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I am thinking about improving my '63 K-horns


blimycapn
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I am new to the Forum and I am sure this question is well trod. My circa 1963 K-Horns are all original down to the grill cloth and I have been thinking about improving them. They still sound great but I am wondering what I have been missing. I bought them in 1976 so they have been aging with my ears for a while.

If I were to replace the caps and have one of the experts on the Forum replace the diaphrams and perhaps replace the cables with better wire, what would such an up-grade cost and how difficult is this sort of work to do? I would not want to diminish the speakers in any way but would not mind improving them if this is possible. I use all McIntosh equipment and use the two big horns as the main speakers with three Heresy's as a center and rear channels in a HT setup. It all sounds great but, whats new for K-Horns these days and is there a old thread I can read through so the denizens on this Forum don't get bored? Thanks so much for your thoughts.

Scotty

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Replacing 41 year old caps in your crossovers ...yeah that will make a difference. If the drivers are still good I would say the diaphragms are fine. You can go to the extent of a complete Crossover upgrade Al Klappenberger, Bob Crites, Dean G and John Warren are all the resident experts in that arena. I am replacing my 20 year old AL series crossovers with ALK series As. But all of these men do exceptional work and are more than capable and willing to assist you in the venture. Bob Crites also doe s quite a bit of driver repair work, i.e. diaphragms for a lot of folks here. One thing if you replace the caps, dont skimp go for the gusto and get the good stuff. Doing this, I am sure, will remind you why you fell in love with these speakers in the first place. Keep us posted on your results.

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!

OOPS Experienting with a new browser.

Gist of my attempted post? You already have great speakers. If you wish to improve their sound upgrade your sources and amp.

(Grumpy old troll climbs back into his Khorn equipped cave muttering about the whole notion of change).

Hey!! There was 20 min. of hunting and pecking that went AWOL !! 6.gif

Your 63's are wonderful speakers! Other than damping the midhorns ( If they are metal )----Leave those Glorious old Girls Alone!

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Definitely have the diaphragms replaced. I would remove the tweeters and send them to Bob Crites (BEC).

The wires on your drivers are soldered on. I would leave them alone. That, or have Bob replace the wiring while he's doing the diaphragms.

What you do next is according to budget. The higher the quality of parts that are used, or sophistication level of the network (more parts) -- the more it will cost. Al Klappenburger has designed a replacement Type A (which will work in your Klipschorns), which is very nice. The network is higher in sophistication/complexity and parts quality than the stock Type A. I believe a set of those will run you $550. John Warren builds the Klipsch AA network (which will also work in your Klipschorns) using some of the best film and foil capacitors money can buy (Hovlands). I build both the A and AA using Jensen Paper in Oil capacitors, and those come in at $395 and $445 respectively. Bob Crites builds some very affordable versions of both the A and AA using metallized polypropylene in oil motor runs. Naturally, mine are the best. 9.gif

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Tell us which crossover and squawker horn your Horns have. K-500-5000?

Personally, I'd duplicate the crossovers you have using top quality, modern components, like Hovland caps and Solen inductors. *If* you are using a power amp much over 50 watts, I'd add some tweeter protection to the new crossover. Several of us are willing to recommend minor mods that will accomplish that.

Don't forget that the upstream components must be very good quality to exploit the K-horns.

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The K-horns sound more than great. I use fairly recent McIntosh gear so the signal is clean and power is more than adequate. I was listening to Stephan Grappelli lats night (cd) and the violin was fabulous. I was just thinking that there might be something that might improve them due to age deterioration of some of the components. However, like I mentioned, the speakers don't crackle or show any sign of a problem. How would I know if the diaphrams are bad? What are the obvious audible signs?

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They probably do sound good, but they can sound much, much better.

The diaphragms are not damaged -- you would hear that. However, Bob Crites has tested many aged units, and has confirmed poor performance -- until replacement of the diaphragms.

The old PIO can capacitors are certainly out of spec, and testing confirms ESRs high enough to cause anywhere between a 3db and 6db loss in HF output.

My guess would be that you probably have very limited output beyond 12Khz. Assuming the diaphragms are in good shape -- capacitor replacement, and upgrade the UT-3619 autotransformer can give you near flat response out to 17Khz.

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I'm not in agreement with most of the above.

You may very well have a perfect unit. Why assume there is a problem which needs a solution.

PWK reported that he found the more simple crossovers to sound better. He only went to more sophisticated crossovers with higher slopes when high power amps came out and owners were overdriving the units. Looking closely at his writings, he never said the later crossovers sounded better. Another design is not necessaraly better.

Also, I would not replace a diaphragm, or anything else, unless you hear some distortion. Design aside, why monkey with something which works.

There is a theory that old caps suffer some degradation, and some probably do. But I wouldn't jump to a conclusion yours are bad.

Gil

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I would guess that age alone (40 years) would effect the performance both mechanically as well as electonically.

