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Do newer China-made Celestions still sound different than UK-made Celestions?

Janus Alfador

Member
Messages
725
I've been reading up on this lately, and I've seen some people claim they don't, some claim they never did. However, video demos available suggest otherwise.


This video was uploaded 2018, but the guy in it says the China speaker he's using is around 10 years old and well broken in. It sounds a lot brighter than the UK-made speaker.



In this next video I don't know how old or broken in the China speaker is, but it was uploaded in December 2017 and it sounds like there's the same difference as can be heard in the previous video.

UK-made G12T-75:


China-made G12T-75:



Here are some of the key posts I've read suggesting that the speakers should sound similar. I also read somewhere a claim that the earliest batch of China-made Celestions was rejected, I guess for quality reasons. I lost the link though.

https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/scott-henderson-on-celestion-greenbacks.764093/
Hi Everyone,

I was talking with Rick Skillman of Celestion and he asked me to post my findings here - I'm happy to do it.

I've been kind of bummed because my 90's English Greenbacks are pretty old and they're starting to get worn out. I've listened to just about everything out there during the last six months, and haven't been able to find speakers which sound like mine. I have Chinese Greenbacks in my live cabinet, which I've taken out and put in my recording cab to compare to the English ones - contrary to popular opinion, my Chinese Greenbacks don't sound as good.

I've read posts about some people's A/B testing between these two speakers. I don't want to sound like a know it all, but my experience is that it's difficult to hear subtile differences in gear when you have to stop, plug in something else, then play again. I have problems hearing subtile differences in gear just because I'm playing at the time. What I've learned is that recording is the best way to do it. I like to switch between tracks with one press of a button - then I can really pay attention to detail. I have a learned "solo" which I play over a bass & drums track, being careful to pick in the exact same place on the string, all knobs on the guitar & amp the same, mic placement, etc. I'm really anal about it. I can definitely say that my English Greenbacks sound better than my Chinese ones - until now.

Celestion just sent me some brand new Chinese Greenbacks, and after breaking them in for 24 hours, I'm unable to hear any difference between them and my English ones. As happy as I am about it, I was also confused and curious about why. Rick told me that he chalks it up to ten years of experience at the factory in China. My Greenbacks which didn't sound as good were from the factory's first couple years of operation.

So, I just want to say that if you're thinking about buying Greenbacks, they sound as good as ever. The Heritage Greenback is a good speaker also, but I prefer the regular one because it's a bit darker and has more bass.

https://music-electronics-forum.com/showthread.php?t=2307#post16329
Dave [at Avatar Speakers] is certainly someone who likes to talk, isn't he? If you ever spend time with him on the phone, he'll tell you all sorts of interesting things. He's a premier salesman.

My recollection of the time frame for the move to China is not 6 years, but then time flies doesn't it? Maybe I've had one of my projects back-burnered for longer than I had thought. How embarassing!

I guess I could Google for press releases, or go on a hunt for my receipts, or examine my new and old speakers for date codes, but I don't feel the need to do that to convince myself that what I have is what I have. I have two pair of V30: a pair of new Chinese, and a pair of NOS/NIB Ipswitch that have never been mounted, and sat in their the original single-unit brown corrugated paper boxes for a great many years.

If you read the various guitar-oriented boards on the web, you'll hear all sorts of stories and opinions about UK vs. Chinese Celestions. Most A/B comparisons have been impaired by the fact that people were typically trying to compare used UK speakers to new China speakers. Because I just back-burnered one of my speaker projects for way too long, I ended up with a unique opportunity to compare original, never mounted, NOS and still-in-the-sealed-box UK V30 to new Chinese production V30. Here's how we did the test:

Both sets of V30 were mounted in identical 2x12 cabs that were purchased from Avatar at the same time. Both sets of speakers were broken-in with pre-recorded programming at ear-splitting SPL for 48 continuous hours; both cabs were attached to a mono HiFi amp that played each of the following CDs for 12 hours each: Led Zeppelin's BBC sessions, Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers, RHCP's Blood Surgar Sex Magik, and AC/DC's Back in Black. After 48 hours of hammering in "the booth," the speakers were considered "broken-in" and we performed "live" testing with guitars and amps.

