Neumann KH 310 Active Studio Monitors
(first published in CX magazine – September, 2013)
I’ve had a pair of these new Neumann monitors here at The Mill for a few weeks now, mainly to see how they fly on my Neve console.
Why? Mainly because the Neve sports a relatively high meter bridge, which can cause some vertically aligned speakers to either fire over my head, or require downward adjustment, which I’m no big fan of because that tends to make speakers less stable on the console than they already are.
The new Neumann KH 310s are a compact, three-way active horizontal design, that sit nice and low on the console – perfectly suited in fact to this circumstance.
The 310s feature a 210mm (8¼-inch) bass driver, a magnificent 75mm (3-inch) soft-dome midrange driver and a 25mm (1-inch) tweeter.
The front on the speaker sees all three elements (plus a illuminated Neumann badge) occupying a relatively small area. The tweeter and midrange driver are mounted into waveguides to widen the sweet spot and overall the physical package of the KH 310 is relatively unobtrusive and modest looking.
Actually, I’ve long since given up offering opinions about how speakers look: one man’s masterpiece is another’s crow bait. In the end I reckon you eventually get used to whatever’s in front of you regardless. Personally I think they look really classy, although I’m not a great fan of illuminated logos. Thankfully the ones on the 310s can be dimmed or switched off.
Sonically the Neumanns are balanced and clear sounding, with the dedicated midrange driver providing the added benefit of a more effortless focus in the middle of the spectrum. The detail across left and right is impressive; the speakers sensitive to, and expressive of, fine panning adjustments.
They go loud yet hold together well, and at low levels their tone remains consistent. If I could put them into context: the Neumanns are a little smoother and more pronounced in the low midrange than Quested VS2108As, offering slightly less upper mids. They go respectably low in their bass response without sounding like try-hards, but pack less of a wallop than Event Opals. They’re far less harsh and brutal sounding (unsurprisingly) than a Yamaha NS10m, but still manage to keep vocals fairly prominent.
Like any good speaker, the key ingredient – apart from good fundamental specs, noise floors, reliability and control – is that you like them. There’s no point trying to make an NS10 sounds like an Event Opal after all. Otherwise you can be sure your mixes will translate into the real world like a bag of rotten grapefruit hitting a wall at high speed.
To that end, there’s a hell of a lot to like about the Neumann three-ways. They’re also very forgiving of position like so many speakers nowadays. On the back panel there are several switches to adjust the intensity of any of the three drivers, depending on how you need to position them in the room. There’s an earth-lift switch, an input gain attenuator and output switch, along with the aforementioned dim switch.
The only issue with the 310s is that they don’t come cheap… no siree. At what I assume will be a four-figure street price starting with a 5, they’d want to be good… which they most certainly are.
In Australia, contact Syntec International for more info: 1800 648 628 or www.syntec.com.au