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Well, I wrote this page (the bottom part) over 7 years ago. What I said below is just as valid today, nothing has changed. After 7 years I think I’d best remind people reading this page and those of you who have been following The Horn Shoppe why things are as they are.

 

 For some back ground….the Horns were not the start of a journey for me. They were the end. I had been on a 10 year or so quest to have the sound of the many single driver speakers I’d built and the ability to play very loud. This is very difficult to pull of in a small pkg. I was not and had no intentions at the time to ever sell a speaker. I’d been building them for 25 years, mostly TL’s, and sealed. I never cared for most other types, horns included, but that’s another story. This is not about design it’s about “explaining things”.

 

As soon as Mac and I heard the first one I knew I had done exactly what I’d been searching for. No need to explain it but just accept I was happy and had achieved a 10 year goal. I’m not writing a history of the Horns here so try and think “concepts”. From day one I experimented to tweak them to be as good as I thought they could be. I changed drivers to the 108 and was among the first in the US to get them. I was forced to use the108 E when the original 108 was discontinued. I switched from the 108E to the 126E and made the decision 10 seconds after I heard the first one. I had been unaware of its existence.  I liked it MUCH better than the 108E, regardless of the fact it cost 1/3 the 108E

 

Now, in 7 years many may wonder why I have not come up with anything else or “better”. Well the M2 is “better” in that they are more efficient and are still practically sized. They sound like the Horns. The Hornline is a good augmenter and the Cube is a fraction of the size with almost identical sound and integration. Both  augmenters deal with the bottom end only.

 

The Horns on the other hand are EXACTLY what I want them to be. I am always on the lookout for tweaks but the thing is there is nothing in the response or design that I feel needs addressing. While some are modifying this and that and treating cones and using all the other tricks, I feel that the 126 E in my speaker is just fine as it is. I damp the basket and that is all I feel the need to do. I am not saying that modifying the driver is “wrong”, I’m saying for me, in my application  I don’t see the need. I am no stranger to modifying drivers and many of you have the proof but I believe it should be done on an application by application basis. There is no free lunch and changing one thing affects others.

This is why the Horns do not or will not change significantly ….its also why I don’t constantly look for “new and improved” drivers made from exotic and un-exotic materials. All I care about is the sound. Sure I could change them any way I want…….more bass? no problem, but you’ll have to do with less output. Want them “smoother”? No problem but then they will not be as dynamic. There is no free lunch. I am happy with them exactly how they are. and since they meet all of my goals, exactly how am I going to justify 6 different models with 6 different type and size cones? If I had that I’d like to think that one was the best all around compromise  and that’s what every speaker is, a collection of compromises. I don’t believe in different speakers for different “types of music” or amplifiers. A good speaker should sound good on any good amp with any type music. But that’s another whole page of explaining!

 

For me, I am completely happy….they have been a success and they always will be. In the last 7 years they have evolved and gotten steadily better sounding. Where they are now is once again, the end. At this point they probably can’t “get better”. There simply can’t be a “better” driver because you see….they are exactly what I had in mind 7 years ago (today is June ’07).

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And every single pair can be “upgraded” to exactly what is going out the door today.
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I’ve got other ideas but they are not new but they were good decades ago and they would be today, it’s just that there is little incentive for me to pursue them. I could make pretty much anything I want, of any complexity. There’s just no need. There are plenty of other people building stuff like that.  I’m good to go.
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Unless our ears suddenly evolve or a major breakthrough in technology occurs what sounded good decades ago will still sound good decades from now. Fancy drivers made of new or old materials all do the same thing and there is no guarantee that an exotic driver will sound better than a decades old paper cone one. It might, but it might not. And for that matter who decides what is good or not. We all know the answer to that one I hope.
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So if anyone is thinking the Horn Shoppe is “stagnant” or not “in touch” well,  think again. It’s just that I am completely satisfied with the Horns from a practical standpoint and their level of performance is as good as the design will allow…well, except I still am not great at wood finishing!

What I said then...and still say today..... 

Why Single Drivers.....a couple reasons.....
 
