Speaker experimentations?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by trxx, Dec 7, 2019.

  1. trxx

    trxx Tele-Holic

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    There doesn't seem to be alot of information out there among guitar players on speaker parameters and specifications and even less on any tricks, experimentations, or conceptual ideas on altering tonal aspects and overall output of speakers. This thread is inspired by a post from chris m. in another thread in which he mentioned the Eminence Maverick FDM speaker which has an adjustable magnet for changing the flux density within the voice coil gap for reducing the output of the speaker. That idea could be a good kickoff point for talking about guitar speaker technicals and how the sound of existing speakers might be altered.

    So say that you have a speaker or more which you like the overall sound of. But maybe there is something about it that you don't like. Maybe it has too much bass, too much treble, is a little too loud overall, or could be better matched to another speaker. The general line of thinking in the guitar world seems to be to just try more speakers. That can be fine if you have lots of time and money to throw at speakers, but if you have a speaker which you mostly like but could use a minor tweak of some sort, it doesn't make as much sense to just throw money at more speakers, being an approach that is slow, expensive, and well, dumbed-down. Of course, some aspects of a speaker can't be practically changed. But some aspects definitely can be. For example, adding doping to a speaker alters the sensitivity and durability. And maybe it is the case that adding magnets or plates to a speaker could alter the overall output of a speaker by increasing/decreasing energy density in the voice coil. Ever heard of using a boost magnet on a speaker? I haven't until tonight. Maybe an 'attenuate' magnet would also be practical. And probably some people here have had ideas, hunches, or practical implementations on altering speakers.

    Admittedly, I don't know a ton about speaker technicals myself, but it is something I'm interested in learning about. How I understand it, more sensitive speakers better reproduce high frequencies and construction aspects which bring about higher efficiency are lighter cones, smaller voice coils, tighter voice coil gaps, and stronger magnets. And different types of magnets have energy curves (forgive my ignorance of proper technical terms) and saturation points, where say a ceramic magnet will tend to sound more linear and an alnico magnet will tend to cause a speaker to compress at a given energy saturation point. Anyway, there are lots of aspects about speakers that could be discussed and I'm just looking to instigate it. Having read lots of posts from this forum over the years, I know that there are some very knowledgeable people on guitar gear that come here. So it seems as good a place as any to get a discussion going.

    One thing I would like to mention here is that I find it frustrating as a customer how some guitar speaker manufacturers leave most aspects about their speakers hidden away. For example, Weber, don't even give efficiency figures for their speakers. That sort of thing keeps us guitar players in the dark on important aspects of their speakers.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
  2. kbold

    kbold Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Actually, the big brand manufacturers have oodles of information on each one of their speakers (technical, how they sound, etc)
    I'm sure if you contacted Weber, they would be helpful wrt any queries.

    Hmmm - never thought of that.
    I'd be careful with the attenuate idea - if the attenuate magnet is stronger than the speaker magnet, it may flip the speaker magnet polarity. (Guess you could always 'flip' it back again.) A weak attenuate magnet may be 'flipped' by the speaker magnet, then giving you 'boost'.
    Seems to me that the manufacturer has gone to a lot of design and experimentation to supply a good sounding and functioning speaker.
    If the speaker doesn't suit you, maybe try another one. Google is your friend - you'll learn a lot from most makers' sites.
     
  3. trxx

    trxx Tele-Holic

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    Google isn't my friend. It is a necessary evil in some cases though.

    I have tried, used, and bought many speakers over the years. I find the experience of searching speakers pretty frustrating to be honest. It's like trying to find a pair of comfortable shoes without trying them on. You have to try them in person. No amount of words can tell you how well they fit your feet, and no amount of words or general videos can tell you how well a speaker works with your amp. And the few local shops that are left don't carry speakers, so it's always buy and try and resell if you don't like it. Speakers are a make or break component of an amp. There has to be better ways of going about finding speakers.
     
