Vertical cab stacking---the only way to play

Discussion in 'Amps [BG]' started by JimmyM, Dec 19, 2007.


  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    79,564
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    OK, so it's almost sunrise and I am so jazzed about my new rig that I can't calm down! And as a new convert to vertical stacking, I'm going to run off at the keyboard a little. I now believe that just as PA systems have converted to vertical cab stacking, all instrumental amplification systems should convert to vertical stacking as well.

    It only makes sense. In the 70's, PA systems were spread out horizontally. The idea was to have a cab pointed at approx. every person in the audience so they could hear equally. It worked, sort of, except for those down in front where there were no speakers. That was one problem. The other problem is that it required giant bass bins with equally giant mid cabs and these gigundus horn tweeters. And of course, the amps to power them. Back then, to fill a 1000 seat club, there would be at least two giant 18" folded horn subwoofers (we called them "sugar scoops"), two big mid cabs with like 4-12"s in each, and two big horns on each side. Not only was it massive, but the people in front of the stage still couldn't hear well, and worst of all, it blocked any side viewing of the band.

    Then in the 80's, PA designers got the bright idea to fly the PA over the stage. The cabs were still massive, but at least the subs were on the floor and the mids and tweeters were out of the way. And the audience in front of the stage no longer got shortchanged. Full range speakers also became the rage in clubs. Buy two full range speakers a little bigger than Marshall cabs per side, stack them, and everyone heard much better with less speakerage and amperage. And you could even aim the bottom speakers toward the dance floor and aim the top speakers at the rest of the crowd, and everyone was happy.

    Which leads us to today, where in arenas, sub cabs way smaller and more efficient than previous designs line the floor, and a series of small cabs are arranged in "line arrays" at strategic points above the stage. These line arrays are stacked vertically and cover way more people all over the arena, and sound much better than anything previous. The club version is two modern sub cabs on either side of the stage, and two small full-range cabinets on poles or hung from the ceiling. If the club is large, they'll scatter some smaller full-range cabs here and there for better coverage.

    And now that I've set up a very small bass rig based on the efficiency of vertical stacking that takes my head off even at low volumes, I don't know why everyone doesn't do it. Once I retired the old SVT and 8-10" 10 years ago (vertical stacking at its finest, BTW), I got a 4-10" cab. The audience heard a great sound from it if I used it without a PA. But unless I stood 15 feet away from it, it blew right past me and never gave me a representation of what the audience was hearing. And as we all know, a lot of times the bassist is stuck in the back of the stage 2 feet away from the amp. Now how are you going to hear what your 4-10" sounds like when you're standing two feet in front of it with your back turned? Sure, put another 4-10" or 2-10" on top of it, but then you're back to SVT-land. Or you can elevate and lose all your lows.

    But just like a PA, if you take a nice small sub that's built to sound good stacked vertically as opposed to horizontally, stack your rack or head on top of it, then put a smaller full-range cab like a single 12" or 10" with a tweeter on top of everything, it acts very much like a flown PA and puts your lows on the floor to do their thing while the full-range cab hits you in the head and gives you a much truer representation of the sound your audience hears. Plus your bandmates will hear it as well as that 4-10" they wish you'd turn down (even though you can't hear it, they can because they're farther away than you), and you can control the volume for them much better while still getting your own rocks off.

    Even though I know this is old hat to some of you, it's a brand new concept to me, and I could kick myself for not doing it sooner. My new stage rig as of last night is a vintage B-15N speaker, a 4 space rack with a dbx compressor and wirelesses on top of it, and a Markbass 12" combo on top. I had it loud enough to where I thought everyone would complain, but everyone in the band loved it and said how they liked that they could hear it plainly but it didn't overwhelm them like the 4-10". And when I got offstage to yuk it up with the audience, my onstage sound was identical to the PA. It was the absolute best sound I ever had, and I didn't once miss that great feeling of a big 8-10" behind me because I had it once again.

