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VOL. TWENTY SEVEN
NUMBER FOUR
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09281 03050
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8
JANUARY 2014
USA $5.99
CANADA $5.99
BY LORENZ RYCHNER
at, where less than ideal circumstances
may require extensive user control to
achieve the desired balanced sound.
Three four-position switches allow for
attenuation of bass (from 0 to –2.5, –5.0
down to –7.5 dB) and low mids (from 0 to
–1.5, –3.0 down to –4.5 dB), while the
treble may get a +1.0 boost or be attenuated from 0 dB down to –1.0 or –2.0 dB.
Another four-position switch allows
adjustment of Output Level (dB SPL at 1
meter) at 94, 100, 108, and 114 for 0
dBu. A rotary pot regulates the input gain
(sensitivity) from –15 dB to 0 dB.
Maximum input level is stated as 24 dBu.
There is a four-position switch for
adjustment of the Neumann logo’s brightness, with three levels of brightness and
an Off position. A ground-lift switch completes the rear controls. The cabinets are
Neumann KH 310 A Active Studio Monitor
This 3-way design is poised to open a lot of eyes—and ears
Neumann continues the line of monitor
speakers carrying the KH moniker, harking
back to the venerable Klein + Hummel brand
that Sennheiser/Neumann acquired a few
years back. We reviewed the model KH
120 A in the January 2012 issue, an active
two-way cabinet that comes in two versions,
with analog and with digital inputs.
A big step up in size and power, the triamped 3-way KH 310 A finally has come
our way for evaluation after having been
shown at trade shows since early 2012.
The box
Intended to sit sideways, the classy-looking dark-grey (“anthracite”) KH 130 A is
151/8" wide, 10" tall and 111/2" deep. It
weighs a hefty 28 lbs. 11 oz. A stereo
pair consists of symmetrically opposite left
and right speakers, the idea being that the
81/4" woofer is on the inside and the
white and brightly lit (and dimmable)
Neumann logo on the outside. The 1"
tweeter sits slightly recessed in a gently
contoured waveguide above the 3"
midrange speaker. The waveguide was
designed for wide horizontal and narrow
vertical dispersion, to allow for freedom of
movement while maintaining a generous
“sweet spot”. Speaker grilles are an
option at $219.95 each; my test pair did
not have them.
Three amplifiers drive the three transducers, rated at 150 W (continuous) for
the woofer amp, and 70 W each for the
midrange and tweeter amps. The
crossovers are set at 650 Hz and 2 kHz.
The box is made of painted wood and
polyurethane, the back panel of black
anodized aluminum. The back has two
mounting rails for permanent installation,
not something we see often on studio monitors—and Neumann offers a variety of
mounting options. This begs the question—
what is the intended use of this monitor?
Turns out that the KH 310 A is designed
with quite a range of applications in mind.
To quote the Neumann website:
“The KH 310 is designed for use as a
near-field monitor, as a front loudspeaker in
mid-sized multi-channel systems, or as a rear
loudspeaker in a larger multi-channel system.
It can be used in project, music, broadcast
centers, OB vans, and post production studios for tracking, mixing, and mastering.”
The rear
There is only one input socket per box,
a balanced XLR. Neumann realizes that
not everybody has a mixer that outputs
on XLR, so the manual depicts a wiring
diagram for those who want to make their
own RCA-to-XLR adapters.
That helpful stance towards the end
user continues—there are more user
adjustments available than on your average monitor speaker, another indicator of
the varied applications the box is aimed
sealed, magnetically shielded, and powered by regular 3-prong IEC plugs.
The set-up
Neumann is very particular in suggesting proper placement of the KH 310,
dedicating a substantial portion of the
manual to the topic. To quote, in part:
“Carry out the following steps very accurately, since the more accurate the physical
arrangement of the loudspeakers in the
room, the more accurate the reproduction
will be at the listening position. Observe
the recommended distances between the
loudspeakers and your listening position
(imperial dimensions are approximate):
Minimum 0.75 m (2'6"), Recommended
1.0–2.5 m (3'–8'), Maximum 6.0 m (18').
