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ncdrawl
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Why Horns?

horn loudspeakers for hifi use... greek to me.

What are pros/cons?

why the popularity? Im guessing that they can put out some serious volume/efficiency?

sound comparisons vs standard/ direct radiator types?

chambers1517
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Re: Why Horns?

My Klipschorns and Lascalas are very dynamic. They sound more like live music than anything else I have heard. I have heard them side by side with other speakers, after you listen to them for a while other speakers I have compared them to sound like they have a rug draped across the front.

commsysman
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Re: Why Horns?

The traditional Klipsch corner horn has an efficiency of over 100 db/W/meter. That IS serious efficiency!! When I was in high school, in the 1960s, a friend of mine built one from a Klipsch kit, and also built a 40-watt tube amp. When he took this setup to a dance at the high school gym, there were about 500 people in there and he had the volume so loud that it was driving people out; and it wasn't turned up halfway...lol. It was definitely causing pain.

If you want to go with low-powered amplification, that could be the way to go Assuming you have suitable room corners to park it/them in.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?

Horns; Pros - high efficiency, higher sensitivity from a specific driver, gobs of dynamic range, all horn loaded drivers tend to sound like horn loaded drivers which some people consider to be "coherency", controlled directivity of the system, built in roll off determined by the horn length and shape so you need a rather simple crossover in most horn loaded systems, and for most bass enclosures extended bass response.

Cons, they are expensive to build and complex to construct, "size" is everything and that along with the complexity and expense of construction makes them very expensive to ship which makes them less competitive dollar for dollar if you only consider the speakers and not the amp required to drive the speakers. Horns also have a difficult time not sounding like horns for many of the exact reasons I gave in their "Pros".

"Direct radiator" is a pretty loose term that has too many implications to cover in a few sentences. Consider that most direct radiators are cheaper to build than a horn laoded system. Horns will almost always have a smaller sweet spot than a dome driver.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
The traditional Klipsch corner horn has an efficiency of over 100 db/W/meter. That IS serious efficiency!!

The actual Klipsch spec is 104dB @ 1 meter w/ 1 watt. It's the same for the top four speakes in the original Klispch line.

You are, however, confusing "efficiency" with "sensitivity" in your statement. The Klipschorn is approximately 12% efficient. The average non-horn loaded speaker system is about 1-2% efficient. The average speaker looses about 98% of its input energy to heat dissipation or mechanical losses when transducing electrical energy into acoustic energy.

commsysman
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Re: Why Horns?

You are absolutely right; wrong word; I meant sensitivity.

Of course the horn itself is the bass unit, which used an 18-inch driver on my friends old unit, and over the years the sensitivity of the system as a whole has varied slightly depending on which midrange horn and tweeter were used at that time.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?


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Of course the horn itself is the bass unit ...

I don't know what you mean with this. The K'horn, the LaScala and the Belle Klipsch were all fully horn loaded systems.

Buddha
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Re: Why Horns?

I use a couple of horn based speakers.

Likes:

Good 'speed.' Sometimes almost planar.

Great dynamics, and to go with that (and to kind of go with 'speed' and to kind of invent my own description) horns seem to be able to really couple with the room and create a sensation of dynamics that 'feels' different than regular loudness. I aoplogize for that wording. They just seem to get the music to the ear very effectively. They seem to very quickly 'load' the room, in a good way.

At the right frequencies, exquisite detail. Amazing. Maybe abherent, but I like it.

Have been easy to drive.

Surprisingly great three dimensional imaging, but very choosey about getting the position just right. If not for the last drop of imaging, seem easygoing with regard to placement in other ways.

Unless it's a giant horn, the bass can be anemic, but what is there is usually quite fast and articulate.

Good low level detail.

Cons:

There can be a frequency for a given horn where the emphasis can be just too much. I think that's where some of the expected 'horn sound' comes from. This seems to depend a great deal on the amplifier, but when it happens, there seems to be a simultaneous emphasis and hashing of the sound, both.

For multi-way horns, they can require some good distance to fully integrate. (I like far field listening, so this is not a real concern for me, but in a small room sitting close, it can be an issue.)

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?

It's not so much of a problem with today's better high end electronics and digital sources but certainly with vintage gear, LP's or with most tubes in front of a horn loaded speaker system the high electrical sensitivity of a horn loaded mid/tweeter can result in substantial amounts of system noise being heard at moderate listening levels. Depending on the overall sensitivity of the speaker system and the gain of the pre amp/amplifier the electronic noise can overwhelm low level passages at normal domestic listening levels. What is usually seen as the most vital
"pro" for horn loading, the higher sensitivity, can quickly become an unbearable "con" if your musical selections and personal priorities depend on nuanced performance styles.

commsysman
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Re: Why Horns?

