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Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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mortatort
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Let's see if we can put it back together, or at least the important pieces.

MODS, feel free to edit this thread to achieve a proper order of posts.

Chuck King said:

The hits just keep on coming:

Over the weekend I did some more comparisons, this time with a view towards matching the best speakers with the various amps and cabinets I had to load up with them. As I mentioned earlier, I already put the Pyle Drivers into my Peavey Classic VTX, which really perked it up, and the Peavey Scorpion Plus speakers into my Roland JC-120, which improved the tone out of that amp---a win/win situation. I still had a bunch of other speakers and a bunch of other amps and cabinets, so I went through to try to mix-and-match those for optimal tone.

One thing I did observe was that there was really not a huge difference between the various Celestion (and Celestion clone) speakers, from model to model. The Celestion "house style" is definite, but seems to overshadow differences between specific models, so while you could certainly tell that you were listening to different speakers, the models I was working with (G12H-30, G12T-100, Vintage 30 clone, Lead 80 clone) had a lot more in common than differences. A notable exception to this pattern was the Alnico Gold, which didn't really sound like any of the others.

One thing that influenced my decisions as to what to put where was a desire to use the same speakers in amps and cabinets that take two speakers. I can see the allure of combinations of speakers, but as a practical matter, I don't consider that optimal. So, I had three sets of multiple speakers (not counting the ones put into the Peavey and Roland, which were 8 ohm speakers; these were other impedances): the Celestion G12T-100s, the WGS Veteran 30s, and the WGS Lead 80s.

The LAB series L5 had come with two mismatched speakers: one unbranded (assume OEM) speaker, and the Eminence alnico Legend. I replaced them with the WGS Lead 80s, which (for Celestions) are a relatively neutral speaker, although they have some of the Celestion vibe to them. Then, after side-by-siding the Veteran 30s and the G12T-100s, I put the Veteran 30s in my open-back Avatar 212. That was nearly a toss-up, though. The Veteran 30s were just a bit livelier.

Once again, Peavey provided a pleasant surprise: one of the amps I have that I was prepared possibly to put a new speaker in is my Peavey Valve King 112, and I had several speakers that could have worked: the Eminence Lady Luck, the Eminence alnico Legend, the un-branded OEM speaker out of my LAB Series L5, and the original Peavey speaker. It turned out that the Peavey Valve King speaker was the clear winner among those, sounding lively without having annoying peaks or spikes. So I put the original speaker back into the Valve King, confident that it was the best-sounding option open to me.

Probably the single biggest thing I have taken from this exercise has been an appreciation for Peavey speakers. Both the Scorpions and the Valve King speaker were as good or better than anything else in the test. I really wish we had had some other Peavey speakers for the test as well. From now on whenever I hear a blanket condemnation of Peavey speakers, that will be a sign that the speaker doesn't know as much as he pretends to know. However, I'm not sure that Peavey speakers have always been matched well to Peavey amps.

I will admit I just put the Jensen C12Q back into my tweed Deluxe clone without extensive side-by-side testing---I liked the way it sounded before, the C12Q would not have really worked in any of the others, and I didn't think there would be much point to putting a big overkill speaker in there (when the tone was fine as it was).

Similarly, I put the Traynor speaker back into the Traynor YGL-3 Mark III. It sounded fine before, and that speaker proved to be a decent speaker in the comparisons, so if it ain't broke etc. etc.

That left me a couple things to shake out: the Epiphone Valve Junior cabinet, the two Avatar 112 cabinets, and my Fender Concert.

The Concert was pretty easy: its speaker had surprised everyone with how much brittle high end it put out, and it presented a situation kind of like the Roland: to get a useable tone the treble control needed to be set very low, meaning there wasn't much useable range for the control, and the bright switch was a joke. So the OEM speaker went out and the remaining Peavey Scorpion went in. It sounds good, has a little rounder tone, and now the treble control works in the range you would expect. Engaging the bright switch now adds some sparkle with the Rickenbackers, which was an important concern.

Obviously, I have a LOT of amps and cabinets---looking back, I wonder if, had I known then what I know now about speakers, I might have never got any of them. The Concert is the amp I've had the longest---I got it when I was in school and I've had it for almost 20 years; for a long time it was my only amp. If it had had a different speaker, or it had occurred to me to put a different speaker in it, a long time ago, I wonder if I would have felt the need to branch out and get so many different amps, since it's a pretty good-sounding amp by itself.

