I’ve spent the last week of evenings listening to music through an interesting pair of speakers. The Little Horn Minis are both a work of art and a functional piece of audio equipment: the speaker enclosure is constructed with some nice looking birch plywood and the horn itself is made of recycled newsprint, dryer lint, and shellac. Each speaker is hand crafted in Chicago and no two look exactly alike. The enclosure and horn are stained to match and come in a variety of colors.
I set the speakers up in the man-cave and didn’t have any problem filling the room with great quality sound. Whether I was sitting on the couch, working on robots, or standing at my desk the sound was full and well-balanced. I was pretty surprised when I compared them to the speakers I usually use. I was driving the Little Horn Minis with an old Pioneer stereo amp that usually drives a nice pair of JBL bookshelf speakers. The Little Horns sounded great in comparison, but one would expect that, since they sell for about nine times the price.
I moved the amp and set the test speakers up on the narrow end of the robot-cave, under the TV, about eight feet apart. I tried a number of sources, including the TV, the Xbox, my computer, and iPod, and my Galaxy Note 2 phone. They all have similar audio specs so I didn’t expect, nor did I hear, much difference between them. In the end I used my phone, playing FLAC or high quality MP3 files.
To get an idea of how well the Little Horns were reproducing the frequencies, I compared them to my favorite headphones, the V-Moda Crossdade M-100. The V-Moda have an impressive frequency response, more so than the Fostex FE83En speakers in the Little Horns, but there was little difference in sound quality. I felt the horns were a little flatter at the top, and lacked a bit of the bass punch, but overall they compared well at any level.
My only issue with the Little Horn Mini, or most of the Specimen products, including the awesome looking tube amps, is the price. At $1,850.00, they are about six times the cost of the V-Moda M-100. If you’ve got some cash to spend, and want something artistic and functional, then maybe the Specimen speakers are for you, but I think I’d rather spend the money on robot parts. Now excuse me while I crank up some Mastodon and prepare to send these back.