News & Media

Jon Bloomer at GuitarNoize.com Demos a Governor and Man o War

January 4,2012

Here’s another great demo from our good friend Jon Bloomer at Guitar Noize. In this demo, Jon uses one of our most popular combinations of 12″ speakers, the Governor and the Man O War, both from our British-voiced Red Coat Series of guitar speakers.

“The frequency response of each of these speakers are slightly different, The Governor has a great classic speaker response with a nice full and even tone whereas the Man O War is more pronounced around the 1kHz range and you can hear that in the Overdriven guitar parts in my demo in particular. The Man O War also seems a little tighter and is well suited to heavier Rock and Metal. When you blend these speakers together you get the best of both worlds resulting in a detailed punchy tone great for any genre you throw at them. I tried to show this in my demo video by layering clean, crunchy and high gain overdriven guitars on top of a Jamtrackcentral.com backing track. For each part I placed a single Audix i5 Dynamic Mic on the edge of the dust cap a couple of inches off the grill cloth. I used my Suhr Modern and Ceriatone Chupacabra 50 amp in 60′s mode for the clean rhythm guitars and added the Suhr Shiba Drive for the clean solos. For all other guitar parts I used the 80′s mode and added the Shiba Drive for the Overdriven lead guitars.”- Jon Bloomer | GuitarNoize.com

Check out more of Jon’s great posts at GuitarNoize.com

Interview with Steve Ouimette

November 21,2011

Steve OuimetteChances are, if you’ve turned on a TV, radio or video game console within the last several years, you’ve likely heard the infectious music of Steve Ouimette. From his awe inspiring work behind the epic Guitar Hero video game series, to his composition and song writing heard in many popular TV shows and studio recordings, Steve is quickly becoming known for the creativity he brings to every project. With the myriad of options available to recording artists today, one thing remains consistent in Steve’s tone toolbox – Eminence speakers. We had the pleasure of catching up with Steve recently, here’s what he had to say.

Eminence: Was the guitar your first instrument? When did you first pick it up?

Steve: I wish I could say it was but my first instrument was the organ. My parents had bought one and signed my sister and me up for lessons. I did that for 2 years from 5-7. When we moved to California I started playing drums but I was more Bobby Brady than John Bonham so around 11 or 12 I switched to guitar. It was Ace Frehley who originally inspired me. After that it was Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, Yngwie and Angus Young.

Eminence: At what point in your life did you decide you were going to make a career out of your musical abilities?

Steve: From the first time I picked up the guitar I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life. Computers were in their infancy and MIDI had just come out so I was fascinated with the potential. I majored in music in college and during and after that worked in studios and was fortunate enough to learn a metric ton from Eric Valentine during his early years of running his own studio. The combination of all of that and working in the game industry sort of dovetailed into my forming my own company and doing this full time.

Eminence: Over the last several years you’ve been heavily involved in the wildly popular Guitar Hero video game series, writing nearly 100 tracks for gamers to play along with. Was it a conscious decision to get into the video game industry, or did it come about by accident?

Steve: It was definitely a conscious decision, but with a little push to get rolling. I’ve been involved in the tech and video game business since 1993 but in 2005 I was laid off when the company sold off their assets. It was at that point I decided to go full time in the freelance direction rather than do some work on the side with yet another job that wasn’t fulfilling. In 2007 I met up with the Guitar Hero guys just as they were getting close to the end of Guitar Hero 3 development. It turned out to be a great relationship and that game put me on the map. In all I worked on 8 games with Activision/Neversoft until they put it on hiatus earlier this year.

Eminence: Now that Guitar Hero is on hiatus, what’s keeping you busy?

Steve: It’s been a combination of music for television, video games and film trailers. Lately I’ve been doing re-records of classic dance tracks for Just Dance 3 (Ubisoft) as well as a lot of heavy guitar music for TV licensing. I find it ironic that the majority of shows that use my music are the cooking and home shows. HGTV and Food Network seem to use my music the most outside of sports shows. Who would have thought cooking and heavy guitars would pair up?!

Eminence: You obviously record a lot of guitar tracks, each with it’s own unique tonality. How important is the guitar speaker on each project? Do you change speakers to alter tonality?

