Horn Dispersion Wide or Narrow ,Which is prefered?

RogerD

Active Member
May 23, 2010
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BiggestLittleCity
#1
I'm building a pair of horn speakers and noticed many types. Horns are categorized in degrees of dispersion ie 90/40,60/40,40/20..90/40 being wide and 40/20 considered narrow. I will be sitting about 20 feet from the horns with only the left channel near a side wall. The mid range horn will be large,about 30 to 39 wide and about 25 inches high. I want something different as my current system is very open. I have noticed a TAD horn TH4001 is wide but not high and is well liked. What can I expect with a large narrow dispersion horn,as opposed to a wide dispersion type horn?
 

Folsom

VIP/Donor
Oct 26, 2015
2,557
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Eastern WA
#2
It depends, are you entertaining yourself or an audience? The narrower the better fidelity for the sweet spot to reduce reflections etc.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
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#3
That's a topic with many variables...

The room and the area to be covered are main issues, it's a large room and you'll be far away from the speakers, maybe too far to be honest, you may find a smaller setup to work out better even though you have the space. The wider the dispersion the more room acoustics will matter, and this will change the ratio of direct to reflected sound you hear. But with room size and lp you're talking about a narrower dispersion might be better.

Personal preference is also a major factor, some prefer wider dispersion and more reflected sound, others like a more focused/direct sound. This seems to depend a lot on acclimation and can vary quite a bit. I think it also depends on the system's ability to resolve detail, the more resolving the less desirable reflections are, imo. Too narrow can also result in the impression you're listening to a large pair of headphones, which is also a product of acclimation and everyone doesn't feel this way but too narrow can seem unnatural to many people.

90/40 isn't wide these days as the JBL M2s are 120 degrees all around. I think this is too wide and 90 is more ideal for most 2-ch listening. Narrower vertical can be good, though I use round horns, and I have high ceilings which makes a big difference.

Then there's shape... Le Cleac'h is ideal for diffraction and achieving a clean sound but it'll be massive for a horn that covers into the lower midrange. Although a oval version is possible it would have to be custom made... I'd go with tractrix for the large horn and Le Cleac'h for the higher frequencies.
 

RogerD

Active Member
May 23, 2010
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36
BiggestLittleCity
#5
That's a topic with many variables...

The room and the area to be covered are main issues, it's a large room and you'll be far away from the speakers, maybe too far to be honest, you may find a smaller setup to work out better even though you have the space. The wider the dispersion the more room acoustics will matter, and this will change the ratio of direct to reflected sound you hear. But with room size and lp you're talking about a narrower dispersion might be better.

Personal preference is also a major factor, some prefer wider dispersion and more reflected sound, others like a more focused/direct sound. This seems to depend a lot on acclimation and can vary quite a bit. I think it also depends on the system's ability to resolve detail, the more resolving the less desirable reflections are, imo. Too narrow can also result in the impression you're listening to a large pair of headphones, which is also a product of acclimation and everyone doesn't feel this way but too narrow can seem unnatural to many people.

90/40 isn't wide these days as the JBL M2s are 120 degrees all around. I think this is too wide and 90 is more ideal for most 2-ch listening. Narrower vertical can be good, though I use round horns, and I have high ceilings which makes a big difference.

Then there's shape... Le Cleac'h is ideal for diffraction and achieving a clean sound but it'll be massive for a horn that covers into the lower midrange. Although a oval version is possible it would have to be custom made... I'd go with tractrix for the large horn and Le Cleac'h for the higher frequencies.
Dave thanks,very informative.

The sitting distance can be from 16 to 20 feet. The horns will be about 13 ft on centers. I have spec'd in tractrix horns,but I just want to explore different options. A more direct sound intrigues me.
 

