How come Horn + woofer designs are not more popular?


A couple guys on my audio discord really love the JBL synthesis 4367 and feel that all traditional 3 way tower speakers suck because they have poor bass response and are generally shy sounding. What I wonder is how come the majority of speaker makes do floor standers that are 3 way as oppose to the Horn +woofer design of JBL?

Is there any downsides to the horn + woofer design? Can a horn convey microdetail as well as a Be tweeter like say from magic A or S line? They claim 3 way floor standers are just trendy. But is there anything more to it then that?
smodtactical
I like horn speakers, but, not everyone, and this is ok. It is obvious the folks you are speaking about like horns. JBL makes horns for the home and professional market, and there are many more companies as well. What sounds good to us ? Each person needs to decide for themselves, and this is done by listening, comparing, and determining, what it is we like. And yes, horns can deliver the details, that are in our recordings. Enjoy MrD.
The 4367s are great but most audiophiles don’t want them in their living rooms because of their size and looks.

Klipsch is doing a great job making their horn speakers look cool. Nobody would confuse them for DJ speakers. 
I have a pair of Speakerlab 7’s that I found at Habitat. $100! A four-driver system - 12" woofer, 10" upper-bass, 12" midrange horn and 6" treble horn. Sealed cabinet painted flat speckled black. They look like a Heresy with an extra woofer on the bottom. And sound way better (I also have a pair of Heresy’s). Superior bass and much smoother mids and highs, thanks to the plastic horns! I am glad I found them - great for rock! I will sell the Heresy’s before the Speakerlab 7's!
Presently have them connected to a Bryston .5 preamp and 3B amp. SQ is truly excellent for a 30 + years vintage system! 
@mrdecibel : Eventually I will try the Speakerlab 7's with my First Watt F5 clone (Tim Rawson- built). 
@roberjerman- The 7’s bass system was designed by Mila Nestorovic. Should you ever need/want another, perfect pair of that Speakerlab system’s 10" woofer(W1048P), I have them(w/ butyl surrounds).
Horns tend to have an uneven radiation pattern with frequency. They also have a comb like response especially at higher frequencies. This can be perceived as shouty or unbalanced. It changes the tonality due to the variable off axis response.
Horns tend to have an uneven radiation pattern with frequency. They also have a comb like response especially at higher frequencies. This can be perceived as shouty or unbalanced. It changes the tonality due to the variable off axis response.

That’s a lot of “who shot John”. Another way to say it is “horns sound more like real music”.......

Oz


roberjerman, excellent amplifier !
I lived with a pair of JBL Array 1400s for about a year, they did some great things but were very unforgiving of bad recordings, I overall prefer my Revel 228be. 
The JBL Studio 590 speakers were fantastic speakers and a real bargain but JBL stopped making them.
Horns dont sound more like real music, they sound like horns. Just like dynamic speakers and planar speakers dont sound more like real music. It is simply a issue of priorities. Each design has its merits and intrinsic difficulties. I doubt that my priorities are such that I will ever own a pair of horns.

I might add that any speaker that isnt revealing of bad recordings I dont think is a good speaker.
Horn speakers distort sound.  Some love this--go to a typical 150 db (exaggeration except for YES!)  rock concert and there are a million horns. 

Go to a ball game at the local VFW or where they play summer American Legion ball and listen to the announcer on the horns mounted on the poles around the field.  You will see what I mean!  By the way, Legion summer ball is amazingly good!

Cheers!

@shadorne wrote:  "Horns tend to have an uneven radiation pattern with frequency."

It depends on the horn.  Many horns (such as tractrix or exponential) tend to have a wide pattern down low and a narrow pattern up high.   Often PA horns have a constant pattern in the horizontal plane but then the pattern narrows aggressively in the vertical as we go up in frequency.  But some horns have very uniform patterns across their passbands.  Radiation pattern control is actually the main reason that I use horns, but they are a specific type:  Constant-directivity, waveguide-style (the latter term signifying that they don't use diffraction or slots as part of their pattern control).   

"[Horns] can be perceived as shouty or unbalanced."