Steve: The speaker is the final voice of the amplifier and crucial to the tone. I have 6 different cabs right now ranging from 4×12’s to 2×12’s to 1×12’s. Recently I picked up an amazing amp selector that lets me plug in 8 different heads and 8 different cabs. Then with a selection knob for amp and speaker I can choose which head routes to which cabinet. On the fly I can play the amp and switch through the various speakers to find the exact tone I’m looking for. Being able to do this has radically changed the way I record. It’s a dream setup.

Eminence: What would you list as the five most important things to achieving great guitar tone for recording.

Steve: Great question! Here are my five:

1. Back off on the gain. When you think you’ve got enough gain on the amp, back it down until it’s just about uncomfortable. The tones with less gain most always sound bigger than the super-distorted ones, which end up collapsing in the mix

2. Match the amp to the speaker. With the amount of options available there is no reason you have to settle on just one speaker. I like to load my 4×12’s with 4 different speakers and then choose the one I feel fits best in the track, then mic it up. It sounds a little weird in the room but is ultra-flexible for recording. My current favorite cab has a Texas Heat, Swamp Thang, Man-O-War and a Red Fang in it.

3. Matching guitar to amp. It probably sounds obvious but for every track you need the right combination of guitar and amp. Whereas a single coil guitar with a Tweed style amp might be right for one track, a humbucker with a Tweed might be perfect for another. How it sounds in the room also helps to determine how it will sound in the track.

4. The little things. Strings, pick type and cables. All of these little things add up, especially under the microscope of a recording. If I want more zing in my tone I’ll switch to a lighter string gauge. Alternatively the heavier strings don’t “give” as much and contribute to a more muscular tone. It’s a choice that makes a difference in the sound AND performance.

5. The part. More important than 1-4 is the actual part performed on the recording. I’m amazed at how simplifying a performance or adjusting it to fit around a vocal makes the recording sound so much better. Time and time again the coolest parts can overshadow the point of the song and sound busy. Although a lot of people laugh at KISS for being a simple band, Paul and Ace were masters of creating monster riffs out of simple parts and different voicings of chords played together. Malcolm and Angus are another duo that comes to mind. It’s the space in between the notes that makes the sound so big, and it translates to the recording very well. All about the part.

Eminence: There’s been a lot of discussion about mic’ing a guitar amp/cabinet for recording. What’s your method?

Steve: I don’t have one set method for mic’ing but I tend to like a 57 straight on the center of the cone with an additional mic about 3 feet back to capture the room. Of course that depends on the track and what it needs but a little bit of room makes the speakers come alive. It really depends but when is the last time you jammed your ear right up on a speaker to listen to it? Like drums the room has a lot to do with the sound of the amp although for modern production the immediacy of a close mic is almost just a given. Lately I’ve been using a Royer 101 in tandem with the 57 and getting amazing results. It’s no secret but it is a great sound.

Eminence: Do you prefer open back or closed back cabinets, and why?

Steve: 95% of the time I prefer a closed back design. It’s probably just because I came up on the Marshall side rather than the Fender side. That said, more recently I’ve been playing a few open back cabs and have enjoyed their open sound. It’s all-enveloping rather than directional. I won’t call it 3D because that term shouldn’t exist…3D is one of those terms people throw around a lot but hardly makes sense.

Eminence: Do you prefer high or low SPL speakers, and why?

Steve: Both. Low SPL speakers are great for adding more grind to non-master volume amps to my ears. The flip side is master volume amps and how they like a good, high headroom speaker. They’re also great for cleans when you don’t want any give or breakup. Because I do so many styles of music there is no one particular choice, it’s all of them. Oh yeah, and I never use the term “cone cry”…not acceptable!

Eminence: How do you break your speakers in?

Steve: The old fashioned way. Beat em up with old Marshalls full-up. There’s no better way to break a speaker or a sneaker in than use, and my speakers get a workout!

Eminence: What made you decide to work with Eminence for your loudspeakers?

Steve: For me it was for the quality, Made-In-USA manufacturing and variety. But in the end it came down to relationships. Eminence is good people that are so dedicated to their customers and artists I immediately felt like one of the family. And that is worth its weight in “insert your favorite precious metal here”.

Eminence: What Eminence speakers do you use the most, and why?

Steve: So many! I’m a huge fan of the Reignmaker because not only is it a great sounding speaker, I can ditch the external attenuator and just turn the volume down on the speaker (never thought I’d see that day). Aside from that I regularly use Texas Heat and Swamp Thangs together as well as the Man-O-War.

