Speakers and Amps - Please help silence elitists.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by sketches, Jan 4, 2008.


  1. sketches

    sketches Member

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    Hey guys,

    I have a bunch of friends who consider themselves as technicians. Now, they're a bit older than me and they're also reasonably better players and obviously understand a thing or two about electronics. One subject we keep coming back to is the type of speakers in a cabinet. Two friends continually argue with me, and I can't see how I can be wrong.

    Basically the question is;

    Are AlNiCo speakers 'better' than Ceramic?
    and also...
    Would a 20w amp work 'better' with a 20/30w speaker, or a 50w speaker? (regardless of material)

    Now it is to my understanding that this is all SUBJECTIVE. Each one alters sound to give two distinct results. The 'techs' believe that matching a 50w speaker with a 20w amp doesn't sound as good, because it is 'unable to drive the cone properly'. (And they also keep reverting back to physics which is rather annoying considering I got a 4.5 avg for all my classes). Fact of the matter is that regardless of what they say I just can't bring myself to agree with them. Sure, it might not 'push' the cone properly or whatever (I'm not knowledgeable with speakers and the like) BUT... doesn't this just give you another sound? Possibly a more 'efficient' speaker?

    I don't know guys but I'd like some KNOWLEDGEABLE people to bury this thing once and for all. The recent popular rise of 2xel84, 5e3 or just 'low powered amps' in general has brought out the worst in some people... it's like everyones slowly becoming an elitist! The funniest part being that they're basing their 'facts' on mere fiction.

    Anyway I'd love to hear from you guys. Hope you all had a great holiday period and are ready and roaring to go back to work! (I know I'm not! :rotflmao)

    Pleb.

    p.s. Please don't turn this into a flame war. :munch
     
  2. Dave

    Dave Member

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    I don't get this statement...
    Here's my philosophy; If it sounds good it is good. I don't care what anyone else thinks is "better" or "best".
     
  3. jezzzz2003

    jezzzz2003 Member

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    Remember, tone is strictly subjective, your friends comment about 20w amp and 50w speaker is a good thing for harder rock styles, a godsend from the old low powered speakers made for classic rock and blues because you want a tighter sound for heavier playing/modern music
     
  4. alaskagrown

    alaskagrown Member

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    Any sort of electronic device works most efficiently at its rated load. That's fact and there's nothing to argue there. But as you said, amps and speakers can be run non-efficiently resulting in different sounds. What's better is entirely subjective. As a rule, I just try to run my gear where the manufacturer intended because I figure they know a hell of a lot more about it than I do!

    As for Alnicos and ceramics, again it's entirely subjective, and it depends on the application. For example, alnicos may be great for low wattage clean stuff, but they do not work for high-gain stuff.
     
  5. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    Whether they are right or wrong matters little. What are your ears telling you? All the science and tech wisdom in the world can't trump your own taste. For me, I mostly prefer ceramics, but not always. It totally depends on the amp. My first speaker swap was for a 22 watt deluxe, had the choice of a 25 and 50 watt ceramic speaker. I chose the higher, being advised that the higher wattage model would be a little smoother, with more headroom, though perhaps not quite as loud. And it sounded perfect. Had I believed such "wisdom" as your friends are promoting, I'd have missed a truly great amp/speaker match.
     
  6. jspax7

    jspax7 Member

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    The key is this. (IMO)

    Match the right amp, whatever it is, to the right speaker, whatever it is, and when magic happens, you're done.

    Good news is, you get to decide for yourself. It's not about elitism, it's not about who's right or wrong, it's about what sounds and feels right to you.

    Enjoy the journey.
     
  7. MrChet

    MrChet Member

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    The "Power Handling" rating of a speaker is just that: how much power can it handle before it dies. It is NOT indicitive of the amount of power that has to be used to drive it. Some manufacturers rate their products more conservatively than others. It doesn't really tell you whether the cone will break up early or late. That depends on the cone itself, however, as a general principal high powered speakers were/are meant to be driven hard so they can produce louder sound. they usually do have more "headroom". How will one or the other will sound with your amp? Well, try it and "see" (hear?) how you like it.

    "Sensitivity" or SPL tells you how effecient it is. Guitar speakers seem to be in the range of 96 to 102 dB at 1 meter driven by 1 watt. It really doesn't indicate how much power the speaker can handle.

    Greenbacks are (IIRC) 97 dB and rated at 25 watts. V30 are 100 (or 101) dB and rated at 60 watts.

    Alnico vs. ceramic is pretty much a matter of taste.
     
  8. imguitardan

    imguitardan Member

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    This can be pretty simply broken down:

    a 50 watt speaker with a 20 watt amp will be cleaner (brighter with more headroom) than a 20 or 30 watt speaker which will break up sooner and possibly fart out on the bass end ESPECIALLY if you go with...

    ...AlNiCo speakers which as a rule have even less headroom than their ceramic equals (30 watt alnico vs. 30 watt ceramic) BUT they are very responsive to how you play and less punchy than ceramic speakers.

    IMO: if yr gigging or jamming thru a 20 watt amp, you'll want the higher wattage speaker (which probably still won't cut unless yr band is pretty quiet). BUT, the lower wattage speaker would make this a great recording/practice amp.

    ...I guess it's not that simple. How do you want to use the amp? What type of music? Using it for live or recording...?
     
  9. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    I agree with all but the first line whey you say the 50 watt speaker will be brighter. In my experience, all things being equal, as in Weber offers the identical speakers in different wattages, the lower watt rated speaker is brighter and also has more sparkle and is more lively. I think this may be because of the thinner and lighter cone.
     