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  4. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's more complicated than that. I have cabs (I won't say just speakers because their sound varies depending what cab they're in) that sound horrendous with particular speakers, but if I pair them with another cab with yet another speaker, they sound great.
     
  5. wrathfuldeity

    wrathfuldeity Tele-Afflicted

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    Ime down the rabbit hole, cabs are a huge factor, as much as the spkr...and then you also got to consider the amp, the intended sound/tone/volume...and oh btw the room/environment also has a influence.

    Perhaps a valuable tool in OP's pursuit would be a frequency spectrum analyzer with a calibrated reference mic so that you could spec the room and spkr; thus have baseline for experimentation.
     
  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Find Johan Sageborn's youtube channel, he does many speaker tests.

    Find the "DIY speaker cabinet calculator" -- those are used by stereo cabinet builders to exactly size cabinets to speaker performance. You wouldn't bolt on 24 scale neck to a 25 scale body and expect a great playing experience. Yet throwing speakers in random cabinets is about as effective. Air volume in the cabinet is very important, the spring behind the speaker to let it bounce easy or restrict it.

    .
     
  7. trxx

    trxx Tele-Holic

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    I have a calibrated reference mic and recording setup that is capable of doing spectrum analysis. I guess it's nice to have to help inform oneself on the frequency bumps and dips of what the ears are hearing. But I haven't found it to be that practically useful, only looking at a small number of speakers. It could be really useful though if lot's of people were doing the same and uploading graphs and audio samples to a common database. Doing that sort of thing is pretty tedious though. Even the end of the mic stand that holds the measurement mic can interfere with measurements and affect the results. And the speakers need to be measured free standing, not in a cab, in order to get really useful information. And taking measurments outdoors would probably be best for eliminating the effects of room modes. It could be a worthwhile endeavor if lots of other people were willing to participate and follow a common measurement procedure.
     
  8. trxx

    trxx Tele-Holic

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    I agree that cabs do make a big difference. But I think the biggest difference that a cab makes is in the bass response, which of course changes our perception of the rest of the frequency spectrum. But bass response aside, the overall character of a speaker tends to remain whether the speaker is free standing or mounted in a cab.

    Also, I have spent many hours on Segeborn's channel. Good stuff. We should all be following his lead in experimenting and sharing the results so as to better inform one another.
     
  9. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's

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    Speaker shopping is indeed hard, and often expensive. The best analogy is pickups -- you can read all you want, but until you play 'em, you'd better keep the box and packing material and maintain your Reverb account.

    I'm also gonna defend Weber. They are as noted very responsive to email or phone calls and will def share info that helps you pick a speaker. And I mean useful info, like what you want it to sound like, how loud you want it to be, what and where you play.

    That said, let's zoom out a bit. it's nice that some speaker companies publish more specs. But the graphs and numbers don't tell us enough about how the speaker will actually sound *to us* with our rig, cab, amp, space, needs, and personal preference. I *like* to look at sensitivity -- but if you read up, you'll see the way it's measured and reported makes even that a somewhat arbitrary number.

    Let's go to the other extreme on tech specs. Even though Eminence publishes all the data you might want, it's still even more helpful to get in touch with them and discuss what you *want* from a speaker.
     
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  10. Apache Snow

    Apache Snow Tele-Meister

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    I see your hobby is chasing speakers. Mine is playing guitars. Sorry.
     
  11. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    A couple things:
    The one thing Weber does well is offer many multiple options.
    Weber offers multiple wattage ratings from 25-100 watts in some speakers.
    Weber offers magnet boosters. I think they are just a magnet fixed on the normal magnet.
    Weber offers various doping schemes also. From heavy dope, to even back side dope, to no dope etc.
    Weber offers various dust caps from Aluminum (brighter supposedly) to Screen (warmer)
    According to Ted Weber the efficiency ratings are often bunk because there is no industry standard. Some are rated at 3 ft from the speaker and some are rated much differently.