I mean, of course, that they are are called "horn-type" speakers because the bass section is a folded-horn enclosure; that is true of all of the ones you mention.

The midrange unit is sometimes a sectoral-horn, or sometimes not, and the tweeters used have been many types over the years.

The midrange unit on that 1960 K cracked us up, because that huge plastic horn looked like the speakers on the roof of our football stadium...lol.

cyclebrain
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Re: Why Horns?

The size of a true horn speaker for the low end has a huge opening and a huge length. All commertially available speakers are not manufactured to the correct dimentions for good low end. If it was, then the time alignment between the drivers would put the mid and high drivers way way way back relative to the low freq horn opening.

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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
The size of a true horn speaker for the low end has a huge opening and a huge length. All commertially available speakers are not manufactured to the correct dimentions for good low end. If it was, then the time alignment between the drivers would put the mid and high drivers way way way back relative to the low freq horn opening.


Well then, why not build the bass horn into your basement with the Klipsh's or whatever sitting inside them where they curve upwards into your listening room? A delay might have to be built into the mid-treble feed and some form of absorption on the walls of the bass horns but if you're dedicated to getting your head blown off by 3 watts or so what's the cost of all that concrete matter.
Me, I'll stick with my ecologically unsound electrostatics and Velodyne DD15's.

ncdrawl
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:

Quote:
The size of a true horn speaker for the low end has a huge opening and a huge length. All commertially available speakers are not manufactured to the correct dimentions for good low end. If it was, then the time alignment between the drivers would put the mid and high drivers way way way back relative to the low freq horn opening.


Well then, why not build the bass horn into your basement with the Klipsh's or whatever sitting inside them where they curve upwards into your listening room? A delay might have to be built into the mid-treble feed and some form of absorption on the walls of the bass horns but if you're dedicated to getting your head blown off by 3 watts or so what's the cost of all that concrete matter.
Me, I'll stick with my ecologically unsound electrostatics and Velodyne DD15's.


Have you ever used horns, JS? What did you think?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
The size of a true horn speaker for the low end has a huge opening and a huge length. All commertially available speakers are not manufactured to the correct dimentions for good low end. If it was, then the time alignment between the drivers would put the mid and high drivers way way way back relative to the low freq horn opening.

I'm not at all clear about your second sentence, cybclebrain. "Good low end" is not the most descriptive phrase I've seen you post. If you are referring to a front loaded bass horn, then you could obviously have problems with the position of the upper range drivers compared to the incredibly long bass horn required to both extend the frequency response of the driver and increase the efficiency of the driver. That would depend on how the desiger placed the upper frequency horns I suppose. Positioning the high frequency horns to terminate at the front of the bass horn would largely negate any time differences between frequency sections.

However, I've not seen a commercial design that employs a large front loaded bass horn. Certainly none that would be considered a successful design when both goals of frequency extension and efficiency increase are chosen. Short front loaded horns such as the Altec VOTT were, as I understand the design, meant to control directivity of the low frequency driver rather than strictly increase efficiency. You could argue that controlling directivity increases system efficiency but that then becomes a very different discussion. However, in the VOTT an expotential horn shape has made the overall length of the horn much shorter than would be the case with a straight horn for the same, if not improved, benefits.

Back loaded and/or folded horns such as the Klipsch designs are best chosen when the designer is attempting to both lower system output in the bass frequency range and raise system output by raising system sensitivity without creating an enormous enclosure. This still results in a very large enclosure since effective bass loaded horns are just going to have to be big no matter what you do with them.

JSBach
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
Have you ever used horns, JS? What did you think?

You're really giving me an opener for some obscene comments but I'll resist temptation this time.
Yes. I have used them . I had a few months with a pair of Klipsh corner horns when house sitting. I enjoyed the way they responded to dynamic shifts with speed, especially on lower piano notes, but there was always a peculiar coloration in the mid range I didn't like and I thought the treble was savage on some music. The amplification was a Quad 22 pre-amp with two Leak power amps of about 12 watts each. My first ever speakers were Tannoy corner horns with 'Gold' 15 drivers. I enjoyed these with Quad 22/202 amplification but they were still colored in the upper treble which I'm told was due to the treble driver itself, not the (partial) horn loading. I've listened to a pair of those large three way horn loaded designs in bright red so popular with architects - can't remember the names -sorry- and was unimpressed. One horn speaker I did enjoy, and again I've forgotten the brand name - had the horn made out of transparent acrylic with a chrome tubular metal frame holding them up with a single 'full range' driver and a separate normal dynamic sub-woofer to fill in the bottom end. Very, impressive and something I could probably live with over the long period. Most enjoyable of all though was a recent listen to a pair of the new Tannoy 'Westminster's" driven by Border Patrol single ended amps. I know these aren't a 'purist' horn design so maybe that's why they are so successful? This was the first time I've heard 300b's sound anything like real music so I suspect there's a synergy between the "Westminsters" and the Border Patrol amps. But hey, I don't think any of them come near what my electrostatics can do on a day when the humidity isn't high and we don't get many of them where I am.
Ah, and I've just remembered a pair of Yamaha three ways that were partially horn loaded on the treble and mid drivers that did solo piano full justice. However, as soon as you hit them with a full orchestra they became very confused but I don't think we can count these as real horns, can we?