The test guitars included a Teles, Strats, and LPs equipped with P-90s and Burstbuckers. Amps included a Mesa Mk IV, a vintage Plexi, a 5F6 bassman clone, and several other miscellaneous amps including various Champs, Deluxes and whatnot. While one person played, someone else used an A/B switch to switch the cabs back and forth between the speakers so that the identity of the speakers wasn't known to the player.

None of the players was able to tell the speakers apart using blinded tests. The UK and China V30 were indistinguishable at every volume level, with every amp and guitar combination we tried. Doing blinded A/B tests, no player has ever been able to reliably discern between the two. The only thing about the UK/Chinese speakers that appears different is a subtle change in the label (Ipswitch England is present on the UK speakers vs. absent on the Chinese), and the box they came in.

That's the result of our littke A/B experiment that we did with the old and new V30. We controlled as many variables as we could (including the speakers' playing history) and found that when they've been broken in the same way, the speakers were sonically indistinguishable. (This was part of a bigger test that also compared some of the Eminence Red Coats to Celestions, and we noticed some definite differences there. I only mention this to show that I'm not totally tone-deaf and that I can hear differences in some speakers!)

I don't sell speakers, so I don't have anything to gain by telling stories that aren't true. The good news from our little experiement is that anyone who's interested in a V30 doesn't have to spend their time and money trying to find the UK version. The China speaker is the same speaker. The only difference is that it doesn't say Ipswitch England on the label.

This one is from two people quoting different portions of the same original post:

https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/help-me-id-my-greenbacks.247995/#post-2487582
https://music-electronics-forum.com/showthread.php?t=2307&p=50175&viewfull=1#post50175
I found this post fro Plexi Palace in 06 from DunxB who worked for Celestion:

The first speakers made in the Far East were the PG8A-15, maybe 6 years back. Then a few ranges were made over there that had not been made in England (Truvox PA drivers, 'Red label' guitar speakers), and then the wholesale movement started about 2002. When I left in early 2003 almost all production had moved to China, and then late 03/early 04 Celestion moved to the new factory, which just doesn't have the capacity to fill the order book. It is possible to tell the difference, as the Chinese built speakers have a white paper label on the magnet edge that has '50' in the corner.

I'd say from 04 on almost all Celestion guitar speakers have been made in China. I think the Alnicos and the neodymiums remained UK built however

Many of the machines moved from the UK to China (some of them were smuggled over the border, as the Chinese don't like importing used production machinery for some reason) and myself and other guys from design and production Engineering spent weeks at the factory setting up the machines and training the operators. A lot of time and effort went into minimising environmental differences too (South China is pretty warm and humid compared to Ipswich !)

I'd say any initial tonal differences would be gone after a years use, but I'm sure we will see UK made prices going up over the next few years. I should have stockpiled them while I had the chance !
By the way, the reason I'm trying to figure this out is because Long & McQuade in Canada has G12T-75 speakers on about 50% off right now! I'm wondering if I should grab a couple of spares. But, if they sound as different as the videos I've posted show, then they're like an entirely different speaker than what's in my cab.
 
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Braciola

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,271
Listen,
You can order a brand new quad of Celestion Greenbacks from an online store of your choice, and everyone of them are going to sound slightly different from each other, and you might find that a couple may sound very different from each other.

That's why I consider them as individuals rather than lots.
I actually have a test 4X12 cabinet here that I A/B the same model speakers in all the time to find the best of the best.
Been doing it for years, and have acquired some pretty fantastic sounding models of each through that process.
Some are Chinese, some are UK - there isnt a clear winner as to "which are better"

For those that search out just UK manufactured Celestion because they think they're going to sound better....... you're doing yourself a disservice.

