"Plus I find a horn loudspeakers to be interesting in design and in appearance."
Probably the main reason I would.
Full range high efficiency horns also tend to be relatively large though, which is their biggest barrier for most these days where space is often at a premium and other more compact good performing and readily available options exist as well I suspect.
I believe I can achieve similarly great if not exactly identical results with or without horns though. It's more about how one mixes the soup than any one particular ingredient, I have found.
I've never had a proper set of horn loudspeakers, but I've always wanted to. Back in the old days, I had friends and acquaintences that had VOTT or Klipschorns, and I always enjoyed hearing them.
I was introduced to Tannoys late 60's, and used them until late the 80's. After years with B&W and Dynaudio, I have gone back to Tannoy, so I could more readily use tubes and SET's.
This is the best I've had to date, Tannoy HPD 315's with an SET 300B amp. This has positioned me to be able to use a full-blown horn system, which I'd still like to try, but the HPD's are working exceptioally well for me.
My large listening room would be great with horns, but the Tannoys have a grip on my heart that may not go away.
Nice thread, enjoy and regards,
I did NOT choose horns. They all sounded unrealistic to me untill I heard Avangard ones at dealer each in separate room. Uno and Duo are hybrid horn with dynamic subwoofer and Trio is all horn. Fast and open sound with close to studio-mastering precision and clarity. Their looks are also subject for the exitement. Taken all so much of positives, nevertheless, I got tired of listening after 15...20min. During next couple of hours after listening I had ringing sound in my ears.
Obviously horns are easy to drive with low-powered tube amp and by all audiophile standards these are the most transparent and pure.
Also worth mentioning that high sensitivity speakers like most horns are extremely sensitive to EVERYTHING, not just the music. That includes noise, distortion, or any kind of sonic abnormality. So getting things just right upstream is more critical than ever. Not always easy to accomplish or maintain over time. That's just one reason why many horn demos might underwhelm or cause fatigue faster.
But, if you get it all right....then you have something. I have heard some really good, large expensive horn systems and enjoyed them for extended demos, but have never lived with any to-date for the long term, whichis what matters in the end.
I like to listen to music at lower volume levels and nothing really comes close to a horn system in terms of delivering dynamics (liveliness), musical detail and a complete harmonic palette like horns at lower volume levels. Horns can deliver astonishing detail while still sounding relaxed (not edgy and strident). Higher efficiency of some horn systems also mean that the best sounding amps can be utilized--low-powered tube gear--which can deliver the most natural sound (great transient response without the artificial "edge" of solid state, "dense" and weighty sound without being sluggish).
The price that one has to pay is the presence of some obvious tonal coloration. Some horn/compression drivers are pretty mild in that regard, such as vintage Western Electric and International Projection Company gear, and certain modern horn systems such as Edgarhorns, Goto/ALE and Avantgardes, but, horn sound is still present in some form. The other price one has to pay is...well...the PRICE (good horns and compression drivers are not cheap).
Like most audiophiles, I have owned a number of different speakers large and small, including Khorns. I currently use horns, simply because they are the all around most natural sounding speakers I have ever owned, but then, I am not in the big leagues, and have never owned a speaker worth more than 12k.
I agree with Mapman though that I could also feel perfectly content with other speakers. (yes, including Ohms)
It is true that most horn speakers have wide dynamics, but many dynamic speakers are very dynamic as well. The Coincident Total Eclipse is one that I really liked in that regard, and should have bought. Although I really liked the Spendors that I owned, dynamics were a weak point.
In my current speakers, the treble and midrange is handled by a single horn, which has a 12" driver above and below it.
The one horn covers so much of the audible range, and to my ears, the transition to the lower bass is pretty seamless.
In the end, I would say wider dynamics are a strong point with horns in general, and of course, some are shouty and cause fatigue to some listeners. If mine were, it would annoy me as well.
Had a couple pair of Klipsch Heresy's back in the day; one home audio pair and one pair of stage monitors. They were hyper-efficient and had nice dynamic range for the relatively low-powered amps I had available (Hafler DH200, DH220 and a Dunlap-Clarke Dreadnought 500). That made them very budget-friendly for a student and garage sound engineer of limited means. However and just like Czarivey, I came to find them overly fatiguing during home use at low volumes. They were especially sensitive to IM distortion. Never had the chance to try them with a good tube amp like the MC275, so I can't say if I might have stuck with the horn-loaded configuration. I them moved into the Rogers I'm still using today and have been more than satisfied with them for over 30 years. Hope this is useful for you!
I have conical horns which none of that honking, shouty stuff so many always mention. It is important to know that horns vary. Some designs sound much better than others.
For me voice is the best benchmark of a speakers reproductive accuracy. We can argue all day about musicality but it is pretty easy to determine if a spoken voice is clear, articulate and realistic sounding. And I think that a speaker is a machine. If it can reproduce a voice perfectly, it can reproduce everything else as well. And mine do. My horns have a coaxial compression driver so they range from 450 hz. to 17Khz. from a single point source. Underneath is a 15 inch woofer in a ported cabinet that reaches to perhaps 40 hz.
