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the woeful inadequacies of bass cabinets.


rumpelstiltskin.

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so i sat down to record some songs the other day, and i figured i'd use my peavey max preamp direct into the recorder. it's very flexible, and i've always been able to get great sounds out of my amp with it.

 

it sounded like poo. the solid-state channel was brittle, and the tube channel was indistinct. it didn't have the tones i wanted.

 

i decided to try my ampeg svp-bsp instead. i have generally enjoyed it. when my strings are fresh and the planets align, it has ampeg sound -- slightly overdriven and very alive. all other times it's decent, but not great.

 

recorded, though, it sounded incredible. very deep, warm, musical, accurate, articulate. i was shocked and pleased by the sounds i got from it, and easily.

 

so i started thinking. it's not my amp (crown K2). i've used it for more than just bass. it's one of the best sound quality amps out there -- it worked very well in my home stereo, even. the problem is in my cabinet.

 

i don't have a stellar cabinet. it's a carvin 1x15 with a tweeter. but i've played my rig through SWR 210s and 410s, eden 210s and 410s, and even an ampeg 1x15. i preferred my carvin over all of them. but the twist is that none of them sounded anywhere NEAR what the preamp sounds like direct, in a totally dissatisfying way.

 

i KNOW i need a new cabinet now, but after my experiences with the high-end stuff, i doubt there is much out there that will satisfy.

 

has anyone else experienced this? why are there so few good cabinets available?

 

robb.

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The only cabs out there that put out a sound that could be described as 'flat' are made by Acme (which is a 3-way studio monitor-esque design) and EA (a cunning co-axial tranmission line design). However, the trade-off for 'flat' sound is a either inefficiency or high cost. Some of the newest crop of 'traditional' high-end cabs may also come close to this sound, such as Bergantino and Waynes Jones cabs, but again you pay the price in terms of inefficiency and cost. SWR, Eden and Ampeg cabs all have very distinctive sounds which deviate quite a long way from 'flat' response, but allow the designers to get much more efficiency from relatively small cabs with reasonable bass extension. As you've got a Crown K2, I'd recommend you try out Acme cabs, they're the most honest sounding cabs out there and will let you hear your bass's true sound.

 

Alex

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Interesting topic, robb. :thu:

 

I have had some good experiences with cabs, but sometimes having to EQ to the room, etc. has made it tricky. Sometimes not being able to really give enough juice hurts the sound I hear from a cab (not your problem with the K2, but maybe sometimes you don't get to turn it up as much as you'd like). I haven't gigged very many different cabs, but with the few I have, I've had mixed results.

 

I think the experience you described is what has made me really interested in playing 3-way and 4-way cabs -- like those made by Acme or AccuGroove. I have yet to do so, but I've solicited comments about Acmes and multi-way cab design in past threads. If you're curious, you might be interested in some of the comments made in these threads:

 

3-way speaker cab designs

Acme Low B2

Crossovers, biamping, and multi-way cabs

 

I don't know if Whappo will have some comments for you on this thread, but I think he told me that it was his dissatisfaction with the sound he was getting from available cabs that led him into bass speaker cab design.

 

Maybe Bob G. will have something to contribute about EA gear. I think they've tried to do some unique design things.

 

I realize that you aren't necessarily looking for gear suggestions, and are interested in our experiences with bass cabs and our perspectives on sound quality and what seems to affect it. Maybe some folks have come across innovative solutions to the eternal quest for fantastic tone.

 

Peace. :)

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Robb, I went thru this when I bought my BP200 effects processor. From the headphone (and, I'm assuming, for recording, as all comments have been excellent about this unit for recording) the sound quality is superb.

 

When I ran it thru my amp and cab, I wasn't impressed at all. First two gigs, I ran bypassed most of the night, as the stuff I programmed in didn't sound worth a crap at gig volumes.

 

I know this unit isn't what you're talking about, but the theory might hold. It worked for me, anyway.

 

Until you get a more transparent cab, try adjusting your amp and cab tonal qualities to the tonal quality you hear in the headphones.

 

In my case, with eq on my rig flat, the amp sound was too bassy as compared to the headphone sound. I found that rolling the bass freqs way back (40 and 100 hz) matches closely to what's in my headphones. Works really well at live gigs now.

 

So maybe play with your rig eq to match your heaphone sound and see if that helps.

 

Just a thought. I know when I don't get the sound I want at a gig, I get frustrated.

