Of cause it shall be mentioned in the context of thin there that there is always the ALE Acoustic solution. The Japanese ALE Acoustic make two midbass drivers: P1260 and P160.
In US they are around $30K per solution:
They do have own Aluminium casting horns that might go with them.
I personally do not have any curiosity in ALE horn but the drivers might be interesting. Like all of those “exotic Japanese” driver the midbass ALE drivers are with titanium cone, FRP suspension and have a LOT magnetic flux in the gap – 2.3T. The amount of flux for bass drivers I feel a bit alarming as in my experiments I never felt that higher flux was welcomed by bass. The P1260 driver has 3” and P160 has a 5” throat diameter, which is beyond perfect in my view. The 5” throat is what I would like to have for my 40Hz horn, but I do not think I will have balls for make a proper horn from such a small throat, but who knows. At this point my theoretical limit is 15” drivers that I plan to use not the length of the horn.
I never heard P1260 or P160 drivers, not to mention I never heard then in contest of proper installation. I know that Kevin Brooks from Utah uses ALE bass drivers and ALE bass horns
I never was in Utah. I heard a few people who visited Kevin reported very good bass. I invest absolutely no credibility to those feedbacks, partially because I heard absolutely the same positive feedback from the very same people about bass on other installation, the one that I heard, and that I consider was horrible. Well, when did you see me to invest any trustworthiness to what other audio-people say? There is an army of Morons out there who would swear that 5” Loather mounted into a typical toilet enclosure produce the best bass they ever possible, does it mean that I care what they think? I would not even mention that 99.5% of audio people have absolutely fucked up idea what proper midbass is by audio means and not even familiar with the concept – where would they learn?
Anyhow, the ALE P1260 and P160 drivers with consequential horn to them might be an interesting alternative to my idea of use my Vitavox 15-inchers. They of course would be the horn of different topology: each of then would have own con and pros. What solution is able to produce the best theatrical results? Very hard to say.
From the perspective of pumping of atmospheric pressure the ALE bass drivers might be more capable transducers. It or might not be so as well. To get 40Hz at 110dB in 5” it would take some excursion. I am sorry but you can’t bend the law of physics. Pressure is excursion by surface. In horn we as the horns EQ. Let presume that a horn would add even 10dB then we still have a lot of excursion necessary. The ALE drivers have titanium with plastic suspension diaphragms. The plastic suspension diaphragms are horrible for excursion, they good only for bending. So, I presume that ALE made a very large FRP skirt to let the metal cone to have lower own resonance and some freedom to move. To do it all within 2.3T guy I am sure was tricky. I would pay money to see HOW the P160 is made. What I know about the compression drivers idea I would guess that a compression driver with too much flux and light soft cone would not make since as it would requires very precise, almost surgical compensation of back chamber. Since ALE does not have the adjustable damping for the driver then the result is not optimum. Still, I might pres that ALE knows something that I do not know, so I will give to them a benefit of doubt.
From the perspective of pumping of tonal pressure I think that ALE bass drivers might be less capable transducers. They might be not and they might be able for great tone – who knows. No one talks or thinks about it and it looks like no one even knows what it is. People are accustomed that “tone” is a characteristic of a resistor or a tube, with compression driver is more complicated. With bass compression drivers that use metal diaphragms it is even MORE complicated. Who the hell knows where “tone” comes from in those drivers?
I think if I go for this project then it might make since to fry in Utah and learn what ALE bass drivers are able to do. I do have a point of reference of what my 15-incher is able off but it not necessary mean that if I render my project with 15-incher then I will hit the point of my reference. Still, the debate of to use 15-incher vs. the ALE-like solution is a legitimate debate. Unfortunately it is VERY difficult objectively and sensibly to reconcile positions in this topology comparing.
"I wish I could score everything for horns." - Richard Wagner. "Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts." - Friedrich Nietzsche