cyclebrain
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:

Quote:
The size of a true horn speaker for the low end has a huge opening and a huge length. All commertially available speakers are not manufactured to the correct dimentions for good low end. If it was, then the time alignment between the drivers would put the mid and high drivers way way way back relative to the low freq horn opening.

I'm not at all clear about your second sentence, cybclebrain. "Good low end" is not the most descriptive phrase I've seen you post. If you are referring to a front loaded bass horn, then you could obviously have problems with the position of the upper range drivers compared to the incredibly long bass horn required to both extend the frequency response of the driver and increase the efficiency of the driver. That would depend on how the desiger placed the upper frequency horns I suppose. Positioning the high frequency horns to terminate at the front of the bass horn would largely negate any time differences between frequency sections.

However, I've not seen a commercial design that employs a large front loaded bass horn. Certainly none that would be considered a successful design when both goals of frequency extension and efficiency increase are chosen. Short front loaded horns such as the Altec VOTT were, as I understand the design, meant to control directivity of the low frequency driver rather than strictly increase efficiency. You could argue that controlling directivity increases system efficiency but that then becomes a very different discussion. However, in the VOTT an expotential horn shape has made the overall length of the horn much shorter than would be the case with a straight horn for the same, if not improved, benefits.

Back loaded and/or folded horns such as the Klipsch designs are best chosen when the designer is attempting to both lower system output in the bass frequency range and raise system output by raising system sensitivity without creating an enormous enclosure. This still results in a very large enclosure since effective bass loaded horns are just going to have to be big no matter what you do with them.

My post was meant to be general and not get into the details. "Good low end" refered to the cutoff frequency of the horn. Good low end to one might not be so good to another. No matter what the cutoff freq, a true exponential horn will still be huge both in length and opening.
Though I'm a great fan of Paul and his speakers, they don't do a very good job of either rate of area expansion or cutoff frequency. Yes I know that it's always something.

ncdrawl
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
One horn speaker I did enjoy, and again I've forgotten the brand name - had the horn made out of transparent acrylic with a chrome tubular metal frame holding them up with a single 'full range' driver and a separate normal dynamic sub-woofer to fill in the bottom end. Very, impressive and something I could probably live with over the long period.


these?
http://www.fergusonhill.co.uk/product_details.php?id=3

cyclebrain
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Re: Why Horns?

Oh yea, the time alignment issue requires that the drivers are in alignment,not the fronts of the horns. Of course there are many other details that get in the way of this simplistic analysis.

JSBach
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
these?
http://www.fergusonhill.co.uk/product_details.php?id=3


Yes, those.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
Oh yea, the time alignment issue requires that the drivers are in alignment,not the fronts of the horns. Of course there are many other details that get in the way of this simplistic analysis.

I'm not an expert in horn theory but as I understand the operation of horns the concept of time alignment is confounded by frequency along with length and shape of the horn. This typically, if I am correct, places the "relative" spacing for correct time alignment somewhere within the throat of the horn, neither exactly at the entrance to the horn (the driver location) or at the front plane of the mouth of the horn.

commsysman
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Re: Why Horns?

Some of the comments here make me think that a basic principle of the Klipsch classic corner horn is not understood by most of the people commenting; the unit is placed in the corner so that the walls on either side become part of the horn, and the horn effectively extends as far as the length of those walls.

Proper operation requires that the unit be placed as tightly in the room corner as possible, for it to operate as designed, AND both adjacent walls should as be free of all objects as possible (no furniture, drapes, cabinets, etc.).

The extremely high efficiency of these "horn" designs is because the interface between them and free space is less of an impedance "mismatch" than with most speaker designs; especially in the case of the corner horn. In other words, the low frequency waves are transferred from the electrical transducer or "driver" to free space much more efficiently than in most designs because the horn allows the wave to make a much more efficient transition from the driver to the free air space of the room.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?

I assume what you're trying to say is the commonly understood concept of horn loading as using the throat of the horn as an acoustic transformer.

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Re: Why Horns?

