"Aggressive". Fair Criticism of Some Horn Speakers and Designs? If So, What Causes it?

ArnoFenn

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Phase shifting with a filter is possible indeed. Even easier in active systems with the filtering on pre-amp level or even DSP
 

Audiophile Bill

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Phase shifting with a filter is possible indeed. Even easier in active systems with the filtering on pre-amp level or even DSP

Indeed so. DSP is clearly much the easiest solution for this time alignment issue especially with the length of that back loaded horn. I did read of some analogue based filters capable of inducing quite long delays but didn’t find any capable of delaying sufficient for 3m disparity.
 

Don Reid

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Nov 14, 2020
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Indeed so. DSP is clearly much the easiest solution for this time alignment issue especially with the length of that back loaded horn. I did read of some analogue based filters capable of inducing quite long delays but didn’t find any capable of delaying sufficient for 3m disparity.
I am a big fan of DSP for horn speakers. My fully horn loaded tri-amplified DIY speakers uses a DEQX DSP without which the system as I built it would not be possible. I wanted to use a good bass folded corner horn with the wide range and super tweeter horns well out into the room. Counting the path inside the bass horns plus the physical separation between bass horns and the wide range horn the woofer and the wide range driver were about 16 and 1/2 feet apart. The DEQX DSP allowed me to correct this so that the acoustic centers of the drivers sound as though they are about 3mm (less than 1/8") apart. This is in addition to crossovers, speaker correction, room correction, etc. I use 16th order crossover slopes which allow me to run the bass corner horns up to 200 Hz which would not otherwise be possible. Since the speakers are DIY no one else on this forum other than me knows how the sound, but I do receive very gratifying compliments from local audiophiles and frequent requests for listening sessions.

If anyone wants to know more about my DIY horns additional information and a photograph may be found at: https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/full-range/65061-range-speaker-photo-gallery-408.html
 

Audiophile Bill

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I am a big fan of DSP for horn speakers. My fully horn loaded tri-amplified DIY speakers uses a DEQX DSP without which the system as I built it would not be possible. I wanted to use a good bass folded corner horn with the wide range and super tweeter horns well out into the room. Counting the path inside the bass horns plus the physical separation between bass horns and the wide range horn the woofer and the wide range driver were about 16 and 1/2 feet apart. The DEQX DSP allowed me to correct this so that the acoustic centers of the drivers sound as though they are about 3mm (less than 1/8") apart. This is in addition to crossovers, speaker correction, room correction, etc. I use 16th order crossover slopes which allow me to run the bass corner horns up to 200 Hz which would not otherwise be possible. Since the speakers are DIY no one else on this forum other than me knows how the sound, but I do receive very gratifying compliments from local audiophiles and frequent requests for listening sessions.

If anyone wants to know more about my DIY horns additional information and a photograph may be found at: https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/full-range/65061-range-speaker-photo-gallery-408.html

Hi Don,

Indeed so - I don’t disagree with anything you have written - makes perfect sense. Time alignment for certain horn topologies is near practically impossible without it tbh (well possible but huge nightmare). The advantage of FIR and IIR as a crossover, coupled with room correction and driver linearisation makes it a potent solution. In fact I have ordered a very powerful all in one solution for testing purposes (too many functions to list). I am not so keen on having my PC convolve it etc just cos I don’t want one in the listening room (I know others are fine with this route).

That being said, as an analogue only guy right now, something just agitates me about the ADA notion. I haven’t heard a solution that has retained all the magic of the analogue crossover but am very much open ears literally. If I was digital only, I would not hesitate - probably would go the multichannel dac route or several stereo dacs of same make.

Looking forward to reviewing your page / system now.

Best.
 
