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Seeking replacement for KH80s

lkanies

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Hello,

I have a pair of Neumann KH80s, and I am relatively dissatisfied with them. I would appreciate advice on whether another setup would work better for me.

To be clear, the audio quality is great. The main problems I have are:
- They are missing some oomph, especially in the mid-range. This is the reason I'd like to replace them.
- The stands I am using (https://www.neumann.com/en-en/products/monitor-accessories/lh-65/) are making it hard to lay out my desk very well. The bottoms are not big enough to sit equipment on, but are too big to leave room for equipment elsewhere. I like that they make it easy to get the tweeters exactly at ear level, but the bulkiness is getting to me.
- I also find the KH80s to have horrible power management. They randomly turn off, and they rarely turn off when idle. I'd love auto-on and off to work, or the power switches to be more accessible.

Size is a bigger constraint than price. There's a view behind my desk, so I don't want gigantic speakers that block more than necessary. (I can't turn my desk for a side view, because that gives me ocular migraines.) So basically, I'm trying to get the best, loudest, smallest speakers I can get.

The obvious answer seems to be to replace the KH80s with KH120s, then look for a mic stand or something. This would allow me to decouple changing the speakers from changing the stands.

But I'm also pondering whether I should get Genelec Ones instead. I'm a bit compelled by the idea of coaxial speakers, and having 3 ways. And they seem to mount to mic stands really well, which provides a lot of flexibility. It looks like their smaller ones are underpowered, though, especially compared to the KH120ii. I don't usually listen to these super loud, although I do at times. I'm just a little worried because I'm specifically trying to solve for having more oomph.

In terms of the stands, my ideal would be something that clamped to the back of my desk. Even better would be if I could mount both my speakers and lights to it. I don't use the lights often, but with the sun going down at 4:30 still, there are plenty of times where I need better lighting

So:

Any advice on what I should focus on for replacement speakers? Take the simple route and get KH120s? Or is there a Genelec that will be small but plenty loud?

And can you recommend a stand of some kind that will take up far less room on my desk?

Thanks!

1 - I have the speakers hooked up to an Arendal 1723 subwoofer, because I have another stereo in the room (for listening while not at my desk) and this sub supports two inputs really well. The other stereo has a sub out, but I route the XLR cables for the KH80s through the sub[2]. I don't think this affects any choices I make - I'm not looking to swap out the sub, and the connectivity is all fine. I'm just sharing it so you have a complete picture.

2 - to reduce cable clutter, I'm using a pair of these: https://www.cranborne-audio.com/n22. It allows me to convert 4 XLR cables to one ethernet cable. Much cleaner, even though the runs aren't that far.
 

ernestcarl

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They are missing some oomph, especially in the mid-range.

Measurements before and after EQ correction/compensation? Could be the desk surface largely causing the problem/dissatisfaction — and/or other specific room acoustics issue. Replacing this speaker setup with another similarly sized monitor set may change little.
 

ernestcarl

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With regards to power, I suggest just getting a remote controlled outlet switch (outdoor types may have remote timers) or smart plug — maybe around +$20 only — even a crude “timer” feature is better than nothing e.g. Alexa turn on speakers for 8 hours.
 

Sancus

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I have 8331As, the smallest Ones, and at sub-1m distances I would call them plenty powerful tbh. Based on Erin's measurements they're flat-ish up to 99dB @ 1m anechoic, would be more in room.

At distances over 1m, up to 2m or so the 8341a are a better choice. They are large for a desk though.
 

Pearljam5000

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KH150 or 8350 or 8341 as said above
Would solve most of your problems
 
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lkanies

lkanies

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Measurements before and after EQ correction/compensation? Could be the desk surface largely causing the problem/dissatisfaction — and/or other specific room acoustics issue. Replacing this speaker setup with another similarly sized monitor set may change little.
I’d never rule out room treatment, but I would not expect it here. I do not have REW measurements because I used Neumann’s app to do the DSP adjustment. I could go back and measure it separately. But I never recorded measurements for the Roland monitors I had before, so it would be hard to compare. the speaker height was pretty similar - both on stands, with the Rolands not quite ear level, but tilted up a bit. Their woofer was 1” bigger in diameter, I only got rid of them because of a constant (decade-long) hiss.

I guess the thing to look for is a midrange dip at high spl?
 
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lkanies

lkanies

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With regards to power, I suggest just getting a remote controlled outlet switch (outdoor types may have remote timers) or smart plug — maybe around +$20 only — even a crude “timer” feature is better than nothing e.g. Alexa turn on speakers for 8 hours.
I bought one (this one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000P1QJXQ/) but it does not seem to work. I am trying to control it by powering on and off my SMSL headphone amp/preamp, but the power strip does nothing.

I do plan to try again. But… a speaker this good, I would expect to work as advertised. My Buckeye amp, Hsu subs, and random crappy sub amp (all on separate systems) do this just fine.
 
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lkanies

lkanies

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I have 8331As, the smallest Ones, and at sub-1m distances I would call them plenty powerful tbh. Based on Erin's measurements they're flat-ish up to 99dB @ 1m anechoic, would be more in room.

