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The problem with choosing speakers (as I see it)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by StompBoxBlues, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    The problem with choosing speakers, as I see it is really pretty
    complex.

    First off, everything in music is so variable (the style you play, your current level of talent, the equipment you have, the equipment you have modded) and on top of that there is no real "quantifiable metrics"...no real standard, unless you are able to see an EQ chart and "hear" in your minds eye the sound you would get. It is a huge, never ending learning curve.

    On top of that, there is so much misleading information out there, one has to be really skeptical and use your head...(example, like if you have a pedal and an opinion, and want a better one, and read a review of a person that has the same opinion and pedal and found one that was "better"...good chance it is better for you too...but that rarely happens).

    There are a mix of VERY experienced people giving their opinions, and medium (most of us), and then guys that just have started playing and don't really know the ins and outs. In User reviews they are all equal unless you get to know them.

    Taking speakers as the subject.

    It seems the speaker manufacturers rarely want to get too specific. Sometimes they do recommend one for "Texas Blues" (code word for SRV), but most often it seems like they have a huge Thesarus and are trying to find new ways to say "tight bass response, bell like, with highs that cut through the mix".

    I can't afford to "test drive" a bunch of different speakers.
    I think a lot of views on speakers seem to be from people in the same boat. They took a chance, they have a vested interest in believing they made a huge improvement, and so they say so.

    On top of that...do be honet, I don't know exactly what I want :)
    I want to be able to sound like Hendrix, SRV, David Gilmour, Larry Carlton, Eric Clapton, Elmore James, Jeff Beck...should I go on?
    On top of that I want "my own sound"...tough one that. I have the ability to play some of the above named very closely in style and sound...and that helps, is the biggest factor. But, I have no idea what kind of speakers I want. And I've been playing for like 30 years.

    I now have: [amp] (impedence out)

    Fender Prosonic head (4 (when not class A), 8, 16 ohm switchable)
    Carvin MTS3212 combo 2x12-4 ohm (4, 8, 16 ohm ext cab)
    Carvin Vintage 33 (4, 8 ohm ext cab. Built in 8 ohm but not useable at same time as ext cab)
    Peavey Classic 30 combo 1x12 16ohm (16 ohm ext cab only)

    For cabinets:

    2 old Sunn 2x12 cabs with only one speaker inserted (port)
    that I have wired up so I can use any one alone (8 ohm),
    or both single cabs configurabel as 4 or 16 ohms.

    1 Marshall 8412 4x12" cab, 8 ohms.

    1 Carvin 2x12, wired for 4 ohms but can rewire easily for 16.

    I just bought some "add-a-baffle"s that allow you to size down
    any 12" speaker mount to 10".

    SO...I need to buy a couple of 10's. I don't know yet if I want to
    make them into 1 2x10, or trade them out in the Marshall 4x12 making it a 2x10 + 2x12 cabinet (tempting)....or fill up the other ports in the two Sunn bottoms with only one in each now.

    I've been racking my brains tryin to figure out what the best configurations are so I have the most flexibility.

    Also, I have no idea about which speakers will go together. Wht kind of tens are equivalent maybe to the Vintage 30?

    Are Vintage 30 pretty much bankable as "good" speakers? For Blues? als SRV, also Hendrixy? They sound kind of like it to me on the Celestion web page.

    I have spent a lot of time learning about tube amps, have repaired some and all, and pedals, etc. But now I am delving into the speaker world, and have not got a good handle on it, even though I have been researching a lot.

    Any thoughts, suggestions, things I might be overlooking?
     
  2. Baba

    Baba Supporting Member

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    To further confuse you, there are some who like Vintage 30's (like me) and a lot that hate V30's on this particular page!

    Unfortunately mate, you have hit a nail on the head and the only way for you to really know is to experiment with your guitars, your amps, and mostly, your ears. That is the best answer. Anyone here giving you an opinion on a speaker for you is almost worthless IMO, unless they walk a day in your shoes.
     
  3. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Good points.

    You know what would be cool? Start a club. Get blues, country, heavy metal, jazz folks to go in and pool resources and get a test bench with many different speakers, where you could go in and try 'em out on the spot, decide if they did it for your setup :)

    Music stores, at least here, are not all that keen on speaker tryouts. I don't know of any that you can just try out...cabinets yes, but not speakers, and definitely not mixing of brands or types.

