Klipschorns

es347

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,570
1
38
Midwest fly over state..
#21
Well say what you want about the Khorns but back in 1969 when I heard the "reference" system at the RCA Consumers Electronics engineering offices it was revelationary to say the least. It consisted of a pair of Khorns with a Thorens TT/Shure V15 cart and a MAC integrated tube amp of some kind. I'm sure that if I could compare it to today's systems it would be lacking but back then, it was incredible. I've had a soft spot for those speakers ever since.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
2,765
32
48
Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#22
I visited Hope Arkansas when Paul was still active in the company, and he had a working pair of acrylic k-horns. Klipsch was my first high end speaker (1970).

They were a wonderful speaker at the time. I tried to use digital room correction on a pair once (using the SigTech) but it sounded awful. The problem was that none of the drivers was even close to time aligned to the other and the signals arriving at the mic at such different times totally confused the SigTech software.

The real limits of their low end extension had little effect on 90% of the music.

Fun speaker!!
 

VernNeal

New Member
Aug 15, 2010
30
0
0
#23
Well I have owned Klipschorns back in the early 80s. Bought them from a dealer in FtWorth(Marvins Electronic) I had Yamaha,Adcom Nachimichi and McIntosh separates move through the system. They are the dynamic efficiancy king. In a rectangular room with real corners and the KHorns on the long wall they sound Mid/Hi fi. I was OK with the image but never the bass nor the depth of sound. In my experience they sound best with tube equipment, I moved on to Thiel who are at the other end of the efficiantcy spectrum who I feel need 250 SS watts to sing. I am a SS guy, but believe true nirvani sounds best with a tube preamp. IMHO KHorns sound good but are really midfi at best

My quick opinion of the Wilson speaker line is simply each model they have introduced has been SOTA at that price point. They would absolutely be my lottery winning choice for speakers
 

flez007

Member Sponsor
Aug 31, 2010
2,899
3
36
Mexico City
#24
Great lines again Tom, and agree completely on your marks regarding the Avantgardes sonic signature. i had a pair of UNOs for quite a while and never reached a point where the subs could keep pace with the horns in my small/medium dedicated room.

Klipschorns are "spectacular" speakers, but far from neutral IMO.
 
#25
I sure wish you could come to my house and hear my K-Horns with 2WPC amp!!!

Jay
No bass, colored mids, not very extended treble, no dynamics, a lack of real clarity. Speakers connected to them tend to sound like polite table radios. A generalization, I know, but I have yet to hear a SET-powered system which I thought sounded realistic in either a tonal or dynamic way compared to beefier modern solid-state amps.
 
#26
Well Tom,
I responded to a post of yours before I read your original, I am not sure of what you are trying to say. Anyway I have a pair of K-horns with all of Greg's upgrades and Have to disagree with alot of what you said in your first post!!! I also use an SET amp with my horns and my opinion is that they are a match made in heaven. I thought the idea of this hobby was to try and recreate the sound of Live music!!! Well if that is so than the K-horns with the upgrades are as close as one can get in my opinion!!! You may be able to do a little better but, at what cost??? For the money these speakers are untouchable!!! In the realistic sound dept. Of course I am going to be a little biased but, I also know what sounds good and right when I hear it. I invite anyone who wants to come listen to my system and draw their own opinion!!!

Jay
Klipschorns are one of the most controversial of speakers. In my "90% . . ." thread I mentioned that horn loading is one of the paths some designers take to minimize the interaction between speakers and room. Of horn speakers, the K-horn is probably the most famous and has the distinction of being in continuous production for well over 60 years, longer by far than any other speaker in history. Here are my personal perceptions of the sound of Klipschorns. As I said, K-horns are controversial and opinions not only vary widely, but are usually extremely polarized: listeners seem to either love 'em or hate 'em.

Dynamically, the K-horns take no prisoners. A part of this is undoubtedly due to very high sensitivity of the design at 104 dB/watt/meter. They make even the 95 dB/watt Legacy Whispers I once owned sound dynamically constrained. This is readily apparent on most any program material, but more so on classical "power music" and especially any rock or jazz with a good rhythm section. For some listeners--and on some days, with some material, I count myself as one--this carries everything else before it and the K-horns seem unbeatable.

After the initial excitement goes away, however--and that may not take longer than a few minutes of listening--and especially on reflection when not actually being aurally tempted by their charms, reality hits.

You must have two good solid corners behind the K-horns and they must be placed tightly right into those corners. Even with this, real bass, although very realistic sounding for all types of drums, only goes down to 35-40 Hz or so--deep enough for drums, but not deep enough to energize the room on organ fundamentals.