    So now I'm going to make it my mission to spread the word to bass cab manufacturers to make cabs designed to be stacked vertically. It could be done with any configuration of speakers you like. Make rectangular 15" cabs with the port designed to stack vertically instead of horizontally. Elevate the top 10" or 12" cab to where it's ear level (for God's sake, don't use a milk crate---be a pro and buy an amp stand if you don't have a rack). Like your 2-10" cab? I'll bet you'll like it more if you stack it vertically. Want a 4-10" cab that does the work of an 8-10" cab and sounds better than a square 4-10"? Build a cabinet with 4-10"s stacked vertically and stick the tweeter on top. Waitasec, that won't fit in a car. OK, so take two 2-10"s and stack them vertically. You'd need some sort of bracing system so they don't topple over accidentally, but I guarantee they'll sound better than any 4-10" square cab. You just have to port them the right way. Or maybe not. People have been stacking cabs the wrong way for their ports for decades.

    After going vertical, I can't ever see going back to horizontal, and I can't think of one good reason not to do it. Maybe some of you can, but it would have to be pretty compelling for me to ever switch back. I guarantee you that it's going to be the next big thing in cabinet design, and once it catches on, nobody will be using anything but vertical stacks for all instruments.
     
  2. greenboy

    greenboy

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2000
    Messages:
    13,207
    Location:
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    Disclosures:
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Jimmy,

    I didn't read all your post to see if I felt there were technical details I would dispute {there are a number of reasons why that is sonically of benefit ; } - but on that we definitely agree. Since 2000 or so I've talked to cab companies and players on forums and promoted vertical design ideas... but at the end of the day most bass players seem to be married to their tradtion which includes wide heads and racks, and often drivers that are narrow. Thus the 410 and 810. Only with 15" woofers (implying an addtional midrange driver if you want extended response both on and off axis) is it easy to design for vertical arrangements in cabs around 24" wide, and with 12" woofers, 20" wide.

    There is a lot of inertia, and bass player expectations are heavily weighed by even the most schooled and skilled cab designers. So don't expect change on a wide-scale basis ; }
     
  3. musicman7722

    musicman7722 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,274
    Location:
    Hampton, NH US of A
    I read your converstaions in a different MB thread on your Ampeg 15" cabinet. I responded there about my Avatar 12" addition. I'm going to attach a shot here of my dual setup. One cabinet fires across the stage and the other at me.

    I use a cut up Milk crate for the MB Amp.

    CP
     
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    79,564
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You get that beautiful combo off that milk crate right now and get a proper amp stand, you!

    :D

    I already replied to you in the other thread, but try elevating it to where it's at ear level. Angling it isn't something I've tried yet because I've got my combo high enough, but it would probably work great getting it up a foot or two and angling it. But get an amp stand...they're only $15 and they're so much more pro!

    Greenboy, you are right about the inertia...I hung onto my 4-10" long after guys like you were stacking vertically. But once people try it, I can't see how they could ever go back.
     
  5. Register to disable this ad
  6. Tony G

    Tony G

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    10,596
    Location:
    NY
    Not that I am against this idea at all, but I really like the punch that a 4x10 gives. The punch from that size box can't be replicated in full to my ears by two smaller cabs stacked on top of each other. It isn't too hard to have your cake and eat it too with a good 4x10 cab. Just a slight tilt of the cab up with something like an ampwedge and that helps out a lot.

    However, show me two 2x10 cabs that I can stack together and get as much punch, but realistically doesn't cost much more together or weigh much more together than a single 4x10, and I'm sold.
     
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    79,564
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    BTW, after doing many AB tests with stacking for the best response, this is probably a little minor point, but I found that with my rig, it's best to line the drivers up so they're centered with each other. I started the night with my combo off to the side a bit to have somewhere to set drinks, then I moved it to center, and I noticed a slight change in the sound for the better. So I found somewhere else for the drinks. It's ever so slight but I noticed it.
     
  8. MikeBass

    MikeBass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    Messages:
    10,777
    Location:
    Ferndale MI.
    Disclosures:
    Artist: Xotic Basses/AccuGroove
    When I get a chance, I usually stack my pair of 210 cabs vertically (mostly one cab is fine though).