Moral of the story - use your ears..... if it sounds good, it is good.


.
 
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zombiwoof

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,900
Most of the premium Celestions that have been made in China for some time are now made in the UK again, I think only the budget Celestions are still made in China now. Celestion says the UK-made ones will still sound the same as the Chinese versions, and use the same parts. The different greenbacks sound different mainly because they use different cones and other parts, hence the differences between the formerly Chinese-made ones and the Heritage UK models.
Al
 

eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,299
About 3 years ago, I compared some modern (UK) Blues I had against (Chinese) Blues which came in a VOX AC30 I own. The UK ones sounded better -- clearer and a little louder. So I replaced the Chinese ones and have what I consider better sound. But there are people here that will insist they are the same. Even though they were not there for the comparison.

If I bought another AC30 and wanted Blues in it, I would buy the amp with GBs and some UK Blues. It's not a night and day difference, but I am picky about sound.

To be clear, I'm not saying Made in UK Celestions will always sound better than their Chinese counterpart. I'm saying they are different. If you are able, compare them and choose your favorite.
 

zombiwoof

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,900
About 3 years ago, I compared some modern (UK) Blues I had against (Chinese) Blues which came in a VOX AC30 I own. The UK ones sounded better -- clearer and a little louder. So I replaced the Chinese ones and have what I consider better sound. But there are people here that will insist they are the same. Even though they were not there for the comparison.

If I bought another AC30 and wanted Blues in it, I would buy the amp with GBs and some UK Blues. It's not a night and day difference, but I am picky about sound.

To be clear, I'm not saying Made in UK Celestions will always sound better than their Chinese counterpart. I'm saying they are different. If you are able, compare them and choose your favorite.
The Blues is one case where the UK ones are generally thought to be better sounding than the Chinese. People were also unhappy that Vox would charge just as much for the upgrade to Chinese Blues as they would for UK versions in their amps, which seemed like a rip-off.
Al
 

eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,299
The Blues is one case where the UK ones are generally thought to be better sounding than the Chinese. People were also unhappy that Vox would charge just as much for the upgrade to Chinese Blues as they would for UK versions in their amps, which seemed like a rip-off.
Al
Yeah. Some people don't care or want to save money but I happen to have a few amps/cabs and some curiosity. I would have spent differently knowing what I know today. VOX hid that fact well enough that I did not realize they were using Chinese Blues in the AC30HW2X when I bought it. I believe the current HW series started with UK Blues then switched to Chinese fairly quickly. Some of the online images had UKs well after the switch. Promo images and pictures of actual amps on the used market.
 
Messages
6,726
I would say: yes, they do sound similar. But it's not limited to the parts used but the actual hands that make the drivers. Then you'd have to figure some 5% tolerance of any identical speakers.
 

Janus Alfador

Member
Messages
725
I emailed Celestion to ask about moving speaker production back to the UK, and they said while some models have been moved back to the UK, the G12T-75 is still made in China:
We moved the production of some models, namely the G12M Greenback, G12H Anniversary and Classic Lead 80 back to the UK factory as we have been able to increase production capacity at this facility. The parts and equipment we use to make them are exactly the same, so there shouldn’t be any difference in terms of quality or tone.

The G12T-75 is still made in the Celestion China factory, because it’s one of our highest volume guitar speaker products.

Here are some other threads about the old G12T-75 sounding different than the new G12T-75. Apparently, even the 90s G12T-75 sounds different than the pre-90s G12T-75.

http://jvmforum.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=8008
http://www.marshallforum.com/threads/uk-g12t-75-vs-china-g12t-75-not-the-same-speaker.106081/


I also sent the youtube videos in the OP to show examples of the difference in sound, and Celestion said this:
There’s a few things at play here.

