The dirty little secret of horns. - diyAudio
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Old 13th November 2013, 07:11 AM   #1
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Default The dirty little secret of horns.

I'm certain this is new to some people, others I'm willing to bet, already know this.
We spend a bunch of time on these boards discussing the relative merit of this shape horn vs that shape horn, this driver vs that driver. Sure horn A sounds different than horn B, sure driver A sounds different than B, but why? Here is why, it boils down to three things.
1 Headroom enough (dynamic range) enough to do this :
2. All needed EQ and
3. Your choice of coverage angle.
Case in point. I am going to assume we all take it as a given that we need a large enough horn mouth to do a low crossover point. For me that is 500 to 600 hz. This obviously means a big horn. So I started with a bog standard Peavey SP1 from the seventie

We spend a bunch of time on these boards discussing the relative merit of this shape horn vs that shape horn, this compression driver vs that driver IMO we have been a bit "conditioned' Sure, horn A sounds different than horn B, sure driver A sounds different than driver B, but why? IMO it boils down to three things.

1 Headroom (enough dynamic range enough to do this) :
2. EQ! *All needed EQ* and
3. Your choice of coverage angle.

Case in point. I am going to assume we all take it as a given that we need a large enough horn mouth to achieve a low crossover point. Obviously we are looking for a point source from as much of the pass band above the Shroeder point as possible. For me that is no higher than 500 to 600 hz. This obviously means a big horn. So I started my experiment with a bog standard Peavey SP1 from the seventies.

I'm sure some of you realize this is a basically a Lascala on the bottom with a rather restricted EV "clone" horn on top. By all rights this should be a prime example of a horn with enough compound diffraction that it would not respond well to EQ right?

Think again my freinds, and begin to bury that notion.

Some of you know I am a mastering and mixing engineer by trade. To say I am a bit picky about speakers is a severe understatement.

This Peavey horn and driver combo sounded pretty bad. Peaky, dippy, worse It sounded "phasey" Right away I thought OK, this is the sound of a bad driver plus uncorrectable throat diffraction issues, the kind we hear about so much right?

But somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered once hearing this "uncorrectable" horn sound absolutely great in a club, so I persevered. Why? Because it's just the kind of a S.O.B. I am.

Using a DCX2496, an RTA app on this stock speaker *with* the *stock* 22a aluminum driver and the *stock* (Eminence) woofer I was able to get it within range of the B&W 801s that I use every day for mastering.*Easily* and without breaking a,sweat from 550hz and *cleanly* to above 18k. No *phasey* sound. Well what do you know that problem, in a horn like this, is entirely EQ correctable.

I am floored. I could now actually use these for reference. I would never have guessed you could EQ a horn like this and drivers such da these into submission. The truth is they simply did not have the tools we have now. DSP is incredible, it makes IMO, a lot of the compression driver wine tasting we do here set of academic. Give me enough. headroom and I will EQ the world Bwahaahaaaaa.

Obviously the 105 DB sensitivity of this sort of speaker gives you one hell of a lot of this EQ room, but I expected to hear some dreaded "horn' artifacts. B.S. There simply are none that are not entirely negligible. Before EQ these were pretty horrid. They now sound pretty incredible. Horn sound, for the vast, vast majority of cases is absolutely curable with EQ. Either that or I stumbled upon God's own SP1's

So what is the moral of this story? Big efficient horn speakers Altec, EV, JBL, (Peavey even!) coupled with the incredible and now affordable DSP power of a unit like DCX2496 etc, plus a computer and a few tools will make most of these speaker "perfection" discussions, providing that we are actually striving for "perfection", academic. Big horns done right are simply as good as it gets, period.

Everything we need to roll our own is already out there. Not a lot of mystery here, no B.S. needed either. Big horns and compression drivers are big horns and compression drivers. All you can really do is pick the coverage angle you need and decide how much you are willing to twist a few knobs.

If you have enough EQ power, pro compression drivers, when used in a home environment, are going to pretty much sound the same *after EQ*. Ditto for *big* radial and "round based" horns without too much diffraction and with the caveat of the almighty coverage angle.

Obviously those that beam less will be preferable, but do NOT write off big radial and "roundish" horns.