    This year for our Christmas services I wasn't so lucky. Both cabs are on the floor sitting about 10 feet behind me- one on the left slightly angled in toward me and one on the right angled in toward me (the cabs are about 8-10 feet apart from one another).
    Now, when I'm not wearing my IEM's (in ear monitors- BTW Shure E5 in ear monitors freakin' sound incredible) man does it pound like crazy, but unless I'm at my "mark" or main performance position on the stage, it blows right by me (We've "sold out" -tickets are free- all 12 services at my church. Our auditorium holds about 1800+. )

    But when I played clubs or other shows, I've been stacking them vertically for a while. All your points are pretty much spot on.
     
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    79,564
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I love a good 4-10" myself for the same reason. Tons of punchy low end and crisp highs in one package. So if I was married to the 4-10", I would get a 1-10" cab and put it on top of my 4-10" and rack. You drop the impedance and send more power to the 4-10", and you get a true representation of what the audience hears from the 4-10" for the price of a 1-10" without the reduced low end that tilting a 4-10" causes. Or just go nuts and buy a second 4-10". I believe that counts as vertical stacking ;)
     
  10. Tony G

    Tony G

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2006
    Messages:
    10,596
    Location:
    NY
    I don't know if that is how it works.....say I have an 8 ohm 4x10, and an 8 ohm 1x10. Now say I have an amp that puts out 600 watts at 4 ohms. Being that both the 4x10 and 1x10 cab have the same impedance, wouldn't they share power equally? So the 4x10 wouldn't exactly be getting more power than the 1x10.....

    Also, why would tilting the 4x10 up at you slightly decrease the low end? Everything I've read here is that it should have no effect.
     
  11. KJung

    KJung

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    44,517
    Location:
    Wisconsin and Upper Michigan
    It doesn't work that way, and combining a small and large cab of the same impedance is typically a bad idea.

    Also (and this is why I don't like tall vertical stacks), you can get very fooled by the sound of an elevated cab right next to your ear (especially one with a tweeter) regarding the sound you are hearing versus what is actually making it out to the room. That tweeter banging in your ear can really fool you relative to what the rig sounds like 20 feet out!

    That being said, a vertical stack does reduce 'comb filtering'... i.e. the sound being quite different off axis versus right in front of the cab. However, I haven't noticed that being a huge problem with my 410.

    Anyway, like anything else, whatever works for you is a good thing!
     
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    79,564
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Dang, you raise a good point about the impedance. OK, skip that part. But if you ever get a chance to try it, see what you think. At the very least I think you'll at least like it better than a 4-10" blowing past your ears.

    When I got my 4-10", I put wheels on it so it was easier to move. That was enough to decrease the low end response significantly. Whether it adds up to a hill of beans for you, I don't know. But unless I have a bottom cab directly on the floor, I lose low end every time.

    Ken, I don't think combining speakers of different sizes acts negatively as long as they both have similar power handling capabilities. People have been combining 15"s and 10"s for years.
     
  13. musicman7722

    musicman7722 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,274
    Location:
    Hampton, NH US of A
    I can qualify that the 4-10" will be louder. One of my first gigs with the LM Combo was a huge Corp Christmas Party. I ran a 2 x 12" Dr, Bass cab on the far side of the stage off the LM Combo. I culd hear the Dr. Bass cab across a 16' stage and it was louder than my combo. Hence my selling the Dr. bass cab and getting a single 12" Avatar. I have read on other posts the resson this happens but don't recall why. But it is an "is".

    CP
     
  14. musicman7722

    musicman7722 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,274
    Location:
    Hampton, NH US of A
    Funny, I like the milk crate idea over a stand. It ain't the money, it is one less trip and that is what my new rig is all about. We have a very good FOH with a permanent sound man so it is mostly for me anyway. Furthermore it's black. How much more black could it be. Finally I do use IEM's and usually don't hear the amp. What a shame but it is the best of all worlds. I do like vertical stacking so don't get me wrong here. I have tried laying the Avatar on its long side and setting up the MB and milk crate on it. Sounds good as well.

    CP
     
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    79,564
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    musicman, that may be a good thing for the top cab to be quieter, actually. By the time the sound waves get to the audience, they can easily hear a 4-10" on the floor, especially if you're on an elevated stage. And if the small cab pointed at your head isn't as loud, then you'll be able to hear yourself easier and you won't blow out everyone in the band in the process.
     
