Monday, August 5, 2013

Review: Eminence 820H Speaker

A few months ago, I lucked into a 1965 Fender Vibro Champ at a yard sale. It was in great condition. Heck, it still had the original tubes, caps, and speaker (along with a two-prong plug).

The first thing I did was pull the original tubes and put them away for safe keeping. Next, I sent the amp in for a three-prong plug and cap job. Finally, I put the original speaker away for safe keeping and installed the new Eminence 820H.

Like the Eminence Cannabis Rex (which I loved in my Reverend Goblin 1x12) the 820H features a hemp cone. It also sports a 1” voice coil and a 15 oz. ceramic magnet. I don’t know what the magnet in the stock speaker weighed, but the 820H is significantly more substantial.

I installed the 820H and prepared to rock out. But I was not prepared for the tone that was about to erupt from my little Vibro Champ. The 802H is rockin! This little 8” speaker plays and sounds like a 10. I plugged in my Malden Mozak (think tele) and got lost for about an hour just playing Heartbreakers songs and other “rootsy” stuff. Then I plugged in my Reverend Roundhouse (think LP) and cranked the volume further and had some fun with lead lines. 

With a sensitivity rating of 96.1 dB, I wasn’t expecting a huge jump in volume. But the stock speaker must have been extremely inefficient because I have a ton more volume on tap now. But more than added volume, the tone is much big and bolder. The stock speaker started to fall apart when the volume was pushed beyond 4 and couldn’t handle any fuzz or OD pedals. With the 820H in there, I can crank the amp up all the way and the speaker can handle it. And if I didn’t need cleans, I could probably keep up with a drummer.

Don’t get me wrong, the Vibro Champ sounded pretty good with the original speaker. But with the 820H, it sounds bigger, sweeter, and fuller. It's funny, the 820H made the most difference at low-volume and high-volume. It now sounds richer at low volume and it doesn't fart out and fall apart when it's cranked.
It stands up to pedals much better now as well. I can now slam the Vibro Champ with my Klone or use a Fuzz Face to great effect. It’s crazy how the speaker upgrade transformed the Vibro Champ from my little practice amp into a legitimate “grab and go” combo.

The Eminence 820H is just an all around amazing speaker. It has the warmth and “smoky” highs of the Cannabis Rex, great, rich mids, and amazing low-end for an 8” speaker. Bottom line: if you are looking for an 8” speaker, I can’t imagine a better option.