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How far have ss amps really come in the last twenty years??

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Floyd Toole

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K-Horn and LaScala's differ mainly in the final size of the mouth of the horn with the K's using room walls for the final fold. When properly placed the K's will supposedly get to 33hz at -4db point. The La Scala's spec to fall off a cliff at 51hz. I used to have crude SPL measurements of mine used to set up the subwoofers but they're long gone now.
They both have just undergone revisions with the LaS getting mainly a new crossover design, now called the AL5.
K-Horns have a resigned bass horn that supposedly doesn't require a hard seal to the corner??? It's curious so far, known as the AK6 it will be interesting to read about when the reviews start. I read in this months Stereophile that they have one coming for review, hope to see JA's battery of measurements for it.
FYI I show measurements on a 1981 vintage LaScala in Figure 18.3(a) in the 3rd edition. It is very directional (not a problem) and not neutral (a problem). They have had 38 years to improve it, so we wait and see.
 

Ron Party

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I haven't heard the name Hales in so long, I had forgotten about them!
I'm using Hales T-8 speakers for surrounds. Still have a matching center channel speaker lying around as well, though I had to pinch a tweeter from it to replace a blown one in one of my T-8s. I'd be almost frightened to think of what would be the current MSRP of a pair of T-8s if Paul still was making them.
 

LTig

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I'm wondering: Amir wrote that Sean Olive says: The top 3 important parameters for any speaker are frequency response, frequency response.

What is the relationship of frequency response to dynamics?
I would say an extended bass response. When I listen to one of those typical high dynamic demo songs like Tricycle by Flim and the BBs it makes a big difference whether I listen to the Genelec 8020 on my desktop (fed by RME ADI2-PRO fs) or to the K&H O300D/Genelec 7060B 2.1 configuration in the living room (fed by Classé Sigma SSP Mk2). Although the desktop speakers are very energetic they cannot compete with the dynamics of the big system.

It certainly seems to a lot of us that one speaker can have flat frequency response, but not sound as dynamic and palpable as another speaker - horn speakers usually getting the nod for dynamics. If you have two different speaker designs, e.g horn system and an electrostatic speaker, and both had the same frequency response, would that even them out so each would sound as dynamically realistic as the other?
I don't think so. Panel speakers somehow have worse dynamics. I had MG 1.6 for quite some time and when I listened the first time to a big horn system (Avantgarde Acoustic Trio) I was fascinated by the dynamics. When I replaced the Maggies by the O300D it was almost the same experience. Then I added the subwoofer, and when I listened to similar horn systems at Highend 2019 in Munich I did not have this experience of better dynamics at all, it was just as I was used to. So I'd say that horn speakers have no better dynamics than very good (active) cone speakers.

I have a good remembrance of the sound of the Audioplan Kontrapunkt, a very small passive two way speaker. These are very good speakers but playing them a little louder immediately led to heavy compression and a grainy sound. The Genelecs are very different in this regard and can play quite loud without showing signs of compression. I think the reason is that they are full active, and the LF chassis is not fed deep bass frequencies it cannot handle, leaving more power for the frequency range it can handle. Both amplifiers have just 20 W, and the Kontrapunkt was fed by an Accuphase integrated amp.

I think that dynamics is one of the lesser known advantages of active vs. passive speakers (at least the good ones). Their amplification is perfectly matched to the drivers and there are no passive components between amp output and driver. This means they can play louder as similar sized (see below) passive systems. A passive speaker would need a much more powerful amplifier to compete with an active speaker, more than the power of all amps in the active speaker summed up (even if we forget about the loss in the passive crossover).

Think about an LF full power sine wave and an HF full power sine wave (full power means the maximum the driver can handle) playing at the same time. In a passive system the HF sine wave rides on the LF sine wave so the amp must be able to provide a maximum voltage of both sine waves added. In the active speaker both amplifiers must provide just the maximum voltage of each separat sine wave.

Here is an example: lets say the max voltage for both sine waves is 8 V and all drivers have 8 Ohm impedance.
  • Each amp in the active speaker must be able to provide 8V max which results in a max current of 8 V / 8 Ohm = 1 A, which is a power of 8 V * 1 A = 8 W per amp and 16 W for both.
  • The amp for the passive speaker must be able to provide 2 * 8V = 16 V which results in a max current of 16 V / 8 Ohm = 2 A, which is a power of 16 V * 2 A = 32 W
Therefore the passive amp must be specified for 32 W at 8 Ohm load. Don't get me wrong - it will not deliver 32 W to the load because of the crossover which splits the load over the frequency range.

I think this is one of the reasons why the Genelecs can play louder than the combined amp power of 40 W suggests.
 

LTig

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[..]As for high end audio systems, a major driving factor for horns was the Asian market. In fact several such products were not even available in western markets. Asians, for some reason, were attracted to old Tannoys, Electrovoice and JBL horn systems. It may have had something to do with small tube amps, including single-ended triodes. Or not . . .
Yep see here (Funniest Show: Silbatone) ...
 

