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Thoughts about the Western Electric horns
Thoughts about the Western Electric horns
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Old 20th January 2019, 09:10 PM   #11
GM is offline GM  United States
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cost plenty, in 1920s/1930s dollars ...

er so i've heard.
Big time, though TTBOMK pricing wasn't an issue initially, i.e. folks were willing to pay extra for 'talkies' like we did for 'This is Cinerama' 'Earthquake', etc., roadshows, but the '29 market collapse was just around the corner, so it added a 'nitro load of fuel' to finding not just a much better performing system, but a much cheaper one to boot.

Pricing use to be on the net, but can't find it now and my links are locked up in a bad HD, but my SWAG is that if one reverse inflated Silbatone's prices it would be in the ball park.

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Old 20th January 2019, 09:34 PM   #12
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It is pretty amazing that the engineers from Western Electric, Bell Labs, RCA etc. figured out how to reproduce sound using horns way back when. Even more amazing is the fact that most of mega buck systems today pale by comparison in dynamics.

So, don't envy WE horn systems, admire them for their engineering and sound but those DIY'ers with some room, money, skills, motivation, can get excellent WE like sound. That is what I did !!!
Not really when one considers the electro-mechanical-acoustical baseline they started with combined with basically unlimited funding. Apparently, their major problem was the time constraint to get it to market.

I agree and I don't, though admittedly I envy a little bit those who can do/afford such systems, just as some folks have/do envy me for some 'things' they probably can't ever afford and so goes human nature from richest to poorest.

Regardless, I wish every audio enthusiast could experience such systems as a frame of reference just to hear how good recorded music can sound. Ditto a HIFI optimized Synergy concept system, which can arguably be as good overall in a still large, but much more compact, bulk and at only a tiny fraction of the price.

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Old 20th January 2019, 11:35 PM   #13
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WE,

Was starting to make Bass compression drivers,

Yet,

Choose Jensen cone woofers instead ...

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Old 21st January 2019, 12:06 AM   #14
plasnu is offline plasnu  United States
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WE 555 horn sounds great. I was shocked that old narrow range mono speaker can make such a convincing sound. It surely made me change my vision about audio equipment.

The owner of the WE system told me about cinema system. Theaters could not buy them, because WE only leased the system with a very strict contract to protect their technological secret. Hefty penalty if someone other than WE authorized person open the equipment. I don't know if it's true, though.
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Old 21st January 2019, 02:55 PM   #15
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What exactly is the Freq response of those large horns? They look like their about 8 feet long with about 4x4 foot flair, is that about right? Also what diameter was the compression dome and opening?
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Old 21st January 2019, 05:34 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by plasnu View Post
WE 555 horn sounds great. I was shocked that old narrow range mono speaker can make such a convincing sound. It surely made me change my vision about audio equipment.

The owner of the WE system told me about cinema system. Theaters could not buy them, because WE only leased the system with a very strict contract to protect their technological secret. Hefty penalty if someone other than WE authorized person open the equipment. I don't know if it's true, though.
Yeah, from very early on I was told that to design sound systems one needed a good grounding in human hearing perception, particularly in the telephone BW.

Correct and very expensive even long after they began selling systems; for instance a 31A PA horn system in 1950 was $54 [railroad pricing] = $577.30 today according to this calculator, which buys multiples for similar today: InflationData.com's Cumulative Inflation Calculator

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Old 21st January 2019, 07:15 PM   #17
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What exactly is the Freq response of those large horns? They look like their about 8 feet long with about 4x4 foot flair, is that about right? Also what diameter was the compression dome and opening?
The big cinema 15A horns have an acoustical ~15 ft path-length/8 ft square mouth IIRC [~14 ft/4.7 ft square actual] for a nominally flat 100-5000 Hz [AM radio BW] response, though could have been [was?] used higher/lower as more signal BW was squeezed onto the film strip, so if you want the 'ultimate' mono speaker for that primo restored Gramophone, AM radio or early 'talkie' DVD/bluray movie playback.........

Something I forgot to note earlier is that as good as it is, the 15A needs some bracing/damping for HIFI apps; or for a bit more compact, better constructed/performing option, the 12A [first cinema horn] with a ~300-4500 Hz BW is preferred and if later you need some bass reinforcement as W.E. did, there's the add on 13A bass horn.

It's a 2" VC/1" exit AFAIK, don't know the actual dome diameter, but these folks claim to know/have all the specs: GIP-555 / 555W

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Old 22nd January 2019, 04:45 PM   #18
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Thoughts about the Western Electric horns
There was also an 11ft version branded Vitaphone 11A. I worked in a old cinema that had two. Looked just like the 15A, but smaller.

The WE horns were rare and pricey even 30+ years ago. Enthusiasts were buying them up even then.
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Old 22nd January 2019, 05:06 PM   #19
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Cool! Vitaphone labeled are the earliest systems.

Yeah, 'we' 'let' virtually all of them go to the metal scrappers, i.e. J.A. Pan Corp, so a good thing they had a need for them left intact or there would only be a few museum pieces.

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Old 22nd January 2019, 05:13 PM   #20
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Thoughts about the Western Electric horns
The Vitaphone turntables were beasts, too. Not sure when the system was installed. The movie theater opened in 1927 with the silent film Wings.
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