Back to the listening, throats 

Been busy shaping, planing, curving all that wood to for outgoing WE13a western electric horns  for some soon to  be happy listeners. These endeavours extract me from listening to some extent…Lucky that the two we13a horns I use sing real well and it’s really just switch on and enjoy so no need to tweak at all.

As you can imagine the process of building the 12a and 13a horns and using we16a as well as we15a has built my knowledge of them : the design, shape, smallest details….its hard work research and hands on (ears on….) experience that have enabled me to discover and understand these horns.

Throats ? ….. Well it’s just a throat yes? Hummmm….that is want I had to discover. On the we12a and we13a like 15a used :

  • Cast brass
  • Composite resin
  • Cast iron

A bit of background. Casting industry has moved a long way since its origins and even since the early 20th century. The industrial and economics  have left on the roadside small production needs. The cost of tooling the mass production etc….achieved this. So anyone like me trying to get very low production to meet exact same production methods as used by western electric back in the 1920/30’s, (moulds, sand used, metal composition etc…) need to have loads of time to source and convince foundries to take on the work and then be ready to wait until they can “slot” my work into their agenda. And this is the very reason I made a composite one. As you will have noticed the we13a is a long and winding build and the throat has to be fitted to this. Having completed my 1st we13a I was not ready to wait the months needed until the cast was produced. So? I made another mould for a composite one. This got me to listening and from there on I came to realise that the material “does” change the sound in no small way. Brass, iron and resin….

The replicas around the planet have brass throats made. Well this is simply because it is easier to find small foundries doing brass casting that is far more accessible than casting iron. All you really need is a professionally made model for moulding and off you go, right? Well brass shrinks a great deal when cooling so you do encounter copies that are negatives taken from originals yet are not same size….! Shorter not same interior dimensions etc…..So the craft involved must be mastered at least if you want to get things the right way and I do!nso patience is the ingredient needed….

Many think that the original western electric throats were made from brass….well that’s just not true….originals are “cast iron” as anybody who has had originals can attest. And that is the issues…to cast iron in small qualities and having the demanding model requirement met is not something you can just walk around the corner and find, it has taken me years to gather the needed competencies and parteners. All this took this the resin dummy throat to finish the horn and start listening. 

So You have gathered after resin its brass….then cast iron for the “hard core warriors” in quest for closest possible to originals.

Sound….well….I was astonished in the differences along with those who shared with me. Yes I am very wiery about single listening opinions that can be misleading…I mean spending months, years to achieve the kind of results I reach can potentially lead to biased ears? I mean “beauty is in the ears of the beholder”….no? So what did we hear? 

Resin is dull (in comparison to the metals) like it sucks some life out of the signal exiting from the we555 before its journey to ones ears. Brass seems to brighten things somewhat nothing bad and very acceptable. Cast iron is very balanced and the higher frequency brightness of the brass is no longer there.

Obviously the added value of cast iron is the fact it’s as per original….well all my throats from now on are going to be in cast iron and even if that means waiting a bit…..As I have the plan to make the western electric horn to the exact same production methods with same materials the cast iron throats will be produced.

All fun….

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