Author Topic: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound  (Read 10660 times)

RandomGruve

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ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« on: October 30, 2013, 04:55:31 PM »
I have a 1982 Rhodes suitcase with the four original 8 ohm ceramic speakers (one has been reconed). A friend of mine swears the piano will sound it's best with proper alnico speakers. He thought proper speakers were more hi-fi than normal guitar speakers. I'm willing to make some sound test but which speakers do I use?
I would appreciate any knowledge or feedback on this subject.

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2013, 06:10:34 PM »
The best sound is subjective- its personal choice. Is this a 73 or an 88?  That will make a difference in frequency response. I can tell you that on an 88 note piano, low A (A0)  is 27.5 HZ, and high C (C8) is approximately. 4200 HZ.  Having speakers that have a real high frequency response is not necessary, but overtones will be somewhat higher.
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1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
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Offline The Real MC

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2013, 09:57:18 PM »
I love the sound of the original Celestion 15w alnico speakers that Vox used to put in their amps.  My 1960s british Selmer has the same speakers and it's my favorite Rhodes amp.  But those 15w speakers will blow easily in a Rhodes suitcase amp.  I would recommend Weber alnico's, they make them in higher power.  Not cheap though.  And as previously mentioned they won't reproduce bass very well.  But alnicos are known for their chime, they have a pleasant high end, and the Rhodes bell tone will sound great through them.  Even though they are guitar speakers that would not stop me from experimenting.

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2013, 10:18:10 PM »
And we all know how bassy a Rhodes is.......
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline The Real MC

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2013, 11:00:42 PM »
Correct, but like a bass guitar the rhodes bass is not all fundamental they have a healthy dose of harmonics.  Even though certain speakers won't reproduce the fundamental, they will still produce the harmonics.  The famous Ampeg SVT 8x10 cabinets emphasize the harmonics not the fundamental.  Harold Rhodes has admitted to being fooled hearing a recording of a Rhodes bass thinking it was a bass guitar.

The OP does not state the ultimate use of his rhodes.  If he's in a solo setting, he may want decent bass response.  If he's in a group setting that includes a bass player, he will not want that much bass.

RandomGruve

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2013, 12:05:37 AM »
It's a 73. Sorry I did not mention that. I think I would more often use this piano with a group than solo. What about mixing speaker types? Common enough in the guitar world.
I read about at the Fender reproduction 32 ohm alnico speakers and also the vintage vibe 32 ohm alnico speaker. Are these what I should be trying out?
« Last Edit: October 31, 2013, 12:09:57 AM by RandomGruve »

Offline Ben Bove

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2013, 12:34:08 PM »
My suggestion would be to stay away from the 32 ohm speakers on a 1982 Janus amp, as you've got to keep the right load on the amp.  8ohm speakers would probably be best.
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RandomGruve

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2013, 05:09:18 PM »
My suggestion would be to stay away from the 32 ohm speakers on a 1982 Janus amp, as you've got to keep the right load on the amp.  8ohm speakers would probably be best.

If I understand speaker wiring correctly, either 8 or 32 ohm speakers could be used as long as they are wired to the correct load.

Offline Tim W

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2013, 08:11:26 PM »
Hi,

If you have an 80W Peterson Cabinet (FR7054), it expects two 32 ohm drivers in parallel on each channel for an effective 16 ohms.  You can also wire two 8 ohm speakers in series to also get 16 ohms and it will be OK.

If you have a 100W Janus/Haigler cabinet (FR7710), then you will need to use two 8 ohm drivers in parallel on each channel.  The Janus/Haigler amplifiers expect to see a 4 ohm load to deliver their full power.

The type of magnet you select does not matter as far as the electronics go, as Real MC said, it is a matter of preference sound wise.


RandomGruve

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2013, 08:24:20 PM »
My piano has the FR7710 amplifier. I was confused about the ohms. I thought both maps needed 16 total. I understand now that the FR7710 needs 4 ohms total.
I understand the magnet type does not effect the electronics. My question is about tone/sound.
Has anyone tried alnico speakers with the FR7710 amplifier?

Offline Max Brink

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2013, 07:05:27 PM »
Alnicos could be fun.