    Speaker chasing is very hard though for sure. There are many variables and the combination of those makes for infinite subtleties. People hear things differently, or want different things and it's very hard to recommend speakers to each other.

    I'm not sure how much ratings and graphs really help. I have compared Eminence graphs until I'm bored . Some speakers don't look much different on the graph, but sound very different in use.
    Sound samples all sound nearly the same to me.
    I have to play a speaker for quite a while to tell if I like it. I MUST play it at a gig too. I have been severely disappointed playing a speaker at a gig many time. In the music room it sounded fine.
     
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  12. trxx

    trxx Tele-Holic

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    Weber definitely is responsive. I have contacted them numerous times and always got a response. But discussion in text by it's nature is too vague, like discussing how a shoe might fit vs. trying it on. And their options are great, but it would be nice to hear some audio comparisons of those options. I think what they need is lots more audio examples, some of which intentionally highlight various qualities and differences of their speakers. Their current audio examples don't tell me anything really about their speakers. Same goes for all the speaker manufacturers. I guess the best we have are a few people who can get their hands on lots of speakers, record them, and discuss qualities of them, such as what Johan Segeborn does. Manufacturers tend to be not so good at doing that sort of thing. Audio examples from Eminence for example, really turn me off, but I have heard some nice speakers from them in person. But their audio examples just don't cut it for getting a good idea about how their speakers can sound. If I were a speaker manufacturer trying to sell speakers, I would want players to know what my speakers sound like, at least for a small stable of staple amps and common styles. It seems that there are relatively very few people out there capable of producing good audio demos of speakers and other guitar gear.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
  13. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    That's why I'm really liking IR's. Only $29 for a big 'box' of Vintage 30 speakers.
     
  14. trxx

    trxx Tele-Holic

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    I'm wondering if it might be worth trying my hand at reconing a crap pair of speakers (Utahs that came in my twin). What is it that made these speakers sound bad in the first place?
     
  15. LightningPhil

    LightningPhil Tele-Meister

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    My hobby is much more amp/guitar tech than player. Playing is fun and an excuse to have lots of amps and guitars though...

    Ok, here’s some nonsense:

    Magnets - for ceramic magnet speakers, get a similarly sized or a wee bit smaller ring magnet and stick it on the back. If it attracts the magnet when it goes on, the field through the voice coil will lessen and the output will drop. It’ll also decrease the electrical dampening (increasing Qes), which will raise the bass output around the speakers resonance. Most guitar speakers have a resonance above the low E, so this can make notes from G to A sound a bit too loud compared with the rest. I prefer flipping the magnet (repels when applied) and increasing the field through the voice coil. This increases output and decreases the response around the resonance. This makes the big fat bass string a little nicer to play as the notes are a little more even in volume. Wins and losses here are of the order of 1 dB or so for good speakers and a little more for ones with too small a magnet in the first place. But the magnets are inexpensive and it’s super easy to tinker with then undo. You can use neodymium magnets as the backing magnets for a little more effect at much higher cost.

    Surrounds - guitar speakers have stiff surrounds, almost always made of paper. Most of the springiness is here and not in the spider. For a drastic change in resonance and a little more output, cut it off and replace with a foam one. On a couple of drivers, this has reduced resonance from 100 Hz or so to mid 30 Hz region. Excellent for moving the bass resonance well away from the guitars operating range and making for a very smooth response. It is quite hard to do so don’t try on nice speakers first go. There is an alternative - soften the paper surround. This can be done by lightly dampening it with a brush and running a large amplitude sine wave through it till it dries. Fun to measure the resonance changes between applications. This can move the resonance down a good way, but less consistently and not as much as a foam replacement.

    And why have I been doing this? Another hobby is faffing about with hi-fi, and I read too much technical stuff about it. This caused an attempt to be made to build a tiny but awesome amp (very small sealed 1x10 with a hybrid amp) and a magnet boost and foam surround were required to get the bass reasonably on target. Eminence have even supplied a couple of custom prototypes as this is/was/is a reasonably serious effort. One day...

