The Art Of Mixing Speakers

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by Opj77, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. Opj77

    Opj77 Strat-Talker

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    A few overly generic questions. What are the do’s and do not’s? What speaker ratings do you focus on to ensure one speaker doesn’t drown the other? Do speakers with opposite characteristics tend to balance one another, or fight for space? What experiences have you had? I’m primarily looking at 10” speakers but I assume the philosophy is universal.
     
  2. Stevem

    Stevem Senior Stratmaster

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    First off are we talking about mixing 2 different drivers in the same cabinet?
     
  3. JamieHenry

    JamieHenry Strat-Talker

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    My misogynistic mixing of speaker types. With a passive crossover circuit. Sounds great, but hard to mic for a gig.

    B52C8353-45FD-4EDF-A452-9367D2639169.jpeg
     
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  4. Opj77

    Opj77 Strat-Talker

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    Forgive me ignorance but I’m not sure what a driver is. I am referring to 2 different speakers in one cabinet. I’ve been reading online and opinions are all over the place. That is usually when I decide to just start a thread and ask.
     
  5. Triple Jim

    Triple Jim Guy Who Likes to Play Guitar Silver Member

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    A "driver" is a speaker without an enclosure. Somewhere between the '70s and now, the term "raw speaker" came along that means what "driver" used to mean. And there are also some of us who stick to the old terms. "speaker" can mean a driver or a driver in an enclosure.

    If two drivers (speakers) are going to be run in parallel in one enclosure (cabinet), you'd ideally want their sensitivity ratings to be reasonably similar so they make about the same amount of sound, but it's not going to hurt anything if they're not perfectly matched. In most cases you also need to match their impedances, and you always need to make sure you end up with a system impedance you want... meaning two 8 ohm speakers in parallel give an overall impedance of 4 ohms, in series 16 ohms, etc..

    As far as mixing the way they sound, in my experience it's what you'd expect. You get a mixture of the qualities of the two speakers. It's additive though... if one is good at low frequencies and one is good at highs, you'll hear good lows and highs. They don't fight each other, they add to each other.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
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  6. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Silver Member

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    Here's a review I did a while back that describes some speaker mixing results:

    1. Jensen C10Q & C12Q Review

      I recently purchased two Jensen speakers; a 10" and a 12" (the C10Q and C12Q respectively). "Why" you may ask? Well, I decided to provide both short and long stories to explain...

      The short version of this story is a brief review of the general characteristics I've observed regarding the C10Q and C12Q, while the long story details a tonal "fine-tuning" of sorts that will hopefully provide some suggestions for anyone looking to improve their sound.

      Before going any further I just wanted to mention that I mounted these speakers inside a gutted vintage 1963 Gibson "Invader" GA-30RVT combo amp cabinet (no amp section or speakers were included). I converted it into a 1/2 closed back external speaker cabinet by blanking off the front where the amp controls use to be and adding a wooden panel in the back. This amp originally came with both a 10" and 12" speaker in it, thus the reason I got these two sizes of Jensen speakers at this time.

      [​IMG][​IMG]

      In addition, I also own a Mesa Boogie "Widebody" speaker cabinet (3/4 closed back) loaded with a single 12" Celestion MC-90 Black Shadow speaker. This has been my main cab for over 16 years now and it is what I am using as my baseline for comparisons in this review.

      [​IMG]

      I ran each Jensen "Vintage Ceramic" speaker separately, then together, but since their Nominal Impedances are 16 ohms (and my test amp only provides outputs in 8 ohms or 4 ohms) that means there is an impedance mismatch which may slightly skew the speakers' voicing while being played individually, due to the tubes running a bit cooler. Of course, when wired together in parallel, these speakers would yield the appropriate 8 ohms to match the amp, so keep these factors in mind.


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


      MY SHORT REVIEW:

      From my initial test-drive of these two closely related Jensen speakers I can say that both the C10Q and C12Q have similar attributes (ie: tone & feel), with a bit more stiffness in the smaller 10" version as you might expect. Besides that, I'd like to add that they seem to be well made and, compared to other similar sized speakers, they are very light - which is undoubtedly due to a smaller magnet. It would stand to reason that this must somehow contribute to how it sounds in some profound way (either positively or negatively), and there are no doubt countless debates on the subject, something I decline to perpetuate at this time.

      Anyway, the very first thing I did notice was an obvious decrease in output volume compared to the Celestion MC-90 in my Mesa cab. FYI: the MC-90 is rated at 90 watts, while the Jensons are 35 watts each.

