The Eminence Black Mountain 12” speaker is an original Eminence design that has an American voicing with a 35 oz. alnico magnet. This model is rated for 30 watts at 8 ohms. According to the specs the frequency response is 70Hz-5.5k Hz, has a 1.75” voice coil and its sensitivity is rated at 101.3dB.
On the Bench: The charcoal gray textured finish gives the basket a rugged almost military look and the speaker has a solid feel to it. I noticed that the cone had more ribs than I usually see and the edge was not doped. Just by the looks my interest was piqued and I couldn’t wait to mount it in an amp and give it a whirl. I had no idea what to expect because usually an American type speaker with an alnico magnet sports a blue hotdog basket so there was a bit of mystery here.
In the Shop: I mounted the Black Mountain into a 5E3 Deluxe type amp I built a few years ago. This amp features a set of Deluxe Reverb model Mercury Magnetics transformers, 5F4 tweed Super size cabinet built by Larry Rodgers and hand wired circuitry. All it needed was the Black Mountain to be installed. I chose my Scott Lentz T-type guitar with ash body and maple neck for the review.
After mounting the Black Mountain into the cabinet and wiring up the jack I closed her up and got ready to rock. I plugged the Lentz T into the Bright channel and hit the standby switch. From the hit of the first chord the amp sounded unbelievably loud and clear with that magical 5E3 tweed texture. The bottom end was nice and tight, percussive and there was plenty of spank. It was punchy as well but in a vintage midrange sort of way that worked really well with the Lentz T. The midrange of this speaker is where the fun is. It seems to be voiced just right for the American 5E3 circuitry and would probably work well in other tweed type circuits.
This speaker has lots of vibe and feels great to play. It feels fast and can keep up with some break-neck chicken pickin’ and does not mush out at all. That’s not to say that it’s stiff it’s just a nice tight ride with a clarity that lets the amps character shine through. I was really digging this speaker and my 5E3 never sounded this good. I had everything I wanted; speed, clarity and texture with plenty of volume. I couldn’t wait to get this amp out on a gig loaded with the Black Mountain.
On the Gig: I took my Black Mountain loaded 5E3 and Lentz T with a few pedals to a gig to see how it would keep up and sound in a band setting. I always get eager to see how gear performs “on the job” so to speak. That to me is where it counts because lots of players earn their living playing gigs and any piece of gear that makes your playing better or gig life easier is always welcome.
On the gig in a live band setting my amp sounded awesome! I really loved the clarity of the Black Mountain and there was more volume and headroom than with the speaker I previously had in it. Actually at this point the old speaker sounded sort of flat with a dead kind of feel to it. I could hear the amp perfectly in the dolly/tray part of a road case on the floor. I said it before but I really meant it that my 5E3 never sounded this good. I could really “feel” the amp and the chords along with single note lines had body to them. Another thing I really liked was when you hit a chord hard you could hear a really nice “kerrang” sound if that makes any sense. Kinda reminded me of the Pete Townshend tone from “Who’s Next”.
Pedals sounded very true and were not muddled at all. My Blackstone overdrive sounded tight and my Analogman Chorus sounded lush but with that Black Mountain (or should I say black magic) clarity. This speaker took my 5E3 to another level and playing on the gig required less effort and there was no strain at all to hear.
Final Analysis: Winner! I really LOVE the Black Mountain and don’t really get too jived about speakers. I know speakers make a huge difference and can make or break an amp but this combination was the bomb! This was a pleasant surprise for me on a personal level because my 5E3 now can’t live without the Black Mountain! Looks like it’s not coming out of the amp and it will see more than a few gigs in the future. Snappy, tight and clear with warmth and a really cool vintage vibe that can survive modern day applications. I’m a little blown away and I will stop gushing here. The Eminence Black Mountain for the vintage lover who wants a “hot-rodded” American voiced alnico speaker.
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Here is a video clip of my 5E3 type amp I built with the Eminence Black Mountain speaker. I used my Scott Lentz T-type guitar tuned down to D in standard tuning. I ran the Lentz T into an Eh Memory Man for a little delay.