I haven't had a chance to experiment with alnicos specifically but it's not too terribly uncommon to find one or more speakers that have been replaced. In the end if your stock speakers are working properly I think the best bang for your buck would be to upgrade the circuit of the amplifier rather than the speakers, though. Both amps have strengths relative to one another but in the end neither is a circuit worth writing home about...
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RandomGruve

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2014, 09:46:33 PM »
Continuing this question...
I noticed for sale on ebay, 4 original suitcase speakers that were Alnico. The seller states the speakers came from a mark I. I asked what Ohms the speakers were (assuming they would be 32) The seller wrote back that they tested out to be 8 Ohm speakers. I'm not sure what to think of this. I thought all the older suitcase Alnico's were 32.

Offline The Real MC

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 08:47:12 AM »
During the Rhodes heyday of 1970s, alnico was pretty much unobtanium due to the cold war.  It was expensive due to short supply thus alnico speakers weren't in manufacture during the 1970s.  Fender pretty much switched to ceramic speakers starting in the early 60s.  I find it very very unlikely that alnico speakers were fitted to suitcase Rhodes at the factory, especially during the tightwad CBS era.

Offline pianotuner steveo

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 09:31:48 AM »
What is the difference with alnicos? I thought that was just a brand name.
1960 Wurlitzer model 700 EP
1968 Gibson G101 Combo organ
1975 Rhodes Piano Bass
1979 Wurlitzer 206A EP
1980 Wurlitzer 270 Butterfly Grand
2004 Hammond XK3
2009 73A Rhodes Mark 7
2009 Korg SV-1 73
2017 Yamaha P255
2020 Kawai CA99
....and a few guitars...

Offline voltergeist

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 10:10:47 AM »
What is the difference with alnicos? I thought that was just a brand name.
"Alnico is an acronym[1] referring to a family of iron alloys which in addition to iron are composed primarily of aluminium (Al), nickel (Ni) and cobalt (Co), hence al-ni-co. They also include copper, and sometimes titanium. Alnico alloys are ferromagnetic, with a high coercivity (resistance to loss of magnetism) and are used to make permanent magnets. Before the development of rare earth magnets in the 1970s, they were the strongest type of magnet. Other trade names for alloys in this family are: Alni, Alcomax, Hycomax, Columax, and Ticonal.[2]

The composition of alnico alloys is typically 8–12% Al, 15–26% Ni, 5–24% Co, up to 6% Cu, up to 1% Ti, and the balance is Fe. The development of alnico began in 1931, when T. Mishima in Japan discovered that an alloy of iron, nickel, and aluminum had a coercivity of 400 oersted (Oe; 32 kA/m), double that of the best magnet steels of the time.[3]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnico
Restored or Overhauled: '65 A-model Sparkletop, '78 Suitcase 73, early-'75 Satellite 88, '81 MkII Stage 73, two '77 Mk1 Stage 73's, '74 Mk1 Stage 73
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RandomGruve

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2014, 01:04:24 PM »
additionally, the seller has told me these speakers were made by CTS  and the date code indicates they were made in the 32nd week of 1975. Here is the code they gave: C08498  137 7532.
I will check this code later when I have a bit of time.

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2014, 11:17:44 PM »
  Fender pretty much switched to ceramic speakers starting in the early 60s.  I find it very very unlikely that alnico speakers were fitted to suitcase Rhodes at the factory, especially during the tightwad CBS era.

I'm afraid I'd have to disagree here.  There were many Rhodes pianos fitted with alnico speakers.
Here's an auction for some with a date code of 1975 issue.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/4-Fender-CTS-12-Inch-Speakers-Removed-From-Fender-Rhodes-Sounding-Great-Vintage-/231134705070?pt=US_Pro_Audio_Speakers_Monitors&hash=item35d0b3b5ae

Jensen, Utah, CTS, Oxford, Eminence and most stamped frame Alnico speakers are usually easily identified as being other than ceramic magnets because of their prominent "horse shoe" surround, as seen in the link above. 

Ceramic magnets usually have a ring of exposed magnet material on the back, as found on your garden variety "C" series Jensens.  In fact the "C" designation stood for "Ceramic", whereas the "P" designation on Jensen alnicos stood for "Permanent" magnets which were the alternative to the earlier field coil type of the pre-war era.

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2014, 11:21:23 PM »
137 is in fact CTS.
Others you may find may be 67 for Eminence, 22O for Jensen, 465 for Oxford, 285 for Rola, if I remember.  I used to recone speakers as a lad.

Offline Mark S 1

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2014, 01:39:17 AM »
You might want to just give the Weber folks a call (if you are willing to consider purchasing new Weber speakers). I've done this twice now, both times while building amps and in a quandary over what speaker to use. Both times the Weber folks gave great guidance and basically nailed the sound I was looking for. There were a lot more options than just model and magnet, and they did a great job explaining what effect these would have and how to get the tone I was looking for. In one instance, I had already built the amp (a 5E3) and loved the tone, but needed more clean head room, and they built a custom speaker that was more efficient without wreaking the tone I loved.

