You think your speakers suck? Break them in first!!!

Discussion in 'Tonefreaks' started by 5F6-A, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    We live in a fab time to be a guitar player: So many options out there, right? Also many players are coming to realise how important speakers are to your overall tone. That's great. However, I have noticed that people try speakers brand new at low volume to conclude that the tone might not be ideal. Back to square one trying other speaker model. Guitar speakers are not cheap and the shipping cost is huge. Swapping forever new speakers is a very expensive and daft way of finding your tone; furthermore it is almost guaranteed that you'll never reach the tonal nirvana in your head. That's why speaker gurus at Scumback (no affiliation) break in the vast majority of their speakers before shipping. Most of their customers rave about them but I believe their success is at least partly due to the break-in process they apply.

    If you are not totally convinced by the tone coming out of your speakers, you should try to break them in before giving up on them. Do it anyway and then decide if a speaker swap is really needed. In my experience, even cheap OEM/stock guitar speakers can sound good after many years of abuse in term of loud playing.

    One example are the infamous G12T-75s by Celestion. Hated by many and swapped almost immediately. The 75s are very well built albeit a bit harsh when new. The thing is that both English and Chinese made 75s can sound really good after either many, many hours of loud playing.

    The older 75 sounds so much better here and a large percentage of the difference is due to use. Hear it for yourself.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iqfNCidmMs[/ame]

    Another example of a well used 75 that sounds more than decent to my ears:

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91pCEDv1tRw[/ame]

    To save time or if you don't play at high volumes that often, I always recommend breaking-in your speakers. There are a few ways of break speakers in (e.g. variacs, looped CD player, sine wave generator, white noise, even CDs produced for this purpose...) Virtually all guitar speakers sound better once broken in. Some only improve a little bit. Others change dramatically: typically, less ice-pick high-end; smoother highs; more musical mid-range; cleaner, clearer low end as opposed to the dreaded mushy lows. Also they tend to sound louder and more present as well.

    The moral of the story is, break in your speakers before deciding whether you like your present speakers or not. You might be surprised that even a cheap speaker can sound quite good if given a chance and you'll be saving your money.

    Please share your broken in speaker testimony here or ask any questions.

    Rock'n'Roll. :dude::dude::dude:
     
  2. JHMvP

    JHMvP Senior Member

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    How to break-in a guitar speaker - Celestion Speaker World

    ...states that breaking in for 1 hour will get you there for 95%. I guess it's better for the relationship with your neighbors also.

    I don't have breaking-in problems; I just use 33-36 year old Marshall 5210's with the original redbrown McKenzie-speakers. :thumb:
     
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  3. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    Hey brother!!! This is a damn good post....Case in point: 2006,my buddy wants rid of a Traynor YVC20. He cant stand this,that and the other thing...EL-84's,Rocket 50(or was it 70?,a little fuzzy on that)speaker,so,I take it off his hands....I played the crap outta that amp for 3 months straight. That little bugger turned into one helluva good blues amp. Took it out for more than a few jams. One of these jams ole Steve shows up to,wants to know what I did to the amp to make it sound like it did....and damn,he wants to buy it back.:laugh2:

    Speakers have to be broke in,plain and simple.
     
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  4. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    You're SO right!! :thumb:
     
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  5. Mookakian

    Mookakian Senior Member

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    Ever tried a set of vintage 30's outa the box... ahhh, so u too have had toilet paper in your ears.

    Each month brings a more pleasent vibe, i think it takes a little more time, new speakers are a bit like the first time with a lady friend, your so excited you want to dive in and go at it, but confusion and an unsettling feeling creeps up when you plug in. However... Each time you play... and the louder you play... well u catch my drift :cool2:
     
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  6. jbrew1977

    jbrew1977 Senior Member

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    Absolute fact! I can also assure you that in spite of that 95% in one hour claim in that link, that it'll take quite a bit longer than that. Some speakers may break in fairly quick but many take what seems like forever. I dismissed a set of V30's with countless hours me flogging the crap out of them as ice picky and shrill... Carvin GT12's, same thing. My Eminence Swamp Thangs sounded great to me out of the box BUUUUUUUUTTTT every time I get the chance to really crank them up and play the crap out of them they get just a little bit sweeter. I sold the V30 cab for what I paid for it and replaced it with the GT12 loaded cab. The GT12 has nearly identical tonal properties of a V30 but just a touch less upper mids. Seeking the ultimate modern metal tone I thought Swamp Thangs were the way to go. I was half correct! I currently have a nicely flogged (100+ hours) GT12 and a Swamp Thang that is getting close to being there mixed in my 2x12. In my case I could have gotten by with one Swamp Thang in the original V30 cab and saved myself a lot of trouble. That being said if anybody feels the need to make their 2x12 rumble like a 4x12 I have a Swamp Thang less than a year old with MAYBE 10 hours on it!
     
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  7. jbrew1977

    jbrew1977 Senior Member

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    Just in case I didn't make that totally clear... V30's!!! Oh my! Worst speaker ever until you beat the brakes off it! After that... Quite amazing!
     
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  8. Mr. Satchmo

    Mr. Satchmo Senior Member

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    Yeah the V30 out of the box was terrible until I got tons of breaking in time. Now it is perfect
     
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  9. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    Them damn V30's are a straight up bitch of a speaker until they have been beaten,dragged through mud and thrown off a 20 story rooftop:laugh2: :laugh2: :laugh2:

    Then they sound really good. I have some speakers that just plain have to be damn near brutalized to break in and the V30 is at the top of that list:laugh2:
     
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  10. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    Pattern I can see here is this: most speakers don't sound quite right until you've used them for a bit. Very few speakers are great out of the box... they need some action to sound as they should!
     