Single driver speakers (usually) have no cross over (filter) and very good phase response. The lack of a filter aids them in being very easy to drive. This is very important when a flea power tube amp is used. Imaging is second to none as well (as long as the driver is of the correct size, more on that later). While it is possible to have good imaging with a multi-driver speaker with the single driver speaker it comes naturally (if it is the proper size). There is no good news in having a cross over network and NOT having one is a very good thing on all levels, provided the driver used has fairly flat response. There are some designs that need a filter to achieve flat response but I have no idea why one would build a single driver speaker that needs a "correction network". I prefer to alter the response through mechanical means. Either by modifying the driver itself or the cabinet. I have had good luck with both. When Fostex killed off the original 108 it caused me a good deal of trouble to get the new driver to sound like the old one. I did. It is a little less sensitive but the "tone" is there. And I didn't have to use a correction network. UPDATE>>>>The 108E Sigma has now been replaced (as of Nov. '05) with the Fostex 126E. While many others seem to have "discovered" the 108E, and believe it to be a superior driver,  in our application the 126E is much better sounding than either the original 108 Sigma or the 108E sigma. Doesn't look as fancy but it is more extended on both ends and much more efficient than the 108E,  by at least 3 dB.  The 126 seems to have the best of both versions...smooth like the E and dynamic like the original and more efficient than either.  It is by far the best driver I have found for my application. Given a choice between it and either of the others (original 108 is no longer available) I'll take it every time. It has "it".



WHY 4 inches is it...................  
I get asked quite often, "wouldn't a larger driver offer better performance"? Nope, not really. A 4 inch driver makes a good tweeter and a good bass driver. Larger and the HF begin to suffer , smaller and there is not enough cone area for good bass response. The larger drivers will beam the HF and there is no way around this. There are formulas for predicting when beaming will occur for a given size cone but I am not going to bore you with facts. Let's just say that above 4 inches the freq. this happens at is fairly low and the effect is noticable. There are schemes to get around this (whizzers for example) but as far as I am concerned they are just a "fix" for something that can be avoided in the first place. A larger driver also does not "move more air" (for a given SPL). SPL is SPL regardless of the driver size. The Horns can make in excess of 105 db peaks (with proper amplification) and this is louder than most folks will ever listen. As far as the bottom goes.....bass augmentation for below 50-60 HZ is much better dealt with using a powered "bass augmenter". This applies to almost all speakers as it allows you to place the augmenter in the best location for the tightest and highest output. The location of the main speakers is seldom the best for the low freq. for a couple reasons one of which is standing waves......your couch MIGHT be in the right spot but if it is not then freq. response problems occur and there is nothing you can do about it. This problem is solved when you augment the region below 50 with a device you can move around......you can place the mains for the best imaging while tuning the bass for the tightest/cleanest response AT THE LISTENING SPOT. The Lowthers are a good example......in all but the largest cabinets they offer no better bass than our little Horn and the off axis response is not even close to as good......they NEED that whizzer. The smallest cabinets are not small either......and they still need bass augmentation. So, by this one example you can get the idea "bigger is not ALWAYS better". On the other hand, the smaller drivers (than 4 inches) offer slightly better off axis response but lack the cone area for high db (say above 100 db). Bass augmentation will fix the bottom end BUT the LF cut off of the smaller drivers will mean that you will have to bring the augmenter in at a higher freq. (say 100-200 hz) and this is not a good place to be. Given the choices I'd go smaller rather than larger.....still a compromise but a better one, given the response in the mid range/ treble can be very good compared to what you lose with the larger drivers. Obviously, all speakers are a compromise of some sort but for me 4 inches is it!



Why horn loading and why it should vent to the rear....  
The reason I built the Horn was to build a single driver speaker (of the correct size) that could achieve reasonable SPL with a flea power SET amp. I chose to horn load the rear wave rather than use other methods for many reasons.......TL loading is not efficient, ports suck, sealed is not efficient and lets just say I am not sold on the various other methods of loading. Since freqs. below a certain point for the most part are omni-directional and all I was after was extension and efficiency, it seemed rear loading with a rear exit would work, that coupled with the crazy notion that you should not mix the rear output with the clean output of the driver . I stumbled across the Buschorn and thought "that is a beautiful folding" . I designed a speaker using that folding method (thanks, Pit). I also assumed it should be used in corners to gain efficiency and a lower cut off if possible. The flare rate and mouth size were adjusted for this. I was shooting for -3 @50 in corners. We get very close when placed in corners. I did not want a forward facing mouth for a couple reasons...one...no acoustic gain from corner loading and the mouth would be WAY too small to effectively extend the bottom end......and another.....the output above 100 or so from the mouth of the horn is slightly colored compared to the direct output from the driver. I see no reason to mix them up. With rear loading this is of little importance, it is inaudible. Not so with a front exit. And more to come..........



THE HORN SHOPPE
    PO Box 3193
Leesville, S.C. 29070

    803-657-5178



This website was designed and created by my buddy Brent Castle