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

microstrip

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ddk

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

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

Best.
Their main shortcoming is bass. All three have problematic bass and it’s not about quantity but quality. For me bass performance is important everything is built on this foundation and the area that a lot of equipment struggle with.

david
 

carolus

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....For me bass performance is important everything is built on this foundation and the area that a lot of equipment struggle with.

david
Hi David.
I agree ...

My experience:
+ Low (bas) start with driver 15" (it's a minimum & closed box or horn)
++ Better driver 18" (or more) with real horn concept ...

We (must) feel the music ...

Karel
 

Robh3606

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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!
Hi David

Did you try changing the bass with the DSP or just stay stock?? I agree you really need to get the bass right as it is the foundation.

As far as DIY been doing that for about 20 years now. I always wanted a pair of JBL large format monitors. Back in 2004 when I built the 4344 JBL still supported the heritage drivers so you could buy driver cores for chump change and get them re-coned and have essentially brand new drivers.

We also had a guy at Lansing Heritage who worked out equivalent crossovers without the tapped transformer attenuators that were no longer available. With that done you could build the crossovers and use any parts you wanted including "upgraded" the parts if you wished.

We also took out the noisy bi-amp switch which was an issue in the stock systems. So all in all if you could build a box and wire a crossover you could end up with a brand new speaker system for a 1/3 of the price of a vintage stock pair. Buying vintage you really have no idea what condition the drivers were in so half the time you would re-cone/re-diaphragm them anyway. So overall an attractive alternative.

Unfortunately those days are gone with the cone kits no longer supported.

I also own stock systems but really enjoy doing DIY. It's fun!

Rob :)
 
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Audiophile Bill

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Hi David.
I agree ...

My experience:
+ Low (bas) start with driver 15" (it's a minimum & closed box or horn)
++ Better driver 18" (or more) with real horn concept ...

We (must) feel the music ...

Karel

Hi Karel,

I don’t know much about Patrician IV - is this what you use for your low bass? How does this work exactly - is it a folded horn?
 

morricab

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Their main shortcoming is bass. All three have problematic bass and it’s not about quantity but quality. For me bass performance is important everything is built on this foundation and the area that a lot of equipment struggle with.

david
The larger Odeon’s have very powerful and tuneful bass. The Universum has good bass but not amazing bass. The Symphonia has very tight fast bass but perhaps not the last word in depth. Since you augment your Bionors with subs, can’t we conclude they would also have that same “fatal” flaw? The Symphonia with the optional horn subs is one of the best bass quality i have heard.

I haven’t heard your exact JBLs but I have heard many studio models (and. K2 and Everest models) and I would not call JBL bass the last word in bass. I don’t think it is possible to get ultimate bass quality from a vented box...

What do you think of the JBL Hartsfield bass? I think it is one of more realistic and natural sounding bass I have heard.
 

carolus

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Hi Karel,

I don’t know much about Patrician IV - is this what you use for your low bass? How does this work exactly - is it a folded horn?
It's a long story (since '68)....
On a A8 format:
+ For the "low" range I built a copy (-s) of the ElectroVoice "Patrician IV".
+ It is a scaled up (+ - 30%) version of the Klipschorn.
Intern folded 3 times & with the same advantages of a corner speaker & with the corner / floor / side walls are being part of the horn.
+ The (DIY) Patrician IV uses an (old) EV driver EVM18B " in a factory chrome version ... very chique.
+ From DIY experience (Scala & klipsch & Patrician) there is a heavenly difference in a smooth driver reproduction between drivers 15 " or 18" .... (or even bigger, see Patrician II)
+ benefits; high efficiency horn/ low amp-power requirement / low distortion / & sternum palpable real bass (low) ....
- cons; installation in the room corners, limited frequency range (250Hz .... 300Hz), a WAF to haggle (!) in the common listening room (musical scène).
+ Due to the limited frequency range (250 ...300Hz), it is a challenge to extend the basic low range 300Hz with a coherent "low / mid" 300Hz to 1200Hz (maximum 2 octaves) & best in a total horn concept (ex. WE66A & Iwata-s)

The total tuning (X-over & sound power) is a different art & savoir faire .... to make everything (horns) sound symbiotic ...