Eminence: What’s next on the horizon for Steve Ouimette?

Steve: “I just signed on with Rappapd Media Group for film and TV representation so there are new projects in the works right now. In January I will be speaking at NAMM on a panel on sound designer which came about through my virtual instrument “Cinematic Guitars” from Sample Logic. And finally, along with the ongoing work on game soundtracks you’ll still see my articles and reviews as a writer for Premier Guitar Magazine. 2012 is shaping up to be a great year.”

Pick Your Sound.

 

As a direct response to his popularity with guitar fans worldwide Steve released “Epic”, a solo CD and companion DVD on Sumthing Else Music Works in the Fall of 2010. Critically heralded as a dynamic and diverse album featuring an eclectic mix of guitar-laden virtuosity and wide reaching styles, “Epic” shines new light on guitar instrumental music by fusing cinematic drama and intensity.

Steve is a regular contributor for Premier Guitar Magazine where he writes a monthly column, “Hey, You Can’t Do That!”, as well as gear reviews and feature articles.

Learn more about Steve at his website, www.SteveOuimette.com

Photo courtesy CovingtonShoots.com

Jon Bloomer at GuitarNoize.com Demos a Texas Heat™ and Swamp Thang™

September 1,2011

Jon Bloomer knows a thing or two when it comes to guitar tone. He’s been playing since he was 12 years old, and since 2007 he’s been the brains behind GuitarNoize.com, a website that is loaded with everything a guitar enthusiast loves. This video features one of our most popular combinations of classic American tones, the Texas Heat™ and Swamp Thang™, both from our Patriot Series of guitar speakers.

“In this demo I loaded an Eminence Texas Heat and an Eminence Swamp Thang speaker into my Blackstar HTV-212 Cab and setup a single Audix i5 on each speaker. There are two rhythm tracks panned 50% left and right (Texas Heat on the left) and then 2 lead tracks which alternate and I have made it clear in the video which speaker is being used when by switching the title and speaker graphic. ”

“The Texas Heat is a little darker than the Swamp Thang and creates some great Eric Johnson style lead tones. The Swamp Thang breaks up nicely when you play hard and has a little more presence and as you can hear combined they are a perfect match for a great rhythm tone.” – Jon Bloomer | GuitarNoize.com

Check out more of Jon’s great posts at GuitarNoize.com

Sealed vs. Ported Enclosures

Tech Talk With Big Tony June 23,2011

The following article was written by Anthony Lucas for Bass Gear Magazine.

Are sealed or ported enclosures better for bass guitar? What are the differences between them? In this article, I will compare the two most common types of bass guitar enclosures and try to highlight the benefits and shortcomings of each. It took me a while to decide what details to cover, and I soon realized it might require a book to cover the concepts of cabinet design. It would take a couple of articles this size just to introduce the terminology. For the DIY guys and players interested in obtaining more knowledge, there is a wealth of information available online to learn more about cabinet design. There is also plenty of software available online to help you with calculations. Whether you find information about car audio, home hi-fi, pro audio or bass guitar, the principles are basically the same. This article will be used for the details I feel will help bass players the most.

First, let’s think about the role of the speaker. A speaker produces minimal output in free-air (outside of a cabinet). Sound is produced from the front and the rear of a speaker’s cone. These sound waves must be separated to achieve usable output. If not separated, the output from the front and rear of the cone would cancel each other out. This is further accentuated with lower frequencies, and the main reason for mounting a speaker on a baffle. The baffle also absorbs vibration created by the speaker. If not mounted to a baffle and simply placed on a solid surface, the vibration created from the speaker’s movement may be louder than the sound it emits. A baffle that does not resonate with the speaker must be made from a solid and thick material.

Shaping the low-end (bass frequencies below 300Hz) is the reason for choosing a particular enclosure type. A speaker’s cone response dictates the signature shape or sound of the enclosure beyond 200-300Hz (figure 1). Any speaker will produce sound in any cabinet, but optimizing the relationship between the speaker and the enclosure is the key to good bass. In the early ‘70s, two engineers, named A.N. Thiele and Richard H. Small, devoted considerable effort to show how specific speaker parameters define the relationship between a speaker and a particular enclosure. These are known today as Thiele-Small (or T/S) parameters. They are a means of comparing speaker performance and finding optimal cabinet conditions.

