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All other things being equal, what's the difference between ceramic and neo speakers?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Flux Jetson, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. I know neodymiums are lighter in weight, but with everything being the same, what tonal differences are there between the two?

    If a fella were to take a cab, and A/B ceramics and neos, what would be learned?

  2. will33


    May 22, 2006
    The motor doesn't know what's making the magnetic force. There is no tone difference that can be attrubutes soley to magnet material.

    What neo can do is focus more of that down in/around the gap where the voice coil sits. That allows the engineers to come up with designs/performance type stuff they weren't able to before. So, there really isn't any 2 drivers to compare that are equal in all aspects except the magnet. The magnet allows them to design differently.

    This explained to me by a speaker re-coner.

    He says the focusing of the magnetism in the gap, or having stronger magnetism on/around the voice coil allows them to do different designs. The fact that it happens to be lightweight is a side benefit really.

    If somebody says, "neo's sound like this and ceramics sound like that", they really hearing all those other design differences, not the different actual material in the magnet.

    Neo designs keep moving forward, as do the others, but the neo's are a newer thing, still being refined, perfected, etc. The older style speakers have already had decades worth of that refinement/perfection done to them.
  3. Neo magnets eliminated some design bottlenecks, just as ceramic did from alnico. So all things can't remain equal.
    mikegeri likes this.
  4. Well, I wasn't refering to the material, I was refering to the drivers. The design differences you spoke of make them sound different. So what are the tonal differences? Not so much the materials or the construction .. the important part .. that would be the noises coming from the drivers out of the wooden box.

    Like I said, if you played one type .. stopped playing ... changed drivers .. and resumed playing .. what differences would you hear? I'm not concerned with "why" they sound different in this particular thread.

    Thanks for the science though.
  5. Ok .. geez .. you KNOW you understand exactly what I'm getting at here .... so let's try to see if we can answer this without the nitpicking .. haaha!!! :p :p :p

    C'mon fellas. You fully understand what I mean here. :help:

    Shees .. ok ok .. I'll play along .... :rolleyes:

    What can I expect to sound different between a given manufacturer's 2x10 neo vs a 2x10 ceramic? What would a person that has used ceramics hear differently if he were to start using neo speakers .. in a general sense.

    C'mon you guys, you know you get what I'm driving at here. :)
  6. The trouble is how the design is done.
    In "general" neo designed drivers will have extended upper response while still having good low end extension. Some will hear this as mid heavy, when it usually is just a more even response.
    Now that I have played along, the REAL "nit pickers" may come out ;)
  7. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    In support of what's been said above, very few if any neo designs are a simple matter of putting a new magnet on an old driver. The designer faces the irresistible desire to improve more things than just the weight of the magnet. So, the neo drivers will tend to have newer cone designs that the designers hope will make the customer happy.

    And one more thing... the highest performance neo drivers are a relatively new arrival on the market, and are unlikely to be in mass manufactured cabs such as GK... yet. So the differences might not even be profound. It's a case where you'll have to let your ears guide you.
  8. will33


    May 22, 2006

    There's about 30 different variables in there, the magnet being 1 of them. It isn't that simple.
  9. To attempt to answer the question, sometimes there is nothing different to hear. I have an old Goliath III cab, and last year bought a Golight. 4x10 ceramic vs 4x10 neo. The boxes are dimensionality identical. I challenge anyone to hear a difference. I A/B'd them for a couple hours when I got the Golight, and I really can't. They sound virtually identical.
    This isn't to say that cabs from other brands might have differences, which may or may not be deliberate. But SWR clearly meant to keep the original Goliath tone in the Golight, and they've succeeded. IMO/IME!
  10. Yes you can make a NEO magnet speaker sound just like a ceramic speaker. :) It is kind of a waste of potential, but not a problem.
  11. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass SUSPENDED

    Sep 14, 2010
    both of them make sound when attached to a amplifier.

    No different than comparing any speaker.
    its just a general statement.

    Some are brighter some are darker some handle more power some less. its a just a general statement.

    You would have to compare known models. Like what does a LegendCB158 sound like compared to a 3015.

    then you would get a description...like Blah blah, Lows. blah blah highs. blah blah blah
    and all of that blah blah would be related to more than just the magnet type.

    there is no generic answer like, Neos have a muddy low with crispy highs and ceramic have punchy mids with little highs.

    that is just the same old blah blah blah.
    You can model the driver in a simulator based on TS parameters.
    But even then, nothing beats the listening test. Or getting un biased opinions on specific speaker models from a person that has actually heard the drivers, and not just repeat what they read on the internet.
  12. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA

    Two things I have learned (thanks to Duke, Greenboy, Bill Fitzmaurice, and others too numerous to mention), and confirmed through lots of extracurricular study and gigging experience are:

    1. Loudspeaker design is part science, part economics, part ergonomics, part aesthetics, part marketing & brand identification, part bragging rights & posturing, and part art/intention/alchemy;

    2. Among successful speaker designers and musicians are found markedly divergent opinions about what "the ideal cab" should sound like, how it should be built, its capabilities, specs, characteristics, etc.

    One things is certain; loudspeaker technology has improved by leaps and bounds in the past decade. The newest crop, including Duke's Thunderkinder, and Greenboy's fEarful and new private label cabs, have raised the bar considerably, redefining the boutique/high-end/custom market segment in the process.

    Thanks to these 21st century advances, I am completely satisfied with my bass cabs for the very first time since 1968, and I eagerly await bass loudspeaker designs of the future.

    Gearwise, it's a great time to be a bassplayer!
  13. will33


    May 22, 2006
    I like the art and alchemy part.:D
  14. the difference in weight between drivers with Neo magnets and drivers with ceramic magnets averages about 40 ounces (less than 3 lbs), not a great acmount
    what cabinet manufactures are doing is mounting these neo drivers in lighter weight wood, so, yes there should be no difference in tone betweenthe 2 types of drivers, but,
    I find, when the NEO magnet drivers are mounted in lighter wood they seem to lose thier punch and warmth,
    tshapiro likes this.
  15. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Substitue "lighter" with "poorly braced" :smug:
  16. Nightlyraider


    Sep 30, 2009
    neodymium = a potentially more powerful, smaller magnet structure than a ceramic or rare-earth magnet.

    the responses here have been honest, engineers simply have less space taken up by magnet. this allows a: smaller motor assemblies with equivalent power, and b: more powerful motor assemblies with equal size.

    the modern neo speakers generally sound different from something 40 years old because they are COMPLETELY different.
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    They could make speakers that sound like the old ones with neodymium, but nobody making speakers appears to be interested in it. A couple years ago I read on here that it wasn't even on their radar to make "vintage" neos, and all they wanted to do was to stretch the boundaries of what they could do before it came along. I don't know if that's changed, but I think it'll start happening once they're done experimenting and they need new models to entice us to buy. Darn sure will buy them, too.
  18. will33


    May 22, 2006
    There is a certain mojo in old speakers. But first, they have to take it all out to the n'th degree until you can't go any further.....kinda like late '80's poprock....then they'll come back around.
  19. Maybe so. Makes sense I suppose. But see my earlier post about my SWR cabs. Same sound, just a lot lighter. This might be an anomaly in the biz, but I like it.
    Be neat if Ampeg built a neo 8x10 that sounded like current models but weighed 50 lbs less, don't you think?
    bassmike2010 likes this.
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well I'll wait till it happens to decide ;) but I wouldn't mind a lighter 810e.

    I did see what you said about the Golight earlier. I wonder if the voicing of the original Goliaths makes it easier to duplicate with neos or if SWR just had enough buying power to get it done.

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