It's music ...
Karel
 

Audiophile Bill

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Mar 23, 2015
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It's a long story (since '68)....
On a A8 format:
+ For the "low" range I built a copy (-s) of the ElectroVoice "Patrician IV".
+ It is a scaled up (+ - 30%) version of the Klipschorn.
Intern folded 3 times & with the same advantages of a corner speaker & with the corner / floor / side walls are being part of the horn.
+ The (DIY) Patrician IV uses an (old) EV driver EVM18B " in a factory chrome version ... very chique.
+ From DIY experience (Scala & klipsch & Patrician) there is a heavenly difference in a smooth driver reproduction between drivers 15 " or 18" .... (or even bigger, see Patrician II)
+ benefits; high efficiency horn/ low amp-power requirement / low distortion / & sternum palpable real bass (low) ....
- cons; installation in the room corners, limited frequency range (250Hz .... 300Hz), a WAF to haggle (!) in the common listening room (musical scène).
+ Due to the limited frequency range (250 ...300Hz), it is a challenge to extend the basic low range 300Hz with a coherent "low / mid" 300Hz to 1200Hz (maximum 2 octaves) & best in a total horn concept (ex. WE66A & Iwata-s)

The total tuning (X-over & sound power) is a different art & savoir faire .... to make everything (horns) sound symbiotic ...

It's music ...
Karel
Thank you very much, Karel. Sounds great and well thought out.
 

christoph

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Dec 12, 2015
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Registering is a two minute affair - and worth the time. It is much more than simply a DIY forum - we have known designers contributions and plenty of technical information, including many threads on vintage equipment.
Thanks Francisco
 

ddk

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May 19, 2013
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Hi David

Did you try changing the bass with the DSP or just stay stock?? I agree you really need to get the bass right as it is the foundation.

As far as DIY been doing that for about 20 years now. I always wanted a pair of JBL large format monitors. Back in 2004 when I built the 4344 JBL still supported the heritage drivers so you could buy driver cores for chump change and get them re-coned and have essentially brand new drivers.

We also had a guy at Lansing Heritage who worked out equivalent crossovers without the tapped transformer attenuators that were no longer available. With that done you could build the crossovers and use any parts you wanted including "upgraded" the parts if you wished.

We also took out the noisy bi-amp switch which was an issue in the stock systems. So all in all if you could build a box and wire a crossover you could end up with a brand new speaker system for a 1/3 of the price of a vintage stock pair. Buying vintage you really have no idea what condition the drivers were in so half the time you would re-cone/re-diaphragm them anyway. So overall an attractive alternative.

Unfortunately those days are gone with the cone kits no longer supported.

I also own stock systems but really enjoy doing DIY. It's fun!

Rob :)
Hi Rob,
I bought the M2 with a 30 day trial and played with it stock and with an electronic analog crossover I have, it was ok but not something I wanted. When I called the seller to return speakers he came over with his computer, some processor he said is from the M2 system and a couple of custom amplifiers he used in his studio. At that point the sound was simply horrible, he spent another 3 hours tweaking the settings to match the room while totally ignoring anything I kept telling him about the tonality and timbre.

The biamp switch is a sound killer, that's the only mod I ever did to my 43xx's. You're right about buying vintage audio, you really have to know what you're buying and what to look for.

david
 

ddk

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May 19, 2013
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The larger Odeon’s have very powerful and tuneful bass. The Universum has good bass but not amazing bass. The Symphonia has very tight fast bass but perhaps not the last word in depth. Since you augment your Bionors with subs, can’t we conclude they would also have that same “fatal” flaw? The Symphonia with the optional horn subs is one of the best bass quality i have heard.

I haven’t heard your exact JBLs but I have heard many studio models (and. K2 and Everest models) and I would not call JBL bass the last word in bass. I don’t think it is possible to get ultimate bass quality from a vented box...

What do you think of the JBL Hartsfield bass? I think it is one of more realistic and natural sounding bass I have heard.
As I mentioned in my post my complaint isn't quantitive and not at all about deep bass. I listened to the Bionors for 15 years before adding subs for a little more low end foundation. I regularly listen to more frequency restricted speakers in the same space but what's there is glorious and natural. There are other factors too but I don't like the the bass quality of these speakers, there's no articulation mostly boring and in one case discontinuous too. I simply don't get downward firing woofers in a high end environment.

Sure, a proper large bass horn (not the active dsp controlled ones we see these days!) is ideal but generally not possible for a domestic speaker, 99% of the time we have to live with vented, ported or sealed cabinets and each has it's own compromises relative to the bass horn. Those JBLs fall within my acceptable and likable range and have enough fat, resolution and speed to satisfy and sound natural. Whatever argument there is for sealed boxes is moot because they're too inefficient and I can't drive them with SETs.

