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

ddk

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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.
The science of horn speakers was already mature and I would even say perfected by 1960, I don’t understand why there aren’t any really good horn speakers made today.
david
 

ArnoFenn

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The science of horn speakers was already mature and I would even say perfected by 1960, I don’t understand why there aren’t any really good horn speakers made today.
david
Designing and prototyping especially is not an easy task in comparison to proto-type a "box" loudspeaker. This makes iterations rather complex if it requires to re-make horns per design version. Calculations/simulations do help with a "first time right". Once the shapes/dimensions are in the targeted direction it is a matter of making sure the drivers and F-range match the horns, when exceeding the optimum balanced combination/trade-offs, the nasty side effects will spoil the party (as, by the way it is also the case with "normal" loudspeaker designs, but we tend to forget that there are also a lot of poor normal designs). Furthermore, positioning, alignment and filtering in combination with the amplifiers driving the horns is significantly important. So, having said that, a Horn loudspeaker, well designed and built, will sound good and there will still be a difference in personal taste if it comes to extreme differences in type of loudspeaker, Eg. there a substantial difference in experience of listening to an ESL versus Horn concept of loudspeaker.
 
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morricab

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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.
Apogees were the S*%T back in the 80s and 90s...and rightly so...great sounding speakers that could have been even better if they would have been easier to drive so that superior electronics could be used.

Horns have in some ways developed radically since the early days but that doesn't necessarily make new ones good and old ones bad (for all of us who get to hear year on year the original WE speakers in Munich we can testify that there might have been almost no progress in any speakers for 80+ years except to make them smaller). Old Altecs and JBLs also have their strengths compared to modern horns (Give a JBL Hartsfield a listen sometime...still among the best IMO). I think what has improved is the control of resonances that do cause disturbance in some listeners who place a higher value on uniform frequency response over dynamics. The newer horns are less colored in this way (but only when matched properly to the driver) but don't necessarily sound more realistic.

The material of the horn definitely seems to matter as well and if I had to choose ultimately I would go with wood over other materials. Really old metal horns have a liveness to them but a coloration as well that I would likely find tiring over time. Plastic horns seem to impart a character that detracts from "liveness" in my experience to date. The best horn I have ever heard, the LV Vox Olympian, has a mix of wood and metal horns and seems to just sound real with the right recordings.
 

morricab

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The science of horn speakers was already mature and I would even say perfected by 1960, I don’t understand why there aren’t any really good horn speakers made today.
david
There have been a lot of developments in "waveguide" type horns (Oblate spheroid for example) and JMLC types as well as a blend of these thanks to advanced comptuer modelling.

There are good horn speakers made today...just really small manufacturers other than JBL.
 

ddk

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There have been a lot of developments in "waveguide" type horns (Oblate spheroid for example) and JMLC types as well as a blend of these thanks to advanced comptuer modelling.

There are good horn speakers made today...just really small manufacturers other than JBL.
Of course there are many that I haven’t heard as the numbers seem to be growing these days too but honestly I have yet to hear a current horn at any price to be impressed enough to buy, and I’m not talking about hearing them under show conditions.

Yes, the modeling software and to some extent machining capabilities have improved but as they say the proof is in the pudding and I’m not convinced if this theoretical advantage has translated into reality. Engineering audio products is only part science the other part is art, the latter IMO is mostly lost. I have years of direct experience with most of the best and some better vintage horns, exactly which of those small brands you think competes with them? Reason I ask is because I’ve been looking for a realistic commercial solution to scarce old horns and I haven’t found any.

david
 
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christoph

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The science of horn speakers was already mature and I would even say perfected by 1960, I don’t understand why there aren’t any really good horn speakers made today.
david
Because they are very hard to sell ;)
Wifes and Girlfirends often don't tolerate such "monstrosities" in the living room :rolleyes:
 

christoph

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.. correct, a major criterium ....
.. I have a certificate "WAF10/10", but I must stay in the living-horn-border ;)
Karel
And I have a wonderful wife.
See my avatar picture on the left :cool:
 

Audiophile Bill

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Because they are very hard to sell ;)
Wifes and Girlfirends often don't tolerate such "monstrosities" in the living room :rolleyes:

This is very true, Chris! I personally like the way OMA and Living Voice went - they didn’t try to shy away from the sheer scale needed to make a decent horn because there isn’t anyway to cheat physics here. Instead they, within their own unique design philosophy, try to make something visually interesting (intoxicating) that people with that level of wealth will enjoy to have on display as a focal point in the room. Like heirloom furniture. My wife thinks most modern horns look like “urinals.”
 

Robh3606

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The science of horn speakers was already mature and I would even say perfected by 1960, I don’t understand why there aren’t any really good horn speakers made today.
david

There have been new families of horns invented since the 60's. Some of them have distinct advantages such as much more uniform polar response. What do you consider good?? Ever heard a JBL M2 waveguide?? Or for that matter the last generation Bi-Radials?? You also have Oblate Spheroids. IMHO there is really good stuff out there.

Rob :)
 

ddk

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There have been new families of horns invented since the 60's. Some of them have distinct advantages such as much more uniform polar response. What do you consider good?? Ever heard a JBL M2 waveguide?? Or for that matter the last generation Bi-Radials?? You also have Oblate Spheroids. IMHO there is really good stuff out there.