Speaker designers manipulate T/S parameters when customizing a speaker for a particular cabinet or when meeting certain design goals. I’ll leave the specifics about T/S parameters and how they are interconnected for another day. But, for now know that trade-offs are involved in every aspect. If you want deeper bass, punchier bass, tighter bass, more snap, pop, or whatever the desirable adjective, something else will be sacrificed to obtain it. Every amp and cabinet manufacturer has methods to achieve their signature tone. Speaker performance and cabinet design are equally crucial parts. Designers must prioritize what performance or sonic characteristics they desire from a product and determine what aspects of the speaker and cabinet will make it a reality. Output level (or SPL), power handling, frequency range, and size and weight are all considerations. When one is improved, other factors may suffer. The most difficult part is finding a middle ground. We want to have it all, but unfortunately, it’s not always so simple.

Sealed Enclosures

Here’s how a sealed enclosure works. The back of the speaker is completely sealed off from the front. The air inside the enclosure acts as a spring, which helps control the movement of the cone. When the speaker moves out, the pressure inside is decreased. When the speaker moves in, the pressure inside is increased.

A sealed cabinet is considered a punchier, more accurate sound. Sealed cabinets are much easier to design and build than ported enclosures and are typically smaller in size. There is also much more room for error in design and construction because a small change to the internal volume doesn’t affect the lowest audible frequency significantly (Figure 2). You might often see the low range or note of a cabinet’s specifications defined as F3 or F10. Mid-band response is basically an average level of the speakers’ or cabinet’s overall output within the usable frequency range. F3 is the frequency 3dB down from the mid-band and F10 is the frequency 10dB down from the mid-band (see Figure 3). Sealed enclosures have better transient response, which means the system will respond more quickly to a sudden change. This is one reason why they sound punchier and more accurate. When you’re playing a run, it sounds more articulate with better note separation. Sealed enclosures also have good power handling capability and gradual frequency roll-off.

The disadvantages of sealed enclosures are lower efficiency and poor deep or extended bass output. The sealed design will never play as low as the resonant frequency of the speaker. It seems like the easy answer would be to design speakers for sealed enclosures with low resonant frequencies, right? That’s certainly one part of the puzzle, but a lower resonant frequency can negatively impact other design and performance goals. Speakers with lower resonant frequencies are typically low in output and narrow in frequency range. Another disadvantage is higher distortion. Maximum cone movement occurs at the resonant frequency of the enclosure (Fc). Basically, the speaker is working harder where the cabinet is most demanding. Dampening improves below Fc, so control of the cone and mechanical power handling of the speaker are good.

Ported Enclosures

Ported enclosures are also referred to as vented, or bass-reflex enclosures. This design requires a more scientific approach, and there is less room for error in design and construction. Ported cabinets allow for an extended bass response. The result sonically is more “rumble” and deeper bass tone. A port (or vent) is used to tune the enclosure to a specific frequency (Fb). The surface area and length of the port are crucial to the tuning. The Fb of the enclosure does not change with speaker selection, but F3 does. The port uses the speaker’s rear output to enhance the speaker’s front output, which increases bass output (or SPL) above F3 (see Figure 3 again). This minimizes the movement of the speaker cone, so mechanical power handling at and above the tuning frequency is very good. The port is actually producing most of the output at the tuning frequency and the speaker’s excursion is minimal. Distortion is lower at this point due to less cone movement.

There are some disadvantages to ported enclosures. Transient response is poor compared to a sealed enclosure. The result is decreased accuracy. Also, there’s less control below the box tuning, which allows the cone to move more freely. This can result in damage to the speaker mechanically, a phenomenon known as over-excursion.

A poorly designed ported enclosure can cause all sorts of problems.  Tuning the enclosure too high can be a problem. This can create a ringing at Fb and result in a one note wonder with inadequate frequency range (Figure 5). While mechanical power handling is typically a good advantage of a higher tuning, remember that the enclosure is not helping the speaker below Fb. If there is a sudden peak at a lower frequency there could be a potential for over-excursion problems. The speaker’s cone will literally jump out of the box. Low tuning can also generate problems. A large enclosure is required for a lower tuning. This can severely lower the speaker’s mechanical power handling. Loose, rumbling bass with no definition or “punch” may be the result sonically. You sacrifice the effectiveness of the cabinet and the speaker (refer to Figure 4, Figure 4-1 and Figure 4-2). The F3 of a smaller cabinet that is tuned too low will be very high. Sure, transient response and punch will improve, but at this point, it’s more effective to use a sealed enclosure.

