Neumann : fundamental engineering principles within monitor loudspeaker design

April 30, 2012


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Andrew Goldberg, Neumann Product Manager - Studio Monitor Systems

Born in 1968 in Portsmouth, UK, Andrew Goldberg has had a varied and international career, in which a hobby has turned into a profession.  He has moved from cutting-edge defence avionics, through the stark realities of a fast-paced commercial product manufacturing, to leading the field in audio reproduction.  A Bachelor’s degree in Audio Technology from Salford University in the UK was followed by a Master’s degree in Acoustics and Audio Signal Processing from Helsinki University of Technology.  Almost ten years with Genelec led to a move to Klein and Hummel in Germany in 2006 to become the Product Manager for their Studio Systems.  In 2010, as part of a corporate reorganisation, he was transferred to Neumann to continue in the role of Product Manager – Studio Monitor Systems.  As well as defining the studio monitoring product range, Andrew conducts research in low frequency reproduction.  He has also been measuring listening rooms of all types and lecturing to industry professionals for about 15 years.

Many of our readers will be familiar with the common audio performance parameters such as frequency response, distortion and colouration but there’s quite a bit of confusion about what are the really important performance issues with regard to monitor loudspeaker performance. What do you consider these to be, and how have they influenced your design philosophy?

“Neumann is making measurement tools.  The electrical input signal is measured and converted to an acoustical output at the listening position.  Oscilloscopes do a similar thing: converting an electrical input to a visual output on a screen. From there, the user of the equipment can make appropriate decisions.

“The only way to make the best tool for these tasks is to correctly use fundamental engineering principles in all parts of the design.  This is what drives the working methods of our development team.

“What does this mean to the customer?  In the designs, Neumann tries to achieve the best in these parameters: on-axis response (as flat as possible), off-axis response (as smooth as possible), group delay (as low as possible), noise (as low as possible), distortion (as low as possible).  Additionally there are practical factors that should be considered such as interfacing (analogue, digital, etc), control (remote controls for volume and other functions), and installation (mounting hardware).”

Do you favour designing professional monitoring speakers for a listening environment which is fairly dead or for a more ‘natural’ listening environment (assuming for this point that the listening room has been treated to diffuse standing wave responses). Please explain the reasoning behind your preference.

O 410 Active Studio Monitor

“Neumann designs monitors with waveguides so that a smooth off-axis response is achieved. This means that the interface with the room environment is well-controlled, and so the quality of the room acoustics is less important than for loudspeakers without a waveguide.  Having said that, poor room acoustics will make any loudspeaker sound bad, so the better the room the better the sound at the listening position.  Typically stereo rooms have a dead end and a live end because the sound should mostly travel from one end of the room to the other, and not back again.  With the move towards surround systems such as 5.1 and 7.1, the concentration of acoustical damping at one end of room is no long appropriate so one sees a much more even distribution of the acoustical treatment.  Neumann’s designs must cope with all types of acoustics so this why front panels with waveguides and back panels with acoustical controls are designed into the products.”

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