How do horns work and sound?

March 3, 2018
 by Paul McGowan

5 comments on “How do horns work and sound?”

      1. One of your presentations had a pic of Mr. Nudell's prototype, at least the upper portion. If I am correct about this will the speakers be similar in size?

  1. As a person who has had horn speaker, large horn speakers for 64 years I completely agree with your comments. Going back to 1971 when I bought them, a pair of A7-500 Altec Lansing Voice of the Theaters in kit form, if you wanted that sound of the live rock concert or anything resembling a dynamic high volume performance or studio recording horns were kind of it . Altec, University, Electrovoice and Kilpsch, to name a few of the more prominent manufacturers, used the horn design to get there. They were huge and expensive but a 100watt/channel amp could really bring a huge dynamic sound. But my real rub in 1971 was the sound of the little tweeters in nearly all the speakers I had ever heard. All the high end , like cymbals, sounded like Mickey Mouse was playing them. And the sizzle was also annoying. The horns on the other hand, honk like mad, and when you run a sine wave generator across the spectrum through them you'll find that honk, but also, in the case of the metal horns like mine, the "ring resonance". I solved mine quite easily but carefully covering the entire outside of the horn with 3 layers of duct tape. But the honk is there to stay. It was a small price to pay for concert quality versus tweeter frizzle. Now I also was into electronic classical, mostly W. Carlos , and the horns do a great job with Moog sounds. All synthesized sounds are great on horn speakers. And I love pipe organ as well, but having never experienced a real full sized pipe organ, I have no proper reference. I was schooled big time when I heard the first Magnaplanars driven by some big Mac power amps and the first sub woofers I'd ever seen. That clarity and imaging is an image I won't ever forget. It sent me tweeking and experimenting for years. Of course with only minimal success relative to the big horn speakers I refused to give up. Many of the new horns are quite a bit better, some enormously improved but my budget says no way Jose. Now for a question I have wondered about for quite some time. If I was to make the Altec a 3 way and use something like a Heil Air Motion Transformer to augment my upper mids and high range, and use the horn only in the frequencies it excelled at would the improvement be worth the trouble? I'm sure it would take a lot of trial and error to get it set to get the most out of it. And could you perhaps recommend a more modern design upper/mid - high frequency driver that might work? Also I am really interested in your new speaker design. I may have a new space which will be great for a pure 2 channel room. Right now I am overwhelmed in a listening room more like a small warehouse. As always thanks for the presentation.

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