, I also took measurements. I remember that the jbl lsr 308 was less attenuated than the Neumann kh120 in the 45 'off axis measurement.
Do you have copies of those measurements to share? Independent measurements taken of both speakers by the same noted expert under the same conditions in the same anechoic chamber show something different from your assertions.
 
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#20
Do you have copies of those measurements to share? Independent measurements taken of both speakers by the same noted expert under the same conditions in the same anechoic chamber show something different from your assertions.
It's hard to find because it's been measured quite a while ago. I'll try it. Some things can be easily recognized as color plot graphs, while others do not. In particular, Genelec has a very poor resolution of the color plot graph. Since 0 ~ -3 and -3 ~ -6 dB are represented by one color each, more information is lost than the graph.

What I measured was 30 45 60 "and I was surprised that the jbl lsr 308 was not as attenuated as I expected.
 

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