  10. sketches

    sketches Member

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    Thanks for all the replies guys. I'm with a lot of you in that anything sound orientated is subjective/personal preference. I was just sharing my experiences with others and the way they'd always tell me I'm wrong because I like things a certain way. I get this a lot from the botique guys around here (Australia) but it seems as though a lot of you here on the forum seem to be open minded, and agree that it's all subjective.

    Personally I use what I have to my advantage. Like when I had my Vox amp and wanted to give it a new sound, I replaced the preamp tubes and the AlNiCo blues (I didn't sell them) for a v30 and g12-h combo... which for what I was doing, and at least to my ears, sounded fantastic and I was very pleased with the results achieved.

    This thread was just me asking whether or not the general consenceous (sp?) was that of my friends. Thankfully I was proved wrong.

    Keep on rockin guys, and feel free to keep the thread moving. I'm sure with a lot of these new 'low wattage' amps coming out that this is a question a lot of people would be interested in finding the answer.
     
  11. redtoploader

    redtoploader Member

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    This is true. All things being equal, the same amp into the same model speaker...the 50 watter will be a bit darker.

    Alnico vs ceramic is a taste thing. Ceramic wll be tighter, less compressed, maybe a bit more efficient.
     
  12. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    Don't confuse power handling with efficiency. An inefficient 50 watt speaker will put out less volume with a 20 watt amp and an efficient 20 watt speaker.
     
  13. edward

    edward Supporting Member

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    The physics of an internal-combustion engine says that the a smaller engine running at full bore with the throttle body running wide open (ya know, pedal floored) yields a more efficient power-to-displacement than a larger engine. Fine. In a theoretical world this is true. But then there is real-world *flexibility* where a larger (read "less efficient") engine needs to pull your butt out of the way in an intersection or a freeway on ramp. Not to mention that *varied* road conditions call an engine to task out in a less-than-controlled environment. Engineers know this. Or at least good ones do that have one foot firmly planted on terra firma.

    It's been said already in a myriad of ways: Tone is subjective ...in the ears of the beholder. Play what sounds good to you ...it's music!! ...IMHO :)

    Edward
     
  14. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    Physics will also show that a big engine in a light car preforms better that a big engine in a heavy car. It's much more responsive.
     
  15. John Coloccia

    John Coloccia Cold Supporting Member

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    All depends. If you're talking tone, it's whatever floats your boat. If you're talking reproduction of a given signal (i.e. music) then you have to measure the frequency response of the speaker. Whichever is flattest is the best...period.

    So when an audio-snob tells you AlNiCo is better than ceramic, you simply tell them, "Wrong...the speaker with the flattest response is best for hi-fi and the speaker I'm running is best for what *I* want to hear".

    For what it's worth, I run 10" speakers in my cabs and everyone else on the planet runs 12" but I like 10" so that's what I use. It's my money, after all! :)
     
  16. Griz

    Griz Member

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    +1000

    I own a bunch of wonderful old amps, and a bunch of wonderful newer ones. Good is good. Trust your ears.

    :dude
     
  17. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    I'd love to meet all of your friends that like to run 30 watt speakers with 30 watt amps. Could you give them the link to my site, please? :D

    I hear of people running their 100 watt Marshall amps into single 4x12 25 watt Greenback cabs...and it's always nice when they realize that 100 watt rating on the amp was conservative and the rating on the 25 watt Greenback wasn't. Of course, then they need at least 1, but usually 2 speakers to replace the ones they fried, believing what your friends believe. So please, give them my site and tell them there's NOTHING wrong with their thinking, OK?

    Fact: Most amps are rated clean and actually put out almost twice as much in overdrive. You should plan on your speakers handling the overdriven rating to play it safe...unless you LIKE changing speakers and spending money.

    IMO, and in my experience, you better have AT LEAST 30 watts of power handling with your 18-20 watt amp, cuz after you kick in that killer OD that doubles your volume, plus the compressors, flangers and other decibel enhancing pedals, you'll be way past 18-20 watts. 65 Amps, for example, has measured their dual EL 84 amp and says it puts out closer to 26 when properly tweaked.

    Here's a real world example: A Komet Concorde puts out 59 watts clean, and 96 dimed. One of my clients had two 30 watt H75's, and while it was fine with his original amp he bought them for, a JTM 45 (33 watts clean, 55 or so dimed), when he moved them to the Komet, they got bent out of shape & sounded strained when the volume hit 5-6. Well, the Komet doesn't get much louder past 6-7, so I knew he was hitting them with 70 watts or more of power. He'd already purchased my H75-HP/65 watt models for another amp, so he swapped them out and his tone was back, even at higher volume. So higher power handling doesn't necessarily mean loss of tone. In fact in some cases, it's necessary to get the amp moving the cones in the proper wattage range, which I feel is around 50 to 85% of their power handling.

    Fact: The higher speaker power handling usually results in a smoother tone, with a touch more bass and a tiny bit less high end, unless some special considerations are taken with regard to design, magnet type, etc. To get more bite, adjust your EQ, same with the bass & mids. Speakers play such a large part of your tone, that you can't expect to run the same EQ settings once you change speakers.

    Fact: There are six different Greenbacks (20, 25 & 30 watt) with two different magnet sizes. Just saying "Greenback" doesn't really identify a speaker properly. This is a common mistake many people make, me included, until I bought over 300 of them.

    Alnico vs Ceramic: tonally subjective decision. I like both, for different reasons. Ceramics do work with high gain better than Alnicos, generally, although my opinion of that may change after further testing with my new Scumnicos.

    Please tell your friends to dime those 50 watt solid state rectified Plexis through those 2x12 Greenback cabs...PLEASE! I'll be happy to order them in some HP/65 watt versions.

    Thanks!

    Hope I helped you out with your discussion points. :D
     

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