Horn speakers are really bright?

So I’m trying to understand why so many people think klipsch or horn speakers are bright 

I have two  set up garage and living room both with horn speakers EPIC CF4 garage and and KLF 30 mahogany living room  

I have recorded this songs with my iPhone  listen to them and feel free to tell me what you don’t like about them
 by the way I don’t have any room treatment


Hard to comment judging with computer speakers of course, but no, it doesn't sound bright, but full disclosure, I use Epic CF 4 speakers as well, and no, they're not bright. I think the demo music wasn't ideal as it was very wispery.
By the way, that's the best garage system I ever saw!
I don't find most horn systems to be "bright" (pronounced top end response), but, many do have a peak in the upper midrange that some might consider "bright" in sound.  The very best horns don't have that kind of peak, but, few have heard the best compression drivers on the appropriate horn (e.g., Western Electric, IPC, G.I.P., YL, Raycon drivers and horns).

Another issue is the appropriate amplifier.  Horn drivers are extremely detailed and revealing of different amplifiers being used.  It is very important to find the right amplifier match (typically low and medium powered tube amps).  The wrong amp can sound thin or harsh and "artificial."  While I am not a Klipsch fan, I think the classic speaker line is quite decent sounding when they are coupled to the right amplifiers; most often they are heard at dealers being run with crappy electronics so I can see why there are a lot of people who do not like the sound of horn systems.
Dig Sophie Zelmani. Garage sounds better! I don't get the "too bright" thing either. Unless it's searing your ears off, or just plain messed up frequency response,  you can't have enough detail.
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Garage sounds good, very open and revealing. KLF in living room sound very bright to me. Voice not bad, but guitar and instruments sound thin with so much high-end energy.
BTW, I can hear up to 18kHz and I think the iPhone is positioned too close to speakers.

The years have taught me that generalizations about audio are often wrong. 
I agree with Russ, in that it’s often not accurate to generalize about the sound of anything because there are just too many other variables that often go ignored in the process.

With that said, I have yet to hear a horn I’d want to own. I remain open minded because so many people swear by them, but I just haven’t heard the right situation yet to convince me.

You have a nice setup there, but between YouTube compression, the Iphone, and my PC speakers, it's really hard to evaluate the sound you hear.
i think I make some big mistakes when I was recording the KLF because I use Parasound Hint6 for preamp and the time I was recording there were surround speakers RS62II was connected to Hint6 so Technically four speakers are playing lmao 🤣 
yes I like my CF4 with CLASSE SSP800 
I have try everything to like CLASSE CP800 but I still prefer SSP800 over CP800 in two channel 
so I just sold  CP800 MK2 
I have twins 👯‍♀️ they just turn two that’s why there’s Velcro and sort of tape and modifications around all those equipment lmao 🤣 don’t look at my AVR I tape the volume control down 🤣😂🤣😂

congrats on the kids!  I have a 4yr and a 4 month old. My 4 year old daughter is great about not messing with my gear but it is her friends/cousins I have watch out for. My main system is in my basements with a locked door so no worries there but my other two systems made up of “old” gear (still very nice stuff) have a short life I am sure as they are in the main part of the house. 
Western Electric horns sound wonderful, sounding like live music. But still need an appropriate space and room treatments.

garage is my main (MANCAVE) and for some reason they love garage more than living Room but I think is the nature of the beast 
wherever I am they will follow me and leave mom alone 😂😂😂
living Room set up is 7.2 with built in 2 channel lol Parasound Hint6 or P6  works like magic when it comes to two channel  bypass 
I just upload two additional tracks with KLF 30
Alison Krauss: it doesn’t matter 

Dire Straits: Private Investigation 
Lordrootman, much better recording, still we're dealing with cel phone and YouTube. I find the KLF to be too forward in the mid and highs. Extended, not bright, but would cause me listener's fatigue. Maybe could be helped with room treatments.
The garage system sounds more balanced, I like the speakers. 

Lord Rootman --- I am a horn fan and don't understand why they are not more popular in the USA.  I have Viking Acoustic Grande Voix Dual horns that I absolutely love.

Thanks for introducing me to a new artist.  I am curious.  Did you just use your phone to record the music or did you have a separate microphone?  I would like to shoot a you tube video myself.  

I thought for a computer video it sounded great.  I don't buy that horn speakers sound bright or fatiguing.  I find horn speakers to provide more detail than most speakers.  
@willgolf yes I’m using iPhone 12 Pro mas and 13 Pro mas Camera to récord nothing special lol 
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Most horns to my ears sound like swords ripping the music. There is a searing, tearing edge, made worse if, for example, you try to run Khorns with a Crown DC300a as I was forced to do in a shop I sold at.

