ACHIEVING AN IDEAL CRANKED-AMP tone at acceptable performance and recording volumes is a common quest for countless guitarists these days. Output attenuators, tube converters, isolation boxes, and voltage-reduction circuits all aim to achieve this goal, with varying degrees of success. However, since volume is created by a speaker, why not rein it in right there?
Kentucky-based Eminence has ventured into the variable-efficiency-speaker realm (which is also occupied by a company called FluxTone) by introducing the Maverick in the Patriot series and Reign- Maker in the Redcoat series. The Maverick and ReignMaker are traditional 12” American- and British-style speakers, respectively, that feature traditional voice-coil and ceramic magnet structures, but have been adapted with Eminence’s new patent-pending Flux Density Modulation (FDM) technology, which enables the speakers themselves to literally be turned down for reduced output levels.
Achieved by means of a large attenuation dial set within the speaker motor, FDM allows the player to vary the flux (the field and strength of the magnet) to determine output power. It really is as simple as it sounds. Each model carries a big dial on the back of its magnetic housing: fully clockwise is full output, with a sensitivity of 100dB— fully counter-clockwise is minimum output, at around 91.5dB. That range of nearly 9dB creates an enormous variation in perceived volume, and offers a broad spectrum of output levels in between. It is totally analog too—no electrical circuits, no amplifier output attenuation or “power soak,” just continually variable speaker efficiency over the given range.
I tested both speakers in extension cabinets with several of vintage and new tube amps from around 15 watts to 50 watts (less power than that kind of defeats the purpose), with two of each at a time in similar cabs to A/B their full and attenuated performance. Each speaker sounded great at full power— excellent examples of their respective breeds—but the real surprise was how good they still sounded when wound down, and how effective their FDM technology was at reducing output levels. For the first time, during this test, I was able to fully enjoy the cranked tones of several of my larger amps in the project studio without overwhelming the space, and without the detrimental effects that so many other output-impeding devices often have on my tone.
Turned down toward maximum attenuation, each does sound a bit warmer and more compressed. But those are characteristics of less-efficient speakers, and the Maverick and ReignMaker still sounded superb at these levels—significantly better than playing the same amps into these speakers set at full volume while using any of the several quality output attenuators that I have on hand for “power soak” style volume reduction. In short, this is a true game changer in the quest to achieve the tonal sweet spot from larger amps at volumes acceptable in smaller clubs and recording studios, and as such, the Maverick and ReignMaker both receive an Editors’ Pick Award.
CONTACT Eminence Speakers (502) 845-5622; eminence.com
REIGNMAKER AND MAVERICK
PRICE $189 street
RESONANCE Maverick 82Hz, Reign- Maker 91Hz
FREQUENCY RANGE Maverick 72Hz- 5.2kHzH; ReignMaker 80Hz-6.2kHz
MAGNET 38 oz. ceramic
POWER HANDLING 75 watts RMS
IMPEDANCE 8 ohms only
SENSITIVITY 100dB at full output, 91.5dB at full attenuation
FREQUENCY RANGE 75Hz–5.2kHz
VOICE-COIL DIAMETER 1.75"
KUDOS Excellent, balanced sound played full up. Great tone turned down. A real game changer as a volumereduction device.