This Peavey SP1 horn, certainly no prize, exhibits no "honk" after EQ. It is flat, it is warm. it is cuddly, it is... well I think you get the idea. Bottom line most horn issues *are * correctable EQ issues, and big EQ is inexpensive now. IMO we can give a bit less weight to all of the mysterious stuff that probably started with small exponential horns such as those in the Klipsch heritage line. Big horn, compression driver, big EQ, big sound. No wonder everyone is looking at Synergies, wanting even more of the band from a point source! Even a taste of this via a big efficient horn 2 way EQed flat from 500 up to the roof sounds absolutely incredible.
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Last edited by peteleoni; 13th November 2013 at 09:55 AM.
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Old 13th November 2013, 08:05 AM   #2
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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Don't we already have a number of threads on the same subject? What's your point?
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Old 13th November 2013, 08:39 AM   #3
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Maybe he was just feeling horny and wanted to chat?
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Old 13th November 2013, 09:36 AM   #4
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If there are some like this I don't see them, and if so they are not from my perspective, the point I am making here is reference quality horn spreakers can be made from available old stock and new DSP units, because the problems are now correctable. Oh yeah and one other thing, I'm a colorful writer, your Neilsons will go up. Gift horse, mouth etc (-: Ok I sanitized it a bit too, there ya go. And furthermore you just can't say enough about horns (-:

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Originally Posted by Pano;3:cool:701800
Don't we already have a number of threads on the same subject? What's your point?
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Last edited by peteleoni; 13th November 2013 at 09:42 AM. Reason: to stop a Pano-demic
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Old 13th November 2013, 09:49 AM   #5
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Yes, the power of modern DSP is incredible. The Behringer units are great value for money too. I have a DEQ2496 that I use for room mode correction.

I can't fault the performance of the algorithms or the DACs in it, although admittedly my test equipment is quite modest.
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Old 13th November 2013, 10:09 AM   #6
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So where's the dirty little secret now? I thought that was HOMs
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Old 13th November 2013, 02:04 PM   #7
el`Ol is offline el`Ol  Germany
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The dirty little secret is that they are most beneficial in a frequency range most people don't have the room for them.
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Old 13th November 2013, 02:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peteleoni View Post
If there are some like this I don't see them, and if so they are not from my perspective, the point I am making here is reference quality horn spreakers can be made from available old stock and new DSP units, because the problems are now correctable. Oh yeah and one other thing, I'm a colorful writer, your Neilsons will go up. Gift horse, mouth etc (-: Ok I sanitized it a bit too, there ya go. And furthermore you just can't say enough about horns (-:
so what are you saying that you turned a horn into a reference level 801 speaker sound? which 801 by the way? not the diamond version?
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Old 13th November 2013, 06:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by lilun View Post
so what are you saying that you turned a horn into a reference level 801 speaker sound? which 801 by the way? not the diamond version?

Hell no not the diamond one, the trusted matrix 801. And I am saying it comparing favorably fr wise with all of my ref records now, something I have not ever seen. It is also interesting to note that pink noise now sounds nearly the same out of them when in the same room. The distortion clarity and dynamic level of the Peavey's simple shame the B&Ws. One example is reverb tails, they ate simple lost on the direct radiation B&Ws, on the Peavey's I can now hear when the pre delay timing of the Lexicon plate is of by a few ms. Little things like that get buried in direct radiating speakers. It is very nice to have a horn speaker that is flat enough for reference duty in addition to the "everyman" speakers like the B&Ws, Genelecs, and Events here all direct radiators, all very flat but non if then capable of the dynamic range and depth of a big horn speaker. With this proven I might load these horns up with some HF140's just to see if there will be an improvement with less dsp needed. I'm doubting it. These old 22a drivers sound way better than they have a right too with radical eq. Kinda shocking actually. majesty
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Last edited by peteleoni; 13th November 2013 at 06:14 PM. Reason: .
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Old 13th November 2013, 06:13 PM   #10
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DSP makes some correction easy, like EQ and proper crossover slopes. Other problems won't be so easy to fix. FWIW, I can fix EQ and crossover slopes with passive parts.
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