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Discussion Starter #1
My good friend @GTmaker commented in a recent email exchange that changing the cab might possibly have more of an influence on the sound than changing the speaker.

I fully understand that speakers and cabs are both giant "rabbit holes", but I thought I would risk that and start this thread.

In an attempt to keep the variables somewhat minimized, we have with the same "decent" quality 10" speaker going into various open back cabs. However, cab materials and dimensions can vary. We will assume that the cab construction is reasonably solid (i.e., not rattling, etc).

We will now reverse this (i.e., the above) and put various speakers into the same "decent" quality cab. We will assume that the speakers have similar specs and are in a similar price range (I know...that is not easy...you have to pretend a bit).

I fully understand that obtaining speakers is typically much easier than obtaining empty cabs. Don't let that colour your comments.

Let the games begin.

I expect @Roryfan will be here soon. I know that he enjoys trying various speakers but I'm not sure how many cabs are involved.
 

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I just posted this $50 212 ad in the 'kijiji alert' forum.
Inexpensive for experimental purposes.
 

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A cab won't necessarily provide any more bandwidth than the speaker itself provides, but CAN advantage some parts of the speaker's bandwidth so that they are more fully realized, and more efficiently transmitted. It can also shift resonances or downplay/reinforce them. From a physics standpoint, backwards movement of the cone can provide some cancellation with forward movement of the cone, when the air movement in one direction encounters air movement in the other, so closed vs open back can be a big factor. And the overall internal volume can result in standing waves that provide certain resonances. Ideally, the cab does not summate with the resonance/s of the speaker. Historically, that's one of the things that EQ units were intended to address.

I suppose in the grand scheme of things, changing speaker can yield as much tonal difference as changing cab. All of that said, bigger cabs generally make a speaker sound "bigger" by allowing more of the bass to be audible. Mids and highs may well read the same on a meter, but bigger box = bigger bottom, which sounds louder.
 

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If all the cabs are open back I suspect that the differences won't be huge though there likely will be dfifferences and changing speakers is likely to net a larger change (unless you're specifically choosing similar speakers). A 10" C10N is going to sound waaaay different than a Celestion Greenback 10 for example.
 

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If your cab now is open, and you're only looking at another open back cab, don't waste yer time. The variability between the sound of one open back vs another is minimal - like there needs to be a really big difference. Resonances are generally not much of an issue (since open) so the material doesn't matter as much as with any other cab type. It's open so internal volume (and therefore dimensions) is not a big deal either. The shortest dimension of the baffle matters (for the point where bass rolloff starts) and if it's real small (in any dimension) that can create some internal reflections. Those things are not going to make a huge diff (esp if you use the thing close to a wall anyway (re the baffle width/bass response).

So I disagree, go with a speaker swap (unless you consider another cab type); a speaker sounds most like itself in an open back (i.e. the way they measure them to take response curves is in 'free air' vs a sealed box)
 

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"Open" is not monolithic. The size and location of whatever opening is available in the back is not uniform. I would imagine that there can be minimal difference in tone if the segments on the back covering the rear of the amplifier and providing a little "well" for the power cord or reverb pan at the bottom stick out an inch or an inch less more than some other cab. But that aside, the size and shape of the opening in the back can vary substantially, and I would imagine impact on the resonances.
 

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"Open" is not monolithic. The size and location of whatever opening is available in the back is not uniform. I would imagine that there can be minimal difference in tone if the segments on the back covering the rear of the amplifier and providing a little "well" for the power cord or reverb pan at the bottom stick out an inch or an inch less more than some other cab. But that aside, the size and shape of the opening in the back can vary substantially, and I would imagine impact on the resonances.
Never said it was, in fact went to some length to explain it isn't but that it can make a bit of a difference in some of the exact ways you did so...

What i DID say, was that of all cab types, you really gotta make significant changes to notice a change in tonality. So go fight that windmill. Shave a few mm off the port on bass reflex, stuff a sealed cab - instant difference. Not so easy with open . In fact it would be such a waste of time when you could just remove/add panels on the back to change the opening vs getting a whole different cab. Even that doesn't make a huge difference barring radical changes.

Also you failed to address the main point which is that a speaker change would make a lot more difference, which is the pertinent question here.
 

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I don't think we disagree (apologies if it sounded like I did). My own focus was that there are a bunch of qualifiers to be taken into consideration. In some ways, it's a bit like the way people will draw inferences about certain pedals and their varying issues/years, based upon one exemplar, rather than identifying what lies in common across many instances of that pedal from that year/period. An open back is not an open back is not an open back, and the same logic applies to closed cabs.

