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Horns
 
Article from Copper Magazine Issue 32
 
Click on image to go to full article by Bill Leebens
 

 
If there’s a more contentious topic in audio than that of horn loudspeakers, I don’t know what it is.—Okay, that’s not quite true: cables are a more contentious topic. I’m just not going there.
We’ve spent a lot of space in this column exploring the history of moving-coil loudspeakers from their creation by Jensen through their development at Bell Labs/Western Electric, the development of the acoustic suspension enclosure and dome drivers at AR, with detours through Weathers, Stan White, and Spica. We’ve also looked at electrostatic speakers from Quad and Acoustat, and those funky plasma drivers. It’s only fair that we take a look at horns through the years—and that will require revisiting Western Electric and its offspring.
Writing about the history of any field is a feat of genealogy in which family branches mysteriously break off, enlivened with a sprinkling of illegitimate offspring. Audio is like this, only ever so much so more so. Paths will cross and re-cross; familiar names will pop up again and again.
In order to understand horn loudspeakers, a little knowledge of their antecedents may be helpful. Going way back, the first horns used for sounding or making noise—I would hesitate to call them musical instruments—were formed from animal horns. The  “trumpets” mentioned in the Torah, the Old Testament, and the Quran were not the brass, valved instruments of modern times, but likely a shofar or something similar.  Generally made from a ram’s horn, a  shofar is more like a bugle, really, as it is valveless and the player’s embouchure is the only control of the horn’s pitch.

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