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christoph

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I am a big fan of DSP for horn speakers. My fully horn loaded tri-amplified DIY speakers uses a DEQX DSP without which the system as I built it would not be possible. I wanted to use a good bass folded corner horn with the wide range and super tweeter horns well out into the room. Counting the path inside the bass horns plus the physical separation between bass horns and the wide range horn the woofer and the wide range driver were about 16 and 1/2 feet apart. The DEQX DSP allowed me to correct this so that the acoustic centers of the drivers sound as though they are about 3mm (less than 1/8") apart. This is in addition to crossovers, speaker correction, room correction, etc. I use 16th order crossover slopes which allow me to run the bass corner horns up to 200 Hz which would not otherwise be possible. Since the speakers are DIY no one else on this forum other than me knows how the sound, but I do receive very gratifying compliments from local audiophiles and frequent requests for listening sessions.

If anyone wants to know more about my DIY horns additional information and a photograph may be found at: https://www.diyaudio.com/forums/full-range/65061-range-speaker-photo-gallery-408.html
Unfortunately no pics without registering on the diy forum :(
 

Robh3606

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Aug 25, 2010
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I am a big fan of DSP for horn speakers.
Hello Don

I went the other way. I use one filter at 25hz to extend the low end the box is tuned to 26Hz so it mimics the BX-63 used in the B380 and B460 subs and the M2 box tuning. The speakers are passive otherwise. I can use Dirac Live for room integration but have not tried it yet. I like them as they are. They sound very smooth with no harshness or are aggressive sounding unless it's on the recording. Fun to listen too very lively!

Just got these back together after veneer.

Rob :)
 

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Robh3606

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What are they? Looks like the drivers from the M2, but in a different enclosure. Are the ports on the back?
Hello Duke

They are my DIY's. You right single 4" port on the back and partial M2 components. Using 2216Nd and 476Mg large format compression driver. Cabinets are straight up 3/4 MDF with 2" 1/4 rounds for the front radius 2x4 braces. The inside of the box is coated with MasCoat to stiffen things up, seal and damp the panels. Weigh a ton! Crossovers are passive Charge Coupled using a battery, not diodes like the newer topology, for the 476/waveguide.

Rob :)
 

morricab

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Hello Don

I went the other way. I use one filter at 25hz to extend the low end the box is tuned to 26Hz so it mimics the BX-63 used in the B380 and B460 subs and the M2 box tuning. The speakers are passive otherwise. I can use Dirac Live for room integration but have not tried it yet. I like them as they are. They sound very smooth with no harshness or are aggressive sounding unless it's on the recording. Fun to listen too very lively!

Just got these back together after veneer.

Rob :)
Beautiful...look like JBLs just nicer!
 

Audiophile Bill

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Hello Don

I went the other way. I use one filter at 25hz to extend the low end the box is tuned to 26Hz so it mimics the BX-63 used in the B380 and B460 subs and the M2 box tuning. The speakers are passive otherwise. I can use Dirac Live for room integration but have not tried it yet. I like them as they are. They sound very smooth with no harshness or are aggressive sounding unless it's on the recording. Fun to listen too very lively!

Just got these back together after veneer.

Rob :)

They look tremendous!
 
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Mark Seaton

WBF Technical Expert (Speaker & Acoustics)
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Is it a fair criticism? For which models and brands?

And if so, is it the speaker design or the amps interacting with the speaker? Or something else?
This will depend greatly on what form or horn you are looking at, priorities and choices of the designer, and the efforts taken to smooth the on axis response.

One quality I would suggest separating is a more forward soundstage presentation, vs a more aggressive sound/tone in general. Very often the narrower dispersion of many horns results in the subjective soundstage in-room sounding more equal and in front of the speaker vs extending well behind the speaker with a narrow face, wide dispersion speaker with small diameter mid and high frequency drivers.

