Utilising The Axi2050 Driver – Celestion Interviews Cheeky Sound System

Hi Henry (@cheekysoundsystem on Instagram) really great to speak with you today – thank you for taking the time to chat with me. As a founder of Cheeky Sound System, you’ve been building cabinets for quite some time now.

We value you as a customer of Celestion and are interested in the ways that you’ve used the Celestion Axi2050 AxiPeriodic driver in your sound systems. Your innovation in the application of this driver has intrigued us. So, could you tell us a bit more about that!

I’m a founder of Cheeky Sound System collective and we’ve been building speaker boxes and putting on events since about 2013/14. More recently, in the last five or six years, our sound system has grown to be something quite large, and also high spec, due to Celestion drivers.


So, why did you pick the Axi2050 driver?

First of all, it doesn’t have a crossover, which we liked – it involved less processing and we really felt that the sensibility of the designers of this driver was to take an audiophile approach. These drivers could be used in a high-end domestic setup, however we’re PA, so we wanted to have a very flexible system that’s very comfortable operating at high SPL.

These drivers can go loud, but they’re also capable of handling all sorts of different music and they can reproduce frequencies as if it was in a listening room environment. We were searching for a way to combine some ideals of high-end, living room or listening room setups and translate them onto a club-focused or dance floor setup.


Tell us a bit more about the sound system and the things you’ve done with it.

We developed our current system for a venue we were operating. And we were aiming to be as high quality we could make it. Stylistically, modern but with a reference to the past. With it, we’ve achieved a good amount of success. Sadly, we lost it at the start of covid.

But life keeps going.

We’re based in South London and have been doing lots of collaborations with other promoters to host their events, in addition to our own. It’s been a great journey. We’ve slowly professionalised and progressed to working with higher quality components, and using Celestion drivers was a key part of that.

Basically, working with Celestion drivers when respecifying all of our component parts went hand in hand with working with better amplifiers, for example. When we decided that we wanted to replace our high frequency drivers, we did a lot of research to try and figure out what we wanted, and the Axi2050 driver really fit into what we wanted from our speakers.


Okay. So what’s the benefit?

In a lot of dance systems, the way that the drivers are used and the way they’re set up, they really like a very minimal and clean signal. We wanted the flexibility to suit a wider range of music, and this driver was able to do that in a way we hadn’t experienced with others.

Other drivers that are used in club/party environments, they have quite a brutish sound. They’re aggressive, and I think that’s partly because it’s required to be able to reach high volume for long periods of time. Celestion’s Axi2050 drivers, however, can go from very comfortable to very loud and still be gentle, which is a flexibility which many other drivers don’t offer.

The sound is very smooth; they can handle the delicacy of certain types of music very well. They are comfortable in a setup with aggressive drivers, but they don’t sound aggressive themselves. In our previous systems, the high frequency has had to be quite full on in order to match the lower frequency, so they end up losing detail and dynamic range. This has now been resolved with the Axi2050.

We were very intrigued in the technology behind these drivers, and it was an exciting prospect to start using them.


Where do you see these drivers being utilised?

I know they’re used in some stadiums, but they’re also used in very expensive home setups. They’re more expensive for a reason, but you get what you pay for in life.

I don’t know if this driver was specifically designed with large format PA in mind. We recognise however, that this driver was out of the ordinary, and we could incorporate the values of it into what we were doing.



So what genres of music do you tend to work with?

Let’s say we do the full range!

Just over the summer we’ve worked with artists performing dubstep, jungle, reggae, techno and house, as well as some experimental electronic music. We’ve even run some prog metal bands through the sound system. It’s a good range of music that we’ve been quite happy to play with, and I think that was definitely our intention. We knew that we wanted a sound system that could be flexible.

We’re really keen to have flexibility, certainly in the upper ranges. I think in a lot of dance sound systems in particular, the frequencies where the vocal range sits can get lost. We knew that this driver was going to be quite comfortable in that range, so it was a big part of the appeal.


What’s your background in the world of pro audio?

So, I got into it by just being an enthusiast. Ten years ago I was a part of a DJ collective, and we were hosting our own events, and you take the inevitable next step; you start to put your own speakers together and it was only in 2018 that we started to think ‘maybe we could stop doing more of our other work and do more of this’.

There were three of us who started to go full time at that point. Although, it’s not the only thing I do. For the last ten years I’ve also been working in the hemp industry, mostly using hemp to produce fabrics and servicing the fashion industry with hemp and organic natural fibres for their garments.

There’s been an interesting collision recently, because I’m now working with another designer to help build a sound system which is using hemp in the construction as much as possible. The material for the cabinets is a formaldehyde-free hemp board and we’ve also got another smaller speaker which is using hempcrete as the body of the cabinet.


It’s based off an old Japanese audiophile Hi Fi, which used concrete. So we’ve got some new ambitions to focus on, sustainability in sound system building. I know that Celestion have also produced Hemp speakers, haven’t they? For guitar amps.

Yes! The Hempback has a hemp cone.

It will be really cool if this trend further progresses. One of the key things about speakers is that they mostly are made out of plywood, and there’s been some major issues with plywood. The price has got very high, it fluctuates a lot and sometimes it’s difficult to get hold of. We’ve been thinking about ways to develop a sustainable and regional production of sheet materials of hemp, mostly hemp without any of the nasty chemicals. In order to use hemp as a replacement of plywood.


That sounds really cool. So do you build your speaker boxes or cabinets yourself?

On our team we have people who have carpentry skills, and all of our recent boxes were built by one guy just outside of Nottingham.

However, I built all of our original work, so our first full speaker box barely had a straight line!

How did it sound?

Not too bad! I was quite proud of how it sounded, but they didn’t look particularly neat. Not that it mattered at the time, but as we progressed, you want the woodwork to be as good as it can, and so we brought people in to do that.


What are your plans for the rest of 2024?

We’re still looking for a new building to make home. And then we’ve got a few festivals in the summer we’re looking to do. We’re also doing a series of gigs near where we live in Deptford.

I’m also focusing on trying to develop more of a hemp speaker company. I think we’d also be using the same Celestion drivers for that, and perhaps other Celestion drivers…

I’m looking to build partnerships with people who may be interested in more sustainability in speaker building. There’s a belief that not only is there an environmental benefit, but you may also have an acoustic benefit too.

Beyond that, there’s opportunities to build cabinets and horns with hemp too, which are moulded in a way that gives interesting flexibility. So, in summary, we’re looking at some more experimental and less common speaker designs.

That same ethos towards experimentation and expanding our horizons is what led us to the Axi2050 driver, a desire to do something a bit different with our sound system.


Just to finish off – how have you found the driver overall when running events?

We haven’t looked back. In both indoor and outdoor environments they just sound so nice and really different to what we were working with before.

They keep up with the big thunderous low end, but they can do it in a way which isn’t hurting your ears. And they can maintain their delicacy and detail. We’re looking forward to many more events with it!

About the Axi2050 AxiPeriodic Driver

Performing the role of two speakers in one, the Axi2050 is a high power, high-output driver which reproduces a frequency range of 300Hz-20,000Hz without the need for a midband crossover. It delivers an extended frequency range and an exceptionally accurate signal, enhancing clarity and speech intelligibility, as well as reproducing music more dynamically and with greater coherence.

Find out more about the Axi2050 driver – https://celestion.com/product/axi2050/