Horn speakers, a distinct segment in the audio world, are often seen in two shapes: circular and horizontal. Renowned brands like Zingali, Avantgarde, and Odeon lean towards circular horns, while TAD, Westlake, and JBL often prefer horizontal designs. LALS positions itself uniquely in this spectrum, incorporating circular horns in its 8-inch models and horizontal ones in their larger 12-inch and 15-inch variants.
The horn needs to be paired with the compression driver. In the compression driver, when the diaphragm vibrates, the air flows through extremely narrow gaps and accelerates, enhancing the energy and, in turn, improving the operational efficiency. The soundwaves emanating from the compression driver then pass through the horn throat and then subsequently diffuse through the horn. The primary function of a horn is to efficiently project and shape sound from the driver into the listening space, thus creating a larger soundstage and enhanced efficiency.
Several key factors influence the horn's impact on sound
Horn Curve Design: The choice of horizontal and vertical angles in the horn design significantly affects sound projection. Narrow angles can throw sound further and with greater intensity, but at the cost of a smaller soundstage. Conversely, wider angles yield a more expansive soundstage. For instance, Westlake’s horns often feature narrower angles for focused projection, typically crossing over at around 1.6kHz, with the midrange primarily managed by a 10-inch paper cone.
Horn Throat Design: The design of the horn's throat plays a pivotal role in balancing high-frequency curves. Inter-brand compatibility can be a challenge, as a compressor driver from one brand may not pair well with another's horn, potentially leading to uneven frequency response. A notable example is the TAD TH4001 horn, which uses diffuser blades to complement the high-frequency extension of the TD4001 driver, making it less ideal for different drivers.
Horn Material: The material choice for the horn influences its tonal character, as different materials resonate at various frequencies. Wood, for example, resonates in the mid to low-frequency range, imparting a warmer sound. The material determines how certain frequencies are accentuated as sound passes through it.
Bass Driver: Incorporating a full-size horn for bass frequencies in home speakers is often impractical due to size constraints. Hence, cone drivers are usually employed for the lower frequencies. Horn drivers, known for their efficiency and sensitivity, must be carefully matched with the bass driver to ensure a cohesive sound.
These design choices result in distinct sound profiles, shaped by the interaction between angles, materials, and the compression driver’s characteristics. Ultimately, the preference for a particular brand or style of speaker is deeply personal and varies according to individual auditory tastes.
LALS Design Philosophy
LALS horns are designed with short-focus projection with wider dispersion angles, incorporating self-developed compression drivers. Compression drivers from early ages, if they were capable of emitting mid-range frequencies, would typically go up to 10kHz only. They required an additional super tweeter to reach the 20kHz mark. However, LALS' own Titanium compression drivers has has made breakthroughs in the diaphragm and magnetic circuit design, which not only enhances mid-range performance but also extends the range up to 30kHz.
LALS 44mm Titanium Compression Driver and Circular Horn
LALS 50mm TitaniumCompression Driver and Horizontal Horn
The large diaphragm of LALS compression drivers ranges from 44mm-100mm. Compared to common 1.5" dome tweeter, which has a diameter of only 25.4 mm, the 44 mm diaphragm used by LALS 8-inch models offers nearly double the surface area. Larger diaphragms provide better low frequency extension, allowing the crossover point to be lowered, the larger the better. This results in a smoother transition and better integration between the high frequencies and the mid-low frequencies. LALS crossover points being set at 1200Hz to 500Hz and cover a substantial part of the midrange. One can experience vocals that are both robust and transparent through the horn directly.
The more premium 50mm spherical compression driver is not only the same 44mm compression driver with larger diaphragm size. The compression jet apertures were reconfigured and the internal chamber were reworked to accommodate this shift, enhancing the lower frequency extension, thereby achieving a deeper frequency response and a fuller, more robust sound profile.
LALS' commitment to titanium for the diaphragm of the compression driver is notable. While beryllium excels as a material for diaphragms in terms of performance, its use is hindered by the health hazards involved in its manufacturing process. Titanium, therefore, emerges as the preferred alternative for its lightweight and sturdy nature that has also found favor in the aerospace industry. With the relentless quest for excellence in mind, LALS developed an exceptionally thin 0.04mm Titanium diaphragm, surpassing the industry norm of 0.06mm. (On JBL horn flagships DD67000 and K2 S9900, only the 045Be-1 super tweeter responsible for ultra-high frequencies reaches 0.04mm, and the 476Mg, 476Be high-frequency drivers remain at 0.05mm.)
LALS 8-inch Carbon Fiber Woofer
LALS 15-inch Carbon Fiber Woofer
For the bass, LALS employs high-density carbon fiber drivers for 8-inch models. LALS carbon fiber drivers adopt carbon fibers that have ultra-high weaving density. They boast exceptional rigidity with ultra-lightweight properties. The strong cone structure and low-loss magnetic circuit ensure the minimized distortion in the bass.
For 12-inch and 15-inch models, LALS adopts paper cone drivers with cloth surrounds - material combination known for their quick response and high efficiency. Their paper diaphragms are handcrafted from paper pulp, featuring a surface with ripple-like concentric circular textures to enhance the rigidity of the diaphragm, resulting in minimal resonance from the diaphragm itself and a more natural, neutral sound. The paper cone driver have shorter excursions and faster bass responses, allowing great match with the high efficiency LALS horns.