    Speakers must be the guitarists equivalent of socks, or harmonicas, or walkmen in-ear headphones...but just lots more expensive.
     
  4. Braciola

    Braciola Silver Supporting Member

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    phffftttt, that's nothing....
    What really drives me bonkers is the inconsistency of tone from each model. You could A/B 100 of the same model and hear a HUGE difference in tone between them.
     
  5. SLG

    SLG Member

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    Yeah, buddy. I'm sure it runs in batches, but the variation in tone is very noticeable to me. I have 12 of the same type speaker. Three exhibit cone cry, the remaining nine do not. They were ordered as three sets of four. One set of four is markedly different in tone to the other two sets. I break in all my speakers using a variac and acetone for 48 hours before using them so all have received the same break-in time. The solution? Hell if I know. I've learned from experience, when you find a great sounding set of speakers, hang on to them.
     
  6. telewacker

    telewacker Member

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    Acetone? Tell me more. I know about fabric softener and have tried it. It does soften the paper of the cone but does nothing for the rubberized (doped) surround. I'm curious about techniques for softening the surround and I wonder what your acetone treatment does.

    One of the most interesting speakers I have is an old P12N with the loosest suspension I've ever seen. It is probably on the verge of failure, but it has an awesome vintage blues character.
     
  7. illroy

    illroy Member

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    That's the most eloquent, right on assessment on speaker selection I've seen yet on this, or any other forum.

    Celestion is full of themselves and deserve to get knocked down a peg. Eminence is trying to expand their name recognition and take market share away from Celestion by putting new names on speakers they've made for others and cloning Celestions.

    Jensen and all of the other small players don't have the historical reference and experience to make much of a dent. Their offerings are usually long shots and often way off the mark. The exception is the Jensen reissues, which is just a lucky break for the current company calling themselves Jensen. They're just doing pretty credible copies of things they didn't originally design.

    God help the poor slob trying to navigate that gauntlet. If you have the time, ears and money to go there, great. If not, just remember, most amps - and especially amp cabs - are designed around the stock speaker. Changing speakers may improve the sound in one area at the expense of another. Get more mids, lose bass. Get more bass, lose tightness. Better overdrive sound, lose clean tone. Not to mention that 50 different cabs will make one speaker respond 50 different ways.

    All bets are off if you want to try mixing speakers in one cab....a total waste of time IMHO...


    Cheers, ill
     
  8. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    Just curious, illroy, what speakers have you been mixing?
     
  9. Cap'n Lee

    Cap'n Lee Member

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    Hmm.

    I agree with your entire post SBB. Well put.
    I feel the same way about choosing speakers, and figure my way around the issue in a simpler fashion. Celestion make a handful of speakers, each of which sound radically different. So they manage to cover a lot of sonic ground with a limited choice. I have managed over time to either try through stores, or having bought, the ones I would be interested in based on their description. Some suit my playing, and some suit one of my amps over the other, so I keep a selection of cabs that I trust and have a bunch of speakers either in the cabs or in their boxes. The investment was much less than for an individual amp and was worthwhile as I can swap the speakers when I get the urge for change. It is as much fun as changing amps.

    For this reason I have resisted any purchase of Eminence - easy to do this side of The Pond. I was excited by the initial talk, and then enjoyed watching the opinions move as they got used to the speakers. Got nothing against Emi, or any of the users, but the luxury to have some and swap them out involves a far greater investment than it would to do it with Celestion, no matter which side of the Atlantic you are on, since there are so many to choose from. Unless of course you could narrow it down to, say, 5 choices.

    Now if someone could point me to an Emi that has the qualities of the GB, with a little more midrange. Damn...
     
  10. illroy

    illroy Member

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    That's where I think Eminence is getting into trouble. Too many options. I get option anxiety and just turn off. Eventually, I'll bet you'll see the line get trimmed back. More mids out of a GB? Put them in a tighter cab.


    I used to mix greenbacks and v30's in marshall cabs. Now I don't care what speaker it is. I care how the whole package sounds. If it works for me it could be 16 6X9's for all I care. Let's see, 16-8 ohm speakers...that would be 4 series/parallel sets wired series parallel = 8 ohms. Cool, I'm all set. Who makes a bitchin' 6X9???

    Cheers, ill...
     
