Western Electric 12a and 13a « combo »

In the heart of Switzerland a 13Audio replica horn setup has been installed for what I can call a “very keen” listener “I” who is very happy playing mono even from stereo recordings, good man!

I is also into his whiskey as I discovered when I opened the door behind the horns, does that help bass in anyway? Time will tell!

13Audio will design a bespoke bass that will be big yet concealed in the room. Typically with this setup we are looking at one and half or two octave below the 13a. It’s just that those octaves need to be as fast and open to match and big 12a and 13a and deliver nothing nasty into incomparable midrange sound that only the we12a and 13a deliver.

The two horns work simultaneously enjoying the same signal yet attenuated by about 3db versus the 597a tweeter. This is achieved via a 13Audio crossover network that has no resistors or autoformers in the signal path. The crossover is built with original 1940 western electric capacitors checked and selected. The air coil is handmade by 13Audio. Wires are bespoke made by 13audio.

My friend “I” was fortunate enough to score a pair of original 555 drivers whilst I was crafting his horns…these were serviced by 13Audio with replacement diaphragms fitted they sing as they should! 597a is from GIP. The tungar is a motiograph lodged into a 13Audio enclosure (here)

This is a sort of plug and play vintage horn system. Setting up was a breeze in a well balanced room.

Any weak link or shortcoming in the upstream components is discovered straight away and I is aware that tuning the system to his likes will take sometime, but worth it !

All fun….

Berlin Berliner

Having good audio friends in Berlin and knowing  their audio community is very active I had to post about Emile Berliner (May 20, 1851 – August 3, 1929)….

This German-born American actually invented the flat disc “gramophone record”…we owe him so much!

Now the Berlin will call themselves Berliners?

All Fun…

Visit to machining shop

Castings come out “rough” and need machine work….Not much but it makes all the difference. Drilling, threading, surfacing….all so that they fit neatly in place matching the wooden junctions.

A few images of my friends place, glad to say has not caved into all CNC….keep it real in a world of 3D printing….!

All fun…


Western electric 12a and 13a

A few posts ago I showed a 12a hanging and this is a follow up.

Only one channel now but the second will be setup soon.

I’ll be spending a fair time setting the system up, tuning to get the sound needed. This is truly unknown territory indeed ! We could go for the all vintage xover etc… but I know that doesn’t always deliver the sound that’s needed. Anyway updates are to follow…

Great to see my 13Audio horns in such posture….

All fun….

Design 1st half of 20th century?

I’d really like to know what was going on during the 1st half of the 20th century….

Okay I think that the Western electric horns are not only fantastic at what they are designed to do delivering a level of audio efficiency unheard of but also the organic shapes are just pieces of art….btw that another reason I reincarnate them…

Here we have some train design….did they do this on purpose? Man it’s just awesome to see what they did!

The Cleveland Mercury took to the rails in 1936 and remained in service until the 1950s.

All fun…

Western Electric 13a feet that count…..

The we13a needs good feet to support the mouth. These are like originals supporting the horn at the exterior sides of the mouth. It’s strange that when you support the 13a in the middle of the mouth it affects the sound. Actually when you listen to a pair in stereo one being correctly supported and the other not you immediately hear the difference. It’s like putting a central tension point. The mouth is 62 inch (157,5cm) side and the wood is about 1″ thick and it’s supporting a great deal of the horns weight. So that kind of all puts a lot of pressure on the centre of the mouth. When supported at the exterior there is no flex at all. 13audio make the appropriate legs to support the mighty 13a.

All fun….

A day at the foundry

I was forced to change foundry See here

Therefore it was necessary to spend sometime with the craftsman who’s doing the work, to go over the details and specifics.

Here a few images showing the mould ready for the molten iron. We run a test to then break the throat just to check the regularity of the throats wall. All seems set.

Tomorrow fulls sets will be done for we13a and we12a parts.

All fun…

Hot glue!

Modern glues have made the whole gluing in woodworking easy. Well easy is good I guess? Maybe not in my world. Many only know modern glues, liquid brush on clamp and wait. Others know the old ways. Animal glue. What is that? Animal glue was the most common woodworking glue for thousands of years until the advent of synthetic glues such as PVA and other resin glues in the 20th century. Today animal glue is used for making violins, wood instruments, piano repairs, antique restoration, etc…The glue is applied hot and glue is kept hot in a glue pot that takes a good 45 minutes to heat up, that’s the thing. You need to think ahead and plan your work. No full speed ahead and then open the glue, apply press and wait….nope! Think ahead…prepare and then full speed ahead! Animal glue cools quite quickly and it’s then already a strong bond. Actually 1 minute and you can continue work. That’s the the big thing. It allows a continuous workflow. All that’s needed for assembling the many hundred individual sections of the we13a or we12a. The nails are placed after the animal glue has fully firmed, kind of second level strengthening. You can see here on the Western Electric 13a that there are very few nails, it’s all glued. The secret is also to have very tight tolerances, not easy given the curvatures. In forefront my hotpot for the animal glue. Needs cleaning! I only use animal glue that’s what the craftsmen who made them back in 1926 used. Keep it authentic, no shortcuts and the time and devotion is all worth it in the end.

All fun…

Preparation works

Here the 1st steps to install a full size western electric 12a and 13a system. Yes that’s 2 x we12a and 2 x we13a for one lucky listener….more as we build this. Next weekend the whole thing should be singing. This is the very 1st home installed 12a and 13a system in Europe, well there is only one other one in the world that I know of…..Silbatone graced us with the 12 and 13’s at Munich some years back.

Here all will be tuned to stay and for playing long long sessions.

I say? All fun….! Yes that’s true!