Horn speakers with Imaging?

Do horn speakers really offer good Imaging? My SAP J2001mkII do offer great clarity and revealing music, but no Imaging.
Some do but I think most don't. I find the Edgarhorns to image quite well within a fairly narrow sweet spot. The SP Tech speakers also image well over a wider area. I'm afraid that I can hear the loudspeaker as the sound source with most other horn systems that I can think of offhand; in general the qualities that draw people to horn loudspeakers lie in other areas.

There is a horn loudspeaker in development that images quite well and does an exceptional job of disappearing as the sound source, as the designer has gone to extraordinary lengths to minimize image-degrading and coloration-generating artifacts from both the horn and cabinet. I've heard the prototypes, and intend to become a dealer for this speaker when it becomes available, hopefully within the next few months.

I'm sure my observations here are incomplete, so hopefully others will share their knowledge.
I have a homebuilt cabinets for JBL S8R system with potato masher horns. Awsome imaging and soundstage. I think it depends on how you set them up and how you drive them. Did you check to see if the speakers were connected in phase? That may be why you have no imaging. Check the driver hookups in addition to the amp to speaker connection..
The new Avant-Guarde Meta-Uno that I heard at CES05 were sensational at imaging. However, most horn speakers are not know for their imaging.
A guy that i had known for years had never heard a "high end" audio system before. I had been to his house a few times for parties and even repaired some gear for him ( Pioneer receiver and Pioneer speakers ), but he had never come by my place.

As far as gear goes, all of his stuff was basically thrown wherever it would fit and treated strictly as a tool to listen to music, much like most people do. As such, he had one speaker up on a desk and the other on the floor. They were aimed "wherever" and the sound was obviously nothing that would ever get me excited. None the less, he was happy with what he had and listened to music for several hours a day every day.

When he finally made it over to my place ( he started dating my girlfriends best friend ), i put on an Ian Anderson disc and told him to have a seat in the sweet spot. I selected a specific track and had him listen to it. On this track, there's a specific part where a ringing bell literally walks across the entire width of the soundstage. Each time the bell rings, you hear the bell strike and decay a few feet away from where it was the last time it sounded. On top of that, the bell retains a specicic height above the floor as it moves from one side to the other, adding to the specific spatial cues that one hears.

When this part of the song came up, i saw his eyes raise up and his back stiffen. Obviously, he had never heard a system that presented both a consistent soundstage with good imaging. As soon as that part of the song passed, he turned and said "how did you do that?". Needless to say, I told him that there is information like that on a lot of different recordings. His response was to say that he had never heard anything like that, not even on headphones. I proceeded to pick out a few other discs that he himself owned and would be familiar with. After seeing that there was quite a bit of music that he owned but had never heard come out of his speakers before, he asked why that was. I told him that it had a lot to do with proper speaker placement and room acoustics.

After explaining a few things to him, we made arrangements for me to stop by and help him get his system dialed in a little better. Quite honestly, there wasn't much to work with, but we were able to get things sounding much better when all was said and done. He now had a much better performing system, but it was still limited to being a Pioneer cd player feeding a Pioneer receiver feeding Pioneer floor-standers.

A very short period of time after that, he ended up upgrading all of his components and speakers. When i asked what made him do that, he told me "my old stuff doesn't sound good anymore". There were a few "friendly cuss words" involved once he took the plunge into better gear, telling me that it was all my fault that he had spent all of his money on a new stereo. He never really got into "audiophilia" as i had hoped, but he does have a decent system that he's quite happy with.

And the moral of this story? The speakers that he heard all of the imaging, soundstage and spatial information come from were a set of modified Klipsch Heresy's being driven by a used $350 SS amplifier. Obviously, horns can image. Whether or not they do is up to the individual design, proper speaker placement / room acoustics and the quality of the signal being fed into them. Sean
My Avantgardes image beautifully and I have heard even better with the same speakers in better rooms than mine.
I agree with sean. Placement , room , components & mostly the speaker design itself plays a big role. My Mauhorns which are quite big in size ( approx. 36"x13"x32" HWD ) disappear completely. I am unable to place them with my eyes closed. The presence is tremendous with a 300B amp .
Only problem, they are very directional. One feet away from the sweet spot & the whole perception changes. Also one needs to have the listening seat a bit away than usual for proper integration between the drivers.
Sean, can you give me the track and CD, I would like to hear it on my Cornwalls, VRD, BLueberry, ES333C sony setup.
Sean, please tell us what modifications there are to your Heresys. One wonders whether the mods have added significantly to the imaging abilities of your pair.
Thanks, Lee
My Avanatgarde Duos disappear from my room. I just hear musicians. The images are slightly fuller than say with my LS3/5a speakers, but real musicians don't provide pinpoint images anyway.
Experimenting a lot with them is the key. Pull them way out from the back walls then try measuring how far the horns are from the listening position and your ears by placing a tape measure from the end of your horns within 1/8" tolerance / distance of each other to your ear and also decoupling them from the floor with something like a svelte shelf. You may like what you hear. Horns CAN image but I'm not familiar with SAP. Now, can they do texture is another question. Perhaps you can describe your room setup, positioning and partnering equipment?