Magnetic System with Minimized Magnetic Gap
LALS has a distinctive design in magnetic system. The gap between the magnet and the T-yoke and washer in LALS bass units is significantly smaller than most speakers on the market. Usually, to prevent the voice coil from jamming during intense movement, speaker manufacturers deliberately increase this gap. However, a larger gap weakens the magnetic force driving the voice coil, slowing the unit's response. Thanks to the use of flat aluminum wire coils that are light and can reduce the load during movement, LALS is able to minimize the gap and achieves short excursion and high linearity of bass drivers. This gap is even further reduced by 20% on 15-inch models which features more premium speaker spiders imported from Japan. The material is softer and in the mean time more sensitive and easier to drive.
On the choice of magnet materials, LALS opts for customized Ferrite magnets in their drivers, steering away from the commonly used neodymium and alnico magnets. Reason being to match the design of LALS bass drivers, large-sized magnets are required. Manufacturing large neodymium magnets is challenging and it is common to use multiple smaller neodymium magnets in a ring configuration. But this can lead to uneven magnetic flux density, which is not good for sound quality. Neodymium magnets are also prone to demagnetization when overheated, making it less ideal. Alnico magnets, despite their popularity among audiophiles for excellent magnetic properties, are particularly susceptible to cracking when produced in larger sizes. As a result, LALS has chosen to go with customized Ferrite magnets that can maintain stable manufacturing quality and offer a magnetic strength good enough for optimal bass control.
Meticulously Selected Components for Crossover Networks
LALS meticulously crafted the crossovers hidden inside. The affordable circular horn series use printed circuit board and the premium horizontal horn series adopt point-to-point wiring which soldering all components on a piece of birch plywood.
LALS strives for simplicity in his crossovers, the components are carefully chosen with unique approach. Instead of the commonly used air-core inductors, LALS uses silicon steel sheet inductors. Reason being the ordinary speakers use air-core inductors with longer windings, leading to higher internal resistance and energy loss, affecting efficiency. Silicon steel sheet inductors have fewer windings and eliminate this issue. Since LALS speakers are highly efficient, there's no need to worry about magnetic saturation problem as the current won't be too high.
The resistors used are non-inductive with a 30W voltage tolerance. The capacitors are custom-made by a Solen subcontractor with films made in Japan and silver wire conductors in the middle. LALS also tried and experimented many boutique audio capacitors like Mundorf MCap during the design phase and only to find that they need to customized the components to fit in the LALS speakers design and obtain the desired sound quality.
The crossovers in LALS's horn speakers involve more than just frequency division and impedance matching between highs and lows; they also include notch filters. After installing the compression driver and horn, there is a peak between 1K-3K Hz, LALS use the notch filters to flatten the frequency response.
Ingeniously Designed High-frequency Attenuators
LALS horn speakers are equipped with high-frequency attenuators, offering a continuously adjustable range from 0dB to -20dB, and even to complete silence. The extent of the adjustable range certainly sets LALS apart. Adding an extra regulator means the signal takes a longer path and passes through several more contact points, the regulator quality is of course crucial. LALS chose this attenuator made by a leading Taiwan manufacturer known for its durability after extensive tests, making sure the sound quality is top notch with no compromise.
Why would LALS include the treble attenuator in the design if there are many extra works? The reason for this is the design would allow users to easier adjust the treble level according to the specific characteristics of their listening environment and habits. When the spatial conditions make the horn energy not easy to tame and get the optimal sound, the treble attenuator will be very useful in this scenario and can simplify the burdensome sound adjustment.
Birch Plywood Speaker Cabinets
Another signature of LALS is the use of stable and durable birch plywood from Russia as cabinet material. Plywood panels are harder and denser than the commonly used MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) and have lower resonance. Every LALS speaker, regardless of price, is made from plywood, further reinforced with an internal bracing structure, making speakers incredibly robust. The cabinets exclusively use bass-reflex designs, enhancing the extension of low frequencies.
LALS has large driver with short excursion design that minimizes the distortion while needing larger cabinets for optimal low-frequency extension. This design approach aligns with LALS’s commitment to natural sound extension and transient response clarity, especially beneficial for fast-paced instruments like jazz drums. The larger cabinets are a testament to LALS’s dedication to superior sound quality.
The design of LALS cabinet volume and shapes were carefully calculated to match the driver. Achieving the ideal internal volume is crucial for the driver to perform at its best. The final cabinets undergo various measurements and listening tests for fine-tuning and fiberglass cotton were installed inside for sound absorption.
Overall, LALS speakers are crafted with a neutral sound signature, aspiring to replicate the live music experience across various genres. This approach ensures a versatile listening experience, unbound by musical preferences. LALS excel in delivering powerful, clean, and precise bass. In addition to its bass capabilities, LALS is also good at rendering vocals and instruments with a natural, relaxed quality, maintaining good balance of clarity and richness in the music. And with its high compatibility with different amplifiers, from 300B single-ended tube amp to state-of-the-art Class D solid-state amp, the versatility makes LALS an excellent choice for audiophiles who seeks exceptional quality.
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Discover the innovative world of LALS Horn Speakers. Delve into their advanced design philosophy featuring titanium compression drivers, distinctive horn shapes, and meticulously crafted components for unparalleled audio quality. Perfect for audiophiles seeking a natural, live music experience.