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Neumann KH 120 Review
Old 21st December 2011
  #1
Here for the gear
 
buckaroo's Avatar
 

Neumann KH 120 Review

Short and sweet:

These are very accurate monitors. They translate incredibly well. I have been using them for about 90 days for mastering. I feel so confident in them that I just sold my Genelecs. Monitor selection is very subjective. There is no right or wrong monitor as it is whatever works best for you. While I was very used to my Genelecs and the old Yamaha NS 10s, the Neumanns really broke new and fresh audio ground for me. Everything that I have created on them sounds good on every other system that I listen with (car, iPod, home HiFi, old boombox, Mackie MR 5 and Yamaha NS 10)

Last edited by Grahamdwc; 16th September 2013 at 12:58 PM..
Old 21st December 2011
  #2
Gear Addict
 
Mike Douaire's Avatar
 

Thanks for the review

I heard these at AES this year, and while it wasnt a great listening condition, I've been lusting after them. I remember just being blown away, especially for their size.

I try to read every review since I cant seem to try them out - no stores seem to carry them in stock.

But, I think as soon as I have the money saved, I will just buy a pair. I cant shake that feeling I got while listening to them - and while I've tried others (Adam A7x, hs80m, dynaudio bm5a, jbl) - I keep wanting the KH120s.
Old 1st January 2012
  #3
Gear Head
 

I read a few times over here about this "wonder of sound/size -ratio" of the neumanns and I'm wondering if it that kind of placebo thing that pushes them over the others.
If they sound as big as the 7" Adams you maybe start to think they sound even bigger because of their size - ya'll know what i mean?
Old 4th January 2012
  #4
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BrianVengeance's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Douaire View Post
Thanks for the review

I heard these at AES this year, and while it wasnt a great listening condition, I've been lusting after them. I remember just being blown away, especially for their size.

I try to read every review since I cant seem to try them out - no stores seem to carry them in stock.

But, I think as soon as I have the money saved, I will just buy a pair. I cant shake that feeling I got while listening to them - and while I've tried others (Adam A7x, hs80m, dynaudio bm5a, jbl) - I keep wanting the KH120s.
Pulled the trigger on a pair of KH120s today... can't wait until they get here!

I had a chance to compare the same ones you listed and out of all of them, the Adams really shined, especially across the top. Just couldn't get past the gaping holes on the lower frequencies (sounded great for R&B and pop, but distorted guitars just fell too far back). I'm sure that after a couple of hours usage they would warm up some, but was far too intrigued by the Neumanns to walk out with them.

The JBLs weren't bad, but they sounded a bit lifeless and less detailed. I know a lot of people really like the BM6As, but their younger siblings just sounded like mud across the mids.... surprisingly so.
Old 4th January 2012
  #5
70% Coffee, 30% Beer
 
Doc Mixwell's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by deefdeef View Post
I read a few times over here about this "wonder of sound/size -ratio" of the neumanns and I'm wondering if it that kind of placebo thing that pushes them over the others.
If they sound as big as the 7" Adams you maybe start to think they sound even bigger because of their size - ya'll know what i mean?
I had a chance to try them out and I really liked them. I thought they indeed, sounded bigger and deeper, than what look their look and size suggests. In the bass range especially. Very surprising. Personally, I thought these monitors were a stark contrast to the Adam AX7, having worked with both. I thought the KH120 overall where great NF monitor's for the money, that for me, translated to the street perfectly. Congrats to the OP for finding something that works!
Old 4th January 2012
  #6
after listening to a pair for a few weeks i pulled the trigger on 3 more for my 5.1 surround system. i wish i could have purchased the high end subwoofer
that Neumann sells..but wayyy too expensive. which is in contrast to
how affordable the 120s are. my new room is fairly small, so it'll be great
size-wise.

i'm pairing them w/ a 3rd party subwoofer....and i'll report once i set
them all up.

cheers,
marty.
Old 10th January 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
BrianVengeance's Avatar
 

Finally had a chance to plug these puppies into the Duet 2 and give them the once over.

The Good:

Incredibly detailed. Believe the hype... the low end sounds amazing and I see no real immediate need to add a satellite sub for reenforcement. They can easily stand on their own. Articulation and imaging are phenomenal. Actually prefer the highs of the Adams a bit more. The KH120s seems a bit abrasive in comparison, but this is way more of a nitpick than being anywhere near a deal breaker, given that the Adams really shine up top.


