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Speaker Technology Question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Major, Dec 14, 2004.

  1. Major


    Jan 7, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    I'm astounded by the sound quality that tiny speakers (cell phones, computer speakers, etc.) are capable of these days. How do they do it and have these technologies been applied to bass speakers?
  2. I worked for a year in a speaker-repair shop (abrown.com) and I spent much of my time there grilling the most experienced speaker-tech about all things speaker-related.

    The short answer to your question is, new magnet technology, specifically neodinium, has become much more widely available. How it has (or can) affect bassists: much lighter weight speakers putting out the same power.

    Neodinium magnets have a whole lot more power per pound of weight than either AlNiCo or ceramic. AlNiCo was the magnet of choice for most of the earliest speaker manufacturers, as it was less brittle and a bit more powerful per pound than ceramic, but they became very expensive as the supply of cobalt (the "Co" in "AlNiCo") became scarce, so manufacturers changed to ceramic magnets. Ceramic is very heavy, and somewhat brittle, but cheap, so that's why our bass speakers tend to be very heavy - you need a lot of magnetic force to make low-frequency sound waves accurately.

    Now there are several manufacturers of Neodinium magnets so some speaker manufacturers (Open the December '04 Bass Player magazine, the second ad is for Gallien-Krueger Neo Series cabinets) are starting to use them in production. Main advantage: you may still have a spine after gigging with these for years.

    The little speakers in cell-phones, laptops and many earbuds use this same technology, which is why they're sounding much better than even 3 years ago - my new Powerbook has a mini-subwoofer in it, my three-year-old one didn't, and I can really hear the difference!

    Hope that answers your question!
  3. I think the bass cab industry is lagging. For example, only EA makes a transmission line.

    If your powerbook has a sub, then there really is no reason we can't have a bass cab that weighs less than 30 lbs, goes down to 30 hz and has the output of a 410 or 212.

    Sure neo magnets are used more.

    But I want the cab design of an EA,

    made from the high tech composite cabinet material that Flitesound uses

    and priced like Avatar or Dr. Bass.
  4. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    You're talking about applications where the speakers are not required to produce the SPL levels required at gig volume. With existing technology, the old expression still applies :- loud, low, small, pick any 2. Using computer speakers as an example, they're small, they go low, so which one did we sacrifice to achieve this? Loudness of course. They may sound pretty loud in your bedroom but remember that you're in a relatively small enclosed environment.

    The secret to any good speakers is to design them for specific purposes, to design the best possible enclosure for the driver, then use the speaker within the limits of it's acoutsic capabilities. As you've seen, there are many examples of this out there...........

    PS:- Neodymium rocks!