认识吉他音箱的扬音器

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所属分类:音频杂谈

我们经常讨论电子管、讨论前级后级,一直忘了音箱的扬声器;好比网站制作,扬声器就是它的前端,是把音乐呈现给听众的最后一道坎。而扬声器又往往是乐手在碰到糟糕音色后所想到的最后一件事。更换不同类型的扬声器可以瞬间改变你的声音,相比于其他的音箱改装来说,这个方法是最简单、最快捷的,并且仅通过更换一个扬声器便可以将你的组合式音箱变为一个凶猛的武器。

更换一个比较理想的扬声器——或是换掉一个糟糕的扬声器并不像安装一个“较好的”零件那么简单;了解不同扬声器的一般特性对于吉他手来说是虽不非懂不可,但是却都是非常宝贵的知识,懂得多些也就少些“书到用时方恨少”的窘境。

扬声器不仅在尺寸和功率处理方面会有不同、在共振的特性、磁体的构建、功率方面也同样会有不同(即是,响度不仅仅与功率输入有关,也与“灵敏度”也有着很大关系。扩展阅读:音箱瓦数与音量之间的秘密)等等。为了让你尽快的学到更多的知识,本文将按照不同年代、不同类型的轨迹,讲述那些较为常见的扬声器类型。事实上在这个多元化的科技时代,把一个多功能的电子设备归类到单一的类型是不公平的:许多制造商生产的扬声器结合了多种特性。不过这的确是掌握它们基本知识的最简单的方法。所以让我们将扬声器分为两个大类,分别是“复古”与“现代”;每个种类还可以分为“美式”和“英式”两种。

复古扬声器

在20世纪40年代,50年代和60年代初,吉他音箱很少配备功率高于15至30瓦的扬声器(下面会有几个例外)。实际上,直到50年代后期,80瓦的Fender Twin和一些其它产品的到来之前,早期的吉他音箱很少推出更高瓦数的扬声器。这些扬声器被用于一些小型的场地或是录音室时都有着非常好的表现。然而,将音量开大一些,它们便开始发生变化,当演奏接近扬声器能力的顶峰时会有一些扬声器失真进入到音箱本身的失真中。

当吉他手们演出的场地变得越来越大,他们则需要更大,更清晰的音量水平,所以音箱制造商找到了更高层次的扬声器设计方式。然而,他们却发现这样做的成本比低额定的驱动高出许多,所以即使有更好的扬声器,他们也并没有大量地生产。但是这可能是一件好事。有许多吉他手都在追求那种不完全“Clean”的音色,他们非常享受地增加了一些扬声器的失真到他们的音色中去。低功率扬声器,凭借着它的“瑕疵”成为了蓝调以及摇滚乐不可缺少的声音,并且它们的影响力超过了五十年。

在50年代至60年代初的美国,Jensen公司是出产(低功率)扬声器最为知名的公司之一,并且在之后的几年中,该公司凭借着自己制造的热门老式扬声器继续扩大了自己的声誉。Jensen的P10R与P12R(15瓦,10'与12'磁钢扬声器),P10Q与P12Q(20瓦),P12N(30瓦)以及其他种类的扬声器为50年代的美式音箱提供了标志性的音色,比如Fender、Gibson、Ampeg、Magnatone、Premier、Slivertone等等。

P10R

Jensen的P10R扩音器

在后续的版本中,这些扬声器的磁体被陶瓷磁体所替代——并使用类似的名称来效果,以“C”作为前缀来替代“P”作为前缀,而它们也创造出了许多经典的60年代音色。这些扬声器中的每一款都有着非常鲜明的特点,而它们大致的特征比如脆亮的高频,或者较闷的感觉但开放而而有力的中频;以及饱满、多汁的低频(当将扬声器打开到一定程度时,所有的低频会在低功率的单位中爆发)。当过载较少时会提供甜美,干净的Clean音色,而推力较大时则会提供华丽,饱满的过载。

根据具体情况来说,同一家音箱制造商也会使用来自Utah、Oxford、CTS等等的扬声器。这些扬声器的共性是都具有一些老式Jensen的特点,但是却没有受到大部分吉他手的青睐。虽然原始的Jensen公司一直处于歇业状态,但是来自意大利的Recoton公司则是一家以50年代和60年代最为流行的磁钢磁体和陶瓷磁体的扬声器为基础的公司。这些扬声器至少捕捉到了原版扬声器的声音特性,虽然材料未必与原版扬声器百分百的匹配。来自美国的主要制造商Eminence是由CTS公司演变而成,它们也会制造一些复古的美式驱动,包括非常流行的Legend扬声器,以及许多全新的Patriot扬声器。来自印第安纳州的小型制造商,Weber Speakers,同样是一家以生产老式扬声器为基础的公司——他们的产品许多是基于芝加哥时期的Jensens扬声器设计而成的。

