Are horns and hi-eff designs becoming more popular

I feel they are but wonder what others think? Since today one can build hi-eff designs in most any type of loudspeaker. With many new hi-eff transducers availible. Hi-effs not just front or back horn designs anymore.
Yes, with the return of interest in vinyl and tubes. K-horns, design now over fifty years old, are strong players if you have the space. You need a room that is at least 18 feet across and 30 feet deep to do them justice. If you add a Belle center channel you have the best of all worlds, in that the imaging cannot be beat. Tubes take the edge off the horn sound. I have had the K's and drove them with triode 15 watts and solid state all class A 30 watt. Tubes sounded better.
More people are NOW finding out what they have been MISSING without horns WITH tube gear in their systems....I think this is the best way to listen to recorded music period! I WILL NEVER GO BACK!!
the short
Of course they are. A few years back they had nearly disappeared from the market. I think the advent of the Internet (information) age and the subsequent proliferation of the DIY community has been the primary reason for the new found interest in high efficiency designs. Lets face it, single driver speakers and open baffle designs can be very inexpensive and very good. Low entry prices will always change a market.


Tell me, and I mean this in all seriousness and respect, is someone now making a horn speaker without that nasal midrange that drove me away from the old K-horns?? There's much to like about horns, particularly the easy dynamic range and ability to work with a great variety of amplification, including tubes.

If I were going to spend $10k, where would the horn lovers suggest that I look today?


I'd go straight to Classic Audio Reproductions, although I'm not sure you'd quite get out the door for 10K.

If you ever get up to New Hampshire you'd be welcome to come by and hear my Edgarhorns. All speakers have some colorations and these are no exception. However, you will not hear any midrange honk. I also did not hear that from Azzolina horns. I also own a pair of Acapella La Campinella MkI's and with the right amplification these also do not exhibit any honk.

For to original question, I don't know if horns are gaining popularity but I think high efficiency maybe gaining slightly more popularity in the 2 channel music world. I think lower efficiency and big wattage amps are still the favorites in the HT and multichannel world.
Jaybo,the long answer is YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.Single driver and horns and various vintage Altecs,JBL'S,and others are very popular again.The Japanese have been using this stuff for years.They are usually 10-15 years ahead of the US as far as single driver and different horn technology's.It all depends where you ask the question.Check out JE labs site + "Site Jeen" there are many more vintage sites.If you wanted to try a pair on the cheap try the horn shoppe's speakers.If you want any plans for some of the 50's models send me an email.Take care,keith
Dan_ed, thanks for the offer. I've never been to NH, but you never know, do you? I expect to put together a "big system" in mid-2009 so I'll be certain to check out horns before making a decision.

I also do not think hi-eff and horn speakers are on the increase, which is a shame really. There will always be a dedicated hi-eff/horn following just like antique furniture and cars. I was put onto horns in 1993 by a friend who was selling his speakers (so sadly was he at parting with them that he was nearly crying at letting them go) they are a pair of Impulse H1's (that I bought on the spot on first hearing, as they sounded Incredible compared to my aged Isobarik DMS). Being In a bedroom band and having lots of nice recording gear we recorded my piano at home with a reel to reel and nice mics, then we played It back through the speakers and the similarity between the piano and the recording was scarily close. I think from my little experience is that there are great bargains to be had cost versus performance between horns and enclosed speakers. I listen to as many as speakers as possible at shows etc and while many are very good and a few are excellent (pricey also), I still would not swap my Oris 150's for. I really bought my 150's for peanuts compared to most speakers on sale here on Audiogon and sound wise they are as good as I need. One probably needs a sympathetic partner for one to house large horns as a minus point.

My impression is that horns are a bit more popular these days than in the recent past, but then most things tend to cycle in and out of fashion, irrespective of whether they are good, bad or indifferent.

Horns have their strengths, but they also have weaknesses. In other words, they are like any other speaker or piece of equipment. The key to audio happiness is to line up the strengths of a speaker with the those areas where your ear is most sensitive or that you find important in sound reproduction. In my case, while I enjoy the dynamics of a good horn, I've never heard one yet that didn't have a distinct honkiness that knocked it out of consideration for me. It is a sonic trait that I am apparently more sensitive to than others.

