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….

I work to achieve the closest possible to original

This image shows the termination of the wooden section and flange of cast iron throat that I produce. This is the part of the horn that shows how close things are to original. The 13a was designed as compact as they could and the “good old 1/4 inch” can be seen. Achieving after more than 3 metres of “snail horn” with two junctions such a close fit is challenging and once achieved truly satisfying.

The brackets that fix the wood to iron that you can see are “exact” same as originals with western electric serial number “13810” all in cast iron and very rare indeed…the wooden block between the iron brackets and the throat is not made of same wood as the horn, natural felt seals it all…

The wood block that can just be seen just as the curve goes under the bottom of the horn is a brace. It really braces this section to the more massive and solid section above. This crude bracing is very efficient and bonds the sections that become extremely solid, they contribute to the rigidity of the horn that is extremely inert. Anyone having listened to a 16a or 15a immediately notices how clear and open the 13Audio (and 12a) is. The solid wood bonded with glue, the bracing and the solid cast iron throat all contributed to this.

The western electric 13a is marvellous, so happy I reincarnate them for keen listers around the planet.

All fun…

The western electric 13a, sound?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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…

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Big Horns at the Barn

It all started by taking down and collecting the parts to be loaded, these are the electronics, drivers, filters, open baffles…

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Onto this 300km path

ImageLanded the parts in the Barn

ImageBuilt it all up in…3 hours!

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Played some records….

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We did play these on a “decent” turntable(s…)

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We kept the midnight oil burning…

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Moved around the place…

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Had some great meals, drinks and other recreational things….

Packed it all up and? Back home.

What a week end!

 

Read all about it here http://www.lencoheaven.net/forum/index.php?topic=11627.0

and here: http://www.lencoheaven.net/forum/index.php?topic=7616.990

Hanging your Horn(s)

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So does the www add up when it comes to issues like hanging horns? All the WE horns have hooks to suspend them; was this just a practical trait or something to do with the sound? Hard to test these things and come to some real solid conclusion on the matter. Set about doing that. In a nutshell…the sound is far more open when hung. Is this because of the height? I think not. in the image you can see that the 16a here is about 40cm off the floor, enought to actually lie below. That is exactly what I did and “WONDERFULL” a lot of music coming just from the slight vibration of the horn’s bottom panel. So so trumpet players play their horn on the ground?

My advice hang your horns…

Switching Big Horns

The kind of day that is worth it. A lot of muscle and sweat, a few beers and good freinds to switch in the day from western electric 15a to 16a…same room, same turntable and same electronics….some may agree that this rare crazy audio….love it!

Have a new bigger project on the way….need to make some space so my 15a horns are for sale, interested parties for the these awesome babies..?

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Western Electric 15a and 16a….two in a Room

Well it had to be done albeit to more modest proportions that some of our fellow audiophiles living in the Far East; 16a and 15a in same room. Some are curious about the differences between these two history pieces, and yes there are differences. Friends from around the planet have enjoyed time at my place. Its fun to share these great things with fellow listener; gives a more balanced opinion than the isolated audiophile. I say 18 ears are better than 2….Big thanks to my friend W2….

The 15a takes more xover work than the 16a. At first it sounds somewhat dry and too vintage when for my tastes when compared to the 16a…. With xover work it comes alive and shows how wonderful sound can be out of these large babies. The cruel thing is the 15a does push you to raise the volume, not that its lacks in dynamics, just the sheer size of the sound image it generates does push you in that direction. I surprised myself digging out my older rock LPs from my “younger days…” but never heard like this!  That does not make me any younger in case you were curious…still the 16a seems an easier animal to tame and more forgiving on the source, amps etc….

During the long sessions it became clear that the 15a blends better when filtered, there is a distinct difference here with the 16a. The 16a can be run full range without the same bass integration challenges; seems to roll off sweetly and the 4181 woofers just take over. Roll off of the 15a does not seem as smooth. You can enjoy the 16a full range with no bass at all yet with the 15a the result is far less satisfactory.

Yes the 16a is magic; there is something very very special about the 16a. It does lack the magnitude of its 15a brother; yet by some means this is not missed as much as one could imagine. It may be the mouth, the steel resonance, both or something else all together. When listening to Regine Crespin, Leyla Gencner, Alfred Cortot , Maggie Tate, Johana Martzy or…

Johnny Cash, Sarah Vaughan, Earl Hines,…etc you will sense the sheer physical engagement into their art. This is also the case with the 15a, yet somehow the size of the scene distracts from the heart of it all.

I had concluded that with the 16a the Tungar power supply was they only way to go and. this after numerous and shared listening sessions, selenium, diode, etc…and the “all choke no capacitor” (Tungar or selenium) that whilst delivering dynamics that impress somehow falls short in keeping you hooked to the music as well as the Tungar does. With the Tungar/cap power supply records fly, you listen to all sides and carry on going. With all the other power supplies this does not occur with such frequency.

And so?…..I switched back to selenium power supply to see if the 15a was more forgiving in this respect. Whilst the selenium is satisfactory it somehow removes softness and colour of tones and simply does not meet the Tungar in the sound territories I hunt for. So back in the tungar! BTW I was using a Klangfilm Selenium PS that I have in storage.

Both the 15 & 16 show off the merits of the amplifiers and sources.  The 16a is that little bit more forgiving. You can partner them with SET or PP as you like and based on your taste. I alternate between the two. Be aware that I have placed some modern and highly reputable amplifiers in front of the 16a and they deliver a far less engaging sound than my current WE based amps that are made by Aldo in the South of Italy.

Oh yes drivers are WE555 original dia and WE555 original with ALE, tweeters are 597a GIP and woofers 4181a .

I have yet to place a set of LM audio here and weigh them against the originals or GIP, it will happen.

In a nutshell:

* 15a is impressive, large, crazy, dynamic and for the aficionados’ of larges scale listening

* 16a is emotional, engaging, intimate crying out for long engaging listening experiences

Desert Island horn? Have no projects to go to any dessert island (yet…) so I have time to investigate further and in other directions…no same direction

The next babies in my room will be the Western Electric 12a horns.

Big "Very Big" Horns in the Home enviroment

There seems to be a lot of buzz and talk about the large Western Electric Horns, some saying they should not be used in anything less than a theater, others stating that the glue used in the originals give a better sound…the talk goes on and on…but many of those making the comments have no such system they live with; they have at best random experinences on which they feel that universal comments can be made…well I had to get my own hands on experience of the 16a versus the 15a debate. I have had a good share of listening WE horns in various installations around the world. Some very good others not that good. What I have learnt enables a decent appreciation of what thay can and cannot do. But it takes a long while to get things setup just like any high caliber system. So I am am now on a 15a setup period to see what can be made of them, and in the end the values of the 15a versus the 16a…I have at hand two amps, Single end and Push Pull (300b WE tubes), two preamps, passive preamp, and all the caps and coils it takes for the xover (even if my favour goes to series…) and needless to say adequate power supply for the feild coils and upstream sources that suite the challenge. This setup is 15a with original 555 drivers, 597a tweeters from GIP,  WE4181a 18″ field coil woofers, Tunger power supply, full range, 6db on top and bottom, WE300b single end (WE171a tx’s), EMT 139a phono and EMT927 turntable.