Good waveguide-style horns don't have this problem.  The "shouty" thing is often a characteristic of diffraction horns especially at high SPLs.   Most PA horns are diffraction horns, and most people's primary exposure to horns has been crappy PA systems, so most people think horns are inherently shouty, but that is not at all the case.   Horns that are shouty are ones that have been optimized for things other than sound quality. 

If any of you will be at T.H.E. Show in Long Beach in early June, stop by room 519, especially if you would describe yourself as someone who "hates horns".  We'd like to have a go at shifting your paradigm.

Duke

dealer/manufacturer

Comparing a quality horn speaker with the PA horns mounted on the poles around a sports field isn't really apples with apples me thinks.Yes, some horns distort and some box speakers sound like, well, boxes.There's no mystery. Good designers whether it be horns, boxs, planars, or electrostatics, design to manage their strengths and weaknesses.
I think modern horn speakers are getting pretty good at getting rid of the honk and beaming which have long been the criticisms thrown at them. But the market perhaps hasn't given them the chance yet to prove the point.
I've tried a lot of traditional speakers and really liked all of them at the time I had them. Each was an upgrade and evolution of my system. I now have Avantgarde Duo horn hybrids and I'd never go back. But that's me.
I have a pair of Rethm Saadhana, a beautiful (in sound AND looks) horn speaker with built in powered bass modules, so you get great bass that is well matched to the horn output. Those interested in horns should listen before deciding as I think many would be big fans.
I feel the speaker choice is relitive to the music.  I like Klipsch Forte and Hersey for what I feel is a more in your face rock hard speakers.  These can take some punishing while preserving the original detail.  The new JBL's have been on my horizon, as they look and sound tasty.  
Good speakers play everything well and make bad recordings sound better even if they are not as good as the best recordings. There are good examples of every type of speaker (except the Hill Plasmatronic.) Mostly what you like depends on what you were exposed too. If you have only heard crappy horn speakers that is the opinion you will have, same for ESLs. Most people have dynamic speakers because they are easier to build, can be more aesthetically pleasing and are generally smaller than the best examples of horns or ESLs. My problem with most speakers is that they are hard to integrate into a normal size room acoustically. The room and speaker are a system. Some speakers will never sound good and some rooms will never sound good. Thinking about my self I go with what I have learned to work with and know I can get to work to my expectation in my own room. Making mistakes gets far too expensive at this level and I have already made enough of them.
Oh, back on topic, there is a compromise in a two way horn system that is difficult to get around. You either have to run a woofer up into the midrange or make a very large horn to get down to where most woofers do well. I do not think there is a satisfactory middle ground. Look how large a K Horn midrange horn has to be just to get down to 500 Hz were it crosses to a 15 inch woofer. This is one area were that ESLs have a major advantage over both horns and dynamic speakers. You can easily design a speaker that is One Way all the way down to 100 Hz as long as you can live with the size. 

I built a few custom horn speakers and used Sony Alnico woofers (only 2 pair in the USA).  I bi-amped them with custom tube mono-block amps that I built (1.5 watts) to drive the horns.  They sounded amazing but they wee large so no WAF.  I never could get the bass to keep up with the horns though.  My buddy has Klipsch and why the mids are excellent, the bass always lags behind.  Do not know his model but he has had them modified.


Happy Listening.

Two words: too big.

If not for tube amplifiers there would probably be little need for this typically high efficiency design in most homes. High efficiency potential is the key advantage. Pro audio involving larger spaces is a different story.
Horns - They're not more popular because they sound terrible, the reason is that simple. 
There's a charm to a good horn.  Like driving a vintage car.  Sure performance isn't the same as a sports car today, but there's something sweet about it.  Keep in mind, good sound is ALL subjective. Even concert halls sound different.  Instruments sound different. 

I love horns and I love non-horns.. Depends on my mood.
Once you have listened to a properly designed Horn with a State of the art compression driver behind it - there is no way you can listen to a 1"dome tweeter again. :-)

https://pbnaudio.com/m25-loudspeaker/


Good Listening

Peter 

BIGKIDZ "I built a few custom horn speakers and used Sony Alnico woofers (only 2 pair in the USA). I bi-amped them with custom tube mono-block amps that I built (1.5 watts) to drive the horns. They sounded amazing but they wee large so no WAF. I never could get the bass to keep up with the horns though. My buddy has Klipsch and why the mids are excellent, the bass always lags behind. Do not know his model but he has had them modified."


