Kentucky-based Eminence seems to be firing on all cylinders lately, and they have introduced another three speakers that blend elements of the classics to bring something entirely new to the table. I tested each speaker in a birch-ply StoneAge 1x12 cabinet with a convertible open/closed back, using a Les Paul, a Stratocaster, and a Novo Serus J with P-90s. Test amps were a tweed Deluxe and a 65amps Producer EL.
This 150-watt, 8Ω speaker was developed with input from session and touring guitarist Andy Wood with the aim of delivering versatile, well-rounded tone whatever amp you put into it. Eminence bills it as “in a category all its own,” and indeed it is. Using a hemp cone, a large-diameter 2.5" voice-coil, and an 11-ounce Neodymium magnet (which is fairly large for Neo), this speaker packs a lot of power handling into a 6.6 lb package.
I found the WheelHouse ($149 street) an extremely likeable driver with a balanced voice that was relatively neutral, if leaning somewhat toward the dark side (something Eminence did intentionally at Andy’s request to be able to dial-in as much high-end on the amp or pedal as needed without getting harshness). It handled both cleans and leads extremely well, allowing the guitar and amp to sound like themselves with little extraneous coloration. Although Neo is known as a sensitive magnet, this speaker wanted to be pushed some to sound its best—consequently, it was a little dead with the Deluxe at lower volumes, but came to life at higher decibels, and it ate up anything on the 65 Amps Producer EL past about 11 o’clock on the Master. Powerful stuff in a light package.
KUDOS Balanced and transparent, with exceptional power-handling for its weight.
PETE ANDERSON SIGNATURE HEMPDOG
From Eminence’s Signature Series, the HempDog ($119 street) is one raging hunk of speaker. Capable of handling 150 watts, its extremely efficient sensitivity rating of 102.3dB also translates whatever you throw at it into a lot of sound. The maker tells us Anderson sought to blend his two favorite speakers—Eminence’s Cannabis Rex and Legend EM12—into one clear, powerful, articulate unit. Given a broader reference, you might call the lovechild of those two simply “a hemp-coned EVM 12L.” All this engineering brings the cast-framed speaker with 80-ounce ceramic magnet in at a weighty 16.3 lbs, but such is the cost of tone.
The HempDog sounded superbly bold and balanced, yet rich and dynamic with all guitar and amp combinations, and it remained surprisingly nimble and lively even at lower volume levels. This one seemed to love everything I threw at it, delivering a warm midrange, taut lows, and sweet highs that were never spikey or shrill. A fun alternative to the legendary EVM, a major bargain at this price, and an Editors’ Pick Award winner along with it.
KUDOS Clear and powerful, with a bold, rich voice and some sweetness throughout the range.
JOSH SMITH SIGNATURE JS-1250
Contemporary blues artist Josh Smith turned to Eminence to create this signature model ($99 street), which he spec’d as a three-way amalgam of the Tonespotter’s lows, the Wizard’s clean upper register, and the Red Fang alnico’s sparkle and grit. This ceramic-magnet speaker handles 50 watts max and comes only in an 8Ω version.
Much as Smith’s requested recipe would indicate, I found the JS-1250 a broadly “British” speaker in nature, but one that took well to American playing styles too, with a voice that runs between Greenback and G12H camp, and a character that’s likely to appeal to a great many players who lean in that direction for their tones. Cleans were chimey and just slightly textured, while lead tones pushed the speaker into more upper-midrange sizzle, with rounded yet balanced lows. A great all-rounder, I see the JS-1250 as an excellent choice for the player who’s having a tough time deciding which more specific British alley to head down.
KUDOS A good Brit-voiced all-rounder, covering several styles well.