I heard this tearing sound, along with the classic hood on voices and the disembowelment of the bass from everything else, on a few horn systems at the Capital Audio Fest. I just don’t get horns, my bad. I do like Vu’s horns, but they are unobtanium for me. 
Having owned Khorns and LaScalas for many moons, they were far from being bright. I did own a pair of Hersey II's I found to be bright in 2 channel, but then used them as rears in a Klipsch 5.1 system I had 20 years ago. If they were bright the Velodyne FSR18 I used definitely fixed that issue. 
in homes i've heard mellow klipsch speakers and harsh klipsch speakers, sometimes among the same model. i've heard sharp khorns and mellow khorns, i can only conclude it was the room and/or electronics that did them in. in the showroom, the tower klipsch speakers invariably sounded "hot" and "upper-midrangey" compared to the speakers next to them. 
I have listened to Klipsch speakers since 1975, I have found everyone painfully bright.
Not quite (technically) horns, but the waveguides on my JBL 4349's are delightful.  I can listen for hours with no fatigue and they fill my room very well.  Took a bit to get the right amp and preamp match though.
For me, sound that is homogenized with your surroundings is most important. I cannot imagine mine getting better, as a renter, than I have now: converted one-car garage  room, floating floor on Pergola ( air space) under my Klipsch (gen. 1) Forte powered by Cary Rocket 88 tube amp, controlled through a Schitt equalizer, into the new Bluesound Node. I sit slightly further away from my Fortes than they are distanced from each other… in an electronic Lazyboy, and enjoy watching TV sports (while turning off Joe Buck’s “diarrhea of the mouth”)… listening the the primo DAC in the Node stream worldradio stations from all genres, Bluetooth from my iPhone, CDs from my Sony, or HDMI ARC  off my YouTube TV.  It’s pure BLISS!
I would agree that the classic Klipsch speakers sound very different with different amplifiers. The phasing issues between drivers may contribute, as does refraction in the horn enclosures themselves in the sound I hear, and can be exacerbated by a bright solid state amp, for example. I used the Crown amp as it was grainy and not a good match. My C-J MV75A-1 would be a much better match. But I really did hear an unnatural edge to the horn systems I heard at the show.

and I really meant it when I say that Deja Vu’s horns can sound pretty great, but the cost is astronomical. 
I have Heritage IVs.  When running a Parasound SS amp and preamp they could be somewhat harsh and fatiguing.   With my Raven Nighthawk integrated tube they sound great.  Still detailed but not fatiguing.  I realize this is always subjective but I feel the tubes made a real difference with the Klipsch.
So, I am NOT trying to be rude here, but horns belong on the top of poles at high school football stadiums because of their great dispersion characteristics.

No matter what you do, a horn has a sound characteristic that distorts the music. While Klipsch and others have done a remarkable job trying to "tame" these issues, when you listen to them next to any Magneplaner, you hear the issues with your own ears.

To the poster who said Maggies are "bright," my suggestion is to find an installation that was properly done and you will not have that same opinion. Maggies put out what you put in. SO, if your source is "bright," that is what you will hear. This is why Magnepan and Audio Research were marketing together in the beginning. That paring was MAGIC, and remains so.

Maggies can be difficult to set up properly, and you must have top quality hardware driving them, so I get it that some find them "off" in some ways. AND, as we all know, your ROOM is the most important element of any sound system, so...

HOWEVER, thousands of customers have them and LOVE them from all across the listening spectrum, so they must be doing something right.


I agree that the Deja Vu custom builds are fantastic, albeit expensive.  But, some of the builds are much less expensive than what has been brought to Capital Audiofest  and they deliver much of the same sound as those you have heard.  In any case, those builds do demonstrate that sharp and unpleasant peaks are NOT INHERENT to horn/compression driver speakers. 

Even the Klipsch speakers that a lot of people have heard and don't like can be made to sound quite decent with the right setup and associated gear; I've yet to see a commercial setting where the proper electronics were used.  
Variables include amplification, room, horn materials, for example plastic, metal, wood, quality of crossover. physical layout of mids and tweeters, for example some Klipsch  align  tweeter closer than mid, result may be excess brightness, high frequencies travel faster than lower freq, and they may beam more based on horn design.

If timbre incorrect, brightness perceived. Timbre most difficult thing for horn speakers to get right, IMO.
As mentioned already, Klipsch speakers can be as bright or dull as your room and components allow. But once you get it right, not much else compares to horns. The key is sweating the details, these are not plug n play speakers. If you aren't willing to devote some time and money in placement, room treatment and a good front end, move on to something else.


I have klipsch speakers and I think they are quite awful. Terrible for music with the exception of maybe rock and a few other genres. I tried a bit of everything and couldnt get them to sound good.

I now use them exclusively for home theater and I think horn speakers are well suited for that
My comments above are strictly regarding the Heritage series. The only other Klipsch speakers I have owned were KG 4.2s and they were just ok.