The tweeters beam and you must listen directly on axis to get true high frequency extension. When pushed into square corners, the tweeters thus fire at 45 degrees to the adjoining wall surfaces. While some owners have taken the top section off the woofer cabinet and/or enclosed the the woofer cabinet with additional plywood, allowing the mid/high horns to be rotated (the 60th Anniversary edition had a closed back as sold), barring such machinations this means that the speakers must subtend a 90-degree angle from the listening position. I like wide separation, as I've said. But many will find this amount of separation too extreme for most material in most rooms. So did Paul Klipsch, hence his recommendation for using a Cornwall or Bell Klipsch as a center mono speaker.

But while that fills in the middle, unless the wall between the corner horns is constructed in an arc (rare outside a converted circular barn), the center speaker will be too close and will require some sort of digital or analog delay in line with the signal, in addition to a volume control, to keep the sound from the center speaker from being severely phase-misaligned with the corner horns. The easiest way these days to time and volume align the center speaker is to use an AV receiver or pre-pro to handle this task.

A listening position where the speakers subtend a 90-degree angle also puts you fairly close to the speakers. This is the reason most people follow Klipsch's original recommendation and put the long wall between the speakers. You will then be 1/2 the length of the long wall from the plane of the speakers. If that wall is 20 feet long, you will be 10 feet away. That spot may be in a bass null or maxima for the room and there is no way to change that result by moving the speaker locations.

There must be no large objects or even surface irregularity on the wall surfaces between the horns or several feet along the side walls. Even wall acoustical treatment seems to kill the bass and severely limit the ability of the speakers to form images and stages. The speakers like live, uninterrupted wall surfaces, in other words.

Listened to on axis, there is good high-frequency extension, but there is brightness and smear in the upper midrange and treble. A substantial part of this is caused by early strong reflections from the wall right beside the speakers. While corner placement minimizes the percentage of wall surface which can act as mirror for reflections of mid and high frequencies, the drivers really aren't exactly in the corner but a couple of feet in front of the corner. Yes, you can pad the corners with Sonex or other absorbent material, but you need a lot of padding, thickness-wise, due to the strength of these reflections since the drivers are so near the walls and the more padding the more you interfere with bass, imaging, and staging.

The close-to-wall-and-corner placement also inhibits perception of depth of stage. In my experience, it is harder perceive stage depth when the sound emanates from close to the wall behind the speakers than when the speakers are set up well out into the room. K-horns are not unique in having this problem when placed near the wall behind them, but I think the corner placement exaggerates this problem by placing the wall reflection spots very close to the drivers. With other speakers, you have more placement choice. With K-horns, you have to live with the sonic products of close-to-corner placement.

The 104 dB sensitivity of a K-horn also reveals system noise and hum you might not realize was there with other speakers.

All that said, yes, I do like to hear K-horn systems in some rooms in small doses. Under the right conditions the sound can be unbelievably dynamic and exciting; truly the band is there in front of you.

Paul Klipsch used to say what the world needs is a good 5-watt amplifier to get the best from his horns. Many K-horn owners gravitate toward tube amps, particularly low-wattage SET types. In my opinion this is wishful thinking. Horns and SETs go together because horns are the only speakers efficient enough to produce decent volume and reasonably lifelike dynamics with amps having no more than 40 watts per channel, most with less than 10 watts.

Yes, with most speakers SET amps are usually "sweet" sounding, but that is basically because they both roll off the extreme highs and warm up the mid-bass. They are also "easy on the ears" since they constrict dynamics--in combination with their sweetness, this makes them sound polite or at least non-aggressive. There is never any truly deep bass from SETs, even if hooked up to a speaker which is capable of it with other amps.

What sets SETs apart is the way they sound in the midrange. Again there is "sweetening" going on, but this time it's because these amps have relatively high amounts of second harmonic distortion, as opposed to the 3d harmonic and other odd-order harmonics common to most transistor gear. Research has long showed that people actually like the sound of added second harmonic and that in fact there is almost no reasonable upper limit on the appreciation for such. And, if you push an SET amp toward its power limits, if it is designed properly it will just increase its amount of midrange 2d harmonic, and reduce bass and highs due to bandwidth limiting at higher power. Fletcher Munson effects reduce the audibility of the reduced bass and highs and you get more of that "magic" midrange due to the added distortion. Some find it addictively smooth and relaxed. I just yawn.

Lots of K-horn users swear by SETs. I think the reason is that the bass limitations in the lowest octave aren't apparent and that the sweetening of the highs and midrange mentioned above counteract to some extent the brightness smear and other irritation inevitably caused by corner placement and othe factors.

