The widest variety of guitar speakers is the 12” size range; however, for personal use, they tend to be too loud, large, and expensive. The ideal size for a jam session at home or on the go is the 8” range. They are inexpensive, fit into a smaller cab, and still offer enough power for a fun jam.
But finding a great 8 inch guitar speaker can be quite tough, as there are fewer options, and you have to consider compatibility with your existing cabinet as well. In this KGR review, we’ve compiled the 5 best 8 inch guitar speakers – all of which are readily available and are popular amongst guitarists worldwide.
For these tests, we used our Epiphone Les Paul Pro and a Fender Champion 20W amplifier, and swapped the speakers in the Fender for consistency. We tried both clean and distorted tones to get a feel of their versatility, frequency response, tonal accuracy, and overall room feel.
- Our Top Three Picks
- Jensen C8R Vintage Ceramic 8-inch – Our Top Pick
- Celestion Eight 15 8-inch – Best Budget Option
- Eminence 820H Patriot Series 8-inch – KGR Editor’s Choice
- Celestion TF0818MR 8-inch
- Eminence Alpha – 8A American Standard Series 8-inch
- 8 Inch Guitar Speakers – Buyer’s Guide
- Final Thoughts
Our Top Three Picks
- The Jensen C8R Vintage Ceramic 8-inch is our top pick. It delivers a full-bodied tone with a beefy bottom end and is really bang for the buck.
- If you’re on a tighter budget, the Celestion Eight 15 8 inch is a high-quality product that fits well against more expensive competitors.
- And the Eminence 820H Patriot Series 8 inch is our favorite premium 8” speaker, outperforming everything else in this size range.
Jensen C8R Vintage Ceramic 8-inch – Our Top Pick
The Jensen C8R Vintage Ceramic is based on the original 1961 Jensen C8R, which was very obvious in our tests. We felt a definite vintage color to the speakers, and all of it was in a convenient and compact modern package. At around $42, it is also very affordable.
We heard an aggressive mid-range while analyzing the speaker’s tone, giving it a strong presence in any mix. The bottom-end does not get smothered by the mid-range, providing balance. The frequency response curve confirmed what we heard, with peaks in the middle of the frequencies within the human hearing range.
The powerful mids take distortion very well. We tried going all the way with our crunch and fuzz effects and heard no stray sounds, preserving note definition and low noise with even the most extreme genres. We were not expecting such a small speaker to perform this well with metal and hard rock.
This does not mean the Jensen C8R can’t perform with clean tones – without distortion, it gave us a clear and bright feel, which could work for country, jazz, or even blues. We still felt more of a trend towards heavier genres keeping in mind the strong presence of the speaker. In fact, we found that scooping the mids on our amp led to better tones as it tamed the mids.
The small size of the Jensen C8R is misleading, given how powerful the speaker is and how it can have a central role in a small band or studio. All this versatility, with the portability and convenience of an 8” speaker, makes this speaker our favorite.
Verdict: The Jensen C8R Vintage Ceramic delivers a full-bodied tone with ample bottom end. Its tone can be distorted to hell and back without any issues, and it does not break the bank with its modest price tag. We think this is the best deal you can get for an 8-inch speaker.
Celestion Eight 15 8-inch – Best Budget Option
The Celestion Eight 15 is a great budget option if you are looking for a bonafide 8-inch speaker. Our tests showed some similarities to the stock speakers from the Fender Champ. So it could even work as a fantastic replacement speaker for this great practice amp.
The mids are very well balanced, and the highs are intense, giving the tone a bell-like chime. The bottom-end is not overpowered by the highs or mids and pulled through well when we mixed the results on our workstation.
The Eight 15 has a blend of balanced mids and bottom end, with a prominent high-end. Our tests indicated the speaker is mostly neutral, though it may have a slight high-end bias. The frequency response graph corresponds to our results, indicating a more or less flat response, with a slight boost to the higher frequencies above 8kHz.
We found the Celestion Eight 15 to be the most prominent sounding speakers on this list, more than making up for its small size. The high-end bias gives it a warm aura that we recognized as distinctly British, making it ideal for rock and metal. But it’s not just limited to these genres.
In our analysis, the powerful bottom-end and mids also allowed the Eight 15 to hold its own even with clean sounds for classic styles and light distortion for blues. It has a ceramic magnet, which works well despite being a budget speaker.
