High efficiency horn speaker amp question

Sangbro

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Dec 20, 2020
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Hello,

From conventional High Amp world, I’ve a question regarding the relationship between high sensitivity/efficiency and amp power.

For example, in case of high efficiency horn speakers that can be easily driven by 12w tube amp,

SS (Pass Int 25) vs SS (Pass Int 60) would NOT make difference?

Or does still Int 60 make better sound?


I’m in a small room so I figure out that I’m good with Class A 30watt for most speakers, but

I heard that it’s always to have more power in the box to create deeper / wider spacial sound.


How about horn speakers?

Please consider that I’m new to this and be gentle ;)
 

Sangbro

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Dec 20, 2020
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You need tubes with horns.
What would be the primary reason?

Tube like sound character? I don’t want to deal with ever increasing NOS price. Or I can just settle for Russians.
Anyway, I might consider swap to get Tube Preamp + SS PowerAmp. Still tube?
 

djsina2

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May 31, 2019
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What would be the primary reason?

Tube like sound character? I don’t want to deal with ever increasing NOS price. Or I can just settle for Russians.
Anyway, I might consider swap to get Tube Preamp + SS PowerAmp. Still tube?

Not all amps require or sound better with NOS tubes. Personal preference I suppose, but to me horns and SS seems wrong. It’s the equivalent of running a home theater system on tubes.
 

Audiophile Bill

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Sangbro. Which exact horn speakers do you refer to? It will have a substantial bearing on any advice.
 

Hear Here

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You need tubes with horns.
Not necessarily and I doubt it's still true.

I have Avantgarde speakers and moved away from tubes a few years ago - no regret after trying a dozen SS amps to find ones that sounded as good or better than tubes.

Take a look at the Customer Galleries section of the AG site - https://www.avantgarde-acoustic.de/en/customer-galleries.html - and you'll find at least as many owners choosing SS over tubes. I suspect this is an increasing proportion too.

The OP doesn't needs tons of power, but the horn speaker in question will influence the amp selection. We need to know which he's considering!
 

Don Reid

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Nov 14, 2020
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"


"You need tubes with horns."

I beg to respectfully disagree with this opinion. For years I used Cary Audio 2a3 monoblocks to power the wide range and super tweeter horn drivers of my DIY horn speakers. Then I bought a First Watt F3 single ended, single gain stage, J-FET output stereo amp. I liked it so well I bought a second one and used them to replace the 2a3 amps. The F3s have all the color, immediacy and realism of the 2a3s and simply sound better.
 

jeffrey_t

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"You need tubes with horns."

I beg to respectfully disagree with this opinion. For years I used Cary Audio 2a3 monoblocks to power the wide range and super tweeter horn drivers of my DIY horn speakers. Then I bought a First Watt F3 single ended, single gain stage, J-FET output stereo amp. I liked it so well I bought a second one and used them to replace the 2a3 amps. The F3s have all the color, immediacy and realism of the 2a3s and simply sound better.
I personally liked my First Watt J2 on my Avantgardes better than any tube amp I tried.
 

Hear Here

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You need tubes with horns.
I'm yet another who disagrees!

Yes, tubes are good but not better if you take care to chose the right SS solution. Because of the drawbacks of tubes, I decided to switch about 3 years ago and don't regret the move. As expected I now listen to far more music and also put TV sound through my sysyem - something I'd never have done with valves burning away. Peter
 

djsina2

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I'm yet another who disagrees!

Yes, tubes are good but not better if you take care to chose the right SS solution. Because of the drawbacks of tubes, I decided to switch about 3 years ago and don't regret the move. As expected I now listen to far more music and also put TV sound through my sysyem - something I'd never have done with valves burning away. Peter

Solid state is great for home theater, yes.
 
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Hear Here

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wil

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I was misled for years by the conventional wisdom of tubes only for AvantGardes. I've since found that to be emphatically Not the case!
 
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benito

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I am not an expert of high efficiency speakers, I guess that they require an amp which gives its full potential at low volume. Some SS amps do not that.
 
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thedudeabides

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ArnoFenn

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I expect there is not 1 recipe for having a horn-based system, however it is a matter of focus on efficiency and reaching a "decent" maximum SPL and selecting the amp for that. Starting with the loudspeaker efficiency dB/1W and then calculate back what amp power you would need for a certain peak SPL (Eg 105-110dB is quite something already for listening music). In my case the lowest efficiency of the 3 speakers was with the woofer (FE208) and I settled driving the 3-way with a SET 300B, blows one away at max volume...while still being subtle in the lowest levels. PASS' approach of having the focus on "the first watt" makes sense since a lot will be happening in that 1st watt while listening to music, especially on a high efficiency loudspeaker. So, with that in mind I would select an amplifier that is best at this lower level, maybe having the trade-off of a lower max power instead of aiming for high power amps and throwing away the lowest power performance quality. In case you can find an amp that is excellent in low and high levels, perfect! BUT, make sure you don't kill the high efficiency speakers since often their max power can be very limited (which makes sense since already with a low power you create a lot of dB's)
 

thedudeabides

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No, when I’m older and my hearing is shot I will consider for ease of use. You might decide that you like them or that you reconfirm your tube amplification bias.
You never know. If you did audition the Pass Labs integrated units, you might actually like what you hear and maybe prefer over your current tube amplification. But personal preference should be the final deciding factor.
 
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Hear Here

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I drive 99dB JBLs (two way, CD) with a 80W Exposure dual regulated amp, works very well :)

Matt
I currently drive 107 dB speakers with 200 watts of Class D and they've never sounded better. This includes tubes (845, PX-25, 300B SETs), Class A (Accuphase, Sugden) and other SS amps. The 6 watt PX-25 was also sublime on much music. I'd use a much lower powered amp if I could find one that sounds better, but there's no harm in using high-powered ones with efficient speakers as long as you steer clear of full volume.
 
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kjartanb

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I have driven horns (Lowther, Altec A5s and Altec 604-8Gs) with DIY Class A amps (DIY First Watt F6 and M2), Class D (DIY Hypex NC400 monoblocks and smaller hypex amps as well) and Tube monoblocks (PP KT88, EL34 and other pentodes, triode coupled and not and SE300B and 2A3 amps).
All Amps have their own signature and plusses and minuses but the NCORE class Ds were not good on the A5s as bass got too lean (although they can recreate great live feeling from live electronic music like the heavier rock, punk etc..).
SE300B (DIY Lady Day 91 signature monoblocks) is excellent on small ensembles classical jazz, blues etc. although images can get very large and up close on some of the closed miked recordings like for example J. Cash American IV. The First Watt amps and PP tube amps are in many cases on par (I have 2 pairs of Quicksilver monoblocks) although the First Watts have better bass and more detail retrieval.
I have all the amps above but have used First Watt F6 and M2 for quite a while now and really don't miss the tubes and the hassle with tubes. I play around with preamps instead. Both passive (f.ex. Slagle autoformers, resistor-switch attenuator networks), and active (f.ex. DIY Aikido tube amp and DIY B1 Korg).
I do a lot of DIY as I like to fiddle and play around with the electronics. I sold and otherwise excellent Leben RS-28CX preamp and haven't missed it yet ;)
To conclude. You dont need tubes with horns. And class A amps like First Watt are great with effective speakers.
 
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