A port without adequate surface area can create unwanted noise at higher volume… even when the tuning and size of the enclosure is good for the speaker. If the velocity of the air travelling through the port is too high, a noise often referred to as “chuffing” may occur.

We live in a day where power is relatively cheap and high power handling is a big selling point. Whether it’s the enclosure or the speaker, be aware that there are other specs to consider before you make a purchase. High power handling and lower output may not be the best bang for your buck. In contrary, a high SPL enclosure or speaker may not require as much amp to reach the desired volume levels. Factors for high a high output cabinet are the speaker’s SPL, power handling, and size, and a cabinet that is well built and free from air leaks.

A parameter called EBP (calculated by dividing FS by Qes) is often used to determine if a speaker is best suited for a sealed or ported enclosure. An EBP close to 100 usually indicates a speaker is best suited for a ported enclosure. An EBP closer to 50 usually indicates a speaker is best suited for a sealed enclosure. A speaker with an EBP 50-100 might work well in both types of enclosures. This is purely a general rule of thumb. Many great designs violate this.

You will often hear me talk about modeling a cabinet. I use software to calculate or predict a speaker’s performance in a given cabinet. It is an invaluable tool for cabinet designers and for recommending speaker components. The graphs used in this article are the result of one of those tools. Of course, anytime you’re dealing with TONE, there’s some voodoo or black magic involved. I’ve seen many successful designs that didn’t look so good on paper. There is definitely some art and science involved in the voicing and EQ of the amplifier. I also believe that sometimes you just get lucky and find that perfect combination of speaker voicing, cabinet, amp, and instrument and it just doesn’t matter if it works out technically. See you next time.

Eminence Speaker LLC Offers the Ultimate Loudspeaker Protection to Pro Audio and MI Markets

June 6,2011

Eminence Speaker LLC proudly announces an exclusive license agreement with Evenstar, a wholly owned subsidiary of SLS Audio, to use and sub-license their revolutionary new D-fend™ technology within the Professional Audio and Musical Instrument markets.

D-fend protection circuitD-fend™ is the industry’s first all-digital, programmable loudspeaker protection and attenuation circuit designed to solve the age-old problems associated with protecting loudspeakers from excessive power conditions. D-fend™ has eliminated the headaches for speaker engineers – no more hassling with polyswitches, blown lamp filaments, lossy resistors, or slow relays. Incorporating such features as digital signal processing with on-board digital filtering, customizable microprocessor and MOSFET construction, the D-fend™ protection circuit enables a designer to use this technology prior to passive filtration and allows different sensitivity settings in specific frequency bands, such as woofer over-excursion bands or high frequency peak damage regions.

“Think of the D-fend circuit as a high power, speaker-level compressor/limiter that will allow an audio designer to guarantee unmatched levels of protection for multiple components in their unpowered loudspeakers”, states Evenstar’s Chief Engineer, Joel Butler.

“We’re are very excited about the unique opportunity to partner with Evenstar to offer our customers the ultimate in loudspeaker protection.” said Eminence President Chris Rose. “Not even the most carefully designed systems have been free of failure and the risk of thermal compromises in today’s varied applications. By incorporating D-fend in their products, system designers, brand owners and facilities will enjoy a new level of assurance that their passive loudspeaker systems will remain protected and that venues will be safer. The technology is economical and easy to integrate into both new and existing designs. We expect it will become an industry standard protection device for virtually all passive professional audio and musical instrument applications.”

See the D-fend™ technology in action at the Eminence InfoComm booth #164 in Orlando, Florida June 15 – 17, 2011, or contact Josh Martin, Technology Sales Manager, at 502.845.5622 ext. 245, or via e-mail to josh.martin@eminence.com for more information.

Speaker Break-in

Tech Talk With Big Tony June 1,2011

Speaker break-in is no myth and something significant really does happen. All speakers are built to meet certain specifications, and we work diligently through QC efforts during and after production to ensure that happens. Every component used in a speaker has tolerances, which can relate to small variances in initial performance. The mechanical properties of a speaker are slightly modified once a speaker is put into service, and the tone is affected by these changes. Speaker break-in is a natural process that is influenced by how much you use the speaker and how loud you play it. Think of a new pair of shoes. They are not most comfortable right out of the box. They feel best after you have worn them for a while, softened up, and formed to your feet. Much like your new pair of shoes, new speakers need time to “break in”, and will not sound best until they do.