Bassplayers aren't paid to play fast, they're paid to listen fast.
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well here's the thing: i like the way my setup sounds live, at gig volume. i especially like the max in that situation. i have gotten some great tones out of that box playing out.

 

it's just that now i realize i have a whole new set of tones that i couldn't get with my cab (and worse that i couldn't get them with any of the known and loved cabinets), and i want to be able to get those, too. and i can't. :cry:

 

so i don't have the dinero or the playing out anymore to justify buying a new cab, but i think i'm still going to keep bergantino on the top of my list. if that doesn't work out, i'll go for acme, my current second.

 

yeah, not so much a gear suggestion thread as much as a "my perceptions have been so altered that the world of bass is new to me" idea. i didn't have any issues like this the last few times i've recorded -- i wonder why now?

 

robb.

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I'm convinced that cabs are responsible for 75% of one's live tone.

 

And the relationship between an amp and a cab is critical. Strange combinations often sound really great, live.

 

My Eden WT300 is an absolutely fabulous sounding amp for direct recording, but you really have to have the right cab to reproduce that sound live. An Eden 4x10XLT is the closest I've heard.

 

On the other hand, my GK1001RB and my SWR WM4x10T cab, neither of which is anywhere near being considered high end stuff, sound amazing together, live.

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I used Euphonic Audio gear long before I became a dealer, as you may not, I only sell stuff I either use or can get behind.

 

My first EA cabs were a VL-208 and VL-210, and I absolutely loved the clean and transparent reproduction, as well as the true fundamentals on the E and B strings. I've recounted this story before... the first night I played the cabs was with my classic rock band at the time, and the guitarist, who was downline about 12 feet, complimented me on my bass lines and fills during the breaks. We finally realized it was because it was the first time he'd heard them so cleanly as to comment on them. I later borrowed my son's wireless so I could get out in the room to hear their distinctness. Those cabs also caused me to remove my BBE 362NR from the signal chain and sell it- didn't need any more "tightening up".

 

I later had a pair of VL-210 cabs with Kern/QSC (2400 watts!), and now play a downsized rig, a pair of VL-208 with either the Kern/QSC, but hope to use the new EA iAMP 800 I just got-- took it to an audition Tuesday night, and it performs wonderfully. I also have used a CXL-110 and CXL-112 on gigs or practices- if I didn't already own a pair of the 208s, I'd be playing a pair of the CXL-112 cabs.

 

I should also mention that getting a cabinet without built-in curves and other "bass guitar-favorable humps and bumps" may just make you reassess the sound of your bass, as well as the preamp/amp you use. Personally, I prefer to introduce my own tone coloration rather than have what some manufacturer has chosen to make it sound appealing in the music store. That fat and warm sound often turns to mud off-stage.

 

Good luck in your quest! It's a worthwhile journey.

1000 Upright Bass Links, Luthier Directory, Teacher Directory - http://www.gollihurmusic.com/links.cfm

 

[highlight] - Life is too short for bad tone - [/highlight]

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I know many of us remember greenboy, IMHO he had a lot of great ideas. And one of them was about speakers cabinets. This was the advice he gave me:

 

have a cabinet on the ground for bass frequencies, another cabinet on a pole raised at least 34 inches high, oriented vertically if possible - these could be 10's or even smaller. Then you would take a biamped signal, crossed over at 100 or 125 mhz (flavor to your indivual taste)and run bass and treble. The advantages were that you eliminate the standing waves from having all the speakers in one cabinet, the bass speaker on the floor will radiate all over, and the top speaker on the pole could be aimed wherever you deemed appropriate. I was going to try this at my next high powered gig, but I have yet to get a high-powered gig :eek: Most of my jobs are all low volume affairs, and this setup would be overkill.

 

But wouldn't you know, at the last job I played at, I saw a PA ( I think it was JBL), that had just this speaker setup. It had a bass cabinet on the ground, a pole running through it and a vertically oriented speaker on the top. For a PA it sounded great. I'm sure with a good bass pre-amp, and a big amp to push it, this setup would kick major bass booty :D Clean articulate highs and mids, and a gutsy low that you can blend anyway you want.

 

Something to consider.....

I'm trying to think but nuthin' happens....
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My 2 cents:

 

I would add Epifani to the list of cabs that are reasonably un-colored. I tried my pair of T-112s in my stereo for a while - not bad at all.

