After hearing some incredible horn systems
What have you heard and can you describe what it is you like about horns viz a viz your current setup?
As far as I can see you have plenty of bass already - so is it more dynamics or forwardness of just greater loudness in the midrange - is that where you are at?
I want greater low level resolution and reduced distortion. I think the increased speed of horns is nice, but the ability to resolve complex classical & play at loud volumes with little if any distortion or strain is unparraleled. Especially after hearing compression drivers. I recently heard Cessara Beta horns. They were a revelation in detail & resolution. No horn coloration. They weren't perfect, but very close. Using all TAD drivers. I noticed a few people changing to horns after having speakes in the 50K price range. I am curious about their experiences.
Well you can't beat horns for distortion levels that will compete with headphones - so you are on the right track for detail - but can you live with that kind of directivity. Room issues/setup/sweetspot may become a bigger challenge.
You are right about the sweet spot being incredibly narrow. Within the sweet spot it is perfect but outside almost monoaural in sound.
I went from dynamics to electrostatic and now horns. I still design dynamics but for my mains its a all front horn system. And it doesnt have a narrow sweet spot, doesnt sound like mono when out of said sweet spot,doesnt require massive room and great distance for drivers to integrate, doesnt have problems with coloration etc. But its very large still can fit right in a corner so takes up little floor space. All loudspeakers have +- traits to me horns have far less - than other designs. To me horn - are size cost.
After my recent auditioning of the Acapella High Violins Mk IV I believe they are the best sounding speaker I've ever hear. I had TAD 1601c, ET703, and 4001 with the TH4001 wood horns in my last speakers. Before that many JBL and Altec horn systems, and before that Sound Labs and Martin Logans going back 15 yrs. All I can say is its a different league of listening experience. I too particularly want to be able to hear all when listening at low levels and they did that in spades. I also walked around the room listening and found them excellent from outside the sweet spot. The room was very well treated.
Just my 2 cents, listen to them if you can. Please note: I bought them and intend to become a dealer.
You might want to listen to some line arrays before you take your entire system in a different direction. They can offer some of the advantages of horns and some unique properties of their own.
I suspect what people are pointing out is that there are horns and there are horns => short throw and long throw horns and everything in between. If you make the leap then perhaps the jump to long throw horns like Cessara Beta horns might be to much room/sweetspot challenging compared to your existing setup. Perhaps you should start auditioning a shorter throw horn design to see if you can get that resolution and something with a wider sweetspot.
Looking at you system, I suspect that your Wilsons are not optimally set in the room. With the proper set they'll sound much more dynamic and stress free. You seem to have enough power to drive them, but the any flaws in the set will prevent you from enjoying their potential.
See my Review of the Sumiko Master Set. for a hint at what potential can be unlocked.
by their very nature, deep bass notes can be somewhat 'fat' and slower sounding. i think that sometimes familiarity breeds contempt, even in the finest systems. its not uncommon for audiophiles to struggle to get real bass, and then when they get it, they don't necc like it.
by their very nature, deep bass notes can be somewhat 'fat' and slower sounding.
Jaybo may be on to something. Masking is an important issue in what you hear. More plundering of the bass depths can be the pleasureable result of ported designs/bass extended designs and some boomy room modes that they excite. There is probably nothing more impressive than plundering the depths in the bass.
However more bass and higher group delay can actually mask some of the midrange detail when listening. Take out the thunderous bass and boom from room modes and you may hear things you never heard before.
Could Jaybo/Dave be on to something - speaker setup?
Yeah, those speakers are too far into the room. I suspect that they were pulled out there to remove midrange coloration caused by bass nodes interferring with the mids. They need to go back closer to the wall, but the nodes need to be avoided. Dealers trained to do the Sumiko Master Set know how to avoid those nodes and integrate mids and bass. It's hard for the untrained to do, so I'd suggest finding a Sumiko dealer that'll do it for your system.
I'll give you my personal(non sonic)take on this.....
