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Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

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Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby samuk » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:59 pm

Hi,

I had been intending to get a pair of Neumann KH120 monitors, but after some helpful forum posts and more research am now leaning towards the KH80 DSP monitors. There isn’t much difference in price, so I’m evaluating them only based on their performance.

The accuracy of the KH80’ seems superb.
If I’m reading the data on Neumann’s site correctly, it states that the reproduction accuracy between 100 Hz and 10 kHz is actually better than the KH120 and KH 310.

The features offered by having the DSP are attractive such as the FIR phase correction, and that it optimises the sound output through guided alignment. My room will have acoustic treatment (bass traps, wall tiles for flutter echo, some broadband absorption) but is not a purpose built studio so I think these could help me.

The KH80’s have SPL that is over what I would normally mix at.

My concerns with the KH80’s: the digital converter and sampling rate is 48kHz, whereas some other DSP monitors go up to 98Khz. Is this going to give me an audible difference in quality? As far as I’ve read human hearing doesn’t go up to those frequencies any way but changes that high can make an audible difference to what we do hear.

The bass extension on the KH80’s is 57 Hz, only 5 Hz above that of the KH 120’s. How critical are those lower 5Hz to getting an accurate mix? It seems a small difference, at least on paper.

Finally, are the KH80’s going to be able to give me a sufficient quality of monitoring to produce release-quality, commercial mixes? I know that this is a vague question that I should probably be lambasted for, but I still have the notion that speakers of this size and relatively low cost would not give me all I would need. This is probably a prejudice, but still they are tiny!

If I get them, I will buy from a stockist that accepts returns so I will have the time to demo them and mix a few songs on them before deciding whether to keep.

Thanks in advance for any replies :)
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby CS70 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:07 pm

samuk wrote:are the KH80’s going to be able to give me a sufficient quality of monitoring to produce release-quality, commercial mixes?

Yes. Commercial release-quality will not be limited by these monitors. On the other side, even the best monitors in the world are not enough, by far, for attaining it.
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby Wonks » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:20 pm

samuk wrote:The bass extension on the KH80’s is 57 Hz, only 5 Hz above that of the KH 120’s. How critical are those lower 5Hz to getting an accurate mix? It seems a small difference, at least on paper.

Well, 5Hz up in the 10kHz region is nothing. Down in the bass region its quite a lot, about two semitones. But even the KH120s won't cover the full bass region well, so neither will tell you exactly what's going on down there in the mix, though you'll get a pretty good idea.

I'd use decent headphones for bass checking as you then don't have to have huge amounts of room treatment to avoid bass issues. Use the monitors for everything else if you want.
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby Trevor Johnson » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:06 pm

My concerns with the KH80’s: the digital converter and sampling rate is 48kHz, whereas some other DSP monitors go up to 98Khz. Is this going to give me an audible difference in quality? As far as I’ve read human hearing doesn’t go up to those frequencies any way but changes that high can make an audible difference to what we do hear.

My apologies if I misunderstand, but I suspect there is some confusion here.

The KH80s have only analogue inputs, (XLR, balanced 1/4 inch jacks and RCA); go for the first two if you can. They are also networkable via CAT 5, or better, for control functions. There are no onboard DA converters .

I think the 48Khz sampling you mention is related to the DSP internal 'engine' of the KH80s. Seriously, don't worry about it. The problem that digital gave us is something in psychology caused 'number anchoring'.

As a mark of confidence, I am picking up my KH80s this week. I am sure you will be as pleased with them as I will be.
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:21 pm

I understand you're spending a big chunk or money and are nervous about it, but you really are over thinking this!

The kh80 is Neumann's 'next generation' speaker, and the tech they've developed for it will undoubtedly move across into many other future models. It's clever tech that does what it needs to and allows useful improvements upon the already superb performance of the company's analogue monitors. The kh80 impressed me, and that's after using the kh120s and owning kh310s. The midrange resolution is startling, and that's the single most important area when it comes to crafting good mixes.

As for the bass end, speakers don't just stop at 57Hz or 55Hz or whatever. These figures are given as an indication of the frequency where the system starts to become less efficient and delivers less 'oomph'. So you'll hear a bass guitar's 41Hz low e fundamental from both speakers, but it will be fractionally stronger or louder from the KH120 than the KH80... But I do mean fractionally, and the inevitable acoustic peaks and dips imposed on the in-room performance caused your room's standing waves will completely dwarf the differences between these two models anyway.

To all intents and purposes, the KH120 and KH80 have very similar overall performances as far as bandwidth is concerned, but the KH80 is technically the more revealing and accurate.

My only hesitation in recommending the KH80 initially was the very frustrating (and embarrassing) delay in releasing its control software, but that's now available and delivering all it promised, so I have no qualms at all in recommending the KH80 -- if it's appropriate for your needs. Or if you'd rather stay all-analogue, go with the KH120. But remember, these are ultra-compact near-field monitors. If you require or expect visceral levels of bass you'll need to think again.

However, in answer to your question about mixing commercial release quality music, the answer is an unequivocal yes... But achieving that goal is much more dependent on talent, skill, and experience than it is on monitor quality or size!

