Horn simulation using mode-matching

Horns are used in many fields, including musical wind instruments and loudspeakers. The physics in the two cases is of course the same: sound propagation in a flaring duct open at one end. Therefore we can in principle use the same simulation methods for both cases. But what we want to obtain from the horn simulation can be very different.

A very important requirement for horn loudspeakers is directivity control. This entails directing sound into a specific region in front of the horn, giving the same frequency response inside that region and little sound outside it. Any simulation method for horn speakers must be capable of predicting directivity. Horn speakers should not be resonant, but should present a constant and smooth acoustic load to the driving unit, so this is also an important, but somewhat less critical, factor in the design.

For wind instruments, we are usually interested in the resonance frequencies. This is important for the tone, intonation and playability, and it is useful if we can predict this when designing the instrument. Any simulation method must therefore be able to predict these frequencies accurately. Or we may have an old valuable instrument and want to find the internal shape without cutting it into pieces. Then we can use an optimization algorithm to solve the inverse problem of finding the internal shape from measured resonance frequencies. For this, the simulation method must be fast.

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A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 9:
Horns: Cinema sound and large scale sound reproduction

The 1920s saw much development in horn loudspeakers, and loudspeaker in general. Western Electric already had their microphones, amplifiers, straight exponential horns, and very good balanced armature transducers. At this time, much research was also put into disc recording and reproduction at the Western Electric Engineering Department, and simultaneously, optical recording of sound was also in progress, using Wente’s Light Valve. The time seemed ripe to attempt sound film. The story has been told elsewhere, but in short, most of the industry turned down Western Electric’s offer. They “knew” sound film would not work. But the Warner Bros found in the WE system something that could help them beat the big guys in the industry, and after the success of their first sound film, the rest is history.

Read more…A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 9:
Horns: Cinema sound and large scale sound reproduction

A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 8:
Horns: Early development

It is hard to tell when horns first were used. They have been in use for thousands of years as instruments, and man must early have discovered the amplifying effect of a pair of cupped hands in front of his mouth, or behind his ears. Ear trumpets were early implementations of this, and the first hearing aids.

Horns were used on phonographs and gramophones from the start. This was the only way to get the required volume from the tiny motions of the needle. The theoretical understanding of horns was still small though, and most of the work was experimental. Early models used conical horns, but as theory progressed, the superiority of the exponential horn was recognized.

Read more…A brief history of electroacoustics, pt. 8:
Horns: Early development