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cheap easy tricks for calming mids in k-horns etc

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What's the problem with solid state?
Some SS. Luxman is very nice.

But, I don't know what the problem is.

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thanks again for the input. i did correct my db levels & admit they are a guess, i have no meter to confirm as of yet. but i do know what live concert levels are & at the max volumes i play occasionally i know its getting close. trust that none of the big name rock bands play a concert in a big venue of 3000+ people with 105db, its always very close to 115+, when you leave your ears are ringing untill the next day! like i said i only do that for a couple minutes every now & then. but there is nothing like zepplin or pink floyd or any good classic rock up that loud. just makes you smile, although im sure other softer stuff at lower levels can have that same affect. nora jones & linda ronstadt make me smile on my little computer speakers!

its also very possible that teh room is overloading &/or my ears, i know certain things at higher volumes can cause your ear to distort before the source is actually distorting. tubes are not an option right now so i agree quality s/s gear should be fine for the type of music i listen to & the volumes it sees sometimes. i will definantly mess with it & report back. some higher dollar mods like x-overs may be down the road but for now im sure i can make what i have work.

Edited by klipschfancf4

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Last time any of the Klipsch Heritage that I've come across started sounding harsh*, it was simply time for new gaskets, a tightening of fasteners, and/or resetting all of the electrical connectors. IOW, a thorough mechanical inspection of the cabinet had them sounding as smooth as they possibly could given the current system arragment.

* "Started", as to imply it sounded just fine before such and such time, but now without having touched anything else the performance has degraded to point where it has become audible.

To elaborate on my initial post. Fixing the mids by fixing the bass means that the only reason you turn up the volume in your system is not to hear the vocals any louder or the cymbals crashing any louder.

Even at those live rock concerts, 115 dB SPL peaks are in the bass region, not the vocals which are often hovering down in the mid to high 90's.

Assuming everything upstream is in order, you're looking for increased bass energy. You want to feel it. The problem is, without some method to shape the signal (like EQ, dropping a tap on the transformer, or adding a component woofer) all you can do is turn the knob and melt your face with highs relying on the threshold shift of your ears to snub everything back out. With that, at least you can at least feel the bass. Meanwhile, your room is being lit up like Shea Stadium with excessive mid-high frequency energy.

Find a way to relatively increase the bass energy at your listening position, and that'll ease off the amount mids you get pelted with at spirited levels.

Lastly, you nailed it that no matter what you do to the speakers (new crossover parts, damping the horn, etc.), that there is a finite limit to the amount of sound energy you can put into that room before everything turns to hash....even with prudent acoustic treatment, and no matter what speakers are used. Just because the speakers can get extremely loud, doesn't mean the room will oblige in all instances.

Edited by Quiet_Hollow

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Been a while since I've posted here but I've owned Cornwalls since the 80's and Klipschorns for about 12 years. I listen to anything from metal and progressive rock to classical and traditional jazz, soundtracks, etc. so when music is supposed to be loud that's how I want to hear it. In my opinion each individual piece of music has its own proper volume level that it should be listened to at ... listen to classical too low and you miss a lot. Listen to metal too low and you're missing the point completely. Listen to something like Mazzy Star at high volumes and it gets ridiculous. Along with each piece of music needing its own level you also have to realize that the room you have your speakers in has a maximum level and that no matter how good your gear/speakers are if you exceed this level sound quality will suffer dramatically. If you like higher volume levels and you're looking to tame harshness I would go with DeanG's suggestion and start with the ALK Universals. I would not recommend stuffing crap into the mouth of the horn as that strikes me as bringing a sandwich to a banquet.

My Klipschorns are 1979 models that came with AA crossovers, K77 Alnico tweeters, K55/K400 squawkers with push-terminals and whatever woofers Klipsch stuffed in the doghouses at the time. I ended up with a SET tube integrated amp for lower listening levels and a tube preamp/SS amp combo for higher levels but even with good gear and "warm" sounding cables at louder levels the mids/treble would still knock the wax out of your ears.

After some research the first modification I tried was the P-trap (since my push-terminal K55's were known to have a rise at 9-10k) to see if I could hear a difference. I had already rebuilt the AA crossovers with decent oil capacitors some time back and with the new P-traps in the circuit I was able to tell that the harshness came down some and there was a bit less smearing. Not a huge difference but it was enough to clue me in that the first order AA networks were allowing too much mixing of the squawkers and tweeters so it was essentially a filter issue. Having read about the ALK Universals some years back I decided I would finally give them a try.