After years in this hobby,I finaly have a system that I have no desire to upgrade anymore(for a month or two,at least)since I feel I have the "sonic signature" I've been after......Yet...
My friends' set-ups,my own set-up,and the super set-ups I constantly hear at shows/dealers/acquaintances just seem to be getting far to complex.
This surely will invite inevitable downtime,due to the nature of "these" configurations.Yes,they do sound superb...but...
I have heard some horn set-ups which do quite a nice job,and if chosen carefully,require far less complexity in the partnering equipment.I've thought alot about this,and would think seriously about a "simple" horn set-up in the future.
Take a look at the circuitry in the latest "First Watt Amp"(perfect for horns).The F-5 model.
This amp will most likely last a lifetime,with NO relibility issues(very simple/beautifully carried out circuitry)but does not have the kind of power for speakers like my friend's power hungry Magico Minis.AHorn" though?Fabulous!!!
After years of occassional reliability issues,which we all have,or will experience(mine have had very happy endings)it becomes a pain in the tush to even "think" about repacking stuff up.Waiting for lengthly service.Worrying about multi tube heat/reliability,and....
just too many component boxes inviting more "mess-around" time,with less listening time.Some folks like this.I used to be one of them.
Now, I just want a superb/simple set-up,which does what my years in the hobby has earned me(I think).
Simple "set amp","pre" and non complex ancillaries(not the rediculous multi box/multi tubed/multi bucks monsters some reviewers pitch,which will also require a "refridgerated listening room")and you're good to go!
Just my two cents!
Have you listened to horns? I think you need to understand some of the physics related to horns to understand that there is a limitation to what a dynamic speaker can do compared to a horn. The mass of the driver is so much smaller than any dynamic driver This will allow a compression driver to be so much faster than any dynamic driver, allowing for the increased detail & resolution with less distortion. It is just not possible for a dynamic driver to equal a horn in those aspects.
On to your advocating improved setup of my speakers. I used what Wilson terms the WASP system. All Wilson speakers have adjustable pivot points for the tweeter. Indeed the speakers are out into the room due to freeing up the speaker from the resonance of the rooom. This is done by voicing the room while having someone at the seating position. It is also done w. 1/4 inch precision.
Dgad, of course I've listened to horns.
You seem sold, so go ahead. I still doubt that your Wilsons are in their optimal positions.
I thought your were asking for advice and now that I re-read you OP I see that you may have already made up your mind. Sorry if I disturbed your euphoria.
I am curious what systems people had before and after a switch to horns. Or maybe in the reverse direction & why. Are you "happier" in the long run. I know it involves a major equipment change. Simplification in one way depending on direction. I need to do some listening to hear some of the full range / without crossover solutions some people love. I have heard some incredible dynamic speakers that don't use crossovers. Yet, for true full range extension additional bass drivers/horns and high power amplification will be needed at least for the bottom octave. And for the highs, maybe a supertweeter. I read somene selling of their line arrays w. a linear ribbon as well in favor of a horns system. I am curious if more people have done the same.
PS, my speakers are excellent, I just know there is a level up but for a price. That is the question. And it appears that for the money, speakers have the largest impact on sound.
I switched from dynamic speakers to Avantgarde Duo Omega horns. These are obviously not full range horns but the midrange clarity, detail and imaging are fantastic. I also feel that the bass is very good and well integrated so long as the level is matched sensibly.
I can't really describe in audiophile terms why (for me) horns hit the spot but they just do and leave me grinning from ear to ear. I think it is the sheer excitement of explosive transients (but at sensible dB levels) that makes the sound seem so 'live'.
The other advantage with efficient horns is that you can use simple and low power amps. I have tried a variety of amps ranging from Advantage, Avantgarde, Altmann BYOB and now Atmaspere OTL. All produced great music but valves seem to capture the subtlety of a musician so much better.
