As a teenage audiophile I lusted after Klipsch speakers such as the Klipschorn and La Scala. They were way too big and expensive however, but they just looked like they would sound good. And they had ridiculously high sensitivity. In the late 1950s JBL and Electrovoice used horns in their best speakers as well.
I have been looking for another speaker system for some time now and wanted something different from my Thiels….that is, not just another 3 way cone system. I came across the Forte IIIs and they seemed to meet my criteria…..high efficiency, horn-based. I didn’t think they would necessarily be better than my Thiels but different in a way that I would find appealing.
They are very close on most sonic parameters. Tonal balance and smoothness are about the same. The 3.6s have lower bass extension, somewhat better image specificity and a bit more depth to the sound stage. Apart from these differences, the Fortes still shine in those areas. I initially worried that they would have a distinctive “horn” sound. Not so. Their general tonal character is no different from my Thiels.
The area where the Fortes standout is the one I anticipated: dynamic range. Loud, sudden bursts pop out of the soundstage with greater impact and crispness with no noticeable strain or distortion. They really strut their stuff on Jazz at the Pawn Shop, Santana’s Sacred Fire, the 4th movement of Mahler’s 1st Symphony, and any balls to the wall version of The Rite of Spring. This is not surprising given the difference in sensitivity, 86db verses 99db. I have read that for each 3db increase in sensitivity means you need half as much power. The great thing about well-made high efficiency speakers with high power handling (the Forte’s are 100 continuous 400 watts peak) is you get greater dynamic sound with reduced demand on your amp and perhaps less distortion.
Overall, I believe my Thiels are bit more refined but the Fortes win out in the boogie competition.
The Fortes work well with my tube mono blocks and solid state XPA-2. However, the tonal balance is bit more linear on the XPA-2.
$3600 isn’t inexpensive by civilian standards but as true audiophile quality speakers, I think they’re a bargain.
I use a sub with both my Thiels and Fortes. I can’t position the Fortes near a back wall as recommended.
Oppo UPD-205, ModWright LS 36.5, Emotiva XPA-2 or PrimaLunaProLogic Sevens, Velodyne SPL 1000R