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  1. #1
    nightflier
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    Request for info / links on Horn-Loaded Speakers

    What are some manufacturers that make decent horn-loaded speakers?

    I'm interested in a step up from the Klipsch RB line but I'm not quite ready to sacrifice the family car for a pair of Avantgardes. Seriously, though, isn't there anything else out there that a regular person can afford? I would consider the Klipsch Heresy III, but I can't bring myself to splurge on something that boxy and vintage-looking. I know I could build something myself, but frankly I just don't have the patience for that.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    zingali's are still in the 'pretty expensive' group, but they're affordable for most of us

    http://www.zingali.it/welcome.htm

    if you really like the klipsch sound you could always get some vintage (or the new made vintage) klipsches, a Khorn or so, or some belles...

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  3. #3
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    What are some manufacturers that make decent horn-loaded speakers?

    I'm interested in a step up from the Klipsch RB line but I'm not quite ready to sacrifice the family car for a pair of Avantgardes. Seriously, though, isn't there anything else out there that a regular person can afford? I would consider the Klipsch Heresy III, but I can't bring myself to splurge on something that boxy and vintage-looking. I know I could build something myself, but frankly I just don't have the patience for that.

    Any suggestions?
    Unfortunately mopst of the best sounding speakers tend to be the older looking wide baffle variety whether horn or panels or anything else - especially in the midrange where most all of the msuic lives. Without a budget and knowing your expectations we can't really help. The better horns and HE designs (which is really what matters rather than loading) is often expensive.

    One of the best horn designs on the cheap is the Klipsch Reference line and since you already own Klipsch it may be worth a look. I preferred the middle floorstander over their top one which often happens as there is less box noise. I would also recommend the Audio Note AZ 2 but the likelyhood you will find this is veyr small. Still it is a rear quarter wave horn design that will provide you full scale dynamic music for about $800.00. It's 94db sensitive and does not go under 5ohms and reaches 30hz.

    Not much in the way of reviews except for this one from Soundstage - scroll down -- http://www.soundstage.com/revequip/a...ero_system.htm

    You could also look at Omega -- very interesting loudspeakers for a low budget. Single driver HE built for SETs - nice looking small loudspeakers. The single driver approach offers some afdvantages agin in the midrange and may be worth a serious look and listen - the Super 3XRS is the one that seems to get the most talk.

    I have not heard them but for the money they are very interesting indeed. http://www.omegaloudspeakers.com/products.html

  4. #4
    nightflier
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    Wow, those Zingali speakers are very nice looking. I had never even heard of them until now. Yes, they are a bit pricey, but maybe this is something I can work towards. It certainly is better looking that any of the Klipsch speakers.

    RGA, I should have clarified.

    I've been talking for years on this board and others about how this hobby is not exactly on the green side of the fence, while I'm hypocritically chugging along with my 1KW amps and an inefficient full-sized tower speaker collection clogging up the rooms of my house. Not only have my utility bills gone through the roof, but my family is pressuring me to change my ways. I'm still doing some soul searching about this, but I have to believe there's a better way to still get good sound.

    Fact is, I've been in the high-watt + large sizes = good sound camp for some time now and frankly have not believed that anything small, light, and green could sound good. Hence the reason I had relegated my Klipsch RB-5's to the garage sound system, where they compete with my power tools for my ear's attention. I just couldn't really enjoy them and attributed that to their modest power requirements and that fandangled horn-loaded tweeter - they just sound etched and bright.

    Apparently, the next step up in horns does sound a lot more pleasing, so I'm told. I've been emailing a guy who has a pair of Avantgarde Solos up in New York and he swears by them (kind of the same zeal you hear from planar folks). But I haven't heard them and to be frank, I don't have $6K+ right now to spend on them. But as I read more about this, I'm starting to think that Klipsch may have done the world a disservice in commoditizing cheap horn speakers such as their Synergy line that don't sound that good. This may have put too many people off and turned this market into a niche that few of us can afford. That said, I do like the low power requirements and wondered if I could look elsewhere for speakers - only to find out that horned speakers are very hard to find.