穿过大西洋,Elac、Goodmans以及Celestion等公司在50年代所制造的扬声器在大致特点上与它们的美国老表非常相似。使用锥形纸浆和磁钢环形磁铁在12瓦到20瓦之间来实现保守的额定功率处理,这些音箱的表表者最著名的要数Goodmans Audiom 60,更著名的则是被音箱制造商重新更换标签的Vox Blue— Celestion G12。现如今Celestion的“Blue”仍然是一个非常优秀的复刻版,这款Alnico Blue——以甜美,饱满的中频,引人注意的高频,较为丰满的低频响应以及强大的攻击性而出名。它一直是一款高效的扬声器,这也就意味着它能够转换相当高的功率比例到音量中。相比同样的灵敏度为90dB到97dB的复古式Jensens和其他的扬声器,G12已经达到了100dB的灵敏度等级(使用1瓦的功率来驱动音箱,然后在距离一米处来测量音量)。如果灵敏度是这样的话,距离来说一对安装在Vox AC30 2X12音箱中的G12则可以制造比30瓦功率电子管音箱更多的噪音——甚至会比安装了低灵敏度的60瓦或100瓦音箱更加响亮。对于某些吉他手来说,高功率会让声音变得更好,——但是在某些情况下,大音量并不意味着更好,因为你可能会需要在小音量的情况下获得动态增益等等。

71oeMcxO6eL._SL1500_

Celestion G12

在20世纪60年代中期,Celestion公司将他们那具有奠基石意义的吉他扬声器改造成了配备陶瓷磁铁的G12“绿背”(Greenback,额定功率在20—25瓦),你可以在Marshall的多扬声器箱体中找到它们,而这些扬声器也定义了早期摇滚音箱的声音。Greenback的声音非常温暖、粗糙而尖锐的,但是低频虽是非常的饱满,但是当将它们安装在四个扬声器或八个扬声器的封闭式箱体时,它们的声音依然非常的性感。这种扬声器丝毫不亚于任何音箱,尤其是那些追求“英伦音色”的经典摇滚和蓝调摇滚吉他手。在60年代末,功率稍微高一些的G12H配备了更大的磁极——以及更高效的设计——这样它提供了更多的低频,更大的音量以及冲击力。而今天,Celestion公司所生产的Greenback和G12H两款扬声器则有了一定的变化——一款为英国制造的Heritage系列,另一款则为中国制造的Classic系列。Eminence公司的产品则覆盖了大西洋两岸,尤其是能够提供经典英式之声的Red Coat扬声器系列,而加州的制造商Tone Tubby则通过锥形的扬声器来像原版的磁钢G12扬声器致敬。同样,Weber Speakers公司也生产了许多以经典Celestion扬声器为设计基础的扬声器,而位于德克萨斯的Kendrick也制造了自己的产品,包括Blackframe,Brownframe以及Greenframe等扬声器。(Kendrick在美国同时还分销Fane扬声器)

现代扬声器

如前所述,追求更大音量的音箱制造商也同样在寻找拥有适当功率的扬声器。提高驱动的功率处理能力往往也会带来其他性能的变化,我们可以大致认为“现代式”扬声器不仅仅提供了更大冲击力,也提供了相比老式扬声器更紧致,更清晰的声音。

第一款被音箱制造商所广泛使用的类似扩音器驱动,恐怕要比我们之前所讨论的时期更早。在60年代初期受到冲浪吉他手Dick Dale的影响,Fender公司的Showman音箱便是一款拥有大音量的音箱——它们有着不寻常的输送方式以及封闭式扬声器箱体——由于Fender公司正在寻求一个坚固、高效的扬声器,所以他们推出了JBL D120F与D130F(分别是12'与15'的扬声器)。这两款扬声器是以用在高保真音频行业的JBL D120和D130为基础设计而成的——所以它们型号中加入了“F”来进行区分——这些扬声器配备了巨大的铝镍钴磁体,坚固的铸造金属框架以及大音圈,更重要的是它们体现出的功率处理能力在当时几乎是独一无二的。这些扬声器让Showman音箱拥有巨大的音量,并且在几年后,这些扬声器也成为了Twin Reverb音箱的可选配置之一,它们同样让这款音箱拥有强大的音量以及沉重感。JBL系列扬声器饱满的低频,圆润的中品以及明亮,稍微刺耳的高频。总得来说,它们非常适合大分贝演奏。