Both systems are unnaturally bright. She has way too much breath in her voice and her "s" is way too sharp. This is an audio effect that many people mistake as detail and find attractive at least until it hurts. They also used too much reverb in the mastering. This is not necessarily a result of horns as I have heard them sound quite natural. Your systems are not well set up. Speakers that size should be much further apart and toed out a bit may not be as bright and in your face. It is not your electronics doing this. It is the set-up, the speakers and the rooms. You need to go to a small jazz club or somewhere you can hear an acoustic folk singer. Go to a Richard Thompson solo concert. Don't listen to me. I'm just another idiot with bad hearing.

I have found most Klipsch speakers lacking in very high frequency information. But I often find them fatiguing at upper midrange and lower high frequencies. A great deal has to do with pairing them with more forgiving (tube) equipment. I also object to the notion that horns are more sensitive to what they are fed than other speaker types. Granted higher efficiency can often highlight noise, but I think this is a different thing altogether. Best horns I have every heard were intoxicating in a few areas. I have only heard heavily modded Klipsch that sounded decent to me. Havent heard the new models however.
Here's what I've come to learn about Klipsches, DON'T PLAY LOUD ROCK MUSIC THROUGH THEM. That's where they get brashy, honky, and headachy.  Those horns are nice with certain genres at reasonable volumes, but crank them up with many types or rock/country and you're asking for an ear piercing. 

I was cranking the crap out of the Moana soundtrack (don't laugh take a listen) with the Klipschorns and Tektons next to each other and the Khorns made me want to wear earmuffs while the Tektons were smoother and more listenable at very high volumes and offered more chest pounding slam too.

I've long suggested this be a "sticky" here on Audiogon:

Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary | Stereophile.com

"bright, brilliant  The most often misused used terms in audio, these describe the degree to which reproduced sound has a hard, crisp edge to it. Brightness relates to energy content in the 4kHz-8kHz band. It is not related to output in the extreme-high-frequency range. All live sound has brightness; it is only a problem when it is excessive."
I’m consistently mystified by uploaded YouTube videos with the idea of judging system or music quality. 
However, I do like this discussion. 
Here's what I've come to learn about Klipsches, DON'T PLAY LOUD ROCK MUSIC THROUGH THEM. That's where they get brashy, honky, and headachy. Those horns are nice with certain genres at reasonable volumes, but crank them up with many types or rock/country and you're asking for an ear piercing.
 As PWK himself would say "Bulls&*t"

A well placed horn in a well thought out room with a good front end will play ALL music with aplomb.
I've owned many Klipsch speakers including the KLF-30 and CF-3 (ver. 3).  I currently have a pair of Quartets in my bedroom system.  They are built to a price point, and in that range, they offer a lot of bang for the buck. 

With jazz vocals or acoustic guitar music at moderate volumes, the Quartets are sublime. 

Everyone wants to crank them up.  That's when their weaknesses become apparent, not just the brightness, but somewhat loose bass, and in the case of some models like the KLF-30 you'll hear the cabinets.  With some modifications, the KLF-30s became really nice speakers and easy to listen to.  Mods I did to mine included Crites tweeters, mids, and crossovers, dynamat on the horns, and re-gluing the back panel of the cabinets  The CF-3s are one of the few things that I kind of regret selling.  Of course it's been a long time ago and a lot of speakers later, so I may be romanticizing their sound a bit, but I really enjoyed those. 

Someone has a pair of CF-4s for sale here locally and I've been having to talk myself out of buying them.  

Altec 604 8G's often are criticized for having a rolled off top end.
 I like the way mine sound.
Thanks biggreg little pricey I was hoping for 1500 but yes CF4 V1 worth it mine is V2 
I wish I could have had 1 of those CF4’s back when I used a KLFC7 for my center channel, would have been killer. 
Depends on your cables and electronics(should be tubes) with the right match can sound wonderful.
Hello lordrootman.  Many horn drivers used  for mid-range and tweeters are very efficient: 95 db+. Most woofers are not nearly that sensitive. If someone tries to pair a sensitive horn tweeter with an average woofer, an unsatisfactory result is likely.  Always try to match the sensitivities of the drivers in a multi-speaker package. That way, you will not have to use resistors in the crossover to reduce tweeter sensitivities. Resistors waste power and prevent the amplifier from accurately compensating for speaker errors (reduces the damping factor). A mismatch in driver efficiencies generally results in a harsh of screechy sound. It's not the drivers fault! Horn tweeters using non-peizo compresson drivers generally have large magnets and can provide excellent performance at reasonable cost. Use plastic horns (vs. metal) to avoid ringing. You can coat the outer (rear) surface of the horns with auto undercoating to make them acoustically inert. The early AMT tweeters (still being sold) have large metal surfaces (part of the magnet structure) exposed to the sound coming from the diaphragm. I glue tea towel or sock material (cotton) to those surfaces to knock out the resonances caused by the reflection off those surfaces. Huge improvement! Use silicon rubber and you can always remove it easily if you experiments don't work out well. Experiment, Enjoy the music!