Interestingly, I've just finished the book "Musicophilia" by Dr. Oliver Sacks. It talks about about the brain and how we perceive and process music along with the manner in which afflictions can affect our hearing music, or even using music as treatment. While the book says virtually nothing about audio equipment, the entire text reinforces how differently each of us perceives music. Some of this comes how our brain is wired from before we are born, some comes from experiences and training as an infant (which permanently affects how connections in our brain form) and some comes from our training and experiences later on. (A very interesting read if you like that kind of stuff.)

The net result is that each of us is going to be impressed by different things when we listen. Therefore, rather than read about how this or that speaker is the best thing since sliced bread, the key is to get out and listen and find out what [i]you[/i] are sensitive to when listening to music.
Ive been in the hobbie a long time I have seen so many flavors of the month in loudspeakers. I feel horns -hieff designs are becoming more popular. I see many manufacters taking baby steps using horn tweeters or just saying wave guide not calling a horn a horn. I do agree with MLsstl no one speaker for everyone but ML doesnt address the fact that hi-eff isnt just for horn designs one can build a standard dynamic with med-hieff or ribbon OB TL BR AS all can be hi-eff today I was asking more about the trends toward higher eff not just stating that horns are da bomb though I do feel that to be true;) Horns designs have also made much progress. Many when they think horns think vintage nothing wrong at all with vintage but if your only experance with horns is vintage or PA than your in for a pleasent surprise once you hear a proper modern set. And Dcstep many horns availible that dont sound vintage like klipsch I would start to list some but since I manufacter loudspeakers I dont want to add bias so search about ask others. Horns have been with us since day 1. Dont think horns will ever fade away but since hi-eff can be had without the horn. We might get others into the hi-eff club. And that should be a good thing, maybe its the giant power sucking room heating SS or tube amplifier thats days are numbered? Care to discuse? Take care and happy listening

I couldn't agree more. Lots of baby steps toward hi-eff/medium-hi eff. many of which are not horn designs. Some of these designs are so good for the price that people are jumping on the bandwagon as it is an inexpensive starting point into true audiophile territory. For the price of a mass-market big-box store speaker, someone can assemble a simple bass reflex box with a single driver or an open baffle design, using 1 piece of plywood with an OB specific driver mounted in it. So, for as little as about $200-$400 someone can get a taste of high-end sound if they are willing to do a bit of assembly.

Of course, often this will be the starting point for folks to seek out better, less compromised designs like the ones you build or like the ones on the frugal-horn site.

Concerning "power sucking room heating SS and tube amps", the medium to hi-efficiency designs allow folks to get by with lots less power, size, heat, etc. Heck, right now I have 3 amps that work great with all of my recent speakers (all medium-hi effeciency designs). They are a 6 W/channel T-class switching amp, and two different 3.5 w/channel tube amps. The simplicity and cost saving on amplifiers along was one of the primary driving forces for me to seek out efficient designs.

For less than $1000 someone can assemble a very good sounding system (CD, Amp, Speakers) if they stick to hi-efficency, low powered designs. It might not be pretty and typically wouldn't pass the WAF test, but it could sound pretty good. Of course you can spend a lot more and get even better sound, but the cost of entry can be low and can set folks on the path to great sound.

Happy Listening and enjoy the journey!

I think they are. With tubes making such a great comeback, it just makes sense that Hi-Eff would grow with it.

Taking it a step further: I think the triode is the most perfect amplifying device, especially when done in single ended mode. Now we're really limited in wpc. "Gizmo" thought you hit the wall at 10 watts for SET. I kinda agree. My fav's are the 45, 2a3, and 300b. They are the heart of my system. If I need to go louder than I already can do, I would look to a more eff speaker before a bigger amp.
I think Johnk missed one of my main points. Perhaps I can restate it as follows.

Speaker design, like all engineering projects, is a complex series of decisions regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the various choices available. This can emphasize certain sonic traits at the expense of others, or involve cost or size issues, or limit the suitability of the speaker in terms of placement or the associated equipment required.

Ribbon tweeters, for example, typically have poor vertical dispersion, historically can present distortion issues relative to other designs, and can be challenging to coherently integrate into a system.

