Horn speakers

The principal of the horn speaker is very old, if you have seen an old mechanical grammophon they usually used some kind of horn to amplify the sound from the record.

Principle of horn speakers

In order to understand the benefits of a horn speaker it is important to realise that an ordinary speaker element have extremely low efficiency, this is due to the very bad matching that exists between the speaker and the air. An ordinary speaker element is not really well suited to couple the energy supplied by the amplifier and convert it into sound.

The horn speaker works as a matching transformer between the speaker and the air and the efficiency dramatically increases. Other benefits of horn speakers is that the speaker element does not have to move so much in order to give powerfoul sound, this means that distorsion will be minimised, also as the speaker element is now more efficiently coupled to the air transient performance is much better, (this is probably the main reason why some people think that horn speaker has a "dry" sound, as transients are reproduced as they are intended without any overshots or ringing, the sound from a horn speaker can sound "drier" then from a conventional speaker).

Horn speakers have of course some disadvantages also, as the length of the horn ideally should be 1/4 of the wavelength of the lowest frequency that should be transmitted, this means that horn speakers tend to be big, very big if the low frequency response should be good. Real horn speakers are usually some compromise from the theoretical dimensions and therefore some sounds really good and some are really bad.

My speakers
I use Lowther speaker elements in Lowther Fidelio horns.

Lowther Fidelio horn

One of my speakers
I built my speakers in Plywood and covered the outside in thin mahogny plywood to cover all screws and raw wood. The speaker elements are Lowther PM6A.

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For more information about Lowther speakers and horns in general please see these links:

Home page for Lowther UK
Good site with a lot about Lowther speakers
The Norwegian Lowther club
The Dutch Lowther club

Created on ... december 12, 2000