      According to Jensen's website, the specs for "sensitivity" (efficiency) are as such: C10Q = 95.2dB / C12Q = 94.6dB. Alternately (despite being a bit sketchy) the general consensus is that the specs for the MC-90's are probably about 99-100dB, which seems to be about where most high efficiency speakers reside these days.

      Either way, that would easily make the Jensens around 4 or more decibels lower in efficiency than most "modern" voiced speakers, resulting in a significant drop in perceived output and certainly something to keep in mind if considering getting one - but don't forget to keep two things in mind: 1) The C10Q and C12Q are supposed to be voiced for a more vintage sound and 2) If your setup is already too loud (and needs to be dialed back a bit), this may be considered an advantage - which it actually is in my case, but for a slightly different reason. More on this later...

      In addition, since you'll most likely need to crank the Volume (Gain) up a bit on your amp to compensate for the drop, this may also provide an added advantage tone-wise by pushing both the amp and speaker into a more desireable "sweet spot"... so there's that. I'm still experimenting with various settings while waiting for the speakers to break-in, so only time will tell.

      The next thing I noticed was a distinct bump in the midrange frequencies.

      This can be a blessing or a curse depending on your needs. In other words; if you're already battling with too much midrange in your sound, then you'd probably want to pass on these speakers. On the other hand, if your sound seems a little muffled or lacks some sparkle, these speakers may just liven things up in a very good way.

      Besides those two observations, I was instantly struck by the "Vintage-ness" they added to my tone, something that was both pleasing and usable (to me anyway). Compared to the MC-90, the tone was crisper and clearer with a nice zing in the picking attack when played with finesse.

      On the downside, there was some loss in low end richness when comparing it to the MC-90, and, when played too aggressively, the crispness could easily turn spiky if not careful.

      So there are no doubt trade offs to contemplate depending on your needs, which leads me to...
     
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  7. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Silver Member

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    MY LONG REVIEW:

    Let me just start off by saying that my setup can be described as "somewhat unique", so this may or may not help anyone trying to decide whether the Jensen "Vintage Ceramic" series speakers will work for their specific purposes, but I do feel this information can provide some food for thought if you are trying to dial in your sound.

    I currently have two setups for live performance: I own a Mesa Boogie TA-15 TransAtlantic head (25 watts) and a Mesa Boogie TA-30 TransAtlantic head (40 watts). Obviously the TA-15 would be used for smaller venues and the TA-30 for larger clubs.

    I have mostly been running my amps through the Mesa Boogie Widebody extension cab with Celestion MC-90 Speaker (as mentioned earlier) with excellent results, but lately I began thinking about doing something with the old Gibson Invader GA-30RVT amp cabinet I had sitting around (also mentioned earlier). I was originally planning to have either a dual amp setup for live performance or maybe even combining the two speaker cabinets together for better coverage.

    I have used the Gibson cabinet on and off for about 20 years with various 12" speakers but never added a 10" until now. After researching speakers I decided that the Jensen C's seemed to fit the bill. I chose to get them in the 16 ohm configurations since I wanted the pair to end up being 8 ohms (when wired in parallel) to match my amps' base speaker outputs.

    So far I have been mostly using my Mesa Boogie TA-30 amp for these Jensen speaker tests. The Mesa Boogie TransAtlantic amps are harmonically rich and voiced superbly for guitar, so I knew my TA-30 would make an excellent test platform for this review.

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

    After playing through each speaker individually to get a good feel of how they sounded on their own I wired the C10Q and C12Q together and gave it a go. Although they still had the same character together - as opposed to separately - I definitely liked them better as a pair than alone, probably due to the fact (not surprisingly) that they fill the room more adequately this way. They also match each other extremely well so that was very encouraging.

    I continued to play them together like this for a while, really digging the vibe I was getting. The low end, while lacking some fullness, still had a nice thud and the notes rang clear and bright across the frequency spectrum. The midrange was certainly apparent, emphasizing the sweeter side of "twang" in my 2003 Fender AVRI '52 Telecaster in a nice way. A similar thing occurred regarding the "quack" in my 2012 American Standard Stratocaster, so if you're missing some "Swing" in your "Sultans of Swing", this will definitely inject an extra dose of it.