After installing the ALK's my Klipschorns became more "refined" (for lack of a better word) and much easier to listen to when indulging in stuff like Primus or Megadeth. Imaging and clarity improved while harshness at louder volumes decreased dramatically. I have several power amps that get rotated in and out of play and the speakers became far less "picky" of amp selection and also cable selection. Prior to the ALK's any cable with silver content was a no-go but after installing ALK's I can now utilize some of them. The only downside to the ALK's I've noticed is a slight loss of clarity/efficiency at very low listening levels but I rarely play anything that soft.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with using solid state amps on Klipschorns. First off Klipschorns are very revealing of your electronics and sensitive to distortion in the first few watts. Interestingly enough while they're very efficient and don't require high wattage amps to play loud they do respond well to higher current solid state amps if the amps are of good quality, especially if they run in pure Class A or are high-biased producing a few watts in Class A and transitioning into AB. Even with the Klipschorn's high efficiency the extra power preserves dynamics (headroom) and higher current amps tend to maintain better control of the woofer at louder levels. When choosing amplfication to go with horn speakers the following comes into play:

  • Noise floor (hiss) - whether vacuum tube or SS any amp (or preamp) with a high noise floor is intolerable on horn speakers.
  • Distortion curve - many SS amps have a U-shaped distortion curve: high distortion is present in the first few watts then drops low until it starts hitting its output limit. This is OK coupled to inefficient speakers because they suck enough power that you're not using them in the lower range where the amp distorts. However, on 104 db efficiency Klipschorns the first few watts are critical so a SS amp needs to be designed for very clean low-watt output.
  • Attenuation - if your preamp and/or amp has a lot of gain the volume is hard to control at lower levels and it accentuates the noise floor. Running RCA or XLR in-line attenuators can help tremendously when using higher gain electronics with high efficiency speakers. My C-J Premier 14 preamp has a stepped resistor ladder volume control and has a fair amount of gain so I run high-quality attenuators to get much finer control of volume between steps.

Whatever you do, keep at it and don't write them off. Klipschorns are well worth the effort it takes to get them dialed in because once you do they will accentuate your appreciation of music. I was exposed to Klipsch as a teenager, a local stereo dealer had a killer demo room with Klipschorns running off of McIntosh vacuum tube electronics. We used to wait for the showroom to clear out and the salesman would fire up the system and throw on stuff like the 1812 Overture cannon shots to demonstrate how realistically dynamic the Klipschorns were. That stereo store closed in the early 90's but oddly enough when I found my Klipschorns I bought them from their original owner who had purchased them from that same store in 1979.

I also keep a reference system consisting of Revel Salons, Mark Levinson electronics, Linn LP12 turntable, etc. but it sorts out as the Revel rig is the "accurate" system while the Klipschorn setup is the "fun" system. I thoroughly enjoy both but I won't give up my Klipschorns. Ever. When they stick me in an old folks home the room had better damn well have good corners!

Good luck with your endeavor!

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awsome info guys, thanks again.

quiet hollow, i think you nailed it on the head... its definantly about the bass energy & feeling the lower levels. there is only so much mid & high you can take, to add a full bottom end is the key. & on that note, today is the first time i listened with the speakers sealed properly with pipe foam on the tailboard & horizontal top board. major difference. it doesnt need to go as high on the volume knob to get the overall impact i'm looking for. also the adcom preamp im using is much better than most AVR in how they boost the bass, AVR's are way too high in the freq range, the adcom specifically says their bass controls are much lower & the loudness or "contour" button boosts only very low freq & tapers off as the volume increases. so its like an EQ of sorts & boosts the bass without touching the mids & highs. so on certain music/recordings that need it, it does a very good job. now that they are sealed right the bass responce is much better & seems to have helped the harshness i was hearing. although my x-overs & drivers have soldered connections everywhere so i cant resett the connectors & shouldnt need to, but i plan to replace the o-rings as one mid driver was loose i assume from deterioration, i tightened it up for now but will get new ones asap.

curmudgeon: i agree that the k-horns are just so revealing what im hearing is not a defect per say in the speaker, just never noticed it on my other speakers, klipsc or otherwise, they just weren't as efficient as the k-horns. i may look into adding a sub to fill in the bottom end that way i wont have to go as high on the volume that may be a lot of the harshness i was hearing. i've wanted these since i was a teenager & heard them at my local high end audio store & now that i own them, i dont plan on parting with them anytime soon.

thanks again for everyones input. i will consider this a closed matter while i do some more testing & tuning.

