Friday, May 1, 2020

Myth or real? The guitar speaker break in period. The Eminence 1028K Review

By Tim Dolbear

1976 Marshall 4x12 with Original G25 25w greenback speakers
Sounds like a good theory; The more a new speaker is played the better it will sound as the paper and glues get more flexible. The spider loosens..

There is a ton theories about this online...

When I bought 4 G12M-25watt greenback reissues in 2011, I did not like them, they did not sound anything like my original 4x12 from 1976 filled with the original and real Greenbacks. But now, years later think they are wonderful.
Reissues of the G12M 25w 

Similarly, when we bought some large KRK Mid-field studio monitors for the new studio in Nashville, for blasting and track up loud, I was not impressed. We ran music through them for a month while moving into my house and getting setup, they were our house stereo speakers for the month. By the end of the month, and today, in the studio, they sound way better.

So there must be something to it, right? 
Or is it just in our heads and we get used to the sound...

Jensen P10Q 40 watt Blue back, Gold label, Alnico 5 P10Q 10"
I was doing a session in early April,  using my beloved Jensen Blue back, Gold label, Alnico 5 P10Q 10" speaker from 1963.  I am the original owner, as previously it was in a piano/organ at a family members house and was never used until I re-purposed it for the studio and guitar work. It was made an appearance on 1000's of songs.

But that day I hear what I can only describe as Sadness.

Eminence Speaker's LEGEND 1028K Alnico 35watt
I thought about re-coning the torn speaker, but with all 3rd party parts,  it will not sound the same.  Jensen makes a reissue, but all the listening test I heard online did not have "that" sound.
The one speaker that did have the tones and potential was the Eminence 1028k, So I purchased.

This time I wanted to see what "breaking in" a speaker would actually do and sound like.  So I set out to test it.

Using a solid state Marshall Lead 12,  EQ flat,  Gain at 2, master at 8, I recorded a strat using a ADK C-LOL-67 mic into a SSL preamp.  Apogee A/D into Sequoia at 96K.  The recording was made 10 minutes of playing into this speakers life of the new speaker.

Then I recorded my guitar, straight into my console/DAW.  Playing it back, re-amp style, it was sent back to the Marshall and played in looped for 20 hours. The idea was, if a guitar was going to be what this speaker reproduces, lets break it in with a guitar tone, right? make sense.

The amp and speaker loudly performed these sounds in our live room in 4-6 hour sessions.  At the end of about 20 hours, I re-recorded the speaker, same setup, mic location and all.

Download and listen to the results:

Speaker Break-in Test

The original tone sounds best with these amp settings, but the broken in speaker sounds best with real life settings.  I am super happy with the results, and the change was not subtle. This speaker sound remarkably close to my 1963 Jensen.  I highly recommend the 1028K 10" for that Fender/bluesy tone.