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Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Oct 23, 2020 8:57 am

Standard first question: is your room acoustically treated? If not, factor some of your budget in for that.
If it is, then at the kind of budget you're talking I'd definitely be going and listening in a decent demo room.
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby Tomster » Fri Oct 23, 2020 9:29 am

blinddrew wrote:Standard first question: is your room acoustically treated? If not, factor some of your budget in for that.
If it is, then at the kind of budget you're talking I'd definitely be going and listening in a decent demo room.

As I mentioned, I'm in the process of sorting out treatment for the room.

I intend to go and listen but I have 2 concerns about doing so:

1) many people who listened to speakers in a demo room then found them unsuitable for their room and I have a particularly small room so I'd like advice on which ones would work well in a smaller smaller room.

2) I'm not actually sure what I would be listening for when I go to the demo. If it was for hifi listening pleasure I would go for the ones that make me feel the music - that make me relaxed and make the music pleasurable. I suspect that is where many people make a mistake with monitors. I want something that will translate well for the genre of music I produce and it may be that I need them to sound worse on certain music for me to know they will be more effective. My Mackie's sound pretty good but they are missing detail and clarity and the rear passive rad triggers the room. I'm pretty sure all of these speakers will have greater detail and more clarity and probably less bass but in a demo room I'm not really going to know which is going to perform well in my room and which is likely to translate well for my music.

So I think I would be better placed to use monitors that a more experienced person can suggest and then learn to get familiar with them. I'd like to get my shortlist down to 1 or 2 sensible options and then bring them home for a demo.

Also, I wonder if it would be a smart move to keep my mackies and just get a smaller, more accurate monitor to sit on top - like the kh80dsp - for help with detailed mixing and use the mackies for producing/djing/general vibe monitors/other reference etc.
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:09 am

orbita wrote:How does the 80dsp and 750 compare with the 310?

Both excellent systems, but very different kettles of fish!

The phase linearity of the DSP speaker gives a different -- more accurate -- kind of sound presentation which is genuinely excellent, but it takes some getting used to and makes simple A-B comparisons rather distracting and potentially misleading.

I'm in a small room (2.4m x 3.7m) and sit about 1m from speakers. I made techno and drum n bass.

In that case, the KH80/750 will probably suit your needs better than the 310.

...in a small room that I’m about to treat fairly extensively.

Small rooms inherently have VERY lumpy low ends, so expect to have to spend considerable effort finding the optimum location and settings for the sub. And even then, it's only going to work reasonably well if you invest seriously in comprehensive, proper bass trapping (and not just some wedge shaped bits of foam! )
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Oct 23, 2020 10:27 am

Tomster wrote:many people who listened to speakers in a demo room then found them unsuitable for their room and I have a particularly small room so I'd like advice on which ones would work well in a smaller smaller room.

I'd use the dealer demo room listening session to whittle the short list down to two or three models that deliver the monitoring resolution you require, and then try those models in your own -- fully treated -- studio to see how they work in that space.

Different speakers radiate sound across the full bandwidth in different ways, and so naturally that interacts with your room boundaries and acoustic treatment in different ways... so listening in situ really is the only way to know what works and what doesn't. The most accurate sounding speakers in one room can be terrible in another...

2) I'm not actually sure what I would be listening for when I go to the demo.

A monitor should allow you to hear what's wrong with the recordings -- how else can you know what to do to fix it? So you're listening for monitors that allow you to hear instruments clearly and separately, identify the effects and their artefacts, and separate the instruments in time -- especially at the low end -- so you can separate the bass guitar from the kick drum and know which is early or late etc.

Take some of your own mixes and listen. What can you hear that you weren't previously aware of. Same with familiar commercial mixes. The more you can hear, the better the monitor speaker.

But -- and this is important -- the speaker shouldn't make everything sound bad. Some have excessively forward mid-ranges in an effort to portray 'extra detail' but in reality they are just fatiguing. A well recorded, track should stand out as well recording, sublime and easy to listen to. You want the speaker to tell you when things are right too, after all!

My Mackie's sound pretty good but they are missing detail and clarity and the rear passive rad triggers the room.

It's not the passive radiator. It's just the physical position of the speakers in the room, the EQ settings on the speaker, and the acoustics of the room itself. Any speaker with a similar bass response in the same physical place would 'trigger' the room in the same way!

Also, I wonder if it would be a smart move to keep my mackies and just get a smaller, more accurate monitor to sit on top

A lot of people do that... but I'm not a fan. For starters, additional clutter (like extra speakers) around your main monitors degrades their stereo imaging and can potentially cause rattles and buzzes that you don't need. And secondly, having broadly similar full range monitors in the same space doesn't tell you anything useful and the low-end accuracy will still be compromised by the same acoustic conditions that compromise your main monitoring.

In my view, there is a real value in having a small mono 'grot box' type monitor for sanity-checking -- something like one of the better auratone-alikes -- which will help you assess mono-compatibility and the overall balance on band-limited listening systems.