    But, what really caught my attention was the rich, juicy, sparkly picking attack that set off the sound - whether playing single note solos and arpeggios or full on chording. I did have to back off the volume on my guitar when hitting the strings harder (strumming in particular) to keep the sharper edges from splitting my ears, so playing dynamics are a must to avoid pushing people out of their comfort zones.

    The middy Jensens also gave my solos a more pronounced "vowel-like" tone, allowing my guitar to sing out musically with profound feeling and soul. As the overdrive increases the highs smooth out, warming things up without sacrificing crispness and clarity, which may be the ticket for those players who can really appreciate and exploit that attribute of the Jensens.

    I eventually decided to plug both this cabinet and my Mesa cab in at the same time. I utilized the 4 ohm outputs on the back of my TA-30 (since the two 8 ohm cabinets connected in parallel would equal 4 ohms), and got what I'd consider to be some of the most perfectly balanced tones I've ever had the pleasure to conjure up on my many guitar gear adventures! Note: YMMV!

    The Mesa cab, with its well-seasoned Celestion MC-90, reintroduced some of the missing bottom end girth and fullness that was missing in the Jensens (not to mention its deliciously harmonic mid and top end), while the Jensen loaded cab projected an infectious serving of gloriously sweet, midrangy magic to the mix.

    Plus, due to the Jenson's lower efficiency, the Celestion MC-90 still retains its title as being the primary voice in this setup, with the Jensons acting in more of a supporting role - i.e.: the Jensens simply compliment the tone as opposed to redefining it. In other words; Although there are two Jensen's and only one Celestion, the feisty pair of subordinates do not have the wherewithal to overwhelm the lone reigning sovereign, an arrangement that works fantastically well in my case!

    That, in a nutshell, is what makes my setup rather "unique", since there probably aren't many 3-speaker guitar setups with two speaker cabinets (one being a very idiosyncratic type with both a 12" and a 10" speaker in it), so trying to recreate what I have may not be so simple to replicate, but not impossible either I'd venture.

    So hopefully, with some ingenuity, perhaps there are many applications that can benefit from this basic formula and I suppose that is the main message I'm trying to convey in this article. Of course there are always exceptions to the rules...

    One last big test I did involved my 1991 Gibson Les Paul Studio with its stock 490R and 498T pickups. What I was going for here was all-out high gain distortion mayhem! The results were actually varied and it seems that you could go either way when it comes to this; The Jensen cab provided a clear, bright and articulate tone that really cuts through the mix. If you need more bottom end fatness, adding the Mesa cab really fills in the sound, but it can potentially get too fat as well, especially if you play in a band that already has a heavy bassist and drummer, so some people may prefer to run the Jensens on their own to keep things from getting murky.

    Obviously, if your sound is defined by a "scooped-mids" tone, then you may wish to steer clear of the Jensens. Of course you will most likely lose some output volume with them as well, but when it comes to distortion, sometimes less is more (to avoid causing your ears to bleed for instance), so the Jensens may work great for those Metal-Heads who already have plenty of power but also likes having a clear, sharp, biting edge in their sound.

    You should also keep in mind that the Jensen "Q" models are only rated at 35 watts, so they may not be able to handle the raw power of some high output amps if used individually. But in a two or four speaker cab they would equal a combined 70 or 140 watt power handling respectively. Since my TA-30 is only advertised to be 40 watts I should be relatively safe - although peak output can overwhelm these speakers if pushed too hard for too long - so some care should be taken to avoid blowing them up!

    Without going into any great detail, I did plug in a couple other amps to see what would happen and a couple of these amps actually sounded the best with just the Jensens (with the Mesa cab adding too much bass to the sound). This is proof, to me, that you really have to match these up to whatever works best...

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

    CONCLUSIONS:

    So, the million dollar (I mean $60) question is: Can the Jensen Vintage Ceramic "Q"s stand up on their own tonewise?

    The short answer is (imo) "Yes... but!"...

    The "but" qualifier goes something like this:

    The Celestion MC-90 is great "but"...
    The Celestion Greanback is great "but"...
    The Eminence, Electro-Voice, Weber, You-name-it is great "but"...

    In this case I would say that the Jensen C10Q and C12Q are both great, BUT (like most any speaker option I suppose), it depends on a lot of things - such as cabinet design, amp voicing, guitar choice, effects used and ultimately HOW it will be used (for instance; clean or dirty, quiet or loud, live or recording). I can only describe the Jensen's overall quality and tone as being at a "professional" level and, besides mentioning their perceived output and pronounced midrange, all I can tell you is that you just have to try them and see (I know... I suck).