All of that said, there are some fine systems with ribbon tweeters that many people think are great. What you have in that situation is a design where the advocates enjoy the strengths of such a system without being sensitive to (or at least bothered by) the weaknesses.

Same thing with higher efficiency designs. Once again we are back to engineering compromises. If the strong points of a design line up with a person's listening preferences, then all is good with the world. However, someone else may value characteristics not available in a high efficiency design (say low bass from a small cabinet where loud volume is not an issue) and will find a different speaker design is a better choice for them.

In summary, one often sees a pattern in audio discussions. There is the presumption that the writer's choices and perceptions are the only credible ones. Anyone who hears differently and prefers other equipment it thought to either lack proper training and education or is just wrong. It is more likely that they simply appreciate strong points of their system that are less relevant to the other person.
Mlsst I didnt miss your point I agree with some of it. But dont agree with your statement about ribbons I do feel the distortion or dispertion are not problems as such and easy to integrate in systems for me. I use most models availible. Have you had trouble integrating ribbons or are you just passing this on as fact? And sure youve heard horns that you feel honk I have too a Ford model t horn. But never have I heard this honking coloration from horn loudspeakers that you say you hear from horns. So I ask you what horns did you hear honk? This you say is a sonic trait of horns? Even my old 1890 edison doesnt honk. I do read simlar statements from others who have little to no experance with proper horn systems and are just passing on what they feel without experance or factual bases for such claims. I never said horns are the best thing since sliced bread I perfer my bread unsliced from a bakery or home made not wonder;)But do agree one needs to get out listen to find what works best for them. This posts not about praising hi-eff it was about the trend towards hi-eff transducers and loudspeaker systems. Dont mean to bust your chops but some of what youve posted needed to be addressed. Thank you for the reply.
I feel they are but wonder what others think?
Hi-eff & horns in particular seem to have picked up mkt-share. Personal experience and a few dealers here & there, of course, no hard facts. By hi-eff I mean +97dB spl, btw.

Another (possible) trend: the use of powerful amplification to drive said hi-eff spkrs -- as opposed to the traditional golden fleas... I.e. 30-50W amps for ++100dB front-loaded horns.

So I ask you what horns did you hear honk?
Perhaps a narrow circular (miscalculated exponential) front horn stretched fm upper to lower mids? A bit like those portable battery-powered pa devices?
I have been myself intrigued by this reported "honk" and usually attribute it to what is really a mismatch/ misalignment somewhere between tweet - mid- lower mid...
"03-15-08: Dcstep
Tell me, and I mean this in all seriousness and respect, is someone now making a horn speaker without that nasal midrange that drove me away from the old K-horns?? There's much to like about horns, particularly the easy dynamic range and ability to work with a great variety of amplification, including tubes.

If I were going to spend $10k, where would the horn lovers suggest that I look today?


Try Zu's... Larger model is about your price point, a new player is the 8 k a pair model
I still have no clue as to what 'honking' is. Perhaps I am tone deaf thats why I like horns so much.
Vive le Difference!
Johnk, sorry you seem to be taking this personally. I thought I was quite clear about stating that each person can be sensitive to different aspects of sonic performance.

A good analogy would be a musician having "perfect pitch." (This is the ability to accurately name a note with no external reference. Only about 10% of musicians have it and it is not a factor in how good of a musician a person becomes.) A person either has perfect pitch or they don't, but it is often tied to starting music training as a very young child. There is another example in synesthesia; some people experience it, most don't.

There is no reason to think that there are not many other sonic attributes that some people are more sensitive to than others. The fact that you or others don't hear a distinct attribute I've described as "honkiness" says more about the slight differences in what our hearing is sensitive to and how our brains process that signal than anything else. One should be able to state that without anyone feeling denigrated. Simply put, this trait is apparent to me even the highly regarded modern horn systems I've heard. It has always been apparent enough to preclude those types of speakers from consideration for my home system.

As for the distortion issue in ribbon tweeters, that's been an issue for as long as they've been around (75 years or more). Certainly modern technology and materials have made great strides in this area and efficiency, but that doesn't eliminate the fundamental design challenges. One also needs to understand that not all distortion sounds unpleasant. Certain types can be quite euphonic. (Think of musical instruments - it would be quite dull if they only produced pure sine waves. It the unique harmonics & distortion that give each instrument a unique sound.)