Beyond likely the sound staging differences do think there are some important points of understanding:

1. When you mount many quality dome tweeters on the smooth face of a speaker, they tend to start with a rather smooth and simple frequency response.
2. In the case of a compression driver on a horn, only specific types of horns are even expected to have a flat frequency response. Those that target more constant directivity vs frequency (what angle off axis the response starts dropping) will almost always have a sloped on-axis response, and often a bump or two on the lower end of the range.
3. Those horns which have a flatter response on axis from the start will have a narrowing pattern of the sound in at least 1 or both dimensions. Depending on the sizes this can make for some hot spotting or abrupt widening of the horn, and the final voicing/balance to work best in most rooms requires as much art as science, while making the speaker subject to bigger variations between different rooms.
4. Passive crossover design with horns makes for a more complex interactions due to both the need to smooth the on-axis response and to work with the additional bumps in the impedance curve due to the loading of the horn. Modern software tools and measurement equipment make this work dramatically easier and higher confidence before parts are assembled.


In many cases a designer's preferences or priorities create self imposed limitations, often with some benefits and some pitfalls. IMO, holding too strictly to simplicity of circuitry for a passive crossover horn design and or physically small horns can lead to choices which lead to less than ideal frequency response. Most often the aggressive impression you describe comes from some combo of the narrow dispersion and the frequency response. As others have mentioned, the interaction of the speaker's load with a higher output impedance tube amplifier vs a solid state amplifier can also result in such frequency response changes. As usual, execution and design priorities are everything.
 

Don Reid

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Nov 14, 2020
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Hey Audiophile Bill, If I remember correctly (I sometimes do) you stated that you use an AER BD4 driver in your wooden horns. Since I use AER BD3s I was curious to see if AER was making a better driver than my BD3s. When I checked AER's website I didn't find a BD4. Please tell me about your BD4s.
 
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ddk

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Tim Link

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I'm not sure if we've nailed the definition of "aggressive sound" but I think of the Klipschorns the first time I heard them. I I ended up buying those and bypassing the crossovers, using a modded Behringer to do time alignment and equalization. They lost a lot of their aggressiveness, taking on what my friend called a more "sunny" sound. I was hoping for a lot more though so ended up putting the speakers back to stock configuration. Now my mother happily uses them. I heard some Acapella speakers at the 2019 California Audio Show and I would think it fair to call those aggressive. The word seems to fit. The music seemed to come crashing out of those speakers with surreal dynamics. It was fascinating and I liked them, but I'd call it aggressive because it seemed beyond reality. I conjecture it was because they were turned up loud and we were listening to close mic'd. stuff with perhaps some studio mixing effects that the speakers produced with effortless force. Human voices and guitars don't naturally sound so intense in that particular way.
 

sbo6

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I think Duke said it best (so I won't repeat his wisdom here). I will however add that, to my ears the horn's internal shape and space yield reflections that result in frequency cancellations and peaks further resulting in "harshness" and sometimes the cupped hands effect. That, often coupled with sub - par drivers commonly covering a frequency range that at its extremes induces distortion / ringing again resulting in "harshness".

Add to that the challenges developing / implementing the right horn size, shape, depth, material often matched with different driver types makes the % of high sonic quality horn speakers a rarity IME.

Here's an interesting data point for the What's Best Forum members, many with very expensive systems (let's say >$100K MSRP). Of this small % of audiophiles how many chose to buy horn speakers for their system? I'd wager ~15%.
 

caesar

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Gentlemen,
I am grateful for your shared wisdom. Please keep it coming
 

caesar

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May 31, 2010
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Here's an interesting data point for the What's Best Forum members, many with very expensive systems (let's say >$100K MSRP). Of this small % of audiophiles how many chose to buy horn speakers for their system? I'd wager ~15%.

It's probably a lot less than 15%. Avantgarde is the most well-known horn brand in the world, at least in the high end. But the US doesn't even have its own distributor. It's distributed by the big lady in Canada, the one with the charming personality. I think the same holds true for the well-regarded Polish horns. And maybe just a couple of Cessaro dealers in the USA...

And panels used to be really popular 30 years ago. For classical, the Soundlab and Magnepan 30.7 are much more realistic than similarly priced boxes, and are "only" in the $30K range, while the box speakers they would be competing with would be $75K+. But these companies are starving.

Just like going from togas to blue jeans, the tastes have definitely shifted toward box speakers in an overwhelming way... Wilson probably sells more in a week than those guys, combined, sell in a year.
 

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