I have not explored the area much myself, but one hears many stories about "breaking in" speakers, strategies for doing so, and tonal differences between broken-in and fresh out of the box speakers of the same vintage/manufacturer/model, so I'll take it on face value that there can be a difference, although I'm in no position to say anything about what that difference is or will be. But the point is, I guess, that when one attempts to compare different speakers in the same cabinet, or one speaker in different cabinets, one should take into consideration how broken in the speaker/s in question is/are, since that might affect where and how pronounced certain resonances are.

Clearly the sorts of comparisons Dave/Greco ponders making are not as simple and straightforward as one might think at first blush. There are a whole bunch of things to try and hold constant while one single parameter gets tinkered with. Such is the nature of scientific research, even when it's about speakers and cabs. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Thanks for all the response so far. Very interesting!

I was discussing this topic with one of the employees at the local music store today. He found it interesting and told me about a cab maker here in the city (he didn't know any further details) who has apparently built several cabs that are as similar as he can achieve and put a variety of speakers in them. It certainly would be fun to compare those cab/speaker combos with the same amp head, guitar and fingers in somewhat "quick" succession!
 

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Thanks for all the response so far. Very interesting!
I was discussing this topic with one of the employees at the local music store today. He found it interesting and told me about a cab maker here in the city (he didn't know any further details) who has apparently built several cabs that are as similar as he can achieve and put a variety of speakers in them. It certainly would be fun to compare those cab/speaker combos with the same amp head, guitar and fingers in somewhat "quick" succession!
putting different speakers into very similar cabinets only tries to see if the speakers are different. I would suggest that if done properly, that difference would be minor.

Now take one speaker and place it in a combo , same speaker (thru the combo) but in an open back extension cabinet and repeat with a closed back cabinet and I will guarantee you, you will hear a major difference in the way that speaker sounds in all three circumstances.

conclusion ...if you want to change the tone of your speaker, change the cabinet.
 

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putting different speakers into very similar cabinets only tries to see if the speakers are different. I would suggest that if done properly, that difference would be minor.

Now take one speaker and place it in a combo , same speaker (thru the combo) but in an open back extension cabinet and repeat with a closed back cabinet and I will guarantee you, you will hear a major difference in the way that speaker sounds in all three circumstances.

conclusion ...if you want to change the tone of your speaker, change the cabinet.
Im not convinced it would make more difference than a different drive unit ( assuming not smilar - like jensen vs marsland, sure, but jbl vs celestion is a hecknif a diff in the same cab), but i am glad you clarified ( and i agree): if you want to hear a diff with the same speaker try not just another cab but a cab of another type. Sealed will be bassier and slower for example. The diff between an open combo and open ext cab i would argue is minimal from the speaker end ( the amp gets less vibration and therefore the tubes are happier and not ringing which is a diff but not to do with the speaker sound itself).
 

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Discussion Starter #14
if you want to hear a diff with the same speaker try not just another cab but a cab of another type. Sealed will be bassier and slower for example.
This was the additional extension of the existing "rabbit hole" in my OP that I was attempting to avoid. Closed back, partially closed back, ported, internal baffles, etc, etc. ...now the variables are totally out of reasonable control.

but jbl vs celestion is a hecknif a diff in the same cab
The other extension of the rabbit hole in my OP that I was trying to avoid.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The shortest dimension of the baffle matters (for the point where bass rolloff starts) and if it's real small (in any dimension) that can create some internal reflections. Those things are not going to make a huge diff (esp if you use the thing close to a wall anyway (re the baffle width/bass response).
a speaker sounds most like itself in an open back (i.e. the way they measure them to take response curves is in 'free air' vs a sealed box)
I suppose in the grand scheme of things, changing speaker can yield as much tonal difference as changing cab. All of that said, bigger cabs generally make a speaker sound "bigger" by allowing more of the bass to be audible. Mids and highs may well read the same on a meter, but bigger box = bigger bottom, which sounds louder.
Again, thanks for this information...interesting, practical and helpful to remember.
 

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I agree that the difference between open and closed back will be huge, but
putting different speakers into very similar cabinets only tries to see if the speakers are different. I would suggest that if done properly, that difference would be minor.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but the variations between different speakers in the same cab can be huge, it can change the sound of an amp in a major way.
What do you mean 'if done properly' ?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
...but the variations between different speakers in the same cab can be huge
That has always been my understanding and, rightfully or mistakenly, my belief (admittedly, with somewhat limited actual experience).
 

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You are not mistaken, if they are speakers that are fairly different. Sensitivity ratings can vary by as much as 6db or more, whereas doubling the power of your amp only gains you 3db. Frequency response graphs also vary greatly which will have a major effect on the tonal character.
People spend a lot of time and money chasing subtle differences with tube brands, capacitor types, etc. It is always said that changing speakers is the biggest difference you can make (for any given amp), and that statement is always evident in comparison testing.
But always best to let your own ears be the judge, looking forward to hearing about the results of your tests.
 
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