The components making up the speaker’s suspension are primarily what changes during break-in. These components are the spider (lower suspension) and the cone surround (upper suspension). As the speaker is used, the spider and cone surround begin losing some of their initial stiffness. The sonic results you will hear are an increase in overall warmth, slightly deeper/fatter lows, and warmer/smoother highs. Subtle changes will continue throughout the life cycle of the speaker, but the most noticeable amount occurs in the early stages of use.

The duration of time required to achieve break-in will vary between speakers. Your environment can affect speaker break-in as well. It may take longer in a cold, dry climate versus a hotter, more humid environment. Again, your usage and volume will also affect break-in time. There are several methods people use to speed up the process, but these methods can be damaging to the speaker and are not recommended. The best method is to simply play your new speaker at normal to high volume as frequently as possible. You may even find it is fun and enlightening to experience the changes in your speaker as it breaks in!

Guitar World’s Paul Riario reviews the ReignMaker with FDM™ Technology

May 11,2011

Guitar World Tech Editor Paul Riario puts the ReignMaker guitar speaker with FDM™ Technology through its paces. Of course, the speaker sounds incredible, but Paul has some serious chops too!

ReignMakerPaul points out the advantage of our proprietary FDM™ Technology, noting that there is no need for any expensive electronic attenuators. The speaker does it all for you, and also give you the sound and feel of playing a cranked-up amp but at lower volume. He also clearly illustrates there are many positions between full-output and max-attenuation that let you dial in the sound and volume you’re looking for. Whether you’re in a small club, recording studio, or practicing in your bedroom, you can turn down the volume while maintaining the saturated tube tone you’re looking for. The next night you might be in a larger venue where volume isn’t an issue. No problem, just turn the dial and crank it up!

Paul enjoyed checking out the British-voiced ReignMaker from our Red Coat Series of guitar speakers, and we know you will too. Also check out its American-voiced cousin, the Maverick, also with this truly unique FDM™ technology. Both speakers are now available in 16 ohms.

Eminence Speaker LLC Gives Pedal Steel Players Something to Cheer About.

May 9,2011

Eminence, KY – Eminence Speaker LLC proudly announces the addition of an ultra-lightweight 15” guitar speaker designed for the steel guitar player: the EPS-15C.

EPS-15CNow available in the Patriot™ Series of guitar speakers, the EPS-15C is a 4 ohm, cast-aluminum frame guitar driver featuring a lightweight neodymium magnet. Weighing in at less than 8 lbs., the EPS-15C delivers the highly sought after classic pedal steel tones at a fraction of the weight of most suitable drivers on the market. The addition of an aluminum dust cap lends chimey, extended highs that have come to define the classic pedal steel sound.

“We’re delighted to offer a solution to our pedal and lap steel friends who have been telling us they desperately need to lighten the load without sacrificing tone.” said Tom James, Product Design Manager at Eminence. “Aside from the significant weight savings, the EPS-15C has all the classic Nashville tones steel players look for in a speaker.”

Check out the EPS-15C here. For more information on the EPS-15C or any other Eminence products, please contact Gary Morrison, Distribution Sales Manager, at (502)845-5622 ext. 225, or via e-mail at gary.morrison@eminence.com

Expanding Accessory Items Can Increase Your Bottom Line

Good News for Dealers May 5,2011

The following article was written by Chris Rose for The Music & Sound Retailer, January 2010.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit some of the world’s most successful and high profile retailers of musical instrument and professional audio products to try to sell them on the notion of stocking and promoting the sale of replacement and upgrade loudspeakers.

The first conversation is nearly always the same. I begin my sales pitch on our brand of loudspeakers, and the manager or owner quickly says, “We don’t really sell any loudspeakers here. Sometimes the service center orders in a few for repairs, but we don’t get many calls for that.” I always wonder where that owner or manager thinks that the consumer is going to find a replacement or upgrade speaker. Chances are, he/she is a musician himself, and he/she’s blown several speakers over the years. He/she has also probably traded in or retired good gear because of a speaker failure or because he/she didn’t like the tone or performance of a product he/she owned. Didn’t he/she realize there was a cheaper and easier way to solve those issues?

