So, for those who know me, I am a bit of a freak about bass enclosures, and prior to going broke in 2008, tended to go a little overboard with buying and trying enclosures. I tried all the gimmicks, flipped "The SWITCH", and thumped on just about every hi-end or boutique cabinet ever offered in a medium to large format. I found nothing to really get excited about except Bergantino and a few others who offered tried and true designs with nothing more or less than extremely thorough cabinet construction, properly tuned and designed enclosures using the highest quality components and materials available.
However, the new designs from Greenboy (Fearful) and Alex Claber (Barefaced Bass) have emerged as anything but a gimmick. Strictly speaking, the design is not new.... this sort of philosophy has been used in hi-end pro-audio and the PA industry for years. These two guys have simply given electric bass the credit it deserves... as a FULL RANGE instrument, with the attendant need for a powerful 3-way enclosure. Both of these guys' designs go further, with state-of-the-art well thought out crossovers and special emphasis given to high-excursion woofers and deep bass response. The end result, as most people seem to agree, is a design that goes as deep and is at least as true to the fundamental as coventional 115, 410, 212 designs etc, but are greatly more "full-range", truthful in the midrange, and produce much higher SPL per cubic foot (and weight) of cabinet. Great sounding, truly hi-fidelity cabinets that are much louder and more accurate than most 2-way designs twice their size.
So of course I was curious. I endorse Genz Benz amps and cabinets... that's no secret. Most commercial "mass-market" bass companies apply little or no R&D or real effort into designing their bass enclosures..... throw 2 or 4 like-size drivers in a plywood box, punch a hole in the back and BAM... Bass Cabinet. Genz Benz, to me, are the best sounding cabinets available apples to apples in the mass market. However, I'm always looking for that insanely loud cabinet that is able to stand up on it's own in the incredibly challenging mixes I find myself in, and not go weak under 100hz. So I started looking into it.
The idea of building a cabinet myself was about as appealing chewing my own leg off. I talked to some of the Authorized builders, all of whom were extremely friendly and helpful, but I was a little underwhelmed looking at pictures of their builds. Some looked good. Some almost
looked like they could be production models, but most looked a little bit janky to me. Sorry. They just didnt have the polish, fit and finish and "pro" look to them you find from boutique builders like DNA or Bergantino. Just my opinion. Furthermore, after deciding on a 1212/6-ish design, I realized I didnt really dig the "tall and narrow" aesthetic of the Fearful design, and started talking to Alex Claber of Barefaced Bass. Nearly pulled the trigger. Alex REALLY impressed me with his level of attention to my questions and concerns, was obviously a very learned fellow in the world of audio, and is deeply humble. When asked why his Big Twin design was better than the FF 1212/6 he said (paraphrasing) "Nothing much. Greenboy's design is not inferior to mine. He and I spoke. The design philosophy is the same. My Big Twin is side ported as opposed to bottom ported. I feel there is a small advantage. I build them as well as they can be built... possibly some of Greenboy's Autho'ed guys build them just as well, but they're not bass players... and I feel really good about mine" Wow. What a humble, honest guy. Plus, I strongly preferred the look and aesthetic of the Big Twin. Alas, it was just too much money, and yet unproven in the US marketplace to my satisfaction. If you're in the UK, Alex is your man.
On a recomendation, I called Don Oatman from LDS. He struck me as easily the most knowledgeable and experienced cabinetbuilder of the lot, excluding Alex. And a bass player. I asked him straight out why he refused to build to the Autho'ed specs. He said, among other things that it boiled down to one or more of three things; 1) many people asked for the variations specifically, or wanted him to build a less-expensive version with lesser components, then complained when they got what they paid for....2) Many people were (unknowingly) looking for a sound or tone totally contrary to the FF design goal and he made adjustments accordingly ... and 3) he considered the bracing scheme on the larger cabs to be insufficient. We talked for a long time. I showed him the Barefaced Big Twin, and told him I preferred the wider look. He told me that, so long as the same speakers called for in the FF design (eminence, 18Sound), the same crossover design, overall total interior volume, port size and shelf length were used, the cabinet could be visually rearranged in pretty much any fashion. He conceded that there may be SOME
real world advantage to the staggered alignment of the woofers seen in the FF, but not much.
I ordered the cabinet with all the Greenboy-specified drivers and crossover, but with a more Big Twin-ish look, flush-mount side handles, edgemount tilt-back castors, side-mount midrange and tweeter controls and a retractable "suitcase" top handle. It arrived this morning and I could not be more pleased. For anyone who has their doubts about just how much better these newer 3-designs are than the old 2-way four tens plus tweeter are.... let me tell you now, they're better. This thing is utterly, ridiculously, INSANELY loud.... and not the mostly-midrange sort of loud you're probably used to. The best way I can hope to describe the sound of this cabinet is like a Bergantino HD212 with a folded 15" subwoofer and louder than both put together. The 18Sound mid driver placed the midrange response so squarely where it belongs without actually adding a "hump" to the frequency response as to be almost beyond belief. The Sub-bass region is loud, clear, free of glop and deeeeep. The overall response of the cab is a little "tight" right now, and is going to need some breaking in.
For those who have had concerns about Don as a builder I can say this.... This is on par or superior to anything I have ever seen in terms of highest order quality cabinet construction. Every line is perfect, every tolex seam perfect, nothing rattles, nothing has a mm of flex and all the components are of the highest quality. To me, it just LOOKS better and more PRO than many of the Authorized* builds I've seen here. Edges are sanded and rounded off. High-quality Acousti-Stuff batting is firmly secured and in abundance. The corner joints are blocked, glued and fastened with t-nuts AND nails. Bracing spines are glued, fastened AND stapled. There are numerous front-to-back braces not called for in the FF designs. It's light. It's loud. It's one of the most impressive things I've ever heard. If you're looking for a modern, 3-way enclosure, but want some extras or perhaps a slightly different look than the Fearfuls... I highly recommend Don.
I cannot wait to get this thing on stage.
Sorry for the mediocre picture.... I'll get some better ones up shortly