For the other cabinets, the Eminence Lady Luck, although a pretty good sounding speaker, was beaten out by the Celestion G12H-30 to go into the Valve Junior cabinet. The G12H-30 sounds good with the VJ, and right now that's about the only amp I have that wouldn't overpower the 30-watt Celestion. I put the Alnico Gold in one of the Avatar 112s, and in the other, I put the old OEM speaker from the LAB Series. I kept testing it against other speakers and it sounded really, really good. I may or may not keep it there, though, because it sounds a lot like the Alnico Gold, but is not as efficient (which is not always a bad thing). So that left the Lady Luck, the Eminence alnico Legend, the OEM Fender speaker, and the Celestion G12T-100s as orphans when all was said and done. I'm not sure that things might not switch up again in the future, since the G12T-100s sound pretty similar to the WGS Celestion clones but they are considerably lighter.

For the main speaker test we used two VJs, but for some of these comparisons, I used one amp and used the A/B pedal to switch between speakers. Using two amps allowed a comparison between speakers of different impedances (i.e., the 4 ohm G12T-100s vs. the 16 ohm Veteran 30s) but to pick a speaker to go with a specific amp, it's nice to drive the speakers with the amp in question.

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Supporter of the Give me a Costa Rica flag coalition


Post Date: 3/19/2009 @ 6:55 pm
Edited by lvo57 on 3/31/2009 @ 11:31 AM
RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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dafreeze said:

Were you able to sum up your observed differences between tones of a specific magnet type and/or size?

===================================================

Not really; we didn't have enough different types that I would be comfortable attributing differences to magnet size/type as opposed to any other characteristic.

The alnico-magnet speakers we had certainly sounded different from the others, although the LAB Series stock speaker approached the Alnico Gold in tone. They didn't sound like each other, though, but the magnet on the Eminence alnico Legend was a lot smaller than the magnet on the Celestion Alnico Gold. The vast majority of the speakers had magnets that were pretty much within the "medium" range. The biggest magnets were on the Peavey Scorpion Plus speakers, and they sounded smoother and more even tonally than the others, but I don't know if that is due to the bigger magnets or something else in the design. The regular Scorpion (i.e., not a Scorpion Plus) had a smaller magnet but sounded similar to the Plus. I don't think we side-by-sided the two Scorpion variants.

Some speakers that looked identical had radically different sounds.

It would of course be nice to learn that ceramic-magnet speakers can capture the same tone as the alnico-magnet speakers, since the alnico speakers tend to be pretty expensive. But I'm not sorry I dropped the extra money for the Alnico Gold, because it really does sound great.

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Post Date: 3/19/2009 @ 7:04 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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MAJICHANDS said:

Hi Chuck,

Awesome work with your testing....I too am looking forward to hearing how this turned out. Very informative and helpful info you've shared..I thank you for taking the time. Smiley

I also wanted to speak a bit about the 25 watt greenbacks for a second and may be able to explain why you guys might have been a bit "not as impressed". As a 25 watt greenie user for about 20 yrs now, it's a strange animal type speaker that needs the right situation and the right mic, mic position, amp or pre-amp. If you guys were listening to the greenies from 6ft away or further, this is why you may not have liked them as much as the others.

The greenbacks are VERY focused speakers that were pretty much created for 3 reasons. Warmth, saturation and a good mic'd sound. If you eq your amp to them and get a tone to die for, that tone is useless once you get about 6ft away from the speakers. However, for recording these are lethal as they capture that close mic-ing ability better than any speaker I have ever tried. What you get from the screen to about 4ft is what you get on tape/disc which is what we want when we record a guitar sound.

The problem this brings on for most people is, they find themselves 10ft or more away from their cabs when they play live and this can make for a harsh tone once you get out of the "focus" area of these particular speakers. The thing I like about them is how much gain I can cut down from my pre-amp due to how nice they saturate. You know how we sometimes need to crank a tube amp up to get the power tubes to give us that warm saturation? This is another reason why the 25 watt greenie was made. It literally saturates so you can use less gain, and less volume to get a nice, warm saturation.

Speaking of warmth, this is where I feel they blow away the 30's and the 75's. There is a 1k boost in the 30's that absolutely annoys me to no end. Retaliator, this could be what you're hearing. They just have a strange presence and not enough warmth and the right top end or something. I'm amazed people love these to be honest. With the 75's, they have a 5k boost that is a bit brittle but the good thing about the 75's is they aren't as focused. Meaning, you can go 6ft and beyond and still like your tone. Smiley But they record with a bit of sizzle for me which makes me hate them for recording.

Another issue to keep in mind with speakers is how we choose to eq our rigs. Most guys have one cab and that cab is not elevated high enough to create the right eq curve. You can't eq your rig with your cabs on the floor blowin' at your knees. LOL! This is why when you may record it or do a live gig, you hate your tone. When you record it, you hear it for what it is...when you do a live gig, you're pretty far away from your cab which allows the cab to be more audible to your ears as you are not so close to where it's sending sound to your knees. Smiley

You also pick up extra sub lows when your cab is low so you don't notice how harsh the tone really is. Once you bring that puppy up to ear level (use a milk crate or something) you REALLY hear what your tone sounds like. Most times if this is the first time you've done this, you may run to the bathroom and throw up because your tone is so bad. LOL!! Once you eq it at ear level though, you literally gain an understanding about tone because you can now hear what everyone else in the crowd is hearing....and sometimes, it's not as good as you hope it will be.

Also, mic positioning and the right mic make all the difference in the world. It's so amazing, it's too vast of a subject to even discuss. I've made some of the most horrible tones known to man sound pretty good with the right mic, the right placement and the right combination of other mic's to enhance things further. Even the worst speakers can sound good if you use the right mic and placement. The thing about guitar sounds that has always annoyed me, is how the horrible sounds actually fit the mix better than the ones that make us spring a ligament. LOL! Ever have the most killer tone and you just can't make it sound good in your mix? The only way to fix that is to tailor the mix to that guitar sound....which is something that is rare in this day and age. Most times the mix is centered around the drums and the vocals...the guitars are the punch and we sometimes come up with a sound that sounds horrible when solo'd up, yet it sounds fantastic within a mix. Sometimes we have a great sound that works with a mix, but most times, the tone needs to be altered to work right.

This happens mostly because we as guitar players love to feel that low end chunk in our tones. In reality, the soundman or recording engineer will get rid of all that low stuff you like. Some guys will put a high pass filter on from 80hz on down so you don't get that "whoomfing" sound...other soundmen/engineers will run a high pass from 150hz on down and use enough of a Q to allow some lows to come in. But tones, speakers, the right amps, mic applications etc...all walk hand and hand with how good something will sounds. There are so many things to consider here with personal preferences and subjectivity involved, there is really no way to do a real test of anything unless you have several amps, several mics and different approaches. A real test of this nature (and this is not meant to discredit your hard work, Chuck!) would be so tedious and time consuming, it would take 2 months so that people could hear these speakers using the mics of their personal preference on each speaker and then we'd have to give examples of the mic techniques as well.

Like, on the cone, 45 degree angle, 90 degree angle, on the grill screen, 4 inches from the grill screen etc. All these mic positions as well as using different mics make such a huge difference, we can't really subscribe to a test of this nature being credible unless these extra measures were also implemented. For example, if we put a 421 on a cab and then a shure sm-57, there is going to be such a huge difference, it would sound like we literally changed speakers. See how vast this stuff can be? Anyway...awesome job Chuck, I look forward to hearing your end results and again thank you for doing this and sharing your findings. Awesome thread! Smiley

Rock on!

Danny Danzi

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Post Date: 3/19/2009 @ 7:08 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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hahaha good work on bringin this back Mort.
Great that we have members like you here.

Anyone ever checked out Danny Danzi? I think I may have been the one who told him about this site years ago. The guy's a kind of prodigy.
Amazing musician, plays in an open C tuning, which boggles the crap out of me.

He'd be a perfect guy to go to if you've got questions about the industry, self promotion, ways and means to make your own break and build a career. His story's really quite interesting.

I met him a long time ago in an online jamming deal, we used to have this audio chat program where guitarists would log in and plug in and noodle about for the rest of the chatroom occupants. I didn't play much in those rooms. Just listened, mouth agape.

I used to ask Danny to play Cathedral by EVH. Always amazed me.

