Urban Legends: Speaker Size

Urban Legends: Speaker Size Part 1

The Quest

As a musician of 49 years my personal quest for perfect tone has taken me on many journeys. I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of all things sonic. Some of the roads have been littered with potholes and dead-ends, while others have ended with a pot of gold and rainbow. Still, my passion moves me ever forward.

Please join me in this adventure. We’ll start with dispelling common myths, theories and preconceived notions about tone and gear.

No one escapes the frustration of finding the right tone and gear to meet their unique requirements. For most of us, whether touring professional or weekend warrior, it has become a lifelong endeavor. Unfortunately, the results are often prolonged as we shoot ourselves in the foot by relying too much on unfounded assumptions.

Speaker Size

Let’s begin by tackling one of the more frustrating urban legends: speaker size. By the way, it’s equally applicable to Guitar, Bass, Keyboards and Guitar FRFR. We all have our driver of choice. Every day I hear players saying, “I only play 10’s because they’re the fastest”, “12’s are the only drivers with enough punch”, and “15’s are the only way to go because of their depth.”

Why are we so adamant about speaker size? Why do we dig in our heels so deep about what’s right & what’s wrong? The main reasons seem to stem from our personal experiences and what the current popular opinions are from other players. Of course there’s advertising, magazine articles and current trends as well. All of these combined help determine our belief system about which drivers will work and which ones won’t whether it’s reality or not.

As we filter everything through our past experiences, it only makes sense that this would become a main ingredient in forming our thinking. If every 15” driver you’ve ever played happened to be slow, floppy, woofy and undefined, common sense would dictate that you do not like 15’s. Our experiences (for better or worse) formulate our prejudices.

Fightin’ Words

What about current public opinion? As a young kid growing up, our family bought and drove Chevys. It was almost like talking politics or religion if a friend’s family drove a Ford. Them’s fightin’ words! Looking back, it seems ridiculous. I wanted to fit in, so I preached the virtues of driving a particular brand of gas guzzler.

It’s really no different today when we ask opinions on speaker size. Many players will defend whatever they have invested in to the death, even if they have never tried another size driver. No one likes to admit they didn’t make the best choice.

What’s the correct answer? It may be different for everyone, but there are certain truths that can be applied to help us understand speakers to make a better decision. Stay tuned for part 2.