I’ve already had the chance to review the smaller KH 80, which impressed me on multiple fronts, so I was eager to try out the larger 5.25-inch KH 120. And much like its smaller sibling, the KH 120 is a fantastic monitor that is well worth picking up for your studio.
Neumann KH 120
The Neumann KH 120 delivers in all the key areas. Its detailed and accurate sound profile makes it an ideal choice for serious studio work. Still, it isn’t without some minor issues. Below are the quick highlights before we take a closer look.
Once you step into this price bracket, multiple options are available that are all vying for your hard-earned money. Let’s dive deeper to see why the KH 120 should be on your shortlist of options.
Whether you are a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the studio monitor space, the most critical feature of any monitor is its sound profile, and without any hesitation, I can recommend the KH 120 as a capable and engaging monitor that gets things right.
The frequency response is broad and impressively accurate throughout the entire range. Peaks and dips are practically non-existent, with a near ruler-like response across the frequency spectrum. This is an accurate monitor that will translate material with precision.
The low-frequency response can be hit-and-miss with monitors this size. A 5.25-inch woofer can be a little lifeless and unsatisfying. But that is not the case with the KH 120.
There is ample body and punch in the low end. No, it is not earth-shattering, but it outperforms several leading competitors. You’ll need to invest in a subwoofer for authentic sub-bass assessments, but that is the case with nearly every studio monitor.
The KH 120 features accurate sound for professional studio applications.
The mid-range is equally satisfying, with a delightfully accurate response that retains character. There isn’t a hint of over-emphasis with a smooth transition from the lows to the mids. Vocals and instruments are warm, pleasant, and, more importantly, precise.
Stepping into the upper end of the frequency spectrum also makes me smile. I’ve often battled with overly bright monitors. Years of DJing and concerts have made my ears more sensitive than I like to admit (protect your hearing, folks!). The KH 120’s highs are not overly sharp and integrate seamlessly with the rest of the audio spectrum. No fatigue while retaining high accuracy and clarity.
Directivity is superb, especially across the horizontal plane. Vertically it isn’t as balanced, but at no point did this interfere with my assessments. Impressive engineering that delivers.
Distortion is also not present without the aggressive issues that can often plague 5-inch monitors that struggle and chuff at higher volume levels.
This is a serious monitor with outstanding sound, and it can go toe to toe with monitors well beyond its price point. If you demand accuracy, the KH 120 will not disappoint.
Another hallmark of the KH 120 is the ultra-tough design that can withstand the rigors of daily use. This monitor will last you for years and won’t skip a beat.
The aluminum cabinet ensures longevity while also delivering superb heat dissipation. It also keeps the weight down, making this monitor portable and easy to integrate into an installation-based setup.
Ultra solid construction and premium components.
The front panel is seamlessly integrated with the cabinet and offers a tough exterior that won’t suffer damage easily. Further protection is in place with a rugged grille to protect the woofer.
Internal components are also excellent, with high-quality drivers and a capable bi-amped configuration. The rear switches and knob are fantastic, and the connection points are secure. With built-in low and high limiters, you can also be comfortable that the unit has enough protection in place to ensure a long lifespan.
A dependable monitor is essential for dedicated professionals, and the KH 120 fits the bill.
The Neumann KH 120 also sports an impressive list of specifications highlighting that this is more than just your average 5-inch monitor.
The bi-amped configuration packs plenty of power with 160 watts at peak and 100 watts continuous output. This is equally split between the two drivers with 80 watts and 50 watts continuously, respectively.
The KH 120 offers a broad frequency range.
The 5.25-inch low-frequency driver is magnetically shielded, and the titanium fabric dome tweeter delivers those smooth and inviting highs I mentioned earlier.
The power utilization is efficient and delivers a peak SPL of 111.1 dB. Ample headroom without distortion, and you can comfortably mix in the 80-90dB range without issues.
The frequency range is also fantastic for a monitor this size. The response is excellent down to 52Hz, with the top end capping out at 21kHz: no noise, no chuffing, just pure and clean sound delivery across the range.
When it comes to tuning options, the KH 120 takes a big leap forward compared to its smaller sibling. With this monitor, you’ll have a full range of controls to help sculpt the sound and adapt to your studio space.
At the top of the rear panel, you’ll have access to three switches that handle Bass, Low-Mid, and Treble.
The three switches give you plenty of control.
The Bass switch offers 0 dB, -2.5 dB, -5 dB, and -7.5 dB settings for complete control over bass output. A broad range that can tackle even the most difficult of acoustic spaces.
For maximum flexibility, the Low-Mid switch provides further control with 0 dB, -1.5 dB, -3 dB, and -4.5 dB. Rounding out the options is the Treble switch with +1 dB, 0 dB, -1 dB, and -2 dB options. Once again enough flexibility to adjust output as you see fit.
Across the three switches, you have ample control at your fingertips. An Output Level switch and an Input Gain knob are also available for volume control.
As mentioned, it’s a sizable increase in flexibility over the smaller KH 80 and something I’m pleased to see. Other monitors might provide a few extra bells and whistles, but the choices here are more than most people will require.
The Neumann KH 120 offers a refined and professional appearance in line with its intended application. The slightly speckled cabinet does give it some individual flair but in no way is it gaudy or tacky.