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  11. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    Exactly!!! :thumb: :thumb:
     
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  12. Mindfrigg

    Mindfrigg Senior Member

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    I run an mp3 player through new speakers to unstiffen them. Several hours every day while I'm busy. Seems to work.
     
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  13. Matt_Krush

    Matt_Krush Senior Member

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    Guess I am glad I bought a used 1960AV....
    It sounds great :)

    I will say my New 1960B lead was awful when I first got it ('95ish), never satisfied with it I sold it in 2005 and bought it back yesterday.
     
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  14. kevinpaul

    kevinpaul Premium Member

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    Several of us members here all bought the same amp. The big thing was to do mods to get more Marshall like in tone. I thought it was fine and my thing was to let it break in. I did and most everyone replaced the preamp and power tubes. Before that happen, I noticed that every night it did sound better. Another guy said that same thing. The new speaker in a new amp was coming into its own. Just work with a new amp and speaker for a few hours at a low to mid volume and back off the base.
     
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  15. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    Another example:

    Greenbacks at the beginning of the clip were well worn in. Creambacks that play the second bit are brand new. I know that they are different speakers but hopefully you can hear the older ones sounding much louder, warmer, more musical whilst the new ones sounding stiffer and colder.

    http://soundcloud.com/5f6-a/greenback-vs-creambackmix-2

    Final part of the clip plays them both at once hard panned.
     
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  16. Gary

    Gary Senior Member

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    This is a timely thread as I'm swapping speakers in my amps to see what sounds best for me. Thanks for starting it. It inspired me to research the subject but there doesn't seem to be a consensus in how to go about it. Even the suggestions from Celestion and Eminence differ.

    The list includes:

    Play your guitar through it... a lot.
    MP3 player (What kind of music?)
    White noise
    Pink noise
    60 cycle (variac)
    Humid environment
    Sine wave signal generator
    Sine wave @ speaker free air resonance freq for max excursion of spider & cone edge
    Audio spectrum frequency sweep
    1 hour
    100 hours
    Warm speaker up for an hour before breaking in
    Low/mellow guitar tones

    For those who have actually broken in a new speaker yourself, how did you go about it and how long did it take?
     
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  17. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    All those techniques are fine and they all work to some degree.

    Obviously what you want to do is to get the spider working and the suspension (edge) of the cone exercised and as flexible and supple as possible. You don't want to damage the cone or affect its physical integrity.

    To break in my speakers I use a 6 hour track that I have created myself. It includes some pretty hideous noises (low, mid and high) that work like a charm; some slap bass (love those Primus/Claypool lines); some percussion and some quite low sine waves that fade in and out at strategic times. It also has sections of complete silence to allow the speaker's coil to cool down at times. You want to give your speaker a good workout but you don't want to overheat it either. Sine waves/variacs are pretty intense and burning up the coil is just daft.

    I play the complete track once, let the coil to cool down for at least 1 hour and then repeat the process.

    A more manageable, shorter track that I have used successfully in the past is this one. Feel free to use it.

    [SC]https://soundcloud.com/5f6-a/track-to-break-in-speakers[/SC]

    It's only 1 hour long so you'll have to play it a few times at a decent volume to have some effect. Low end tones are going to move the cone more than the regular tones of guitar playing but don't overdo it in terms of volume.
    You should be able to notice some improvement after about 5 or 6 repetition of the track.

    With regard to how many times you have to do it, I'd say that the more that you break in the speaker the better, either by playing your guitar through it or using one of the alternatives techniques. IME at one point the improvement will plateau a bit but the speaker will not stop maturing -albeit more subtly- for as long as it works.
     
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  18. Mindfrigg

    Mindfrigg Senior Member

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    White noise contains all frequencies equally, pink has boosted lows. I had an Arp Avatar with a pink noise generator.

    I bought a new Peavey XXL 2x12 as an extension cab for a Blues Deluxe RI, and just a general purpose closed or open back cab that could handle 150 watts. Peavey Blue Marvels, which as I have read are Peavey branded Eminence Black Powders.

    Sounded pretty mediocre at first, which didn't match reviews I had read. I've had the same experience with other new speakers..the ceramic Jensen RIs..hi-fi speakers, etc.

    So I plugged an mp3 player into an old Marantz 1060 that I use for monitoring and just played the music I like. Guitar based mainly, but lots of electronica and classical too. The amp is rated at 30w per channel (more like fifty really) and I played back at medium volumes off and on for a couple of weeks. So I wasn't really maxing them out. Unless I was actually listening to something..I kinda cranked it then. :)

    It did seem to make a remarkable difference after a couple of weeks. Even low wattage (12-15) tube amps seemed to shine even though they were barely pushing them. Not proof in and of itself of course. Many things involving our senses is voodoo. But it's something I do with new speakers as a practice. I guess if it's in my head it doesn't really matter anyway. That's where everything resides after all. :laugh2:
     
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  19. bulletproof

    bulletproof aka tarddoggy Premium Member V.I.P. Member

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    This right here....the V30 takes a helluva lot of abuse till it starts to get right....Eminence Red Coat took about 3 weeks......ole greenbacks took about 2 weeks.....Weber Alnico took about 2 weeks.....I find that as with all things,speakers are all very different. I just play the hell out of them,as far as I know,there werent any shortcuts when I first started playing,so,I dont use any now. Just my 2 cents,man....


    And Hilario,the difference with the sound clip is enormous...Im really digging that you started this thread,brother....:applause: :applause: :applause:
     
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  20. 5F6-A

    5F6-A Senior Member

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    :thumb::thumb::thumb:
     
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