H
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby Jack Ruston » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:04 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:However, in answer to your question about mixing commercial release quality music, the answer is an unequivocal yes... But achieving that goal is much more dependent on talent, skill, and experience than it is on monitor quality or size!
H

Yes...people deliver incredible mixes on all sorts of speakers, in all sorts of (sometimes terrible) environments. It's far more about your ability to get a balance, than the Nth degree of bass extension. Yes, those things do play into each other, and to some extent you need to get enough experience to work out where the problems are going to come from in your particular situation. But the result comes down to you in the end.
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby Phil Ward » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:21 pm

I've not reviewed them in the magazine but I was loaned a pair of KH80 DSPs a little while ago and got to play with them for a week or so. Needless to say, and to echo others who've commented, I was dead impressed with them. I wrote a blog post here: https://musicandmiscellany.com/2018/07/ ... d-neumann/

And as Jack says, brilliant commercial releases have been tracked, mixed and mastered on all sorts of weird and wonderful speakers over the decades, so there's no reason at all why that couldn't be done with KH 80s.

P
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby samuk » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:35 am

Thanks everyone for your replies! Really helpful.

I didn’t know that speakers would still sound frequencies lower than their stated specs, and that it would be a fractional difference rather than an absolute cut-off. I’ll be using headphones to check everything especially the low-end, and I have a friend with a sub that I’ll go round and check mixes on also.

I am going to order the KH80’s today. I have perhaps been over-thinking it, but I wanted to make sure I had the best monitors in my budget to give the best platform to developing my mixing.

I’m now salivating at the prospect of the KH80’s arrival!
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:07 pm

samuk wrote:I didn’t know that speakers would still sound frequencies lower than their stated specs, and that it would be a fractional difference rather than an absolute cut-off.

Yes... you're not alone in this confusion and misunderstanding!

Here's a frequency response plot showing the KH80's frequency response:

Image

I know the bass drop off looks pretty steep (although that's partly just because of the way the graph has been drawn), but it certainly isn't anything like vertical -- which is what it would need to be to refuse to play anything below 57Hz!

The figure the manufacturers quote for the LF extension (57Hz or whatever) is usually the point at which the level has reduced by 3dB compared to the level across the midrange, (Beware: some quote figures for -6 or even -10dB reduction to make their speakers appear more impressive than they really are!).

The KH80 response falls to -3dB at 57Hz, and is -6dB at 53Hz... and the lower the frequency the lower the output will be because the speaker is becoming increasingly inefficient and unable to move the air well enough to reproduce those frequencies at the same volume.

However, it is still trying to reproduce those lower frequencies, and room boundary effects will help to some extent, too. So you will still hear the fundamental of the lower E on a bass guitar, albeit at a reduced volume (almost 20dB quieter, in fact), and all its higher harmonics. It might not flap your trouser legs or rearrange your internal organs, but it will be sufficient to let you balance things properly.
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby samuk » Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:32 pm

Thanks Hugh, a very helpful explanation and I’m reassured to know I’ll still be able to hear frequencies lower than stated. For applying effects and processing to bass I will probably turn up the level to hear it better when I need to, then check on headphones and other devices. The monitors and stands are arriving tomorrow, I expect to be in audio heaven by the evening!
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby Zukan » Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:27 am

You need to demo both sets side by side over an extended period.

If you're dropping some serious change on monitors then you HAVE to demo them.
You wouldn't buy a new car based on reviews would you?
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby forumuser892155 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:04 am

Trevor Johnson wrote:The KH80s have only analogue inputs, (XLR, balanced 1/4 inch jacks and RCA); go for the first two if you can. They are also networkable via CAT 5, or better, for control functions. There are no onboard DA converters .

To clarify, the DSP functionality in the KH80 does require A/D and D/A conversion. See the block diagram for more detail.

[img]KH80-Technical-Block-Diagram.jpg[/img]
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby Forum Admin » Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:03 am

forumuser892155 wrote:[img]KH80-Technical-Block-Diagram.jpg[/img]

NOTE to forumuser892155: you can't embed images using a file reference, they need to be an externally hosted image and paste in the full URL file path between the [img]and[/img] code tags.

For example, this file path when inserted would display the SOS logo shown at the top of the forums:

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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby forumuser892155 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 4:27 am

NOTE to forumuser892155: you can't embed images using a file reference, they need to be an externally hosted image and paste in the full URL file path between the [img]and[/img] code tags.

Thanks for letting me know. I'm a total newbie.

The block diagram showing the KH 80 DSP's A/D/A conversion scheme can be found at this link; middle column, 7 rows down.

https://en-de.neumann.com/file-finder?product=KH%2080%20DSP%20A%20G&category=monitors
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Re: Neumann KH 80 DSP monitors - are they sufficient for professional, commercial releases?

Postby Forum Admin » Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:21 am

That's a shame. Neumann's site does not allow their image code to be grabbed and thus inserted between this Forum's [Img] tags. I'm not going to download and upload it here, in case that breaks their terms and conditions.
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