But for any other mix-checking I think it's essential to go and listen in a different room that inherently has different peaks and dips in the bass response! So keep your Mackies if you want, but set them up in a different room where you can use them as an independent second reference check.
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Oct 23, 2020 11:14 am

Tomster wrote:As I mentioned, I'm in the process of sorting out treatment for the room.
Sorry, missed that. :oops:

In addition to Hugh's list above there were two things that i noticed when i bought my monitors (KH80s in the end), one was the quality of the stereo imaging (not just in terms of width, but also precision), the other was the ability to 'lean in' to a mix. With a decent set of monitors they don't flatter to deceive with a hyped presence, but they will still reward you with that extra detail when you focus on a specific aspect.
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:16 pm

Often those inexperienced with high-end monitoring expect to be instantly 'impressed' and for the sound to excite in some undefined way.

But it's really not like that. It's a far more subtle thing of -- as Drew says -- being able to see further into and around mixes. It's often a slowly dawning realisation that you can hear things you weren't previously aware of -- and not just 'technical faults' or 'performance flaws' but tiny details about the recording environment, or vibrato on a bass note, or the click of a Leslie speed change...
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby Luke W » Fri Oct 23, 2020 12:52 pm

All of the above, but I'll add a few things that I noticed when I went to demo monitors a little while back.

I found it helped to have a wide range of material (that I knew well), even if it wasn't necessarily the sort of thing I'd be working on myself. Obviously your final choice has to work well for what you intend to do with it and that should be the main focus point, but being able to compare very different source material really helped me to gauge what they were capable of in various situations and notice things that may not have been as obvious had I just listened to the same sorts of tracks.

Spoken word is a usually a good test of how natural a speaker sounds (provided it's been recorded well) as we're very used to hearing people speak. A good recording played back on good speakers (in a good room...) should sound as if the person is stood between the speakers talking to you.

Anything I listened to that was a simple stereo recording in a nice space painted a very clear and realistic picture in terms of positioning of players/instruments. Busy tracks with lots going on still sounded nicely seperated with the subtleties of individual elements still very noticeable overall. I also took along some tracks that I knew to be a bit lacking in the mix/master department and they sounded even worse than I'd ever realised, so that was another sign that the speakers were being very honest in what they were telling me!
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby RichardT » Fri Oct 23, 2020 1:13 pm

I would also say that, using your own mixes, it’s a good thing if you can hear areas for improvement when you listen through the monitors in the shop. I mostly work on phones while developing tracks and then swap to monitors for the last stages. I often hear faults - usually a lack of clarity or balance, but many other things too. That’s the main benefit of good monitors, so if you can hear that kind of thing you’re on the right track.
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby Tomster » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:01 pm

Hi everyone, thanks for responding and the tips on demoing. I'll prepare a set of tracks to take. I might try to make a template to help objectively evaluate them.

Hugh Robjohns wrote:It's not the passive radiator. It's just the physical position of the speakers in the room, the EQ settings on the speaker, and the acoustics of the room itself. Any speaker with a similar bass response in the same physical place would 'trigger' the room in the same way!

Are front ported or sealed cabinets the same then? I thought they might be safer in that respect?

Hugh Robjohns wrote:In that case, the KH80/750 will probably suit your needs better than the 310.

Thanks. May I ask in what way you think that combination would be better? Is it because they are 2 way rather than 3? or because of flexibility with the sub woofer?

Should I avoid 3 ways in this space? My ears will be about 1.1m from the tweeters.

Regarding subwoofer placement. It would probably have to sit on one of these spots
- to the side of me
- underneath one of the tops nearish to the front corner.
- behind me in one of the rear corner

Would you particularly recommend any of the other speakers on my list or have any other suggestions I should short list?
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Oct 23, 2020 7:33 pm

Tomster wrote:Are front ported or sealed cabinets the same then? I thought they might be safer in that respect?

Sealed cabinets have a different bass response characteristic to ported cabinets (and the passive radiator in the Mackies makes it much more like a ported speaker than a sealed one). In generic terms, for a given size of cabinet, a sealed cabinet has a much gentler roll-off that starts higher up, but that also means it also puts out more very low end than a ported cabinet.

Rear-ported speakers obviously can't be placed too close to the wall because that would impede the vent, but other than that, the bass interaction with the room is the same whether the speaker is sealed or ported, and whether front or rear ported.

May I ask in what way you think that combination would be better? Is it because they are 2 way rather than 3? or because of flexibility with the sub woofer?

It's because I assume you're going to want lots of low end, and while the KH310 is a beautifully balanced speaker, the KH80/Sub combo would be more powerful. Plus you have greater flexibility in siting the sub optimally to control room modes without compromising the stereo imaging -- which is important in a small room.

Should I avoid 3 ways in this space?

Two-way speakers plus sub is effectively three-way, anyway...

There was a time when three-way monitors had much better midrange resolution than two ways, but developments in bass-mid drivers and DSP processing have largely overcome that IMHO

My ears will be about 1.1m from the tweeters.

