Horns with good timbre and tonality?

I’m looking into buying a pair of horns for my next speaker. I sold my Sonus Faber Elipsa SE. Looking for a more realistic, more lively sound. I’ve heard the Triangle Magellan and enjoyed the sound, but wonder if there is better.

I appreciate speed and dynamics with good timbre and tonality. I know horns are good with speed and dynamics, but not sure if they can do timbre and tonality like SF can.

Looking at German Blumenhofer FS1 / FS2, French Triangle magellan, Fleetwood deville, Avantgarde.

It will be paired with Mastersound 845 Evolution SET or Auris Fortissimo amp.

Room size 40 x 15 x 8 feet

Must realistically play Solo Piano, Cello and full scale symphony.



If you are looking for realistic piano, cello and symphony, have a listen to Martin Logan Renaissance ESL 15A.

These puppies have everything you are looking for: speed, dynamics, timbre and tonality.

As a musician, I find that these faithfully reproduce that "musicians in the room with you" sound. However, they do require a lot of space around them.

I’m not familiar with horns, but my experience with ATC speakers is that they very much reproduce a “live” sound.

ATC is hard to drive with low powered tubes. I’m thinking about trying horns. 

I was an electrostatic owner for decades, made the switch to horns (Avantgarde Duo) for my main system in 2006. What upped the game in terms of timbre/tonality was the upstream components (Lamm ML2- such a good sounding amp), different phono stage (from Steelhead to Allnic H-3000), tube rolling the Allnic rectifier (my fav is a GEC u52), the addition of 15" subs and a switch to Koetsu stone bodied cartridges. This particular system sounds the best it has since I started to assemble it. 

I have been beyond impressed with my JBL 4367 since purchase. They were great right out of the box and only improved with setup over time. I do highpass them to subs but I do that will all speakers. I struggle to think of a better speaker I have heard. Some different but not really better.

the tweeter is adjustable a bit too so between the adjustable tweeter and toe in you should be able to get the highs right where you want them. Mine are a touch rolled off but you could make them sound flat too or a touch bright even. Nice to have flexibility.

What about Blumenhofer? Anyone hear them? 

Klipsch jubilee had terrible timbre and tone. 

I can’t audition avantgarde.  

I did not hear Blumenhofer but I heard about them. I think, you are headed in a right direction. Don’t buy anything until you have auditioned them. If you cannot..well..

@ei001h wrote:

"I appreciate speed and dynamics with good timbre and tonality. I know horns are good with speed and dynamics, but not sure if they can do timbre and tonality like SF can."

I’ve been designing and building horn hybrd horn loudspeakers (horn + direct radiator woofer) with timbre and tonality as a high priority, as I’m also a dealer for SoundLab fullrange electrostats, which are arguably superb in those respects.

Imo the secret to natural timbre is, getting the reflection field right. When there is a spectral discrepancy between the first-arrival sound and the subsequent reflected sound, even if the first-arrival sound is very smooth, the net result is unnatural timbre and in some cases listening fatigue. So we want the reflections to have essentially the same spectral balance as the direct sound, modified only by the room’s acoustics.

Note that with live music there is relatively little discrepancy between the direct sound and the reflections. You can step outside the room where a live piano or cello is playing and listen from beside the open doorway with no line-of-sight to the instrument and instantly tell whether it’s live or not, even though you are not getting any direct sound.

Getting the spectral balance of the reflection field correct calls for paying particular attention to the loudspeaker’s radiation pattern, and in this respect not all horns are created equal. Ime what works well is a constant-directivity horn which does not rely on diffraction. Most horns do not fit this description.

Timbral richness also benefits from having a fairly well-energized reflection field, which implies that you don’t want the horn speaker’s radiation pattern to be too narrow.

You mentioned full scale symphony. The ability to convey the hall ambience on a good recording again goes back to getting the reflection field correct, as the in-room reflections are in effect the "carriers" for the reverberation tails on the recording. I can go into more detail about this if you’d like.

Best of luck in your quest.



I suggest adding Cessaro, Wolf Von Langa and Horning Speakers to your audition list. Head over to High Water Sounds in NY for audition.

Project Everest DD67000

Project Everest DD67000

Dual 15-inch (380mm), 3-way Floor standing Loudspeaker


W.r.t real instruments, it is harder to get to the tonal/timbral accuracy level of some TAD, Yamaha, Voxativ, older Schweikerts, Gershman (hit n miss), etc with alternate waveguide/compression driver offerings, ime/imo. Unless a guy spent a couple of decades nitpicking himself to death with a piano or a violin, he could enjoy the music with horns just fine.