RogerD

Active Member
May 23, 2010
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36
BiggestLittleCity
#6

U47

New Member
Apr 23, 2010
160
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Portland, Oregon
www.reeltapes.net
#7
TAD 4003 driver and horn are pretty wonderful together. 4001 less to my liking, but still fine. Complete TAD systems are somewhat of a mess IMO. Pick and choose horns and drivers from their line(mostly discontinued). We will likely be using the TH 4003s with some 30s vintage field coil compression units.
Very uncolored sound with well controlled dispersion. Magico's top speaker is a horn rig and from what I remember visiting Alon Wolf 15 years ago, he was using the 4003 drivers in the first(prototype) version of the Ultimate.

R
 

Mark Seaton

WBF Technical Expert (Speaker & Acoustics)
May 21, 2010
319
2
18
42
Chicago, IL
www.seatonsound.net
#8
I'm building a pair of horn speakers and noticed many types. Horns are categorized in degrees of dispersion ie 90/40,60/40,40/20..90/40 being wide and 40/20 considered narrow. I will be sitting about 20 feet from the horns with only the left channel near a side wall. The mid range horn will be large,about 30 to 39 wide and about 25 inches high. I want something different as my current system is very open. I have noticed a TAD horn TH4001 is wide but not high and is well liked. What can I expect with a large narrow dispersion horn,as opposed to a wide dispersion type horn?
As others have noted, the use, speaker placement vs listener vs walls, and preference all matter. Do know that as horns get dramatically asymmetrical at more than 2:1, the coverage pattern often flips dimensions at the low end of the horn. As an example, most "90 x 20 horns" are only 20 degrees above 8-12kHz (larger dimension = lower frequency control), and quickly widen below that range. The 90 degree dimension can often then pinch sharply in the horizontal dimension at the lower end of the frequency range before it looses control related to its dimension. The most important bit to understand going in is that no matter the shape, a horn or any device must be a large enough dimension to control sound. Every time the frequency you want to control drops an octave, you need a horn twice as large. Every time the angle you want to keep the sound within is cut in half, you need to again double the mouth dimension of the horn, else that effective coverage range shifts up one octave.

In other words, for the same ideal range of control, a 45 deg horn should be 2x the dimension of a 90 degree horn, and if you have a horn design which you know controls down to 2kHz, you have to make it twice the dimension to extend that control to 1kHz.
 

Folsom

VIP/Donor
Oct 26, 2015
2,557
2
38
Eastern WA
#9
Sometimes horns don't do much for CD but improve polar plot, power response, so more areas has consistent SPL. Again, not real interesting for someone that sits in a sweet spot unless it is in a null.

Horns also can make more linear output than dynamic speakers, as they allow a linear inverse driver to be used. The throat has to be compatible with the driver in such case so it may trump other concerns when going that way. Wish I could say more, haven't played with enough horn drivers.
 

RogerD

Active Member
May 23, 2010
3,142
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36
BiggestLittleCity
#10
Sometimes horns don't do much for CD but improve polar plot, power response, so more areas has consistent SPL. Again, not real interesting for someone that sits in a sweet spot unless it is in a null.

Horns also can make more linear output than dynamic speakers, as they allow a linear inverse driver to be used. The throat has to be compatible with the driver in such case so it may trump other concerns when going that way. Wish I could say more, haven't played with enough horn drivers.
Folsom I have always wanted a set of horn speakers. I have owned a pair of JBL L200,still do,but these will be different. Much to learn. Any and all input is appreciated.
 

RogerD

Active Member
May 23, 2010
3,142
0
36
BiggestLittleCity
#11
Well after looking and reading about several horns these are my current choices.

Klipsch K402 and K510 tractrix
Seos 30 & HF Waveguide
TAD H4001 26 inch clone & Fostex H400, the clone is a Rey Audio...I have to do more research.

All three are totally different and I really like the look of the TAD's and the cost of the Seos has to be taken into account. I could also go with a le Cleach HF horn up top to be really different.All these are 2 inch except the Fostex. Any thoughts.....

P.s. I will be using TAD 3415 bass arrays for the LF and using TAD TD4001 drivers.
 
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