Geddes is a PHD who's done a lot of reasearch concerning using CD horns in small rooms. Much of the theory behind his speaker is discussed here:
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...RQ7b08zR8vUuaWQ

It should also offer some insight regarding treating a room to reduce early reflections.

He also suggests the use of multiple subs:
http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=134568

ncdrawl
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Re: Why Horns?

my Jazz Modules Owe heavily to the work of E.G. The designer of my speakers, Duke Lejeune, is a Geddes acolyte. (the Modules are amazing, btw, based loosely on the Geddes "Abby" kit.


Quote:
Geddes is a PHD who's done a lot of reasearch concerning using CD horns in small rooms. Much of the theory behind his speaker is discussed here:
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...RQ7b08zR8vUuaWQ

It should also offer some insight regarding treating a room to reduce early reflections.

He also suggests the use of multiple subs:
http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=134568

Welshsox
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Re: Why Horns?

OK

Hands uo who knows what an acoustic transformer is ?

Alan

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?

There is no emoticon available for a hand sticking up in the air.

Xenophanes
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:

Quote:
The traditional Klipsch corner horn has an efficiency of over 100 db/W/meter. That IS serious efficiency!!

The actual Klipsch spec is 104dB @ 1 meter w/ 1 watt. It's the same for the top four speakes in the original Klispch line.

You are, however, confusing "efficiency" with "sensitivity" in your statement. The Klipschorn is approximately 12% efficient. The average non-horn loaded speaker system is about 1-2% efficient. The average speaker looses about 98% of its input energy to heat dissipation or mechanical losses when transducing electrical energy into acoustic energy.

I believe Klipsch gives a reverberant field sensitivity spec, which will be higher than an anechoic figure and so is not directly comparable to anechoic specs. When Richard C. Heyser reviewed the Klipschorn quite a number of years ago, his 2.83 volt FR curve seemed to average between 99 and 100 dB, which would be an anechoic measurement, and so the anechoic sensitivity in the midrange would be about that. That's still plenty high.

j_j
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Re: Why Horns?

Horns in general are very efficient. For the same reasons they are efficient (i.e. they work into a higher admittance than a standard speaker) they are more prone to a variety of problems, including the fact that air itself is quite nonlinear at higher levels.

This is not to say they are bad, just that they are tricky to design and impliment.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
I believe Klipsch gives a reverberant field sensitivity spec, which will be higher than an anechoic figure and so is not directly comparable to anechoic specs. When Richard C. Heyser reviewed the Klipschorn quite a number of years ago, his 2.83 volt FR curve seemed to average between 99 and 100 dB, which would be an anechoic measurement, and so the anechoic sensitivity in the midrange would be about that. That's still plenty high.

If I were considering a pair of K'horns, Belle Klipsch or LaScala's, I would consider the efficiency of the system (particularly if I were intending to pair these with a low powered, transformer coupled tube amplifier) rather than the stated sensitivity. Or, as we used to do when demonstrating the Horns, we'd just play them against something like an IMF tower of equal cost and then point out the difference in cost of amplification.

The upper range horns are quite directional in both planes and therefore have a somewhat different measured result compared to what you would hear in a real world reverberant field. The bass horn could, I suspect, only be measured in the reverberant field since the K'horn's woofer is enclosed inside the folded horn. I don't remember Heyser's review of the Klipschorn but I suspect he must have made mention of all of these factors when taking his measurements. Heyser wasn't the sort to allow such details to go unmentioned.

The same sort of measurement issues could be made for any multi-directional speaker such as a dipole which will measure, I believe, +6dB higher in a reverberant field than when tested on axis only. Measurements taken expecting one type of design will not reflect the results the user might perceive with a vastly different type of design. If measurements do not tell the entire story here, the efficiency comparison of the various types of speaker systems would be valuable information. No?

As P.K. said, "What the world needs is a good five watt amplifier."

(Xeno, I hope this is not another thread you and jj intend to destroy just for your own jollies.)

Xenophanes
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Re: Why Horns?

Paranoid much!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
Paranoid much!

The exclamation point would indicate you are making a statement about yourself. Possibly, you could find a professional to assist you with this problem, Xeno. I should think it would be a horrible existence to be you.

Xenophanes
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Re: Why Horns?


Quote:
Geddes is a PHD who's done a lot of reasearch concerning using CD horns in small rooms. Much of the theory behind his speaker is discussed here:
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...RQ7b08zR8vUuaWQ

It should also offer some insight regarding treating a room to reduce early reflections.

He also suggests the use of multiple subs:
http://www.diyaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=134568

Unfortunately, I have never had a chance to hear Dr. Geddes' speakers, although I understand they are very good, and sound fine even driven by a cheap Pioneer receiver (they are quite sensitive).

http://www.gedlee.com/

He's certainly a very interesting guy.

  • X