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Carvin BR515 500W 15 INCH COMBO BASS AMP Speaker upgrade?

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by dgce, May 22, 2012.


  1. dgce

    dgce

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I own this little combo amp along with a Carvin 2x10 cab. My main bass is a Carvin Bromberg B24S with humbuckers. I really like this setup and under low volume, the tone is great. But when I crank the combo during rehearsals with live drums, it sounds pretty boxy and undefined. During live gigs with the additional 2x10, I get the volume but not the tone I dig. Between the BX500 head and the B24S preamp, there’s a lot of knob noodling potential that I continue to experiment with but I can’t consistently get an agreeable tone under loud volume. In addition, the tweeter in the combo cab buzzes like crazy when it’s barely half on. But if I don’t turn on the tweeter, I get that boxy dull, thud-tone that I’m not too fond of.

    I like having a relatively light combo amp with the power to be heard. I rather not pop out that head and slap it on top of a bigger, heavier cab. So I thought I’d compromise and upgrade the 15” speaker and tweeter. My question is, does anyone think this will really help and also, what to get?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Lo-E

    Lo-E

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I have the same combo, and I agree that it's a bit boxy-sounding. In general, I'm not a big fan of "contour" controls on amps, but this rig benefits from it, for sure. I've found that running the contour just a bit, like around 9 or 10 o'clock takes the 'honk' off the cab enough that I can fine-tune it the rest of the way with the sweep-able mids.

    You could try a different driver, but it would really be a crap-shoot. That cab was designed for that driver and a different one might not work as well. Also, the box has some odd angles built into it, so the math for figuring out a good replacement might be harrowing.

    FWIW, the tweeter in mine doesn't make any unwanted noise. You might want to contact Carvin about that. Sounds wrong to me.

    Despite the poor cab tuning, I do like this rig. It's small and portable and can get quite loud when it needs to. I often use the head separately as well, but I find it perfectly serviceable as a combo - especially for the price!
     
  3. dgce

    dgce

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Thanks for the advice. I will often either turn off the Contour control all together or will put it at 12 o'clock. I also sometimes boost the Low and High Mids to around 1 or 2 o'clock while cutting the two other mid controls. Ideally, I'd like to keep everything at 12 o'clock and just back off and boost up as little as possible. I find the Graphic EQ helps but I mostly use it for slapping or my Disco-Danny/70s porn baselines. I don't know, sometimes I feel like I'm getting close but I never quite nail that tone unless I'm home in my living room with the volume down low.

    As for the tweeter, I'll give Carvin a call and see what they have to say. But other than fiddleling with the eq, or using a completely different cab, a speaker upgrade is the best idea I can come up with. Of course finding the right one that will work with this cab might be pretty tricky.

    Thanks!
     
  4. ZiggyDude

    ZiggyDude

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2005
    I would suggest a 15" extension cab with the same speaker. The PS15 is underestimated by all it seems.
     
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  6. dgce

    dgce

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I already have a 2x10 extension cab. Actually, I want to get as much happening tone out of that combo-cab as a stand-alone unit as I can. I'm not expecting it to sound like an Ampeg SVT with an 8x10 cab, but I just keep thinking I should be able to do better than I am now without lugging around more stuff.
     
  7. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    And overestimated by some. If the specs last posted by Carvin for the PS15 are accurate it's a very mediocre driver. But Carvin's in the habit of changing driver suppliers, and therefore driver specs, on a random basis, so one can't be sure what's in any particular cab.
     
  8. Lo-E

    Lo-E

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I don't really mess with the graphic on mine, in fact, I kinda forget it's there. :rolleyes: That would actually be a very good place to adjust for the quirks of the cab, and then you could run the rest of the EQ section flat. That sort of compensation is exactly what graphic EQs were designed for.

    If you've been boosting your mids, that could have a lot to do with your dissatisfaction, too. Low mids is where that cab gets boomy. Find the offending freq by boosting the low mid control and then sweeping the freq slowly until you find where it really honks. Then cut that freq between 3 and 6 dB and see if it helps things.

    It's convenient to run your head flat - IF, and only if, your head sounds good flat. Ampegs and Edens (just two examples off the top of my head) have an EQ curve designed into them so that they sound good with the controls flat. Carvins tend to be pretty clean and "hi-fi" sounding, which means there's more mid-range information there when the controls are set flat than there would be with other amps that are more scooped sounding. Even though you like to keep everything at noon, you should really take advantage of the tone controls on that head. They're very versatile, and that's what they're there for.
     
  9. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    N.H.
    IMHO most combos don't cut it in a live band setup.
    I.E. I played Peavey combos & they never sounded good,
    yet a Peavey head and separate cab sounded really good.
    There's no substitute for a high quality cab.
     