Go horns... Detail is amazing and dynamics like real music, after having had horns for a while my friends systems with dynamic speakers sound like a very nice reproduction of music, horns sound like music right there...I tried a lot of full rangers in open baffle and they were nice, but no challenge for real horns...Lowthers are very good with detail, untill you compare them face to face with a compression driver...For full range drivers you are going to have to add a super tweeter and a sub woofer to patch up a full ranger, and then get rid of any whizzers...
Horns are really the end of the road, they play everything well from a girl with guitar that will make your eyes watery to full Symphonies that will have your heart pounding!
The best soundstage I ever heard was with horns also, side to side, behind the speakers and IN FRONT of the speakers, you will never get that with dynamics speakers.
You are saying exactly what I experienced. What kind of speakers are you using? Do you feel the compression drivers are superior to the full range drivers as you explained above? I would love some more details.
PS- Amazing how Dcstep can tell your system isn't properly set up without ever hearing it.
I had a long extended listen to the Maxx2's at a hi-fi show, they were in a nice big room, they are very good speakers, but I would not swap my KCS Oris 150's for them (the truest hi-fi bargain for the price). I also agree with Jsadurni, once one has listened to a good pair of horn speakers I do not think one could go back to any other enclosed speaker. All IMHO, naturally.
Based on your comments you might try to audition ATC also - at least before taking the plunge - SCM100asl and upwards (depending on room size). In essence these are one of only very few conventional box speakers that sound as dynamic as the most "you are there" horns. The wide dispersion will make placement and adaptability to various rooms much easier than a horn - making what you hear in a demo more likely to be achievable at home and over a wide sweetspot. Anyway don't take my word for it though -see this review
If clarity, transparency, detail and dynamics is what excites you about horns then these conventional speakers are worth checking out (along with good horns of course).
Quite a few horn lovers I know also mentioned ATC. I want to give them a listen as well.
I read the review a short while ago. The reviewer mimics what I heard. That is why I posted the thread. I am curious how many others have experienced horns as the "final" step on the audio ladder.
Jeff Day swapped his Duos for Bland British Boxes (I'm being sarcastic about their bashers - I think they're great). My point is only that it happens.
I think the dynamics of many well-made dynamic speakers will sound very close to what front horns do *on most music*. On orchestral - probably not. I don't listen to orchestral.
Paul dynamics can not equal the dynamic range of a front horn no mater how much power you feed them. It just isnt going to happen.
Paul dynamics can not equal the dynamic range of a front horn no mater how much power you feed them. It just isnt going to happen
Completely agree. In fact for sound reinforcement and for stadiums really horns are the only way to go. The narrower dispersion can also be a huge benefit in these applications in getting a good soundstage to different sections of the audience (Haas effect).
As I mentioned above there are very few conventional box speakers that can compete dynamically and even then we are talking about domestic spaces. I would also be wary of horns with excessively high compression ratio - extreme high efficiency - as you will get harmonic distortion in the treble at higher SPLs. I would also avoid long throws (narrow dispersion) as this will make room/placement and synergy with the bass much tougher. But I fully agree that good horns are going to sound great - just in the way you describe - the "you are there" dynamic factor and nothing else really competes.
Dgad, ATC are used at Disney Concert Hall
- that is a stereo set of speakers with three midrange domes per channel. I think this picture tells you that they do indeed play dynamically even if they are not a horn. One of the few speakers if not the only conventional speaker that can compete.
I would also be wary of horns with excessively high compression ratio - extreme high efficiency - as you will get harmonic distortion in the treble at higher SPLs. I would also avoid long throws (narrow dispersion) as this will make room/placement and synergy with the bass much tougher
Please explain the above in more detail. I don't understand it 100%.
Excessively high compression ratio :You get non-linearities in air compression in the compression chamber at extreme compression (high efficiencies). It creates harmonic distortion. I would not think you need to worry about this with hi-fi designs - however it is worth asking about. Bear in mind, the higher the compression and the greater the efficiency the overall more difficult and precise the design - phase plugs and such in the throat can be tricky and tolerances become very important. I guess I am saying don't just aim for the highest efficiency you can find - like something you can rock the whole neighbourhood with on a mere 1 watt amp!