Avoid positioning the loudspeaker at a distance of 0.8 to 2 m (2'6" to 6') from the
wall behind the speaker.”
Many of us will have no choice about the
6' behind the speaker to the nearest wall distance, in our home studios or in suggested
applications like broadcast vans etc. That’s
where the above-mentioned user-adjustable
frequency controls will have to come in.
The manual further suggests that the
two cabinets, in the usual equilateral triangle (equal distance from tweeter to
tweeter and from your ears to the tweeters), should be toed in by 30 degrees.
Neumann takes this seriously—the use of
a tape measure is suggested!
Excerpted from the January edition of RECORDING Magazine 2013
©2013 Music Maker Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
5408 Idylwild Trail, Boulder, CO 80301 Tel: (303) 516-9118 Fax: (303) 516-9119
For Subscription Information, call: 1-954-653-3927 or www.recordingmag.com
In a carefully staged and measured stereo setup I found the
KH 310 to be quite forgiving about the sweet spot and imaging
on the horizontal axis. The intended effect of the waveguide
design was definitely in evidence—side-to-side movement didn’t
cause a loss of focus as quickly as did up-and-down movement
at the listening position.
The sound
While I had the KH 310 cabinets at home I
was delighted to run into Doug MacCleod who
handed me his new CD There’s A Time, recorded in HDCD at Skywalker by Prof. Keith O.
Johnson. What a superbly performed and
recorded project! The KH 310s did it justice, projecting the subtleties of the acoustic trio and of
Doug’s bluesy voice with exquisite nuances.
Having recently moved, I’m still “learning” my
new and still unfinished room, so I played material that I am very familiar with, and I experimented with the acoustic adjustments on the
back of the boxes. I soon reset them to zero after
I found the right spot in the room to give me the
reliable sound I was after, with the help of
IsoAcoustics’ ISO•L8R 430 isolating speaker
stands (reviewed in October 2013), and avoiding any surfaces in front of the cabinets that
might have produced a splash reflection.
Even though the cabinets ended up less than 6' from the wall
behind, I didn’t need to attenuate bass, largely because the bass
the KH 310 produces is very smooth and not hyped in any way.
Neumann obviously is not particularly after the market segment
that judges the success of a mix by the rumble it creates in the
neighborhood. But not to be misunderstood—there is no lack of
bass when you expect bass; when you need to hear the orchestral low end in pieces like the openings of Bartók’s Concerto for
Orchestra or Shostakovich’s 5th or 10th Symphony, or hear people like Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller let fly on their electric
basses, you’re not missing anything.
The crossover from woofer to mid-speaker is set higher than
one might expect, but it is very smooth, I tried and couldn’t
hear it with any certainty. The mids and upper mids on the KH
310, to my ears, have a tonality that reminds me
of the best European speakers I grew up with—
hard to put into words, but in a way related to
the difference in the tonal ideal between
European and American orchestras, especially
the brass sections.
Nothing is left out, everything is very well
defined and balanced, and the tweeter brings out
the lustre of good string sections and the sparkle
of a well-voiced piano without a hint of shrillness.
All in all
A lot of attention to detail has gone into the
design and manufacture of the KH 310 A cabinets.
While marketed towards—and certainly eminently
suited for—the studio, this cabinet makes for a fine
hi-fi speaker in any critical listening environment. I
found it to reveal detail as needed for close-up
monitoring, but I can imagine that a 5.1 array in a
well-tuned listening room, matched with a suitable subwoofer,
would satisfy many a picky high-end audiophile.
Price: $2249.95 each
More from: Neumann USA, www.neumannusa.com
Excerpted from the January edition of RECORDING Magazine 2013
©2013 Music Maker Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
5408 Idylwild Trail, Boulder, CO 80301 Tel: (303) 516-9118 Fax: (303) 516-9119
For Subscription Information, call: 1-954-653-3927 or www.recordingmag.com
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