The [Nitpicky] Bad:

If I had to complain about anything, it would be the paint and the input. Paint is a little thin and can be scratched relatively easily. XLR input could stand to be an inch higher up the back, as there is some bend in the cable along the stress wrap where it meets the base. Angled cable ends would fit more cleanly, but for the size and sound of these monitors it is pretty easy to look past.


The Bottom Line:

Money well spent, and after auditioning them I can see that Marty's decision to pick up 3 more for his 5.1 system was am absolute no-brainer. Haven't yet mixed anything down with them, but I have no doubt that they translate as well as Buck says. Monitors are definitely personal, but these are just "right" in so many ways.

Would be interesting to A/B with a pair of Focals or Genelecs.
Old 11th January 2012
  #8
._.
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by buckaroo View Post
Short and sweet:

These are very accurate monitors. They translate incredibly well. I have been using them for about 90 days for mastering. I feel so confident in them that I just sold my Genelecs. Monitor selection is very subjective. There is no right or wrong monitor as it is whatever works best for you. While I was very used to my Genelecs and the old Yamaha NS 10s, the Neumanns really broke new and fresh audio ground for me. Everything that I have created on them sounds good on every other system that I listen with (car, iPod, home HiFi, old boombox, Mackie MR 5 and Yamaha NS 10)
No wonder they translate well, they are ultralinear!
Personally I would never buy a pair of monitors that doesn't show a frequency response graph, and the K+H is one of very few that does that. I wonder why...

IMO There is definitely rights and wrongs in the monitor market, everything deviating more than 1 or at most 2dB from a staight line, well thats wrong!! It ceases to be a monitor then per definition.
Old 11th January 2012
  #9
._.
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deefdeef View Post
I read a few times over here about this "wonder of sound/size -ratio" of the neumanns and I'm wondering if it that kind of placebo thing that pushes them over the others.
If they sound as big as the 7" Adams you maybe start to think they sound even bigger because of their size - ya'll know what i mean?
Speakers can sound big and deep, without being it, but you can never break the laws of physics. For example if you want to make a small speaker sound like a big one you increade the width of the speaker to increase the baffle area, more sound (lower frequency) gets diverted straight ahead instead of sneaking around the baffle. You get a 3dB boost over a certain frequency in directivity. and the formula is "when the wavelenght is longer than the baffle width you lose 3 dB since it gets omnidirectional" 348(m/s) divided by baffle width in meter is the frequency or in reverse if you divide 348 by the frequency you get the baffle width where it starts boosting 3dB.

You can make a small speaker go deep but then you give up high spl, because the diaphragm needs to have the excursion squared to produce half of any given frequency for the same spl, you quickly run out of excursion and more excursion means = can go louder. Sound is just an overpressure in the air.

the main thing many people forget is that for a speaker to be able to produce high spl and deep bass, it needs to be. 1 - Big (lots of liters cabinet), 2 - have longish xmax, 3 - lots of surface area of the diaphragm. And you also want it to be sensitive regardless of how many watts the amplifiers have, but you get sensitivity with cone area and cabinet volume.

Smaller woofers have smaller voice coils so they produce higher frequencies better at the expense of powerhandling, they simply short out and burn.

Producing speakers is not magic, its game of compromises. Since whatever you do its always a compromise, you increase something on the expense of something else. There is no magic involved at all. But if you fully understand what the compromises are you can exploit them, to an extent, until the physics say no. But there is room for improvement in lots of speakers, one thing is not trying to push small speakers very low for instance, no need for it, you only reduce the max spl. And they are already mediocre (at best) at producing deep bass no matter how you do it because they are small (liters) to begin with.

Of course you could increase xmax, but then you introduce distortion, and distortion is something small speakers already have a a lot of in the bass department, like 10% or much, much more. Luckily humans can't hear distortion in the bass range very good. So here you can take advantage of something even though you "shouldn't".

Its about making the right compromises and prioritizing right, thats all.
Old 11th January 2012
  #10
Gear Maniac
 

Added a KH810 to my KH120's about a month ago.

