#1
Forgive me if this is a stupid question. I have a Blackstar HT-5 that I plug into my computer and play backing tracks through it. Is bass in the backing track bad for the speaker? I've heard things about guitar amp speakers not being able to handle frequencies that low and that it can damage the speaker. I'm not sure if there is an exception to this though because if an amp manufacture is going to put a plugin for backing tracks you'd think the amp should be able to handle the bass.
#2
Quote by TomBisworth
Forgive me if this is a stupid question. I have a Blackstar HT-5 that I plug into my computer and play backing tracks through it. Is bass in the backing track bad for the speaker? I've heard things about guitar amp speakers not being able to handle frequencies that low and that it can damage the speaker. I'm not sure if there is an exception to this though because if an amp manufacture is going to put a plugin for backing tracks you'd think the amp should be able to handle the bass.


basically i am going to say: don't worry about it. though it won't sound good (like a home stereo) there isn't much room for concern. this is probably enough for you but if you care to know more then keep reading.

lower notes cause a speaker's excursion (how far it moves back and forth) to be greater (for various reasons i won't get into). the lower the note, the farther the speaker cone travels back and forth, the greater the strain on the speaker's suspension. this can cause speakers to literally pop right out of their frame (especially when trying to play low notes at high volumes) and this is one way of damaging a speaker. this isn't usually a problem with guitar speakers though.

guitar speakers are generally designed so that the voice coil does not extend beyond the length of the voice coil gap... that probably means nothing to you, but this pretty much limits how far a speaker can move back and forth. basically the guitar speaker limits speaker excursion so that it is far less likely that a guitar speaker will destroy it's own suspension.

guitar speakers aren't full range, they're response tends to drop off quite heavily at around 100 hertz give or take. example (eminence ragin cajun):



basically this graph shows the speaker is not so good at producing low end, but it is fairly similar to most other guitar speakers.

now the danger in using a guitar speaker for bass or other low end heavy sounds is that it is not efficient at producing bass. now, because the guitar speaker is not too good at making low notes (and your ear is also less sensitive to low notes) people will tend to crank the amps to higher volumes, which works the speakers harder which may eventually overheat the voice coil.

guitar speakers are much more likely to 'blow' the voice coil (send more electrical current through the coil and producing enough heat to damage wire) than they are to damage the suspension/surround/spider. if you run enough electrical current in there for a long enough time then it can overcome the ability of the speaker to rid itself of the heat generated by the current, thus damaging the voice coil.

this danger is generally not as substantial if you run speakers rated for a much higher power handling rating than the amp is rated at. also, playing bass guitar through a regular guitar speaker has it's own dangers involving the 'throw' of the signal from the larger strings of the bass. basically though, if you are stressing the speaker it tends to sound bad and you need to be easier on it.
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#3
Thank you very much! I really appreciate the explanation. I was surprised that someone would go into to detail like that. I'm glad you did though because I like knowing how things like that work.