Post Date: 3/21/2009 @ 1:23 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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Mort, I'm glad you were able to find that. I don't have a copy of the original posts, but to sum up:

Last summer a few friends and I (including GNet's own Zug-guitar) gathered at my house for an afternoon of comparitive speaker testing. I ordered two G112 Vintage open-back speaker cabinets from Avatar, which are amenable to quick and easy speaker swaps, and I had two identical amps (Epi Valve Juniors) and an A/B pedal, and for several hours we swapped and compared various speakers. Here's a list of what we had on hand:

1. Celestion Alnico Gold
2. Celestion G12H-30
3. Celestion G12T-100
4. Celestion G12S-50
5. Celestion G12M-25 "Greenback"
6. WGS Veteran 30 (clone of Celestion Vintage 30)
7. WGS British Lead 80 (clone of Celestion Classic Lead 80)
8. Avatar Hellatone 30 ("broken in" G12H-30)
9. Eminence Legend (alnico 16 ohm version)
10. Eminence Lady Luck (OEM Epiphone Valve Junior cabinet)
12. Eminence early 70s square-magnet model (OEM Acoustic)
13. Jensen C12Q (new Italian model)
14. Jensen/Ear Candy Green Machine
15. Peavey Scorpion
16. Peavey Scorpion Plus
17. Peavey Valve King speaker
18. Fender OEM speaker (early 80s Concert)
19. Traynor OEM speaker (early 70s Mark III)
20. LAB Series OEM speaker (70s L5)
21. Pyle Driver guitar speaker (80s?)

Here's a picture of a bunch of them before the test started:



Here's a pic of the amp setup we used:



I don't remember every single comparison we made, but, a couple observations I do recall:

* The Celestion Alnico Gold, although much more expensive than any of the other speakers, was a strong consensus favorite for best sounding speaker.

* There was not as much difference as you might expect between the various other Celestions and Celestion clones. You could hear it, but it was subtle, not dramatic.

* The Hellatone 30 did indeed sound like a slightly mellower version of the G12H-30, consistent with Avatar's ad copy about the benefits of their pre-broken-in speakers.

* The Peavey Scorpions were surprisingly good-sounding speakers. Everybody was prepared to be underwhelmed, but we all agreed that they were quite good. That was the big surprise and neat new fact of the day.

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My music blog: http://chucksmusicblog.blogspot.com

Post Date: 3/21/2009 @ 2:19 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
Dolebludger
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I note that your speaker comparison did not include any JBL's . I know that they used to be popular guitar amp speakers of the premium kind. Heck, I don't even know if they are sold anymore. But I know that they used to put out a lot of sound (compared with other speakers -- using the same amp and the same settings), and that they tended to emphasize the higher notes, unless "dialed down". And then, they were capable of lots of bass. I do know that I used to really like them for "clean" sounds.

So my questions are, do these speakers still exist, and (if so) have you guys tested them out?

Post Date: 5/2/2009 @ 9:53 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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We tested the speakers we could readily get our hands on without buying them - except that Chuck did buy those Celestion Golds.


this rig requires something with a little more kick... plutonium!

Post Date: 5/2/2009 @ 10:24 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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I don't believe JBL makes guitar speakers any more, but Eminence has a model called the Commonwealth that, as I understand it, is their version of the old JBL-style speakers. And there are plenty of old JBLs floating around, and I do believe the re-cone kits are available for most of them if necessary. JBLs were available as options on some Fender amps back in the day--Twins, I know for sure, and maybe some others.

I recently got a Fender Dual Showman cabinet that has two JBL D130F speakers in it, but those are 15" speakers, so they're not amenable to the kind of direct-comparison we did in the speaker test. And, the Dual Showman cabinet is closed-back. Great sound though.

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My music blog: http://chucksmusicblog.blogspot.com

Post Date: 5/3/2009 @ 7:31 am

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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Webers California modesl in their High Power series read to be JBL replacements.

Post Date: 5/3/2009 @ 8:16 am

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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I have a 82 Rivera concert 112 amp, I recently got it out and plugged it in and after sitting twenty plus years without being played it just didn't sound the way I remembered it. I sent Fender a email and gave them all the numbers off of the speaker and was told it was a EV speaker and I've been thinking about either replacing the speaker or having it reconed if I can still have it done. You mentioned you have a concert amp and my question is what speaker would you rather have in it? I haven't had to replace a speaker in over thirty five years and the speakers of old aren't the speakers of today

Post Date: 12/18/2009 @ 10:34 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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The stock speaker in my early-80s Rivera Concert was very bright and the amp had a tendency to get really shrill and piercing, especially with something like a Strat. I pulled the speaker out of the Concert and used it in the Great Speaker Test, and it turned out to have the most pronounced treble of any speaker we tried. Putting a less-bright speaker into the amp made a huge difference, to the point where the Concert is now one of my favorite amps again. Right now, I have a Peavey Scorpion in it, and that speaker is working really well. As mentioned above, the Peavey speakers we tried acquitted themselves very well side-by-side against the others. If I hadn't had the Scorpion sitting around, I might have looked for some other darker-voiced speaker. I know Eminence has some, and Weber seems to offer just about every imaginable configuration of their speakers, so I'm sure some would be less bright.

