12" driver choice for compact DIY cabs

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Martin Beer, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    I'm thinking about building a pair of 1x12" cabs in the new year, ideally at the more compact end of things. For the sake of portability I'm looking at drivers which will work in around 40 litres (that's about 1.4 cubic feet), perhaps even slightly less.

    At present I have a 2x12" cab loaded with B&C 12HPL64 drivers. This is light and sounds pretty good, but many of the places I play are small and could happily work with a single 12". The obvious option would be to re-house the B&Cs in 1x12" cabinets, but they're 4-ohm drivers so I would have to mess around with a series cable if they were in separate cabs. They are -3dB at just below 80Hz in my 2x12" and don't have a mid-bass bump. On paper it looks like this may be thin sounding, but in practice I've never felt that I lack lows with them. They're very smooth through the mids but perhaps a little polite sounding (EQ can fix that though). Tonally, I seem to enjoy speakers with that upper-mid presence peak that comes from breakup modes and I don't need or want highs in the tweeter range. My bands tend to be not very Rock, so I rarely have to contend with 4x12" equipped guitarists or heavy hitting drummers!

    Looking at other options for 12" drivers that work in a ~40l box, I've identified a few contenders. I've been using WinISD to look at the low end but would welcome more subjective opinions on how they sound, especially from those who have tried them.
    Firstly I looked at several neo drivers. The Eminence Basslite S2012 and Deltalite 2515 are both possible options, they give a small mid-bass bump in this volume but it's not outrageous. The 3012HO might be good but stretches the budget a little. The Faital 12PR300 could be promising too, but is perhaps a little flatter than I'm looking for.

    I then looked at a few cheaper ceramic drivers. In a small box like this, it seems that some of them could work well and the extra kilo of weight per box might not be a deal breaker. The Eminence Beta 12 and the Fane 12-200 both gave fairly similar plots in WinISD to the neo drivers I looked at. The Beyma SM212 looks excellent in terms of Xmax and power handling but again lacks that rising mid-response that I'd prefer.

    Several of these drivers model well in a sealed box too, and it might be interesting to make up some port plugs and try them both ways. I'm not absolutely settled on 12s, but they seem a good fit for the size of box I'm looking for. I'm in the UK, so US brands like Eminence can be comparatively expensive but some the European brands are more affordable. I'd be interested in any thoughts on the drivers above for a compact 1x12", and any other suggestions of drivers which have worked well.
  2. ScottTunes

    ScottTunes Gear-A-Holic

    Feb 7, 2011
    So Cal
    I really like the Eminence DeltaLite 2512 II in my mostly stock TL806 cab. Once it is broken-in, it is plenty loud, and doesn't require too much cab "stuffing."

    I also tried the 3012HO, but prefer the 2512 II.

    I have also been using the BassLites, Beta and Delta (ceramic) series in sealed 2x12 cabs, and like those drivers in that application. I do prefer the lighter weight of the neo drivers.

    Because the Eminence are easier and cheaper to get here in the States, I haven't tried any others, except the EV SROs and EVM12Ls.

    It might be possible to ship a pair of Eminence Neo drivers to you for less than what they'd cost there... PM me if interested...
  3. Matthijs

    Matthijs Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2006
    I also have good experiences with the deltalite 2512 II in several small box sizes and there are some other good epxeriences with them to be found on tb. The low dollar to the euro still makes it affordable to buy Eminence. Not sure how that works between dollars and pounds.

    I have no experience with that Faital, but heard a lot of praise from others. They don't strike me as a speaker that fits that upper mid presenceathough. The eminence has a very present bump in the 2k region, if that's what you like.
  4. atrain5600

    atrain5600 Guest

    Feb 11, 2013
    I have a similar question, if you don't mind me joining...

    I recently grabbed a used Schroeder 12 with the angled front and tweeter from GC. Got home and looked inside and found someone had replaced the Faital with an Eminence with only OEM markings on it.

    They gave me most if the money back (I gave them $50 to keep it).

    So I want to replace the Eminence and I'm hoping I don't have to spring for a Faital.

