Back in the days, a good guitar rig equates to the skills of the DIY technician who builds their piece of “Tonal Nirvana” from scratch using their own design. My dad used to spend long hours tweaking his setup; from his guitar to the rack mounted equalizers, to the massive sized cabinet speakers he himself designed and built.
I always remembered what he would say every time we listened to his setup: Always remember – your speaker is just your microphone in reverse, and your main goal is to faithfully reproduce the sound from your source.
This makes me realize why he would spend hours researching the specs of every speaker that comes his way – he is in constant search for that perfect piece of cone that would define his “tone”.
All guitar player knows that the “perfect tone” is subjective. In this regard, how will we determine the speaker that would complete your sound chain? Whether you are building your cabinet from scratch or simply replacing your busted speakers, here are some pointers to consider when choosing your perfect cone.
Low-profile – what sound are you aiming for? Are you gunning for a warmer sound from your Princeton reverb, or you want to maximize its cut-through lead capabilities? Always remember; low-frequency attributes are defined by how well the speaker is dampened. A well-dampened speaker produces a tight sound bass, perfect for British – esque leads. Also, a speaker with a higher power rating would give you more punch for your low frequencies, giving you a tighter sound.
Two’s a company – if you are replacing a busted speaker in a dual combo cabinet, always check for speaker impedance and power rating. It’s fine if you are looking to change one of your speakers to achieve a different sound, just remember to check if your chosen replacement speaker will complement your existing one, or one will just end up dominating the other. It is better to seek professional advice in these aspects, together with the compatibility of the speaker’s tuning to your cabinet’s volume.
Size does matter – the cone is one of the main components that defines how a speaker would sound. The materials used in making the cone, the way the cone flexes and its magnetic motor design contributes greatly to the overall sound. A twelve-inch speaker would vibrate a bit freely giving its lower frequencies more definition, making it a perfect choice for four driver combos, whereas a 10 inch or smaller speaker is ideal for small practice amplifiers due to its tight tone characteristics.
With all these attributes to considers, here’s our offer for the best 8-inch guitar speakers available in the market today for your amp-hacking needs.
Seismic Audio Jolt-8Pair Bass Guitar Raw Woofers Speaker Driver Pro Audio Replacements, 8-InchPro: Budget friendly
Con: A bit heavy (5.5 lbs per speaker)
To say that Seismic Audio’s Jolt-8 speakers are powerful is an understatement. With its rating of 175 Watts RMS at 8 Ohms with an impedance of 91 dB, it is safe to say that these woofers can handle anything your bass guitar throws its way. Whether you are a slap and pop player, or a low groove rider, the Jolt-8 is assured to handle any tonal possibilities you might think of. It’s frequency response of 75Hz-5KHz is more than enough to cover any genres available. Whether you are replacing the speakers on your 2X2 combo, or you are building your own cabinet from scratch, the Jolt-8 is your bang for the back speakers, budget and tone wise.
Jensen Vintage P8R8 8-Inch Alnico Guitar Speaker, 8 ohmPro: Provides the classic low sweet tone that most jazz/blues players go for.
Con: Works best at low volume levels.
Al Ni Co – short for Aluminum, Nickel, and Cobalt. These are the alloys used to make the magnet that drives this speaker’s core. Due to its warm qualities, the alnico is suited for guitar players who want their sound warm and smooth, much like to the tone provided by the classic Fender Bassman. The great thing about this speaker is, you won’t need any pedals if you are looking for that true blues sound just plug in your guitar and let the warmness wash all over your tone.
Eminence Patriot 820H 8 Inch Guitar Speaker with Hemp Cone, 20 Watts at 4 OhmsPro: Will produce a contoured and defined guitar tone.
Con: Subdued mid and highs on initial break in.
The Patriot 820H from eminence is the perfect replacement for you if you are looking for the bright highs that compliments its warm lows. The 80Hz – 4.6 kHz frequency response gives you a well-contoured sound spectrum. Be it in a practice environment or in a recording studio you can be sure that your guitar lines will cut through the part you are playing over. Though the mid and highs on this woofer a bit subdued upon initial use, the sound noticeably improves after its first 30 hours of break in. This is a better choice for me over its brother, the Alpha 8A if you are looking to use this as a replacement for your guitar amplifier’s speaker.
Eminence American Standard Alpha 8A 8″ Replacement Speaker, 125 Watts at 8 OhmsPro: Versatility; can be used as replacement speakers for PA loudspeakers, as well as instrument amplifiers.
Con: Limited control on over driven tones.
Next in line is Eminence’s American Standard Alpha 8A. This speaker has a frequency response of 58Hz-5 kHz, which makes it an ideal replacement speaker for public address systems due to its applications. The Alpha 8A is rated at 125 Watts, 8 ohms. Due to its wide frequency response, it is ideal to accommodate the wide sound spectrum demanded by most PA users, of if you are a guitar player the borders mainly on jazz or any genre that plays on the low/mid EQ with regards to tone. The only downside is its handling of over driven sound due to its frequency range. Overall, this is a good replacement 8 inch guitar speaker for PA or for guitar amplifier that employs guitar emulation.
Seismic Audio Q 8 Pair 2 of 8-Inch NEW PA/DJ – Replacement Raw Woofers/SpeakersPro: Bang for the buck choice.
Con: Limited control on over driven tones.
If you are looking to replace the speakers on your dual combo cabinet, then Seismic Audio’s Q 8 is your bang for the buck choice. With its rating of 75 watts RMS @ 8 ohms, these woofers are sure to set a balanced output for your cabinet. The 55Hz-5 kHz frequency response is ideal for PA applications, not to mention that this is a perfect choice for those who wish to build their 2X2 or 4X4 cabinets from scratch. The chassis is made from pressed steel, and with a sensitivity of 94 dB, these woofers can handle almost anything that you throw their way.
Jensen Vintage C8R8 8-Inch Ceramic Speaker, 8 ohmPro: Reproduces the classic “tweed” sound that vintage players go for.
Con: Tends to sound a bit harsh on the upper mid-range upon initial break in.
Jensen has been one of Fender’s choice for its in-cabinet speakers throughout the years. Much of the classic “tweed” sound that came from their long list of amplifiers are from Jensen’s ceramic touch. The C8R8 is rated at 25 watts, which is an ideal replacement speaker for smaller amps, breathing in a new life to the tonal possibilities your practice amplifier. This woofer may tend to sound a wee bit harsh on initial use, but the sound drastically improves once you hit the 20-hour break-in. The best part is, you don’t have to shed a whole lot of money to get that “Fender Vibe” your ear has been looking for.