1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Aluminum or paper speaker cones and why?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by fourstringbliss, Aug 30, 2004.

  1. Aluminum cone

    6 vote(s)
  2. Paper cone

    38 vote(s)
  1. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I will be purchasing a speaker cabinet for my amp head, and have the option of aluminum or paper speaker cones. What's the difference, and why would you choose which?
  2. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    I've never heard a metal cone speaker I've liked. They're all usually brittle and peaky at the top end of the range as the cone goes into resonance. You might like this effect, but I don't as it colours <i>everything</i> the same, a bit like having a signal dependent high Q equaliser switched in permanently.
    Paper cones are usually better damped and simply sound more natural <i>to my ears</i>.
  3. Aluminum cones are more prone to tearing as well.
  4. lbanks


    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    What can I say? I like my Hartke 4.5XL. It pumps the bass for me. Just too heavy.
  5. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    I'm not claiming to have all the knowledge in the world on this subject but I can share an opinion.

    I have played combo amps with both types of cones and the paper ones just sound better, warmer, and like another post said "more natural".

    Maybe thats why you don't see aluminum cones in GK, Genz Benz, SWR amps.
  6. Mel Monihan

    Mel Monihan

    Mar 30, 2004
    I have never liked the sound of Aluminum cones either for the same reasons as mentioned.
  7. Jazzbasslover


    Dec 8, 2004
    If you buy aluminum coned speakers, especially Hartkes, I can almost guarantee that you will have to replace them much sooner than you would like. I did and so have most bassists that I know that have used them. A common misconception of the less informed is that they are more durable. Don't fall for it.
  8. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Two words: "Metal fatigue."
  9. denjerre


    May 14, 2004
    A friend of mine likes the Aluminum ones a lot for metal with a pick and punk. I still prefer the paper ones, however, i can get that piano-like tone when tapping through his rig...
  10. Basspolizei

    Basspolizei Pseudo bass player/collector

    Jun 23, 2004
    Buy basses and lots of guns before it's too late! You have been warned.
    Paper is much more mellow and real with greater durability! :eyebrow:
  11. I really liked my Hartke 4.5xls (2) stacked. I traded them for an Eden 2-15. Big Mistake! I really wish I kept them. People will always say HARSH and all that. The do the same for KLIPSCH horns for stereo. They are a different animal, but harsh is the wrong word. It's a matter of taste. The Hartke xl cabs are pressboard. That Kinda turned me off. I'll bet they would rule in an Ampeg 8-10 plywood cab.
  12. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I used Hartke speakers for several years (though not now), and here's my take:

    1. They perform BETTER than paper cones in very humid climates (i.e. caribbean humidity), where the paper-coned speakers I used would sound a bit sluggish on those days where everything felt damp to the touch.

    2. In very cold climates in winter, you have to be careful to let them warm up to room temperature before playing. The aluminium gets quite brittle at freezing temperatures - like when pulled right out of the back of an equipment truck at 20 degrees F - and will blow easily if pumped before warming to the room.

    3. It is hard to get a good, lasting bond between the aluminum cone and the felt dust covers in the center of the speaker, since they expand and contract at different rates with temperature. I had nearly EVERY ONE of my Harkte drivers suffer from this eventually, and though it made them sound like blown speakers, it was a $7 fix to have the dust covers reglued.

    4. It is very difficult and a slow process to get a Hartke aluminum speaker replaced if/when blown. They are not readily available for purchase separately, and Hartke requires you to send the blown speaker to them first before they will sell you a replacement.

    5. Aluminum cone speakers sound fine, though a slightly different flavor. Might be right for you, might not. To each his own.
  13. I do not like the sound of them. They can sound good in a fairly good bandwith.

    But when you hit some highs, it's a horrible, unpleasant reality check. Brittle. tinny. unmusical. un-bass.

    They do look cool under stage lights, howver.
  14. Mobay45

    Mobay45 The artist formerly known as "Big Daddy"

    Apr 28, 2004
    Irving, TX
    I've played Harke for about 13 years and until recently I would have told you to go the aluminum route. I don't understand why everyone wants to throw them under the buss so quickly though. They are a good value and have been used extensively for many years by professional bassists worldwide. Most of what you read are opinions about their "tinny sound". I have also owned 3 different Hartke cabinets and have never had reliability issues with any of them. I have just recently upgraded my rig and I do like the new sound that I'm getting from it, but there is a considerable cost difference between it and my Hartke rig. Try out as many as you can and make the choice based on what you like, not what others think.
  15. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I'll take paper, please. The aluminum speakers are too harsh to my ears, and I've heard too many horror stories of guys taking them out of the cold air into a warm gig and having them blow instantly.

    And unless they've changed it since last time I toured the Ampeg factory, their 8x10 cab is made from particle board.
  16. chris4001asat


    Dec 16, 2002
    Toledo, Ohio
    Warehouse Manager : Reverend Guitars
    My Hartke XL was 3/4 inch particle board on the inside, with 3/4 inch plywood on the outside. I blew the 15, but never had a problem with the 10s. I never liked the sound when I had them, but I only used it a Peavey head. It could have been that or a combination. My SWR 2x10 blew away the 15-4x10 stack low end wise.
  17. are there really any other company (other than hartke) that has alu-cones?
  18. You can order generic alumnium drivers from MCM or Prats express.

    The idea of a full range driver that doesn't require a x-over and still sounds smooth is the ideal. But in the bass guitar world, they are no where near perfecting this, IMO.

    Home audio or even car audio, aluminum stuff sounds good.
    I have an old a/d/s/ 10 sub" that kicks arse and the dust cap and surround are bonded perfectly. It has aluminum, but it is coated with some other hi tech material. It doesn't play above 85hz so shrill highs are not a concern.

    Aluminum's heat dissapation properties and light mass make it good for tweeters. But the only metal dome tweets I like are the ones designed with a surround, so they don't sound bad (resonate/ring at higher frequencies).

    I would never rule out aluminum for bass guitar, it is just that they sound horrible at high frequencies at this point in time.
    But many don't care.

    I see people enjoying stuff I can't tolerate all the time, such as the guy at the traffic light blasting a car stereo and all you hear is distortion and overdriven highs.

    But if they like it, who am I to say anything?
  19. Nightbass


    May 1, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    "prat" (noun, informal) 1 Brit. an incompetent or stupid person. 2 a person’s bottom.

    I like it! :)
  20. KPJ


    Oct 2, 2001
    Methuen, MA USA
    I'm pretty sure my old XL cab was plywood, the TP I had was pressboard.

    BTW Hartke has brought back the 8x10 Aluminum cab, like the one Larry made for Jaco.