    I was considering the speakers mentioned above along with a couple B&C models. I'd be really interested in what you settle on.
  5. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    Thanks for those perspectives. I'm not totally decided on whether the presence peak is essential to me, as while I like to hear some content around 2-3K I could also get this using EQ on a flatter driver (provided it goes high enough). As I like flatwounds, I don't really need to go much higher than that.
    The main goals are to build something light, smaller than my 80 litre 2x12" with good response up to around 3K or so, and I'm not a player who needs strong fundamental response. I'm also considering the possibility of building a single medium sized lightweight cab rather than two small 1x12"s, which would open up some other options. A good 2x10" could do the job, or a small-box 1x15" could work though would be less good for dispersion.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    butcher likes this.
  7. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    I use the stock Kappalite 3012LF in about 1.2 cubic feet in one of my commercial models, but that's with a small midrange cone. Sans midrange driver, and with a bass-cab-friendly voicing, either the Deltalite 2512 (uberlight + good voicing) or Beta 12A2 (imo slightly better voicing).
  8. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    Yes, that's been useful reading. Between that and the piezo pre/HPF design documents you have some good educational stuff on your site! (Come to think of it, the GK MB200 flat setting measurements have been pretty useful too.)
    The small box idea got me wondering about its application to other driver sizes - it looks like there are a couple of 15" speakers which model well in a box of around 50 litres, which would be easy enough to lug around. It strikes me that rather than building a pair of 1x12"s, a single good 15" could meet my needs quite well as the maximum SPL graph in WinISD sits in between one and two of the 12s I was looking at. The contenders for this would be the Eminence 3015 or the Faital 15pr400, depending on whether I wanted the peaked upper mids of the Eminence or the flatter more extended response of the Faital.
    I'm still very much at the tossing ideas around stage at the moment.
  9. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    That might make sense. What I don't know about any of the 15ers is whether you need some kind of cone midrange to manage the mids. But still, the Greenboy cabs are not the only way to skin a cat (he is very specific about his design goals), and if you aren't looking for as much low end extension, a smaller box might be feasible.
    Martin Beer likes this.
  10. Woodstockz


    Sep 23, 2011
    San Diego, Ca

    Thanks for writing that design guideline. I refer to it often. Good physics is always valid. IMHO, it should be required reading for DIY; It would clear up some things for DIYers.

    I used it for a design about 2 years ago. Funny how time flies.
  11. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    This thread has been around for a couple of months now, but I'm planning on going ahead and building a pair of 1x12" cabs next month, once I've finished moving house. I'm thinking of cabs of around 35 litres, somewhat similar to FDeck's small box design but using a round port on the rear so that I have some wiggle room to tweak the tuning (to adjust the midbass bump to taste). I want these to be quite voiced rather than flat, more traditional bass-cab sounding than hi-fi. My budget will be a little less than anticipated, so I'm looking at ceramic rather than neo drivers. All of these look satisfactory for my needs when modelled in WinISD and have decent sensitivity.

    Fane Sovereign 12-200: http://www.fane-international.com/downloads/Fane Sovereign 12200 DS030513.pdf
    This has a small presence peak around 2.5K, Xmax is a respectable 5.5mm and weight is reasonable at 3.5kg. Thermal handling is only 200 watts, but my amp at present is a GK MB200 and I intend to build or obtain a lower powered valve amp at some point in the future, so that's not a big concern. Fane appear to have changed the spec of these between the 2010 and 2013 catalogues, so any build reports using these might not be the current version.

    Eminence Beta 12: http://www.eminence.com/pdf/Beta_12A.pdf
    This has the 2.5k peak plus a rising mid response with a bump at 1.5k. Weight is similar to the Fane but Xmax is a little lower at 4.4mm. These have the advantage of being a fairly widely used driver, so it is easier to get an idea of how they sound subjectively.

    Beyma SM212: http://www.beyma.com/uploads/ftp/Fichas_Tecnicas/000000730.PDF
    This is heavier at 4.6Kg, but Xmax is an excellent 7mm. However, I would struggle to fit enough port area into my small box to take full advantage of this without chuffing. The frequency response goes a little higher than the others but has no 2.5k peak, so may be a little polite sounding for my tastes.

    So, any feedback on choosing between these three would be very welcome.
  12. will33


    May 22, 2006
  13. will33


    May 22, 2006
    I read a build/design thread on basschat that seemed to have settled on that Beyma. Impressive driver and said to be affordable in the UK.