If you are going with horns, other things are more important to you anyways. On that note, some JBLs are pretty good. If you eventually complain that the JBLs ain’t getting all the way there w.r.t the above mentioned, those Harman PhDs will argue you to death with scaa-ence anyways. They’ll claim that the musician’s ear is very biased. 😁

Cost no object: JBL Everest DD67000


Budget Restrictions: JBL HDI-3800

What about OMA speakers ? Those look serious. I’m going to check out their showroom in Brooklyn. Did anyone get to hear them ? 

Classic Audio's T 1.5 Reference by a mile. All the others are wishful thinking. SET ready, high impedance, field coils and all. 


very interesting speaker Classics. Have you had a chance to listen to them? They’re located in Jakarta, seems like a wild place to ship from. 

did you hear Volti?

Do you think they can reproduce dynamics ?

If your question was about Martin Logan Renaissance 15A, the answer is NO.  I had owned them for a few years and sold them.  They were great for vocal, slow jazz music, but not dynamic.

I own Volti Rivals and am very pleased with the sound.  These are my first horns as I needed the sensitivity paring with tube amps.  Can tailor the highs and mids with easy changes to the crossovers.  I roll off treble -3db due to my room.  Love the build as well.

OMA are cool but pricey for what they are...I use Heresy IIIs as their mids are better than the IVs based on my extremely elevated superior taste and ultra sensitive listening skills. Or my gummy kicked in...something...

I've heard several Horn brands but the ones that stand out at least for my taste are Odeon speakers from Germany.

Most engaging and organic Horns i've ever heard.

This is what i would get if i wanted to buy Horns.



odeon looks very interesting and they have a showroom in Brooklyn. Will definitely check them out, thanks ! 
Is there a place I can hear the Avantgarde in northeast US? 

I have been looking for some and the Tobian TS sounds pretty good, I think “Horns” from Germany too, Stein Music and Acapella Audio Arts 

@ei001h wrote:

"Do you think they can reproduce dynamics ?"


And @audiokinesis is correct. Timbre is very difficult to reproduce properly. Martin Logan Renaissance ESL 15A do this very, very well.

But don't take my word for it, go have a listen to them. There must be at least one ML dealer around you.

I also suggest you try the Volti Audio Rivals w/ your set up. I owned & enjoyed Avantgardes ( first Unos & then Duos) w/ Art Audio amps for several years & they’re very good in many ways although quite directional, didn't image that well & tricky to integrate their own powered subs. 

The Rivals are overall more enjoyable & sound more like live music to me . They’re easy to set up& get sounding very good, not crazy big or crazy expensive. They can easily fill a big room w/ not that many good watts.  Worth a listen.

I have heared Blumenhofer fs 2 .  They sounds good but for me nothing special for

that price.  I have decided now for Zingali speakers Quantum array 3.8

I think , Zingali is better than Blumenhofer.

@audiokinesis --

Thanks for your insights and pointing to actual mechanisms that to you are vital to achieve a more natural timbre. 

(addressed by you to the OP)

You mentioned full scale symphony. The ability to convey the hall ambience on a good recording again goes back to getting the reflection field correct, as the in-room reflections are in effect the "carriers" for the reverberation tails on the recording. I can go into more detail about this if you’d like.

I'm certainly all ears for an elaboration here. 

Volti fan here! Razz or Rival's are simply awesome. 

I viewed a used pair of Vittora not to long ago, I cant recall if it was here on AG or USAM. If I had the dough I would have jumped on them. Unfortunately they are a bit out of my reach right now. 





Altec A7 also could be good choice.


If you do biamping using active crossover, it sounds like almost modern speaker.





Beautiful restored Alte A7 is available.


i have nothing to do with it.


But I am curious how it sounds.


Will it sounds betterr than my original Alte A7?





German Physiks Unicorn. Single omnidirectional driver, horn loaded speaker. It will not break the bank by the usual high end standards but not inexpensive either.


From a previous post of mine:

“You mentioned full scale symphony. The ability to convey the hall ambience on a good recording again goes back to getting the reflection field correct, as the in-room reflections are in effect the "carriers" for the reverberation tails on the recording. I can go into more detail about this if you’d like.”

To which @phusis replied:

“I’m certainly all ears for an elaboration here.”

In the playback room there is in effect a “competition” between these the “venue spatial cues” on the recording (whether they be real or engineered or both) and the “small room signature” cues inherent to the playback room. The goal is to make the “venue spatial signature” perceptually dominant.


At the risk of over-simplifying, the ear/brain system gets room size information from the earliest reflections; from the reverberation tails; and from the “temporal center of gravity” of the reflections. The latter refers to the interval between the first-arrival sound and the “average” of the reflection energy; the further back in time the “temporal center of gravity” is relative to the first-arrival sound, the larger the indicated room size.