Edited by klipschfancf4

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max: yes they are a little close & my ceiling im sure is way too low at 8'. but i have senn k's even closer together on some pics on here. i may try moving the left one to the right side long wall & maybe room treatments etc. & thanks, they are rather gorgeous in the oiled walnut finish, sometimes i just stare at them not even playing music!! larry: they are 1995 speakers so i think they are the plastic or fiberglass horns, they dont feel like metal. only reason im considering dampening them is from what ive read on this forum & a couple of the above posts. sounds good in theory... only had them a week or 2 so i plan to do some more listening & switching of amps etc, just got them properly seealed in the corners & waiting for some better speaker wire than the 16awg zip cord im using now.

... I'm pretty sure the K-400 metal horn was standard in 1995, but perhaps not. ...

I think the K401 came in in about 1987 ....?

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Gary, you must be right re 1987 for the K-401's/ Obviously I didn't check on such things very often, and I never had a steady info source. Thanks.

Fancf4, there is also the fact (IMO) of break-in, i.e., if you have something new in your setup chain, like a new electronics piece, speaker wire or interconnect, etc., things will sound a little closed-in, harsh sometimes, and a bit thin and irritating until things smooth out and settle in. This is my opinion, although I'm certainly convinced, and many on the forum simply don't believe it.

If you get new spkr wire, assess it right after installation and then again after 50 hrs.

Edited by LarryC

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Try using a tube amp or a very high quality solid state amp (I'm a big fan of Classe Audio with Klipsch speakers). You can even use a tube preamp with a solid state power amp. You might also find that you won't have to play your music nearly as loud to get it to sound good with better amplification.

Edited by JMON

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Well when I refurbished mine I sanded all the bad seams inside the horn...per Andy.....then I painted them with rustoleom enamel inside and out then I got some O-rings and put couple drops of glue to hold o-ring on driver,,,,also put a bit of Vaseline on o-ring to lub it. I noticed the old rubber gasket blocked some of the throat of the horn. Seems to have helped... no way for me to test. Rick

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Guest David H
Yep. The horn is a piece of crap. In fact, all horns are pieces of crap.

:lol: Quality post

I also like the one about stuffing cotton ball in the horn, but you can save time and cotton balls by just stuffing your ears. :mellow:

Seems to me that there are an awful lot of modifications for the K-400 - Wonder why that is? ;) Hmmmm

What mods have I seen.

1. Rope caulk.

2. Dynamat

3. Cotton balls and now socks..... awesome

4. Sand smooth and paint them. - The smurfscala's must sount killer if this works.

5. Put memory foam in them. This should fix it, you wont hear anything.

6. Bondo - This might work, if you add enough to reshape the flair to a Tractrix!

7. Open cell foam. - Geddes mod.

8. Get a tube amp. - As much as I like tube amps, they won't polish a turd.

9. Get special wires.

10. Use a bulb or ball as a phase plug. :emotion-55: - Need to get together with Decware on this one.

11. Hang cleanex in front of the horn. I know it sounds nasally and congested but this is silly.

Sorry, I missed a few.

12. Add an equalizer.

13. Replace the horn with an identical one made of plastic.

14. Apply heavy texture coat to the mouth. - Saw this on AK

15. Install dividers to make the Exponential horn Sectional.

16. Change the crossover points. - See Crites A-4500 mod.

17. Use fancy capacitors.

18. Fix the bass.

19. Add a sub to round out the bottom end.

20. Replace the tweeter.

21. Install a new hose washer.

22. Replace the hose washer with an o-ring.

This list is getting long, and there is some merit to a few of these suggestions, very few.

You cant make a silk purse from a sow's ear.

There is more to replacing the mid horn than just reducing harshness. Sound quality is the first to come to mind!

Enjoy the mods, make sure and wash the socks before you install them.

Edited by GotHover

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Don't let anyone convince you that changing capacitors or components will fix this problem, it won't.

I just went through the whole thread. I don't see where anyone suggested fixing this issue with "fancy capacitors" or by "changing the crossover point" - I actually said the complete opposite.

This "problem" is related to exceeding the limits of what the horn and driver can comfortably handle. A low order network built with "fancy capacitors" will improve the sound quality, but won't help at 115dB. I also said changing the horn wouldn't help much either, because if you're still using a low order network, you're unloading too much energy near cut-off, and the sound over-modulates and distortion results.