Avoid long throws (narrow dispersion): This is easier to explain. The Bass radiates in all directions - so it uniformly fills your room in every direction. A long throw narrow dispersion horn is going to "beam" energy in a narrow path towards the listener. The hard part is where do you sit and how is it voiced and does this match your room and listening position. There is a danger that your brain interpretes the two very different soundfields separately. This effect was studied by Dr Floyd Toole at NRC labs in Canada in the 70's. Since then it has been the general consensus that the dispersion in the midrange and treble needs to be very wide horizontally in order to provide a pleasing "natural" sound field (i.e the reverberant energy from the room matches what you would expect to hear across the entire frequency range if you replaced your stereo by real musicians). If you look at the modern Klipsch and JBL designs you will see that they tend to respect this by using short throw horns with wider dispersion.
If you look at the modern Klipsch and JBL designs you will see that they tend to respect this by using short throw horns with wider dispersion
And I would add - that they sound great!
Along the lines of what Shadorne is describing, there is usually a minimum recommended distance the listening position needs to be from the mouth of the horn. This may not be such a big deal with a single full range horn, but with a 2 or 3 way it is needed to give the sound time to blend. This distance is probably related to some dimension of the horn but I don't know what it is.
A very happy horny guy. ;-)
Did you read what I wrote? I said there is little _practical_ difference in the dynamic range of horns vs. *some* (definitely not most!) coned speakers on *much* music (NOT orchestral!). IOW, on jazz, and smaller scale music, some very good coned speakers are _practically_ as dynamic _in the home environment_ as front horns.
Why the talk of stadiums and pro sound? Who cares?
Admittedly I do not speak from vast experience as I've never owned front horns. But I've been to the shows and listened to them.
You are quite right to say that on symphonic music, it's a different story, and that very few boxed speakers of any kind display impressive dynamics in general.
And come to think of it some of the non-horn speakers I'm thinking of do have some horn-loaded elements (Audiokinesis, E-P). But some of them do not.
Based on what you are saying (I am new to understanding horns) a long throw horn - front loaded - will be longer in length rather than wider? In the case of a very long Bass Horn that is front loaded (rather than a folded bass horn - I assume that is rear loaded?) will be to directional and not disperse well?
I looked at your system. I see Edgarhorns & Acapellas. So my question to you is do you have an Ion tweeter? How does it compare to a Compression driver? I assume the Acapellas have some issues with the bass speed compared to the horn. Correct me if I am wrong.
And to all - do you go DIY for horns in a full range sense. I get a feeling going all out the speakers will sell for well above $100K. Hence, I respect Shadorne's use of ATC to keep things in perspective. I have been told by a few hornys that their dynamic speakers of choice are either PMC or ATC.
Dan ed not all large horn systems are limited as you say. I have designs that integrate at normal listening postions. Even 1 that you can sit 6ft away and its a seemless whole just depends on the design not a limit on horn design in general, just some designs need more space. And Shadorne I have not heard or have measured problems with compression in hi-quality compression drivers. Sure its posible but compression driver designers are well awear of it and realy its not a problem at all for any quality horn loudspeakers.
Why the talk of stadiums and pro sound? Who cares?
Sorry if I confused everyone. I was just trying to explain that long throw horns with narrow dispersion tend to be used to direct coverage over a small narrow area and work extremely well in stadiums where you have multiple sets of speakers cover section of the crowd just like "spotlights". I guess it was not clear but this "spotlight" feature which is ideal in stadium and hall applications are generally more diffuclt to set up in a room.The "long and short" of it is that shorter wider dispersion horns are what I would tend to focus on for domestic settings (in the mid range and treble of course).
