WGS BlackHawk 100W review/comparison...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Macaroni, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    Got my 100W WGS BlackHawk last week, and I've been playing it almost every day since then. Comparing it to my Fane AXA12, Fane AXA10, Celestion Gold, and EV SRO/12 AlNiCo.

    The BlackHawk isn't fully broken in yet, but so far I really like it a lot. Very balanced and harmonically rich - great feel, especially with OD tones. Nothing negative to report - it's all very good. WGS has come up with a unique offering that holds its own among many other notable contenders. It's in very high contention for a spot in my setup.

    After only 4 days of comparisons between the 4 speakers, I can honestly say that all the speakers are truly excellent, each with its own unique voice and character, yet with the expected AlNiCo similarities, re chewy compression, sweetness, etc. I truly love them all, but I'll only be able to keep 2, due to downsizing my setup.

    FYI... For these comparisons, my Kingsley D32C has 2 x EL84 Mullards + 2 NOS Tesla EL34s for power tubes and a mix of great NOS preamp tubes.

    Comparatively speaking, the EV SRO is very in-your-face - as if you kicked in a compressor or boost. With a singing OD tone, it feels like molten liquid glass and rubber combined, under your fingers. The other 3 are very close, but not quite so intense and dramatic. I can see why many people love this speaker. The BlackHawk is the closest to the EV of the 3.

    The clean tones are much closer to each other - no dramatic differences per se. Just wonderful, unique variations of that AlNiCo beautiful, sweet clean 3D thing. The Gold does have the high mid/high sparkly, edgy thing that the others don't have, but some of that can be EQ'd in if you want.

    The OD differences are a bit more obvious. I can't say that one is 'better' than the other. It boils down to personal taste and tonal preferences and how they 'feel' under your fingers.

    Here's how I'm comparing/rating them relative to how they relate to my tastes. Let's say that they share many similarities, so I'll only list some of the differences and distinguishing features as I'm experiencing them so far...

    EV SRO/12 - fat/thick mids/low mids, more girth, LOUD, sweet, detailed, commanding, great feel

    WGS BlackHawk - defined, clear, stout, solid, creamy, beautiful vocal quality, great feel, not broken in

    Celestion Gold - nice upper mid edge, sparkly, not as thick/fat, leaner, sweet

    Fane AXA12 - nice mids, 3D, not quite as thick/fat, open, nice vocal quality

    Each speaker has a slightly different 'feel' under my fingers, which is a key part of the whole speaker/tone connection, IMHO. It's the Tempur-pedic effect! :D The EV SRO and BlackHawk feel the most inspiring to play, with the Gold and Fane not far behind.

    I wish I could keep all 4 of them. They are all excellent speakers. Maybe I'll figure out a way to do that.

    But to bring this first part of the review/comparison back into focus, I have to say that I am very impressed with the BlackHawk. I tried a Jensen Blackbird several months ago with high hopes, but it wasn't for me. The BlackHawk is stunningly good, and that's in the context of the EV SRO, Fane and Gold. That's saying something IMHO.

    This is a killer speaker - WGS has a big winner on its hands IMO. Highly recommended if you're into high powered AlNiCo speakers.

    That's it for now. I'll report more when I have more to reveal.
     
  2. James BCM

    James BCM Gold Supporting Member

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    Completely agree.

    WGS owner and I worked a deal out last year where I was to beta test the original 50 watt Black Hawk in my own exclusive Soldano 44 BCM 1 x 12" combo amp. It sounded awesome but compared to the Jensen Black Bird in 100 watts, there was no comparison at higher volumes. Since I'm a Jensen OEM dealer, I asked if this speaker could be built as a high powered version for a better test with the Black Bird. That is what became the 100 watt Black Hawk.

    I now have a Black Hawk in both of my serial #001 and #002 Soldano 44 BCM combo amps. 001 always stays at home with me, and 002 is in our studio full time. I LOVE what this speaker does in all guitars playing all types of music. The only thing I think that the Black Bird excels at better than this speaker is very high gain or very hot, i.e. EMG pickups. The Black Hawk can handle it, but the slightly darker Black Bird loves the aggressive stuff.

    WGS guys hit a home run with this speaker. It is very open and dynamic with a Strat, handles classic rock very well, and can run with the Creed/Alter Bridge stuff too. Again, if you are a death metal guy, keep running with the V 30's.

    LB
    BCM
     
  3. Nathan

    Nathan Member

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    I'm happy to say I picked one up on ebay for a great price. If it's even remotely in the same ballpark as the AXA12 I had, I know I'll be holding on to it for its looks. I'm only about lower wattage amps nowadays so speaker breakup is not something I'm after. Do any of you guys have an opinion on lower wattage going through a higher powered speaker? (I know the technical answer but sometimes tone comes accross in mysterious ways).
     
  4. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    Nathan... Did you get that new one that was up for auction for $165? That came up one day after I bought one at full price!!! D'OH!!! Lucky you.

    I'm actually preferring the BlackHawk to my Fane AXA12 at the moment - by quite a margin.

    My Kingsley D32C is only a 30W amp, and I typically run it with Power Scaling set around 60% - 80%, and it has no problem bringing out the goods on all my higher power speakers, including 200W EVMs.
     