Blumlein 88

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Dynamics are going to come down to acoustical power. Horns have an advantage. I built a single cone transmission line speaker once. Used a 8 inch driver that really was good from 50 hz to 12,000. Used a whizzer cone so the range from about 4-12 khz was beamy. The driver was rated at 94 db I think. That isn't horn level efficiency, but compared to most serious speakers it is pretty efficient. I think I was using an 80 watt Spectral on it. It lacked a crossover, was efficient, and had lots of dynamic jump. Not unlike one's impression upon hearing horns.
 

LTig

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[..]Whenever I hear horns sections - symphony, at clubs, or on the street (we have street musicians who often use horns) I am struck by how big, round warm and smooth they sound relative to the tiny, squeaky things coming out of our sound systems. Even when played at "blatty" levels, they have an ease compared to the squeezed, spitty sounding horns that I often hear from sound systems (due to recordings and/or the idiosyncrasies of a speaker's frequency response).
Last monday I listened to Strawinsky's Petrushka at our local sinfony orchestra. It was a fantastic performance - one of the very best I've ever been to. On Tuesday I played the recording by the late Georg Solti as loud as I could handle (but still within the linear range of the amps). Although the recording is very good it could neither match the ease of the loud live passages, regardless of the instruments (horns, trumpets, big drum, double basses), nor the ethereal whirring sound of the violins in quieter passages. And the dynamic was compressed (quiet passages were louder and loud passages quieter).
 

digicidal

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Dynamics are going to come down to acoustical power. Horns have an advantage. I built a single cone transmission line speaker once. Used a 8 inch driver that really was good from 50 hz to 12,000. Used a whizzer cone so the range from about 4-12 khz was beamy. The driver was rated at 94 db I think. That isn't horn level efficiency, but compared to most serious speakers it is pretty efficient. I think I was using an 80 watt Spectral on it. It lacked a crossover, was efficient, and had lots of dynamic jump. Not unlike one's impression upon hearing horns.
I've got a couple of the very first speakers that Eric Alexander produced under the Tekton Design name - back when you had to place your order via ebay and then spend awhile going back and forth with him via email concerning color, finish, grills, etc.

They were designed around fostex full range drivers with whizzers... one in a ported box and one open-baffle design. To be honest they did very little right as far as FR was concerned... missed much of the deep bass (although the ported box had some energy to the 80Hz area at least) and they completely missed anything over 14kHz. However, the dynamics and accuracy in the midrange covered a multitude of sins.

Regardless of volume level, watching TV on them is insane (regardless of how cheap the receiver might be) - dialog and effects like breaking glass are so real it's uncanny (and even a little unsettling). Haven't found anything like them since - but I'm much, much happier listening to music or watching movies on my active monitors and subs, of course - unless it's dialog intensive, then I'm tempted to dig out those Tektons again.
 

MattHooper

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I'm using Hales T-8 speakers for surrounds. Still have a matching center channel speaker lying around as well, though I had to pinch a tweeter from it to replace a blown one in one of my T-8s. I'd be almost frightened to think of what would be the current MSRP of a pair of T-8s if Paul still was making them.
Wow, another Hales fan.

T-8s for SURROUNDS? That's luxurious. What in the world are you using for the L/Rs?

The T-8s remain one of the best speakers I ever heard.

I used to own the Transcendence 5s, and still use the Hales Transcendence T1 monitors and Transcendence Center channel for my home theater (and sometimes music listening). I actually got one of my pairs of T1 monitors directly from Paul Hales, who had the last pair on his work desk apparently.

The L/C/R are a beautiful match - gorgeous tonality from all, yet not at all bright or agressive. I work all day doing "home theater" as it were (sound effects) so at the end of the day I don't want my ears to take a beating.
 

March Audio

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I have to say my ears disagree.

I grew up with a Dad who was a jazz musician and music teacher - the sound of a trumpet often the house.

Whenever I hear horns sections - symphony, at clubs, or on the street (we have street musicians who often use horns) I am struck by how big, round warm and smooth they sound relative to the tiny, squeaky things coming out of our sound systems. Even when played at "blatty" levels, they have an ease compared to the squeezed, spitty sounding horns that I often hear from sound systems (due to recordings and/or the idiosyncrasies of a speaker's frequency response).

I've definitely found some speakers, and recordings, generally speaking produce horns that sound more peircing and artificial than the real thing.
The recordings/reproduction tends to be better at showing the leading edge transient nature of horns played hard. The real thing is balanced out by the warmth and other frequencies that are missing from the colored reproduction.
I have a lot of agreement with this. Christmas time, you hear a Salvation Army brass band playing in the street. The richness and high frequency sweetness you hear never seems to quite come across through a hifi recording. I don't know where the problem is, the mics used, their positioning or the speakers.
 

March Audio

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Microphones are flawed transducers in their own right.

Hence all the artistry involved in mic selection for recordings -- to get the one with right "flavor" and polar patterns.
Not quite the point I was making. These are all deliberate modifications of the microphone performance, as you say for the purpose of subjective artistry. Very well aware of how most commonly used recording mics are far from neutral. However this is not an actual limitation of the mic technology itself.
 