You should take a listen to a horn with a powered bass.  I am not sure who else does this, but Rethm has powered bass that is designed to keep up with horns and the result is audio heaven (IMO).  So if you get the itch for a horn speaker again, there are options that may satisfy your bass issue, and the wife

My Klipsch Heresy IIIs with powered subs (2) have the benefit of accurate and controllable bass (independent of the Heresy IIIs anyway), and having not tried a horn loaded home speaker in many years (been using various horn loaded PA speakers for pro live mixing work for many decades), I was surprised at both how NOT "shouty" and actually linear these speakers sound...they will immediately show weaknesses in the signal chain so best (obviously) when used with good gear behind them, so get that right and these things sound beautiful.

Mijostyn wrote: "there is a compromise in a two way horn system that is difficult to get around. You either have to run a woofer up into the midrange or make a very large horn to get down to where most woofers do well."

Done right, I don’t think there is any compromise to performance.

I’d like to address two myths about prosound-type woofers, such as might be found in a horn system:

First, people mistakenly think big woofers are inherently "slow" because of the cone size, when in fact a good prosound woofer has such a powerful motor that its motor-strength-to-moving-mass ratio is competitive with, and often superior to, small high-end midwoofers (5" Scan-Speak Revelator and Illuminators, for example). The 10" prosound woofer I’m working with at the moment has a motor-strength-to-moving-mass ratio competitive with a 5" Scan-Speak mid.

Second, people think a big cone cannot have a smooth response. The truth is that the accordion surrounds on prosound woofers do a better job of damping cone breakup than half-roll surrounds do, such that plus or minus 1 dB before EQ is possible up to the crossover region on a studio-quality pro woofer, and without nasty spikes in the response north of the crossover region. (For example, look at the Eminence Kappalite 3015 and imagine crossing it over a 1 kHz... the woofer Peter Noerbaek uses in the speaker linked in his post is in that same ballpark).

And here are some of the advantages of a using a good prosound woofer in a horn system:

- Because the large cone has a relatively narrow pattern in the crossover region, if the speaker designer so chooses, it is easy to match the woofer’s pattern with the horn’s in the crossover region. This is virtually impossible to accomplish with cones ’n’ domes. The result is, a good horn hybrid speaker (meaning horn + direct radiator woofer) can have an audibly seamless crossover.

- The relatively narrow pattern of a big woofer + horn system means that less off-axis energy is going into early reflections. According to researcher David Griesinger, early reflections are the ones most detrimental to clarity, so this characteristic of horn systems promotes clarity.

- If the designer chooses to use a constant-directivity horn, the reflections will have nearly the same spectral balance as the first-arrival sound, which promotes natural timbre and freedom from listening fatigue.

- Prosound type drivers are free from compression effects in a home audio application, which is not true of most moderate-efficiency high-end drivers. Musicians use dynamic contrast to convey emotion, so a good horn speaker conveys the emotion in the music better than most conventional speakers.

- Many horn speakers are compatible with specialty tube amps, such as Output TransformerLess (OTL) and Single-Ended Triode (SET) types.

- Set up properly, you can actually get a wider sweet spot with a good horn system than with any other type I am aware of.

The inevitable tradeoffs are large enclosures (lower WAF) and less low-end extension than a comparably-sized speaker of lower efficiency.

For those who think modern horn systems still have coloration issues, but are open-minded enough to do a little reading, you might google "JBL M2" or "Dutch & Dutch 8c". The speakers Peter Noerbaek linked to are essentially a hot-rodded version of the M2, and imo they are magnificent.

Duke

Poorly designed horns sound shouty. Many good horns do as well until you add some damping material to them. I can’t understand why manufacturers don’t do this. I have designed and modified many speakers over the last 40 years. Every speaker design type can achieve excellent performance. JBL and Klipsch are good out of the box, but can become exceptional with a little work. 
Good grief. Opinions are like belly buttons. 