Geez. I thought they translated remarkably well BEFORE I added the sub, now it's OMG territory !!
Old 12th January 2012
  #11
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DrFrankencopter's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Waddington View Post
Added a KH810 to my KH120's about a month ago.

Geez. I thought they translated remarkably well BEFORE I added the sub, now it's OMG territory !!
Dammitt, just when I thought my gear lust was over.

Out of curiosity what drove you towards the 810 over the 800 sub?

Cheers

Kris
Old 12th January 2012
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Out of curiosity what drove you towards the 810 over the 800 sub?
The parametric EQ -- although we didn't end up using it.

The low end extension (-3db @ 18Hz), not so much for the actual extension but the fact that things like group delay and phase issues (due to the high pass filter nature of the driver / enclosure pair) are moved farther away from the xover freq (80Hz).

The 30Hz cut - for my small room this was very helpful.

The 7.1 features could possibly find use later down the road, but for now this was an extremely minor consideration.
Old 12th January 2012
  #13
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Had both, no comparison. Neumann's build quality is much better. Also no hiss from the tweaters, much better amps in Neumanns, more natural sound, superior image, and they are much more consistent from pair to pair....I can say they are as consistent as phisically possible - simply no differences, you can match random chosen one, no matter the serial number.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jomox View Post
They do. But the CMS build quality is something else to it's rival's.
Old 12th January 2012
  #14
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff Waddington View Post
Added a KH810 to my KH120's about a month ago.

Geez. I thought they translated remarkably well BEFORE I added the sub, now it's OMG territory !!
Two questions :

First, the 4th order high-pass filter of the subwoofer O810 did not alter the sound quality of the Kh 120 (which is outstanding for my taste) , did it ?

Second, with a high-pass cut at 80 Hz, the frequency range 50 to 80 Hz is now reproduced by the subwoofer. Have you the same transient response with the subwoofer as without for this frequency range ?

Many thanks.
Old 12th January 2012
  #15
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
First, the 4th order high-pass filter of the subwoofer O810 did not alter the sound quality of the Kh 120 (which is outstanding for my taste) , did it ?

Second, with a high-pass cut at 80 Hz, the frequency range 50 to 80 Hz is now reproduced by the subwoofer. Have you the same transient response with the subwoofer as without for this frequency range ?
I cannot say whether the transient response and sound quality are exactly the same, but overall there is still a very tight, punchy sound that is simply extended WAY lower, and translates even better.
Old 12th January 2012
  #16
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DrFrankencopter's Avatar
Technically, adding the sub should reduce the low frequency distortion on the KH120A's.

What I'm curious about is, can the KH810 sub be easily switched out (leaving the KH120's full range), or do I need to build a fancy monitor controller to handle this desire.

Cheers

Kris
Old 12th January 2012
  #17
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jantex View Post
Had both, no comparison. Neumann's build quality is much better. Also no hiss from the tweaters, much better amps in Neumanns, more natural sound, superior image, and they are much more consistent from pair to pair....I can say they are as consistent as phisically possible - simply no differences, you can match random chosen one, no matter the serial number.
Was actually just talking about their box and design (Not amps or reliablity issue's) I know full well that the 120a are far more reliable than the CMS and have better amps. But the actual design of the box, it's material and design are better on the CMS. The paint on the 120a is not the best, few people have damaged the paint on the 120a for example, though if your careful as you should be with monitors then they are super solid.
Old 12th January 2012
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
What I'm curious about is, can the KH810 sub be easily switched out (leaving the KH120's full range), or do I need to build a fancy monitor controller to handle this desire.
No easy way, you would have to flip the Bass Management switch and then zero the sub level (both are on the back panel)
Old 12th January 2012
  #19
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rhizomeman's Avatar
yep

Yep, KH120s are fantastic monitors! Been using them for a few months now - detailed with excellent translation.
Old 14th January 2012
  #20
Gear Head
 

I've been testing the Neumann KH120 speakers in my music room for three days now. Here are some of my amateur observations. I used Behringer B2031A Truths for listening and recording for years. Those are what I mainly compare the sound to. I decided after years of listening with those to finally get high-class speakers for my home studio and general music listening. Also, my home studio room is probably not the most ideal place to listen to but it is what I am used to and works well enough for me. I have not yet found the ideal calibration for my Neumanns as it takes time to get there with any speakers but I have preferred to keep everything flat except I cut the input gain db down -15dbs to make the hiss from my soundcard less audible. If I do as the manual instructs and cut the bass because my Neumanss are close to the wall it will make the sound too thin.