  11. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    Whaddya mean? Eminence has made it easy for you:

    try a Black Powder

    or a Blue Tick Hound

    or a Swamp Thang

    or a Red White and Blues

    or a Screamin Eagle

    or a Texas Heat

    or a Cannabis Rex

    or a Private Jack

    or a Governor

    or a Stone Henge

    or a Red Fang

    or a Wizard

    or a Tonespotter

    or a Red Ryder

    or a Man o War

    or a Tonker

    or a Legend 121

    or a Legend V12

    or a Legend GB12

    or a Legend 125

    or a Legend Modeling 12

    or a Legend FS12

    or a Legend 122

    or an Alpha 12

    or a Beta 12

    :D
     
  12. Cap'n Lee

    Cap'n Lee Member

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    I guess demand will dictate what they make long-term; they have many willing beta testers to tell them what sound the best.
    What is the thinking in having such a monstrous range I wonder? The danger is it can dilute the brand's appeal to offer too much choice. Not that we care about the business model, but choosing between them is impossible, so get some consistent clips together - same guitar, amp, riff - and give us a hope. I like a choice, but give me too much and I turn into Ozzy - (glazed over expression) 'Oh, I don't f**king know'.

    I run a pair of ported 2x12s that happen to have V30s and GBs in each resp. The V30s tend to overshadow the GBs as they are so much louder, and the GBs break up so much earlier that they are not a great mix.
    I have a 4x12 coming, which will be tighter, and I was going to go with the GBs anyway, so you have given me hope there, as the ported cabs are pretty loose. Good point.
     
  13. illroy

    illroy Member

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    Just my guess, but when you don't know what the market wants, splatter the market and see what stiicks.


    +1

    Exactly my experience mixing GB's and V30s.
    Porting is good for bass cabs and Hi-Fi. Guitar speakers don't fare so well, especially those not designed with porting in mind, ie, GB's, V30s and everything in the Red Coat/Patriot line.

    Cheers, ill...
     
  14. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    Anyone remember those Acoustic PA cabinets with 8 6x9's in a tall horn? Never tried a guitar though one but might be interesting. Funny thing, that was a percursor to the current Bose "invention" of a line array PA. Although Argos and Atlas sound were selling "line array" columns long before that. ;)
     
  15. SLG

    SLG Member

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    The following speaker break-in procedure is from the WeberVST website. This is the procedure I use with every new speaker I get. The acetone "trick" is to use a small brush to apply a small amount of acetone to the outer 1" of the speaker cone before initiating the break-in. You don't want to apply too much acetone, just enough to dampen the paper. Before the acetone dries, apply your voltage per the break-in specs below. The acetone helps to loosen the paper fibers and accelerates the break-in process. I usually run the break-in process for 72 hours before installing the speaker.

    From the WeberVST website:

    OK, on to 'breaking in' a speaker. If you really want to speed up the breaking in period, the easist method is to connect the speaker to a filament transformer. Having said that, let's look at the precautions you need to take. Since you will be driving the speaker with a steady state signal, you don't want to drive it at its rated power or it will burn up the voice coil. 1/3 power rating is a safe figure to use. So, let's say you have a 50 watt speaker and it is 8 Ohm. 1/3 power is about 17 watts, and at 8 Ohm, that works out to be around 11.5 volts. Using a 12.6 volt transformer will put 20 watts into the speaker. I wouldn't have a problem with that in our products, but just to be safe, you might want to go with a 6.3 volt filament voltage, which will put about 5 watts into your speaker. Another option is to use a variac into the primary side of the 12.6 volt filament transformer and dial in the voltage you want on the secondary. That way, you can dial in the 11.5 volts we originally calculated at the 1/3 power level. I'd also suggest performing the operation in a garage or closet, because listening to the loud 60hz hum from the speaker will grate on your nerves very quickly. Also, if you leave the speaker out of the cabinet, the rear radiation of the speaker will cancel alot of the front radiation and reduce the noise. You need to lay the speaker face up though, so the cone can move as much as possible since the whole idea of this operation is to loosen up the cone and spider. Laying the speaker face down would trap air between the cone and the surface of the table and restrict cone movement. You're going to be surprised how much the cone moves and how loud the speaker is, even at 1/3 power.
    Here's the math for determining the correct voltage to use in case you have a different wattage and impedance rating than our example above:
    1. Take the power rating of the speaker and divide it by 3.
    2. Take that number and multiply it by the speaker's Ohm rating (4, 8, or 16)
    3. Use your calculator to find the square root of that number.
    4. The result is the voltage you need to use to drive the speaker at 1/3 its rated power.
     

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