I love the Hartsfields and a corner horn is all about the bass. Their bass is a little one note but exceptionally rich, fat and musical. The Bionors have that richness but are extremely fast and articulate with exceptional resolution.

david
 

Mark Seaton

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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
Hi ddk,

While the math and science of horn loading was largely understood in the 60s, there was much further understanding in creating a full range loudspeaker since that time. As you mention, the modeling and computing to model a wider range of iterations before building have come a long way and allow variations on the ideal to be compared and considered, and of course manufacturing is easier in some regards, yet also more problematic at the large end of the physical scales.

With the limitations of the era including low power amplifiers, fewer drive unit variations, and no clear way to model variations on the ideal, many simply built what the math dictated, size be damned. Those approaches tend to give you some distinct advantages, and make for physical requirements that many designers shy away from as they fear too few would consider ownership.

Today there is a much better understanding of sound radiation and directivity, along with how the multiple elements combine in space and the in the room. Early horn design was largely looking at efficiency and on-axis response due to efficiency and power concerns. Other qualities have been greatly improved on, but you don't often see those improvements combined with the size-be-damned approach or with the same design priorities as some of the speakers you are most satisfied with. I'd say it's as much a mismatch of priorities as it is the artistic details of creation.
 

jeffrey_t

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The larger Odeon’s have very powerful and tuneful bass. The Universum has good bass but not amazing bass. The Symphonia has very tight fast bass but perhaps not the last word in depth. Since you augment your Bionors with subs, can’t we conclude they would also have that same “fatal” flaw? The Symphonia with the optional horn subs is one of the best bass quality i have heard.

I haven’t heard your exact JBLs but I have heard many studio models (and. K2 and Everest models) and I would not call JBL bass the last word in bass. I don’t think it is possible to get ultimate bass quality from a vented box...

What do you think of the JBL Hartsfield bass? I think it is one of more realistic and natural sounding bass I have heard.
I believe the opposite. I've never heard realistic and natural bass from a sealed cabinet. Maybe because of the amount of SS power that is needed to get them going. I believe a properly vented 15" bass driver in a large cabinet provides the best solution in most rooms.

Now the best bass I've ever heard is from Tannoy backloaded horns. I've yet to hear the Hartsfield, one day I hope.
 

ddk

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Hi ddk,

While the math and science of horn loading was largely understood in the 60s, there was much further understanding in creating a full range loudspeaker since that time. As you mention, the modeling and computing to model a wider range of iterations before building have come a long way and allow variations on the ideal to be compared and considered, and of course manufacturing is easier in some regards, yet also more problematic at the large end of the physical scales.

With the limitations of the era including low power amplifiers, fewer drive unit variations, and no clear way to model variations on the ideal, many simply built what the math dictated, size be damned. Those approaches tend to give you some distinct advantages, and make for physical requirements that many designers shy away from as they fear too few would consider ownership.

Today there is a much better understanding of sound radiation and directivity, along with how the multiple elements combine in space and the in the room. Early horn design was largely looking at efficiency and on-axis response due to efficiency and power concerns. Other qualities have been greatly improved on, but you don't often see those improvements combined with the size-be-damned approach or with the same design priorities as some of the speakers you are most satisfied with. I'd say it's as much a mismatch of priorities as it is the artistic details of creation.
At the time 40-50hz was the desired spec not that that they couldn't go lower in frequency. I admit that this is purely subjective but with all this so called advancement and understanding I haven't heard a single high end horn speaker built today I want to own, in fact I would categorize most as poor and a few even disgusting. Sensitivity is extremely important for me, I pretty much feel the same about high powered electronics hence my offering of only one brand as a dealer. But this isn't something new always felt this way not liking high powered ss amps. A little over two decades ago I settled on a Lamm SET and that's where I still am today.

You know as much as anyone that there's no substitute for displacement Mark, size matters :)!

david
 

Duke LeJeune

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Early horn design was largely looking at efficiency and on-axis response due to efficiency and power concerns. Other qualities have been greatly improved on, but you don't often see those improvements combined with the size-be-damned approach or with the same design priorities as some of the speakers you are most satisfied with. I'd say it's as much a mismatch of priorities as it is the artistic details of creation. [emphasis Duke's]
Excellent point, Mark. Loudspeakers today have much more competition for real estate inside the home.