Sorry for a late response, I have been away from my computer. I have tried Lowthers on M.King transmision line, on Open Baffle and on Front horns, really the best setup for lowthers is front horns they sound very sweet (unlike to how they sound on boxes), even on front horns that load down to 170 hz they dont really go that low, on OB I was cutting them a 100 hz and they were having trouble with that...I do believe Lowther to be the most Dynamic dynamic speaker...lets rephrase that, the most dynamic cone speaker...It gets totally killed by compression drivers, I compared head to head Lowther DX3 and Altec 906 and the difference was night and day (plus I hate whizzers)
For a limited range you can even find more dynamic cone drivers than lowthers (Beyma, 18sound) but for a longer range Lowthers are indeed very good, the thing is that they step on Compression driver territory (500-800 hz) and they have nothing to do there in comparison!
I am actually using a Beyma 1" driver from 1.2khz instead of the Altec 906 I had (I may be changing these soon for either Radian or Beyma 750) I have a 170hz Exp horn with an 18sound driver that goes lower than the Lowthers did and have a fuller tone.
I do have a Supertweeter from 6khz up, the Compression Driver was having trouble on complicated symphonic passages going all the way up.
I love huge Symphonic music I used to have a pass for the local Theater but traffic jams have kept me starving for music. On the best dynamic system I listened to I never could get a full orchestra to play correctly and so I lost interest on reproduced Classical music, once I got into front loaded horns and got a system that could play Classical music properly I almost only listen to it when doing critical listening, for gatherings or parties I play everything.
Once you can listen to the violins on the left, Violas on the center-right and cellos on the right, trumpets on the right mainly and Precussion on the back left you know it is getting there, Last night I was playing Borodins Plovtsian Dances and when the percussions came in (minute 3:10 Antal Dorati version) I jumped off my seat!
Not to say Girl with guitar music doesnt sound good, it sounds wondefully deatiled dynamic and present, but once you have the luxury of a full orchestra playing just for you, its hard to pick something else!
JohnK, thanks for correcting me. I know that you are very much more experienced with horns and I certainly haven't experimented with all configurations, including my own Edgarhorns. I have heard of folks with the same horn system as I use that listen near field. Myself, I sit about 12 feet away.
Anyway, I give a big thumbs up to horns!
You mentioned that you recently heard the Cessaro "Beta" horns.
Can you tell me a little about their strengths and weaknesses?
I thought that the Betas were only available in Germany and Asia. Did you hear them here in North America?
I'm told that they are great speakers but that the TAD drivers can sound a little "hi-fi-ish."
There is a pair of KCS Oris horn's for sale here on Audiogon.
I almost bought them, but they are blue and could not convince 'her highness' that they go with an antique red looking sofa!
I bet they sound Incredible. For what you are getting for the price you are getting them, they could be such a bargain. I seriously doubt you could buy a better pair of speakers for the money.These sort of speakers are hard to shift secondhand. Don't know why personally. Maybe a bit big and ungainly, but surely for sound quality alone they are worth their weight and size, not mention the very reasonable price.IMHO
I heard the Cessaro Betas in Germany in a home system. They were slightly modified from standard using a Field Coil Midrange and TAD drivers for tweeter & super tweeter. Also folded horn TAD woofers. I think 4 drivers for the bass. There were limitations to the sound. Primarily the room was small so bass couldn't generate 100%.
The system uses an adjustable crossover on top. I felt the treble could be turned down a touch. So in that regard, they could be taken as slightly high fi ish. But...I am wondering how a Fostex Supertweeter would compare and has me curious.
There was a certain magic in these speakers that defies all electronics etc. Hard to explain, but resolution and a lack of distortion was present at any volume setting. If you closed your eyes, you could not find the speakers (within the sweet spot) and the speakers being fairly tall gave a very realistic image size. The body on male vocals was spooky to say the least. With acoustic guitar the strings came to life. You didn't strain to hear any detail. It was there. Not unrealistic just there. It makes you question where to put your money. Speakers vs. electronics. This was run with I think 1 watt.