  16. musicman7722

    musicman7722 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,274
    Location:
    Hampton, NH US of A
    That's true and as long as the ohms are the same it could be a poor mans crossover setup with a fair representation of your sound. again in my case the sound is for the band and maybe the immediate dance floor. Between my IEM's and the FOH I'm at my sound guys mercy but that is another thread. CP
     
  17. kringle77

    kringle77 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2004
    Messages:
    5,132
    Location:
    Massena NY
    I stack a pair of eden 2x10's vertically and it is great! I have been doing this with various cabs for a long time. It gets the sound up in the air, you still have coupling to the floor for low end and it takes up alot less space on a stage. I'll never go back. Sometimes I even put my six space rack between the two cabs to get the 2nd cab up even higher. This works really well for a packed club where bodies are soaking up all the high end right in front of the stage and the tone is getting muddy 15 feet away.
     
  18. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2000
    Messages:
    15,933
    Media:
    1
    Location:
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Disclosures:
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings
    I've been stacking 2 210s vertically since the 90s....I'm going to 2 112s though.
     
  19. greenboy

    greenboy

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2000
    Messages:
    13,207
    Location:
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    Disclosures:
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    As an FOH guy, I'd say it's just as easy getting fooled by just about any other arrangement too. But I know if I played a really bright slap tone at higher levels that FOR OTHER REASONS ENTIRELY {which should be obvious; } I really wouldn't want the TWEETER HORN anywhere near my ear - but do appreciate having midrange above the knees ; }

    Sometimes I think a good 6" dedicated midrange (and not one of those chessy closed-back ones) should ship in every cab instead of a crappy tweeterhorn.

    Usually it's not a problem for the player, but for those further out. But if FOH support for the bass is used at a sufficent level in the venue it might be rather immaterial to the general audience anyway. Anyway, I've worked with every cab description, and mongel cab conglomerations galore, and if the player thinks it's working for him and the band doesn't have much to say bad about it, then as long as it's not making it hard to get a decent bass guitar and general mix in FOH, what do I really care? : }

    But I'll qualify that: a lot of why it's hard to get a good bass sound in some venues is because of the bassist and his EQ, volume, and rig choices.
     
  20. KJung

    KJung

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    44,517
    Location:
    Wisconsin and Upper Michigan
    +1 Actually, the best execution of a true 'vertical array' for bass was the old EA CXL310. It was a horse to move around, but the design was right on the money... three 10's stacked on top of one another, with a coax tweeter in the middle position. That took care of the 'tweeter next to your ear' issue, but still allowed great tone up close and none of the comb filtering issues, etc.

    Pretty neat design, but the weight and cumbersome nature of the form factor didn't allow that deal to catch on.
     
  21. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Messages:
    16,860
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Disclosures:
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    For the most part your observations are right on. As far as vertical stacking goes, the physics behind it were well known to the audio engineering community in the 1940's. The ubiquitous PA system of the '60s was a vertically speaker column. The PA industry went away from the column design to the so-called cluster design, culminating in the trapezoid PA cab, not because it worked better than vertical cabs, but because the vast majority of PA operators/owners then were not trained in acoustics and didn't understand why vertical arrays were better. They assumed that soundwaves function in the same fashion as lightwaves, and that the way to get uniform area coverage with sound sources was to use the same scheme as one would with lighting. They were 100% wrong, but in the battle for marketshare the PA manufacturers abandoned proper engineering and gave the market what the market wanted. Three decades of gosh awful concert sound was the result.

    What got the PA industry back on track was the raising of the educational bar for PA operators and owners, who by the end of the 1990's learned why their systems sounded so bad. Line array systems a third the size of the cluster arrays they replaced swept the high-end pro-touring concert industry and within five years the cluster array disappeared. Today the trapezoidal box remains primarily in the lower end, marketed to those who don't know well enough not to buy them.

    The scenario in the electric bass cab industry is similar. If every bass player today was as knowledgeable about the physics of how loudspeakers work as PA guys are in ten years you wouldn't be able to buy a cab with horizontally mounted drivers.
     

Share This Page