You will not know until you change out some things first. I would start with the wiring first, being simple and the most cost effective. I would assume that there is some copper oxidation that has occured in 40 years, and that would effect the voice coils, too.

However, only you can make the call. If they were mine, I would upgrade as much as I could, so that colors my opinion.

DM2.gif

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As an owner of '68 K-horns, I'll weigh in here. I thought my speakers were about as good as they could be, but in discussions with Bob Crites, BEC, he recommended replacing the caps in my crossovers. So, last month, I disassembled the speakers and I also sent him my tweeters and mids for diaphragm replacment. Turns out, the K-55-V didn't need any work, but he did replace the diaphragms in the K-77s and did his cap work on my Type A crossovers. He also found a slight imbalance in output levels between the two tweeters, and corrected that.

After reinstalling everything, it was an amazing difference. I attribute much of the change to the "new" crossovers, as Bob said the ESR had changed some, though not as much as other networks he's seen. But it was enough to make an impact. Also, in matching the tweeter output, now I have a much better center image than before. I would think your '63 K-horns could certainly benefit from a cap replacement, and maybe a diaphragm replacement.

I went a slightly cheaper route with Bob, as he just replaced components that brought the crossovers back to "factory fresh". I posted my thoughts in here in this forum about 2-3 weeks ago. Other options mentioned above from Dean, Al K., etc, are certainly more expensive. I can't comment on the sound of these, but I sure like what Bob did with mine. About the only thing I'll try next is swap out the metal K-400 horns and put in the composite K-401 to see how that sounds.

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At the risk of starting yet another range war.....in my opinion, if age 'degrades' the K77 so that it is outputting 3bd - 6db less, that would be a good thing. I would call that 'breaking in' or 'mellowing out' a tweeter that is in my opinion - stressing MY OPINION ONLY - a 'fresh' K77 is almost unlistenable. It is the shrillest tweeter I have ever laid ears upon. Well, that's not really true, I've heard far worse of course, but the point is that to my admittedly pedestrian hearing, that tweeter is way too harsh and is the leading cause for anti-horn or 'hornaphobes' to point at a horn speaker and say "see, I told you horn speakers are abrasive". It is of course all a matter of taste.

As an owner of a pair of 53 and a pair of 54 Khorns, as well as one who has tried pert near every Klipsch Heritage component iteration known to man, I have to agree with Gil. Unless you hear something blatantly wrong, leave it be. The shelves of my 'movie room' are packed full of K33's round and square mags, K55V&M's solder on's and push on's, K77's with round and square mags, networks galore. A's, AA's AB's, AK's, B's, B2's, B3's, E's,K500-5000's. Stephen's Trusonics and EV's, University's and Altecs. I have experimented with every combo imaginable to where my wife and daughter call it my 'sick obsession'. Through all of this one thing has become as crystal clear as a well oiled Khorn, nothing sounds better to me than the older vintage components. Seems like the newer the shriller. So much so that I have replaced the components in my '74 Belle and my '83 Cornwalls with older vintage parts.....they sound glorious, and by the way, they don't 'break down', they 'break in' with age.

In fact, if anyone wants to trade their old degraded components, I would be delighted to replace your outdated Stephen's Trusonic 103LX2's or Electro-voice 15WK's for brand new shiney K33's, your degraded old University SAHF's for brand new shiney K55V's, or your old wooden sectoral horns for brand new straight horns...pick your flavor...K400, K500, K600 or K700's, or your old dusty K500-5000 networks for any of the abovementioned networks......just send me a PM.

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I appreciate the wide range of opinions on this subject. There are as many opinions as ears. Right now, I am inclined to leave the K-Horns alone until such time as I am able to take them out of service ( As I listen to them every day, this would be something I would be loath to do.) and

perhaps re-wire them and clean the dust out of the horn bay. I'll keep thinking about the topic though as I am intrigued by whether or not the caps have diminished performance. I wonder if there is an easy way to test them with a meter.

On another topic, I have been lemon oiling them for many years. Is there somehting better to use to bring out the natural beauty of the walnut?

Scotty

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I have a 1954 Klipschorn with wooden sectional midrange horn. I also have a 1969 Klipschorn with the metal-Aluminum maybe-horn. I had all drivers and speakers and crossover replaced by Klipsch several years ago...I would be interested in trading you my 1954 wooden midrange horn for a 1969 equivalent. It is in mint shape...My only problem is that I think I might be better off with a matching pair of horns...I and my father are the original owners of these two items. I don't want the new,new ones thar are made of some synthetic material...........then I end up with two non-matching horns again.

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Jon, I would be delighted to trade you. I sent you an email basically asking if you could take a picture of your 69 straight horn so that I can get you an exact match. I'm thinking that your 69 horn is a cast aluminum looking horn, about 1/4" thick. Should be a K400. Let me know please!!

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