The number of amplifiers and speaker cabinets manufactured each year is staggering. Each of them includes one or more loudspeakers. For most of those products, the loudspeaker is the most expensive component, and manufacturers are often forced to make compromises on the speaker to remain competitive. The result can be a product that is just OK, but would otherwise be fantastic with the right choice of loudspeaker. Further, speakers are generally made from paper and cloth components that are ultimately somewhat delicate and can degrade over time with use and exposure.

I’ve been fortunate to have an insider’s view on the number of loudspeakers produced for MI and PA audio products. I can safely say that it exceeds 10,000 units daily. The numbers for replacements and upgrades sold to distributors and dealers in the U.S.A. alone are equally compelling. Although we don’t have access to all the data, it is fair to say that U.S. consumers spend in excess of $15 million yearly on such purchases. This is amazing considering the fact that consumers can’t generally find them in their favorite music store!

Sales of guitars, amplifiers, keyboards, and speaker cabinets have all suffered significant declines recently. Entertainment is alive and well though! Nightclubs and casinos are still open. Worship services continue. Artists are still performing. Children and adults are still interested in learning how to play an instrument. All of these venues and individuals still endeavor to keep their music instruments and equipment in the best possible repair. All the while, dealers and distributors struggle to find new ways to get a fair share of the business that remains.

Today’s consumer is smart. Anytime we need something we can’t find locally, we just Google it. All of us would rather go down the street and buy it, but if we can’t find it at home, we’ll buy it online. If it is something technical in nature, we often need advice. If we can’t find that locally, we can usually find it online, too!

Recently, I drove 25 miles to the closest (Radio) “Shack” to find an amplifier to drive passive speakers from my computer. After searching the store to no avail, I reluctantly decided to ask one of the two employees there. I hated to interrupt their conversation regarding a “stupid” boyfriend, but decided that the storeowner would appreciate it if I did. One immediately deferred to the other, who was quick to admit that she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I went home, did a quick Google search, and had an amplifier ordered within 10 minutes. I should have never left the couch. Consumers tell us every day about similar encounters they’ve had in music stores regarding loudspeakers.

Loudspeakers are an incredible accessory item for any music store! The poor economy and the consumer’s desire to maintain or upgrade their equipment, rather than buying new, makes it even more important and lucrative to consider. For the cost of a couple of keyboards or amplifiers, any dealer can obtain a nice stock of well regarded replacement and upgrade loudspeakers for musical instrument amplifiers or speaker cabinets. Don’t waste your time though if the plan is to put them on a shelf in the service center. If you kept strings and tuners back there, you wouldn’t sell many of them either.

Replacement and upgrade speakers need to be on the store floor, close to checkout, just like any other accessory. They won’t sell if they are not there where people can see them. Most speaker manufacturers have nice packaging, catalogs, banners, application tools, and technical service departments standing by to help you make recommendations to your customers.

As with all viable accessory items, dealers can enjoy significant margins. Those that creatively display loudspeakers and work with manufacturers to provide application solutions for consumers often enjoy thousands of dollars in additional sales volume. What’s more, sales of loudspeakers are a new segment of the market for most dealers…a segment that tends to flourish when sales of other products are down. They also provide dealers an option for consumers who just can’t financially swing a new amplifier or new monitor, or new pair of speakers.

High Frequency Driver Power Handling

Tech Talk With Big Tony May 5,2011

You may need less power handling from your high frequency driver than you might expect! High frequency drivers will only see a small percentage of system power, if a proper crossover network is used. The woofer section sees the brunt of the power in a system, because lower frequencies are more abusive. A lower crossover point is more abusive on the high frequency driver. As a general rule of thumb, we estimate that the high frequency driver will see about 20% of the system power with a 1.5kHz-2.5kHz crossover, 15% with a 3.5kHz-5kHz crossover, and 10% with a 5kHz and up crossover (all based on a minimum 12dB/octave slope). So, for a 400 watt system with a 1.6khz crossover, you may only need an 80 watt high frequency driver. Plus, high frequency drivers are typically much more efficient than woofers. You must attenuate the high frequency driver to more closely match the output of the woofer. For every 3dB of output that is attenuated, the power is cut in half. If you attenuate the 80 watt high frequency driver 6dB in the example above, you would only need a 20 watt high frequency driver for the 400 watt system.