I'd love to try combining something like the Hartsfield's bass horn with one of the new ultra-wideband compression drivers from Celestion or B&C (on a really nice modern horn), but the market for four-foot-wide speakers is pretty limited.

I mention the Hartsfields because I think they have the best bass I've heard from a pair of speakers. Unfortunately wavelength-based devices (like horns) don't present the option of down-scaling the way resonance-based devices (like sealed and vented boxes) do.

Whatever argument there is for sealed boxes is moot because they're too inefficient and I can't drive them with SETs.

Agreed. I usually design with a 30-watt OTL amp (rather than a lower-powered SET) in mind, but the same general principle applies.

Also, in my experience sealed box woofers generally are not as articulate as vented box woofers further up the spectrum, possibly because good performance in a vented box calls for a more powerful motor. Imo many things matter, and motor strength seems to be one of them.
 
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DaveC

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Also, in my experience sealed box woofers generally are not as articulate as vented box woofers further up the spectrum, possibly because good performance in a vented box calls for a more powerful motor. Imo many things matter, and motor strength seems to be one of them.

Sealed woofers will also have more excursion, so when used further up the spectrum you get more IMD. Sealed seems to work well for subwoofers, in many cases it does sound better IME, but possibly because it's just easier to get right, IDK...
 
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Mark Seaton

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At the time 40-50hz was the desired spec not that that they couldn't go lower in frequency. I admit that this is purely subjective but with all this so called advancement and understanding I haven't heard a single high end horn speaker built today I want to own, in fact I would categorize most as poor and a few even disgusting. Sensitivity is extremely important for me, I pretty much feel the same about high powered electronics hence my offering of only one brand as a dealer. But this isn't something new always felt this way not liking high powered ss amps. A little over two decades ago I settled on a Lamm SET and that's where I still am today.

You know as much as anyone that there's no substitute for displacement Mark, size matters :)!

david
30-60 cu.ft. per speaker is reasonable for that sealed approach with plenty of sensitivity, right? :cool:
 

morricab

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I believe the opposite. I've never heard realistic and natural bass from a sealed cabinet. Maybe because of the amount of SS power that is needed to get them going. I believe a properly vented 15" bass driver in a large cabinet provides the best solution in most rooms.

Now the best bass I've ever heard is from Tannoy backloaded horns. I've yet to hear the Hartsfield, one day I hope.
Actually, I agree with you that sealed is not the way for the reasons you describe.

I also agree about horn bass done right. Dipole bass can also be superb and natural (a huge electrostatic panel or planar magnetic can make convincing bass as well from a tone/texture perspective).
 

morricab

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Excellent point, Mark. Loudspeakers today have much more competition for real estate inside the home.

I'd love to try combining something like the Hartsfield's bass horn with one of the new ultra-wideband compression drivers from Celestion or B&C (on a really nice modern horn), but the market for four-foot-wide speakers is pretty limited.

I mention the Hartsfields because I think they have the best bass I've heard from a pair of speakers. Unfortunately wavelength-based devices (like horns) don't present the option of down-scaling the way resonance-based devices (like sealed and vented boxes) do.



Agreed. I usually design with a 30-watt OTL amp (rather than a lower-powered SET) in mind, but the same general principle applies.

Also, in my experience sealed box woofers generally are not as articulate as vented box woofers further up the spectrum, possibly because good performance in a vented box calls for a more powerful motor. Imo many things matter, and motor strength seems to be one of them.
One of the reasons I like the TQWT bass is that it has much of the qualities of a good front or backloaded horn (it is a type of horn after all ...just utilizing standing waves) in a cabinet similar to a conventional box speaker.
It’s interesting that even though Supravox specs the bass on this speaker at 50hz, I am measuring substantial bass down at 32hz in room...and it sounds powerful with essentially zero cone movement.
 
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morricab

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Sealed woofers will also have more excursion, so when used further up the spectrum you get more IMD. Sealed seems to work well for subwoofers, in many cases it does sound better IME, but possibly because it's just easier to get right, IDK...
The box tuning for sealed is easier to make for a tight/fast sound. Tuning is often at a Q of 0.7 or lower and typically vented systems have more overhang because of a looser tuning to 0.9 or so. I made a ribbon hybrid some years ago now where I mated it with a 10 inch woofer in a sealed box (pretty large box) and tuned it to a critically damped 0.6 so that the perceived speed of the woofer matched the ribbon...that worked well as it was very “fast” and in room bass was good to below 40hz (it had a slow roll off).
 

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