Western Electric 12a & 13a stereo setup’

Some years ago I embarked on a road to replicate the “Adam and Eve” of cinema sound speakers. At that time many did raise their eyebrows saying build methods of  the venerable WE12a and WE13a horns were hard and too expensive to master. Woodwork, castings, sourcing materials and getting wood from very same foresting areas as the originals was the work ahead, yes it took time, devotion and freinds…

I was advised that the plywood path of the WE15a was “enough” sound and far less challenging. But knowing the 15a (*). I knew that the stronger build of the 12 and 13 would reap better results. Also the  challenge was exciting indeed. Whilst having a full time occupation I filled spare time with the project.

(*) 13Audio is working on something very special related to the 15a/b horn

These 12 and 13a horns are just “rare” only scarse originals left. Take a look at this extact from the western electric manuals of the time… “what happened to the 12a and 13a’s?”  Yes resurecting these dinasours from the very history of sound is challenging, apealing and perhaps relevant beyond there sound reproducing merits ? I’ve been happy on every single step and I am still walking!

However “D” did strongly encorage me foward believing I if anybody could make it happen. Thank you “Monsieur D”!

D and I 1st met when I was selling my WE22a horns (Kanno replica). The WE22a road even with original WE555 drivers and good 597a tweeters etc…was not the road for me (read here ) Anyway D was intereted and finally took my WE22a horns. He heard them at my place in Paris and said he’d take them, the setup was well balanced and sounded okay.  The problem? He then helped me install a “BIG” WE horn after having pulled down the 22’s. Well… he never even listened to the 22a horns again…indeed he had offered his ears the “big western electric horn”, oupppssss….albeit this big horn setup was very “roughly” setup. So game over for the 22a that was, he then sold them himself. If you pay attention you’ll frequently see 22 horns replica horns or sale I guess there is a reason.

Monsieur D started on his Western Electric Road landing up with a replica 15a setup. Then D made a “visit”….he listened to the 12a and 13a horns I had made. At this point I had taken my passion further and setup to commision build these 12a and 13a beauties.  Setup, filters, wires and phases all pretty much in check. He so “naturally” asked me to build him some. Then the long road started sourcing the drivers, repairing some of them and as D was moving it delayed things but still over several years we worked as a team to acheive a goal. I arranged that D have the very 1st horns I ever made the 12a but also the very 1st 13a , these were my personal horns that can be seen here at my blog.  Myself I was moving also and space during the transition to my Normandy paradise was an issue. I allowed D to have these 1st builds because for D from day one supported me and knew that I’d make it happen, maybe more than myself!  BUT….my very 1st 13a was made based 1st plans I had that a good friend “S” offered me….well I came to realise as I got deeper into making these horns that this one was not “exact” as original (read here). Not a big issue however only normal that D’s second 13a be exactly the same as the very 1st made, indeed when you look at my builds today that are strict original dimensions you can see the differnce even from one’s listeing position. Sound wise? well you’ll have to hear both!  So I had to “rebiuld” another one to match the 1st one…that was harder than I had imagined! Made a whole new set of jigs and forms…paint I used at the time was no longer avaialble so I had to turn myself into a sort of “patina” freak to match appearance…thanks D!

So in the end it all come together and we started to install the system as written about here.

And now last week the final stages the whole setup is with electronics, sources and gear that is upto the task and yes tungar power supply from my paddock of goodies.

These kind of horns tell you all about what’s upstream in your setup, no flaws allowed, sorry!

And in case you are asking yourself what does it sould like….awesome!

It needs a few more sessions where things will get even better :

  • xover components
  • wires
  • Bass

That will be over time with fun…

So this is the one of the extremely rare full 12a and 13Audio stereo setups on the planet, a rare thing indeed. More will exist as I am currenly working on several of such projects in parellel on pretty much every continent…

All fun…

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