If if you like the sound of horns, crank em up, sit back and enjoy them with a cocktail. If not, crank up your domes, or planar speakers, or whatever floats your boat. You too can enjoy a cocktail.

Enjoy the long weekend gents, and take a moment to reflect on the reason for the holiday. 
Does anyone ever listen to music anymore, or are you thinking about the hardware you use to recreate the musical moment too much? Other than junk thrown together with no knowledge at all, most good systems do a great job of retaining the UNKNOWN mix information locked into the great number of recording methods known and now used as inputs to these "magical" boxes called music systems. I was born before Pearl Harbor into a family who used a Brook 10-C3 and an RCA LC-1A 15" duo-cone speaker before there were any stereo systems (or binaural). Music still sounds good, regardless of how old I get. Give this a thought... nothing is perfect, especially the initial recordings (and yes, I owned a recording studio). It's all good, if you think about it.
For many years, most every Radio Shack store across the country had a pair of Realistic Mach model horn speakers playing in the front of the store. Big and impressive looking but the worst sounding shoutiest Radio Shack Realistic brand speakers ever. I could not stand them no matter how hard I might try to like them. This alone gave horns a bad name for me and many "audiophiles" I suspect. That and the many commercial setups out there that are mediocre at best by "audiophile" standards. I still hear one of those at my gym most every day.

Mass exposure to bad horns has biased many I suspect. Gives the good ones a bad name.

Maybe those Realistic horns would have sounded better with a tube amp.....

Also did I mention that this kind of speaker tends to be big and heavy and most likely fewer people than ever want to have to deal with them these days?

I’m not saying they are bad.....some these days like the newer Klipsch are quite good and even reasonably affordable, just pointing out the reasons why they are not "popular" as asked. One could even argue that the entire modern Klipsch line IS pretty popular. You see them everywhere possible these days and they get a fair amount of press coverage.....just not here.

Also I gotta point out that most products popular here are NOT very popular as a whole....very few people overall own most of the products that get a lot of attention here. High end is "high end".....not "popular" in general.  Klipsch Heritage line might be one exception to that.
roberjerman-- I have a pair of Speakerlab 6WA's sitting in my basement, I bought them in college in the late 70's, kept them because I knew how good they sounded.  Haven't taken them out to listen, but might do it this weekend.  Have a Hegel H360 with Raidho XT-2's and love the sound.  Actually haven't made the move to digital yet-- have an Oppo 105D for SACD's, HDCD's (have a lot of them owing to big G Dead collection) and plain old CD's.  Only potential problem is that the speaker inputs on the Speakerlabs don't accept bananas, just straight wire.  They are cheap old spring type terminals.
I grew up with a big old then-SOA James B Lansing C-31 front-loaded horn speaker driven by Newcomb tube amplification.  The speaker had two 15" active woofers and the potato-masher horn tweeter.  (This was the first version JBL "super corner horn").  It sounded wonderfully dynamic and balanced, not shrill, not shouty, not boomy.  Some of the most "realistic" sound I've heard in a living room.

Many years later, my son unknownst to me bought floor-standing Klipsh's (the less expensive ones).  I was surprised at how good they sounded, since I was aware of the bad reputiona that horns have in the high-end.  I am now keeping my eyes upon for an affordably-priced C-34 that I might used to replace my second stereo system.
Not a horn guy, but I have heard some horn systems I liked (or was surprised at the quality). Never heard any of the newer fancy designs, however. I guess I'm part of the folks that consider them "shouty".

Some people like the immediacy that is presented and I can understand that, especially for those who are into 60s/70s rock.

One thing I can say for the better implemented horns, they do provide excellent reproduction of horns (surprise!) and drum kits from well recorded sources.
In the US, simple: aesthetics

I agree with many of the Horn posters above.  Once you hear a good horn speaker, it is hard to go back.  Although I had some issues with the bass keeping up, the sound was the best I ever have heard.  I have also built field coil speakers and those floored me even in my basic stage of development.  You won't hear a better mid-range than a good field coil speaker.  The horns I had were very big, and therefore no WAF and my room is now smaller.