To use a perhaps more neutral analogy, think of cars. One can always put a bigger engine in a car and have it go faster, but that adds extra weight that affects the suspension, handling and braking. It is not too hard to imagine that one driver might value the extra power more while another driver would prefer a more nimble feel. Neither driver is "wrong" about their choice even though the engineering considerations are the same for both.

Things are what they are and different people gravitate toward different designs for a variety of reasons. No two people have their sonic priorities in exactly the same order. That alone helps explain why there are 1,000 or more speaker makes and models on the market today. If there were one design that was universally accepted as best, the list would be a lot shorter.
03-17-08: Gregm said:
"So I ask you what horns did you hear honk?
Perhaps a narrow circular (miscalculated exponential) front horn stretched fm upper to lower mids? A bit like those portable battery-powered pa devices?
I have been myself intrigued by this reported "honk" and usually attribute it to what is really a mismatch/ misalignment somewhere between tweet - mid- lower mid..."

Altec and Klipsh, many moons ago. Every horn set up that I heard was seriously colored with a nasal honk. I listen to a lot of trumpet and female vocals, so I couldn't abide that sound.

Tell me more. Is this a thing of the past?

Another question, why are consumer horns so darn expensive??? They seem relatively simple to make, yet Avant Garde gets into the tens of thousands quite quickly.

I want full range without taking up a ton of space and, of course, no honk. Where should I look?

Horns are costly for few reasons limited production, Hi-eff transducers use more costly materials large mags etc than other designs again this adds to cost. Molds for horns if plastic are very costly. Cabinets are large and complicated to constructed shipping such large systems is costly. some good horn designs Edgar horn, Avantgarde,Modern JBL,Oris, KCSloudspeakers,TAD, Goto, Ale in your price range maybe DIY or custom built would be best. You will not get horn bass in a small cabinet so your looking more at horn hybrid systems which most designs on the market are. Some of the old horns have problems with resonance and intergation of horns.Toss in old capacitors etc and I can see why when folks hear old horns they hear problems. Why judge modern designs by your experance with antiques. Like most all things tech horns have advanced.
Mlsstl, the 'honkiness' you refer to is real, -but- it is usually an artifact of using the wrong kind of amp on a horn. Amps with low output impedance can get strident and honky as the highly reactive horn driver can put an amp with lots of feedback into conniptions!

IOW to experience what horns are about is usually done with zero feedback amplifiers. All of a sudden its a different world: horns can and are every bit as extended, relaxed and detailed as the best ribbons.
Seems like I'm not in town when the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest visits my neighborhood, but maybe I'll search out a horn dealer if I can't make the next RMAF. I AM very curious, because I love easy, big, dynamic range. If I can get that uncolored with good imaging, then I'd be tempted to jump, even if it stretched my budget.

Yes, I think horns are becoming more popular. I have never heard a horn system that I could live with. That includes, the previously praised new and old versions, and yes with the supposedly correct amplifiers. I always hear that honky, nasal, shouty, sound. I always walk away from those systems shaking my head and muttering, "I just don't get it". Then again, many of the fans of those systems have publicly criticized the gear I prefer. To each his own, YMMV, etc..
Atmasphere, I certainly acknowledge that components can interact with each other and exacerbate certain conditions. It is always important to choose components that compliment each other.

That said, I'm still of the opinion that certain designs just inherently have certain traits. One can take those things into consideration to ameliorate an issue, but whether it eliminates the problem to the degree necessary for every situation is unlikely.

In my case, I've been at this for almost 40 years (including time on the professional sound side) and have yet to hear a magic combination where the amp alone fixes this particular issue for me. There comes a point where it is like a fellow who loves brussels sprouts trying to convince his friend who doesn't like them to try just one more recipe. That'll be the one that does it!

Now I've certainly heard a lot of horn systems that are very good, but as noted earlier, this distinct horn trait is apparently something that I and some others are more aware of than other people. I suspect we're just wired that way. I also know the things that impress me about a system may well leave you cold.