Bought a 1.75 watt amp and needed some hi eff speakers
scored a pair of mint upgraded Klipsch Quartets
Now I want more
Grinnell, Do you want more power or?
I had the same question. Do you want more power, or a different Klipsch speaker?
Klipsch Quartets are wonderful well balanced speakers, but not near the best choice in the Klipsch line(previous or current) to mate with a 1.75 watt amp.
I got the power I need I wouldn't mind a better/nicer speaker. This system is at a mountain cabin so placement/listening position is not the best but it sounds pretty good.
I can understand why they might not be the best klipsch but I got them cheap. No room for K-horns or even Cornwalls.
My main home system is a Decware Mini Torii at 4 watts into Ref3A De Capos. This is where I want to really upgrade speakers to get some more volume.
"I wouldn't mind a better/nicer speaker."
For the record, I was not implying that the Klipsch Quartet(96dB) was not a quality speaker(owned two pair and absolutely loved them), just not the best to be powered by a flea amp. I own and have owned many a Klipsch speaker but just not any of the big 100dB+ Heritage(KHorns, LaScalas, Belles, Cornwalls).
Thank you for initiating this thread.
In response to some of the comments above: horn and waveguide-based speakers span many varieties and combinations, just like direct radiating speakers, perhaps even more so; it would seem rather ignorant and unfair to generalize on their sonic shortcomings under simple banners going by the wide field they represent.
These last years I've concentrated solely on waveguide-based speakers, at first via dome tweeters (Amphion and eventually S.P. Technology/Aether Audio) and now from compression drivers through conical OSWG waveguides. Waveguides, particularly in the (exponential) shape of S.P. Tech and not least the 12" conical Earl Geddes-based OSWG's (from a Polish manufacturer) now in use for some years in my setup, bring along a much needed "fullness," coherency, and stress-free imprinting that makes direct radiating alternatives appear strained and thin - even malnourished. This is a very general imprinting, indeed. Add in a compression driver instead (of a dome tweeter) and the very important sense of effortlessness kick's in in spades; it's at once a sound more relaxed and fast, more true to tone, clearer, more saturated, and with a very addictive "fill."
Reading this review from 6moons of the British Harbeth M30.1 made me see, at least in the written description, some striking similarities in how I perceive the overall sonic imprinting of the waveguide-based speakers in mention:
I once mentioned how Harbeth speakers interface differently with the listening room than traditional boxes. Because their enclosures resonate to play an important role as acoustic generators, their sound emits across a fairly wide field more so than usual. The result is a type of sphere or warm sound bubble with us at the center. There is no high selectivity or detail as those terms are commonly understood. The sounds are clear, fluid and rounded rather than pointy and angular.http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/harbeth5/3.html
It would seem the sheer envelope of air displacement (i.e.: its radiating area) and radiation pattern (via Constant Directivity) plays a vital importance here, but also the fact that, in this combination, only one cross-over point is used, fairly low at that (some 1.3kHz), to a 12" rather lightweight paper cone mid/bass unit. In tandem with a 12" conical OSWG waveguide this makes for excellent energy coherence, and hence a sound many has described to emulate closely that of electrostatic speakers (notably Quad's).
I never experienced shouty or beaming tendencies from my speakers (what many find to be the typical negative side-effects from this realm of speakers), but it's definately more direct (yet still relaxed) than your typical "hifi" speakers. I can understand why some would find this "type" of sound taking some time getting used to, if they even do, when ones reference is mainly of direct radiating alternatives. I guess it boils down to taste in some respect, not least going by the overall mode of sonic presentation. To each their own..
I found your post deeply insightful. and one of the most thought provoking that I have read in a long time. I think it is fascinating to consider not just the good, better best of linearity, imaging, box resonance etc. as we often do, but also the differing effects of waveguides, resonating enclosures, horns etc. and how they shape our perception of the reproduced music and how, over time, we conciously or subconciously form a preference for one of these design philosophies as what sounds "real" to us as individuals.
Thanks for the great input.
Phusis and others thanks for the thoughtful replies. True many different horn flares driver combinations available and I do see some the the DIY crowd having a bit of trouble sorting it out. I find with horns matching radiation patterns and using full horn loading combined with care in alignments. Yields the best results in horns. I have yet to design or hear a ported woofer that does full justice to a horn loaded system. You miss much when you attenuate or padd down mid tweeter to match bass systems a way arround this a bit is to bi or tri amp. I also tend to end up with 3-5 way front horns depending on range this tends to cause gigantism in end result but if pursuing
the best that horns can do this is where you end up. I have been messing about with a more waveguide approach that sort of splits the difference between loading and depth thus saving space but this reduces output by -3db not a big issue still ends up over 100db 1 watt 3 meter but with a 58in bell. lol