Alnico vs Ceramic - which is warmer?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Rumblur, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. Rumblur

    Rumblur Member

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    I've recently done a lengthy test comparing two 'famous' speakers, the only difference being the magnet material. I'm curious what others think... BUT - I have a prerequisite condition before you answer:

    When you answer, say whether you are speaking of actual first hand knowledge, or, general conjecture based on reading internet forums etc.

    Thanks!
     
  2. ken374

    ken374 Member

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    Alnico=warmer smoother gain:) more cash though, always had ceramic plus I listen to a lot a vids
     
  3. Cirrus

    Cirrus Member

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    You'll need to define warmer because it means a lot of different things to different people.
     
  4. ken374

    ken374 Member

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  5. Scooter Burbank

    Scooter Burbank Member

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    I don't know which is "warmer," but in my own experience there's a definite difference in the feel. Alnico speakers sort of skid out on staccato-like chord chops (think old R%B rhythm or "Oh Darling") whereas the ceramics that I've played have a more solid bottom (not bass, but bottom as in the floor).
     
  6. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    Alnico will sound more complex, compress more and have a sweeter highend all things equal. The characteristics of the mids not so much unless pushed, but so will a pushed ceramic as well. Then for instance a speaker designed with a smoother mid will also sound warmer no matter level of compression.
     
  7. mcdes

    mcdes Member of no importance

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    Alnico is warmer, but some nice broken in ceramics can also sound warm. it all depends on the amp, how hard its being pushed etc.

    Now, mixing an alnico and the right ceramic is just GOLD!
     
  8. sharpshooter

    sharpshooter Member

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  9. sabby

    sabby Member

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    At lower volumes (when not compressing) AlNiCos can sometimes sound thin in the lower mids. Ceramics are stout across the frequency spectrum at all volumes, though everything sounds better loud.
     
  10. DT7

    DT7 Member

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    Ceramic seems to have a sharper attack to my ear...more percussive. Alnicos are more liquid and have more bounce...all other things being equal (same amp/guitar/etc.) On the high-end, the ceramic sounds like one sharp pick, while the alnico sounds like shards...the alnico has more "jangle". Some of the sharpness of the ceramic mellows as the speaker ages...but it never gets the "jangle" that alnico has. Both can be good speakers, being used to somewhat different effect.
     
  11. paddywhack

    paddywhack Silver Supporting Member

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    ...there are warm and not so warm examples of both ceramic and alnico speakers...i can't say one is warmer than the other...that said most alnicos i've tried have a softer edge than most of the ceramics i've had...which might lend itself to a "warmer" tone...
     
  12. GA20T

    GA20T Member

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    I can't hear magnets... too many variables. 9 times out of 10 I've preferred those with alnico magnets though. I'd say that, more often than not, an alnico is likely to sound better clean, and a driven alnico does a fantastic job of contributing dynamics to the sound, whereas a ceramic will reproduce what's there (often rather flatly) until it hits a wall and sounds poopy (not unlike solid state tech. in my mind). My experience is mostly with 40+ year old Oxfords, Celestions, and Jensens, though I own and have had many occasions to compare the recent British greens & blues.
     
  13. wordsonyou

    wordsonyou Member

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    This is especially true if you compare a greenback to a celestion alnico bulldog...then again put either up against a v30 and the v30 sounds almost congested in the mids across all volumes.

    The jensen style alnicos to me sound even more exaggerated on the thinness at low volumes and for my tastes have too much top end when paired with brit style amps (though sound fab with fender cleans).

    One notable exception is I have a cab of old silver bulldogs and it is clearly much darker and bigger in the low mids than any other set of speakers I have heard and definitely not at all thin like the new blues are at low volumes.

    Maybe it is an age thing -those silvers are like 50 years old...
     
  14. GA20T

    GA20T Member

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    My old Jensens have fantastic low end and mids at low to med. volumes. At higher volumes not so much...
     