I happen to just think it is a good thing that plenty of excellent, but different, designs are out there. Just a matter of looking around to find what floats your boat.
`Mlsstl you still insist this honk is a Distinct trait of horns, which its not. You want to list models of horns you heard sound like this? Sure you wont, asked before. So a few have heard on passing a few problems with horn set ups but now we have you guys proclaiming all horns honk. And this sickens me for its pure BS. Glad you have such magic ears for you imply folks with horns can not hear this honk because where not wired that way more BS. If it happens it can be measured since it doesnt unless somethings wrong with set up its again a non issue. So you dont like horn systems great but to spread BS [Like all horns have the distint trait of honking] Or that maybe horn owners- designers dont hear this is because our brains are not wired that way.Is just BS. You post in absolutes. You cant just admite you dont like horns so you imply all horns have problems, have you heard all horn models availible, in every system type, have you owned horns? Sure one cant have heard all or even a small amount of what availible on the market yet you insist all horns have distict coloration or honk. And if your a smart soul you will see your error if not happy listening.This thread was never about trying to force one to like horn systems just correcting your very wrong post insisting all horns have honking colorations.
Mlsstl, I've heard horns that honk too. That does not mean they all do! I too have been at this a long time as I suspect many of the 'goners have, like you about 40 years also including professional recording and mastering. As you know, having access to good mics, master tapes and the like is a boon to developing any kind of reference so it is in that light that I ask you to view this next statement: some of the most neutral speakers I have heard are horns. Add to that list: ESLs, magnetic planars and regular cone systems.

IOW its how neutral the speaker is, not what kind of technology it is. I find the more neutral the speaker, the more it sounds like other neutral speakers, the more it sounds like the real thing.

Horns, in being neutral (which not all are), offer the benefits of being easy to drive and fantastic impact. What I **thought** was hard for them was getting the last bit of detail that a good ESL can- I had that thinking dashed at the last CES when I heard a horn that ceded nothing to ESLs in the transparency/detail department. **Without** question, horns have been an advancing technology in the 21st century.
Johnk, I see the brussels sprouts analogy flew right past you. (Actually, just for full disclosure, I happen to like them.)

I've heard horns all the way from the original 1930's Western Electric theater horns to the classic EVs, Altec Voice of the Theaters and Tannoys. One of my best friends owned the large Klipshs for many years. For the newer ones, I've heard the Avantegardes, several Fostex and Lowther incarnations, as well as the Acapellas.

As noted before, I often thought they sounded good, but every single time I knew I was listening to a horn. For me that was a distraction in spite of some other advantages, such as dynamic range, that I've already admitted.

Even Avantgarde said in a Stereophile article (Sept 2000) "that, regardless of available power, horns' high efficiency confers benefits in dynamics and low distortion, and that careful design can reduce horn colorations to a negligible level."

Notice even they did not say "eliminate" but used the word "reduce." What is "negligible" for one person may not be for another.

And I never said I or anyone else had "magic ears." I said we are probably sensitive to different things. What is confrontational about that? I used "perfect pitch" in a previous example. I don't have perfect pitch, but I sure don't denigrate those that do or suggest that they are "full of it." I even gave a reference to a book that talks extensively about how our brain hears and processes music. Like height, hair color and many other traits, this is going to vary by individual.

I'm not really interested in turning this into a 1950's style Ford vs Chevy debate. Nothing I said ever indicated that those who enjoy the strong attributes of a good horn system should stop doing so.

