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tubesandhorns

Latest production Klipschorn vs Old and modded????

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Any advantage with MDF is offset by the fact that as the box ages , you start having issues with the meterial itself reacting to the elements - when it is new , MDF is litterally perfect -edges -corners etc - the veneer bonds on with perfection -

-the labour required to make a perfect MDF veneered cab takes less man hours to produce versus the plywood veneered version -

- humidity on the other hand can play havoc with MDF as it deforms it - plywood cabinets will always have the advantage of being made from several plys instead of fibreboard -

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Any advantage with MDF is offset by the fact that as the box ages , you start having issues with the meterial itself reacting to the elements - when it is new , MDF is litterally perfect -edges -corners etc - the veneer bonds on with perfection -

-the labour required to make a perfect MDF veneered cab takes less man hours to produce versus the plywood veneered version -

- humidity on the other hand can play havoc with MDF as it deforms it - plywood cabinets will always have the advantage of being made from several plys instead of fibreboard -

Are you trying to rain on everyone's parade? I have JBLs from 1972... made from their version of mdf. Walnut veneer, and the cabs are still perfect. These cabinets have traveled from Illinois to Tennessee to Wisc. to Georgia over the years and haven't changed.

My Heresy IIs are from '89 and they are fine too.

I just haven't left them in the rain or sitting in a puddle of water. [;)]

Bruce

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Also if you look at the pics I posted they used high quality mdf only where needed.

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If I read the OP's query right, he's asking if the latest version of the Khorn sounds better than an older version and if folks having modified their older units has any bearing on Klipsch's design/engineering shop. The answer is a qualified,,,No. While the fellas at Klipsch are always tinkering and making improvements to the Khorn, it has remained basically the same design and thus sounds very similar to older models. I doubt the folks at Klipsch are much influenced by all the tweaking and mods going on through the years - especially those mods that dramatically alter the design and/or are too costly.

IMO, what keeps the Khorn going and viable in the fickle audio market is PWK's original bass bin design (and quite possibly his greatest contribution to the SOTA of audio). 60+ years ago, Paul set about designing a speaker that would reproduce the full spectrum of sound of an orchestra in anyone's living room. The bugaboo was reproducing the lower register in the most realistic and economical way and Paul figured out how to fold a horn into a compact box that would utilize the listeners' walls to complete the design and provide deep, solid bass down to the mid 30Hz range in a practical package. After creating the bass bin, PWK's task was to add the top end and to accomplish that, he had to make some necessary compromises to keep the final product viable and affordable. In keeping with his practical approach, he used common, economical parts throughout, most of which have held up quite well over the decades but over that period, better components have been found to improve the Khorn's sound. That's where the tweakers come in....

I equate it (the klipschead phenomena) to something like a late 60's Nova. The Nova was offered as a practical and economical car and while Chevy did make some changes over the years, they were nothing like what a motivated gear head would consider. Upgraded parts and wholesale modifications turned the practical Nova into a high performance machine that often barely resembled what originally came out of the factory. The Khorn is a very practical application of PWK's design that allows for a lot of fairly easy modifications that can greatly improve its performance. Over the years, many mods have been tried out on the Khorn, mainly because its such an easy speaker to play with and most mods are reversible. While false corners, more bracing and better woofers will improve the bass bin to some extent, the crossover and especially the 'top hat' seem to be the areas that provide the most 'bang-for-the-buck' improvements.

I tried 5 xovers with Khorns (3 passive, 2 active). One passive, I built myself and 2 were ALK's design and build and all sounded better than the AK-2 xover that originally came with the Khorns. The active xovers allowed me to truly customize the signal going to each driver and that was the best approach for my purposes. I also went through the modification chain with the top hat including dynamatting the midhorn and rewiring but eventually I decided that the best improvement was to replace the top hat altogether. By changing out the horn and driver, I was able to go with a 2-way design and cut off the bass bins below 200Hz thus lowering some of the inherent distortions of the horn. I went even further and tried several bass options against the Khorn's bass bin (Onken, BDdesign, JBL and various subs) but found the Khorn to be the most satisfying in my set up. The benefits of the horn (efficiency, fast transients, low distortion) outweighed its inherent colorations and size constraints and gave me what I consider to be more realistic representation in the bottom end. It seems as though PWK and the fellas at Klipsch have applied much of the same approach I was aiming for in their Jubilee design so perhaps they do occasionally have a response to the legions of tweakers out here.

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I don’t think that I posed my question well enough. Arguably, over the years there have been deficiencies with K-horns that are addressed by DIY hobbyists- such as the mid horn and the crossover. My question was intended to ask if the current production addressed those problems.

I think that the answer is a qualified "yes". Understand that many don't like any change to the sound that they've gotten used to...

So, I was wondering if Klipsch has addressed the issues usually tweaked by DIYers, or might one be better off buying a used pair and hot rodding the myself.

I believe that many folks here like to tinker, but I also find that there are many tinkerers that don't fully understand what they are doing to their speakers in their "DIY upgrades". Klipsch has access to an anechoic chamber and a lot of experienced ears to listen for issues in their product upgrades - of which the Khorn is one.

One area that I know has changed (according to Dean G) is the input impedance of the Khorn crossover networks - Klipsch is no longer using autoformers, apparently, with their requisite variability in input impedance with frequency. This is good news if you like to use amplfiers with high output impedance (such as SETs and OTLs), and don't want to re-EQ your speakers when your amplifier changes or even when the characteristics of the tubes in your amplifier changes.

Another area of improvement - MDF: this material is much more dense and free of voids and other grain-related resonances than plywood. Don't allow water to get on it and you're okay.

