How does it work?
Let’s look at what the VMT preserves.
FluxTone has little to no value with a transistor
amplifier, because transistor amps don’t
have an output transformer. Tubes operate
at such high voltages that they can’t
be connected directly to the voice coil of a
speaker. It’s just such a mismatch of voltage
and current, it makes an output transformer
necessary... in the case of a tube amplifier,
the output transformer, being a magnetic
device, is connected directly to the speaker’s
voice coil, which is also a magnetic device.
As long as they’re connected to each other
with nothing between but wires, they form
this magnetic circuit, so when you overdrive
the output tubes, that circuit starts to ring,
and create tones that didn’t come out of your
guitar. They’re very much in tune with what
you’re playing. It’s kind of like on an organ:
push one key, and you get one tone. Pull out
another stop, or some other switch, and you
get a whole chorus of tones that are all associated
with that one key.
If you put something between the output transformer
and the voice coil, like a load box, it
prevents those tones from being generated, or
they’re so quiet you can’t hear them anymore…
you’re inevitably going to hinder or kill all
those overtones that are generated when you
overdrive the amp. What we did with FluxTone
was to vary the speaker’s ability to be loud, by
adjusting its magnetic strength. We removed
the permanent magnet and replaced it with
an electromagnet, and now we vary the power
going to that electromagnet.
There’s a gap where the voice coil is inside
the speaker, and that gap has a magnetic
intensity, and it’s measured in so many gauss,
or how strong the flux is in that gap. We’re
varying that flux strength by having a variable
magnet, which doesn’t interfere with the relationship
between the voice coil and the output
transformer, so whatever overtones are
generated are still there. It’s just like reducing
the size of the magnet on the speaker, thereby
reducing its ability to be loud.
The magnets in your speakers are copper.
What do you say to players who are worried
that if they’re not getting a speaker with an
Alnico or ceramic magnet they’re not going
to get that precise tone they know and love?
Modern speakers mostly use ceramic magnetic
structures, which are much easier to
manufacture than Alnico. Ceramic magnets
came along about the same time that amplifiers
started changing to transistors to get
more power at less cost. Now remember that
tubes and transistors already sound different,
and because the voice coils were asked to
handle more power they needed to have more
room in the gap to fit more turns on the voice
coil. That made the gap bigger, which… every
time you double the gap width, you need four
times the amount of magnetic strength to
maintain the same magnetism across that gap.
You couldn’t get that kind of magnetism out
of Alnico magnets without making them prohibitively
expensive. Ceramic magnets were
much more powerful per pound, so they lent
themselves to the wider gap.
While acknowledging that players can hear
a difference between ceramic speakers and
Alnico speakers, we have taken the time
to install and test the exact same cone
assemblies in ceramic, Alnico, and field coil
frames. Once we removed the variables, in
my observation, both in the lab and on stage,
the differences in tonal characteristics are not
so much from the origin of the magnetism,
but rather because of the weight of the moving
parts, what they’re made out of, and the
distance they move. The old Alnico speakers
had a much lower power rating, therefore the
elements that moved were lighter, and did
not move as far, so they could jump to those
delicate frequencies more quickly.
You’re offering different types of speakers.
How many types of voices are there, and
are these the standard types of speakers
used in guitar amps?
We have about six voices at this point. We
have a custom made voice from Eminence
that sounds very, very close to the original
Jensen P12Q or P12R: the old Alnico speakers
that came with the low-power Fender
amplifiers from the fifties—the ones that
most people drool over. We install that voice
in one of our baskets, so when you use
that particular FluxTone driver, it’s going to
sound like the old Jensen sound. We also
get cones that are manufactured in Italy by
the company that bought the Jensen name,
and those cones typically come in amps like
a new Fender Twin Reverb. We put those in
for another voice, if you like that one. And
then we have four different cones we get
directly from Celestion.
Ninety-nine percent of that sound actually
comes from the parts that move, rather than
the basket or the paint, or how the magnetism
is generated. It’s actually coming from
the weight of the voice coil, the size of the
wire, the size of the voice coil winding, the
gap width and height, all that stuff. The part
that’s moving, the cone, the dustcap, the
voice coil, the spider, those things are all
glued together, and they move as one piece.
The mass of those various elements, and the
lengths of the paper pulp fibers that are in
the cone, plus other minor minutiae (glue,
humidity, etc.) all dictate exactly what it’s
going to sound like.
As long as you take that whole assembly
together—the cone, the spider, the voice
coil, all of the moving parts—if you take that
whole thing out of a Celestion gold speaker,
say, and put it into another speaker frame,
it’s going to sound the same because all the
moving parts are the same.
We put the cone assemblies directly into
our hardware. So, if you buy a Celestion
Blue from us, you’re getting everything a
Celestion blue is, as far as its tonal abilities
and power handling, only you get it with
FluxTone’s VMT. Because we’re building
speakers more or less one at a time, we
have very small production runs, maybe ten
or twenty in one run, so we can hold our
tolerances tight. The overall efficiency of our
drivers is usually the same or higher than the
equivalent driver in the industry.
You’ll put these speakers into a cabinet,
like the one from Mojo that you showed us,
but you’ll also retrofit them inside of someone’s
An example of the FluxTone retrofit on a ‘54 Fender Pro.
Absolutely. People come to us with old classics,
and they don’t want them permanently
altered. We can remove your original speaker,
put it in a box for you to put on your shelf—
because quite often they’re worth as much as
the amp. Then we’ll install a FluxTone speaker
and an external power supply to run it. It
just comes down to a little box with a knob
on it. You have your old amp playing through
your favorite voice in a FluxTone speaker, so
you don’t need an extra cabinet. People send
their amps to us, and we’ll do the retrofit and
return them. Or you can buy just a speaker
and a power supply and retrofit your own.
There’s a wide variety of options.
How does it work with a configuration
like 2x12 or 4x12?
You can do it any way you want. If you want
it elaborate, like some recording studios do,
it will have two or four voices in a single box,
and it’ll have one control for each voice, so
you can actually mix and match voices. That
way you can come up with a very unique
sound that just doesn’t exist anywhere else,
or any one of the voices that you select. Or
you can hook two or four speakers up to a
single power supply.
What are your plans for
the future of FluxTone?
We are looking at various OEM situations,
getting some licensing agreements where
we can supply speaker to some companies,
and we’re looking at partnering with speaker
manufacturers, and seeing about getting
these things a little more mass-produced.
For more information:
You can also demo the FluxTone speaker system at the following dealers:
/ New Jersey
/ Wash DC