Try this experiment: Use one of your horns with a stock network and take it to 115dB. Then go to the K-401 with a set of Universals or ESNs. What do you think would be the outcome of that?

We took Trey Cannon's LaScala's up to 120dB (peaks) in Indy with K-401s and Super AAs. Craig and me left the room, but it wasn't because of the distortion. I knew what Trey was getting ready to do, so I knocked another 3dB off of the midrange. If you reduce the amount of energy being delivered to the horn, you can go louder overall. This of course puts more pressure on the woofers and tweeters -- but at least the ears aren't bleeding out.

Like I said, the K-401 isn't a very good horn, especially compared to the horns that come out of your shop -- but you can add them to your the list of things that won't "fix" this particular problem.

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Guest David H
I just went through the whole thread. I don't see where anyone suggested fixing this issue with "fancy capacitors" or by "changing the crossover point" - I actually said the complete opposite.

I never stated all of the suggestions were from this thread alone, Though I did state some of the suggestions have merit.

For instance, the A-4500 crossovers is an attempt to alleviate some of the harshness by moving the crossover point to 4500hz and replacing the tweeter to support the crossover change.

This is an example of a mod that has some merit, It doesn't resolve the sound of the horn, instead allows the horn to operate in an area better suited to its abilities.

Please don't read my original post out of context, or assume I was referring to your work. I am not!

Dean, I have nothing but respect for the work you do, and I have no doubt your suggestions have merit or more+.

Dave

Edited by GotHover

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Dave will not toot his own horn so I will. Just bite the bullet and get a wooden tractix squawker horn. Then think about crossover mods. Read "what is wrong with Klipsch AA network" on ALK website.

Ok it ain't "cheap" but Im of the stage of life where I know USUALLY you get what you pay for.

babadono

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Dave will not toot his own horn so I will. Just bite the bullet and get a wooden tractix squawker horn. Then think about crossover mods. Read "what is wrong with Klipsch AA network" on ALK website.

Ok it ain't "cheap" but Im of the stage of life where I know USUALLY you get what you pay for.

babadono

yes i looked at the wood horns, they look very nice. however i cant swing ~$500 for a pair of horns at this time. after sealing them to the wall, adding a bit more bass on the adcoms tone controls & lowering the volume a tad, there is a great improvement. i feel "fixing the bass" has helped the problem i was hearing a lot. obviously there is still room for improvements but i will have to leave everything as is for quite awhile.

i will say however, that if the k-horns are so great, there sure is a lot of discussion on improving "faults" & "issues" with everything besides the bass section. they are great speakers in stock form but you dont hear anywhere near as much talk about the other heritage speakers, very few people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to improve the forte or chorus or heresy etc. wonder why the flagship k-horn has so many mods to improve on stuff???

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Sorry Dave, I didn't know you were pooling from everything. You're right though, there's no end to the list of fixes for a horn that supposedly doesn't need any fixing.


klipschfancf4, many of the same modifications ARE applied to the other lines. However, the big Heritage stuff gets more attention because, well, who's going to put that kind of money into a loudspeaker they got off of eBay for less than a quarter of what the mods cost. Keep in mind too that a lot of this stuff just plain won't fit into these other loudspeakers.


Al's pretty smart, but he has yet to explain why crossovers that are supposedly so bad, can sound so good, and are often preferred to his offerings -- which is why I won't stop building them. The acoustic response and what is heard carry more weight than computer generated models.

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klipschfancf4, many of the same modifications ARE applied to the other lines. However, the big Heritage stuff gets more attention because, well, who's going to put that kind of money into a loudspeaker they got off of eBay for less than a quarter of what the mods cost. Keep in mind too that a lot of this stuff just plain won't fit into these other loudspeakers.

understood, but you dont hear countless posts about fortes or chorus sounding harsh in the mids or all this aftermarket stuff like wood horns etc. they all have the ti tweets available to improve the phenolic diaphram, but aside from that you just dont hear people talk about needing mods or upgrades to the rest of the heritage or other vintage lines.

as an owner of the fortes & previous epic cf-4, & even the kg5.5's, i can say without a doubt that i never had a problem with the mid horns sounding edgy or harsh. in fact the fortes are just about perfect in stock form, same with the epics. i can turn them up to the upper levels & be amazed at how well rounded all the ranges are. everything seems perfectly balanced, no overwhelming mids or anything like that. same gear, same recordings, & some recordings that sound great on the fortes sound terrible on the k-horns. again maybe its the super high efficiency of the k-horn or the fact that the horns are so big in my small room. i wish they made a folded horn chorus or forte!

i have done some lower level listening & i will say the k-horns sound excellent at lower to mid volumes, very impressive.... but past a certain volume point the mids just overwhelm everything else & they loose their stereo seperation & clarity that i love about my fortes & former cf-4's. could it be the tractrix design of the horns? what exctly is tractrix anyways?