My previous Klipsch Forte 3's imaged very well. The Cornwall 4's that replace them were not imaging quite as well until I began tweaking the audio equipment driving them with brass spike and cup style supports. You might notice that the thinner speakers tend to image better than wider speakers right out of the box.

Wow, seeing this thread pop up is a trip down memory lane.

Eighteen years ago I wrote the first reply of this thread, and then-unnamed prototype speaker I mentioned was the magnificent Summa by Earl Geddes. Earl ended up selling his designs direct and mostly as kits, and has since retired. And about a year after that 2005 post I became a speaker manufacturer too, with my designs all drawing on things I learned from Earl.


@audiokinesis . I was reading this thread thinking about how well your Jazz Modules did with imaging and soundstage with the directional waveguide (I guess it qualifies as a horn?). Nice surprise to see your post when I got to the end of it!

Nice seeing S.P. Tech (by Bob Smith) mentioned by @audiokinesis, although back in ’05 now. I owned a pair of their Timepiece MkIII model around 2010. Two friends of mine still use the Revelation model in their respective setups, one running the Rev’s full-range and passively configured, the other fully actively and subs-augmented (with the Rev’s high-passed). Bob worked on a Grand Rev model with dual 10" Seas woofers (same as used in the Rev’s, just bigger) and an oval waveguide, a behemoth of a speaker, but it never got to see the day of light before SP Tech went under. Especially the subs-augmented and actively configured Rev’s of my friend image really, really well, and are somewhat more resolved and transiently clean than their passive counterpart (which are a fiendishly heavy load to most amps; they were developed with the Crown Studio Ref. I’s). It’s one of the few setups I’ve heard that can make a well-recorded large symphony orchestra come fairly authentically to life, even organ concerts, which is no small feat, though not least a testament to my friend’s ability to actively implement and tweak a setup in the extreme. That said they sound bottlenecked compared to my own, also actively configured setup with very different speakers for pro cinema use and Tapped Horn subs.

I've owned some really good mini monitors as well as floorstanders known for good imaging, and none have been better, or even as food as my Klipsch Epic CF 4 speakers. They have a more complete soundfield than the others. In other words, instead of left, center right, there is no dropout between the three. The soundfield is more continuous as well as larger and taller.


I remember when you shared your vision with me when I was on my horn journey.  At that time you were not in the production stage.  Glad to see you are progressing on your dream

WELL! My K horns image so well that I hear DEAD PEOPLE!!!! like MILES DAVIS, GEORGE DUKE, MICHEAL JACKSON, RAY CHARLES AND MUDDY WATERS!! and if the GREEN is good I will be dancing with my K HORNS while BOB MARLEY is JAMMING!!!! YA MON

The Volti audio horn speakers do a good job at imaging and have a relatively large sweet spot.  

The Avant Garde speakers I have heard also do that but their sweet spot is smaller and it is quite noticeable when you are on the edge of their coverage.  

About 6 months ago I set up some floor-attached angle jigs perfectly aligned together with the wall behind them. Angle matching between the speakers is determined by measuring the distance between the leading speaker edges and the wall behind. Speakers can now be in perfect alignment as to distance from wall and angle. This makes fiddling with imaging much easier. With Cornwalls very slight adjustments can make big differences in imaging, tone, treble response, bass response, etc..

I love this imaginary imaging conundrum (IIC).  Live music blooms and breathes and blends together to create a beautiful harmonic landscape.  Vague hints of directionality or placement are occasionally present but most is due to our visual cues.  Even when more definitive imaging may be present, a realistic portrayal of that information is generally larger and more rounded than IAIA’s (Insane Audio Imaging Aficionados) would prefer.

Most speakers can be made to image quite well--it is mostly a matter of placement of the speaker in the room and the placement of the listener in the space.  I've heard truly massive horn systems image beautifully, even in surprisingly small rooms, because someone did a great job of setting them up.  Giant horn systems may not be ideal for the "disappearing act" that is so prized, but, they can get the scale of the music to be large and realistic (with tiny monitors, even if they can fill the space, you don't get the sense that the music is coming from sources of the right size).  The directivity of horns can also help to minimize the effects of reflections from nearby walls and that can help with imaging too.