另外两家制造现代式扬声器的美国公司Electro-Voice与Altec的产品在60年代时变得流行。早期的产品大部分都选用了较大的铝镍钴磁铁来制造——然而EV最知名的扬声器,EVM-2L则是一款陶瓷磁体扬声器,而这款扬声器是由于在80年代被使用在Mesa/Boogie以及其他大型摇滚音箱上而闻名世界。200瓦的额定功率在今天依然可以使用,这款扬声器本身就是以令人难以置信的冲击力而闻名,并且它还能够提供纯粹的Clean音色以及饱满、让人惊喜的过载音色。(近几年推出的Zakk Wylde签名款Black Label EVM-12L提供了令人发指的300瓦功率。)Altec公司最受欢迎的摇滚风格扬声器则是417-8H,但是现在已经停产。这款扬声器同样是Mesa/Boogie音箱的可选配置之一,并且它还是Santana中期职业生涯中音色的关键因素,并且它还深受Randy Rhoads以及其他摇滚明星的喜爱。众所周知,这款100瓦的扬声器能够提供强大、洪亮的Clean音色,并且在扬声器失真处于最小的情况下依然能够提供激烈的过载音色。

celestion-g12t-75

许多生产复古式扬声器的大品牌为了生存,也开始在设计中融入现代的元素。比如Celestion备受欢迎的G12T-75、G12H-100、Classic Lead 80等等——这些都是用于大音量以及有高功率处理能力的扬声器。与此同时,也有一些产品位于“复古”与“现代”之间。Eminence的Legend,Patriot以及Red Coat等扬声器都有着非常高的功率处理能力,但是它们的音色却更偏向于复古式音箱。你可以查看一下Legend V128 (120瓦), Swamp Thang (150瓦)以及Man O War (120瓦)等扬声器被安装在的音箱。即使在过去几十年中Celestion公司最受欢迎的产品——Vintage 30,也发展为在能够够捕捉到AC30那种复古英式之声的同时,使用能够处理60瓦功率的现代式配件。同样,最近推出的Celestion Alnico Gold也同样使用50瓦组件中来获得15瓦Alnico Blue的音色。另一家英国制造商,经常被忽视的Fane(他们所生产的扬声器在60年代末期至70年代被使用在Hiwatt音箱上),则依然生产磁钢扬声器,AXA12,它看起来与其他老式扬声器没有什么区别,但是却有着100瓦的功率。

铝镍钴磁体 VS.陶瓷磁铁

在扬声器的世界中,铝镍钴磁体会有一些嗡声的噪音(同样与吉他拾音器一样),并且以甜美音色和动态被赐予“音乐磁体”的尊称。铝镍钴合金是由铝、镍和钴混合而成的合金(这种材料还掺入了一定量的铁)。由于钴材料的的稀有以及昂贵的价格,所以相比于陶瓷磁体来说,铝镍钴磁体会相对昂贵,但是在70年至80年代时,铝镍钴磁体的使用率有了一定的下降。虽然铝镍钴磁体的扬声器具有一定的优势,但是几款经典的扬声器——甚至包括许多复古式扬声器,包括许多专业吉他手所使用的扬声器都是陶瓷磁体制作而成的。Celestion的G12M Greenback和G12H-30都是陶瓷磁体扬声器,包括一些Eminence与60年代中期的Jensens的经典扬声器也都是有陶瓷磁体制作而成。

G12MGreenback

Celestion的G12M Greenback

选择适合你的扬声器

根据你个人的音色需求来选择扬声器,然后再进行升级或替换,由于涉及到了不同类型的扬声器,所以你必须熟知以上我们所说的每款扬声器的特点,然后从功率处理能力,灵敏度/效率的需要来进行考虑。历史上的许多优秀吉他手都是通过将毫无关系的扬声器安装在意想不到的地方才偶然发现独特而优秀的音色,所以不要让所谓的“英式”或“美式”成为硬性规定。笔者曾经听说过英式的Eminence Red Fang被安装在复古的美式Tweed音箱上,以及美式的Weber 12A125被安装在经典的英式音箱上。花费尽可能多的时间进行试验,但一定要考虑到你的预算。你也可以通过你朋友的设备或者一些你所崇拜的吉他手的设备中学到一些东西。