    For me, my quest is not just about speakers either. I'm also looking for low-watt amps, smaller components, and simplified controls. And to add to that, I am not merely looking for something that is equivalent in sound. I want to step it up a notch and try to achieve not just parity with the high-watt, high-power stuff, but a marked improvement in sound, (and if I may be a little selfish, also a comparatively good looking unit, unlike the Klipsch La Scala and Heresy stuff). This is both for my own satisfaction and also to perhaps be able to make this case more generally. After all, if I'm going to be talking about the advantages of going green, I've got to practice it too.

    My budget also has to be green, so $10K for super-efficient speakers won't work. I will most definitely buy a used pair, probably up to $2K. I know this is tight, but anything more would be hypocritical. Besides, I still need to replace the amps, preamps and other gear I have and that won't be inexpensive either. Regarding Audio Note, I pretty much blew them off years ago when I saw their prices for what I consider to be ordinary looking speakers. I know that sounds harsh, but you have to admit, it's pretty hard to see the advantages over so many other excellent manufacturers from Dynaudio to Vienna to Opera and on that also make a good looking product. In their price range, there's a lot of competition.

  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Who are you kidding, NF?

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    ...

    I've been talking for years on this board and others about how this hobby is not exactly on the green side of the fence, while I'm hypocritically chugging along with my 1KW amps and an inefficient full-sized tower speaker collection clogging up the rooms of my house. Not only have my utility bills gone through the roof, but my family is pressuring me to change my ways. I'm still doing some soul searching about this, but I have to believe there's a better way to still get good sound.

    ....
    If any of this is more than self-delusional BS, then your solution isn't high-efficiency speakers so much as it's high efficiency amps. Look to digital amps and avoid tubes like the plague.

  6. #6
    nightflier
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    If any of this is more than self-delusional BS, then your solution isn't high-efficiency speakers so much as it's high efficiency amps. Look to digital amps and avoid tubes like the plague.
    Feanor,

    I really can't be considering tubes, which I know are entirely inefficient, finicky, and high-maintenance. And for me it's also the heat problem which is, in SoCal, quite irritating. I was more thinking of some of the nicer digital amps like the PS Audio Trios, although they would still be overkill for what I'm trying to accomplish, if I really want to go green.

    Truth be told, I do have a secret infatuation with tube gear. Primaluna has peaked my curiosity lately and VTL is always on the top of my someday list. This is why this is so difficult. On the one hand, tubes amps are small, reminiscent of vintage gear (hence the feeling that I am recycling), reasonably affordable, and considered by many to be the entry point to hi-fi sound. On the other hand they are the very definition of inefficiency and extravagance.

    Oh, I knew someone was going to bust my b*lls about this...

    After all these years of lusting after tube gear, and having never really taken the plunge, I am torn. But I have to be honest and admit that this just isn't what I need to be focusing on right now. I know I'm treading dangerously onto non-audiophile ice, here, but that is precisely why I am challenging myself with this. Don't worry, I'm not not going to power $4K speakers with a pair of $30 Sonic Impact plastic space-helmets, but I have to admit, that the Tri-path technology is tempting from a practical standpoint.

    So the question remains: can one be green and hi-fi? And, should this plan include horned speakers?

  7. #7
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Practical?

    Quote Originally Posted by nightflier
    Feanor,

    I really can't be considering tubes, which I know are entirely inefficient, finicky, and high-maintenance. And for me it's also the heat problem which is, in SoCal, quite irritating. I was more thinking of some of the nicer digital amps like the PS Audio Trios, although they would still be overkill for what I'm trying to accomplish, if I really want to go green.
    ...

