How do high wattage speakers effect the tone of a low wattage amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by scottcw, Dec 16, 2005.

  1. scottcw

    scottcw Low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    I have been experimenting with speakers in my 18 watt amp. I find that the three speakers that are quite overrated (30, 40, and 75 watts) don't really sound that great with this amp. The one speaker that does sound great is probably rated at 20 watts or less?

    So how important is matching amp output to speaker rating? how does using overrated speakers effect tone?
     
  2. aleclee

    aleclee TGP Tech Wrangler Staff Member

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    I don't know that there's a generality to be had. I love the sound of my 10W Peters though a 200W EV.
     
  3. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    Its not the wattage rating but the efficiency you need to understand.
    For example, a 86 db efficient speaker will take twice as much power to dive as an 89 db efficient speaker, and the 89 db efficient speaker will take twice as much power to drive as a 92 db efficient speaker,
    (drive, I'm referring to volume between speakers).
    So, any speaker with a sensitivity rating that's 3 dB higher than another speaker only needs half as much power to deliver the same amount of sound.

    As far as power ratings go, with tube amplifiers its a good idea to use a speaker/speakers that will handle double the rated power of the amp,
    so that means 200watt speaker handling for a 100watt amp.
    Now, in my experiences both with MI gear and HiFi, you get better sound when over powering speakers, not always, but sometimes you do.
    Speaker power handling does not reflect tonal variations, so you're better off not worring how a 300watt speaker will sound on a 18watt amp, just try it and see.
    I personally like high efficiency speakers with any amp.


    One more thing everyone needs to understand;
    Even a low power amplifier can damage the voice coil of a higher power speaker. Low powered amplifiers when clipping hard can produce distortion
    that adds upper harmonics causing an undue load.
    By going into harmonic distortion at transient peaks, the lower powered amplifier tremendously increases power in high frequencies that can overheat a voice coil designed to handle much higher power.
    We see more blown speakers in this industry caused by this than any other reason.
     
  4. Scott_F

    Scott_F Member

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    In my early 80's days working at Pacific Stereo, I used to say on a daily basis, power doesn't kill speakers, distortion kills speakers.

    Higher wattage rated speakers don't seem to break up as easily as lower wattage ones to my ears.
     
  5. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    I've got a 30W Kingsley Deluxe 32 (4xEL84s), which I often use in 15W Pentode mode or Triode (also around 15W), and I use it with only higher rated speakers...

    Fane AXA - 100W
    Scholz - 100W
    Two Rock 12-65 - 100W
    Ragin Cajun - 75W
    Weber California - 60W

    I much prefer the amp with these speakers vs the usual 30W - 50W ones that many use, and which I also tried. The lower powered speakers were great, but I always had screeching cone cry above the 12th fret, which I never have now.
     
  6. scottcw

    scottcw Low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    OK, how about the AGE of a speaker? Again, all three speakers that I don't care for the tone of are broken in, but relatively new speakers (less than a few months old). The one speaker that I love is from 1972.

    Thoughts?
     
  7. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    I use a 15W Stephenson LJ10 through a 100W (100db sensitivity) G12H-100 1x12 cab. Sounds good to me.
     
  8. e-z

    e-z Member

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    I've been playing a Lovepedal 1/2 watt through a Tonker (150 watts) and it sounds fine.
     
  9. Aint Life Hell?

    Aint Life Hell? Member

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    Wow,
    This thread is really pertinent to my current situation.
    I have a 2xel84 amp that was supposed to be rated for about 18 watts. I was running it through a 2x10 that I loaded with a two 30 watt 10" Weber Speakers (a Blue Pup & a Silver Ten).
    Anyway, when I hit the 7th fret on my A string (or equivelants), I get a buzzing or a rattle or something...almost like the speaker is blown...it's strange. I didn't anticipate this happening with 40 extra watts on the pair.
    Any thoughts?
    I hate hijack the thread, but I was wondering-is this is a possible DB discrepency?
    Best,
    MG
     
  10. CryBaby

    CryBaby Member

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    I also have an Celestion G12H-100.
    Sort of greenbackish older one.

    Sounds great, with either amp.
    100 watt Marshall, or home-made 2xEL84 amp.

    Wonderful speaker btw !!

    Lasse
     
  11. bob-i

    bob-i Member

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    Are you sure it's speakers. IME people blame too much on speakers where the amp can be at fault. Just because the sound comes from the speaker it doesn't mean it a speaker problem.

    Try another speaker at the same impedance and see if you get the same results. Also check the cabinet, you might have a rattle at that frequency.
     
  12. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    +1 I use a JBL E120 through a Tone KIng Continental and it sounds great. I think the most important thing about matching is the eq characteristic between the amp and speaker. If this is off it won't matter what the rating is. Although high powered amps with low capacity speakers could be a problem if you really turn up your stuff.
     