At that distance you'll need to keep the monitors fairly small (or use coaxial monitors). I sit about that distance from kh310s, but the mid and tweeter arrangement in those is much the same spacing as the drivers in the kh80... So I'd try and stick with speakers of that sort of height and driver size.

Regarding subwoofer placement. It would probably have to sit on one of these spots
- to the side of me
- underneath one of the tops nearish to the front corner.
- behind me in one of the rear corner

I think you might need to develop more flexibility towards the sub placement. Corners are very rarely a good idea -- you'll get a very lumpy bass response. Mid-way along a wall is often a good starting point, but you'll need to experiment.

Would you particularly recommend any of the other speakers on my list or have any other suggestions I should short list?

I'm afraid I don't know all of your listed models. The PMCs might be a bit big for that close listening distance, but they are very good monitors. You could add the Dynaudio core7 too -- similar size with DSP alignment. The Hedd has had very good reviews. I don't know the Eves but I was never that big a fan of the Adams and they share a family tree. I do like the Neumann KHs... very much, although restricting the app for the KH80 to iPad-only is mind-numbingly stupid IMHO.
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby Tomster » Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:11 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Tomster wrote:Are front ported or sealed cabinets the same then? I thought they might be safer in that respect?

Sealed cabinets have a different bass response characteristic to ported cabinets (and the passive radiator in the Mackies makes it much more like a ported speaker than a sealed one). In generic terms, for a given size of cabinet, a sealed cabinet has a much gentler roll-off that starts higher up, but that also means it also puts out more very low end than a ported cabinet.

Rear-ported speakers obviously can't be placed too close to the wall because that would impede the vent, but other than that, the bass interaction with the room is the same whether the speaker is sealed or ported, and whether front or rear ported.

May I ask in what way you think that combination would be better? Is it because they are 2 way rather than 3? or because of flexibility with the sub woofer?

It's because I assume you're going to want lots of low end, and while the KH310 is a beautifully balanced speaker, the KH80/Sub combo would be more powerful. Plus you have greater flexibility in siting the sub optimally to control room modes without compromising the stereo imaging -- which is important in a small room.

Should I avoid 3 ways in this space?

Two-way speakers plus sub is effectively three-way, anyway...

There was a time when three-way monitors had much better midrange resolution than two ways, but developments in bass-mid drivers and DSP processing have largely overcome that IMHO

My ears will be about 1.1m from the tweeters.

At that distance you'll need to keep the monitors fairly small (or use coaxial monitors). I sit about that distance from kh310s, but the mid and tweeter arrangement in those is much the same spacing as the drivers in the kh80... So I'd try and stick with speakers of that sort of height and driver size.

Regarding subwoofer placement. It would probably have to sit on one of these spots
- to the side of me
- underneath one of the tops nearish to the front corner.
- behind me in one of the rear corner

I think you might need to develop more flexibility towards the sub placement. Corners are very rarely a good idea -- you'll get a very lumpy bass response. Mid-way along a wall is often a good starting point, but you'll need to experiment.

Would you particularly recommend any of the other speakers on my list or have any other suggestions I should short list?

I'm afraid I don't know all of your listed models. The PMCs might be a bit big for that close listening distance, but they are very good monitors. You could add the Dynaudio core7 too -- similar size with DSP alignment. The Hedd has had very good reviews. I don't know the Eves but I was never that big a fan of the Adams and they share a family tree. I do like the Neumann KHs... very much, although restricting the app for the KH80 to iPad-only is mind-numbingly stupid IMHO.

I've just had an idea. In the middle of my front wall, I have a door that leads to a loft storage space where the boiler/tank etc is. I'm just wondering, if I were to remove the door, could that then be a good place to put the subwoofer with its front face in the door entrance in line with the wall and the rest of the subwoofer in the storage room behind. I'm wondering if that storage space could then act like a big bass trap and only the forward facing sound would enter my studio room. What do you think?
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby RichardT » Sat Oct 24, 2020 9:18 am

I think the storage room is likely to act as a resonator and make things much worse.
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby blinddrew » Sat Oct 24, 2020 10:29 am

Depends if you stuff the closet with rockwool first. ;)
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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby Tomster » Sat Oct 24, 2020 10:45 am

blinddrew wrote:Depends if you stuff the closet with rockwool first. ;)

It's basically eaves space that contains boiler and tank. It's pretty deep. I could put fluffy insulation behind the tank and probably put a decent size bass trap in front of the tank and behind /around the subwoofer.

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Re: Neumann KH310a or KH120a with 805 sub?

Postby RichardT » Sat Oct 24, 2020 1:14 pm

Tomster wrote:
blinddrew wrote:Depends if you stuff the closet with rockwool first. ;)

It's basically eaves space that contains boiler and tank. It's pretty deep. I could put fluffy insulation behind the tank and probably put a decent size bass trap in front of the tank and behind /around the subwoofer.

Image

I’m no expert, and I’m sure others will weigh in if I’m wrong, but I have though you would want as little sound as possible to get into that side space. It will only cause you problems. Some kind of door seals would help, keep the door shut, and put the subwoofer away from the door.
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