Visit to Audiophile Bill to hear his horns project

morricab

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Hi Marc,

Thank you ever so much for visiting me at the weekend and these really kind words - I am thrilled that you enjoyed my horns. I am really pleased with your observations about the main attributes of the speakers as you pretty much nailed my design choices / ethos.

I have to say that I have (and continue to have) significant trepidation any time an audiophile comes to the system. I think we are all super passionate about this hobby with our gear choices etc so when you take that next step and stick your neck out and try to build something yourself, the intensity of this trepidation further rockets.

The project has taken over a year and a half in the making and continues to evolve. A lot of serious pain and failure on the way I might add. I must have spent at least 6 weeks trying to accomplish things with papier-mâché only to realise that the quality of what I was after would never have been viable for my taste. It was at that point that I spent just over 1 year learning wood turning every week (10 hours per week) under supervision of a master turner here in Hampshire, UK. This finally enabled me to be able to realise one of my primary aims - to be able to construct hardwood horns (Tractrix geometry for this speaker) using any timbers of my liking. To build a Tractrix horn in solid mahogany with an fc just below 200hz might seem somewhat extreme but I had always maintained that I wanted at all costs to avoid plastic based horns if possible. I recall the first day that I hooked the big mahogany horns up (they weigh just over a 110lbs each) and my delight to hear just delicious tone and no plastic colouration at all - it felt like the whole mission was worth it. Today I feel liberated as the potential to build my ultimate reference speaker is now viable with multi-way hardwood horns top to bottom.

The main chassis body is in fact Canadian maple of 40mm - same as used in the body (non sound board) of a grand piano for example - it gives great rigidity and strength but also tonally very nice. The jointing and internal bracing to enable this and to avoid movement posed small challenges but has been accomplished. My choice of 4 x 15” woofers per side might seem a bit extreme and likely to be overbearing (one might think that on paper) but it is surprising how super fast they sound with zero box colour and overhang. They don’t seem to cause any room boom. Anyway the key here was that they would have the speed and velocity to sound continuous with the horn and I am pleased that you picked up on this, Marc. It is one of the hardest things to make work - that is the continuity of the 2-way between the horn and the bass and one that a lot of hybrid horn speakers struggle with. The bass module is 104dB actively driven - a really easy 15ohms impedance. As Marc said, there is no crossover on the BD4 - the horn fc obviously yields a natural roll off as does the driver.

Anyway - the journey continues as I further refine the maple baffles. I am still making some minor tweaking here mainly for aesthetic purposes before I feel the design is finalised. Hopefully complete in the next month. I will certainly show some photos when I finish this final piece.

Marc - thanks again. So happy that you enjoyed yourself and it was nice to chat more generally.

Amazing results Bill...I am quite impressed. I have made a few speakers myself over the years but I could never get them finished like you have here. I knew what was coming based on our discussions about the design but the reality exceeds my expectations handily...hope to get to hear them one day.
 

bonzo75

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How is it with 100 pure watts .? :)

I have heard it with Mayer 211, audio consulting amps, and NAT magma. It really needs the Mayer 46. I would have liked to hear it with other amps like 45s. It will sound really bad with 100 watts, because to take real advantage of the AER you need high speed and nuance, apart from the purity of simplicity, which is possible only in very very very low watt amps. Problem with such amps is they almost cannot drive anything apart from such one to two way speakers with drivers of this efficiency.

The other problem with pnoe is with too much power the bass from the lower opening sounds out of sync with the top, and the sound comes forward. With low watts this sounds right.
 

jep123

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Superb job, they are looking great. I have my first pair of horn speakers myself after 35 years + and well designed horn speakers are indeed sounding great. Warm, smooth, dynamic and very open. Good luck.
 

bonzo75

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The coaxial BMS drivers are not very cheap from my understanding (several hundred per piece). They are not TAD expensive but IMO the TAD seem overrated based on what I have heard from them thus far.

Tad are superb. Your experiences are from Cessaro in Munich. The best and most comprehensive driver shootout I know off has been done by Leif and his friends in Norway, and they have been systematically been through JBL, Altec, TAD, ALE 7550 DE, Radian, over the last decade, both measuring and listening, and 4 of them ended up with TAD 4003. Leif's horn is the best I have heard and is my favorite system with Mike's and the yamamura, Mike's is based on room, Yamamura is sheer magic, and Leif's is actually the perfect big speaker that plays all music with various sources, carts, and well wait for my write up after I finish Boardwalk Empire, psych, Chuck, Banshee, Monk, and 4 more matches of test cricket. The other systems are one offs. TAD is the most see through driver that allows for easy separation on large symphony as well. I love the AER too, and with TAD I am referring to midrange and tweeter, not woofers
 
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Alrainbow

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I think natural warmth is different from colored warmth. Real music is warm. Colored warmth is where the warm feeling is the same, and usually comes from the valve, can be heard, especially with audio research or Kondo. Everything natural is naturally warm by definition, as opposed to analytically cold. Neutral is not on warm or cold axis, but the ability to reflect change of warmth and other attributes that come from change in recordings or components.

Have to agree with Tang on this , natural instruments are far from warm , it may appear so in description because there is no electronic distortion or ring ..

Never heard a warm instrument ..
 
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bonzo75

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Have to agree with Tang on this , natural instruments are far from warm , it may appear so in description because there is no electronic distortion or ring ..

Never heard a warm instrument ..