 

I think you need to be careful carrying the hi-fi speaker argument too far, though. A bass cab is trying to do something different than a hi-fi stereo speaker. It needs to hook up with different rooms when placed in non-optimal locations; operate at high volume levels consistently; and operate with strong leading-edge transients consistently. IMHO you need a bit of treble bite to emphasize leading-edge transients, and a good full-spectrum bass sound in a live mix can be pretty clanky when listened to on its own.

 

Most bass woofers still use some form of pleated-accordian-edge surround, for example, to survive in situations that would quickly undo the rolled rubber or foam surround found in hi-fi applications. All else being equal, the pleated-edge is a less hi-fi approach, slowing down the transient response.

 

randy, the bass speaker system that greenboy came up with (on his own, based on first principles, if I remember right) is pretty much like the fairly common PA setup you saw. A key part of gb's approach was bi-amping, also found fairly often in that type of PA setup. No disrespect to gb - I think he was onto a good idea. Personally, I don't want to lug around a subwoofer, and am happy with my Epifani and Bergantino 1x12s.

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Any quality cabinet with 10" speakers will help you.

 

Once you get past a certain quality of manufacturing, the sonic differences between the major bass manufacturer's cabinets comes down to a matter of preference, rather than quality. At this level, nobody can really claim that their cabinets are "the best". Some people swear by SWR. Others swear by Eden. I'm hard pressed to her a major difference between them. They do sound different, but it's like the differnce between coffee ice cream and mocha ice cream.

 

I prefer having my lows and low-mids speak for me. My Acme B2 paired with my Stewart 1.2 does that for me quite nicely. I've never had an easier time hearing everything I play cut through a mix perfectly than I have with this setup.

 

Someone else might play through my setup and hate it. To each his own.

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Rob...everyone here has some good opinions that I greatly respect. If you'd like get some other ideas, email me. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea & thinking I'm spamming.

 

Whappo

 

mark@accugroove.com

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This thread does raise another interesting point for debate, however...

 

If I was trying to amplify and URB, I would be searching for uncoloured amplification, but I don't really thing this need be the primary goal for electric bass. A very falt and uncolured cab amd amp is just as likely to make most electric basses sound as awful as a cab/amp with a very coloured sound, in my opnion.

 

I believe with electric bass we should treat the whole signal chain as a tone control. Mix and match to find the tone we like, and that which suits the style of music we are playing.

 

Most 4x10 cabs, which is what I prefer, colour the sound in a very dramatic way, when compared to very HiFi three way cabs. But that doesn't mean it's not a better sound for me and the style of music I play. I consider my SWR 4x10 to be the biggest 'tone knob' or 'EQ' in my set up. And that's just fine with me.

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that's a great point. i guess i can recant and say there's nothing wrong with using your cabinet as part of your sound.

 

i'm still just disappointed that for all of the cabs i've played, the "tone knob" effect has served as more of a "suck knob" than anything else.

 

robb.

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Originally posted by Edendude:

I believe with electric bass we should treat the whole signal chain as a tone control. Mix and match to find the tone we like, and that which suits the style of music we are playing.

 

Exactly. I've gotten the tone I wanted from my Peavey TNT 115. It's great, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. The thing that's surprised me is the amount of great sounding upper midrange and high end attack I can get from this baby. Not to mention that it can hold its own with 6 strings, and even heavy distortion tones. The clean headroom's great too. And I only spent $400 for it back in 2000, compared to the $800 or so I would've spent if I'd bought the Hartke setup I was originally after (a 3500 rackmount head with one of their 15 inch speaker cabs).

 

"Look ma, NO TUBES!"

 

For an extra $150, the BP200 processor I use with it gives me all the ear candy I need without the huge rack. Now all I need is the 6 string machine, and perhaps a 2x10 w/ horn, then this'll be a great rig for different styles.

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Yep...

 

The quest for tone never really ends, but I'm just glad I've found a combination of pickup, amp, cab, and settings that is really very pleasing to me, unlike Robb, who sounds like he may never find the tone he wants. Or at least not without spending a whole lot of money, and going through a lot of gear.

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The quest for tone. It pre-occupies my thoughts often. I am now going back to where I began. After going through all kinds of gear and money, I'm going home. Back to the beginning. Back to my roots.

 

Everything is part of your sound, and if the coloration you get from a cab is part of it, so be it. I am going back to my SWR Goliath III 4X10 and an SWR Bass 350 head. Simple, solid, and great sound.

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Originally posted by Edendude:

unlike Robb, who sounds like he may never find the tone he wants. Or at least not without spending a whole lot of money, and going through a lot of gear.

yeah, except for that i have found tons of tones that i love. my frustration is that i'm stymied by my inability to reproduce a new tone that i found.