In some cases, over long periods of time suppliers have changed, so some of the components in a speaker’s manufacture change a little bit. Things like glue for example. They are small changes, but over time can add up to an audible difference.

Also, time: a speaker’s tone will change over long periods of time, with regular playing (kinda like break-in), as the cone fibres and suspension soften up and get worn.

Finally, because they’re part made from natural materials (paper) you’ll always get some variation from batch to batch. Through experience we’ve managed to get this down to a fine tolerance, but you’re going to hear a difference when you compare across the decades, there’s no getting away from it.

When you hear a comparison video, these are the main differences that you’re hearing. Thinking about China production, the only real difference between that and UK production is environmental – China is warmer and more humid for most of the year (this also has a small influence and is why you’ll always find a pack of silica in products that come from China – to absorb additional moisture so it doesn’t get into the cone), otherwise production is the same.

It’s clear to me from the comparisons that they are the same speaker, although there are undeniable differences to the tone. The best way to emulate the older sounding speaker is to take the more modern speaker and run it in for a couple of days to really soften it up. This should get back some of the lower mids that the more modern sounding speaker appears to be missing.
I don't know about that, though, since at least the first video shows a 10 year old China-made speaker that has, according to the video uploader, had plenty of breaking in.
 

J-Flanders

Member
Messages
265
Hard to believe the only difference is just age/being broken in:

I have a 1x12 cab with an 80's (non-vented) g12-t75. It's the opposite of scooped. Not much bottom end or high end. Not a loud/efficient speaker either. (Comparing to my other two 1x12 cabs with a Vintage 30 and a GM12 greenback).
 

Janus Alfador

Member
Messages
725
Hard to believe the only difference is just age/being broken in:

I have a 1x12 cab with an 80's (non-vented) g12-t75. It's the opposite of scooped. Not much bottom end or high end. Not a loud/efficient speaker either. (Comparing to my other two 1x12 cabs with a Vintage 30 and a GM12 greenback).
Yeah, I don't think that's the difference, either. Especially considering that Celestion said to just "run it in for a couple of days to really soften it up. This should get back some of the lower mids that the more modern sounding speaker appears to be missing."

The first video has China-build G12T-75 speaker that's been played for 10 years, and it sound totally different. If 10 years isn't enough time to break a speaker all the way in, then 2 days isn't going to be, either.
 

Wee Jock

Member
Messages
308
There are a few other things to consider. Sometimes designs get updated as a result of obsolescence, changes in law or just to reduce production cost. Depending on the age of the speakers you’re comparing, it could be that they are a different config. Adding to this, if you were going to move production to somewhere like China, you probably would do a fairly rigorous design for manufacture exercise before you did.

Age can also play a direct part in sound - some materials get stiffer with age and/or use, some become more supple.

Some of the legendary guitar products have actually been as a result of poor, not good manufacturing engineering. How many have heard of particular PAFs or Plexis that were special. The reason these stood out is because they weren’t all the same- poor process capability as we would call it now. I don’t doubt that old British Celestions fall into this category.

For my own experience, I have a Chinese GB25 and two relatively new British GB25s and I can’t hear a difference.
 

mody

Member
Messages
981
Yeah, I don't think that's the difference, either. Especially considering that Celestion said to just "run it in for a couple of days to really soften it up. This should get back some of the lower mids that the more modern sounding speaker appears to be missing."

The first video has China-build G12T-75 speaker that's been played for 10 years, and it sound totally different. If 10 years isn't enough time to break a speaker all the way in, then 2 days isn't going to be, either.
Sorry old thread, but it's been a year since I've had my G12T-75 in a stock 1960B cab, after a year of playing the cab, my speakers sound a lot more like the older speakers in that video, still some way to go, that harsh top end is nearly all gone. I'm hoping they have more breaking in to do.

I do hear more mids in the UK speaker on that vid compared to my Chinese versions as the main difference.
 






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