    After all these years of lusting after tube gear, and having never really taken the plunge, I am torn. But I have to be honest and admit that this just isn't what I need to be focusing on right now. I know I'm treading dangerously onto non-audiophile ice, here, but that is precisely why I am challenging myself with this. Don't worry, I'm not not going to power $4K speakers with a pair of $30 Sonic Impact plastic space-helmets, but I have to admit, that the Tri-path technology is tempting from a practical standpoint.

    So the question remains: can one be green and hi-fi? And, should this plan include horned speakers?
    I dare say you'll save a lot more energy turning down your AC and switching to florescent replacement bulbs that going to an efficient hi-fi. Still, every bit helps no doubt.

    In the last year I've take some retrograde steps going from a Tripath Bel Canto eVo2 to high-bias A/AB amps and a tube preamp, both of which run pretty hot, and these to drive <86dB sensitivity speakers. Oh well.

    People can correct me if I'm wrong but I guess horn loaded are about as efficient as you can get: there are models with >105dB sensitivity.

  8. #8
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Opera M-15? I've thought about going that route with a pair of some 300B SET. I'm sure I'll go that route within 3-5 years, but maybe you can tell me how they sound much sooner.

    Peace out

  9. #9
    RGA
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    Nightflier

    Perfectly understandable regarding Audio Note. Two way two driver systems even big speakers like the Audio Note's vertainly are less visually impressive than much bigger speakers like the B&W N801 sized stuff. And even if the AN sounds a lot better they don;t look "impressive." And when you pay large coin it is hard not to get passed the looks. Luckily for 30 years enough people have liked them enough to keep them selling.

    You could certainly look on the used market - plenty of big old horns that can sound good mated to low power amps.

    SET amps have a few advantages - they require no work - they self bias. My amp is a SEP and the tubes are rated for about 8 years. Then about $100.00 to replace all 10 tubes. Their cd players tubes are about $10.00 and they will last 11 years of continuous operation.

  10. #10
    Tyler Acoustics Fan drseid's Avatar
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    The Tyler Acoustics Pro Dynamics line may be what you are looking for (although the looks may or may not be to your taste)... The PD-10s sell for $1800/pr. including the shipping.

    A link to their specs (and the rest of the Pro Dynamics line) is here:http://www.tyleracoustics.com/pro_dynamics.html

    I also like the Opera Audio M-15s already mentioned. I thought they were over 2K, but I could very well be wrong... and you did say you were also looking used... so they could very well be a good option too, IMO.

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  11. #11
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    Gainclone type chip amps are also very efficient with a very low parts count and in my experience much better sounding than the digital type amps.Not that the digital types are bad but many of them seem to have poor image depth and precision-certainly not as 3D sounding as a good SS or SET.
    The latest Nuforce V2 does seem to image well however-so they are improving all the time.

    The Gainclones,47 Labs,Audio Zone AMP 1, chip amps have a sound closer to a modern SET than anything else I have heard.They have a very dynamic,clear and vivid sound like SETs -which is perhaps a result of their simplicity and short signal paths.

  12. #12
    nightflier
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    High efficiency and all that jazz

    RGA,

    I just did some research on the Omega speakers. Those are very nice looking speakers, with beautiful finishes despite the minimalist look. They look a lot like the Audio Note speakers and come at a decent price, so maybe I should rethink my search for exotic looking speakers, since it doesn't really jive with what I'm trying to accomplish anyhow. I also have to give kudos to the use of hemp for the cones - that's another way I suppose I could "stick it to the man," so to speak.

    I also like the high sensitivity ratings: as little as 1.5 watts to drive them! I haven't seen a horn speaker claim that. But that brings up another question: how loud can I play them? Nowhere does it have a max power rating. I know they come with a 10 year warranty, but I doubt that covers over driving them. RGA, any ideas? For that matter, how well can the Audio Notes handle high volumes? I know this isn't always talked about, especially since most listening is done as "civilized" volumes, but I see this as a measure of a speaker's quality, too. And I am interested in keeping the standards as high as possible in my low-energy, high-efficiency quest.

