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Please don't call me Honky! The Myth of Harsh Horns & Embracing Accurate Sound Reproduction

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

"Please Don't Call Me Honky! Debunking the Myth of Harsh Horn Speakers and Embracing Accurate Sound Reproduction"

For decades, horn speakers have faced unwarranted criticism from some audiophiles, who've labeled them as "honky," inaccurate, and harsh. However, modern technology and implementation have debunked this myth, proving that horn speakers can indeed deliver accurate and natural sound quality when designed and implemented correctly. In this blog post, we will explore the findings of various articles, reviews, and studies to demonstrate the true capabilities of horn speakers.


Keele Jr's (1975) groundbreaking study on low-frequency horn design revealed that by using Thiele/Small driver parameters, it's possible to create horn speakers with exceptional low-frequency performance. This research laid the foundation for modern horn designs, which exhibit enhanced accuracy in sound reproduction across the frequency spectrum.

Leach (2003) further elaborated on the advantages of horn loudspeakers, emphasizing their directivity, efficiency, and impedance matching capabilities. This study demonstrated that horn speakers can offer controlled directivity, ensuring consistent sound quality throughout the listening space, while also providing higher efficiency compared to traditional cone speakers. This efficiency translates to better dynamics and a more accurate portrayal of the source material.

Tappan (2014) provided a fresh perspective on horn loudspeakers, dispelling myths and misconceptions that have plagued the audio community. By highlighting the progress in horn speaker technology and design, Tappan showed that modern horn speakers can deliver a transparent, natural sound that accurately reproduces the subtleties of the original recording.

Czerwinski et al. (1993) investigated loudspeaker and room contributions to nonlinear distortions, focusing on their causes, subjective effects, and assessment. The study concluded that horn speakers, when designed and implemented correctly, can minimize nonlinear distortions, resulting in a cleaner, more accurate sound reproduction that is less susceptible to harshness.

Finally, Geddes (2002) explored the optimum horn mouth size to ensure the best performance in terms of directivity and accuracy. By optimizing the horn mouth size, designers can achieve a more consistent sound field and minimize coloration or "honkiness" in horn speakers.

In conclusion, extensive research and empirical evidence show that horn speakers have come a long way from their perceived shortcomings. With advancements in design, implementation, and understanding of horn acoustics, modern horn speakers can deliver accurate and natural sound quality, dispelling the notion that they are inherently "honky" or harsh. It's time to embrace the true capabilities of horn speakers and recognize their potential for delivering an unparalleled audio experience.

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