  5. Nathan

    Nathan Member

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    Yes sir, that was me. I thought WGS might be going back to their low prices for some kind of promotion, but it turns out the guy won it as a door prize and can't really use it. As for wattage, it really is nothing more than a heat dissipating measure. To get a higher power rating they change the material of the voice coil. I know the Fane is fiberglass, can't speak to the others. That doesn't affect a speaker's ability to reproduce sound. However cone breakup IS audible and you may desire that kind of distortion. Personally I have no idea what it sounds like per se.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2009
  6. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    Good score Nathan! Nice door prize. I'm not hearing any cone breakup on the BlackHawk as I'm using it.

    Please contribute your review to this thread once you've tried it.
     
  7. pula58

    pula58 Silver Supporting Member

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    how efficient is the 100W blackhawk compared to the EV SRO?
    Is the bass tight on the blackhawk 100W-er?
     
  8. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    The EV SRO is the most efficient speaker I've ever played. It's rated at 103 db. I believe the BlackHawk is around 97 db - 98 db, so it's not as efficient. The differences become less apparent at higher volume levels. The BlackHawk is right there with the Gold and Fane and even the EVM-12L, as far as perceived efficiency.

    The bass is tight and focused on the BlackHawk - a bit more so than the Fane, and very close to the EV SRO - very defined and throaty. It has more girth than the Gold, which seems to be the leanest of the 4, by a small margin.
     
  9. mxr2000

    mxr2000 Member

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    bump
     
  10. jbp

    jbp Supporting Member

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    Anyone know how the Blackhawk (100 watt) sounds in a closed back cab?
     
  11. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    My BlackHawk sounded great in a PCW 2-12 and really nice in its final home, a Forte 3D, which is closed back with side ports...

    [​IMG]
     
  12. jdolll

    jdolll Supporting Member

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    Anyone had any experience with the blackhawk against the asw alnico elegante?
     
  13. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    I'm curious about that too. I have heard that ASW gets their parts from WGS, and they look pretty much identical externally, but that doesn't mean they are of course. The price difference is the big issue for me.
     
  14. dbeeman

    dbeeman Gold Supporting Member

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    I have them both. Quick comparison with Aiken Invader and similar, but not the same open back cabs:

    WGS has more bass and a more even sounding freq resp.

    ASW More high end and breaks up a lot faster. But the Highs are those sweet ASW highs.

    Which is better? I have no idea. Depends on application and ears. I intend to try both in some live situations.


    As far as the parts - the frames look similar. The cones do not. Not sure about vc, spider, magnet systems etc.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
  15. Mustardcustard6

    Mustardcustard6 Member

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    Does anyone know, for sure, if the WGS blackhawk can be used in a 1x12 with a 100w head?

    I heard that 100w heads can actually run up to 150w or so when using the head's tonestack (dumble type head).
     
  16. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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    Your speaker's wattage rating should be twice that of your amp's.

    For a 1x12 with a 100 watt amp, your choices are pretty much limited to an EVM12-L in a TL806, or an Eminence Delta Pro.
     
  17. Mustardcustard6

    Mustardcustard6 Member

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    awesome. thanks.

    i'm still a bit confused...how do people run 100w heads through a 2x12 w/ g12-65's (isn't that 135 watts total?) without blowing them? they just careful or is there another factor involved?

    sorry if this elementary...i've played a long time without dealing with this stuff. i feel like i beginner all over again.
     
  18. Billion81

    Billion81 Gold Supporting Member

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    Hmmm- not so fast. Heed this advice if the only objective is to NEVER blow a speaker but....

    I'm not going to dispute this from a technical nature but only 30 years of empirical evidence that this is not the case and is actually the first time i've heard this recommendation.

    Fender has long run the speakers close to the output ratings of it's amps. As recently as the Vibroking which was a flagship, handwired amp that had Jensen P12s that were actually right on the line for that amp. While running the total speaker power handling at parity with the output of the amp is risky and likely will result in shorter speaker life.

    I gigged/toured with a Vibroking for 12 years without an issue and finally after heavy beating and peak volume playing did a wear out one of the speakers. As stated above those speakers were actually @ unity power or pretty darn close to the RMS power of the amp.

    2X the amp power is not the way to get the best out of your speaker..Particularly with an Alnico. Run 'em closer to the amp power and the sweeetness will present itself.

    Caveat Emptor and all that but 2X is not the way to get the good stuff.
     
  19. Jef Bardsley

    Jef Bardsley Member

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    With a 1x12, the goal of not blowing a speaker is called "getting through the night". :p

    And if you haven't heard that advice before, then you haven't been reading speaker threads on TGP. :cool:

    Different strokes, I suppose, but I prefer the detailed and articulate distortion of a good tube power amp to that of an overdriven speaker. Speaker distortion can cover a lot of sins, however. ;)
     
  20. Dave_C

    Dave_C Member

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    I think it depends entirely on how loud you'll ever be playing that amp into that cab. Do you ever play as loud as what you get with the max clean volume of your 100W amp?

    I have gigged my 100W GW SOD II with a Heritage G12-65 loaded 1x12 cab at a couple "loud" gigs with no problems and no fears of ever blowing that speaker because I know from using much lower-powered amps in identical situations that I'll never hit 65W. In fact, in the places I play and with the soft-touch drummer we have, I'll probably never push 30 or 40W, let alone 65-100W. So, if you own any low wattage amps, you could probably use them as a rough gauge of how much power you typically push.

    That all said, my go-to rig is the SOD II with EVM-12L-loaded GW112TH so I'm "packin' for bear" should any show up! ;)
     

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