The Eight 15 is affordable enough for practically anyone who might want a guitar speaker. It is powerful enough for small gigs, like at a local cafe or even small performances inside your home. It also does well as a replacement speaker in case your current one blows up or stops performing as well as it used to.
Verdict: The Celestion Eight 15 is an 8-inch powerpack that punches well above its weight. It has a balanced tone and a British feel. At just around $32.50, it is one of the most affordable 8-inch speakers worth buying.
Eminence 820H Patriot Series 8-inch – KGR Editor’s Choice
The Eminence 820H is the finest example of an 8-inch speaker that we could find. Nothing else we tested could compete with the 820H, though it is double the price of the average 8-inch speaker. It is a hemp cone speaker with a pressed steel chassis.
According to our tests, the clean tone of the 820H is warm and full-bodied. Observing the frequency response graph, we saw a more neutral trend than most other speakers. You get excellent note definition with clean tones, all across the frequency spectrum. Despite the flat response, the 820H maintains an original character.
Most 8” speakers tend to lack volume, warmth, and bite, making them unsuitable for anything beyond practice. However, we found that the 820H is strong in all these areas, making it a powerful speaker for performances and still being portable and super convenient.
We tried several genres with the 820H and found it very versatile with its broad full-range approach. We distorted tones without encountering any issues, while the clean tone held its own. Even a typically thin-sounding amp can feel larger than life when it has this speaker in it.
We found that the mids are smooth, and the bottom-end makes everything sound fatter, dominating everything else in the 8” diameter range. Eminence not only gives a guarantee of a Premium American tone with the 820H, but it also guarantees durability and reliability. All Eminence speakers are ready to hit the road and withstand the stresses of gigging.
The 820H has a ferrite magnet; instead of the more common ceramic magnets. It was built from scratch to be different from all its competition and do everything better. Ferrite magnets are more resistant to heat and corrosion than neodymium, making them excellent for rough ‘n tough speakers. Overall, we loved every single thing about this speaker.
Verdict: Every aspect of the Eminence 820H speaker is well worth the premium price tag, from the build quality to the tone. It not only does everything you could ask it to but does it better than anything else in the 8” category. If you need the best, this is it.
The Celestion TF0818MR is an excellent choice if you want your guitars to have a dominating presence in your mixes. Its price sits at a comfortable intermediate compared to others on this list, and it comes with the usual quality guarantee that you would expect from Celestion. It has a ferrite magnet for better durability and a robust pressed-steel chassis.
While testing the TF0818MR, we heard a very strong upper-middle-range bias. We would describe the tone as warm, and to a lesser extent, chimy. This means that the boosted upper-mids do not make the sound boxy or tinny while adding a nice color to the tone.
We looked at the frequency response curve to further explore the characteristics of the TF0818MR. We were surprised to see the sharp drop in the highest frequency range (10kHz to 20kHz). There is also a dropoff in response below 200Hz, but we didn’t find this noticeable with a guitar. Nevertheless, the bottom end and top end take a back seat while the mids were prominent in our tests.
We found that the tone is best suited for genres favoring overdriven guitars, with anything from light crunch to absolute fuzz-sounding wonderful. The TF0818MR is not a very well-known speaker, but our comparisons showed that it is worthy of being on this list. It is perfect for lead guitarists, as we found it can make any guitar solo stand out in a dense mix.
It is not as affordable as other options, but we felt that it’s a well-built, quality product that would last a long time, making it worth the extra cost. In our opinion, the clean tone left much to be desired, which means we would not recommend this speaker for softer genres of music such as country or jazz.
Verdict: The Celestion TF0181MR is not the most popular choice in the market, but its mid-range packs a punch. It is best for rock and metal, with a distortion-friendly tone, but its lack of versatility brings it lower on the list. It’s unsuitable for crystal cleans, as the mids dominate the highs.
The second premium entry to the list from Eminence is the Alpha – 8A. It’s almost as good as the 820H, but not quite there. In character, the Alpha – 8A separates itself from the 820H, so you might want to give both of them a listen before you judge. It is also slightly more affordable than the 820H, so it is certainly something to consider.
We heard a very neutral tone during testing, colored very sparingly with upper-middle-range warmth. This, in our opinion, helps with the versatility and classy feel of the Alpha – 8A. We liked both the clean and overridden speaker shootouts with this unit. This means that you can use this speaker for pretty much any form of guitar playing and consistently get excellent results.