RichB

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Wombat

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Ok so the ASR spice girls , Keith's definitely ginger spice , il be posh , sal is scarry spice and guess that leaves sporty and baby spice

Any votes for sporty ? Maybe @amirm could of pulled it off a few decades ago, he would have been sure to love the tight lycra.

Baby spice ? @Wombat ? You up for pig tails and a school uniform? Don't lie and say no..
At my age and financial state I can't be choosy. :D A good night's sleep would be preferred. ;)
 
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Sal1950

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Ok so the ASR spice girls , Keith's definitely ginger spice , il be posh , sal is scarry spice and guess that leaves sporty and baby spice

Any votes for sporty ? Maybe @amirm could of pulled it off a few decades ago, he would have been sure to love the tight lycra.

Baby spice ? @Wombat ? You up for pig tails and a school uniform? Don't lie and say no..
Spice Girls??? Never heard of them.
Hey Google,
With over 85 million records sold worldwide, the group became the best-selling female group of all time.

Damn, I would have thought that might have been one of Phil Spector's girl groups, Shirelles, Martha & The Vandellas, Supremes, Ronni & Ronettes
Heart ??? :p
 
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Wombat

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This points out a circle of confusion problem with horns.

You don't see them very often in mixing/mastering environments. Aside from wave guides (are they horns?) on JBLs, you don't see real horns very often amongst studio monitors.

Which means that if horns sound very different from the kinds of speakers more commonly used as studio monitors, the mix/EQ decided upon by the producers may be several more standard deviations from how it was intended to sound (good or bad).

Those 'exceptional' recordings from the pre-loudness wars period are likely as not produced in studios equipped with big Altec, JBL, Tannoy, Vitavox, et.al. loudspeakers, usually encompassing horns. E.g. Abbey Road, RCA NYC, Columbia NYC, Sun, Motown.

Maybe the modern tiny monitors in modern tiny studios contribute to the poor recordings? ;)

The way we were:

4A7.jpg



HR4-StudioB-1.jpg
6041catalog30.jpg
 
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Wombat

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Dynamics are going to come down to acoustical power. Horns have an advantage. I built a single cone transmission line speaker once. Used a 8 inch driver that really was good from 50 hz to 12,000. Used a whizzer cone so the range from about 4-12 khz was beamy. The driver was rated at 94 db I think. That isn't horn level efficiency, but compared to most serious speakers it is pretty efficient. I think I was using an 80 watt Spectral on it. It lacked a crossover, was efficient, and had lots of dynamic jump. Not unlike one's impression upon hearing horns.
The horns have a far better driver-to-air acoustic impedance match, giving them a better energy transfer performance. Slam?
 

digicidal

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@Wombat saw that big mixing board pic on the Ocean Way Audio site... they have a few I'd love to hear - doubt I will ever own a pair, but might have to stop by next time I'm in Cali. So curious to hear what a stone monitor sounds like. Guaranteed not to 'ring' I'd assume.
HR3-1.jpg
 

Wombat

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@Wombat saw that big mixing board pic on the Ocean Way Audio site... they have a few I'd love to hear - doubt I will ever own a pair, but might have to stop by next time I'm in Cali. So curious to hear what a stone monitor sounds like. Guaranteed not to 'ring' I'd assume.
View attachment 29319
Maybe we should have a thread for studio gear porn. :eek: :)
 

MattHooper

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I have a lot of agreement with this. Christmas time, you hear a Salvation Army brass band playing in the street. The richness and high frequency sweetness you hear never seems to quite come across through a hifi recording. I don't know where the problem is, the mics used, their positioning or the speakers.
Well said.

I'm currently smitten by my Spendor S3/5 speakers. They may not be perfectly accurate, but what they do is deliver that "sweetness" and ease to the sound. Horns have that glowing tonal quality, yet with a relaxed tone, and they do this without sounding at all "dark" or obviously rolled off.
It's the same with voices through these little speakers. They sound so darned human!

A very canny design...if it pushes your buttons as they do mine.
 

watchnerd

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Those 'exceptional' recordings from the pre-loudness wars period are likely as not produced in studios equipped with big Altec, JBL, Tannoy, Vitavox, et.al. loudspeakers, usually encompassing horns. E.g. Abbey Road, RCA NYC, Columbia NYC, Sun, Motown.

Maybe the modern tiny monitors in modern tiny studios contribute to the poor recordings? ;)

The way we were:

View attachment 29314


View attachment 29315 View attachment 29316
So you need multiple sets of speakers to match the monitors of the corresponding era.

Or just wait for the remaster, which is probably just as much about updating the EQ to suit changes in speakers as anything.
 

Wombat

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Well said.

I'm currently smitten by my Spendor S3/5 speakers. They may not be perfectly accurate, but what they do is deliver that "sweetness" and ease to the sound. Horns have that glowing tonal quality, yet with a relaxed tone, and they do this without sounding at all "dark" or obviously rolled off.
It's the same with voices through these little speakers. They sound so darned human!

A very canny design...if it pushes your buttons as they do mine.

Big space vs smaller space?
 
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