Which has more effect on changing the sound of an amp...tubes or speakers?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by nosajwp, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. nosajwp

    nosajwp Member

    Jul 28, 2006
    Which do you think has more of an effect on changing the sound of an amp...changing to different models of speakers, or switching between tube brands?

    I have a Mesa DC-10 2x12 combo with JJ tubes throughout, and Eminence Swamp Thang speakers. The clean channel is perfect, but the lead channel just doesn't have that "bite" or "edge" that I hear in a lot of Mesas.

    I've talked with a bunch of tube vendors that have said the JJ's are taking the "bite" away, but I've also read that the Swamp Thangs can do that too. I've been thinking of either switching to 12AX7EH's and SED 6L6's, or changing to Celestion Century's. Which do you guys think would be more beneficial?
  2. Dave C

    Dave C Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2005
    Waterford Ct
    Speakers more than tubes.
    Dave C
  3. glaswerks

    glaswerks Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    Afton, MN (St Croix River Valley)
    First both have an effect on the sound quality. Speakers also impact the "feel" of the amp.

    The vendors are correct, JJ 83s lack a little top end when used in the first slot (the JJ 803 is a little brighter and is was I use in my amps, but I would not suggest it for a combo amp). The EH will definately give you a little more zing on the top end.

    As far as what to do, I would try the tubes first. It is a little cheaper than replacing speakers.

  4. Cap'n Fingers

    Cap'n Fingers Member

    Oct 4, 2005
    T-Town. Home of street construction hell!
    IMO: You won't hear the nuances of various tubes
    without a speaker that will allow you to hear them.

  5. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2003
    Los Angeles, Ca
    Yup, that's what I found out, too. It's all part of the tone of your rig... :JAM
  6. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

    Aug 2, 2002
    Sterling, VA (not far from Washington DC)
    I agree. Darker speakers won't allow you to hear many changes, like tubes, occuring in the amp.
  7. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

    Aug 12, 2005
    Stamford CT
    Definately speakers. They are the voice of the amp. They affect the tone,feel everything to a much greater extent IMO than tubes. Ive experimented extensively with both.However even though they are a bigger piece of the tone puzzle the magic occurs with a combination of both plus a slew of others things.(amp,guitar,cables,etc.)
    Edit:My mistake I thought it was a general question and jumped the gun-In your situation Id at least try the pre amp tubes first as they are cheaper.They might get you where you want to be. (Then again Ive got a closet full of tubes and speakers! lol!)
  8. trdlasvegas

    trdlasvegas Member

    Aug 30, 2005
    Las Vegas
    Here's a Quote I kept around on my computer and this seems like a perfect place for it:

    "While we're talking about tubes, I'd like to say something about all the fuss being made about changing an amp's sound by changing tubes. I get calls all the time asking what tubes someone should use for a darker sound, or a brighter sound, or whatever. The truth is, the changes you get by changing tubes are so subtle that it's hardly worth the effort. You can do much better, and have more options, by experimenting with different speakers instead. Speakers can do more to color an amp's sound than tubes could ever do."
    -Mike Soldano

    I always thought he was right, that's why I kept the quote.
  9. donnyjaguar

    donnyjaguar Member

    Nov 4, 2005
    At the risk of sounding like a "Me too!!" I have to agree with the above statement. People seem to put too much credence in the vaious perceived tonalities of different brands of tubes. I think moving your amplifier to a different room will have more effect on the sound than changing a tube.
  10. GuitarGuy510

    GuitarGuy510 Member

    Nov 9, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    You could try replacing ONE of the swamp thangs with another speaker that might bring up the mids and highs a bit more? My custom cabs from EarCandy are coming with a Wizard/Swamp Thang combo and I've been told they sound amazing. I'll let you know what I think once I get them! :) Like everyone else said, you can try changing the tubes first (I would recommend the Electro-Harmonix as that's what I use for most of my preamp modules in my Egnater stuff and I like the tone a lot) but I have a feeling swapping one or both of the swamp thangs might help you bring your sound forward with a little more mids and highs! :AOK

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