Edited by klipschfancf4

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The acoustic response and what is heard carry more weight than computer generated models.

And on that topic...

I'm not entirely convinced the PD5VH+K401 is a complete dog. A network approach that can improve the situation is to drive the PD5VH with a filter that limits it's range to one where the bandwidth isn't too ambitious. Consider the response below. The blue curve the the horn assy measured on-axis at a pretty high sound pressure magnitude with the microphone about 2m from the debris screen.

The reality here is that the horn assy has some issues above ~3kHz. It's resonating. The Klipsch A and AA don't address this so you listen to it.

One "fix" is to simply shut that part of the output down and that's shown in the red curve. The network its attached to allows a band of frequencies to pass and shuts the garbage pit above 4kHz down. With my old ears, the horn reproduction sounded pretty good with this type of network configuration when operated at moderate listening levels. Looking at the plot, the response from about 400 to 3500Hz isn't that bad and represents a wee bit over 3 octaves of useful output which, in reality, is damn good from a $150 horn assy.

A stout tweeter is then the next "tweak", one that is connected to a high-pass that provides a symmetric response about the cross-over point (say 3500Hz). The ability to set it back from the mouth of the midrange horn does also seem to improve things.

post-864-0-98280000-1392333521_thumb.jpg

Edited by John Warren

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Guest David H
One "fix" is to simply shut that part of the output down and that's shown in the red curve. The network its attached to allows a band of frequencies to pass and shuts the garbage pit above 4kHz down. With my old ears, the horn reproduction sounded pretty good with this type of network configuration when operated at moderate listening levels. Looking at the plot, the response from about 400 to 3500Hz isn't that bad and represents a wee bit over 3 octaves of useful output which, in reality, is damn good from a $150 horn assy. A stout tweeter is then the next "tweak", one that is connected to a high-pass that provides a symmetric response about the cross-over point (say 3500Hz). The ability to set it back from the mouth of the midrange horn does also seem to improve things.

This is a good example of a tweak that has merit. John has done an exceptional job if pointing out the flaw and how it is being addressed.

I consider this type of tweak a "crutch" because it can help tame a well known issue. The down side of this mod is that it also drops the crossover point into a critical area. I believe this in one of the reason PWK originally crossed these drivers around 6Khz.

Here is an excerpt from HiFi voice.

"Voice sounds in speech and song contain acoustic energy at most of the frequencies that we can hear. While men and women speak at about 100 and 200 Hz, the overtones are strong up to 4-5 kHz. Further up, the sounds are weaker, and have been largely ignored by research, but can be measured and heard as high as 15 kHz."

Next we have to consider the sound being produced. A flat or reasonably flat frequency response only deals with sound that can be measured, and not what is actually heard. My point is this, changing the crossover frequency to deal with a glitch is great, but still doesn't make a mediocre horn sound great, it simply caters to is strengths.

How is the sound of the K-400 often described? Colored is the description I see used most. Personally I can't measure colored, but I can certainly hear it, and I don't think changing the crossover point is going to resolve this either.

Example of a well know agreed upon phenomenon that can not be measured is imaging. I suspect every person reading here has experienced imaging at one time or another. This can not be measured, but it can certainly be descried.

From Wiki:

"Stereo imaging is an audio jargon term used for the aspect of sound recording and reproduction concerning the perceived spatial locations of the sound source(s), both laterally and in depth. An image is considered to be ideal if the location of the performers can be clearly located; the image is considered to be poor if the location of the performers is difficult to locate. A well-made stereo recording, properly reproduced, can provide good imaging within the front quadrant; a well-made Ambisonic recording, properly reproduced, can offer good imaging all around the listener and even including height information."

Dave

Edited by GotHover

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Guest David H
there's no end to the list of fixes for a horn that supposedly doesn't need any fixing.

Well said.

Dave

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