    Quote Originally Posted by jtgofish
    Gainclone type chip amps are also very efficient with a very low parts count and in my experience much better sounding than the digital type amps.Not that the digital types are bad but many of them seem to have poor image depth and precision-certainly not as 3D sounding as a good SS or SET.
    The latest Nuforce V2 does seem to image well however-so they are improving all the time. The Gainclones,47 Labs,Audio Zone AMP 1, chip amps have a sound closer to a modern SET than anything else I have heard.They have a very dynamic,clear and vivid sound like SETs -which is perhaps a result of their simplicity and short signal paths.
    Interesting perspective, jtgofish. I can't say I have ever found my digital amps to be poor at imaging and depth precision. My Spectron, especially, is one heck of a performer and beautiful sounding with great seperation, depth, and air. Granted, she's not a beaut to behold physically, and she has her battle scars, but the sound is astoundingly good, even when driving the most difficult Martin Logan speakers on the market.

    But if what you're saying is true, then that means there is even better to be had at an affordable price. I'll definitely read up on the Gainclones, 47 Labs, Audio Zone, and others like it. I do have to say that the Spectron amp as well as the HCA-2 have a lot more electronics inside, weigh a ton, and feel more like amps than what I've seen so far of the amp-on-a-chip kits I've seen online. I also have to believe that companies like PS Audio spend a substantial amount of time and resources fine-tuning their designs, than what appears to have been put in a kit.

    But I'm not going to be snobbish about it. If these amps stand up to the brand-name stuff, then that's all that matters. But as I explained to RGA, I want to pursue this new direction without sacrificing quality, so I'll have to research this carefully.

  13. #13
    RGA
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    All of the new Audio Note E and J speakers will be using Hemp woofers as well - the US lifted the ban on Hemp and Audio Note jumped on it - they've been exploring it for 4 years and Peter prefers the sound -- it's a better material than paper according to them. http://www.audionote.co.uk/news/arti...mp_cones.shtml

    I noticed the look of the Omega -- they are inexpensive -- they are apparently much smaller than the Audio Note's (tough to tell from the pictures). I asked about them on the Audio Note kits board on AA because Omega makes two amplifiers and they use Audio Note control knobs - they look similar so I thought that AN owned them. (They don't)

    The Audio Notes will play very loud but the AN E won't play as loud as something like the B&W N801 for instance. If ultimate slam is your thing it isn't going to do it and I would suggest a big Tannoy.

    But you will get about 108db without compression according to Audio Note which is loud enough to ruin your hearing. I use a ten watt amp and I have never had it past the halfway point and the keyboard of my computer rumbles and I can FEEL the bass in my chair. And I do not have the E.

    The power handling is 80 watts on the AN E

    94db sensitive though 1watt
    97db 2w
    100db 4w
    103db 8w
    106db 16w
    109db 32w
    112db 64w - around 113db with 80 watts

    108db seems about right.

    Also the AN Kit speakers which take about 1 hour to build use the Hemp drivers as well

    Now with Omega I doubt they are going to impress for LOUD. They are single driver speakers in small cabinets. They are clearly aimed for midrange listening but a single driver has no crossover which makes them advantageous for very low powered amps. The Audio Notes are NOT meant for 1.5watt amplifiers which is why they came up with the High Efficiency versions of their speakers ate more money - these can take lower power but still about 3watts. I asked on AA about single driver speakers from Omega http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/au...ages/4056.html
    Replies below the link

    I just think the Omega's are interesting because they are SOOO inexpensive and seem to be well liked. You'd have to try them to see if they can play loud enough with acceptable bass. The AN E easily has the bass - you can read Art Dudly's review of the AN E in Stereophile to get an idea of the volume ability and bass ability which he measured dead flat to 25hz in room...sadly JA did not measure the speakers properly in corners but his measuring equipment is geared for floorstanders not corner loaded or panel loudspeakers.

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