A main point of discussion forums on audio (or any other subject) is to engage in give and take on the subject at hand. I'm not quite sure you've taken this as a personal affront; it was certainly never meant that way.
hello the interests of full disclosure...aren't you the man behind KCSloudspeakers which is on your list of your recommended horns above? btw, please don't take offense & i'm really a nice guy. i've drooled over your website a few times.
there are perhaps individual companies(newer or start ups)experiencing more sales, but this hobby as a rule, is not capturing the imaginations of a larger consumer base. doesn't mean it won't be around...just means that overall 'flat' is the new 'up' for horns 'honking'..i prefer to refer to it as 'color and speed'.
Nothing like listening to a bit of HONKy Tonk Train Blues or HONKy Tonk Women on a pair of horn speakers that honk.
If you don't like the sound of that honky horn all you have to do is dampen the whole outside of the horn...end of problem!!
Just like trumpet players do? still would sound better than 90% of all the speakers out
Yes Pehare I own KCS and mentioned earlyer when a member asked for sugestions.That since I manufacter I didnt want to be thought of as having bias so I didnt list any, later he asked again and I posted a few including my company.
Mlsst,I dont take anything online personaly though Iam blunt when I reply. Like I said I agree with some of what you posted just dont agree with the distinct trait of horns post;)I feel it does a harm to the general audio public to state such absolutes. For years I heard from audiophiles and other in the hobbie that horns are not audiophile loudspeakers only good for PA or sound reinforcement. So for many years did I passed by horn systems for other designs. When I finally heard a quality horn system it was a eye and ear opener for me and most of our local audiophiles have gone with hi-eff systems of some sort. As I have gained experance in this hobbie I see much disinformation being passed about as fact the all horns honk is one. So it needed to be addressed. And what fun is a thread if all agree with you?
I think horns are becoming more popular because of the movement back to analog back to tubes. The eff. of horns makes them desireable. I have owned the big Klipsch for 25 years and every time I would go to hear the new non horn speakers that were supposed to be so much better I was always underwhelmed. Bass was better but that was it. Very boring and never felt real performance. Maybe I value that most, the illusion of being there and I have felt that I have BEEN there with the horns. All other speakers to me are just speakers. They can sound nice but not "alive".

I wish I could understand the anti-horn honkiness?
Dynamic range is one of the benifits of horns other designs sound compressed to me even driven with massive amplifiers. And I too feel the popularity of small tube and SS amplifers have had an increase in interest in horns and hi-eff designs. When you look at the value a small tube amplifer gives in sound quality you get more performance per audio $ outlayed than lage power SS based systems. I do enjoy such systems but cost to get equal performance is much higher than SET horn. My opionion. And YMMV
What do you think JohnK is the immediacy that we feel with horns is that what others feel is honky? I have owned the Klipsch for 25+ years and it is funny most of the time (for sure the 90's) I used to get a snicker from the store I deal at. Now all of the sudden they think horns have some benefits. This has only just changed in last 2 years. Maybe we have this "Man Cave" idea now and big speakers are Ok again. Another change I have noticed is a kind of debunking of the myth that "little" speakers can be just as good.
Well, they certainly do have a following.

Horns + tubes offer a different kind of listening experience from SS and conventional box design speakers, so I personally do find some appeal there. Not necessarily better or worse..but different, that's the key.

Also, I have an old fashioned streak in me and I find there is a special romantic appeal with horns...they are a throwback technology of sorts and beckon back to the "olden days" when things were simpler, kind of like a techni-color movie from the golden age of Hollywood on TCM. Nipper and the "His Master's Voice" RCA logo just makes me feel good, for some reason (see my system pics).

I haven't taken the horn plunge yet to date, but have spent time seriously studying the options. I may pick up a pair of inexpensive, small modern Klipsch reference series speakers at some point just to test the waters in my two channel A/V system.
Honk would be a distortion. Many horns are not of proper design for hi-end music use. Some folks have had poor listening experance with PA horns,poor designed,vintage designs with failing crossovers and thin dry cabinets. So horns have got a undeserved bad reputation. Much of this false info is just passed on as truth, never questioned I was told horns sucked for hi-end by many folks in audio when I was new to it. Think folks today are finding out that horns are much better than they where told. And now the horn is exceptable by hi-end but most still call it a wave guide. So now more folks are trying them out. Size limits sales of horns. I sell a few giants but most folks want under $2500 and vintage horns like yours fill this need nicely. I design little speakers, loudspeakers of most all types and I can own most any design type. I get to play with much costly kit but I keep coming back to giant front horn systems with small mostly SET amplifiers but I also use SS designs. Size maters in loudspeakers. But most cant afford, can not house,wife- SAF wont allow,or audiophile just doesnt want to look at, move install giants....So I dont think large sized loudspeakers will ever become popular.
One thing I must say is, other than mass market Klipsch speakers targeting the A/V market mainly in Best Buy and Tweeter, I has never seen any horn designs on display for audition at any high end shop I've been in in the last few years that I recall, and I've been in many along the DC/NY corridor.

Horns may be more trendy or popular on this site lately, but if this was a larger trend, I would expect that most high end audio shops would demo some good horn designs alongside all the other designs which you do see/hear.

