I received the Silent Speaker Chamber. Experiments to capture in MP3: stuff rear, front chamber to boost bass. Test for bass loss with door closed vs. open. Measure SPL with door open to various degrees. Crack door open for living room speaker. Put identical speaker in SSC and in Mesa 2x12 cab (as only spk) out in room - A/B. SSC has feet on one end to stand up. My cat would love that. Sits on any side on tough plastic corners, as well. Only offered with black carpet covering, not tweed or Tolex anymore - to reduce leakage/transfer/dispersion. You can use hand electric jigsaw to cut adapter plate to mount 4", 6", 8", or 10" guitar speaker instead of 12". You could probably fit a 15" speaker as well.
The Music-Go-Round used store associate told me his wedge monitor with guitar speaker sounded as honky as my 1x12 cube cab did, until he packed it tight with foam or insulation, then acted like large neutral cab, no resonance, deep. For stealth studios, use tube power amp -> power attenuator -> guitar speaker pushed to 1 watt -> SSC -> mic -> headphones. I think you will find that this sounds essentially the same as the non-stealth approach: tube power amp -> guitar speaker pushed to many watts -> conventional cab open in room -> mic -> monitor speakers. But a new theme at Amptone.com is "MP3 A/B" - presenting you with the evidence and scientifically reproducible Tone experiments. Possibility if you want to drive a spk in iso box by more than 1 watt with no leakage, and still own a portable iso cab for cafe gigs: buy the SSC, then build a box to put it in, with a quick-access door on your outer box (on side for mic & spk access, another on end to remove SSC).
Guitar Player review of Silent Speaker Chamber SSC-1 [archive]
official product page for SSC - Silent Speaker Chamber is now available in stereo
Demeter Silent Speaker Chamber (SSC-1) -- "The SSC-1 Silent Speaker Chamber is the answer for those trying to achieve a full bodied electric guitar sound without disturbing the neighbors. Features include an adjustable built-in mic stand with XLR output and 1/4" input jacks on the exterior. Ideal for live recording and live situations where leakage is a problem Hand made of 3/4" marine grade plywood with heavy duty molded corners, fully insulated and wrapped in durable black carpet. Available loaded with a 12" 80 watt Eminence speaker. (SSC-UL) or unloaded (SSC-1U). The SSC-1's dimensions are 30" by 18" by 18". Unloaded the SSC-1 weighs 45 lbs Loaded 50 lbs. SSC-1U Silent Speaker Chamber with no speaker $525.00"
The Demeter cabinet is usually listed in the Guitar & Bass Buyer's Guide from Guitar Player. I know that Guitar Player gave this a positive review a couple years ago, but the review date is not listed in the Buyer's Guide. [To do: search the Guitar Player tables of contents via the Web, to find which issue reviewed this product. Do an unsuccessful search at Harmony Central, then there's a magazine index search. Check Music magazine indexes.]
The Demeter speaker isolation cabinet (which is larger than the Folded Space Micro Room) got a good review in Guitar Player. The idea of a sonically contained speaker, cabinet, and mic package has great potential, the potential to sound better than a power tube and attenuator with no guitar speaker.
From: Timothy Wangelin
Sent: Sunday, June 18, 2000
Subject: Re: Wattage & Attenuator
Regarding the SSC, I have a 20W MesaBoogie Rocket and a Greenback in the SSC. I have recorded under two conditions with the MB cranked using an SM57, one, with the SSC door open, two, with the door closed. I don't have a benchmark of a regular closed-back 1x12 cabinet. I don't think the 1x10 stock Eminence speaker in the open-back combo is a good comparison.
The difference between the door being open and closed, is having the door closed seems to "squeeze" the sound further up the spectrum. I looked at it through a spectrum analyzer and the entire curve from the closed-door seemed to be shifted upward from the open-door. The amount of bass is reduced. I can even see where the closed-door sound would be acceptable. I EQ'd the closed-door and got it to sound nearly identical to the open-door. No matter how I would record the amp I would need EQ it, so it isn't a big deal. I have to remove a "thump" at 62 Hz. The closed door doesn't seem to affect overall color of the sound.
With the MB cranked it is still too loud (it's 20W Boogie watts!) to have in the same room where I am recording - so I stick it in the bathroom down the hall. This sufficiently quiets the amp and separates it from what I hear through my monitors and headphones.
The cabinet itself really helps the speaker. It adds a lot of depth and fullness to the sound. It is also well made.
