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Neumann KH 80 DSP - should I return them?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Neumann KH 80 DSP - should I return them?

Okay, so spending more time at home playing the piano - actually it's a digital synth with weighted keys - I decided I could spend some money on better studio monitors.

My current pair is Prodipe pro 5 v3, quite unknown brand but with reviews saying "good value for money".

And KH 80 DSP seemed to tick a lot of boxes, on paper.

DSP correction that makes it possible to adjust to room issues.
Silent when input is.
Ungrounded power cables to prevent ground loops.
Very very accurate.
And tons of reviews all saying how fantastic the speaker is.

I ordered a pair, got them today and opened one of speakers to try it out. Four times the price, you would expect them to give a new level of realism, and a feeling that you're actually playing on a real piano, right? At least when you close your eyes.

The verdict: Naah.

I can't complain about the details or accuracy in mid/high frequencies. Brighter than my current pair; but that is mostly a matter of taste and eq.

But bass. Both KH 80 DSP and Prodipe pro 5 v3 claim to have some bass; but with Pro5v3 I don't need a sub, with KH 80 DSP it seems like I do. And that's quite a big difference to me. Especially if I turn the volume up a bit, KH 80 DSP just starts to sound boomy or maybe over-compensating for it's smaller size. I wouldn't say it's bad, it's just not awesome either. I can't really describe it in a good way. Whereas the Pro5v3 sounds good even on high volumes, until it starts crackling.

And then there is the cable problem. I've had ground loop issues here and so I was hoping that the ungrounded power cable would at least solve that, so I could get rid of the isolator. But not at all so far. The digital synth has unbalanced connections out; and I've tried a few variants (including a balanced cable which is what the manual recommends) but all of them have some kind of noise. With isolator, without isolator. Through mixer, bypassing the mixer. Etc. Even more so if I turn the dip switch up a notch or two in order to get enough volume out of them. Even tried connecting them to another audio source in another room just to check.

So now I'm not sure. Should I return them? Try with a sub? And is there a way to resolve the cable issue? Etc.

Or did I simply pick the wrong monitor for the task; which is primarily to play piano, church organ, etc, and get the "realism feeling", mixing is important too but secondary. Realism feeling includes both silence (no hum or noises) when I'm not pressing any keys, as well as the ability to sound as loud as a real piano or church organ does when you are pressing those keys.
If so, what would be a better speaker for the task?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
Here for the gear
 
Not sure if anyone reads this, but a small update, in case it helps someone.

I was able to resolve the cabling; it's now silent enough for me to not notice anything unless I put my ear against the speaker.

I have not been able to use the EQ inside the speaker yet (need to borrow an iPad from somewhere!) but I was able to put an EQ between the audio source and the speaker to remove most of the bass boominess.

I'm trying to make friends with it, but not yet, really. My biggest issue right now is that if I play fortissimo on the piano, after 10 seconds or so, the light goes red which means that the protection system is activated. That happens at about the same level as the prodipes start to crackle.

I have only unpacked one, so far. Figured that would be safer in case I wanted to return them. With two it should get 6 dB louder (right?), which I *think* should be okay for my needs.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #3
Here for the gear
 
Update:
Okay, so I have actually managed to make these sound good now! :-)

But it took some time and effort and included setting up both speakers to get a stereo image, positioning them, installing REW (room eq wizard), and borrowing an iPad, reset that iPad to install neumann.control, and finally do some adjustments on the EQ to compensate for resonances in the room.

Lessons learned:

1) I have no problem with the volume anymore, the LED never goes red even if play loud. This is partly because I now have two of them, partly because of positioning and EQ.

2) They are positioned against a wall, and the room has no acoustic treatment. This adds some bass, which is just what I need to avoid having to use a subwoofer. :-)

3) An old sound card I bought like 15 years ago came with a lot of foam in the packaging. Putting that foam under the speakers reduces vibrations in the furniture beneath the speakers. Reuse ftw!

4) As for the realism feeling, I think it has arrived, at least to the extent I had with the old speakers. I think it comes with all of this, but in particular with the stereo image and, surprisingly, the wall - which I think provides some kind of mild resonance somewhat like a grand piano.
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