Acoustic Loading Optimized William Neile Horns – Part 1

It is quite a long time ago since I wrote my last article about William Neile Horns. There was definitely considerable progress exploring and refining this new type of horns, but unfortunately the lack of spare time did not allow it to be documented. The attentive reader will certainly not have missed the fact that one of my fundamental goals is to achieve a good acoustic horn loading almost down to the desired cut-off, but the William Neil horns presented so far behave more or less like classic waveguides with regard to horn loading as there is no visible cut-off, instead of this a very slight roll off of the radiation impedance towards low frequencies happened. Although, some people might in fact prefer the loading properties of my first William Neile horns. 

This article series will deal with acoustic loading optimized (ALO) William Neile horns which means that acoustic loading should be pushed to the most reasonable level down to the desired cut-of frequency but at the same time keeping the resonances / reflections of a classical exponential wave front surface area expansion to a minimum. I am aware that there is a controversial view about horn loading in the community. Some say that horn loading is almost unimportant as you can simply push the driver where you need the output. Directivity control should be the major design objective of a horn . I have a different view on this issue as generally without proper horn loading you need to push the driver more and more towards lower frequencies where it hurts most as the excursion doubles with each octave towards lower frequencies and when there is any need to push the driver even more – it might work technically – the excursion needs are even larger, so this is never the best solution.  Horn loaded compression drivers are an ideal combination with low power single ended tube amplifiers using a passive crossover – well, usually there is almost no output power left to push anything. The speaker has to sound great with the first Watt of output power and even with much less. So with more low frequency loading from the horn you get more SPL in that region and less output power means less excursion for lower frequencies. My experience is that a compression driver used within the acoustic loading optimized frequency band of a horn (resistive loading) will give you much better micro dynamics with an open and effortless sound. What I intend with new ALO William Neile horns is to combine good acoustic loading characteristics and good directivity control especially for the horizontal plane. This is not an easy task but as we will see that it is possible.

The BEM simulations of the final ALO William Neile horn designs were indeed so promising that is is planned to have the first prototypes made since the inherit property of the Neile parabola obviously provides the capability to obtain very good directivity control especially with smooth transitions along the frequency pass band of the horn. This property combined with an exponential throat section and an appropriate mouth termination flare there is a valid prospect of an excellent horn design.

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