I am curious about the SM96 vs SM 80 as well.
Heard a rig with 2xSM80 over 6 TH118s and it sounded spectacular.
Installed 20 OS80s in an arena and it sounded great.
However, it seems to me the SM96, while a couple of db down, has better low freq. response and might have better low freq. pattern control.
This is where the "simple numbers" can get you in trouble.
In reality, the SM80 can get quite a bit louder than the SM96
Yes the SM96 has a wider freq response. It is meant to be able to be used as a stand alone full range speaker-while the SM80 was intended to be used with subs.
In regards to the pattern control, the correct answer is that is both better and worse with the SM96 (over the SM80)
In the horizontal it is better-because the pattern is wider and the physical size of the horn is larger.
But in the vertical it is worse (meaning not going as low) because the pattern is narrower AND the physical size is smaller.
So once again-It depends