Stevie Ray Vaughan had a unique and distinctive guitar sound that is instantly recognizable as SRV as soon as you hear it. Although he played a variety of guitars, many of them vintage Fender Stratocasters, his guitar sound was unlike the typical Fender Stratocaster sound. His main guitar, appropriately named “Number 1”, was a 1963 Fender Stratocaster body with a 1962 Strat neck and 1959 Strat pickups. No one else could pick up his Strat and make it sound like him. SRV had a MASSIVE signature sound, especially in his later years, that was full bodied and rich with tonal qualities that resembled a hollow body blues/jazz guitar with an extra deep growl. He used huge strings (.013 to .058 heavy gauge) and jumbo-style frets to facilitate intense string bending. He liked an oversize neck radius. His guitars had super high action which means the strings were stretched high above the neck and his aggressive playing style tore the calluses off his fingers, which he would superglue back onto his fingertips. He played with strength and power. SRV used an Ibanez Tube Screamer overdrive pedal as a line driver of sorts to purposely overdrive the input stage of his tube amplifiers driving well broken-in speakers. In the studio, SRV would mic a mix of mostly Marshall and Fender amplifiers/speakers, sometimes playing through as many as 32 amplifiers at the same time in the studio. That describes some of the reasons for that warm and ballsy sound.
Well, I personally want a coaxial or component speaker that portrays that unique sound honestly as SRV intended it to be heard. In balance. In attack. In its entire bandwidth. In its lack of coloration and lack of bias. In contrast, when you hear a peaky and strident speaker with over-emphasized treble that butchers the SRV sound, you instantly know it. The initial bright appeal and appearance of false detail quickly passes as SRVs artistry is turned into a thin, tinny, transistor-radio-like guitar squeal. That is NOT the way SRV is supposed to sound.
The above example also translates to vocal balance, particularly female vocals, and every musical instrument for which we have a real world reference. I want to hear highs that represent tiny percussion instruments, such as chimes and triangles, as being small and delicate as they are. I don’t want to hear harsh, crashing and smeared highs unless that is how the original mix was intended to sound. Hey, if I want them to sound like tiny trash can lids imitating tympani cymbals being slammed together, then I can accomplish that on my own with a basic treble control. Plus, the listening fatigue associated with highly tilted and erratic sounding speakers can be brutal. As a lover of music I want to enjoy my system endlessly and avoid speaker-induced fatigue.
I invite you to visit an Earmark store for an audition and to hear for yourself the differences that I am explaining. You’ll find the most knowledgeable people to show you the very best speakers that the mobile electronics industry has to offer.
DavidEarmark Car Audio
Click here to read our earlier article: Coaxials & Components- Part I