Now granted, new custom built speakers are a bit more expensive than pulling speakers from an old cab, but at least you know what you are getting. I should also add these were for guitar, I haven't asked the Weber folks about speakers for a Rhodes yet...

Cheers,
Mark

Offline The Real MC

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2014, 09:10:42 AM »
  Fender pretty much switched to ceramic speakers starting in the early 60s.  I find it very very unlikely that alnico speakers were fitted to suitcase Rhodes at the factory, especially during the tightwad CBS era.

I'm afraid I'd have to disagree here.  There were many Rhodes pianos fitted with alnico speakers.
Here's an auction for some with a date code of 1975 issue.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/4-Fender-CTS-12-Inch-Speakers-Removed-From-Fender-Rhodes-Sounding-Great-Vintage-/231134705070?pt=US_Pro_Audio_Speakers_Monitors&hash=item35d0b3b5ae

Jensen, Utah, CTS, Oxford, Eminence and most stamped frame Alnico speakers are usually easily identified as being other than ceramic magnets because of their prominent "horse shoe" surround, as seen in the link above. 

Ceramic magnets usually have a ring of exposed magnet material on the back, as found on your garden variety "C" series Jensens.  In fact the "C" designation stood for "Ceramic", whereas the "P" designation on Jensen alnicos stood for "Permanent" magnets which were the alternative to the earlier field coil type of the pre-war era.

Those are awful wimpy speakers for a Rhodes.  The diameter of the coil is small and that magnet is awful small, these are low power speakers.  The 80w Peterson power amp with a bass-heavy Rhodes would make mincemeat of these speakers in a short time.  I have original alnico 15w speakers from the 1960s and they have bigger coil and magnets, and they lack that "horseshoe" surround.  The speakers I removed from my '67 sparkletop are original and are more hefty than the ones in that auction.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 09:12:55 AM by The Real MC »

RandomGruve

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2014, 10:54:19 PM »
So funny because... The speakers in the ebay auction under discussion are The speakers I am asking about. There is something odd about them. The "fender" stickers seems a little big for the magnets. The seller is telling me they are 8 Ohm speakers, I think this is suspect if they are original speakers from a suitcase piano.

Note* Within a day or so of starting this thread, I actually sent Weber an email asking them what they recommended for this application. I never heard back from them.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 11:07:43 PM by RandomGruve »

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2014, 03:20:16 AM »
The stickers on the speakers in the ebay listing are original.  They were also used on the back of ceramic magnet speakers, hence the round shape.  But I suppose it's possible the speakers in the auction are not from a Rhodes.  Though it seems odd that a seller would choose to try to sell them as such niche speakers when it seems it'd be easier to sell them as guitar speakers if they're 8 Ohms.   

My understanding is, in the '70s, Suitcase models used 32 Ohm speakers, but these 8 ohm speakers could be wired up to give you the final 16 ohm load.

However The Real MC believes these speakers seem too small to handle the signal and frequency range of the Rhodes.  It's been a while since I've looked in any of my suitcases, so I can't recall what I have, but I know at least one of the cabs (if not all) is loaded with speakers with horse shoe magnets like these. 

That said, the speakers on ebay do look VERY much like the speakers in this post from the ep forum...
http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=6862.0

And this one...
http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=5314.0

Perhaps these are from a from PA speaker column or something, but I think they're original Rhodes speakers.

Either way, the guy wants too much money for them.  I've seen and bought Rhodes speakers go for less on ebay.

Best,
Ray


« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 10:43:10 AM by Student Rhodes »

RandomGruve

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2014, 09:28:27 AM »
Hey student Rhodes,
 Thanks for the great thread links with pictures. This helps me a lot. I agree that the price is way high. If the speakers need a re-cone add $60.00+ for each speaker.
I would definitely buy a new set of Webers (if I can ever get any info from them) before I would spend so much on unknown quality, 40 year old speakers.

Offline Student Rhodes

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2014, 07:54:41 PM »
I might have a set of four matched speakers from a  72 piano.  Do you want to contact me off group?

Offline bolero

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Re: ceramic vs alnico speakers for best old school sound
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2014, 02:01:08 AM »
I have a late '70's super reverb that sounds great ( IMO ) with my rhodes, they are the stock ceramics

Weber does make fantastic speakers though, if I was buying "new" that is the route I would go