The emphasis on curvature is intended as part of the technical design but also lends itself to the monitor’s overall appearance. It’s not the most attractive studio monitor but equally not as bland as other choices.
The use of curves is both attractive and functional.
From a technical perspective, there are a few exciting elements. The woofer protrudes beyond the cabinet with a set of forward-facing bass ports. Both help in transient response and allow the monitor to sit closer to walls.
The elliptical Mathematically Modelled Dispersion waveguide surrounds the tweeter and provides excellent horizontal dispersion. It also minimizes vertical dispersion, which helps reduce surface reflections.
The Neumann logo doubles as an indicator if the limiter is engaged. It’s also dimmable, which is an excellent option to have up your sleeve if you work in darker environments and don’t want the illumination to distract you.
The KH 120 also features several mounting points for easy installation. The downward-facing XLR point is also handy for installation in tight spaces.
The Neumann KH 120 is a relatively compact studio monitor that can comfortably squeeze into tighter spaces thanks to the forward-facing ports. An excellent choice for professional studios that don’t want overbearing monitors.
The KH 120 is a compact and lightweight studio monitor.
This studio monitor is also relatively lightweight compared to some other options. At 14.3 lbs. (6.49 kg), it is easy to move around, making it a viable option for transportation. You should also have no trouble finding stands that will accommodate this weight.
This is one of the only areas where the Neumann KH 120 falls short. The connection options are as bare-bones as possible, and you’ll only have access to a solitary XLR port. While I like working with XLR cables, I would have preferred to see a combo jack here to at least give the option for a TRS connection.
The KH 120 only offers one input option.
Beyond this solitary connection, there are no other options available. There is no RCA point and, as mentioned, no TRS. As with many professional monitors, don’t expect to see any other consumer-friendly connections. There is no Bluetooth, headphone port, or AUX option.
The solitary connection is adequate for a monitor aimed at the professional market, but for the home studio enthusiast, it is a little too sparse.
This is another area where the Neumann KH 120 could prove divisive. On the one hand, this is a professional-grade studio monitor with impeccable sound. It can compete with more expensive options and, in that context, provides excellent value.
But if you are a beginner or just an enthusiast, the price point is relatively high. There are good quality options that come in at a far lower price while still offering impressive sound. So for the right person, this monitor is a bargain, but for others, it is excessive and potentially overkill.
The Neumann KH 120 is a beloved studio monitor with endless positive reviews. The impeccable sound quality and accuracy have cemented its position as one of the best monitors on the market. If you are looking for a professional studio monitor, the KH 120 is a time-tested and reliable choice backed by positive reviews from customers and industry professionals.
A History Of Excellence
Neumann is one of the worlds leading audio gear manufacturers. Originating from the 1920s, they have developed and nurtured an impressive reputation. Much of their history and accolades are due to their industry-shaping line of microphones, including picking up a Technical Grammy for their contribution to the music industry.
Neumann has an excellent reputation for developing quality audio gear.
But as with many companies, times change, and things evolve. Another legendary audio maker, Sennheiser, acquired the company in 1991; in my eyes, it is a match made in heaven. Two technical powerhouses sharing and collaborating. As a result, Neumann has expanded to studio monitors with DNA running through them from another classic Sennheiser-owned brand Klein + Hummel.
They have also recently expanded into studio headphones, and the results have been superb. It’s a testament to the technical know-how and desires to innovate and develop industry-leading products. While I’m not a brand loyalist, I know I’ll be in good hands when picking up a Neumann product.
While the Neumann KH 120 is a superb studio monitor, some alternatives are available if the price is too high for your liking. Below we take a glance at some of those options.
ADAM Audio A4V Review
The A4V from ADAM Audio is another front-ported monitor with outstanding performance. It also has a smaller woofer, which might make it a better choice for your studio space.
- Excellent sound quality with high accuracy and detail.
- The rotatable X-ART tweeter delivers superb high-frequency response.
- Some people don’t like the sound of ribbon tweeters as they lean on the bright side.
ADAM Audio A4V
Tannoy GOLD 8 Review
The large GOLD 8 from Tannoy is worth considering if you want some extra grunt. Its unique appearance and powerful performance make it an affordable alternative to the KH 120.
- Powerful bass performance that isn’t colored or muddy.
- Slick and unique retro styling that adds flair to your studio space.
- Not as accurate and refined as the KH 120.
Tannoy GOLD 8
Focal Alpha 65 Evo Review
The Focal Alpha 65 Evo is another impressive monitor with an approachable price. Its sleek and attractive appearance makes it an ideal choice for a modern studio setting.
- Superb sound profile that is both accurate and engaging.
- Multiple connection options add flexibility.
- The optional standby mode is frustrating and best left off.
Focal Alpha 65 Evo
Should You Buy?
I have no hesitation in recommending the Neumann KH 120. This is an outstanding studio monitor with impeccable sound. Whether mixing and mastering, editing or producing, you can rely on it as a daily workhorse.
For a monitor in this class, it also has a very reasonable price when compared to other studio-grade monitors on the market. With rock-solid construction and flexible tuning controls, you have a winner on your hands. If you want detailed and accurate sound, the KH 120 is worth picking up.
Neumann KH 120