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Thread: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

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    Tone Cat rspst14's Avatar
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    Default Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    Hey guys...first of all, let me apologize for not being around much lately. Things have been really busy for me in the past couple of months, but everything's starting to slow down a bit so I should have more time to check out the forum.

    With that out of the way, here's something I've always wondered about speakers for guitar amps...what's the logic behind the materials used? Why do high-end home and car audio speakers have cones and surrounds made of rubber or similar materials, while guitar speakers use what car/home audio enthusiasts would consider to be sub-par speaker materials. Is it because the breakup that we desire from guitar speakers is something we don't desire in a different type of audio setup, or is there some other reason? I've always wondered what an amp would sound like if it had these types of speakers. Anyone have any insight? Thanks.

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    Stratoblaster Tone Meister STRATDELUXER97's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    Guitar speakers are only designed to cover a very small frequency range...Audio speakers have to cover the full range of music from say 20hz all the way up to 15k or so...
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    of the Forum PFDarkside's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    Everything for guitar has become "specialized". We want tubes that distort, we want speakers that aren't too hash/shrill or woofy. The hi-fi industry all but abandoned tubes years ago because clean, high power amps are much easier and cheaper to produce using solid state technology.

    Specifically concerning speakers, guitar tones that we "like" are pretty midrange heavy, and pretty low in treble and bass from a pure frequency standpoint. Also, you bring up the issue of break-up. Many people use 25W speakers because they desire that speaker breakup tone, others want 75W becasue they don't.

    Interestingly, it seems bass equipment is the opposite. For the most part bass gear seems to be getting mor and more hi-fi. (I know there are exceptions, a lot of people DO like a P-Bass through an amp with some hair) Try plugging your guitar into your stereo through the line in jacks. Not a good sound without at least a speaker or amp simulator...

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    Mojo's Minions flank's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    perhaps those materials color the tone moreso than the materials used in home/car stuff? guitar speakers may use certain materials just because they will color the tone more, which is what guitar speakers are about......and the car/home stuff uses material that will just push the signal and cleanly as possible?
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    Stretchologist D-EJ915's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    "Professional" speakers (or rather, the drivers themselves) as they are called are designed to be LOUD, LOUD is the one thing they are designed to do. They aren't designed to sound good, they're designed to play in a certain frequency range very loudly, hence guitar speakers with over 103dB/1W/1M sensitivity, that's INSANE!

    "Home" and "Car" speakers are designed differently also.

    "Home" speakers (again, the drivers themselves) are designed to work with other drivers to create a fluid, vast sound which envelopes and accurately reproduces sound. They are NOT designed to be loud.

    "Car" speakers (...) are designed either to be "Loud" or "Sound Good." No matter how good a car stereo is it will still pale in comparison to a decent home stereo because of the way the inside of a car is, just a fact you've got to live with. Anywho...car speakers are designed to withstand degrading factors like heat and humidity more than "pro" or "home" drivers are...that's the real difference.

    That's like the "laymans" way to describe it, hope you had fun!

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    Baron Von Shred Zerberus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by PFDarkside
    ...The hi-fi industry all but abandoned tubes years ago because clean, high power amps are much easier and cheaper to produce using solid state technology......
    Except the audiophiles... Tubes are also common in ultra-high-end audio systems, though most stick w/ SS becasue as you stated its cheaper

    Otherwise PF and D-ej more or less hit the nail on the head...

    Its like Planes.... conventional private planes have little in common, in terms of specific design features, to make them militarily viable, dito for commercial designs (at least other than as large cruise missiles a l 9/11).

    Military planes on the other hand wouldnt be too much good in a commercial setting, as theyre designed to transport totally different cargo (ex C-5 vs. 747: Tanks and a few dozen personnel, as opposed to hundreds of people and a few tons of baggage or tons of cargo and no people other than the crew)

    All would WORK for the other applications, at least with mods (Airforce One for ex. is a modded 747), but the purpose designed ones just work better
    Last edited by Zerberus; 09-03-2005 at 04:21 AM.
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    of the Forum PFDarkside's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zerberus
    Except the audiophiles... Tubes are also common in ultra-high-end audio systems, though most stick w/ SS becasue as you stated its cheaper
    I was thinking about how I phrased that and how I didn't properly convey that tubes are still used in the ultra high-end stuff. I've never actaully heard a new tube hi-fi amp, but I've definately seen them for some serious cash.

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    Glossless SlyFoxx's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    Why do high-end home and car audio speakers have cones and surrounds made of rubber or similar materials.
    It has to do with how far the speaker is designed to "throw". Throw is the amount of back and forth or in and out travel. The longer the throw the lower the frequency the speaker can reproduce. (At the expence of volume before distortion becomes audible and unpleasent) That's why "audio" type speakers have those "lip" surrounds while a 12" guitar or PA speaker will have an "accordian" type of surround that allows far less throw.

    Why don't guitar or PA speakers have to throw as far?

    In high volume PA situations it's not uncommon for the audio to be divided into 4 groups. Ex...18" woofer for octaves 1,2 & 3....12" for octaves 4 & 5...8" driver for octaves 6 & 7....horn compression driver for octaves 8,9 & 10. That's a rough chart to be sure and there will be overlap between drivers as well. It's not necessary for any one driver to throw as far because they don't have to cover as wide a range of frequiencies.

    Your guitar speaker is really just a big upper bass/mid range driver that really only needs the balls to cover 4 octaves. (The fundamental frequencies of a 24 fret guitar) It will go higher but then it's only reproducing overtones that have very little energy in conparison to the fundamentals.

    The home speakers woofer would be a "Low Compliance" unit. Good for a wide range of frequencies but at the expence of volume and tightness.

    The PA/Guitar speaker would be a "High Compliance" unit. Limited frequency range but capable of higher sustained volume in it's designated operating range and offering a nice tight sound that tracks your guitars signal a lot better.

    Obviously things are a bit more complicated than what I've described but those are some of the basics.

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    Slutbucker Pimpologist ArtieToo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by PFDarkside
    I was thinking about how I phrased that and how I didn't properly convey that tubes are still used in the ultra high-end stuff. I've never actaully heard a new tube hi-fi amp, but I've definately seen them for some serious cash.
    Yup . . . the Yamamoto A-08: 2 watts/ch - $2250!

    Yamamoto A-08

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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    The best home-stereo I'd every heard was an old (60's or 70's) Tuner/Turntable. It was the size of of a desk and had the warmest, smoothest, sweetest tone to it. The crazy thing is that I found it on a curb as someone had left it for the garbage collectors to pick up. It was really an incredible thing to find like that. It was in fine shape. (this was probably in 1998)

    After I had it for a year I was moving and couldn't take it with me. I dropped it off at tha Salvation Army. Hopefully there is some lucky audiophile who is groovign to it right now.
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    Stretchologist D-EJ915's Avatar
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    Default Re: Why are guitar speakers different than home/car audio speakers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ArtieToo
    Yup . . . the Yamamoto A-08: 2 watts/ch - $2250!

    Yamamoto A-08

    Artie
    Haha, that's nothing, the Linn Sondek CD12 CD player costs about $16k o.O!!

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