I talked to James Demeter when I ordered the SSC and he said he considered a slightly larger model with some other features, but dismissed it because of the cost and shipping difficulties. It sounded like he has some good ideas.
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 1998 10:55:49 -0800
To: Michael at amptone.com
From: Bob Williams , Demeter Marketing
Subject: Re: Demeter Silent Speaker Chamber
We can build a Silent Speaker Chamber for 12", 10", or 8" speakers. Usually we sell the cabinet unloaded [that is, with no speaker]. We do offer them loaded with a 12" Emminence speaker, 80 watts.
Let me know if I can be of any additional help, and thanks for your interest!
info at demeteramps.com
15730 Stagg Street
Van Nuys, CA 91406
(818) 994-7658 FAX (818) 994-0647
Matt Preus sent me a photocopy of the brochure: "the answer for those trying to achieve a full-bodied loud electric guitar sound without disturbing the neighbors. ... built-in adjustable microphone stand. 3/4" marine-grade plywood wih heavy-duty molded corners and fully insulated. ... available in black, tweed, carpet, and exotic simulated reptile coverings. Microphone output jack and speaker input (1/4") are included on the outside of the cabinet. $395 list -- speakers and mics not included."
This might be an older address:
2912 Colorado Av. #204
Santa Monica, CA 90404
You can order the Demeter cabinet from my long-time friend and fellow Tone researcher for years:
Coast Recording Equipment Supply
6223 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90038
For my home-built speaker islation cabinet, I used a large custom box inside another large custom box, and a Greenback 25 watt guitar speaker, taking no chances with other speakers or overly small box sizes. My speaker is also mounted differently than the Demeter -- my speaker is mounted in an open-backed cabinet inside the isolation cabinet, with fluffy stuff and some air circulation all around. There is one other issue I have with both ready-made units: they are symmetrical in two of the dimensions. This is to be avoided in speaker cabinet designs, because it sets up resonances which result in peaks and valleys in the response curve. My cabinet is asymmetrical in all dimensions, giving a smoother response curve. I also avoid placing the speaker exactly halfway back and at a right angle; keep everything skewed a little.
I encourage you to buy a ready-made unit and discourage constructing your own, unless you are building an entire isolation booth such as for an amp stack. The materials are expensive and you will have a hard time making such an aesthetic, ergonomic, road-worthy design as one of the ready-made models. Mine has the advantage of being double-thick, but you could probably have Demeter build a second, larger box to go around the first box, at reasonable cost, with a professional result. Or try using one of the new 5-watt tube amps instead of a 15-watt amp, to drive the speaker, in the single-layer, Demeter unit.
>I came across your web pages that talk about the use of an isolation speaker cabinet to use power tube distortion for guitar. Did you ever buy the Demeter isolation cabinet?
No, so my enthusiasm for the Demeter speaker isolation cabinet is only based on reading and thinking, and building my own, larger, more massive, double-layered isolation cabinet, rather than actual experience with Demeter's design. Their design is in the same ballpark as mine and should sound reasonably good. I have some concerns: is their cabinet big enough, inside? Does it have non-peaky resonance? Does it block sound, out in the room, well enough? I can't recommend Demeter's in particular; but I do recommend trying a speaker isolation cabinet, and there are only two that are commercially available. (The Folded Space Micro Room uses a power attenuator followed by a 5" speaker.)
>Did you ever make a smaller isolation speaker cabinet with a 6 inch speaker and 5 watt amp?
No. I'm waiting for the designers to offer inexpensive 5-watt tube amps.
It amazes me that while countless companies make multifx units and conventional guitar amps, there are only two speaker isolation cabinets available for purchase. The companies have been stuck in the "loud amps for gigging musicians" paradigm, and the only provision for bedroom guitarists is multifx preamps, which don't deliver the desired power-tube saturation and which, if they *are* placed before a cranked amp, corrupt the clarity of the signal going through the saturating power tubes (if echo effects is used, in the preamp).
There is a crying demand, a market opportunity, and a moral obligation for companies to expand beyond the misconceived "multifx before conventional amp" model.
The only thread in the archive other than mine, so far, is "home (apartment) recording":
Morgwn Quin McCarty writes:
>I was wondering who has had success here in apartment recording. I imagine I'll be able to get good clean tones direct, or through a cheezy processor.
Mark Garvin wrote:
Not necessarily what you'd expect. You'll probably get a very glassy, almost acoustic sound due to the overabundance of high harmonics. The highs are normally diminished by an actual tube amp, mostly by the limited response of guitar speakers.
