Horn loaded loudspeakers

I think the OP has made it clear they’re up to speed on the issues around horn loading but what they want is smaller with that “beguiling sound”. My take is that there’s lots out there which can do exactly that as that sound is not necessarily exclusive to horn loading. It’s often just low powered amps and high efficiency speakers. Yes that’s a simplification but it’s definitely ball park.

FWIW I consider the concept of honking horns to be about as up to speed as soft bass with valves i.e. we are a long long way from that and have been for a couple of decades.

Hmm, not sur that is the case - the OP hasn’t yet been back to clarify what she or he is actually seeking, or whether any of the various contributions here have been off-putting or inspiring. All we actually know is that he/she wants the same sort of sound character as the Klipsch La Scala speakers, but in a smaller package, with the specific question as to whether there are any any relatively compact horn loaded speakers of more modern design. The answer to that question would seem to be not really if horn loading all the way down to the bass is desired, the La Scala already being remarkably small for a nominally full range horn loaded speaker (cut off about 50Hz). So, what is needed now is for the OP consider pros and cons of everything said so far, and if anything is of interest seek to explore further… I look forward to her/his observations with interes.

For anyone whose interest has been aroused, here are drawings of the two practical DIY horn designs from the 1974 WW articles. The smaller one is intended for corner placement, and is shallower than the Klipsch La Scala, but taller, and has a higher bass cutoff of 70Hz, It uses a single 6.5” driver (and these days there are a lot better ones from which to choose…).

A most helpful response. Many of the replies to date have been of considerable interest, and I have spent some time considering them. You are right. I knew from the start that the term compact horn is an oxymoron, but I sustained a feeble hope that some advancement in technology of which I was unaware might have offered a solution. I need to hear a few contemporary designs which might produce the result that you correctly observe “horn coupling of a speaker driver to the room air does something beguiling to the sound that a direct radiator simply doesn’t”.

Although they are not currently running I have had a pair of Living Voice Tone Scouts for 30 years and also naim on and off over the same period. With more 135’s that you can shake a stick at running older Sonus Fabers in an AV set up I am very familiar with the good, the bad and the compromises.

The naim/Sonus Faber is far easier to get right and getting them to be musically coherent is more straightforward. Four 135’s driving two Extremas and 5 sub amps driving in 5 subs in parallel is great. BUT horns have something that is special, this is the immediacy and dynamics in the mid that is closer to real life. Getting them to deliver full range, get coherence across the frequency range and their insane sensitivity to small adjustments is what makes them hard. Ive always said at some point, probably when I retire I’ll invest the months to get them working at their best again.

I might even go mono and use one with a colossal horn loaded sub, get them in a big room, sit a distance away and they can be remarkable, close up they can also be remarkable but are much harder to do this

I still remember the evenings of Nirvahna with the horns playing very loud and being unable to change the record over hours because I just wanted / needed to immerse myself in the track again. I have had Thelonious Monk and Oscar Peterson in my lounge with all the ‘balls’, drive and dynamics of a real piano. If someone says how do they image, how resolving is the top end, how accurate are they, then its time for a different hobby, you didnt notice, you didnt care. It was loud, immersive, captivating and real music

Then you play with one small thing and some of the magic seems to go and before you know it, they are sounding nasal, lean and off. It’s like dating a SuperModel (I never have by the way !), one amazing night can hold your enthusiasm through many trials and tribulations but after a while you need a break

If you have the time, enthusiasm and space it’s HORNS every day, but cheap pressure drivers and flimsy cabinets don’t do it and you need space.


Avantgarde acoustic Zero , little horn speakers. Active.

  • Type: part active horn loudspeaker
  • Drivers: 25mm tweeter in 77×130mm horn, 125mm midrange in 130×400mm horn, 300mm bass unit
  • Frequency response: 250Hz-20kHz (main unit), 18-350Hz (active bass module)
  • Sensitivity: >104dB
  • Crossover frequencies: 300Hz, 4kHz
  • Nominal impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Subwoofer amplifier power: 500W
  • Subwoofer amplifier THD+N: 0.05%
  • Subwoofer amplifier SNR: 102dB (A)
  • DSP section
  • Delay: adjustable in 0.01ms steps
  • High/Low pass filters: Bessel, Butterworth, Linkwitz-Riley filters
  • Parametric EQ: 10× available
  • Compressor: programmable
  • Limiter: programmable
  • Dimensions (W × D × H): 49×32×104cm
  • Weight: 39kg
  • Price: £10,000 per pair

I saw these once and thought they looked great. Sadly I wasn’t able to hear them. Or maybe a good thing. They were 5 times over budget.


Pair that with an Enleum and you’re in Steve Huff territory.

It’s difficult to find less expensive horn speakers today. Some speakers like Zu or , Klipsh Rf7, Living Voice , entry level, are less expensive. Easy load , around 96/98 db. But are not really horn.

I’ve mentioned Decware many times for horns. Lots of affordable horns. Even self build plans.

One very interesting one is the bookshelf DMA945. There’s an optional base that it sits on and fits flush to make it a floorstanding horn. Without the base it’s just a non horn reflex ported speaker. Technically speaking, many of their designs are actually horn transmission line hybrids.

Decware speakers and amps are wonderful.

These are not horn, just easy drive speakers. You will never find horn speakers at 800 dollars.
I like these ones, presented on the Decware site as open baffled speakers, 91 db.

They almost, naively, make you think you could make your own.

Heard a pair when in the US. Utterly engaging with everything but paired with a low powered amp they’re mesmerising.

I have a friend who runs a pair of Klipsch Cornwalls with a LP12/52/500. Because of the high sensitivity the 500 runs in class-A. He makes great music… no “cupped” sound or fatigue . Just a big, room filling performance. They do need space.

I did much the same exercise 5 years ago and decided that the physics is not kind to horn designs!

For anyone with a bit of DIY ability, try a search for Frugel Horns

Try Triangle loudspeakers French manufacturing, horn tweeter very good bass , excellent midrange is what the are know for.

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