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  • Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

    Okay. Did a search but didn't quite find the answer to my question. What are the differences and advanages/disadvanages to lower watt vs. higher watt speakers. I have a Carvin 4X12 right now with 100 watt celestions in it. I'm thinking of upgrading, but not sure what kind of speakers I want. (I think I want a Boogie at this point, but they have a few different speaker variations) I've never used anything but 12 100s, so I'm not even sure what the difference will be. I play mostly hard rock/metal, so need something good for distortion, but I also do play clean. Educate me!

  • #2
    Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

    Anyone?...Bueller...hehe.

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    • #3
      Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

      Well, I suppose I could start with a partial answer and tempt some one else to rush in. Apart from the obvious fact that some low wattage speakers are pretty fragile, and you might blow then out, I can only think of one important thing. When you drive a guitar speaker hard it, it should be designed to move outside the range of the magnets thus stopping the force on the coil so that you do not damage it. This is part of the overdrive sound of a guitar speaker, I believe. I think a higher power speaker would handle more power before reaching the end of its intended travel range. Surely someone knows more about this than I do?

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      • #4
        Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

        I was kinda asking the same questions here too ,but for some reason although this forum is great the speaker questions i had never really seemed to get answered..i guess even there greatest place on the net has its drawbacks..

        But from what i gathered basically lower wattage speakers "break up"at lower levels giving a kind of crunchy sound at lower volumes but higher wattages usually having more headroom can have more clarity and whatnot.. From what i deducted from it all is that i want a V30 and Greenback in the 2x12 that im building..at last for now thats what im set on..i was also cosidering getting close clones of thos speakers as there made in china now (bringin up the slave labour issue which im not into) and there also more costly than the cheaper clones, which ive heard better things about then the actual celestion..

        In conclusion i still havent a clue what i want either and there too many speakers to choose from
        Marshall JVM 410C
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        • #5
          Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

          IF a speakers handling ability is 25 watts, two can handle 50 watts. If you have 4 25 watts in a cabinet, that cabinet will handle 100 watts. Much of the voicing of speakers has to do with the Amps they were made to work with. The 25 watt greenback were selected to work with a JCM 45 (30 watts). This is a relativley "clean" Amp. The speakers work extremly well with a clean Amp. At higher volumes they break up beautifully with the natural distortion of the amp. If you run these speakers with a High Gain Amp, such as a TSL IMO they get Muddy. The primary concern is you should have as many speakers with the correct wattage to handle the power that the Amp will generate. The type of speaker should be used to handle the Clean or the drive depending which is going to be more important to your sound.
          "So you will never have to listen to Surf music again" James Marshall Hendrix
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          • #6
            Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

            Originally posted by Bludave
            Much of the voicing of speakers has to do with the Amps they were made to work with.
            Good point. Also, in some cases, the amp designers didn't intend for speaker distortion to color the amp's tone. For example, there are a lot of Boogie combos out there with a 200W EV speaker.

            Personally, though I like the sound of a speaker as it starts really moving, I'm not a big fan of the sound a speaker makes as it approaches the limit.
            Originally posted by LesStrat
            make sure that you own the gear, not vice versa.
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            • #7
              Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

              I use a Mesa 50/50 for my power, and I do like the crunch and break up too. So based on what you guys are saying I'm probably going to go with a 4X12 with Vintage 30s in it. More than enough to handle my power amp or even if I upgrade, and I bet i get some nice break up too. Gotta wait till next year but I'm planning! Now the next question is which manufacturer? Hehe Marshall, Boogie...uhh other? (I know there are lots out there)

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              • #8
                Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

                And here's another question. I think my Carvin does have 75 watt celestions in it. If I upgrade to a Boogie cab, or Marshall, or Bogner, or something more expensive, will it make that much of a difference in my sound? I know speakers, but what else makes a diff in cab sound? Wound that they're made out of I'd suppose. Any ideas or thoughts?

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                • #9
                  Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

                  Originally posted by Jeff5
                  And here's another question. I think my Carvin does have 75 watt celestions in it. If I upgrade to a Boogie cab, or Marshall, or Bogner, or something more expensive, will it make that much of a difference in my sound? I know speakers, but what else makes a diff in cab sound? Wound that they're made out of I'd suppose. Any ideas or thoughts?
                  IMO, there are three main areas where cabs differ: geometry, construction, and materials.

                  The first affects tone through resonance. Generally speaking, the bigger the cab's volume, the better bass response. To some degree, you can make up for volume with acoustic tricks like ports but to steal a cliche from the automotive realm, "there's no substitute for cubic inches".

                  Construction includes things like ports and open/closed back but also impacts tone through the cab's structural properties. Some folks prefer resonant cabs while others desire a stable platform for the speakers. As with open/closed backs, it's all a matter of taste.

                  Finally you have materials. Some swear by marine plywood while others claim that solid pine is the holy grail. Believe it or not, covering affects the resonance of a cab. Some cabs are uncovered while most have tolex but a few come with leather.

                  While lousy construction can make a cab "bad", the difference between most "good" cabs boils down to a matter of taste.
                  Originally posted by LesStrat
                  make sure that you own the gear, not vice versa.
                  My Music

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                  • #10
                    Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

                    Originally posted by Jeff5
                    I use a Mesa 50/50 for my power, and I do like the crunch and break up too. So based on what you guys are saying I'm probably going to go with a 4X12 with Vintage 30s in it. More than enough to handle my power amp or even if I upgrade, and I bet i get some nice break up too. Gotta wait till next year but I'm planning! Now the next question is which manufacturer? Hehe Marshall, Boogie...uhh other? (I know there are lots out there)
                    Mesa V30 is great.
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                    • #11
                      Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

                      the differnce after what ive learned is kind of like this: low powered actually break up since the amp is overloading them and there sound actually changes in a progression depending how the amp is set

                      high powered of course color the tone just like any other speaker, but they dont really change depending on amp settings.....they make get a little grind, but for the most part, they can take what the amp is giving them and produce it back at any volume you need..
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                      • #12
                        Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

                        Generally, it's a good idea to match the power handling of the speaker to the wattage that the amp is putting out. High wattage-handling speakers are more rigid in order to be within their limits when driven by a powerful amp. Though, speakers that can handle too much wattage in comparison to the amp that's driving them will be underpowered, which can actually damage them just as badly as being highly overpowered, and will also result in undesirable tone, because the speaker will barely be getting pushed. Speakers that handle less wattage are more sensitive and will generally have louder results when 1 watt is pumped into them; this is the procedure for the Sensitivity measure of the speaker.

                        ^^^
                        Finally, the research I did before getting the speaker/subwoofer system in my car has proved itself useful!
                        Saggy
                        Tone Member
                        Last edited by Saggy; 08-12-2004, 02:16 PM.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Speaker Wattage, Whats the Difference?

                          Right now I'm using a Carvin 4X12 which I believe has 4 75 watt celestions in it. Going forward I'll probably continue to use my 50/50 Power Amp for quite awhile. Based on what you all are saying I'm not really driving my cab at all.

                          But here's my question. If I'm only going to continue to use the 50/50 (I almost always have it on lower power too, the 15 Watt setting), should I got a cab with 4 vintage 30s? Name aside, they're 60 watts rated on Celestion's site, so about a 240 watt cabinet. Or should I go with the 25 watt greenbacks? Four of those would be 100 Watts which more accurately reflects the power rating on my amp. Or am I not looking at this correctly? Thanks for the responses!

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