Back to the Western Electric we16a


Our friend Audio16 boys are returning back to the Western Electric WE13A horns. Why?

The stunning thing about the we13a was the simple fact that once setup you just leave it alone and play music, that’s it.

Having we13a horns going out to dedicated listeners around the planet landed me back with my we16a horn. I was curious to hear it again in my main room with all the western electric upfront gear. I was using it in my office space linked to lesser gear, no bass support and a basic tweeter. In my office I did not feel that the time I would have to dedicate to correct setup was worth it. However sound was more than good enough for a day’s work at the office.

Placed in my main room it took a few weeks of listening to get the bass intergate correctly and with ease and find the sweet spot and for tweeter (597a) xover. Further phasing got things integrate with the velvet smoothness my ears have become accustomed to. Over the last months I’ve been listening a wide variety of recordings. I never jump to fast conclusions on sound from a system that’s correctly setup. It takes time and a wide scope of music, volume and times of the days to determine and come to solid conclusions. I admire people who can make definitive statements on systems after just a few records.

The true character of the 16a comes through when all is setup correctly. It’s resonance delivers a very singular signature that some listeners dislike. The construction of this horn corresponded to the requirements of mass production as the theatres were being fitted at a rapid rate. The we12a and we13a made by the taking machine company were hand made, solid thick wood could not be made fast enough and undoubtly far more expensive than the we15a/b or we16a. As the owner of silbatone says the we15 and we16a were the cheap versions of the venerable 12a and 13a. When you read the patents this is confirmed.

As written in previous articles here the 16a resonates due to its construction in sheet steel. When you listen to the 16a you hear this. It’s advisable not to raise the volume too high as things start to get a bit out of control. More complex and dense musical recordings put the resonance to a challenge. On the other end of the scale at lower volumes and listening relatively close violin, female voice, quartets, Jazz (not colrane at full pace….), guitar, brass solos are stunning on the 16a. The 16a has two we555 drivers so you can play plain mono (mono source or summation stereo correctly done) or stereo even if the stereo is “mixed” at the 16a’s mouth. I find the voices to be slightly muddy when using as stereo. I prefer the 16a in mono even from sum mated stereo sources.

Yes the 16a is for intimate music experiences rather than louder or dense and full blown musical scenes. The we13a does both. A single we13a is marvellous with a single we555 driver. One tweeter and some bass support.

Yes I miss my we13a’s…..okay back to my woodworking room.

All fun….