当然,考虑到更换扬声器的问题,你可以寻求专业电子技工的帮助,也可以继续关注未来音乐人攻略关于此类DIY的攻略文章

英文原文:

Any top amp tech, thoughtful manufacturer, or clued-in player will tell you that your speakers are responsible for an enormous chunk of your tone. Despite this fact, the speaker is often the last thing a player considers in any quest to overhaul an unsatisfactory sound. Replacing a stock speaker with a different type can instantly alter your amp’s sound more than any other single change, and it can be the simplest, quickest, and potentially cheapest means of converting a mediocre combo into a raging tone machine.

Swapping to a more desirable speaker—or replacing a faulty one—is not always simply a matter of installing a “better” unit, so knowing a little about the general characteristics of speaker types can prove valuable to any guitarist. Speakers vary in size and power-handling capabilities, but also in resonant character, construction of cone and magnet, efficiency (that is, loudness relative to power input, also referred to as “sensitivity”), and so on. To smoothly achieve your triple flip into the deep end of the knowledge pool, I’ll break up different speaker types into more easily digestible genres. In this post-modern age, it isn’t entirely fair to categorize all components in the field so rigidly—and many manufacturers make speakers that blend a range of characteristics—but this is still the easiest way to get a handle on the subject. So let’s split our speakers into two fairly broad categories, “vintage” and “modern”—each of which is subject to two subdivisions, “American” and “British.”

Vintage

In the 1940s, ’50s, and early ’60s, guitar amps rarely carried speakers rated higher than 15 to 30 watts (although we’ll look at a few exceptions below). Indeed, early guitar amps rarely put out more than the higher figure, until the arrival of the 80-watt Fender Twin of the late 1950s, and a few others. These speakers were fine when used singly in small venues or recording studios, or in multi-driver cabs at dance-hall volumes. Push them hard, however, and they started to break up, adding a degree of speaker distortion to the amp’s own distortion when played near peak operating capacity.

As guitarists found themselves in bigger and bigger venues that required higher clean-volume levels, amp makers sought out more robust speaker designs. Those they found, however, cost more than the lower-rated drivers, so even when available, they weren’t universally employed. And that’s probably a good thing. A lot of players who weren’t seeking absolute “clean clean” tone enjoyed the added grit, bite, edge, and compression that a touch of speaker distortion adds to the sonic brew. Lower-powered speakers, with all their gorgeous “flaws” became a big part of the rock and roll and blues sounds, and they have retained this role for more than 50 years.

In the United States, Jensen was the big name in (lower-powered) speakers in the 1950s and early ’60s, and, in the years after, the company retained a reputation as the hottest vintage American make to own. Jensen’s P10R and P12R (15-watt, 10" and 12" alnico speakers), P10Q and P12Q (20 watts), P12N (30 watts) and a few other models played a big part in the signature sounds of great American ’50s amps from Fender, Gibson, Ampeg, Magnatone, Premier, Silvertone, and others.

The respective ceramic-magnet descendants of these models—marketed in similar designations with a “C” prefix in place of the “P” prefix—were the voice of many ’60s classics. Each of these models has some distinctive characteristics, but they are broadly characterized by bell-like highs; somewhat boxy, but rather open and transparent mids; and juicy, saturated lows (to the point of flapping, farting, and all-out low-frequency freak outs in lower-rated units when they’re pushed hard). Whatever adjectives we apply to them, these performance properties combine to yield sweet, tactile clean sounds when driven a little, and gorgeous, rich, chewy overdrive when driven a lot.

Depending on availability, many of the same amp manufacturers also used speakers from Utah, Oxford, CTS, and others. These models usually shared some vintage Jensen properties, but are generally not as revered by players. The original Jensen company has long been out of business, but Italy’s Recoton manufactures a Vintage range based on the most popular alnico and ceramic models of the ’50s and ’60s. These speakers capture at least some of the tonal characteristics of the originals, although materials are not 100 percent matches between the new and old units. Major American manufacturer Eminence, which evolved out of the CTS company, also makes a number of vintage-American-voiced drivers, including its popular, long-running Legend speakers, and many speakers in the newer Patriot range. The smaller Indiana-based manufacturer, Weber Speakers, likewise offers a range of highly regarded vintage-style units—many of which are based on Chicago-era Jensens.