  15. wordsonyou

    wordsonyou Member

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    I should have been specific - my experience has been with the jensen reissues which I am told are quite different than those old ones
     
  16. GA20T

    GA20T Member

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    Absolutely. I was agreeing that a lot of the older alnicos tend to sound that way in contrast to their "reissues". Whether that's due to age, different materials/processes, or a combination of the above...
     
  17. Rumblur

    Rumblur Member

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    I'm going to reserve the right to say which speakers I was referring to until I sell the offensive ones, but I will say I was SHOCKED and a little disappointed to find ....

    The ceramic version killed the alnico version. I mean it was obvious as hell. The alnicos sounded good, but the ceramics sounded great. This was not just to my ears, but to a college grad jazz major, a good ol'boy country twanger, a bluesman, and a longhaired hippy rocker.

    The amp was a fresh yet bone stock '66 Twin Reverb, the guitars were a mid 60's Strat and a early 80's SG.

    By "warmth" I mean - a bottom end that's big and creamy without farting out or being muddy. A lack of ice pick highs, yet retain a clarity. Mids that are subdued. An overall tone that is pleasing, very "round" sounding, without any spikes in the tone curve. A "cold" speaker would have a tight dynamic-less bass without any thickness to it, a spiky top end, and very upper middy. Not pleasing in any way, unless you're looking for a cheap, lifeless, boring and sterile sound.
     
  18. wrathfuldeity

    wrathfuldeity Member

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    It really depends on the model of speakers, but ime, two of the same except for ceramic/alnico mags.

    alnico=warmer...really shines in lower volume cleans sweet and compressed pushed vs ceramic=more articulate across the spectrum

    However the clear winner is the mix/combo...and you can have a bit of a miss match and it will still sound darn good.
     
  19. TheAmpFactory

    TheAmpFactory Member

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    Tone is too subjective to tell.
    No such thing as a perfect speaker, albeit Alnico or Ceramic. - you can put a 1000 people in a room with the same test. and not all will arrive at the same answer.

    End of the day. a lot of warmth comes from the guitar not the speaker. and also the way its dialed in, and also comes out with the style you play. but most importantly Fingers! and also some speaker types just wont work in some amps due to the way they are voiced. (that doesnt make the speakers bad)

    Dont mean to be as ass about this. - but I dislike "what is better" sounding things, our ears are too variable to even consider such a thing. as there simply are too many factors involved. unless we all play the same gear, same style and are robots!.
     
  20. guitarcapo

    guitarcapo Senior Member

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    "Warm" is the stupidest adjective ever invented to describe sound.

    Using female pronouns to decribe musical instruments runs a close second...but, no...."warm" wins as being the MOST idiotic. Whenever I talk to another musician and they use that word, I lose all respect for their knowledge about amps. It's sort of like two guys standing next to a sports car talking horsepower, torque...and then one guy walks up and kicks a tire. Conversation over.

    Alnico magnet speakers seem to overdrive smoother and with more mids, because they are less efficient. The cleans are less chimey. In my experience, alnico magnet speakers have less tight bass in any capacity compared to a ceramic speaker of the same spec. Personally I like ceramic speaskers more for cleans and alnico more for overdrive sounds, but that's a loose rule. I also like alnico more for smaller speaker and lower power amps, probably because of that added bass....and the fact that treble is more on tap from a physically smaller speaker.

    I like alnico for something like a 4X10 situation like a Super Reverb because each speaker isn't handling more than 10 watts...even though the power taing is higher, each speaker isn't using much. Overdriven you get that Bassman sound. The bass response to SRV's sound is a good example of what you can get out of a Super Reverb with alnico speakers.

    My experience is mostly with Jensen and Weber copies of Jensen speakers like C12N, P12R, C10R, P10R and Celestion speakers. I also use alnico Utahs and alnico Rolas a lot in my Magnatone amps which are fairly low power.
     

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