Keep using the good ear for listening.

I just bought a pair of jbl 4429’s to check out after seeing several reviews online.  Curiosity got the best of me.  I did not imagine they could disappear like my Devore’s but they do.  They have zero horn effect.  And they are super musical.  Not selling the nines (at least not yet) but I enjoy playing and these are really superb and a great value at 5k.  Just let them break in, they definitely do!
Thanks to the beauty of a software package that design both speaker box and cross over, I was able to build my own high efficient speaker using Italian speaker drivers with horns, mid range and woofers in a 3 way systems.  I can hear the voice of Maria Callas live in concert in clarity due to Horns and Midrange.  Horn perfectly run in Tube Amps in 16 ohms impedance.  my amps is an Atma-Sphere M60.
The good ones are expensive.
I'm a long time owner of 15" Tannoys and when A/B'd against my other speakers with dome tweeters or Electrostatic panels, I will admit that they are the least delicate and agile in the high frequencies.  HOWEVER.... when I leave them set up and don't compare, I find that I simply love listening to music more.  I feel the music more, and I'm more connected to it.  Horn's tend to suffer in direct A/B comparisons.  I think people don't know how to listen for dynamics, and they don't understand how much that makes you fall in love with music.  When comparing 2 speakers, sparkley highs and deeper lows will usually be favored, but in the end, might be less rewarding.  
If I may add, that Paul Klipsch’s Klipschorn was all about making a woofer that COULD keep up with that large mid horn! (thats an 8’ bass horn wrapped up in a very small space!!) I own a pair, and I don’t believe there is another passive 3 way speaker system that can make bass output like the Klipschorn when setup correctly. Most have never heard a Klipschorn system in a dedicated and tuned room with PLENTY of breathing space which is unfortunate. (yes, you have to have ROOM for this size speaker).

A speaker with incredible efficiency, VERY low distortion and extreme dynamic range.

A speaker standing the test of time and still being made today some 73 years and running...

I invite anyone to come to my listening place and hear for yourselves. Send me a note and I’ll make arrangements. Bring your favorite music on most any format, sit and enjoy (O:
My highly modified Klipschorns have an uncanny sense of the breath of life about them. This sense  mostly emanates from the incredible micro dynamics I've not yet experienced from dynamic drivers. Add high levels of detail, and transparency and you get a highly involving experience.


I do think horns can be somewhat problematic with timbre and soundstaging. Hard panned images tend to attach themselves to wide horns, narrow baffle compression driver speakers tend to disappear to a greater extent.  Timbre issues have been resolved by my Klipschorn mods, SET amplification, room treatments and just recently added lithium ion batteries to power my entire front end.

I've found that getting satisfactory sound from horns has required a major investment of time and funds. There have been a number of times when I began to doubt I would ever love the Klipschorns, but after a year and a half of optimization its highly doubtful I'll ever go back to compression driver speakers.
I am very happy to hear the K owners come on here and talk about their wonderful systems. Yes, I feel they are still amazing, especially with the updates, modifications and tweaks shared by the Klipsch community. But a question for gw _smith. What are you referring to when you say " large mid horn " ? and " that's an 8 inch bass horn wrapped up in a very small space " ? I am a 50 year Klipsch Heritage veteran ( not an employee ), and I am not understanding either of these statements. Would you please, care to explain ? If you would like to private message me, that would be fine as well. Enjoy ! MrD.
The answer to this thread's question surely must be that it's a matter of taste and preference. I have to confess to a certain prejudice against horns in general. I'm a sound engineer, and having mixed a hundreds of concerts, the sound of horns has never appealed to me. Guess it's that "shoutiness" and edginess that even the best PA horns exhibit that turns me off. I like my sound a little warmer and more image-realistic than what I've perceived from horn-based systems, I guess. I listen to Magneplanars at home, and every time I sit down in front of them, I can sense an internal, inaudible "ahhhhh". They just suit my taste.

