The western electric 13a, sound?

It has been asked about and asked about, what does the WE13a sound like?


Now there was the WE12a and WE13a “combo” demonstration at the Munich highend this year and yes this is/was impressive in its own rights standing as it was as a demonstration that not much has really changed. “HUGE” credits to the man behind Silbatone for making this happen, read here


Here we are “here” on the old continent attempting to make these large horns fit into “normal” houses to provide long-term listening pleasure of a unique genre. Making this happen requires a great deal of dedication, as I trust readers here understand and perhaps appreciate. Anyway as explained at this blog my deep(est..?) dedication took me to build the Western Electric 12a and 13a horns otherwise impossible to get ones hands on….or “very deep” pockets are mandatory…


I have taken to writing this article as I feel that the WE13a “mono” setup now in my room is pretty much “spot on” and as far as I can take the concept. But also the second WE13a is nearing completion that means stereo setup. Yes I built the second WE13a just to experience that “option”…I will tell that story later…


Mono? Hummmm…Okay at 1st it was mono from cartridge tip to ear so none of the issues attached to summation…that means no need to sum the left right and “middle” channels.


In pure mono the WE13a is mind blowing just on its own; that means no tweeter, no bass and “full range”. Okay its has its limits if you live in the “hifi” or “high end” arena. This is not my aim. I need sheer pleasure from sound, deep, textures, scenes, sense of emotion etc…and a mono record to WE13a gives me just that. Fine? Nope…add a tweeter be that WE597 or more recent very high efficiency ones and it sings even more, one capacitor and all the messy fuss about xovers is behind you. In this configuration the lower end is sufficiency supported by the 13a that scoops down low enough and the seamless flow from the mid range via lower mid and bass makes you forgive that it does drop to 25hz…Add bass? Yes just a touch with a pair of WE4181’s and your done. Here xover works becomes necessary on the WE13a and the greatest of attention is needed not to “strip” the sound of its easiness and flow.Having played up and down with WE15a, WE16a, WE12a and now WE13a made this stage pretty easy as I kind of have knowledge on these babies and what works and what doesn’t.


So we have a three way system with a mind blowing almost full range horn that is providing 90% of what I need filled with some highs and lows. A good listener from Hong Kong (Hi…W) when listening here preferred the rendition without tweeters; W is a guitar player, keen audiophile and collector.


This is a bog simple system and I have baptised as the “most democratic of the big horn solutions”, as it can just be one horn one amp one source…


The 13a knocks the WE16a out of the room in many “many” ways. 1stly it goes way lower, goes higher and can be played at low levels with still and outstanding clarity and dynamic (quality that the WE16a but not the WE15a) but then it can be played loud, I mean really loud whilst still retaining its qualities and yes in this arena the 16a just falls apart whilst the WE15a come alive, and …. I love my 16a BTW…As for the WE12a it sits in another place as you can read here




Add the tweeter and the bass and you enter a new horizon.!


Okay Stereo on the mono WE13a? Here is the challenge indeed….I have a large variety of music tastes and to satisfy them would be impossible with encountering stereo recordings. The issue is the summing if the L/R and middle (created from L/R). Various solutions exist, passive, active, but it was my trail and error go me to the one that leaves the musical integrity with no nasty spikes or emphasised frequencies. This leaves a musical presentation that where one does not miss “stereo” the scene is large, wide, big, deep, dynamic and full of textures…wonderful…As my good friend D and W2 say it, no effort needed at all to listen to the music flow.


WE13a in stereo? Next step…. its almost done and audiophile friends are getting impatient….paint is going on!


All fun…


Second western electric 13a

Work starts again on second we13a. As explained in previous article the temptation to listen to a stereo setup with we13a is just too great. Okay hard work to make that happen but when you are hooked! Here image is some aligning work fitting the cast iron throat to 1st wooden section.

All fun…


Ground loops as well….

Seems that audio16 is getting into the underlying truth about the nasty noise and hum that even not a great distraction from musical content is annoying to say the least. We need to 1st distinguish what kind of noise/hum is there? Already we can get crazy here! I am obsessed with the matter as for me total black silent passages in musical interpretations, piano, violin, lyrical actually have their very own musical signification. You have seen at this blog that I play with large horns that are actually near to 116db sensitivity also frequently played with no xover at all. Meaning? That this is many multiples (each 3db you double….work it out!) more than the already crazy and magical100db and then….not having capacitors, coils or resistors in the signal path that strip things…..So what! Well….this actually means that any defect upstream will be heard in many many multiples….getting no noise from tubes amps with these big horns means serious attention to detail….I mean very serious. And actually that is all it takes….but as we know detail = time….and time is the real luxury we have! Well yesterday a good resident of the US west coast (hi….N..good trip back ?) was astonished that when putting his head “into” the we13a that no noise could be heard at all…he did ask “is it on?”.,..answer=yes! My blog partner here is showing the 1st steps to get this results. I call it audio hygiene…..clean cable paths etc….and decent ground point. Then it’s about the finer yet more important details that will, I insist, be further complicated by mixing balanced and unbalanced signal lines, be the balanced via transformer or not.

Here are some good views that can raise questions…..more later need to run…