That may or may not be of any use in your case, because my Concert had the stock Fender speaker, which was not an EV. I seem to recall hearing somewhere that the EVs were options back then. I'm sure it sounds completely different, and I don't know where it would fall in the speaker continuum.

Unless it's making noise and distorting, I don't think reconing is necessary nor will it result in a different tone. I have speakers from the 60s that are still working just fine. As to why it sounds different, if not just the vagaries of fallable memory, twenty plus years is enough time for electrolytic capacitors to dry out---maybe some of your cap values have changed.

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My music blog: http://chucksmusicblog.blogspot.com

Post Date: 12/19/2009 @ 8:39 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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And after all of this I found this clip on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWK0sa7tlfI

Words are one thing, but a comparing speakers in a single clip.....

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--- Soudruļæ½ka Julia of the Vocal Assassins
--- Disclaimer: pay no attention to tonal advice from this poster if you are under 30 and play thrash.

Post Date: 2/13/2010 @ 1:40 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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Julia_343 said:

And after all of this I found this clip on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWK0sa7tlfI

Words are one thing, but a comparing speakers in a single clip.....


===================================================


That's a pretty cool clip.

I do notice the mic placement varies slightly from speaker to speaker. That will cause slight differences in recording sound but not a huge factor. I'm guessing that they came to pretty much the same conclusion that Chuck and the others did... that most of the speakers were in the same 'ballpark' of sound quality regardless of what they cost.

Lately I've been a little curious about the Tone Tubby San Rafael model. Sounds like it's a pretty subdued sounding speaker with not alot to offer on the highs. Possibly the worst sounding speaker they compared in the clip. Good to know!

Thanks for posting that Smiley

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Post Date: 2/13/2010 @ 3:02 pm

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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Hey Gnet y Chuckles.

I'm glad this thread was stickied. I'll probably come back to it as I research speakers. It's a bit much to take in right now, especially as someone who has never thought about speakers before.

Being and anglophile, I have mostly been looking at Celestion and Carvin. It's good to know that Peavey is worth consideration. I have been more and more impressed with their products lately, and am askewing the opinion of them I had from 15 years ago.

Thanks again to mort and Chuck and Gnet. You guys are gems for real.

EDIT:+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Why doesn't Peavey actually use Peavey Scorpion or Black Widow speakers in their amps? It's all Sheffield. I'm not sure about the Tour series, but it looks like they only use Sheffield.

It's good to hear the gold Celestions stand out. From what I've read about them, they are basically supposed to be a high Wattage version of the old classic Greenbacks. I just don't have the cash to fill a 2x12 cab with them.

It looks like I am going with Celestions for my reworked Crate cab (no surprises there). One G12T-75 and one GH80 Lead. Might look like a mistake, but they might sound good together. If not, the cab is fully switchable, so I can side by side them very easily. Then I would have to buy one more, but it probably won't work that way. I probably will also replace the 15" speaker in my bass cab with a Peavey Black Widow. From what I've read, the combo amp has way better high volume performance if you replace the speaker. Which would figure since it's a 300W head on a 200W speaker. There's another straw for your camel if you already iffy on Behringer products.

Post Date: 3/23/2010 @ 9:37 am

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
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It would be cool if you had some audio files to go along with your reviews

-Micah
http://www.youtube.com/user/lessonsthatrock

Post Date: 6/7/2010 @ 4:15 am

RE: Ressurection of The Great Speaker Test
JonnySwitchblade
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Julia_343 said:

And after all of this I found this clip on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWK0sa7tlfI

Words are one thing, but a comparing speakers in a single clip.....


===================================================


great find, I found it hard to believe the poster's claim of speakers all sounding so similar.

The speaker and cabinet are responsible for easily 50%+ of your tone.

Post Date: 7/6/2010 @ 10:56 am


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