A horn loudspeaker is a loudspeaker or loudspeaker element which uses a horn to increase the overall efficiency of the driving element, typically a diaphragm driven by an electromagnet. The horn itself is a passive component and does not amplify the sound from the driving element as such, but rather improves the coupling efficiency between the speaker driver and the air. The horn can be thought of as an "acoustic transformer" that provides impedance matching between the relatively dense diaphragm material and the air of low density. The result is greater acoustic output from a given driver. Horns have been used to extend the low frequency limit of a speaker driver. When mated to a horn, a speaker driver is able to reproduce lower tones more strongly. The flare rate and the mouth size determine the low frequency limit. The throat size is more of a design choice. Horns have been known to extend the frequency range of a driver beyond five octaves.
A horn facilitates the transfer of electrical energy into acoustical energy and, if properly designed will be so with a minimum of distortion. The design of loudspeaker horn is complex and requires careful consideration to prevent reflection of the acoustical energy back into the horn bell. The area of the throat determines the loading on the diaphragm. If the area of the throat is small compared to the area of the diaphragm, the efficiency is increased because of the heavier loading effect. However, small throats require a longer horn, which increases the frictional losses.
Horn loudspeakers have two main attributes – they are weatherproof and are able to direct sound in a well defined pattern. Due to their restricted low frequency response, they should be used only for speech applications and amplifier high-pass filtering must be selected. If horn loudspeakers are fed with low frequencies there is a risk of damage to the loudspeaker diaphragms.
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