#1
How does the wattage of your speakers affect your tone in relation to the wattage of your amp head?

Like 50W tube into 120W of speakers as opposed to 50W tube into 250w of speakers? Is it negligible? I know lower wattage speakers can become distorted when you have enough power run to them, I'm just wondering if there are any other tonal differences.

Cheers!
Maximum volume yields maximum goats.
#2
The wattage handling of a speaker has nothing to do with its tone. The wattage is simply that - the amount of power the speaker can handle before it's damaged.

As you reach the power capacity of the speaker, it will begin to clip. In other words, the coil bottoms out, creating a loud noise. The voice coil also begins to get hotter. Eventually, the coil is damaged.

The tone developed by pushing a tube amp hard comes from the tubes themselves.
#3
Quote by Quinlan
How does the wattage of your speakers affect your tone in relation to the wattage of your amp head?

Like 50W tube into 120W of speakers as opposed to 50W tube into 250w of speakers? Is it negligible? I know lower wattage speakers can become distorted when you have enough power run to them, I'm just wondering if there are any other tonal differences.

Cheers!


as a shear statistic, Mr. Steven is right, power handling just means the amount of power output a speaker can take before distorting beyond a certain percentage.

i think there is more to be learned from this statistic than just a number. if you ask yourself "why does this speaker handle more power than that speaker" you can get some idea of how power handling does effect tone.

first off, speakers with lower power handling rating can be more easily pushed. this has a certain effect on how your speaker reacts to your amp's output and this effects tone.

for example, if you have a 50 watt amp and run a couple V30's then the power handling of the speaker will be a total of 120 watts (or 60 watts per speaker). each speaker will see ~25 watts, the consequence is that the speaker should react/sound fairly much the same at low output and high output because it is always operating way below the speaker's total power handling and a speaker acts quite linearly and predictably in that range.

lets flip it around now, say we have the same 50 watt amp, but we only have a cab with a couple of G12M-25's in it and the power handling is only 50 watts (25 watts per speaker). each speaker see ~25 watts, but this output pushes the speakers to it's limits in power handling. now the things with speakers is that when you get near the limits of their power handling they start acting non-linear (more on this below). this provides a setup that actually sounds/reacts quite differently at lower volumes than at higher volumes.

another bit of information to be gleaned from power handling is generally how responsive the speaker is. lower power handling speaker tend to use lighter/thicker materials, less-powerful glues, less stiff parts (like the spider and cone), smaller voice coil gaps, smaller voice coil wire, and less winds of wire on the voice coil. this usually provides a more responsive speaker that has more 'color' or 'attitude' (from factors like saturating the permanent alnico magnet and soft compressing the signal or by speaker over excursion).

higher power handling speakers tend to have stiffer/thicker parts that tend to make the speaker heavier, and the voice coil uses thicker and different shaped wire on the voice coil with bigger voice coils and magnets that require bigger gaps (and sometimes a more heavy duty frame/basket). this usually makes speaker sound more 'sterile' and 'flat' or 'even' and usually provides more/stable low end than lower power rated speakers.

now those generalizations are just that, the best thing to do is always look at a particular speaker [and hopefully try it out] and find how the speaker really reacts/sounds. but these generalizations should help you know what to expect from speakers without knowing much about them.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
Last edited by gumbilicious at Jan 14, 2012,
#4
Thanks for the input about the actual "builds" of speakers gumbi... It's not something I had really considered.

So, there wouldn't be a major change in tone if I were to change some of my speakers to a higher powered version of same speaker? (Mostly for increased headroom)
Maximum volume yields maximum goats.
#5
Going from 120w, to 250w would probably give you no more headroom and just end up costing you some money.
I don't give a shit if you listen to me or not
#6
Quote by Quinlan
So, there wouldn't be a major change in tone if I were to change some of my speakers to a higher powered version of same speaker? (Mostly for increased headroom)


depends on how they make the speaker handle more power. for example, early G12M's were only rated for 20 watts, they changed the cone and it bumped up the power handling to 25 watts. sometimes they'll change the wire on voice coil, sometimes they use different adhesives, sometimes they add a bigger magnet, and sometimes they just change the cone (like the example above).

they speaker's stats will change a bit depending on what they change. so sometimes the same spaker will sound pretty much the same (like the G12M-20 compared to a G12M-25), sometimes the sound pretty different (like a G12M-25 compared to a G12H-30). generally, the most drastic the difference in power handling the more different the tone.

weber VST generalizes the differences in their power handling and gives you specifics about why they sound that way. most speaker companies aren't this transparent:

Quote by weber
the higher the power rating, the warmer and smoother the speaker. The 15 watt is aggressive, bright, with a strong midrange crang. At the other end, the 100 watt is warm, smooth, yet is detailed and clear with very good definition. The 75 and 100 watt models use very high temperature voice coils that are the same weight and mass as the lower power voice coils. That assures good attack and a broad frequency response due to the low weight and mass of the voice coil assembly.


hope that helps a bit.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae