When people say guitar cabinets or monitor speakers have the influences on the tones or sounds they are producing.

Q: Do they mean cabinets and speaker enclosures add the new additional harmonic contents to the sound? Or do they mean the influences on tones affect the sound by cutting or boosting the resonant frequencies?

2 Answers 2


Simplistically-speaking, a speaker cabinet that is anywhere close to being well-designed shouldn't be adding significant amounts of new harmonic content (as in, frequencies that weren't there before). However, every speaker (cabinet/driver combination) will have a particular frequency response - they will produce some frequencies better than others.

Studio monitors are typically designed so that they are as 'flat' as possible within the constraints of their design.

Guitar cabs (driver/cabinet assemblies) are often purposely-designed to focus the frequency-response towards somewhere in the mid-range. Typically, they roll off some bass through being open-backed, and some treble gets rolled off through the natural response of a large driver without a separate tweeter.

(Of course the gain stages in a guitar amplifier often do generate new harmonics through deliberate design - but that's the 'amp' bit, not the 'cab' bit)

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    +1. By 'monitor' speakers, I think you mean those used in studios, not those used for foldback.
    – Tim
    Aug 1, 2019 at 16:03
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    Via many different kinds of distortion, both mechanical and electrical/electromagnetic, all speaker systems do introduce new harmonic content. Whether one considers that new content to be an aspect of “frequency response” or not is probably a matter of taste and semantics. Aug 1, 2019 at 18:39
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    @ToddWilcox I'd consider harmonic distortion separately from frequency response! Of course speakers can generate a lot of distortion, especially at lower frequencies - maybe I was placing too much weight on the connotation of the word 'influence' on the OP, but I'm basically saying that people don't generally choose cabs or monitors because they distort; ones that do so noticeably are generally seen as poor choices. Aug 1, 2019 at 20:02
  • I’m not sure about my impression that alnico drivers distort more/differently than other magnet formulations and that’s why people pay a premium for them. So I believe many guitarists do choose drivers and cabinets because of the sound of the distortion(s) they impart. Aug 1, 2019 at 21:29
  • @ToddWilcox I see - sounds like there might be room for a second answer to this question! Aug 1, 2019 at 21:30

A well designed and constructed enclosure in good repair will not add noticeable harmonic content, however cabinet internal volume resonances are often designed into the speaker system as a whole unit in an attempt to achieve as smooth (flat) response pattern as a designer can achieve. These resonances are assumed to be triggered by existing frequencies in the original audio signal, resonating at the same frequencies as produced in that same signal. Care must be taken because the resonance can continue past the point in time when the original signal is no longer being produced thereby coloring the sound in inaccurate ways.

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