A couple years back, I had the fortunate opportunity to take part in a double-blind mono test between a Revel Salon2 (very high-end, 6-way, traditional dome-tweeter design) and JBL M2 ("master reference" horn-based 2-way design) speaker. Both were free-standing behind a room-spanning scrim, and both were slid into place to exactly the same listening position alternately, as 10 samples of different kinds of music played via a high-end front end and amps. It was visually impossible to tell which was in place at any point, and levels were carefully matched. Both speakers are Harmon products voiced by Harmon.
Needless to say, both speakers sounded good, but there was a distinct difference in their character that gave away the M2s every time. There was about a dozen of us doing the listening, and we recorded our speaker preference for each sound sample. Post analysis showed that I preferred the Revel on every sample, and to my ears during the test, it was obvious which speaker was which. I just couldn't warm to that up-front, in-your-face shoutiness of what is admittedly maybe one of the best and accurate horns designs of all time. (The M2 is a lauded studio monitor speaker.) For what it's worth, only a couple of folks out of the dozen of us preferred the M2s on most of the samples.

What the test told me was not that one speaker design was better than the other, but that they were definitely distinctly different. Most folks preferred the domed tweeters over the horn in that test. That's a pretty small sample size, but it could be indicative of a much larger population's preferences. Maybe it answers the question that is the title of this thread. Maybe horns aren't more popular, simply because other types of high frequency transducers suit more folks' tastes a little better.

BTW, if you want an exhaustive thread of over 1700 posts on that blind test, it's on AVSForum here: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-speakers/2907816-speaker-shootout-two-most-accurate-well-reviewed-...
The testing was monitored and mentored by no less than Dr. Floyd Toole. A big shout out to John Schuermann and his crew for setting it all up and wrangling it all through the test. It was an altogether fantastic experience for these ol' ears.



Horns, properly selected for the application and room, sound great.  The ones I like, however, are too big for my room.  I can get them to fit, but I only have one room in my house that I can use for whatever I want, and I do other things in there besides listen to music.  I play guitar and piano, have friends over to jam, watch TV, and have a home studio for my full time job as a graphic designer/Illustrator.  If I had another room at my disposal, and it was big enough, I might go back to my KB-WOs.

Pbrain wrote: "A couple years back, I had the fortunate opportunity to take part in a double-blind mono test between a Revel Salon2 (very high-end, 6-way, traditional dome-tweeter design) and JBL M2 ("master reference" horn-based 2-way design) speaker."

I recall reading about that test on another forum.  Very interesting!

This was a "mono" test, I hadn't caught that detail before... single speaker vs single speaker?  If so, I assume the speaker being evaluated was at one end of the room, a little ways in front of the wall, and in front of what would be the midpoint of that wall.  Is this correct?

"Post analysis showed that I preferred the Revel on every sample, and to my ears during the test, it was obvious which speaker was which. I just couldn't warm to that up-front, in-your-face shoutiness of what is admittedly maybe one of the best and accurate horns designs of all time."

I assume there was no audible "horn coloration" from the M2, just a more "in your face shoutiness" to the presentation, at least in comparison to the Revel.  Is that correct?  

You see, I suspect two significant differences between the M2 and Revel were in play, in addition to (and in part arising from) their obvious physical difference (horn vs cones & domes).

First, according to the measurements I've seen, the Revels have a more "continuously and gently downward-sloping" in-room response, while the M-2's sort of "plateau" off-axis from 1 kHz to 10 kHz, which would give it a more "forward" or "in your face" presentation. 

Second, again according to the measurements I've seen (and implied by their respective configurations), the Revels have a wider radiation pattern, which, while not quite as uniform as the M2s, is still very good.   This results in more spectrally-correct late-onset reverberant energy, which is beneficial to timbre and a sense of depth (less "in your face-ness") and immersion.  In general, a well-energized, spectrally-correct reverberant field tends to sound rich and relaxing. 

Now I wasn't there of course, so this is just supposition on my part - but does any of this seem consistent with what you heard?

Duke

audiokinesis1,954 posts05-25-2019 9:57pm

>>>>>>>>Sorry for the long post, audiokinesis, but here's a few thoughts on your question.

