Thursday, January 12, 2012

Western Electric 12a and 13a combination..

So I have this book.. Sound-Picture Recording and Projection... it is from around 1931... and for quite some time now I have been fascinated how it just refers to a high flying 12a and a floor mounted 13a as a "system"... yeah, right! I mean who has BOTH of these horns???

I have studied the horns... and how they are referenced in this book.. and I dig the thought behind the "system"... the 12a is shorter.. it leans to the high side of the spectrum... upper midrange heavy... and the 13a is longer... more low frequency loading.. so the air mass rolls the top end a bit more and the length extends the bass down a bit... so it is more midbass... and when used in tandem, you can now see the "system"...

and the 12a is flown up high... your brain will follow the upper frequencies more for "image source"... and the nice touch of the 13a out in front of the 12a as its path length is longer - time alignment, eh?

and I would go into the control system.. how the 200A works.. and all the impedance charts in this text, but I mean, really, who has *multiple* pairs of these??

so then a few months back our Music Maker of the Month sent me these shots... I have been blown away ever since...

and now in a new home:




  1. According to legend, the key to this system is the super rare "Mesh 555" for the 13A bass horn.

    Pics of the rare and mysterious "Mesh 555" at

    As far as I know, this variant is not mentioned in WE literature of the day. Needs dissection, documentation, and measurement. The back of the mesh driver is open but there is some degree of mechanical constriction and felt trap between the diaphragm and the rear port.

    I'll be listening to this setup in two or three weeks. Initial report...kicks major ass. Possibly better than Dell Sound Bar.

    I was quite impressed with the 12/13 in that temporary setup in our friend's store, while waiting for the new listening room. We might install yet another 12/13 pair in the new Silbatone factory for further experiments.

    Yeah everybody focuses on how hard it is to get this stuff but having a place to set it up properly is no mean feat either, especially in Seoul.

  2. You guys are killing me........

    This is the coolest.

    I'd like a few ours alone with this and some tunes...... I can dream eh.....

  3. I have heard a lot of old WE equipment and it is not that impressive sounding. Sorry. Historically important, yes.

  4. rrusston...exactly which WE field coil systems have you heard?

    Have you listened to properly matched gear or random flea market parts lashed up for audition?

    You have heard 12As, right? 15As?

    I don't see how you can possibly say "not impressive" whether or not you prefer WE above all else. Full range snail horns and 18" field coil woofers are very impressive sounding. Sorry. You can't hear this stuff set up right and say it is not impressive.

    You can hear a single flea market 555 on an Altec 511 horn and not be wildly impressed...that I will grant.

  5. I thought that the mesh 555s were vented early on when the amps were very low power. They found the excursions with the bigger amps that came a year later would blow them. So they sealed it to change the Q and to give damping.

    A historian lecturing on the evolution film sound technology at the Cinematheque de France suggested that coverage or dispersion was a great challenge of the time - to have as many seats hear the widest range of sound as possible - and this was difficult given the directivity of the horns. He suggested that the 13A, placed often in orchestra pits of converted theaters, were directed upward towards the balcony in the theater, while the 12A was aimed to cover the ground level orchestra seats.

    I've seen little discussion of 14A horns which get kind of left out of the story. Unjustly?

  6. I had a pleasure to hear 2 systems with WE 15A AND IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BEAT, HONESTLY.No comparison to megabucks systems at all.
    I am trying to have good WE 15a replicas from Aldo in Italy.