Inferior Loudspeaker design the majority

Direct radiating loudspeakers are a design that were obsolete before they were even envisioned. Popularized with the advent of power/dollar solid state transistor amplifiers giving the illusion of irrelevancy in efficiency allowed manufacturers to cut corners and use small magnets in their drivers which resulted in significant amount of harmonic distortion at typical listening levels and unbearable amounts of harmonic distortion at extreme levels that certain applications demanded. Horn loaded loudspeakers are objectively better than direct radiating loudspeakers in every measurable and relevant domain. Horn loaded loudspeakers have less than a quarter the harmonic distortion at a given input compared to their inferior direct radiating counterparts. A horn is a tube whose cross-section increases exponentially. The narrow end is called the throat and the wide end is called the mouth. The transducer is placed at the throat. When the diaphragm moves near the throat, we have a high pressure with a small amplitude in a small area. As the pressure wave moves towards the mouth, the pressure decreases and the amplitude increases. Excellent natural efficient amplification. For an equivalent SPL, horns require a smaller diaphragm, and since distortion is directly proportional to the size of the diaphragm, a large diaphragm electromechanical transducer (conventional driver) has to move much more than a horned diaphragm in order to create the same SPL (sound pressure level). The larger the excursion, the worse the distortion. So, for a given SPL, a horn loaded system will generate much lower distortion than an electromechanical transducer. ince the diaphragm is smaller, it is lighter and thus it accelerates and decelerates faster. As the excursion of the diaphragm is very small as compared to an electromechanical transducer, the voice coil is much smaller and again, this translates to a lower moving mass and again Mobdro, results in fast transients. Small voice coils also take full advantage of the flux in the pole piece gap. This increases the efficiency of the transducer allowing the amplifier to work with greater ease. Since the amplifier has more headroom and the driver handles peaks and high outputs more efficiently, horns are able to produce much higher SPL’s before they distort. Thus, in the normal operating range, horn designs are more dynamic, have a better transient response, have less distortion, and are easier for an amplifier to drive than direct radiating loudspeakers Kodi.

Why are you still willingly using an inferior transducer?

Perhaps because low frequency horns are so large that they are not suitable for most domestic listening? Perhaps because the cost of producing low frequency horns compared to a simpler box makes them unaffordable for the majority of speaker buyers?

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Not sure size is a problem these days, there’s countless Youtube videos showing diy horn speakers using 2" drivers and small cases, there’s also a number of commercial ones as well. There are some really nice big horns as well which truly look great, but I don’t have the space for them

A 2" driver isn’t a bass driver. You seem to be talking only about high frequency drivers.

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Agree. The only full range horn system (using multiple horn load units to cover the frequency range) I know is made by Klipsch and each speaker is >100kg weight, but is perhaps a little bass light from reading the review in Stereophile. There are partial systems such as those made by Avantgarde with the mid and high frequency done with 2 horns and the bass handled with what is essentially a tailored sub woofer system with its own power amplifier inbuilt. This has good bass but when I heard it I wasn’t over impressed - the transient timing wasn’t great, so for example the cannons in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture sounded a bit like a firecracker rather than the sharp crack of gun fire. Also perhaps some issues with a very limited area in which a listener can sit to get a good stereo image?
Anyway both the Klipsch and the Avantgarde are very expensive and at those sort of prices there are some utterly superb passive speakers from the likes of KEF and Revel, or active speakers from Kii.

Interesting first post. I agree with much of that.

I could never go back to passive radiators.
Not until I either can’t hear anymore or am so old I have to leave my system behind…

5 way,
Tapped horn subs do 18-90Hz (the long things at the side, horn path 2.4m 105dB/W). Room shaking capabilities but tuned to sound impressive and not not over done. Deep Church & Cathedral organ etc sounds amazing.

Bass/mid bass horns 90-350Hz (Eminence Kappa 12 on Exponential horn 110dB/w) punchy fast bass, deeper tones on vocal, piano etc.

Mid horns 2" compression drivers 350-1200Hz (JBL 2482 on Tractrix horn 118dB/W), amazing tone on sax, Clarinet, guitar, piano, vocals etc

Upper mid 1.5" compression drivers 1200-12000Hz (Vitavox S2 on Tractrix horn 116dB/w) speed and clarity, fast violins, guitar vocals.

Ribbon tweeters 12000 - Hz (Raal Lazy Ribbons 111dB/W. Smooth easy integration, snow on top.

Controlled and time aligned by Najda DSP.
3 SET EL84 valve amps on the upper drivers. Big power amps on the bass 2 channels.

Close up of one side.

Whole thing

I’ve had it in different more conventional rectangular room too - no problem adapting.

It’s dynamic, delicate, involving and full bass when the music calls for it.

They integrate really well. No one who’s listened to them has found that to be a problem.
I guess Cessaro and the like, have cracked it too😀

To do it you need to be able to assemble the system yourself (or have incredibly deep pockets).
DIY what you can, evaluate different compression and bass drivers.
Use Hornresp, measure the results, modify, build the horns and the system you like.
Huge amount of space is not needed.
Time, patience and an engineering mind is essential.

Forgot to say the whole lots weights about 450kgs.
The tapped horns are heaviest at over 100kgs each. Gets lighter and lighter after that :grinning:


Yes if you do it properly a horn system can be very, very impressive! For some households the possibility of a bit of domestic pushback? :slight_smile:

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I built a pair of Altec A7 enclosures while I was at high school. I used those for many years in a variety of living situations. They were great but did dominate whatever room they were in :slight_smile:

What is rather surreal is hooking up a 5 way system and the front end is either a
a tiny Volumio / RPi / Kali reclocker - > I2S or an even smaller pimped up Chromecast Audio (both on Lan and linear power supplies).
Feeding them CD quality or hi-res Qobuz.

The front end sounds as good as / better than, all the CD transports and DACs I’ve ever tried (and their have been many).