As usual, we looked at the frequency response curve and saw an almost flat response, with a slight peak in the 2-5 kHz range and a sharp decline after 5 kHz. This indicates that the sound is balanced out but with a reduced high-end. We’ve always been amazed by Eminence; they have produced versatility that does not compromise on a unique character for both the Alpha – 8A and 820H.
If you want to replace your classic cab’s old speaker with something fitting for a legendary amp and are willing to dish out about $70, the Alpha – 8A is a very worthy contender. We found the build quality of the Alpha – 8A to be sturdy and prepared for your travels. This speaker also comes with a ferrite magnet for durability and resistance to the elements.
Verdict: The Eminence Alpha – 8A is a premium choice that is second only to the 820H in the 8” speaker range. It offers a balanced, warm tone that’s suitable for everything from classic clean sounds to bone-crushing metal chugging. The price is reasonably justified given the rest of the 8” lineup. Still, it’s not quite as good as the 820H in comparison.
8 Inch Guitar Speakers – Buyer’s Guide
With 8” guitar speakers, the primary concerns are tone and performance at a moderate volume, and suitability for use at home, without bothering the neighbors. Most speakers in this size range are relatively affordable, so price might not be a big deal; even the premium models will last you long enough to pay for themselves twice over.
There are more general concerns for guitar speakers independent of size, such as compatibility with your existing gear such as amplifiers. Cabinet size and weight are not much of an issue in this case, as they are all compatible with 8” cabs and will usually be very light and portable.
The wattage of any speaker is vital. It determines how much power it can handle safely. You should not plug a speaker into any device with an output greater than the speaker can take; it might blow up. You also need to ensure the power level is sufficient to provide enough air displacement around the speaker diaphragm for a full-bodied tone.
So make sure that you match the wattage of the amplifier and the speaker you’re using.
Speaker impedance is also a significant concern for compatibility. You need to make sure that the impedance of your amp and the speaker(s) you connect match, or it could lead to one of them getting damaged. Remember that resistance works differently in series and parallel, so make all the necessary adjustments and double-check all the calculations when using multiple speakers. 1×8” is a simple configuration, but it’s a bit more complex for 2×8” and other setups.
If in doubt, we recommend contacting a guitar tech to help you with your particular setup. It can help you avoid any potential mishaps that could damage the equipment.
Try to listen to the speakers you are getting, preferably with a clean and unadulterated tone. If the speaker you want is not available for testing anywhere, check out reviews and speaker shootouts on YouTube. Consider if the frequency response of the speakers will be suitable for the kind of music you want to play. Some players may want mid-focused speakers like the Celestion TF0818MR, but it may not be suitable for all genres.
And every speaker also imparts a unique character to the tone, that only you can identify to your liking. This is why several artists have signature speakers that they use almost exclusively.
If you want to use 8” speakers live, you can use more than one model to get a mix of their characteristics on stage. This kind of mixing boils down to experimentation, and personal preference, so try out what you can. The best musical innovations come from experimentation.
Be careful of all the different electrical parameters, such as resistance and wattage; during your search for a good combo, the last thing you want is to blow something up accidentally.
Speaker Magnet Type
There are several different materials used for guitar speaker magnets. The most prominent are
- Ceramic: This is the most common type of magnet found in guitar speakers. It is known for being readily available and cost-effective. However, they impart different tones and are generally a bit less durable than the alternatives.
- Alnico: This is one of the more expensive types of magnets used in guitar speakers and is known to add sweetness and dynamics to the tone. It is highly sought after among guitarists.
- Neodymium: This is a relatively recent addition to the list of commonly used magnets. The primary features of neodymium are the ability to model speakers to mimic alnico sound with much less speaker weight and cost, so they are quite practical.
- Ferrite: Ferrite is another more recent development in guitar speaker technology and is used as a robust substitute for neodymium magnets. Ferrite magnets are more heat and corrosion-resistant, but they are weaker in power than neodymium, making it necessary to increase their size and weight for similar use.
In summary, we put the Jensen C8R Vintage at the top as our number one, as it ticks just the right boxes. Our budget choice is the Celestion Eight 15, which offers a powerful tone at an affordable price. And our editor’s choice for this issue is the Eminence 820H – pure quality at a premium price.
The 8” diameter speaker range is an essential middle ground between the performance of 12” speakers and the convenience of 6” speakers. They are affordable and easily accessible to everyone, from enthusiasts to students.