(For some reason, I can't seem to figure out how to selectively quote previous posts or sub-post to them. Is that not possible here? The " button doesn't seem to do anything useful, but it's probably just my incompetence...)<<<<<<<<<

Pbrain wrote: "A couple years back, I had the fortunate opportunity to take part in a double-blind mono test between a Revel Salon2 (very high-end, 6-way, traditional dome-tweeter design) and JBL M2 ("master reference" horn-based 2-way design) speaker."
I recall reading about that test on another forum. Very interesting!
This was a "mono" test, I hadn't caught that detail before... single speaker vs single speaker? If so, I assume the speaker being evaluated was at one end of the room, a little ways in front of the wall, and in front of what would be the midpoint of that wall. Is this correct?

>>>>>>>Yeah. Dead center and about 6' from the front wall. The speakers were on a greased skid, so they could be positioned quickly an accurately at the same point for each test run. According to Dr Toole, speakers show their deficiencies much more in mono than in stereo, and a good mono speaker generally makes a good stereo one. All that's fortunate, because the logistics of testing in stereo are daunting.<<<<<<<<<<<

"Post analysis showed that I preferred the Revel on every sample, and to my ears during the test, it was obvious which speaker was which. I just couldn't warm to that up-front, in-your-face shoutiness of what is admittedly maybe one of the best and accurate horns designs of all time."
I assume there was no audible "horn coloration" from the M2, just a more "in your face shoutiness" to the presentation, at least in comparison to the Revel. Is that correct?  

>>>>>>>I don't remember gross colorations from either speaker. For obvious reasons with a dozen testees (yeah, I said it...) we couldn't spend much time with each of the 10 audio samples. Colorations not immediately obvious could have come up over time, but it's to Harmon's great credit that there weren't obvious ones.
If you consider stridency/edginess a coloration, then I did hear that on the M2 on a couple of the audio samples with a lot of high-frequency energy. I found the sample from Jackson's Thriller almost unlistenable on the M2. Again, that's probably just due to my particular set of head holes<<<<<<<

You see, I suspect two significant differences between the M2 and Revel were in play, in addition to (and in part arising from) their obvious physical difference (horn vs cones & domes).
First, according to the measurements I've seen, the Revels have a more "continuously and gently downward-sloping" in-room response, while the M-2's sort of "plateau" off-axis from 1 kHz to 10 kHz, which would give it a more "forward" or "in your face" presentation.
Second, again according to the measurements I've seen (and implied by their respective configurations), the Revels have a wider radiation pattern, which, while not quite as uniform as the M2s, is still very good.   This results in more spectrally-correct late-onset reverberant energy, which is beneficial to timbre and a sense of depth (less "in your face-ness") and immersion. In general, a well-energized, spectrally-correct reverberant field tends to sound rich and relaxing.
Now I wasn't there of course, so this is just supposition on my part - but does any of this seem consistent with what you heard?
Duke

>>>>>>>>>I can't really comment much on any measured in-room response on the Revel. All I can say is, that the anechoic response on both speakers is about as flat as I've ever seen in 60 years of fiddling with audio. John's room isn't particularly large or live, and we were seated only about 8' away from the speaker under test, so we were just outside of a near-field situation. Room effects weren't egregious or even noticeable above Schroeder.
I think the in-your-face character of the M2 is mostly due to its higher directivity index across the audio band. That's not atypical of horns in general.  In my experience in dealing with feedback in PA systems, you're gonna get a concentration of energy directly in front of a horn, even if specs say it disperses at 90 degrees.
We also can't forget that, in 2-way horn systems, the crossover's typically down so low that the horn's delivering almost all of the directional energy from the whole box. The M2's crossover is 800 Hz, so its horn is, from a directionality standpoint, just about the only thing you're hearing. That means that most of the M2's directional energy is essentially coming from one point in space--that compression driver down in the horn's mouth. It's no wonder it sometimes sounds like it's shouting! Directional energy delivery from the Salon2 above about 600 Hz is spread out vertically across 3 drivers, so there's just less energy density there. Also, the whole speaker system has a lower directivity index than the M2, so it disperses more widely horizontally. Like I said, we were seated right in front of these speakers and about 8' away. That's probably close enough for these spacial artifacts to make an audible difference.
Once again, I'm not saying that a horn's a bad idea, just that I like the way other treble drivers present music much better. It's just a preference. Because this test was done with some rigor, and because it compared a state-of-the-art representative of each technology, it really helped me to define the differences between dome-based and horn-based systems in what's left of my mind! If you can arrange even a casual comparo between two speakers like these, I highly encourage it. You'll learn a lot.<<<<<<<<<<<

Thank you very much pbrain for that in-depth reply.