I will give you a little of my listening biases as they have matured. I have been looking for a speaker that can play well at both low & high volumes. I have found speakers that sound OK loud but then very poor at low volumes. And speakers that excel at low volumes only to distort at high volumes. Actually, I want to crank it up once in a while at close to 100 db. Yes, crazy, but here in Aruba there aren't many concerts to go to. I am extremely sensative to distortion of any form and work endlessly to eliminate it. To date no dynamic speaker I have heard aside from some truly Giant multi driver arrays have been able to handle such a task. My Maxx IIs have thier limits. Also they don't have the detail of the Cessaros at any level. They have been older designs. And the crossovers have been audible. Another huge sensitivity for me. Most speakers get very congested at loud volumes. They lose detail and smear. I would say this is room related to some extent, but after hearing the Cessaros this was no longer the case. You can listen at 100db and not even know you are listening so loud. No distortion etc. And everything remains stable in space with a transparency that is hard to believe. There is no horn coloration at all. The crossovers are seemless, all 1st order. Many horn people love the speed a horn can give. I like the speed but find more important is the lack of distortion.
Thus I am now progressing to setting up a 2nd system w. horns in the future. I am trying to learn as much as possible to get a sense of direction and find setting up a horn system quite a daunting task. Too many options and I need to learn the benefits. I won't mention many of the popular horns I have heard that many love. Suffice it to say, they all have been colored (horn sounding) and the crossover has been detectable.
Very nice description Dgad. Thanks for taking the time.
It's uncanny; you and I are looking for exactly the same thing at this point in the hobby. I too am extremely sensitive to distortion.
The -only- reservation I have about my MBL 101Es is that they too get congested at loud volumes during complex passages. They lose detail and smear and the soundstage becomes confused. This is true with any of the many amplifiers I have used with them, though my current amps tend to compound the problem (no amps have sounded less distorted or as wonderful under 93db, however).
I would like a speaker that, as you say, "You can listen at 100db and not even know you are listening so loud. No distortion etc. And everything remains stable in space with a transparency that is hard to believe."
I'm also looking for speakers that I can run with my 300B SET amps.
These two factors have led me to search for horn speakers using compression drivers. I ruled out the following a few years back (no offence to current owners intended):
Acapella [great tweeter however]
Drivers such as Lowthers and Fostex
The shortlist of speakers/drivers I would like to hear, in no particular order, are:
1. Sunny Cable H3W18 Majestic:
I think they use a GOTO driver in the midrange horn
5. Danley (pro-sound but interesting designs)
6. I'm open to suggestions as long as they don't involve asking me to revisit things that I have already ruled out or products that will be grossly inferior to the MBL 101Es in most other areas of sound reproduction.
Since I have no DIY talent or experience with horn or crossover design, I'm not going to buy separate drivers and horns and try to cobble something together. I'm also not going to hire someone to put something together that I haven't already heard. I, therefore, would have to hear a complete speaker system that sounds incredible in order to convince me to give up my beloved MBLs.
Yes we are in the same boat. I was curious if there were others. It is nice not be alone. I feel a few others have gone this way as well.
Horns are very complex to understand and the horn world has so many options. Also how to integrate bass is going to be a problem. Have you seen the massive 20 feet long bass horns some use. Others use a folded horn or a back loaded horn. I have to hear more implementations to know what is my direction.
I also think you can do it for less. I have been told by a few people a compression driver and field coil come very close. I prefer to do without the hassle of a field coil but love what I heard. The TAD drivers are great and the Cessaros might be an option due to their turn-key installation & adjustability. But there are also fabulous US products around. I just spoke w. one designer who was incredibly informative and modest. There is a lot to learn.
The truth is I think horns have come a long way but also have thier limits. I don't want to throw in a ton of money only to find I made a mistake. While I can sell a Maxx II or you can sell your 101es, most horns will be impossible to sell unless they are Avantgardes or the like which we both don't want.
