As the final link in the signal chain, a speaker plays a crucial role in defining your sound. To the untrained eye, most guitar speakers can look essentially the same. But subtle changes in the cone, voice coil, magnet, or other components can dramatically alter a speaker’s frequency response, tonal texture, and dynamic characteristics. For the most awe-inspiring tone, your speaker needs to complement the other elements in the signal chain in order to form (hopefully) a mutually beneficial synergistic bond.
Amplifier manufacturers know that choosing the right speaker is of paramount importance, and for nearly 40 years many of them have relied on Eminence for speakers made to their exacting specifications. Thanks to these successful relationships, Eminence has grown into a leading speaker manufacturer, producing as many as 10,000 units a day in its 100,000-square-foot facility located in—where else?—Eminence, Kentucky.
Eminence has worked in almost complete anonymity while creating more than 6,000 different speaker types for a host of corporate clients. Most of these speakers bear the logos of the companies that purchased them. Recently, however, Eminence has stepped far outside the shadow of OEM production with its new Patriot and Red Coat series—an Eminence-branded, “bi-tonal” line that includes ten American-voiced models (the Patriots) and seven British-voiced models (the Red Coats).
To achieve an accurate sonic perspective of the 17 Eminence models, I compared each with several well-known reference speakers from Altec, Celestion, Electro-Voice, JBL, Jensen, Kendrick, Tone Tubby, and Weber VST. Evaluations were made by mounting the test and reference speakers side-by-side in the same cabinet, and using an A/B box to switch between them. As the testing progressed, I also compared many of the Eminence speakers with each other. A variety of amplifiers were used during the course of this review, including models from Fender, Marshall, Vox, Ampeg, Dr. Z, Bruno, Alessandro, THD, and Victoria. And to hear how the speakers responded to single-coils and humbuckers, I used a variety of Fender, Gibson, and PRS guitars.
Credit: Marty Sconduto