    Another random thought - Don’t add mass to speakers to improve bass - none of those experiments went well.
     
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  16. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    My solution to this huge dilemma was to contact @muchxs for his advice. He gave his recommendation free of charge and I purchased that speaker. It was the perfect solution for me, so he is not only quite knowledgeable about these things along with his amp building, but also can understand/interpret our articulation of what we are looking for.
     
  17. joe_cpwe

    joe_cpwe Tele-Holic

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    Rhett buys much more expensive gear than I can deal with, but I think when you find an amp & tones you really like using an attenuator into the IR device in this live situation looks pretty compelling. He starts at 3:00

    I mic my amp and don't go direct because my priority is to keep using an amp, so I can control how much of myself I hear on stage. I haven't found the time to figure out combining a great direct tone with an amp tone I like.

     
  18. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you're dedicated and prepared to spend a lot of money and have storage you can of course get to 'roll your own'. The equipment is expensive and specialised.

    I personally liken speakers to tyres on racecars.

    Even though teams may extensively modify the whole chassis, suspension, engine, transmission, brakes I've never heard of team making it's own tyres.

    I have a 'speaker guy' who makes speakers to order including throwing his own paper cones and winds his own coils..

    But he can only work within the laws of physics.

    So much gauss in the magnet, coil gap, coil diameter and gauge, paper cone thickness, ribs, surround, spider etc gives you X power handling, y frequency response at z hz.

    Then there's wizzers, and as others noted surrounds and enclosures.

    It's easier to learn to check the manufacturer info.

    The first speaker here is going to be pretty good for guitar but so-so for bass. The second is going to be good for bass but probably a bit flat sounding for guitar. If you read the impedance vs freq response you get a fair idea what's going to suit a jangly vs rawk vs big clean set of tones. Then it's down to - is it efficient enough for the power/volume desired and will it live at rated power.

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    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  19. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Probably nothing. They were probably worn out. Utah made good and lesser speakers, so do JBL, Celestion, Eminence, Recoton, EV etc etc.

    What manufacturers spec has a lot to do with it. Black OEM Emis often get lesser spec components for cost. There's nothing 'wrong', with them. As the 70s rolled on and US combo makers tried to battle Marshall stacks in a hp war voice coil gaps went up to avoid overheating and blowups. Especially with the advent of big gain producers in front like SD1s, Fuzzfaces etc.

    Amp makers and speaker manufacturers didn't want warranty returns or unreliability reputations. JBL increased the gaps on the orange Fender F-speakers for that reason.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2019
  20. trxx

    trxx Tele-Holic

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    I guess it's an experience thing, learning where major and minor peaks and valleys fall for a given type of speaker sound and how the impedance curve works with those peaks and valleys. I have played tons in the past with eq'ing speakers using dynamic digital eq, where frequency bands and gain of those bands are made to change according to overall volume and other parameters, but I have no idea how any of that translates to physical geometries and electromagnetics of speakers. I think alot can be learned from doing that, but it's never going to give the same results as the default curves of a given speaker. And of course there are limits of what a given speaker can physically reproduce. It is is something interesting to play around with though.

    Obviously, there are major physical and electromagnetic properties of speakers which affect the sound of speakers overall, such as a light weight cone and suspension assembly providing higher frequencies, but past gross physical properties I have no idea. But how I understand it: Smooth cones are more prone to breakup due to having less structural rigidity in the cone itself, which is going to provide a higher amount of upper harmonics than a ribbed cone. Lighter cones and looser suspensions are going to be more sensitive. Tighter voice coil gaps are going to be more efficient and therefore louder with a given amount of input power. Bigger magnets and voice coils are going to provide more power handling. But I don't know any specifics of those aspects, and there are all sorts of other aspects which I have no idea of.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
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