We can disrupt the “small room signature” by taking advantage of the directionality of horn loudspeakers. We can toe them in aggressively such that the speaker axes criss-cross in front of the listening area. This way the radiation pattern of each speaker does not illuminate the same-side wall; rather, the first significant lateral reflection for each speaker is the long, across-the-room bounce off the opposite side wall. This also pushes the “temporal center of gravity” of the reflections back in time somewhat, further disrupting the “small room signature” of the playback room.


At the same time, we WANT plenty of spectrally-correct later-arriving reflections arriving from many different directions. We want to preserve the spectral balance of our in-room reflections by using as little absorptive treatment as we can get away with. If the spectral balance of the late reflections is preserved, the ear/brain system will detect the recording venue reverberation tails therein by recognizing the overtone patterns. The ear/brain system is actually able to detect and follow the reverberation tails down into the noise floor IF the overtone patterns are intact. But if the higher overtones (the higher frequencies) have been absorbed, the recording’s reverbration tails will not be effectively presented to the ears by the in-room reflections; they will have ceased to be "signal" and will have become "noise". Also by preserving the later reflections instead of absorbing them, we are again pushing that “temporal center of gravity” of the reflections back in time a bit.


In my own designs I often cheat and inject a bit more late-onset reflection energy via rear-firing drivers.


One of the reasons I prefer constant-directivity horns is that their off-axis energy tracks their on-axis energy well, such that the later-arriving reflections have more intact overtone patterns than if the off-axis energy had started out with the highs already rolled off.


If all goes well, the playback room’s inherent “small room signature” package of cues will have been disrupted by the early reflection arrival times presenting an inconsistent (and therefore weakened) picture, and also by the “temporal center of gravity” of the reflections indicating a larger room size than the actual room. If at the same time we have reverberation tails coming from all around which are indicating the much larger acoustic space of the recording venue, this can tip our perception in favor of the recording venue package of spatial cues. When this happens, and it is to some extent recording-dependent, the result is a “you are there” presentation wherein, with eyes closed, one has the perception of being within the acoustic space portrayed by the recording. For instance instead of the soundstage extending several feet behind speakers, it extends as deep as the recording cues indicate.


These are not the only factors in play, and the relevant principles can be applied to non-horn systems, but the typically narrower and more consistent radiation patterns of horn speakers can contribute to that elusive “you are there” presentation.


"Classic Audio’s T 1.5 Reference by a mile. All the others are wishful thinking. SET ready, high impedance, field coils and all."

I knew they were the "one" when I first heard them at Capital Audio Fest. I was open minded about my new speakers during my hunt, as long as they were some type of horn variety. The field coil versions of horn speakers such as the Classic Audio T 1.5 Reference takes it up another level. The 18" downward sub bass and 15" forward bass along with the Dr. Bruce Edgar inspired mid-range horn and beryllium tweeter, what is not to like besides the weight.

I have been starved of music from my system for over a year as we moved, and my stuff was in storage. I got it test fired a few weeks ago and wow, the music reproduction is amazing. I also upgraded to the new Classic Audio Tungar power supplies. Another level of performance improvement. This will be with me well into retirement and beyond:)


+1 for ATC’s, especially powered ATCSCM40’s. With the price drop, $11K. Very totally correct, do piano well, tremendous dynamics. I have not heard many horn speakers that don’t have honking or cup mouthed issues, Martin Lougans are BRIGHT, with less than stellar integration of bass and lower minds with highs.

SET amp good for one thing-very fine insight into chamber music, but can run flat in bigger pieces.imaging can be iffy.


 I cannot be happier with my non amplified aATCSCM40’s driven by a SST Son of Ampzillas, with a Cary SLP05 preamp providing shockingly good timbre and spaciality Sets u easily wi no wild room interaction


how good is imaging with large baffle ATC? I have a large baffle Sonus Faber and imaging is terrible, I can make them disappear at all. I tried everything. 

Imaging with my ATC’s is positively holographic, with a strongly lifelike 3D placement of instruments. My system images as well as any I have heard in 50+ years of audio enthusiasm. I think it’s partly due to the fact that it’s easy to minimize room interactions because of the lack of a port. The ATC also has a rounded shape to minimize diffraction on the speaker front. I feed the speakers with Aurender N100H/Schiit Yggdrasil/Cary SLP05/SST Son of Ampzilla II/Audioquest Columbias+ biwired Audioquest Gibraltar’s, all with 72v DBS.

@audiokinesis --

Thanks for your elaborations - very illuminating.

In your previous post, on which horn type in particular could facilitate a proper reflection field, you wrote:

... Ime what works well is a constant-directivity horn which does not rely on diffraction. Most horns do not fit this description.

What about, and maybe when is the diffraction part most troublesome here; what’s inherent to - as a distinct sonic imprinting/coloration - the narrow slot section leading up to the horn widening at every volume level (i.e.: at lower levels as well), or more predominantly at higher, and perhaps only very high SPL’s? My understanding is it’s more the latter than the former, which urges the more pragmatic question of relevance in a given, domestic setting when, or rather if the issue seems to arise only at, say, +120dB levels.