"I think the in-your-face character of the M2 is mostly due to its higher directivity index across the audio band. That’s not atypical of horns in general."

I agree.

My study of acoustics and psychoacoustics and the implications of the size rooms we listen in at home leads me to think that all reflections should be spectrally correct; that early reflections (those arriving within the first ballpark 10 milliseconds) are likely to be detrimental; and that late reflections (those arriving after about 10 milliseconds) are likely to be beneficial. To clarify a bit about the early reflections, they have some benefits and some detriments: They can widen the soundstage and make the speaker less obvious as the sound source, but they can also degrade clarity and cause coloration. Just about everything that late reflections do is beneficial, assuming they are spectrally correct, and assuming you don’t have a significant room acoustics issue like slap echo. A sense of immersion and envelopment comes primarily from the late reflections, which come from all directions; the ear/brain system is able to pick out the ambience information already on the recording from these late-onset reflections, identifying it by its harmonic structure.

So in the shoot-out, with the single speaker far from both side walls, you had no early-onset sidewall reflections to possibly degrade the sound. Aside from the floor and ceiling bounces (which are subjectively relatively benign), all of the reflections were late-onset, and spectrally correct. So what I THINK is that the significantly greater amount of late-onset reflections for the Salon 2’s helped them to sound more natural.

With a more conventional stereo setup, left and right speakers being much closer to their respective side walls, I think the M2’s would have benefitted from their narrower radiation pattern reducing the amount of energy in those early sidewall reflections. But in all fairness, my understanding is that Toole finds these early reflections to be generally beneficial, while Geddes and Griesinger find early reflections to be generally detrimental, so there are well-informed differences of opinion on the subject.

My own somewhat unorthodox approach to horns involves fairly narrow patterns, and then additional drivers aimed such that their reflected outputs arrive "late" (more than 10 milliseconds behind the first-arrival sound). In other words, my best horns speakers might be called "polydirectionals", to use the term coined by the late great Richard Shaninian. I’m trying to minimize the amount of energy in early reflections, but then increase the amount of (spectrally-correct) energy in late-onset reflections.

It’s has not been obvious to me which is the most beneficial: Minimizing early reflections, or increasing late reflections. But the test you participated in seems to suggest that increasing the amount of energy in late reflections probably matters the most, which is something I’ve been working on. And THAT’S why I personally find this test so interesting.

By any chance will you be attending T.H.E. Show in Long Beach in two weeks? If so, I would REALLY welcome your brutally honest critique of what I’m doing. Imo your background makes you uniquely well qualified.

Duke

@mrdecibel --

But a question for gw _smith. What are you referring to when you say " large mid horn " ? and " that’s an 8 inch bass horn wrapped up in a very small space " ? I am a 50 year Klipsch Heritage veteran ( not an employee ), and I am not understanding either of these statements. Would you please, care to explain ?

Maybe you’ve received the answers to your questions in the meantime, but poster @gw_smith wrote the following:

If I may add, that Paul Klipsch’s Klipschorn was all about making a woofer that COULD keep up with that large mid horn! (thats an 8’ bass horn wrapped up in a very small space!!)

To begin with he refers to, I believe, a bass system that can dynamically, transiently, sensitivity- and otherwise sonically compliment the midrange horn of the Khorn in a suitable fashion for an overall more coherent presentation, something that could have more easily gone haywire with a direct radiating solution, certainly in regards to maintaining the traits mentioned just above.

He’s then referring to the 8 feet (not inches) long bass horn path of the Khorn that’s folded in such a way to make for a fairly compact design, relatively speaking; as 1/4 wavelength horns we’re still faced with significant sizes if we’re to go anywhere near 30Hz, let alone deeper.