I'm looking for some help/guidance with a new journey involving a recently acquired pair of Khorns. I think the basic questions are - am I wasting my time given the parameters of my room, and if not, how do I get these bad boys to play nicely with the rest of my system?
Info provided for context -
I've enjoyed this hobby for over 40 years and trying new gear is a big part of the fun, though as I get older, hauling 200LB boxes around is becoming a bit of a drag!
I've used many different speaker systems over the years including Magnepan 3.6R, Carver Amazing Plats, Apogee Caliper Sigs, custom stacked Oris 150 horns, Dunlavy SC-III, Merlin TSM and VSM, Sonus Faber Cremona M and Electas, Quad ESL57 and more.
My weakness is for scale - wide/deep soundstage with good dynamic ability. The Carver Amazing Plats did scale and dynamics well, but needed a large room.
My room is well treated but less than optimally proportioned. 16'x17'x8.5'. I have double doors which can be opened into the adjacent room, but these doors sit on the left side of the room, so not ideal for symmetrically placing speakers.
I listen quite loud at times, playing lots of 70s/80s classic rock such as Genesis, Floyd, Tull, Rush etc. I've a good assortment of folk music from performers like Nick Drake, John Martyn, Ani Di Franco etc, Jazz, big band stuff, limited classical.
I run a small blog website for a hobby, where I document my experience with new gear, this leads to my turning over gear more often than one might do normally - it gives me new material to write about.
Just prior to the Klipschorns arriving, my system looked like so:
Dr. Feickert Woodpecker / Kuzma Stogi 12 VTA / Benz Micro LP-S
Manley Steelhead RC / Allnic Audio 1202
Denafrips Terminator DAC
Denafrips Gaia DDC
SMG i5 Sonic Transporter (Media Server) with UltraRendu.
Emotive Audio Epifania linestage
Thor Audio TPA-60 EL34 monoblocks
Dunlavy SC-III (occasionally replaced by Merlin Music Systems TSM BME standmounts)
4 Subwoofers in a DBA, using miniDSP 2x4HD. Front two subs are passive Aerial SW12s driven by a Crown XLS1202 and the rear pair are active HSU subs. The miniDSP runs from the preamp direct and I do not have DSP on the main speakers, which run full-range. This bass setup is to overcome the peculiar room induced bass nodes associated with an almost square room. Bass is very good using this system and I don't have it doing much work.
Various cabling from Cardas, ESP, Harmonic Technology, etc, and I use a PS Audio P10 conditioner.
Various room treatments include QRD panels, home-made bass traps etc.
Anyone still here? LOL.
OK, so enter the Khorns. 1993 vintage, matched pair, mint condition.
I quickly sold my Thor monoblock amps and I've tried a couple different amps with the Khorns, best of which was an Art Audio Carissa Signature 845 amp. Unfortunately that developed a fault after a few hours and had to be returned.
I've an Aric Audio KT88 120 SE, which is being used while I'm awaiting a new set of Emission Labs 300b XLS tubes for my Allnic A-6000 monos. So my comments below about sound quality relate to using the Aric Audio with EL34 tubes, about 16w/ch.
The Allnics are a little on the high-powered side at 50/60w, but I need them to drive my Dunlavys also. At the time of writing, I haven't heard the Allnics with the Khorns, the tubes are due to arrive later today.
Placing the Khorns where they belong in the corners is slightly problematic. There's a door and a rail that keeps them from sitting dead-snug. But they're within 0.75" of being tight against the corner walls, on both sides of the room. (photos below).
This creates a peculiar intersection point which is around 4-5 feet forward of my chair. My chair is roughly 15' from the front wall behind the speakers. I've tried moving closer to the speakers, but I prefer the position around 14-15' from the front wall.
The main issue with the sound is that they become congested in the upper mids and HF when playing complex passages loud. It sounds almost like an amp clipping, which I know is not the case. From reading around I gather that the 'squawker' is less than optimally designed and that it may be necessary to change this.
I think the bass response is very good. Nice tone and timbre, extension is helped marginally by the subs.
Midrange is clear, warm and smooth on simpler music, actually quite transparent and revealing of detail/nuance, but again, it becomes congested quickly when playing something 'busy' sounding and gets irritating quite quickly.
Highs can be hard sounding. Though clear and detailed, the hardness becomes an issue on horns/brass. Anyone familiar with Jeff Beck's lead guitar work on Roger Waters' 'Amused To Death', will appreciate his maestro performance, but it's a little too hard sounding when played at volume on the Khorns.
Dynamics are excellent. Playing classical or a well recorded movie soundtrack such as 'Gladiator', it's quite impressive.
Imaging isn't very tightly focused, I didn't expect that it would be.
Stage depth is probably a 6/10 compared to using my Dunlavy SC-III which are a 9/10.
Overall they're musically enjoyable and impressive on certain types of music, but they're not giving me goosebumps on anything but a select few tracks, and on some of my older 70's stuff, it can quickly become fatiguing.
Questions that spring to mind:
Am I fighting a losing battle with the room size and shape?
Is it worth sinking more money into these to try and improve things, if so, where to begin?
On upgrades, I've read a lot of stuff around here and some of it has been helpful while some of it leaves me confused.
- Should I try to construct the 'false corners', at which point I can experiment more with toe-in?
- Is the Crites crossover kit worthwhile? My thought is that I'd only be benefitting from new caps, since the rest of the components look basically the same. For $400, I could probably source more exotic caps (V-Caps maybe) and replace them myself. Thoughts?
- Is the $1000 Volti XO the way to go, from Greg Roberts? At the Volti website he seems to be backing away from A La Carte and pushing a complete rebuild kit costing $4K. I can't justify that, or anything close to it at this point.
- I may be able to move my gear off to the side of the room, but it will require purchase of a 15' pair of RCA's. I reckon on around $750 used price. Is this worth it or not?
Any thoughts on how to embark on an upgrade path would be appreciated. Given my comments on the sound, where might be the best place to start? Or, if you think the room will always be too much of a constraint, then please say so.
Thanks for any help!