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Neumann KH 120

Price (pair): £1,199
Design: 2-way ported
Woofer: 5.25-inch composite cone
Tweeter: 1-inch titanium fabric dome
Frequency response: 52 Hz – 21 kHz

Klein + Hummel was synonymous with quality studio equipment. The company, founded in 1945, operated continuously until its brand name was sadly retired at the beginning of 2010 by its current owners, the Sennheiser group. Sennheiser also owns Neumann – best known for world-class microphones – and the spirit of the K+H brand lives on in the prefix of Neumann’s KH monitor range.

The KH 120 can be considered Neumann’s replacement for the excellent K+H O110, a similar 2-way design which won a lot of fans for its accurate sound. These aren’t hyped, bright speakers which flatter the material, but precise reference monitors in the old-fashioned sense, offering a flat, accurate representation of music. If the Genelecs are bright and forward, the Neumanns are more restrained; not necessarily better or worse, but a different type of sound which some producers prefer.

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K+H and Neumann speakers are the unsung heroes of the monitor world – at least outside their home country. German producers frequently rave about them, and that’s not just due to favouritism for home-grown products. We’ve never quite been able to figure out why they rarely seem to inspire the same level of devotion outside Germany, but it’s an anomaly which needs to be rectified as these are truly top quality monitors. (Incidentally, the story of monitors adored in their home-country of Germany but little known outside is shared by the wonderful ME Geithain line of speakers, including the sublime RL 901k – circa £12,000 – and the more affordable RL 906 – £2,900.)

The larger KH 310s are also well worth checking out if you’ve got a room big enough to do justice to the three-way design. James Holden spoke very highly of their predecessors, the O 300s, when we interviewed him back in June.

9th December, 2013

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* SoundCloud only offers ad-based monetization with a 10-20% payout and all music is made available to non-paying users which generates very low earnings on a per-stream basis

** Digital distributors and record labels typically keep an estimated 47% of Spotify and Apple Music earnings leaving their artists with only about 23% and 24.5% respectively

*** Spotify forces artists to participate into a “Freemium” model where most users don’t pay for music which generates very low earnings on a per-stream basis and significantly dilutes overall earnings per stream

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