Western Electric 22a sits in a strange place

There are numerous replicas of the 22a that are are available. Personally I had the Japanese Kanno ones. These are seemingly a good step to the larger horn world given they take up far less space that the bigger monsters such as 15a or 13a. But they are not that long in reality and the expotenial flare is an abbreviation of the larger theater horns from WE.

Given that the xover point for the 22a should be around 350hz or more makes the use of the lesser priced lm 555 driver an option. I would not warrant the use of them on the larger horns. We did a test on this very matter and whilst the lm is good is does not offer the free and airy sound that the originals offer with original diaphragms of the superb replica ones that ALE produce. (With a good WE friend we have an abundant stock of these for any bad days!)

The issue is the xover point at 350hz? Here we are smack bang in the sensitive zone. Now if you are into rock, jazz then this will not be such an issue. However if your taste is violin, piano, chamber music, baroque, opera, lyrical….you will constantly be distracted by that xover point. This is what happened to me! And just see the direction I took! The issue is not the 350hz but the blending of large horns with the higher frequencies and lower ones that is the nightmare. This nightmare is emphasised with that 350hz point sitting just in our sensitive zone. When you use the bigger horns the lower point is 80hz for the 15a and 50hz for the 13a so here the issue is no longer sitting in that sensitive area. Also it’s mainly mono signal so easier thanks to that the loss of directivity here that allows a larger range of solutions to be adopted.

Now this is the very reason that Goto and Ale have devoted so much energy to get their drivers go low and use longer horns. To get as far away from that sensitive zone as possible. Again rock, jazz listeners need not worry as much about this matter. I had the longer s150 Goto horn and it is wonderful, it’s the “no more than 2 octaves per horn” philosophy that grounded me in the endeavour to get what I wanted for my ears. All the same great and wonderful sound…..

Now if you are rock and jazz and in general focused more on that side of music I see no reason to get the 22a at all. The 22a lacks the kick you can get from other solutions, your bass support is a nightmare and using modern tweeters to blend with we horns is a delicate matter. Go for the higher xover point with shorter horns and lower bass driver working up higher. I agree with Wolf von Langa in this way. I had a VoTT system and it sounded best taking the 15″er as high as possible them melting the upper mids and highs into it. This was the sensitive zone has no xover in it….okay it did nit have the large horn mids but the overall rendition let you listen with ease.

If anybody has solved the mid to bass blending and higher frequency integration please contribute here in comments section or directly by email.

It you want kick for your rock look at the Bavarian voice solution owned by my blog partner…..subwoofer, bass folded horn upto 600hz or so and from there on modern drivers and short horns. Trust me pink floyd the wall on his speakers…..no words!

So the 22a sits in a strange place it does not really the boxes for the violin, piano, chamber music, baroque, opera, lyrical….crowds, lacks the butt kick for the rock and jazz crowds…..

I moved on to the larger horns that whilst offering other compromises do not compromise on this sensitive frequency zone at I care for.

All fun….


Vitavox version of WE16a

Vitavox Roxy speakers for the first talking pictures in cinemas and the speakers for the cinema in the liner ‘lle de France’. Its speakers were used at the British Empire Games, the Aldershot Tattoo, and Kidbrooke Park. They were used for the Coronation of King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth in Westminister Abbey and also at the wedding of the late Duke and Duchess of Kent when the Duke of Windsor, then Prince of Wales, was best man. Sir Alan Cobham used Vitavox speakers at his Flying Circus displays throughout the country.
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Western electric horns in use….

Here we have some nice images that have been sent to me. Yes at Madison square garden those are we15a


And here a pair of we16a horns (actually the very rare version seen in the patent, search this blog to read) attached to the back of the retractable cinema screen…..who wants a home video like that? …..


Simple western electric 13a

St Exupery said that

“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away”

This is what the western electric 13a is inspiring me. I have setup complex 5 way systems, multi amped, PLLXO, active crossovers analog and digital, played with the cables, dealt with the phase mysteries, changed capacitors, wires….had plug and play speakers that cost an arm and a leg…and yet always a sense that something was missing so adding things more often than taking them out! The truth is that there were too many things in play.

Stripped to the bare essentials is the essence of the 13a. What we have is a very very long horn driven by an extraordinary driver well controlled with its field coil, capable of going low and reasonably high feeding the solid wood horn.

Minimalistic tuning is all that is required yet you tend to keep on taking things out of the chain. You end up with a simple refreshing and open sound. You end up using one amplifier a few wires and that’s about it….yes high pass filter for the tweeter. The idea is not to get in the way if the we13a. Slight touches here and there….upstream issues become immediately apparent and makes tuning of upstream system very easy as no complex multiway xover in the path..

The we16a, we15a and we12a get you on the reduced to the max road and are all horns that are wonderful, it’s just that the we13a takes it to the next level, meaning less is more I guess.

This we13a will not pass the test procedures of magazine like stereophile with the sweep test impedance curves…nope! Like many of us I used to read such magazines for some guidance and be reassured yet never ended up in where I wanted to be. That is why I am at this place now.