Another area of improvement: K-400 vs. K-401 horn: Dean doesn't like the K-401 horn (polymer vs. aluminum for the K-400), but he is the only person that I've heard that doesn't like it.

Another area of improvement: If you can find an enclosed-back Khorn (i.e., 60th Anniversary version), then you have more latitude in placement of these in corners so that you can point them at your listening position.

etc., etc.

Chris

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My 0.02.......... I owned 1986 Khorns for some 15 years and let them slip away. Mistake. So I bought brand new 2004 Khorns and they did not sound the same (as good) as did my 1986 Khorns. At first I thought it was just my ears but when my (ancient) parents wondered what was wrong with them I knew something had changed. So I set about to correct the situation. Ended up changing crossovers, mid-range and tweeter drivers and the midrange and tweeter horns. Now I am really pleased. They sound better than any speaker I've ever owned. If I had it to start over I'd go with the old and then move directly to the mods. It would have been a lot less costly. What is missing in this equation is the opportunity to trial your options. Knowing what I know now - if I was at the start of the adventure - with the same budget - I would love to hear Jubs and other custom built rigs in advance of deciding on any direction. IMHO stay with corner style horns. Always buy a house with good corners for horns. They are a part of the speaker and an important part of the speaker.

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I just recently purchased some 1986 Klipschorns too. What components did you end up preferring in your mods? What should i consider changing and keeping the same on mine? Thanks!

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I just recently purchased some 1986 Klipschorns too. What components did you end up preferring in your mods? What should i consider changing and keeping the same on mine? Thanks!

Congrats! So many possibilities... I'd suggest you take some time and really listen to your new Khorns. In a few months, you'll have an idea of what your speaks are capable of and what you may want to improve upon. In the meantime, just do a search for Khorn mods and you'll find a lot of good info and advise. If you need a start, I'd suggest replacing the wires as Klipsch used Monster wire back then and I found the ones in my '87 Khorns to be somewhat corroded and greening towards the ends. Aside from proper placement, that's about the cheapest tweak. Next, you can wrap the metal midhorn with dynaflex or some other damping material that will calm the ringing. If you don't have good corners or if putting your speaks there screws up the image and soundstage, then by all means, invest in some plywood and MDF and build false corners (do a search - its easy and fairly cheap). As far as positioning, that's by far the best bang for the buck and good bracing will tighten up the bass nicely. If you're still looking for improvement, then its time to consider a crossover (again, the search function is your friend). There's so many choices at different price levels - from DIY to Bob Crites' to ALK's...plenty to choose from.

If you still aren't satisfied and are willing to experiment and don't mind spending some money, then the door swings wide open for major mods. Active xovers, upgraded drivers, new horns...lots of possibilities but be aware that your speaks probably won't look like Khorns when you're done.

Welcome to the forum..there's plenty to keep you occupied here and a lot of good folk who can help. Just take your time and appreciate the journey. Have fun!

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Thanks for the great info! That Monster cable is looking a little green, now that you mention it. That shouldn't be too hard to swap out. I've had success using plumbers putty on horns before, perhaps I'll have to go pick up a few buckets. Did you use it in tweeters as well as midrange horns? I happen to have a Rane three way crossover that has delay and tweeter horn eq options... I'm not in a huge hurry to bypass the passive crossover, but it would be fun to try eventually. What active crossover points and delays have you guys been using for the stock horns? You're right, there are so many possibilities! 8-)

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Plumbers putty may work OK but most folks prefer either Mostite (a coil of putty that's used around doors and windows - found at Home Depot and such) or Dynamat (not Dynaflex...oops!). I found an equivalent through Parts Express (I think - its been a while but its used on car door panels and such and can be found at auto parts sites) Its a adhesive damping sheet that can be cut and pressed onto the midhorn pretty easily and 2 sheets cost @$35 - more than enough. Some folks damped the tweeter but I saw no need and thought it may actually dull the high frequencies but its easy to try and remove. If you can incorporate the xover , you'll really get a handle on how far you can take this tweaking - it'll definitely make you Khorns sound different and the flexibility should help improve your set up. Have fun!

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When you get down to it, the biggest change about a new pair of Ks from a vintage pair is the crossover.

The MDF is nothing but a bunch of BS. It's simple. That was not instituted for an imprvoment. It was a cost reduction. Plain and simple and spun to be a better box for all of us. I think at most a very slight incremental improvement.

Drivers and horns mostly stayed the same.

So the bottom line to the OP is that YES it is very easy to mod an older pair of Ks and have them sound far better than a new pair. I would never buy a new pair. By the way the Jubilees are much more difficult to mod and have sound better than new. About all you can do is use a better HF driver.

I was at Klipsch a few years ago and saw a Khorn (latest production) vs Jubilee comparison. At the time I was running a pair of 1996 Khorns with some Auricapped ALK ESNs, everything else stock. To my surprise the pair at Klipsch just sounded lifeless to me compared to what I had at home at the time. I was surprised but that's how they sounded.

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absolve2525,

I agree with JBryan, take some time to listen to your KHorns. And do some listening at concert level. If you find yourself getting listener's fatigue or headaches you may want to try a new midrange (squawker) horn/driver. Best improvement I ever made to my circa '80s KHorns.

babadono

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Thanks for the suggestions! What horn did you end up preferring, babadano? I'd like to find something that fits into the Khorn tophat.

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I went with the eliptrac from Dave at Fastlane Audio. Its made for 2" drivers but he's got an adapter to go down to 1" so you don't have to upgrade your driver if you don't want/can't afford to. But don't rush. I listened to mine stock for 20+ years. Dave also will make the frame so it drops right into the tophat. At least I think he will but I really should not speak for him.

babadono

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