Across the pond, Elac, Goodmans, and Celestion were manufacturing speakers in the 1950s that had broadly similar characteristics to their American cousins. Using pulp-paper cones and alnico ring magnets to achieve power handling conservatively rated in the 12- to 20-watt ballpark, these appeared most famously as the Goodmans Audiom 60, and, more famously, the Vox Blue—a Celestion G12 relabeled by the amp manufacturer. Celestion’s “Blue”—still available today as an excellent reissue, the Alnico Blue—is famous for its sweet, rich, and musical mids, appealing highs, slightly rounded low-end response, and plenty of aggression when pushed. The Blue has always been a highly efficient speaker, too—which means that it translates a relatively high proportion of the wattage pumped into it into volume. The G12 has a sensitivity rating of 100dB (measured by driving the speaker with one watt, and then evaluating the volume level from a distance of one meter), compared to figures of 90dB to 97dB for similarly styled vintage Jensens and other speakers. Such sensitivity means, for example, that a pair of G12s in a 2x12 Vox AC30 can produce a lot of noise from that 30-plus-watts tube amp—even making it sound as loud as a 60-watt or 100-watt amp with less efficient speakers. Higher efficiency might sound like a universally good thing—and, for some players, it is—but louder isn’t always better, and, in some circumstances, you might want to tame a little volume to gain dynamics and easy break up.

In the mid 1960s, Celestion evolved its cornerstone guitar speaker into the ceramic-magnet G12M “Greenback” (rated at 20-25 watts), which were typically found in multiples of four inside closed-back Marshall cabs, setting the early standard for rock’s amp-stack sound. The Greenback is warm, gritty, and edgy, with a bottom that isn’t particularly firm, but which can still pack plenty of oomph when doing its thing in fours or eights in a closed-back cab or two. This speaker, as much as any amplifier, typifies the “British” sound sought by so many classic rock and blues-rock players. In the late ’60s, the slightly higher-rated G12H took on a heavier magnet—and a slightly more efficient design—to offer a bigger low end, and a little more volume and punch. Celestion today produces two variations of the Greenback and G12H—one each in the British-made Heritage Series and Chinese-made Classic range. Eminence covers both sides of the Atlantic by also offering a wide range of Brit-voiced drivers in its Red Coat line, and California maker Tone Tubby pays homage to the original alnico G12 with its hemp-coned speakers. Likewise, Weber Speakers offers many units based on classic Celestion models, while Texas-based Kendrick has its own line of Blackframe, Brownframe, and Greenframe speakers. (Kendrick also distributes Fane speakers in the U.S.)

Modern

As already mentioned, the quest for more volume also sent amp manufacturers seeking speakers that could handle the power. Increasing a driver’s power-handling capabilities usually brings other performance changes along with it, however, so we can broadly characterize “modern” speakers not only as being able to take more of a beating, but also as having a tighter, clearer voice that is usually accompanied by firmer lows than the typical vintage speaker offers.

The first such driver widely used by a major amp manufacturer came into play a lot earlier than our previous discussion might imply. In developing the loud Showman amps of the early ’60s for surf guitar sensation Dick Dale—as well as the unusual ported and closed-backed speaker cabinets that accompanied them—Fender sought a sturdy, efficient driver, and came up with the JBL D120F and D130F (12" and 15" speakers, respectively). Based on the JBL D120 and D130 models used in the hi-fi audio industry—the “F” added to denote Fender OEM units—these speakers had enormous alnico magnets, sturdy cast-metal frames, and large voice coils, and, as a result, they exhibited power-handling capabilities like almost nothing else available in the world of guitar amps. They succeeded in making Showmans hellaciously loud amps, and when added as an option to Twin Reverb combos a few years later, they also helped to make these amps both unfathomably loud and excruciatingly heavy. JBLs classically present firm lows, a round midrange with an edge of bark and a slightly nasal honk, and ringing, occasionally piercing highs. There are speakers suited to loud playing—when you really want to cut through.