  13. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    IME, it's going to depend alot on the amp's health, meaning tubes, bias, OT and all that, then you get to the speaker which can affect the tone greatly as well.

    From what you've posted, a 33 year old speaker with a lower power rating than your amp is your best tone so far. If you've got the typical 18 watt setup (dual EL84 power, & 12AX7 preamp tubes) then those amp designs do well with lower power speakers as they can drive them harder, which alot of folks equate to better tone, since the speaker cone/coil is moving/being exercised to it's fullest potential.

    Exactly what tone are you looking to get to? When I make recommendations for folks with your amp setup, I usually ask them what tone they're looking to produce from a known band/guitarist. Then I can make a recommendation that gets them there, although sometimes the type amp you have will limit how close you can get, especially when attempting to replicate a full stack to a single 12 combo, you can only get so far, but generally you can get close with the right components.

    Perhaps if you listed what tone you're trying to get close to, a few of the members could suggest what you should try...just a suggestion...
     
  14. scottcw

    scottcw Low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    Alt-rock and Americana. Petty, Mellencamp, U2, Grant Lee Buffalo, Aimee Mann, Dandy Warhols.
     
  15. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    I don't believe the frequency response, distortion or responsiveness of a speaker (i.e. compession) is completely linear over its whole operating range and this accounts for some of your high/low power & tone varIations.
    I haven't seen the response graphs generated at different power input levels but I would like to. Any links?
     
  16. scottcw

    scottcw Low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    Here are two. The other two do not have plots online.

    http://www.webervst.com/spkrcalc/p12b.htm

    I actually have the 10" Blue Pup, but Weber does not have a plot posted.

    For the Copperhead, scroll to the bottom:

    http://editweb.iglou.com/eminence/eminence/pages/products02/patriot/copperhead.htm
     
  17. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    Nice info from Weber but still does not show a comparison of the the same speaker at higher levels- they appear to use a 1W drive unless I am missing something on the graph(?)
     
  18. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm afraid you're all over the tone map, sir.
    Some examples...culled from old GP articles, or knowing some of the roadies on their tours (or being backstage myself).

    U2's "Edge" uses both Strats & Gibson Explorers (among others). His clean tone used to be achieved by using two Randall RG-80 combos which used Celestion G12-80 speakers in them, but with the pile of fx he uses, that changes immensely. GP article

    Petty: Rickenbackers, Les Pauls, 61 SG/LP, and other guitars. I last saw him using a late 60's red Marshall 1/2 stack 3 years back with G12H30's in it. Mike Campbell used some old Fender amps (Jensen speakers), plus a Vox (Celestion Blues), and some other "mystery" non logo'd heads that could have been Marshall/Hiwatt, etc. Guitars were also all over the place. I was backstage for hours and talked to Mike briefly.

    Mellencamp: his old guitar player used Marshalls, and humbucker guitars, as well as single coils. I met him while I still sold computers in Beverly Hills as his drummer was buying a Mac from me. Had plenty of time to talk to him. Forgot his name right now, though.

    Can't speak with certainty on the others, sorry.

    I realize we all like a bunch of different players (yep, me too!). It's likely with your diverse guitar tone interests that you will have to own multiple amps/cab/guitars to reproduce all of these tones you want. I rather doubt that you will get them all nailed with one setup, however. You'll need to narrow it down considerably, or expand your gear budget considerably. I opted for expanding my budget.

    Current pile of amps: 1981 Randall RG-80, Gibson Super Goldtone GA-30RVH head, Risson ETA 100 head, Marshall JTM 45 KT-66 clone (damaged/broken by UPS in shipping to me from Wayne Eagles), Marshall Studio 15 (damaged/broken by UPS in shipping to me from an eBay seller), my own Scumbag Capt. and Major Crunch amps (dual 6V6 & quad 6V6).

    That covers pretty much all of the major tube types (EL 84, 6V6, EL34, KT-66, 6550/6L6) used in amps that are popular. I learned from experience that no one amp does it all, but that you have to focus on a tone, and match up the components that produce it.

    Good luck!
     
  19. scottcw

    scottcw Low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    My answer was based on style I play, not tone I am trying to nail. I think the one common thread in all of those I listed is a vintage, classic tone (old Fenders, Marshall, Vox, maybe some Matchless for Grissom when he played with Mellencamp). My amp produces tones that are based on plexi/Vox/blackface heritage. Sort of the way Bruno combined a Tweed Pro pre-amp with an AC30 power amp. I want my speaker(s) to help, not hinder. So a modern speaker or one good for metal would not be what I am looking for.
     
  20. ccoker

    ccoker Supporting Member

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    wow, 2 references to the RG80
    that was my first real amp back around 80
    my first "amp" was a radio shack mic element taped to pos acoustic into a pos stereo with blown speakers :)
    I played "cat scratch fever" and all the obligatory rock riffs of the time through that contraption

    oh the memories
     

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