What you hear with the instrument is warm. The warm that you are referring to is valve warmth
 

morricab

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Tad are superb. Your experiences are from Cessaro in Munich. The best and most comprehensive driver shootout I know off has been done by Leif and his friends in Norway, and they have been systematically been through JBL, Altec, TAD, ALE 7550 DE, Radian, over the last decade, both measuring and listening, and 4 of them ended up with TAD 4003. Leif's horn is the best I have heard and is my favorite system with Mike's and the yamamura, Mike's is based on room, Yamamura is sheer magic, and Leif's is actually the perfect big speaker that plays all music with various sources, carts, and well wait for my write up after I finish Boardwalk Empire, psych, Chuck, Banshee, Monk, and 4 more matches of test cricket. The other systems are one offs. TAD is the most see through driver that allows for easy separation on large symphony as well. I love the AER too, and with TAD I am referring to midrange and tweeter, not woofers

I have heard them in TAD studio monitors as well. DIY audio is full of threads indicating that there are competitive drivers out there for much less (or more) money. The matching with the horn is critical and I think the throat angle of the TADs is more old school and therefore better with more traditional style horns and not so great with the more modern waveguide constant directivity types.
 

bonzo75

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I have heard them in TAD studio monitors as well. DIY audio is full of threads indicating that there are competitive drivers out there for much less (or more) money. The matching with the horn is critical and I think the throat angle of the TADs is more old school and therefore better with more traditional style horns and not so great with the more modern waveguide constant directivity types.

I am not interested in waveguide because I haven't heard a good one. Not saying it cannot be done. I prefer JMLC and in the case of Altec, Markus klug's multicell. For lower cross over points, tractrix and Sato. I am not interested in radial sonically either though I love the look, especially on dual FLH. That said one of Leif's friends is experimenting with constant directivity on TAD 4003 so I will visit him if it ever becomes safe to travel again

Which drivers did you hear in studio monitors, and with what amplification?
 

User211

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The other problem with pnoe is with too much power the bass from the lower opening sounds out of sync with the top, and the sound comes forward. With low watts this sounds right.

True at Munich. Maybe its distance from the speaker as I can't see low watts correcting for this issue. There's just no logic there.

We were definitely way too close at Munich.
 

Audiophile Bill

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Congratulations Bill. Can you post a new total system pic? Also, does the horn have the same geometry as the Swing?

Hi Jeffrey,

Going to post some nice pics when I finish the next baffle. Won’t be long.

No the top horn on the Swings MKII use a BMS Coaxial compression driver with an Orphean horn with fc of 270hz and a 2”’ throat. I am not sure of the Oris or Orphean geometry.

Best.
 
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bonzo75

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True at Munich. Maybe its distance from the speaker as I can't see low watts correcting for this issue. There's just no logic there.

We were definitely way too close at Munich.


I don't know what other reason is there, but that problem existed with all amps except the Mayer 46
 

Audiophile Bill

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Amazing results Bill...I am quite impressed. I have made a few speakers myself over the years but I could never get them finished like you have here. I knew what was coming based on our discussions about the design but the reality exceeds my expectations handily...hope to get to hear them one day.

Brad - thank you very much indeed for the kind words and encouragement. It really means a lot. You would be welcome to visit.
 

User211

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Duetta i was told are best in small to medium size rooms for power and will need plenty, plenty power to do a big room ...

They are OK in 35 by 14 - actually the same size as one of Graz's rooms. Don't forget the volume doesn't drop off with distance so much as cone speakers.

BUT they did things in my old 17 by 11 room that they can't do in 35 by 14 and vice versa. They are definitely more relaxed and less intense in 35 by 14. But I do miss that "being assaulted by an intense wall of sound" feeling of the smaller room.

I wouldn't go back, though. Love having a 100 inch 4K projector screen in the bigger room. Watching live and studio produced YouTube videos takes on a whole new meaning.
 
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bonzo75

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There is a method to place these planars in a big room, which involves placing the speakers 1/3rd into the room. You can read that on Gallantdiva's apogee full range page on audiogon.
 

Alrainbow

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I am not interested in waveguide because I haven't heard a good one. Not saying it cannot be done. I prefer JMLC and in the case of Altec, Markus klug's multicell. For lower cross over points, tractrix and Sato. I am not interested in radial sonically either though I love the look, especially on dual FLH. That said one of Leif's friends is experimenting with constant directivity on TAD 4003 so I will visit him if it ever becomes safe to travel again

Which drivers did you hear in studio monitors, and with what amplification?


Bill’s setup is a wave guide ked ...
 
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bonzo75

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Bill’s setup is a wave guide ked ...

I didn't mean tractrix, I meant waveguide like used in horns fp10/15, like SEOS

in waveguides like constant directivity, conical, and SEOS, acoustic amplification is almost non existent. In tractrix, like with JMLC, there is horn loading, or amplification of around 6db or more
 
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Audiophile Bill

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Bill’s setup is a wave guide ked ...

Hi Al,

Yes if one is following the strict principles of definitions on such matters the throat of the horn would need to be narrower than the driver membrane surface area to induce the compression effect and impedance loading. That said almost nobody would use a full ranger that way because of the issues with extension unless you are using the driver in the multi-way. Also doesn’t sound too good - I did try this actually with earlier iterations. I lost too much top end for 2-way.That said the Tractrix profile itself is of course a horn and provides good spl gain from loading unlike the conical profile. Also worth noting that you get about 6dB lift from the horn in this config too.

Best wishes.
 
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Sablon Audio

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Big congrats to you Bill, not just for the stellar product you have created but also for the path you have assiduously pursued. Not many will appreciate the extent of R&D you have made, diving deep into the theories of horn speaker design whilst simultaneously developing your woodworking skills to execute. All of this was done in tandem with a demanding career and young family. The finished product you have developed really is top notch and I wish you every success with these heirloom quality speakers!
 

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