  10. dgce

    dgce

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Just for the record, I'm game to experiment with any brand of speaker; it does not have to come from Carvin (i.e. Eminence). I just want something that will make this little combo sound good at stage volume. Any suggestions are welcome. And again, I’m not looking for an additional cab, I want to mod the combo so it sounds the best it can sound stand-alone.
     
  11. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    No one can suggest anything without knowing the exact details of the cab, and no one can predict how a different driver may compare to the Carvin without having complete T/S specs and SPL chart for the Carvin driver, which you probably cannot obtain. IMO your best option is to trade the Carvin in towards a combo that you like the sound of, preferably after trying it at a gig.
     
  12. dgce

    dgce

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    For gigs, I slap on an additional 2x10 cab. A 4x10 would be better but I'm a little fried on lugging so much heavy stuff when I know good quality smaller lighter stuff should be able to do the job albeit with a little tonal compromise. Now rehearsals, on the other hand, I only bring along the combo. I rehearse with live drums; we're somewhat loud but not metal. We're a classic rock cover band with a 60-year-old drummer. I'm not expecting miracles but I really think this combo should sound better than it does at the volume we play.
     
  13. dgce

    dgce

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Actually I was hoping that someone here in TB land might have modded their Carvin BR combo and could give me the pros and cons of their experimentation. No, I'm not trading in this combo now. Worse case scenario, I order a BXR 4x10 cab and pop out that BX500 head if the combo doesn't work out. For quieter stuff, I could just use my 2x10 cab. However, I really don't want to do this just yet. I dig this combo and I think with just the right tweak or mod I just might already have a killer amp that's light, versatile and--oh yeah--paid for!
     
  14. Lo-E

    Lo-E

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    I spent all last summer gigging that very cab with the stock speaker and a medium-loud drummer. Seriously, it worked out fine and was plenty loud enough. I think you just need to spend a little more time with your EQ settings. As you said, it's never going to sound like an SVT, but it really gave me no trouble once I got it dialed and it kept up with three guitars and a drummer - unmiked - without breaking a sweat. Not awesome tone, but more than passable.

    Stuffing a little more damping in the cab might help, too. I've been meaning to do it myself, but haven't bothered. It seems a little under-damped in there and some more might cut down some of the ringy, boomy stuff.
     
  15. dgce

    dgce

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I’ve had this amp for at least a year or more. I’ve taken it on many gigs both quiet and loud. I’ve gigged with and without the additional 2x10 cab. I’ve set my amp and bass pre-amp eqs flat and gradually started adjusting from there several times. The only thinhg left for me to experiment on is the graphic eq, which I usually leave in a smiley face, scooped pattern for disco/funky tunes. Maybe I’ll set everything else flat and start playing around with the graphic eq and who knows, I may finally get what I’m looking for. But so far, I keep coming back to the same conclusion, under low volume, the amp sounds great; under high volume, no so much. But it’s not over yet!
     
  16. Lo-E

    Lo-E

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Try throwing more batting in it to damp it more. It might work and it's about the cheapest, easiest and most reversable mod imagineable. Can't hurt to try....
     
  17. dgce

    dgce

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Yeah, its worth a shot. Thanks for the suggestion.
     
  18. craig.p

    craig.p Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Would be interesting to get the internal box dimensions and the port dimensions (all 3 dimensions) so we can model a PS15 in that box. I think that's step 1 to understanding the problem. My guess is you have a huge peak around 120-150 combined with an under-damped and possibly under-braced box, but I'll be the 1st to admit that's a total swag absent the box's internal details. I don't think the driver is the problem -- at least not a prime contributor. I've tried a PS15 in different reflex boxes, and given a chance it acquits itself well, especially at that price point. I would hope that thing's specs are still "to spec" regardless of any change on OEM. I'd welcome any hard evidence of any OEM change or any spec change.
     
  19. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    AFAIK the PS15 that appeared on the last available T/S spec sheet from 2009 was an Eminence. I can't find any T/S specs on the Carvin site now, and the current PS15 appears to be a Celestion OEM.
     
  20. dgce

    dgce

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2001
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Well another thing I might do is take it to a tech to get their opinion on it after they give the combo the once over. And also, I can appreciate that the laws of physics will cut me but so much slack. That is, this is a relatively small box with a chuck taken out of it so it can tilt back. All, of course, comprises the sound. However a pro might be able to help me out with a simple suggestions like a speaker upgrade or even just a bit of baffle like Lo-E suggested. Then again, maybe I’m stuck and will just have to experiment with the eqs some more or just pop the BX500 head out of that combo, buy a 4x10 cab then enjoy my new Carvin manufactured nightstand.
     
  21. craig.p

    craig.p Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Bill, yes it's a Celestion. Last spec sheet update was 7/2010.
     

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