The Optimal Loudspeakers
Finding the optimal loudspeakers for the new reference listening room was not an easy task. Although an O 500 system has been in use for some time in another reference room, Neumann loudspeakers were not chosen “by default”. Monitor speakers from a large number of manufacturers were compared in an elaborate test setup.
Christoph Sladeczek: “We used classic listening test methods. Fifteen stereo pairs were compared to our reference system [Klein & Hummel O 500]. All systems were room calibrated and the levels were matched precisely. Next we prepared a test procedure in which fifteen participants reviewed various parameters which we later evaluated statistically.
“An important criterion for us was a neutral reproduction which remains free from fatigue, even at high levels,” adds Daniel Beer. “We compared many loudspeakers from various manufacturers. In the first run we compared smaller models, including the Neumann KH 120. But at the levels that are sometimes required when you place a source on one speaker only, they reached their limits in terms of low frequency reproduction. Other loudspeakers of that size behaved similarly. We did like the sound and the price of the KH 120, but it did not give us enough level for our applications. “ This necessitated a second test run with bigger sized loudspeakers. Yet again, Neumann won: “In the end there were two loudspeaker models left, the Neumann KH 310 and one by a well-known competitor. The final argument for the Neumann speaker was that we preferred its high frequency reproduction.”
An extremely important criterion for multichannel systems is the localization of phantom sources. “Apart from sound and level handling the KH 310 also impressed with its sharp localization,” Daniel Beer explains. Product consistency plays a major part in this: “Later, before installation, we measured the individual loudspeakers and could confirm that the differences in frequency response were below 1 dB. That’s what you expect, of course, because that’s what our underlying theory of multichannel reproduction is based on: All channels are equally linearized in themselves so I can use processing to do what I really want to do in order to present the source as desired. What I don’t expect is that the individual loudspeakers must be matched before I even start. Unfortunately, that happens sometimes. But we expect to be able to focus on what we really want to do, free from such worries.”
Which is exactly the philosophy of Neumann’s studio monitors: highest precision and linearity for a reliable, uncolored listening experience. The result speaks for itself: SpatialSound Wave in the new reference listening room of Fraunhofer IDMT at Ilmenau sounds absolutely breathtaking!