    I personally love my Jensen speakers for what they add to my sound and, even when used on their own, they definitely have a charm that is worth considering. That said - if I MUST be painfully honest with you - I'm not entirely sure if I'd be personally as happy with the Jensens on their own (as it pertains to my specific setup of course) and I might still be looking for something else if I didn't have the Mesa MC-90 cab.

    My reasoning is this: First keeping in mind that the Jensens I've been testing are practically brand new while the MC-90 is thoroughly broken in... Although the Jensens have a great sound in their own rite, the lack of some bottom end richness would be sorely missed and the midrangy hump could start to grate on my nerves without the MC-90's warmth to offset it.

    On the other hand, now whenever I play my Mesa cab without the Jensen cab I definitely feel like something is missing, so I guess I have to admit that I've become quite dependent on this setup for total sonic bliss.

    On the other OTHER hand... it's also easy to imagine that dragging an additional speaker cabinet around in order to get a certain sound can definitely start to grow old in a hurry. Plus, as you might expect, setting up mics for three different speakers in order to recreate that tone for live sound reinforcement or recording would no doubt complicate things as well. So clearly my setup is not without its pitfalls.

    Which brings up another consideration: What to do when I'm only able to take one speaker cabinet? I guess I can only say that it depends on the situation. For instance, I own one of those little Fender Mustang "Mini" modeling amps. The Mini is battery powered for portability but the puny 6" speaker is fairly useless for any quality performance, so I modified mine by adding a switchable external speaker jack. This has become an invaluable solution when playing in areas where no AC power is available (in smaller settings of course). My point is this: the Mustang Mini sounds absolutely awesome with the Jensen enclosure by itself and actually stands up extremely well (tone-wise) with my $1000+ high end amps!

    Although I haven't tried it, I see no reason why a 2-speaker cabinet loaded with one of these 10" or 12" Jensen speakers (along with a more efficient speaker of your choice) wouldn't garner some satisfactory results and would clearly be a much more manageable solution than mine. The same might also apply with a 4-speaker cabinet. Either way, I'm sure we'd all be interested in any of these bold experiments and, should some fearless person decide to take it on, please enlighten us on the outcome...

    My final word (maybe):

    If you have an already dark amp with plenty of bass OR perhaps a little too much output OR if you just need something that will help you cut through the mix OR if some sweet, juicy midrange is missing from your life, then the Jensen C10Q and/or C12Q may be a perfect match for you!

    Good Luck!



    `
     
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  8. fezz parka

    fezz parka fezz parka

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    I don't mix them. I match them.
     
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  9. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

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    With me, it was luck, not an art. Have a 2x12 cab with two different speakers that I love. But I also bought it used with the different WGS speakers in it. Maybe someone did some homework before me; maybe he just relied on luck; maybe it was a suggestion; maybe he just had two different speakers he stuck together in a cab that works great.

    Hard enough for me to evaluate one speaker, let alone two different speakers and how they will work together. Google would be my friend and pony in a search for that.
     
  10. Opj77

    Opj77 Strat-Talker

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    Great post. This will be a good reference point for Google searches on the subject. How close in decibal sensitivity would you say 2 speakers need to be to not catch an audible difference?
     
  11. Opj77

    Opj77 Strat-Talker

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    I definitely agree. For me, budget dictates more than musical choice. I also suffer from “everything can sound just a wee bit better if...”
     
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  12. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR I appreciate, therefore I am... Silver Member

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    `
    I'd say that all of it involves a bit of "hocus pocus".

    I mean, practically every speaker swap I've ever done has been a crapshoot at best - regardless of how much research has been attempted. I've even seen two competing speaker designs with specs and diagrams that looked almost exactly the same, but they turned out sounding entirely different.

    Another part of the problem is that each amp has it's own character and the same speaker may not work the same in each.

    All you can really do is generically categorize them, like: "this one is brighter" or "this one has more bottom end" and then take a leap of faith.

    I once bought a Celestion Vintage 30 because it was suppose to be "perfect for my setup"... I ended up selling it and using something else.

    So, speaker optimizing is a hit or miss proposition and, in that regard, you're kinda on your own... sorry...


    `
     
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  13. Opj77

    Opj77 Strat-Talker

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    What would be a good “creamy” sounding 10” speaker to add a tad of balance out the “sparkle” of an Eminence 1058 in a Fender amp? Second question. Probably something British voiced to bring up the mids a little bit.