I find horn size to be a factor as well, certainly with a lower crossover point and trying to maintain a fairly uniform dispersion pattern at the crossover with directivity control all the way down to the crossover. My finding here is that, generally, the larger the horn the less it sounds like a horn, and by that I mean a more relaxed, properly (i.e.: realistically) sized, dense and visceral sphere of sound. What are your thoughts on sheer horn size here?


Did I miss what your budget is for your horn speakers?   That makes a big difference in what we may recommend.  I went through a whole year process which I chronicled on Audiogon and WBF before buying my horn speakers.  i love them.  

+1 Volti Audio. In my search for a neutral uncolored and high sensitivity for exploring tube amplification starting with flea watt 300B SET tube amps, I've purchased the Volti Rival 100db. I heard the Volti Razz sounded great at separate audio shows.  But if I had the space and funds, I'd purchase the Volti Vittora for my low watt amplification audio chain. 

I'd try a pair of Volti Razzes it the return policy wasn't so final. NO returns for any reason.

According to Volti’s newsletter, Greg will be at the Florida expo in Feb. From what I’ve read in the past he gets good mentions from TAS and Sterophile. Partners with Border Patrol and Triode labs. 

Did I mention I’m completely smitten with my Razz?? 

I've heard most of the speakers mentioned here, but not the Blumenhofer or OHA speakers.  I like a lot of these speakers, but, I prefer the custom builds I've heard, particularly because they are specifically tuned to the buyer's taste and room acoustics.  The builder in my area, Deja Vu Audio, utilizes a mix of vintage and modern drivers and parts, but the key ingredients are rare, vintage midrange drivers and horns.  

Most of the systems mentioned above are quite good, so any specific ones I particularly like are those that happen to fit my personal preference so they are not necessarily better than the others.  For example, I like the JBL Everest even if the overall tonal balance is not quite warm enough for my taste.  I have heard many vintage JBL horn systems and that company has remained pretty consistent in its overall sound.  Likewise, I like the Classic Audio systems--the JBL Hartsfield reproduction and the field coil speakers, but, they are too bright for me to truly love them.  Avantgarde Duos and Trios are very nice too, but, for me the bass does not match the rest of the sound and seems a bit "slow" and lumpy (still a fantastic sounding brand).  Its been a while since I heard the Odeons, but, I liked them too.  Voltis are very good for the money, and have very well built cabinets, but, the ones that look like Classic Klipsch speakers sound like improved Klipsch and don't quite have the magic of the very best horn systems from the past.  The smaller Volti (is that the Razz?) is a nice and lively system, but, the bass does not quite match the rest of the sound (still a very good speaker at a very reasonable price).

Someone mentioned the Charney Audio speakers.  I don't know if they qualify as horn systems, although the cabinet is often called a quarter wave back loaded horn (I think of horns as having compression drivers for the midrange/tweeter). They are, to me, fantastic sounding, particularly for the money, and they most certainly do sound like horn systems.  They don't deliver truly deep bass with impact, but, that is not a big personal priority and they do so much of everything else so well.  The same goes with Songer  Audio's field coil speakers--not horns, but horn-like in sound (very fast, dynamic and lively sounding, particularly at low volume levels). 

Seawave Acoustic AM23. Heard this large monitor at Axpona and was impressed. Might be the best sounding monitor I have heard. 

1st, know the Horn's Angle of Dispersion

Some horns are designed for wide horizontal dispersion, say big room, stadiums, and many horn speakers orient the horns that way, not best for home listening which wants narrow dispertion for tight imaging, minimizing early side wall reflections. It's not just horizontal or vertical orientation, it also involves the horn's specific mouth design.

Others are specifically designed to produce narrow dispersion, like this Electro-voice T350, designed for their vintage home speaker systems


Vertical and Horizontal Polar dispersion graphs showing volume fall off in db used to be standard for vintage drivers


tight width and tight height dispersion also minimizes early floor and ceiling reflections. 

tilting vintage home horn drivers is important, aiming tweeters at seated ear level, and toe-in so the horns face the listener, to work properly with the designed polar output.

The big Klipsch horns, the horn is horizontal, and is designed to disperse the horn's dispersion at 45 degrees into the space, away from the side walls, tight height output, into a LARGE space.

Many horn designs today orient the horns for too wide distribution, weakening imaging, producing early and too strong side wall reflections.

So, ascertain the horn's dispersion before moving on to other factors, listen for tight imaging, lack of early reflections.


JBL 4367.  these speakers are amazing and sounded much better all around, more refined than Kliipsch Cornwalls.  They fill a good size room, have a huge soundstage, great clarity & bass output along with sounding like the sound is coming all from one place instead of 2 different sources (woofer and horn).