Those other factors probably include the choice of drivers and the characteristics of the midrange and treble horns. Some K-horn owners have very good ears and have worked hard to conquer or at least alleviate the brightness and irritation in the upper ranges through more radical measures than merely choosing sympathetically colored amps. Greg Roberts of Volti Audio may have the ultimate K-horns on offer. If you take advantage of all his mods, what is left is only the basic K-horn cabinet; all the drivers, wiring, and crossover components are replaced, and a new veneer can be added. Others have tri-amped the K-horns with DSP used to cross over and time align the drivers.

On the other hand, you must remember that the K-horns sell for "only" $8,000 the pair. Compare that to the pricing of the Avant Garde horn models, for example. I would much rather listen to K-horns than the $10,000+ Avant Garde Solo. The Solo is quite colored in the megaphone sense. The larger Avant Garde models ones have less of that but are incoherent (separate sound sources quite audible) unless you are back pretty far. The Solo has no real bass; the more expensive models in the line have non-horn bass which I don't think keeps up with the rest of the dynamics.

No, the Avant Gardes don't have to be in corners so you don't get the inevitable brightness/glare from wall reflections like with the K-horn, but I find their vowel-like megaphone colorations harder to listen around than the Klipschorn colorations, and the Klipsch are certainly vastly more coherent from close up, and have much better bass. I have never had an adrenaline rush from the Avant Gardes, whereas that is very common with K-horns and live music. Overall, I think the K-horn is a reasonable alternative to the larger Avant Garde models, at a small fraction of the price.

The Legacy Whispers I previously owned are advertised as having that dynamic "breath of life," and I agree, that compared to most speakers they do. But compared to the Klipschorns, they fall short in the department of fooling you that the music is live when you are only paying partial attention.

Also on the positive side, the K-horns, do the "live in the next room" thing much better than most other speakers. I have never heard a satisfactory (to me) explanation of what aspects of a reproducing system are important for that effect--it surely isn't frequency response or anything to do with spatial effects.

Bottom line, as to stock Klipshorns, I tend to agree with the sonic comments made by Richard Heyser in his review of them in Audio magazine many years ago. You can see this review by linking to each separate page of the review from here.
 

tmallin

WBF Technical Expert
May 19, 2010
352
26
28
66
Chicagoland
#27
Well Tom,
I responded to a post of yours before I read your original, I am not sure of what you are trying to say. Anyway I have a pair of K-horns with all of Greg's upgrades and Have to disagree with alot of what you said in your first post!!! I also use an SET amp with my horns and my opinion is that they are a match made in heaven. I thought the idea of this hobby was to try and recreate the sound of Live music!!! Well if that is so than the K-horns with the upgrades are as close as one can get in my opinion!!! You may be able to do a little better but, at what cost??? For the money these speakers are untouchable!!! In the realistic sound dept. Of course I am going to be a little biased but, I also know what sounds good and right when I hear it. I invite anyone who wants to come listen to my system and draw their own opinion!!!

Jay
Jay, if you have Greg Roberts/Volti Audio full mods of the K-Horn, you really don't have a K-Horn at all, but something vastly better, I'm sure. As I said in my original post:

Greg Roberts of Volti Audio may have the ultimate K-horns on offer. If you take advantage of all his mods, what is left is only the basic K-horn cabinet; all the drivers, wiring, and crossover components are replaced, and a new veneer can be added.

Note that Greg is now offering what he says is a yet-better high end for the K-Horn, something he calls the Lavera horn, a thing of beauty.
 

steve williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#28
Tom

what a wonderful treat to see you here. I hope things are going well for you since we chatted last. Hopefully you will find some more free time to post on some of your interesting topics.

Welcome back
 

fas42

Addicted To Best
Jan 8, 2011
3,973
0
0
NSW Australia
#30
I thought the idea of this hobby was to try and recreate the sound of Live music!!! Well if that is so than the K-horns with the upgrades are as close as one can get in my opinion!!! You may be able to do a little better but, at what cost??? For the money these speakers are untouchable!!! In the realistic sound dept. Of course I am going to be a little biased but, I also know what sounds good and right when I hear it. I invite anyone who wants to come listen to my system and draw their own opinion!!!

Jay
Good to see a possible conversation restarting about "sound" possibilities. As I have said many times, overwhelming sound reproduction is possible, and there are 2 obvious ways: inefficient, but "good" speakers driven by behemoths that do not do too much damage to the audio quality, or very efficient speakers driven by hopefully well sorted out but low powered electronics, Steve's solution. The point made by Jay is spot on, one can achieve truly remarkable replay of recordings, but the K-horns demonstrate perfectly the ever narrowing path this leads you down: the closer you get to achieving true, lifelike dynamics the more the end result can also have you running screaming from the room. The only solution to the dilemma is to persist with the refining, tweaking, "fixing" of the sound: if you do this you will be immensely rewarded; if you don't, you'll end up throwing the lot in the rubbish bin ...