I also want to hear the Sunny speaker. I think it is a back loaded bass horn with front loaded highs & mids. Have you heard any you liked. The Cessaros blew my mind from the mids on up. I would have turned down the highs a notch but the crossover easily allows for that. Total clarity and no distortion. Something special. You feel you need to pay for admission the sound is so good. Especially the wonderful air pressure in the room from listening to a 12 string guitar as if it is in front of you. You are left with a giant smile like the first time you heard a great system.
"You can listen at 100db and not even know you are listening so loud. No distortion etc. And everything remains stable in space with a transparency that is hard to believe."
ATC, PMC will do it and so will some horns and several other high end designs but you are basically getting into the realms of professional main studio monitors (Westlake, Meyer, custom Augspergers with Tad drivers - take your pick). If you sit 4 meters back (large room like I do) then you are talking 112 db SPL capability at 1 meter continuous to get your 100 db spl at the listening position (and remember that headroom up to 122 db SPL may be required to be handle this cleanly on some music).
Very few speakers can do this that are not specifically designed for this task....and they only sell handfuls of these kind of speakers - not tens of thousands like B&W's. Most people don't want or need this kind of eye watering capability - but it can be incredibly fun and exhilerating.
Dgad,nice post....Btw,didn't I meet you at HE 2007?There are not many other hobbyists living in Aruba,whom I met at that show,so I assume this "is" you.
Sorry for my short session listening to the Singer demo,with you.
"The -only- reservation I have about my MBL 101Es is that they too get congested at loud volumes during complex passages. They lose detail and smear and the soundstage becomes confused."
I'll bet any speakers with a sensitivity of 81dB/2.83V/m powered by 40watt tube amps(no offence to current owners intended), will sound congested if you try and push them past 93db in a big room.
Solution: Spectron Musician III SE Mk. 2 monoblock amplifiers.
You missed, or simply ignored, the part in my post where I said "This is true with any of the many amplifiers I have used with them."
Two of them were monobocks, each worth over $30,000 a pair. One of these delivered 640 watts into 4 ohms and the other 220 watts into 4 ohms. Believe me, I've tried throwing high-quality watts at the tops (105Hz and up) of these speakers.
I only hooked the SETs up to the speakers as joke when I was between amplifiers; it turned out the joke was on me!
My 40 watt SET amps distort after 93db but MBLs get congested at loud volumes during complex passages no matter what amps you put on them and no matter how many watts you throw at them. The upper drivers simply reach their excursion limits.
The Spectron Musician III SE Mk. 2 monoblock amplifiers; the top MBL amplifiers; the CAT JL-3 Signatures; the top Boulders monoblocks, none of these is the solution because the problem isn't amplification, its the drivers.
I'm pretty sure I'll never find amps that sound better (to me) under 93dB so that's why I have the 40 watt SETs. If you heard my speakers without seeing my amps you'd swear the amps were putting out over 250 watts (not that I have to justify my decision to you or anybody else).
I have to ask you about the "air pressure in the room" with the Cessaros. One of the reasons I gave up on the idea of owning horns a few years ago was because I often felt a sort of pressure on my skull, which quickly let to a headache, when listening.
I know a horn lover in Italy who feels the same thing but puts up with it because the sound is so good.
Did you feel any sort of fatigue or discomfort with the Cessaros?
I went from electrostats to horns, bypassing dynamic altogether. In doing so, I have found what I didn't know that I was looking for. The dynamics and "you-are-there-ness" are far ahead of dynamic speakers. Years on, I still get the shivers with certain music.
Even good horns have weak points. It is difficult to integrate midrange and bass. Finding dynamic bass which has the "speed"/dynamics/delicacy to match the midrange is difficult. If I ever build my own place in the country (on a hilltop with a beautiful view), I will build large horns into the ground/walls. Also, to get to the mid-bass (say, below 200Hz), horns can get very large and some people don't like that. If you can live with the deficiencies and still like horns, then you probably belong with them.
I went from electrostats to omni-directionals.
Your speakers look very cool.
I also like the idea of building a house
around horns like they do in Japan.
for more on horns, see
anyone have any thoughts on how a horn would do in a small (15*11) room, w horns on 15' wall?