Dear fellow Guitar-a-files:
Can you hear me?
Yeah that is right, speakers. Ya' need some.
Speakers are one of the most overlooked aspect to your tone. That little 8"er in your practice combo isn't going to get you anywhere (well at that rate you probably nee a new amp too). Nor is that Fender "Special Designed" speaker in your Fender Frontman going to enchant you.
There are several things to consider when you are picking out speakers. The impedance (notated as Z in Ohms), wattage, and the sensitivity (in dB 1w@1m). Size also plays a factor, but there are no laws for that.
Well maybe some of us get a little 'sensitive' on the topic, but man up guys this is for real.
What is impedance? Impedance to speak in layman's terms, is the combination of the of opposition to flow combining resistance and reactance. Now what does that definition mean to you? not much, it shouldn't.
So Trashed, what does matter? What matters is that your amp and speakers are running at the same load. Running a mismatch can cause you to blow a speaker, blow the output transformer in your amp (big bucks), and all sorts of other shit. Take my word for it and don't do it. 99% of what we see as guitarists is either 4 ohms, 8 ohms, or 16 ohms.[I am not going to cover it now, you have google for that], but the number of speakers and impedance of the speakers are what determines the load. The load is what you should match your amp and speaker(s) to. Is 4 ohms better than 16 ohms? or vice versa? Nope. Not at all. Just make sure it matches.
Wattage, hell yeah, need more! Right guys???
Maybe not. the Wattage of the speaker is basically how much power it can handle. It does not affect the volume. If you have a 20 watt amp, a 100w speaker (cceteris paribus) will not be any louder than the same amp with a 20 watt speaker. One general rule that I follow is to have the speaker wattage rating just a little higher than the amp. The reason is that some amps can put out more power than they are rated for... and... well, it makes me feel safe and warm inside.
From a technical standpoint, you don't just add the individual wattages up to get how much you have in total. What you do is [again not going into depth here, google is your friend] to take the speaker with the lowest wattage and multiply that by the number of speakers you have.
SO WATTAGE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE VOLUME OF THE SPEAKER.
Now, what does? The sensitivity. Lets get emotional guys.
Sensitivity, what could that mean? Well, it is simply the volume in dB SPL of the speaker being pushed by 1 watt 1 meter from the speaker cone. This makes a HUGE difference. A Celestion Vintage 30 is rated at 100dB, 1m away, being pushed by 1 watt, that is damn loud. A Celestion Rocket 50 is rated at a lowly 95 dB. To keep this brief, decibels are logarithmic. 10 dB is double the volume. So... you get the picture.
Size matters my fellow man...
Well we can't really find a rule for that... There are many other factors.
PART #2 COMING NEXT WEEK. We will get down and dirty with a variety of common speakers.