Two other makers of advanced, modern-styled American speakers, Electro-Voice and Altec, started popping up in guitar amps in the 1960s. Early examples employed big alnico magnets—although EV’s most famous guitar driver, the EVM-12L, was a ceramic-magnet speaker that came to fame in many Mesa/Boogies and other big rock amps of the ’80s. Rated at 200 watts, and still available today, it is famed for its ability to stand up to incredible punishment, and keep pumping out pristine clean tones and rich, detailed overdrive. (The current Zakk Wylde signature Black Label EVM-12L is rated at an awesome 300 watts.) Altec’s most popular rock speaker was the 417-8H, which is no longer available. These were also optional equipment in Mesa/Boogie amps, and were a key ingredient in the mid-period Santana tone, as well as being favored by the likes of Randy Rhoads and other big stadium-rock wailers. These 100-watt drivers are known for powerful, full-throated clean tones, while translating cranked-amp overdrive tones with a minimum of speaker distortion.

Many big names in vintage speakers survived to produce designs that fit more easily into the modern category. Celestion, for example, also offers the much-loved G12T-75, G12H-100, Classic Lead 80, and others—all powerful rock drivers with big voices and serious power-handling capabilities. Meanwhile, many blur the lines between vintage and modern. Eminence carries robust speakers in its Legend, Patriot, and Red Coat ranges that have impressive power-handling specs, but achieve tones that fall more into the vintage-voicing camp. Look to the Legend V128 (120 watts), Swamp Thang (150 watts), and Man O War (120 watts) for examples from their respective camps. Even one of Celestion’s most popular speakers of the past couple of decades, the Vintage 30, was developed in an effort to capture the vintage-styled British tones of an AC30 in a more contemporary package that can handle 60 watts. Similarly, the recently introduced Celestion Alnico Gold seeks to capture the tone of the 15-watt Alnico Blue in a sturdier 50-watt package. Another British manufacturer, the oft-overlooked Fane (whose speakers powered many a Hiwatt in the late 1960s and ’70s), still manufactures an alnico speaker, the AXA12, that looks for all the world like a vintage driver, but handles a whopping 100 watts.

The Speaker for You

Selecting the driver to best meet your tonal requirements, as an upgrade or replacement, involves a soul searching of sorts, where you navigate between all the characteristics described above, and consider them in light of power-handling requirements and desired sensitivity/efficiency. Great players throughout tone history have stumbled upon some distinctive and utterly outstanding sounds by employing unlikely speaker choices in unexpected places, so don’t let the American/British categories discussed here imply any rigid rules. I’ve heard great results with a Brit-voiced Eminence Red Fang in a vintage tweed-styled American amp, and an American-voiced Weber 12A125 in a British class A-type amp. Experiment as much as time, budget, and your local guitar store will allow, take tips from friends’ rigs and those of name players whose tone you admire, and discover what works for you.

Speaker Distortion

When we talk of speaker distortion, we mean a form of distortion—distinct from amplifier distortion—that is generated when a driver is pushed near its operating limits. The voice coil and paper cone begin to fail to translate the electrical signal cleanly, and, as a result, produce a somewhat (or, sometimes, severely) distorted performance. Put simply, the voice coil begins to saturate, the paper cone begins to flap and vibrate beyond its capacity, the magnet’s performance compresses, and the entire electro-mechanical network that makes up a speaker cooperates to bring its own degree of fuzz to the brew. The concept of such distortion is sometimes confusing, because it often occurs on top of any distortion the amplifier itself is producing. The distortion produced by a high-gain preamp stage—or a floored output stage—can occasionally be heard on its own when an amp is played through high-powered speakers that refuse to distort (or distort very little), even under high-output conditions. In most cases, when an amp is raging, you’re hearing a little of both.

Alnico vs. Ceramic Magnets

Alnico magnets possess a certain buzz in the speaker world (and also in the world of guitar pickups), and are considered to be a more “musical magnet” that’s revered for sweetness and dynamics. Alnico is an alloy of aluminum, nickel, and cobalt (blended with a quantity of iron). Thanks to the relative scarcity and expense of cobalt, it’s an expensive alternative to the ceramic magnets that are also employed in speaker manufacturing, and alnico was all but dropped from use in the 1970s and ’80s. While this description of alnico implies a certain superiority, be aware that several classic speakers—even many vintage models, and those that remain the driver of choice for countless major players and tonehounds—were (and continue to be) made with ceramic magnets. Celestion’s G12M Greenback and G12H-30 are both ceramic speakers, as are plenty of great units from Eminence and revered early to mid-’60s Jensens.

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