AM I reading into this too much or is it possible that horns just do not sell well if stacked up side by side against other designs?
Many large horns are DIY efforts. I do have 3 audio shops within a few hours drive that demo sell horn systems. But most audioshops are geared more to HT or the old dynamic with massive amps. Since I design loudspeakers of most all types not just horns I hear horn systems against standard designs most everyday. The weak spot of the horn is size and another reason why you dont see many audioshops selling such. Some of the horn systems I have built where 18ft wide without seperating loudspeakers thats with horns touching ea. other so not many shops can handle such. So if one doesnt DIY they can order custom built horn systems. Or buy from the many manufacters of horns. If you want a all horn loudspeaker with deep bass its going to huge....And after owning designing many of these I have a hard till going back to wee dynamics in slender towers that need minimum 200 watts just to have some dynamic range. But most audio types seem to be happy with this system type...Probly because the wife is;)
Why is it that not many dealers that cater to the higher end market show horn designs in their showrooms along with all the other popular designs?

You would think that if horns were really popular that you would see and hear them around more (other than the latest Klipsch).
I do have some friends who own retail stores and I can see why they do not want horns or any large speaker. Floor space cost of selling is huge. They said the Plasma, LCD is very much about less space in the store and the storage room.

What you are saying about the wee dynamics is the reason after 25 years I still have the Klipsch. Regular speakers I always fell like I have to imagine what the performance is like. The big horns you don't have to imagine! Do you find on the modern horns you can listen at low volumes with excellent dynamics. That is the biggest draw to me on horns. The tower speakers need to reach a certain volume level to make it worth listening too. I can listen to the horns at a low volume level and be quite happy!

John the cost of modern horns though?? Much higher than the ample supply of old (Klipsch) horns? What is the better parts of new horns?
Size maters in loudspeakers. But most cant afford, can not house,wife- SAF wont allow,or audiophile just doesnt want to look at, move install giants....So I dont think large sized loudspeakers will ever become popular

Quite agree. "don't want to look at" beats the greatest sound 99 times out of a 100...and yet this hobby is supposed to be about the only have to look at the beautiful cabinet work on the highest end tall narrow elegant speakers to realize that big horns don't really stand much of a chance.
Shadorne I do agree with what you are saying to a point my Klipsch will NEVER get in the livingroom or I will be single! The Linn tower speakers are very attractive and look great just sitting there and yet I MISS the big horn sound. Yes they are butt ugly but if it was all about looks and convience how do you explain the resurgence of vinyl? The resurgence of tubes? Surely are hard drive with all your music on with the smallest most attractive speakers is what most women would want? Yet in some of these monster homes that are being built surely there is space for a room dedicated to just sound with little regard to "looks".

People did say vinyl was dead, tubes were dead, big speakers (horns for sure) were dead and yet that those seem to be the growth areas????
05-22-08: Johnk ... So I dont think large sized loudspeakers will ever become popular.

Whilst that may be true, it is really sad.

Big(gish) horns do sound great. I have a pair of Cardersound Madisons that are little over 6 foot high and I am bolwed over by their sound each time I listen, even though I have owned them about 6 months now.

I honestly cannot imagine ever going back to small monitor - high wattage amps again.


The Cardersound dual loaded horns have caught my eye here on a'gon of late.

They appear well made and reasonably affordable and the point source design with the high/low double horn loading is a design that, having never actually heard, makes a lot of sense to me.

I'd love to hear them just for the sake of hearing them. Unfortunately, the big speaker effect discussed in this thread impacts me...there is nowhere in my home I could place them and do them justice even if I were inclined to.
Funny thing is you don't need to see them being popular, besides some bose, or jbl, polk speakers, Klipsch I am sure sells just as many pairs that would shock you in the #'s here and overseas...

Marketing is not as needed as you think.

They have always been popular, its like metallica, they sell out all their concerts but nobody that watches american idol has probably even heard of them today, or seen them so automatically its not commercial or the popular universal choice.. Our hobby is not commercial, but its way bigger than most probably think.
(Disclaimer: No I am not a big metallica fan, it was a solid example showing its bigger than you think is all, and they have quietly sold millions of albums underground and more commercially)