Rob :)
I know about new horns Rob just haven't come across much which I liked. Like I said I have heard all that's out there but I have experience with the better known so called "exotic" ones. Pretty familiar with JBLs incorporating the 2342 horn if that's what you're talking about and briefly owned the M2, they're ok but not exactly what floats my boat either. Sticking with JBL my preference is for the usual pre Harman designs, post Harman I like the L300, 4344, 4345, 4350, the Everest 55000 and probably the last one is the M9500, but my real love is for earlier speakers from the 50's to early 60's and not necessarily horns either, but that's irrelevant to this conversation. I'm looking for recommendations of real world speakers designed and made properly on commercial basis, a finished product, brand and model not shop talk about horns; and nothing with DSP please.

david
 

Robh3606

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Sticking with JBL my preference is for the usual pre Harman designs, post Harman I like the L300, 4344, 4345, 4350, the Everest 55000 and probably the last one is the M9500

Hello david

OK I see we are opposites! I have a pair of DIY 4344's and have compared them to the Array 1400 also DIY with Be drivers and the M2 horn and the 2344/4430 horn. I prefer the newer designs as they are much more tolerant as far as listening position. The 2344 fit's in with newer horns and the PT waveguides.

If you don't mind what didn't you like about the M2? Was it the DSP or presentation, both?? Just curious.

Rob :)
 
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ddk

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Hello david

OK I see we are opposites! I have a pair of DIY 4344's and have compared them to the Array 1400 also DIY with Be drivers and the M2 horn and the 2344/4430 horn. I prefer the newer designs as they are much more tolerant as far as listening position. The 2344 fit's in with newer horns and the PT waveguides.

If you don't mind what didn't you like about the M2? Was it the DSP or presentation, both?? Just curious.

Rob :)
Hi Rob,
Yes, DSP is a problem but sonically I didn't like the bass of the M2, it sounds hifi to me. The other issue is that it's just not sensitive enough for SETs. From your description looks like you haven't found a commercial horn speaker you like either!

david
 

KeithR

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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...

I’d add that Avantgarde is really the only commercial horn that is buyable today with dynamic driver company service and dealer dynamics.
I’d add that Avantgarde is really the only commercial horn that is buyable today with dynamic driver company service and dealer dynamics.
 

morricab

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I know about new horns Rob just haven't come across much which I liked. Like I said I have heard all that's out there but I have experience with the better known so called "exotic" ones. Pretty familiar with JBLs incorporating the 2342 horn if that's what you're talking about and briefly owned the M2, they're ok but not exactly what floats my boat either. Sticking with JBL my preference is for the usual pre Harman designs, post Harman I like the L300, 4344, 4345, 4350, the Everest 55000 and probably the last one is the M9500, but my real love is for earlier speakers from the 50's to early 60's and not necessarily horns either, but that's irrelevant to this conversation. I'm looking for recommendations of real world speakers designed and made properly on commercial basis, a finished product, brand and model not shop talk about horns; and nothing with DSP please.

david
Have you heard the K2 S5800? Any good?
 

morricab

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I know about new horns Rob just haven't come across much which I liked. Like I said I have heard all that's out there but I have experience with the better known so called "exotic" ones. Pretty familiar with JBLs incorporating the 2342 horn if that's what you're talking about and briefly owned the M2, they're ok but not exactly what floats my boat either. Sticking with JBL my preference is for the usual pre Harman designs, post Harman I like the L300, 4344, 4345, 4350, the Everest 55000 and probably the last one is the M9500, but my real love is for earlier speakers from the 50's to early 60's and not necessarily horns either, but that's irrelevant to this conversation. I'm looking for recommendations of real world speakers designed and made properly on commercial basis, a finished product, brand and model not shop talk about horns; and nothing with DSP please.

david
Aries Cerat Symphonia,
Horns Universum MKIII
Odeon (new models coming)
Wolf Von Langa (Son and Chicago)

Just IMO of course...
 

ddk

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Have you heard the K2 S5800? Any good?
I only owned the S9800 and only heard the S5800 on couple occasions. A couple of things regarding this generation K2, despite the sensitivity figure they’re not SET friendly and need at least a 100watt SS amplifier to come to life. There’s a slight horn nasality and the tweeter stands out a bit too. Look at S5500, a better speaker IMO.
Aries Cerat Symphonia,
Horns Universum MKIII
Odeon (new models coming)
Wolf Von Langa (Son and Chicago)
Just IMO of course...
I’m familiar with the first 3 and they all have fatal flaws, one of the W von L models looked promising, thanks.

david
 

morricab

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I only owned the S9800 and only heard the S5800 on couple occasions. A couple of things regarding this generation K2, despite the sensitivity figure they’re not SET friendly and need at least a 100watt SS amplifier to come to life. There’s a slight horn nasality and the tweeter stands out a bit too. Look at S5500, a better speaker IMO.

I’m familiar with the first 3 and they all have fatal flaws, one of the W von L models looked promising, thanks.

david

Care to elaborate on what you perceive to be the "fatal" flaws?
 

Audiophile Bill

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I only owned the S9800 and only heard the S5800 on couple occasions. A couple of things regarding this generation K2, despite the sensitivity figure they’re not SET friendly and need at least a 100watt SS amplifier to come to life. There’s a slight horn nasality and the tweeter stands out a bit too. Look at S5500, a better speaker IMO.

I’m familiar with the first 3 and they all have fatal flaws, one of the W von L models looked promising, thanks.

david

Hi David,

Can you expand on the fatal flaws of the first three? All good information.

Best.
 

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