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….



  1. Thanks for adressing this topic: middlow crossover. I am puzzled with Onken solution and WE15A + 555W. Both are far from affordable (price and availability). I’ve listened both (LDA, Rogerro…) and I was always charmed and beleave the grall is not far.

    I’ve discovered the ALTEC 420A + MidHigh at LDA. I was astonished, by its coherency and warmness on voice.

    I plan to use together 416A and 420A in the Low+MidLow. Having a passive filter with low cutoff frequency for 420A and high cutoff for 416A around 250Hz.

    Unfortunately W. Walter has retired to discuss about it. I’ll try and see. The other concern is the cabinet/horn or planar baffle for the 420A…

    Let’s stay tuned.

    • The Onken is seen in this post with the we22a. This is single driver Onken based on trams flex design from Jensen. LDA used the larger Onken with two altec 416a woofers. The we15a of the LDA was very elaborate using the we15a only over several octaves. The philosophy here is to extend use of large horns to cover as much as possible, get as many passive components out if the signal path as possible.

  2. I agree with the idea of any 200-400 hz horn to driver xover being problematic. Radiation of the 15” drivers is a much better match for a smaller horn in the 700hz+ range. WE seemed to understand this and I think it’s a good part of what explains the coherent sound of their smaller, later efforts, eg 753c.
    That said I had better luck integrating horns in this low-mid xover range with other horns. A 12” 130hz horn. I also used a 10” on a floor firing 70hz horn. These could blend. I suspect a 15” on an exponential supported by an OB configuration could work, taking a hint from klangfilm. These should all be much better options than a single 15” in a reflex cabinet (onken or other)
    One challenge I found is that you don’t get help from mass roll off in your passive xo with these configurations; I used higher order slopes for LP; a Jensen FC driver in a mid bass horn is still getting mountains of response that overlaps at 350hz before it starts to fall off. I got the best results with asymmetric filters.

    Anyway, great topic and inspirational builds. I don’t have the room for these big horns anymore…

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