Warehouse Guitar Speakers operates in Paducah, Kentucky, not so far from the original home of CTS speakers that graced amplifiers in the ‘60s like Ampeg. Warehouse has designed and currently produces over twenty custom Alnico and ceramic speakers, and we consider them to be a premium upgrade in all respects. Our latest reviews simply underscore that fact.
You have no doubt heard this before… replacing a speaker is the easiest and often cheapest amp “modification” you can do to an amplifier. We agree with that sentiment, and we have sorted through a lot of speakers new and old, or “vintage” over the past twenty years, and they can make a big difference in the way your amp sounds and responds to your guitar. You do realize that an amp responds to your guitar… You hit a note or a big, blustery chord and something good and righteous is supposed to happen. Ideally, you anticipate a blooming response that amplifies pick attack and the resulting bloom of the notes or chords as they resonate from your guitar. This palpable sound we hear from the speaker is an essential component of an amplified guitar, and it can vary to the extreme. Your notes and chords can fall flat without much resonance and sustain, lacking the harmonic richness and complexity that we all seek. The sound can be too bright, or too bassy, or choked with midrange. These are the aspects of an amplified guitar we wish to avoid, and it is their tonal opposites that attract us— rich, vibrant tones with vivid sustain and deep harmonic overtones that give the sound of the guitar’s depth, weight and complexity. We seek balance in guitar speakers— solid low end, variable mids and brightness that is neither too sharp or shrill. We often know what we want in a guitar speaker— it’s finding it that remains a challenge.
Well, we intend to simplify things a bit for you, should you be considering a new speaker or two for your favorite amps. We have assembled a collection of speakers from Warehouse Speakers for review, and every one of them deserves your attention.
Amperian VSOP 30 Watt
The Amperian is an Alnico speaker with a big, heavy magnet and a 1.75 inch voice coil. Rich with those harmonic overtones that Alnico speakers are famous for, the Amperian is very well-balanced with a robust low end, vivid mids and highs that are breezy and sweet, yet this is a very formidable speaker with a weighty presence. It is rated at 30 watts and sounded gloriously good in our ’65 Gibson GA19RVT. It actually made the amp sound much bigger than it is, and all the tones you could want were vividly present with our Les Paul, Telecaster, Strat and a PRS Hollowbody II. Extremely well balanced, this speaker can warm up a cold-sounding amp, and its modest power rating is deceiving. It sounds much bigger than 30 watts implies… Call it bold as love, just like the next driver in our review…
Amperian Revolution 60 Watt
Man, were we torn between these two speakers… The Amperian Revolution 60 possesses a little warmer, bassier tone than the VSOP, but no so much as to be too much… It just has a little stronger low end response that we found captivating. If you have an amp that could benefit from a little more bass response this is your speaker. Treble tones are smooth without being sharp, shrill or biting, and the mids are backed off a bit for a classic American vibe. This is one of those speakers that we dare say would sound wonderful in just about any amp you can imagine. It holds up beautifully at higher volume levels with distortion, too. Rated at 60 watts, it will serve you well in amps rated from 15 watts to 50W. It would also be an excellent match with a single Amperian VSOP in a 2×12 combo.
Black and Blue Alnico 15 Watt
This is your basic 15 watt take off in the direction of the vaunted Celestion Blue, except this speaker has a bigger tone. Loaded with vivid harmonic overtones, the Black & Blue produces an imposing low end that hangs tough at higher volume levels with distortion, the midrange presence is stout and the treble tones are silky, slick and righteous. This speaker does not fold up and hide at high volume levels at all. If you have a low power amp and you want it to really, really sing, this is your speaker. We wouldn’t be afraid to put it in a Deluxe Reverb, even… You’re probably not turning yours up past ‘7’ right? There you go. For at or below 20 watts, as Billy F Gibbons would say, this is it! There is nothing lacking in the tone of this speaker. “Meaty, big and bouncy.”
Blackhawk Alnico 50 Watt
The Blackhawk is the 50 watt version of the Black & Blue, so you can get your British-flavored Alnico groove on with higher powered amps. Well, the Blackhawk is indeed a higher powered rendition of the Black & Blue… Super harmonic depth, stout low end, thick mids and treble tones that are subtly not overbearing, this speaker will turn a typical Fender amp into a deft chameleon with some decidedly British flavor. The Blackhawk will also do a nice job of warming up a cold sounding and stiff modern circuit board amp, and at 50 watts it won’t howl in pain when you pour the coals to it. Just looking at it tells you it’s going to sound good.
All of these 12 inch drivers offer big tones that are lush, dynamically sensitive to pick attack and capable of handling big, crushing chords with aplomb. We made a point of exploring a wide range of musical styles through these speakers and they deftly handle subtle, soft passages at variable volume levels to ripping 6-string chords with overdriven sustain and distortion. None of them choked or whimpered at higher volume levels, yet they can also compliment less strident playing that is subtly emotive and endearing. Swapping speakers is a cinch, and the benefits can be truly captivating. Just when you thought things couldn’t get better… We have never had it so good. Quest forth… TQ