    I'd be inclined to figure out enough port area for that one if possible. Yes, you might hit that point of no return between area and length in a box as small as yours but I'd at least give it a model run-through and see how things shake out.

    Might also find a sort of "buying more capability than you can use" with the smallish amp. That sort of go/no-go to me would come down to price, general tonality, and whether or not I saw myself getting a larger amp in the future.

    There are different ways of calculating xmax, some more optomistic than others, but still, impressive driver that Beyma.
  14. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    The Beyma does look impressive, and reportedly can sound pleasing (I've been following that thread). If I use a shelf port and tune to around 45Hz, I can figure out something that fits in the box size I'm looking for and gets me a little more power handling before the port velocity gets too high. Lower tunings get a little harder to juggle without increasing the box size. I'm trying to keep it to a size where I can take a single cab on public transport, as Edinburgh is no fun to drive or park in.
    The thing I'm hesitating over is whether the Beyma will suit the sound I like or not, as its upper mid and high end response is very smooth. Out of the different cabs I've tried, I enjoy cabs with that lively sounding peak in the upper mids and I don't mind the lows being tight rather than massive; for example I enjoyed borrowing an Ampeg 210AV for a jam recently. It strikes me that seemingly lower spec and less flat drivers like the 12-200 or Beta might get me closer to that character. OTOH, given that the Beyma's highs extend quite high on-axis it may respond well to EQ to get to somewhere similar.
    The Dayton speakers don't have distribution over here AFAIK, so haven't been on my radar unfortunately.
  15. will33


    May 22, 2006
    You're describing a Deltalite II or Beta with the fondness for uppermids.

    Fan of the Deltalite myself. Not a "warm" sounding driver on its own, but I find all those uppermids work to my advantage when driving a room/pub with my rig.

    All those bodies that are (hopefully) packed in there, along with whatever other draperies, tableclothes, rugs, etc., all help to damp the upper frequencies while allowing the lower ones to plow through.

    When I listen to my "rising response" speakers from out where the audience is, they suddenly sound smooth. Warm yet defined.

    Speakers that model "flat" or "warm" (in a halfspace environment with no audience of other sound-soaker-uppers, sound muddy, indistinct, woofy, etc.

    I'd maybe go for the Betas?
    Martin Beer likes this.
  16. ThisBass


    Aug 29, 2012
    The Beyma 12LW30/N has quite the same upper response like the SM212. The allover sounding of the 12LW30/N is very tight and balanced and detailed even on off axis position. IME there is never any kind of muddy or indistinct or woofy or anything else in combination of an (flattened) extended response like those drivers provide.

    IME the EQ-ing of those flattened drivers is far more easy than at drivers with a considerable peak at upper mids/treble.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  17. What about the B&C 12CL64? There was a thread about a small-ish box with this driver going on for a little while. It looked pretty cool and people seemed to dig it. I'm pretty sure he designed it with rear of construction in mind as well. I think the title included the words, "22 pounds that pound". Anyways, just an idea.
  18. Martin Beer

    Martin Beer

    Dec 4, 2004
    I looked at the 12CL64 - the frequency response up high looks good and the light weight is great, but it costs more than double the price of the Beta or Fane. It looks like it works best with a high tuning too, which might be fine with my relatively low powered amp though some sort of HPF might be wise. So it's not looking like a front-runner at the moment.
  19. Type-55

    Type-55 Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2000
    I'm thinking of using a Delta 12LFA for a pair of 12's. I like more low/low mid than forward harsh mids.
    I have heard that the Deltalite 2512II is very mid forward, not much low end and rather harsh. It really spikes after 2k.
    Cab size is 22x14x14 with 2 4" ports, made from 1/2" BB. Should weigh about 30-32 lbs. Two of them should be very full sounding.
    Not a slap or pop cab at all. Just my thoughts.
    Trevor Findley likes this.
  20. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I too am going through this issue.. My Schroeder 1212 and Mini 12 all have Eminence Delta 12's in them. I am switching them for Faital 12Pro300's. They seemed to have the closest on paper specs as my Delta's and they are 10 pounds lighter EACH!! My Schroeders are the original no R/L cabinets.. As far as I know, because I am putting in Neo speakers, that now makes mine the L series..