The rise in popularity of amp modellers and profilers, such as the Kemper, Line 6 Helix, Quad Quarter and more has meant that players seeking a more digital route are looking at different ways of amplifying their guitar. With one of the best FRFR speakers, you can hear all the detail, nuance and dynamics of your favourite amp models, without worrying about extra frequencies being added in or taken away.
But what is an FRFR speaker? It stands for full range, flat response and it means that the speaker can handle all the different frequencies produced by a guitar, or bass, and it won’t colour the sound. That is, the best FRFR speakers won’t alter the EQ or character of the model or profile being fed to it.
Speakers in traditional guitar amps and cabs tend to have certain characteristics that make them less or more desirable to certain players. FRFR speakers are preferred by those who might already have speaker emulation built into their digital modellers and therefore just want a true representation of that. What you hear through the best FRFR speakers is only what you put into it, meaning that your painstaking profiles and models are represented as honestly as possible.
There’s quite a range available today, all boasting different features that make them ideal for different players. We’ve scoured the market to find the best FRFR speakers covering a range of feature sets and budgets.
Best FRFR speakers: MusicRadar’s Choice
The best FRFR speaker for most uses has to be the Line 6 Powercab 112 (opens in new tab). It allows you to choose between a completely flat response, and then six other speaker emulations, giving you a good variety of tones. It’s made well, projects nicely, and whilst it isn’t cheap, it also isn’t too expensive.
The Barefaced Reality 112FR (opens in new tab) is an incredible choice for guitarists using regular tunings and/or acoustic instruments, and the Kemper Powered Kabinet (opens in new tab) is probably the best option out there for users of the legendary profiler.
Best FRFR speakers: Product guide
Line 6 are one of the biggest names in digital guitar technology and their offering of FRFR speakers is reflective of that. The Line 6 Powercab 112 is an active speaker that allows you to choose between a flat mode, where you hear everything from your modeller without any colouration, or one of six different speaker emulations, giving you a superb amp-in-the-room style playing experience.
Pumping out 250W, and with a handy tilt stand that lets you hear properly on stage, it’s the perfect solution for using your Helix, Kemper, Axe FX etc at gigs. The six emulations are based on some of the most popular speakers used in guitar amps and cabs, so you can instantly get the characteristic frequency bumps and cuts at the push of a button to complement your chosen amp models.
There’s an XLR output, as well as ground lift and low cut switch, adding to the Powercab’s functionality. It’s sturdy, not too heavy, and it sounds great!
Whilst it certainly isn’t cheap, it’s got to be one of the best FRFR speakers around for regular tuned electric and acoustic guitars. The cabinet has been designed in such a way that it gives an incredibly consistent, balanced and dynamic sound when used alongside an amp modeller like a Helix, Quad Quartex or Kemper etc. It also projects in a way that allows you to hear really clearly, no matter where you’re stood in relation to it.
In this clever little cab, you’ve got a Celestion F12-X200 and an Eminence APT80 tweeter working hand in hand to give you a superb guitar tone. The result is a speaker cab that gives you a truly honest representation of what you’re putting into it. If you’ve spent years fine tuning your gear – from choosing the right pickups to tweaking the perfect amp profile – then this will help you hear that.
It’s also not too heavy, making it a great portable option for regular gigging guitarists, and you’ve got the option of choosing a black or silver grille cloth. It might not be the best option for bass players or guitarists using low tunings, but for everything else, it does an amazing job.
The perfect match for your Kemper profiler. This is an all singing, all dancing FRFR speaker that, unlike most other models in this category, projects in a more directional manner – like a traditional guitar amp or cabinet would. The result is a cabinet that not only sounds great but, when playing through it, really feels like you’re using an old school valve amp.
Inside this great looking cab is a specially made Celestion Kemper Kone Neo 12” speaker which works alongside the DSP of the profiler unit itself. The result is a perfect representation of all those profiles that either you yourself, or one of the many pros out there, have painstakingly created. It’s certainly full range, with an incredibly balanced frequency range, but you do get some of the more traditional amp style characteristics with it too, which many players will love. You’ve also got 19 different speaker imprints to choose from, meaning there’s a ton of tonal varieties you can get alongside the Kemper itself.
This is one of the most popular FRFR speakers, and it’s easy to see (and hear) why. It’s relatively lightweight, weighing in around 16kg, and boasts a specially-voiced 12” speaker and high-frequency compression driver that pumps out your glorious guitar tone, untouched and uncoloured from its original source; whether that be a Headrush board, Helix, Kemper or any other amp modeller.
