Horn speakers are known for their incredible transparency, speed, detail and dynamics. Some people though, complain of certain horn colourations. They say horns can be “shouty” “hard” or “brittle”.
What we desire from horn speakers is the transparency of an electrostatic combined with the dynamics of the best electrodynamic speakers. We expect them to play as loud as realistic concert levels, without distortion or any signs of strain.
A tall order! It’s all perfectly possible though. All of these qualities can be achieved by horn speakers without any of the downsides of those colourations.
The key is in the amplifier/horn speaker interface. Many people like single ended triode amplifiers with horn speakers.
Eduardo de Lima, the founder of Audiopax discovered that was because the harmonic distortion produced by SET amps was cancelling out some of the opposing distortion of horn speakers.
The only problem is this was happening by chance. A particular SET amp combined with a horn speaker would achieve this cancelling effect to large degree and a pure liquid mid-range was the result.
What if you could control this?, is basically what Eduardo asked himself. The answer is history and was achieved by using more than one amplifier in a single chassis to drive each speaker. By adjusting the relative distortion between these amplifiers the distortion would cancel out the distortion perfectly of any speaker they were used with.
This adjustability he named “Timbre Lock”. It produces that same pure, liquid midrange and natural sound with horn speakers, though to a degree of perfectibility not possible with traditional single ended triode amps.
…and without the limitations of power (even horn speakers benefit from some power in reserve) or the limitations at the frequency extremes which are typical of SET amps. This is because Audiopax amplifiers are single ended, class A pentode based amps, using KT88s.
Another reason for some people’s objection to horns is, I believe, because they are so revealing and have not been tailored in any way to make up for less than the best digital sounds sources.
For this reason digital sources used with horn speakers have to be “digital done right” otherwise those accusations of “hard” and “brittle” will be made. Why? Because those are exactly the characteristics of digital done wrong.
As we demonstrated at the Munich High-End show this year, the combination of “digital done right” and Audiopax amplifiers with “Timbre Lock” are the answers to un-locking the pure experience of real music from horn speakers.