Guitar amp speakers play a pivotal role in the overall shaping of your rig’s sound. Two leasing names that you’ve probably come across in the industry are Eminence and Celestion.
Both of these manufacturers offer a selection of high-quality speakers, with varying strengths and weaknesses.
Why Amp Speakers Matter
Many musicians are unaware of the huge impact the speakers that are installed within their amplifier make on their overall tone and sound.
It’s common for us to spend a long time deliberating over which new guitar to purchase, or the specific tube amp to add to our rig. Furthermore, we invest a lot of time and effort into planning and assembling our effects pedal chain.
Guitar amp speakers, commonly made by brands like Eminence and Celestion, are easy to overlook. After all, they’re hardly visible once fitted, and most guitarists simply stick with the speakers which are pre-installed in the amp.
Eminence has built a reputation as a leading producer of speakers for guitar amps and other audio applications. Their “Delta”, “Alpha”, “Legend” and “Red Coat” speakers are amongst their finest offerings.
Indeed, guitar amp speaker tone is subjective, so I’ll stick to the facts here as much as possible. Although each model of Eminence speakers have slightly varying characteristics, there are some general qualities that most of them embody.
Firstly, Eminence speakers are considered to be very warm sounding, particularly in the mids and high-mids. They offer impressive brightness, which is ideal for jangly, treble-heavy guitar styles.
The “Red Coat” speakers are one of their more gritty offerings. The signature warmth is still present, but these speakers add a notable bite, which is ideal for hotter lead guitar tones.
Volume & Power
Again, there is plenty of variation from model to model when it comes to the power specs and volume levels of Eminence speakers. They produce a large selection of 12 inches, 75-watt speakers, which usually have a frequency response of 80-5100 Hz.
This speaker size also has sensitivity at 1W/1m of 101.1dB, to give you an idea of their volume. Eminence also produces 15-inch speakers, which increase the volume significantly and broaden the frequency response.
The 10 inch Eminence speakers are better suited for recording or rehearsing with your guitar amp. The sonic qualities remain, but the max volume is reduced due to the more concise dimensions of the speakers.
Eminence guitar speakers aren’t overly expensive compared to other manufacturers. Their smaller speakers tend to be more affordable than their bulkier offerings, and certain specifications increase their value.
Due to the vastness of Eminence’s guitar speaker range, you’re bound to find a specific device to suit your requirements. They make speakers which are ideal for smooth styles, like r n’ b or funk, and also ones for heavier genres like hard rock or blues.
Celestion guitar amp speakers are considered to be the industry standard by many musicians and audio-enthusiasts. With a history dating back to 1924, the company has been responsible for many breakthroughs in loudspeaker production.
The Celestion speaker range includes the following popular models: “Vintage 30”, “Greenback”, “Creamback”, and “Alnico”.
The Vintage 30 speaker is Celestion’s flagship offering. First introduced in 1986, it produces classic rock n’ roll tones timelessly and reliably.
One of the common sonic qualities of Celestion speakers is warm coloration. They reproduce the electric guitar with an abundance of character, highlighting its sweet spots and gently coloring the tone to make it sound more inviting and immersive.
Volume & Power
Like Eminence speakers, Celestion offers a wide range of sizes and consequently volume ratings. Their 12-inch speakers commonly operate at 8 Ohms, have a frequency range of 75-5000Hz, and a sensitivity rating of around 97dB.
One standout quality of Celestion speakers is their ability to retain the clarity of their sound even when played at their dynamic peak. This sets them apart from the majority of guitar amp speakers and is a large contributing factor to their long-lasting success.
Generally speaking, Celestion speakers are a little more pricey than those offered by Eminence. This is because Celestion uses the highest quality components, and has a reputation in the industry for being the gold standard of amp speakers.
You can pick up some relatively low-priced Celestion speakers, but their larger, more popular offerings tend to be at the upper price range of the market.
Undeniable versatile, Celestion produces a speaker type for all scenarios. The “Vintage 30” range is ideal for high-powered amps, while the popular “Greenback” speakers are perfect for metal and heavy rock.
“Creamback” speakers were designed by Celestion to increase the power of the “Greenback” range, while “Alnico” devices are heralded as the original rock and roll amp speaker.
The wide range of speakers offered by Celestion is undoubtedly one of the main reasons for their longevity and continued popularity.
Who Makes Better Guitar Speakers – Final Verdict
Celestion Leads with Quality
Celestion, in my opinion, makes the better guitar speakers. I’ve come to this conclusion mainly because they have maintained their position at the forefront of amp speaker production for almost a century, and I’ve yet to hear a Celestion speaker that didn’t sound great.
Eminence is Almost Just as Good
Nevertheless, Eminence is a close second. I know guitarists who prefer Eminence, due to their distinctively crisp sound, responsive dynamics, and versatility.
For this reason, I’d encourage you to experiment with both speakers if possible. If you’re looking for a quick, safe option, I’d recommend replacing your amp speaker with one that's made by Celestion.
Eminence and Celestion are both brilliant designers of guitar speakers. Whichever manufacturer you choose, I’m sure you’ll be more than satisfied with the pristine tones that are created when your guitar interacts with the new speaker.