My first observation is that the difference to the Behringers is not as great I thought it would be. Maybe this has something to do with the fact I was/am used to the Bs, maybe the Bs really are good. Neumanns cost 4 times as much as the Bs but in my opinion the sound does not improve four times better.

The Neumanns sound more accurate especially in the bass department but somehow the audio sounds "smaller"/thinner and somehow more distant than with the Bs. I keep thinking like I need to add more volume to feel the sound. I need to crank up the volume to make the music sound "full".

The stereo image sounds somehow too wide. It is almost like listening to two different soundscapes each coming from a different speaker. Is this normal with high-quality monitors? Tell me pros out there: is it supposed to sound significantly/mind blowingly better than cheap low-end speakers?

Also, when listening to most mp3s the high frequencies jump from the soundscape like bad sibilance. I also hear distortion on some mp3s but am hoping it is the quality of the rips and not the speakers. When listening to cds the sound is much flatter.
Old 14th January 2012
  #21
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flammable View Post
I've been testing the Neumann KH120 speakers in my music room for three days now. Here are some of my amateur observations. I used Behringer B2031A Truths for listening and recording for years. Those are what I mainly compare the sound to. I decided after years of listening with those to finally get high-class speakers for my home studio and general music listening. Also, my home studio room is probably not the most ideal place to listen to but it is what I am used to and works well enough for me. I have not yet found the ideal calibration for my Neumanns as it takes time to get there with any speakers but I have preferred to keep everything flat except I cut the input gain db down -15dbs to make the hiss from my soundcard less audible. If I do as the manual instructs and cut the bass because my Neumanss are close to the wall it will make the sound too thin.

My first observation is that the difference to the Behringers is not as great I thought it would be. Maybe this has something to do with the fact I was/am used to the Bs, maybe the Bs really are good. Neumanns cost 4 times as much as the Bs but in my opinion the sound does not improve four times better.

The Neumanns sound more accurate especially in the bass department but somehow the audio sounds "smaller"/thinner and somehow more distant than with the Bs. I keep thinking like I need to add more volume to feel the sound. I need to crank up the volume to make the music sound "full".

The stereo image sounds somehow too wide. It is almost like listening to two different soundscapes each coming from a different speaker. Is this normal with high-quality monitors? Tell me pros out there: is it supposed to sound significantly/mind blowingly better than cheap low-end speakers?

Also, when listening to most mp3s the high frequencies jump from the soundscape like bad sibilance. I also hear distortion on some mp3s but am hoping it is the quality of the rips and not the speakers. When listening to cds the sound is much flatter.
If you hear distortion with the MP3s it's normal as MP3s are like that.

The KH120 is telling you what the recording is really like, so trust what they are saying.

Really good monitors will often sound bland an unexciting, if they sound mind-blowingly better I would be worried.

A good monitor is there to tell you what you are doing, not to sound good. They should only sound great when what you have recorded is amazing. If your recording is bad, they should clearly show you it's bad.

They should be accurate, not "nice".

The KH120s are exactly that.
Old 14th January 2012
  #22
Gear Head
 

I must add that listening to Muse's latest album The Resistance thru the Neumanns was the greatest listening experience I've ever experienced in my life. Seriously. It sounded amazing.

Some of my other favorite albums have sounded quite not so well recorded when listening thru the Neumanns. For example, Oasis' What's the story... that record is not very well recorded or mixed and the mixes seem to vary in quality from song to song. Some of those mixes sound like a one big mess. I've heard better mixes here on gearslutz from amateure's than that album. And there is horrible distortion on almost every song.

It is absolutely a great experience to hear my favorite albums with these speakers as they seem to come to life in a new way.

Do speakers have a "burn-in" period? I might be imagining or my ears are adjusting but it sounds almost like the bass response has gotten a lot stronger with couple days of listening. It's almost like there is subwoofer in the room. This is especially prominent in well produced modern recordings like The Resistance by Muse. It's incredible. On the other hand, as mentioned, some recordings sound weak.