>What about recording distorted/shredder guitar tones?? I've heard a recording someone did with the Silent Speaker Chamber that sounded great.
Is that within budget? If so, it may be a better solution than an electronic simulator. You won't get any room tone though.
[Just use post-amp reverb -- Michael]
>Also, what about using something like a THD Hotplate set to load, and then going through a H&K Redbox or something? I have no idea if that will sound like crap for lead tones/etc.
It depends on the sound you want, and how critical you are.
>I guess the final option is just to cram an SM-57 up to the speaker and try to run the amp at a really low volume (so as not to irritate the neighbors late at night). If this is the way to go, I'd rather not waste any money on a THD Hot Plate or Demeter Silent Speaker Chamber.
Why not try it and decide? That's easy.
>What's a really good/non-harsh headphone to get that doesn't cost an arm and leg?
Like most transducers, headphones can color a sound quite a bit. If you are working up close with live mics, consider 'closed' (airtight) phones to avoid feedback. I've used Sennheisers with good results (250's I think). The old standby for lower level is the 'semi-closed' AKG 240.
Also consider the impedance. What are you driving the phones with? 600 ohm phones will need some voltage. Any good mixer should do it, but double check.
I sometimes do some trial runs with the cab door closed, then open it just for the final take, to add a bit of low-end. I have not done A/B tests of the SSC with door open and closed. Based on my conclusive tests of my own, larger "cabinet isolation box", and corroborated by the Guitar Player magazine review, with the SSC door closed you can expect to lose a degree of bass, and with 85 watts it will be loud but so much less loud than a conventional cab in the middle of the room. The SSC will bring it down to "studio level", but you know there are studios and then studios. People have wildly differing ideas of what "quiet enough" means. At 11 pm in a big basement with a saturating 15 watt amp, I think my neighbors can detect that there is a musical instrument (not just tv) next door.
If you have book boxes, you can build a dense fort around the SSC. Mass is required to block bass waves.
Ideally you would have a variety of mics mounted in the SSC -- please consider the "stereo" option which comes with two mics. Given the tough compromises of an isolation cabinet, you need all the fullness and EQ and mic-blending options you can get. I think some ideal condensers can handle such high SPLs. I wish I had a "mic closet" -- collection of mics. A variety of speakers, a variety of mics, and a variety of EQs would be ideal, and a lifetime to try various combinations. I sure wish I kept the URL with the negative review of the SSC vs. a conventional cab. You should assume that you cannot produce a copy of the classic cab sound, but the goal is to produce a good dynamic natural sound. Miking is tricky even with good mics and conventional cabs. An iso cab piles on even more challenges.
I never recommend buying specific products, but rather, testing and buying on a trial basis. Pin your last allowed return date on the wall and test it thoroughly while you have a chance to return it. Before you buy, *plan* the tests and schedule the testing period. A month goes so quickly and you have to put a priority on testing and being prepared to return things. Some scheduled A/B tests would be good. The SSC is not cheap. Also, plan to buy a speaker and maybe a mic dedicated to the SSC. It sucks, stealing a speaker from a combo amp and having to move the speaker back and forth.
I don't portray power attenuators, low-wattage amps, or speaker isolation cabinets the answer for everything -- just one more handy tool.
I'm serious about the 8'x3'x4' giant double-layer isolation box. One guy is building a concrete "bunker" for full-size cabs. That is what studios do -- an isolation booth. I'd really like something for a 4x12 standard cab, with breathing room out front.
The SSC is lightweight. Now, for more money, you could ask Demeter to send you an outer box to put around the SSC. It would not solve the slight loss of bass problem, but it would truly cut your levels down so that you would rarely be heard outside the studio. The SSC is portable, which could be nice. I've seen it listed in some famous band setups for live use, but I'm thinking of bookstore and cafe gigs as well.
I don't have all that much experience with the SSC.
You have to make intelligent, calculated compromises to get quiet cranked-amp tone. Some people are happy with some of the tradeoffs with power attenuators or with speaker isolation cabinets, others are not.
My current view of the EQ response is that the speaker iso cab just rolls off the bass, when you close the door. You'll have no more EQ quirkiness with it than with any other cab. I heard a trick for fuller less boomy bass with a stage monitor with a guitar speaker is to cram it full of insulation. I found about this when I asked a sales associate why my 1x12 closed-back cab sounded so honky and boomy with a good Greenback in it. His monitor sounded the same way until stuffed.
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