 

for me, there is no "the" tone. tone is very elastic -- i have two preamps for a reason. if i ever use the same tone on every single song, you are encouraged to tie me up and whip me with longscale flatwounds.

 

if you read what i said:

i've played my rig through SWR...eden...and even...ampeg..... i preferred my carvin over all of them.
i like the way my setup sounds....
i'm not some pretentious tone maven dropping names. so far i prefer my carvin over eden, SWR, and ampeg.

 

usually you're pretty civil, edendude, so i'm kind of in shock. i'm sure you didn't mean it, but i feel sideswiped by you. i'm glad you're happy with your rig. another part of the reason i want a new cabinet is that mine is part of a combo, so i have a big 3U hole above the cabinet when i don't use the carvin head that came with it.

 

sorry.

 

robb.

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robb., just got back from my gig at the Carson Valley Inn in Nevada with Rumours, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. I used my Accugroove 112, this time with my GK 800RB. We were rocking out and it cut the gig just fine. Again I had compliments from the whole band on my sound. I was using my six-string Alembic and used a lot of low D's as a number of the Fleetwood Mac tunes are in the key of D.

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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Originally posted by Wally Malone:

robb., just got back from my gig at the Carson Valley Inn in Nevada with Rumours, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. I used my Accugroove 112, this time with my GK 800RB. We were rocking out and it cut the gig just fine. Again I had compliments from the whole band on my sound. I was using my six-string Alembic and used a lot of low D's as a number of the Fleetwood Mac tunes are in the key of D.

 

Wally

Hey Wally,

 

Did you only use the single AccuGroove cab? What kind of venue? It sounds like it was plenty of sound for that gig, which is potentially most impressive for a cab w/ 1x12, 1x6, and a couple of HFs in it. What kind of volume from the other players did you need to cut through?

 

Thanks, man.

 

--Willie

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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Robb...

 

I honestly didn't mean it as a shot.

 

I meant it literally. I meant that you sound like someone who has a need for a very large tone palette, which means you are going to have quite a struggle in finding ways to meet your needs.

 

I consider myself lucky that I only require about three basic tone set ups for the playing that I usually do...

 

I have my Eden's wonderful sounding DI for my recording tones, my Eden head and Eden 2x10 cab for all the tones I need while accompanying acoustic acts, and my GK1001RB head with my SWR 4x10 cab for my loud, full band blues and funk needs.

 

No slight was intended, bro.

 

:thu:

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Robb, I think you'd be amazed by EA, Acme or Accugroove cabs - they all have remarkably flat response, so the tone you hear in the studio from DIing your preamp is the almost the same as the tone you'll get out of these cabs. The big benefit of this is that with just a bit of knob-twiddling on my bass and a change in technique I can go from big soft reggae sounds to tight growling funk tones. Whenever I play through other rigs I can get my 'standard' tone out of them to my satisfaction, but as soon as I try to vary my sound during the gig I realise how limited most cabs are.

 

I know that a lot of players out there like the colouration that their cabs provide but if you're after your 'pure-post-preamp' tone in stage situations, take a portable CD player with you when you go cab shopping and see how hifi the cabs really are.

 

Alex

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Originally posted by Sweet Willie:

Originally posted by Wally Malone:

robb., just got back from my gig at the Carson Valley Inn in Nevada with Rumours, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band. I used my Accugroove 112, this time with my GK 800RB. We were rocking out and it cut the gig just fine. Again I had compliments from the whole band on my sound. I was using my six-string Alembic and used a lot of low D's as a number of the Fleetwood Mac tunes are in the key of D.

 

Wally

Hey Wally,

 

Did you only use the single AccuGroove cab? What kind of venue? It sounds like it was plenty of sound for that gig, which is potentially most impressive for a cab w/ 1x12, 1x6, and a couple of HFs in it. What kind of volume from the other players did you need to cut through?

 

Thanks, man.

 

--Willie

Willie, I just used the single cab. The drums, guitar amp and my amp were in a recessed part of the stage, I actually had my GK volume turned up more than I normally would to half-way at the input stage and full-up on the master volume. We had the stage volume kicking. The room was an open cabaret with a short wall separating us from the casino, we could be heard in the casino but they didn't want us to loud out there. In the area where the drums and our amps were there were curtains and being in sort of a small shell at the back of the stage area helped to absorb some of the sound. We were able to play like we wanted volume wise on stage.

 

Wally

I have basses to play, places to be and good music to make!
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