At distances over 1m, up to 2m or so the 8341a are a better choice. They are large for a desk though.
Yeah, I looked a lot at the 8331As. Their amp power is surprisingly small (especially compared to the KH120ii), which is what had me worried.

You’re right that the 8341a is quite a bit bigger. But man the amplifier power is wildly different. (And the drivers are quite a bit bigger.) (and obviously this speaker is, ah, a lot more expensive than the KH80. Not sure I’m deserving.)

I guess I’ll do a round of measurements and SPL tests, and more research on these pairs. But… that sure isn’t the simple answer I was dreaming of.
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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Measurements before and after EQ correction/compensation? Could be the desk surface largely causing the problem/dissatisfaction — and/or other specific room acoustics issue. Replacing this speaker setup with another similarly sized monitor set may change little.
The desk surface is the problem. Since using high quality speakers, you care and notice. Place on stands away from desk surface. If you don't have room then make room or live with it. Raising off surface few inches will not solve problem.
 
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lkanies

lkanies

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The desk surface is the problem. Since using high quality speakers, you care and notice. Place on stands away from desk surface. If you don't have room then make room or live with it. Raising off surface few inches will not solve problem.
They’re raised to ear height, so the tweeter is maybe 18” above the desk. that should be enough, based on first reflections, shouldn’t it?

by “away” from desk surface… to the side? Behind would seem to maybe even make the problem worse, right? But side would mean I would also have to push them back to keep the appropriate triangle.

i’ll do some measurements. But… seems to me that I just have a small speaker, and it sounds as small as it is.
 

jhaider

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Have you tried an MA-1 calibration? IMO that’s step 1 if not.

I’m also surprised by your critique of LH 65 stands. What were you trying to put on top of them? I was able to fit an RME ADI-2 DAC (later Pro) on one and miniDSP Studio SHD on the other. (I did need a right angle Toslink adapter to fit Studio SHD.) You could always get monitor desk clamps and Neumann’s VESA adapter.

I not too long ago replaced KH 80 with KH 120 II on LH 65 stands. KH 80’s auto-on circuit might be the worst thing Neumann has ever done, but RME ADI-2 draws enough to operate a sensing power strip so that’s a wah to get around if. Honestly I’m not sure there’s much real difference if any, but knowing that KH 120 II has so much more upper bass headroom makes be feel good.
 

ernestcarl

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seems to me that I just have a small speaker, and it sounds as small as it is.

You said you used a sub so it seems strange to me that the speaker is still lacking “oomph”. If you have (can borrow) another pair of larger speakers/monitors try them on your desk.
 
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lkanies

lkanies

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Have you tried an MA-1 calibration? IMO that’s step 1 if not.

I did the calibration, but I don’t think I used their mic. I… have a crap memory, but I don’t think the speakers come with it, and I am nearly positive I did not buy one. So I just did the calibration from my iPad, which seemed to be the only real way to do it. I somehow ended up with two MiniDSP mics, but I don’t think I was able to use one here.

I’m also surprised by your critique of LH 65 stands. What were you trying to put on top of them? I was able to fit an RME ADI-2 DAC (later Pro) on one and miniDSP Studio SHD on the other. (I did need a right angle Toslink adapter to fit Studio SHD.) You could always get monitor desk clamps and Neumann’s VESA adapter.

It is a Motu M2 sitting on top of an SMSL headphone amp. The problem is they both have a ton of cables coming out the back, and they interfere with the thick spine of the stand. So I have to push them far enough forward that the front feet fall off the platform.

You make a good point on the VESA adapter. I have been focusing on mic stands, but it would be pretty easy to buy an arm with three mounts - my monitor is already on one. Thanks! That looks just about perfect.

I not too long ago replaced KH 80 with KH 120 II on LH 65 stands. KH 80’s auto-on circuit might be the worst thing Neumann has ever done, but RME ADI-2 draws enough to operate a sensing power strip so that’s a wah to get around if. Honestly I’m not sure there’s much real difference if any, but knowing that KH 120 II has so much more upper bass headroom makes be feel good.

Ah, so you made the change I am considering. Sounds like you are happy with it, but maybe not convinced it was worth it?

I would love the RME ADI-2 to work for me, but it doesn’t. Multiple people use my computer, and we regularly switch between headphones and speakers, and between different mics. I really need physical knobs for all of that (and have labels printed to make it clear which ones to use). I have a Topping A90D in a box ready for sale, because it is all software controls instead of the hardware switches on the SMSL. (I bought the Topping by mistake - I thought it was the previous version, which had physical controls, and it was refurbished so could not be returned.)

The SMSL does not seem to draw enough power to make a difference.

Is the auto-on stuff on the KH120ii good enough? Just that might be worth the upgrade.

I will definitely look to replace my stands, and most likely swap the KH80s for the KH120s. Just getting all that stuff off my desk would be great.

Thanks!
 

andrew

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Have you tried an MA-1 calibration? IMO that’s step 1 if not.

I’m also surprised by your critique of LH 65 stands. What were you trying to put on top of them? I was able to fit an RME ADI-2 DAC (later Pro) on one and miniDSP Studio SHD on the other. (I did need a right angle Toslink adapter to fit Studio SHD.) You could always get monitor desk clamps and Neumann’s VESA adapter.