It is quite intriguing to hear how much the production values change from album to album. Now, let's check out sgt. Pepper's mono mix...
Old 14th January 2012
  #23
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RonGherkins's Avatar
I found the neumann's had about a 60 hour burn in period (I burned them in for like 80 hours) but sounded good out of the box.

Also what you're hearing is what's actually there, and it's exposing the flaws in your mixes (the point of monitors!). That is awesome, not bad
Old 18th January 2012
  #24
Here for the gear
 

My pair arrived yesterday.

After initially hearing the K&H O110 (many thanks to John Willett) back in 2009, I've been thinking about these for quite some time. Having heard the KH120, I was tempted and then a certain UK retailer has these at such a great price, it would of been silly not too

Rather lovely indeed, interested to see how the bottom end changes over the next few weeks.

Laurence
Old 18th January 2012
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

I bought a pair 5 days ago and i just can say that i LOVE those babies ! heh
By the way i had Focal Solo6, PMC DB1 ans TB2 in the past.

Andrew Goldberg who's the guy behind the KH120 ( i guess he is) told me there's no need for running in those monitors.
Old 18th January 2012
  #26
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stella645's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by uniquelau View Post
My pair arrived yesterday.

I was tempted and then a certain UK retailer has these at such a great price, it would of been silly not too

Laurence
Interesting....did you get B-Stock from Studiocare (£420 each)?
Other than this I only see similar prices in UK...around £550 each.

Congrats on your purchase.
Old 18th January 2012
  #27
Gear Head
 

One thing I have noticed with these speakers -assuming the speakers are ok/not broken- is that the difference in recording&production quality with pro recordings is huge. Some big acts have records that sound well... not good. I still think that thru these monitors the latest Muse album sounds absolutely great.
I wonder how those big acts put out records that sound so distorted, compressed, or weak in the bass department. They must have been listening thru different speakers.
Of course, because I have the tendency to be paranoid, there might be something wrong with the pair I got but I doubt it.
Old 19th January 2012
  #28
Here for the gear
 

KH 120 and O110

"After initially hearing the K&H O110 (many thanks to John Willett) back in 2009, I've been thinking about these for quite some time. Having heard the KH120, I was tempted and then a certain UK retailer has these at such a great price, it would of been silly not too

Rather lovely indeed, interested to see how the bottom end changes over the next few weeks."

I have a feeling that Klein Hummel O110 was a better monitor pair , very accurate but natural sounding ones . The instruments and the vocal had real true texture. Neumann on the other hand sounded artificial means not that natural with some metallic texture due to may be Aluminium body. Earlier O110 was having speaker cabinet made from a some costly polymer material which was rock solid .
I am in doubt particularly after reading comments of John Willett who had been always praising about O110 , even to the extent of comparing them with Harbeth in human voice quality . I would like to hear from him in what respects he feels that KH 120 is better than O110. At some other thread however someone has opined that O110 is the better of the two .
Old 19th January 2012
  #29
Gear Guru
 
John Willett's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mbk1297 View Post
"After initially hearing the K&H O110 (many thanks to John Willett) back in 2009, I've been thinking about these for quite some time. Having heard the KH120, I was tempted and then a certain UK retailer has these at such a great price, it would of been silly not too

Rather lovely indeed, interested to see how the bottom end changes over the next few weeks."

I have a feeling that Klein Hummel O110 was a better monitor pair , very accurate but natural sounding ones . The instruments and the vocal had real true texture. Neumann on the other hand sounded artificial means not that natural with some metallic texture due to may be Aluminium body. Earlier O110 was having speaker cabinet made from a some costly polymer material which was rock solid .
I am in doubt particularly after reading comments of John Willett who had been always praising about O110 , even to the extent of comparing them with Harbeth in human voice quality . I would like to hear from him in what respects he feels that KH 120 is better than O110. At some other thread however someone has opined that O110 is the better of the two .
The KH120 are better in the fact that they go slightly lower than the O110.

When I compared the two side-by-side the differences were very small and I could not see any reason to swap my O110 for the KH120.

But buying new, the KH120 is about one-third cheaper than the O110 was.
Old 19th January 2012
  #30
Here for the gear
 

KH 120 and O110

The extended bass on kh 120 inspite of smaller cabinet is not that tuneful as in O110.Moreover John if someone has an opportunity of getting O110 at the cost of KH120 , what will you advise?
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