The Headrush FRFR112 gives you 2000W of power at your disposal. If you really push the volume, you’re probably going to notice slightly less clarity, but even without cranking it you can get a good amount of volume to fill some fairly big rooms. It projects well, so whether you’re using it as a stage monitor and taking an XLR out to the PA, or as a main guitar cab without further amplification, you know you’re going to be heard. An EQ contour switch and ground lift switch further add to the functionality of this great FRFR speaker.
The Laney LFR112 packs everything you need into a relatively compact FRFR speaker whilst retaining the appearance of a regular guitar amp. Rated at 400W and featuring a 12” speaker and custom 1” LaVoce compression driver, you’re fully equipped to deliver dynamic and balanced guitar tones, at whatever volume.
The speaker doesn’t colour the tone of the amp models you’re running through, as the best FRFR speakers shouldn’t – however, on the DI output, you’ve got the option of various cabinet simulations, should you wish to add some of the characteristic frequencies associated with many popular guitar cabs. This gives you a great guitar tone going directly into the PA system at gigs and using the speaker as a reference monitor. The handy tilt also means you can angle the speaker more towards your ears allowing you to have less stage volume (always a good thing!). Another nice touch is the switchable LED front illumination, especially when playing live on a dark stage.
If you’ve got an amp modeller with a built-in power amp, like the powered Kemper, for example, then you’ll want a passive FRFR speaker. The Yamaha CBR10 is just that – whilst it’s technically a PA speaker, it actually works really well as a more compact FRFR speaker.
Fitted with a 10” speaker and 1” compression driver, you get a balanced sound with present but uncoloured high and low frequencies. The wide-dispersion horn also means that it projects evenly so you get an even volume coverage. It’s capable of pumping out some volume, but it sounds really good when used quietly too, so whether you’re practising at home or playing with a band, you can get a great guitar tone.
Compact, lightweight and punchy – it’s a great solution for players using digital modellers or profilers that are regularly on the move. It’s really easy to use, but it also gives players flexibility over their tone.
It bears a simple two knob layout; one is for volume and the other lets you go from a flat and neutral response to more of a classic guitar amp-like sound. This is a really useful feature if you switch between different amp models as you can really dial in your sound to each room you’re playing in. Weighing only 8.6kg, and featuring a handy carry handle, it’s great for gigging guitarists that don’t want to be lugging masses of gear around (one of the many reasons many players are going digital).
Whether you want a completely flat response for uncoloured amp models, or a more traditional and direct guitar amp sound and feel, the DV Mark Powered Cab is one of the best FRFR speakers out there.
Whilst it’s not marketed as an FRFR speaker, it does a great job of providing a smooth, balanced response – particularly when using down-tuned guitars and basses. Providing players with a whopping 1000W and fitted with a 15” speaker, there’s loads of scope for clean headroom and low end power.
The Electro Voice ELX 115P handles Kemper bass profiles and other bass amp modellers really well. You get the bottom end response you need without it being too boomy. With a decent modeller, 7-string, baritone and down-tuned guitars sound tight and punchy, though regular guitars will do just as well through it too.
It’s got bags of volume available so you should be able to fill some fairly big spaces when you need to. The downside is that it’s fairly cumbersome and weighs in at nearly 30kg.
Best FRFR speakers: Buyer’s advice
Before spending a few hundred on your new speaker, it’s important to make a few considerations to ensure that you get the best bang for buck.
Think about when and where you’ll want to use it. If you’re looking for the best FRFR speaker for live use, then you’ll want to make sure you’ve got enough volume to fill the spaces you’re playing in. Things like a tilt stand are useful too as they allow you to angle the speaker towards your ears so you can hear better and get away with having the volume a little lower.
If you’re gigging regularly, then the weight of it is probably worth thinking about too. Unless you’ve got roadies helping you out (lucky you!), streamlining your equipment to make it as easy and quick to pack up and down as possible is usually a good idea. Having a portable modeller alongside a lightweight FRFR speaker makes for a really transportable rig, and will save you putting your back out before a gig!
Another useful feature for live use, as seen on many of the best FRFR speakers is the ability to take an XLR out of the back and send it to front of house. This then lets you use your speaker more as a personal monitor, while the sound tech takes care of getting your volume right out front.
Conversely, if you’re playing at home and just want something that gives you the sound of the profiles and amp models you’ve carefully chosen, then you probably don’t need something too big or powerful. An FRFR speaker with perhaps a smaller speaker will save you some space, and in a smaller room, you won’t miss the slightly reduced bottom end.
Some of the best FRFR speakers have more than just a flat response. Many are equipped with speaker emulation that adds in the characteristics often associated with a bunch of popular classic speakers – Celestion Vintage 30s, Greenbacks etc. This means you can have a much more ‘amp-in-the-room’ feel and sound – it can be the perfect blend of modern and old-school.