I'm a fan of the LH65 stands for a couple of reasons: (i) it's simple to get the speaker to the correct height and (ii) the design keeps the desktop looking clean. (The alternative that I've seen is the Iso Acoustic stands which have four pillars, one in each corner, with the result being that the stands appear to take up much more space on the desktop/)

I not too long ago replaced KH 80 with KH 120 II on LH 65 stands. KH 80’s auto-on circuit might be the worst thing Neumann has ever done, but RME ADI-2 draws enough to operate a sensing power strip so that’s a wah to get around if. Honestly I’m not sure there’s much real difference if any, but knowing that KH 120 II has so much more upper bass headroom makes be feel good.

Interesting. I gifted my desktop KH80 speakers to my son and, now, am after some replacement speakers with a key criteria being better bass response to simplify integration with the subwoofer. The KH120II and KH150 DSP are both top of the list of candidates but there's a nagging doubt about whether a step up to a speaker that supports Cardioid bass response would be advantages given that the desk is hard against the front wall. Is the SBIR off the front wall an issue that you've had to contend with in the desktop system?
 

Zapper

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I did the calibration, but I don’t think I used their mic. I… have a crap memory, but I don’t think the speakers come with it, and I am nearly positive I did not buy one. So I just did the calibration from my iPad, which seemed to be the only real way to do it. I somehow ended up with two MiniDSP mics, but I don’t think I was able to use one here.
It would be worth it to buy the MA1 and do a proper calibration before spending $2k on KH120IIs. Improperly done calibration does more harm than good. If calibration is the issue, you will have the same issue with the KH120IIs.

Maybe you prefer a mid-range emphasis instead of the Neumann neutral. You could experiment with some PEQ to adjust to your preferences.
 

DJBonoBobo

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Hello,

I have a pair of Neumann KH80s, and I am relatively dissatisfied with them. I would appreciate advice on whether another setup would work better for me.

To be clear, the audio quality is great. The main problems I have are:
- They are missing some oomph, especially in the mid-range. This is the reason I'd like to replace them.
- The stands I am using (https://www.neumann.com/en-en/products/monitor-accessories/lh-65/) are making it hard to lay out my desk very well. The bottoms are not big enough to sit equipment on, but are too big to leave room for equipment elsewhere. I like that they make it easy to get the tweeters exactly at ear level, but the bulkiness is getting to me.
- I also find the KH80s to have horrible power management. They randomly turn off, and they rarely turn off when idle. I'd love auto-on and off to work, or the power switches to be more accessible.

Size is a bigger constraint than price. There's a view behind my desk, so I don't want gigantic speakers that block more than necessary. (I can't turn my desk for a side view, because that gives me ocular migraines.) So basically, I'm trying to get the best, loudest, smallest speakers I can get.

The obvious answer seems to be to replace the KH80s with KH120s, then look for a mic stand or something. This would allow me to decouple changing the speakers from changing the stands.

But I'm also pondering whether I should get Genelec Ones instead. I'm a bit compelled by the idea of coaxial speakers, and having 3 ways. And they seem to mount to mic stands really well, which provides a lot of flexibility. It looks like their smaller ones are underpowered, though, especially compared to the KH120ii. I don't usually listen to these super loud, although I do at times. I'm just a little worried because I'm specifically trying to solve for having more oomph.

In terms of the stands, my ideal would be something that clamped to the back of my desk. Even better would be if I could mount both my speakers and lights to it. I don't use the lights often, but with the sun going down at 4:30 still, there are plenty of times where I need better lighting

So:

Any advice on what I should focus on for replacement speakers? Take the simple route and get KH120s? Or is there a Genelec that will be small but plenty loud?

And can you recommend a stand of some kind that will take up far less room on my desk?

Thanks!

1 - I have the speakers hooked up to an Arendal 1723 subwoofer, because I have another stereo in the room (for listening while not at my desk) and this sub supports two inputs really well. The other stereo has a sub out, but I route the XLR cables for the KH80s through the sub[2]. I don't think this affects any choices I make - I'm not looking to swap out the sub, and the connectivity is all fine. I'm just sharing it so you have a complete picture.

2 - to reduce cable clutter, I'm using a pair of these: https://www.cranborne-audio.com/n22. It allows me to convert 4 XLR cables to one ethernet cable. Much cleaner, even though the runs aren't that far.
I don't know what you mean with oomph in the midrange. Maybe upper bass? The KH80 is linear from ca 60Hz and above. So if something is missing somewhere at moderate volume it is the room/positioning and no other speaker at the same position will solve that. what you are looking for is the bass response up to ca 250Hz, possible holes and ways to get rid of dips.
If you miss deep bass below 60Hz or simply SPL, you'd need bigger speakers and/or a sub. But it does not sound. I agree with others: get the MA1, see what it does automatically, but also use it to determine ways optimizing the placement/positions in your room.

Edit: Oh and i suggest turning the other calibration off as first step and listen if the area you are not satisfied with is getting better or worse.
 
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