Frank
 

tech_pro

New Member
Dec 13, 2012
1
0
0
#31
I am new to this site, but wanted to put in my two cents about the Klipschorns and how to get the best sound out of them.
My story. I bought a pair of khorns about a year ago and was ready to experiment with different amplifiers until I found one that would work well and sound good to my ear. I tried several modern amplifiers upto a $1000 range. I did look at the McIntosh as well since several my friends have them in their home theaters and they do sound fantastic, but I did not want to spend that kind of money. So I set a $1000 budget for myself and went amp hunting. I bought tube amps and ss amps of modern day era, which are hard to find to begin with, because the sales people at most stores these days think that an all-in-one receiver is an amplifier. So I bought and returned a couple actual amplifiers and sold others because none of them complemented the khorns. These amps did however work fine with my other reference series 5.1 sound system, just not the khorns.
My research finally helped me reach a decision that I need to get back to the vintage amplifiers. I had read that a good amplifier match is a must to enjoy the khorns. After reading countless threads and parises about the khorns, I was surprised to find very little information on amplifiers that work well with their khorns. And yes, if you have used amplifiers that were not a good match, you do hear the hum, lack or bass etc. as described by the host of this thread.
So again, I went hunting for vintage amps and pre-amps. After going through a handful of those, I finally came up with a couple of great amps from the old days that work really well with the khorns. Very musical, excellent bass, fantastic soundstage, the highs and lows-amazing, even though my khorns have a 2 inch gap from the corners and are not totally flush. I do plan on experimenting with Paul Klipsh's suggestion of false wall and will let you know how that goes.
And finally the three amplifiers that I tried that worked incredible. They all happen to belong to the same family:
Sansui AU-717 - I have
Sansui AU-9900 - I have (This is Sansui's professional series. A bit hard to find, but worth the wait and money)
Sansui AU-11000 - Bigger brother to the AU-9900
Sansui AU-20000 - Bigger brother to the two mentioned above.
McIntosh-275 - Tube
The later three are of the same family. Only difference is the power output.
Any one of these units will do a fine job. Only thing to remember is that due to their age, they may have to be recapped, since capacitors etc. have a finite life. This will cost around $300 for restoration.
In my case, I did have the AU-717 that needed recaps, but the AU-9900 was in excellent condition every which way.
So, here you are. I am sure there are other options in amps, so please share if you can. I have put in my two cents.
NOTE: With the Sanui amps, I did not encounter any of the issues mentioned in the editors findings or what I encountered with the modern amplifiers. Perhaps more research can be done on this.
 
Apr 29, 2018
56
21
8
#33
I'm in a quest for new speakers. I love widebander and horns and wonder if the price difference between a pair of Tune Audio Anima (which I could touch for around 20 K) and a pair of K-Horn (6000 K) or even a pair of Voxativ Ampeggio (12000 K) would be worth the expense…
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
11,645
1,460
113
London
#34
If you like the Anima it will be worth it. Of course if you don't you will think the Khorn is better. I would suggest listening to the Anima if you haven't already
 
Apr 29, 2018
56
21
8
#35
Thank you, dear Bonzo (what a drummer…). In fact, I've listened to the Anima, which I found of great natural with orchestral music, probably one of the closest to the real instruments (timbre, dynamics) and never shouting. Just wonder if the price gap is really worth it.
 

bonzo75

Member Sponsor
Feb 26, 2014
11,645
1,460
113
London
#36
Thank you, dear Bonzo (what a drummer…). In fact, I've listened to the Anima, which I found of great natural with orchestral music, probably one of the closest to the real instruments (timbre, dynamics) and never shouting. Just wonder if the price gap is really worth it.
if you have liked it and have the spare funds get it. I have heard only one K horn. I have heard the 100k voxativ ampeggio due rich was quite poor. I don't know the 12k one.

The problem with Anima is not so much if the price is justified it is that some people love it and some don't like it at all
 
Apr 29, 2018
56
21
8
#37
I've listened to it around 2 hours. Found it difficult to fault with my kind of music. Found it superior to any AvantGarde.
 
#38
The standard answer “you need to listen to it in your system” is definitely true of the K-horns. I did as much reading as I could about K-horns and then bought a good “stock” pair. Used them in corners with SET amps. I thought the stock speakers were extremely harsh. I tried making the speakers “work” for me, using various combinations of Volti wooden horns, Volti crossover, Volti-sourced BMS drivers, and different speaker cables. While these things ameliorated most of the harshness I heard, it didn’t get rid of it and I ended up selling the speakers.

Even if you have to travel to listen to speakers, I suspect you will save money (time and frustration) in the long run by doing so, instead of buying them without listening to them first, as I did. Research and reading only go so far, particularly when there is a component with widely divergent opinions, as there are with K-horns. I learned an expensive lesson!
 

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