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18 vs 15?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by millard, Jan 8, 2005.

  1. millard


    Jul 27, 2004
    Are there real virtures for 18" over 15" playing 4-string bass? Throw in an octave down effect before answering.

    I'm in the fortunate position of buying a new (to me) set of cabs, so the world is open to me. I can't just spend any amount I want, but I also don't have an existing cabinet that I need to mate up with.

    I ran across a used Eden 410 which I'm probably going to buy. Now, do I match that with a 15" or 18"? I'm tempted to get the 15" with a horn so that I can lug just one box to practice. [I really like the sound of a 15" (or larger), so I don't expect I'd take just the 410 to practice.] I'm guessing the 18" by itself would be a bit muddy (but might sound great under the 410).

    But, I'm willing to do the 410 over an 18" if those "in the know" (no one around here stocks the 18") testify.

    Opinions sought.

  2. I tried/bought an Eden 18XL, and it sounded wooly next to my Sonic 118TL. I had a PV 115 BW that was killer. I think 4-10 + 1-15 or 2 - 4-10s for you....
  3. I had two 118's that were homade and boy did they sound GREAT. Covered any tone on my bass I ever had perfectly, only problem is the weight, mine weighed like 85lbs each.
  4. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    I have never had an 18 in nearly 20 years of playing? They must sound better than they did in the 80's....the last time I tried one but they seem real floppy to me. I am way too old/lazy/out of shape to carry one of those around. A 15 is as big as I'll go and my 15 is an old Pre Gibson Trace and the cab is the same size as my MM HD 210 cab.
  5. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    15's are usually adequate for 4 strings. On the other hand, if you're tossing in a sub effect, you're down way below a five string. In that case, it depends on your intent. If you're looking for the kind of bass that travels through the ground and makes pant legs vibrate at fifty yards, then the 18's are your only solution, no question. But, that may be overkill in a lot of cases. My experience is that the powerful low end is only really needed for large outdoor gigs, and only as to "supplement" the sound (ie for sound "reinforcement"). If you use your 18 as a sub, it won't determine the character of your sound, it'll only add meat and substance to it.

    For club gigs, 18's are way overkill. 15's are more than adequate for all but the biggest indoor venues. 15's probably won't deliver the extreme bottom, but then again it's not really needed in most cases. For bass players, the part that people hear is the lower midrange, not the extreme lows. (In fact people don't really "hear" extreme lows anyway, at the freqs you're talking about they travel through the ground and climb up your legs through your crotch and into your gut - if anything it's more "bone conduction" than actual hearing). Plus, there's the though of hauling big 18" cabs to club gigs all over town - may be okay for a while, if you have a strong back. In my case, I'm sure that contributed to a herniated disk I had a while back.

    Then the other thing is, if you're getting an 18, it's critically important what "kind" of 18 you get. For instance, the old Acoustic 301 cabs in the 70's used an 18" Cerwin Vega driver, but they still couldn't really deliver the earth shaking bottom. Lots of lower midrange, so they were great for that fat sound, but they couldn't get those pant legs going at fifty yard (unless you were using like twenty of 'em). On the other hand, I put an EVX-180A in a cheap Carvin cab, and that thing will make bell bottoms flutter halfway across a football field. The ElectroVoice EVX's are some of the best 18's ever made IMO, they're fast, punchy, dynamic, they have extended high end, and they can handle a kilowatt of continuous power without even getting hot. I've put my EVX's through the ringer on plenty of occasions, abused the hell out of 'em, and they're still going strong. Not like a Bag End 18, which sounds great but can't take as much power (they're prone to over-excursion, you'll see plenty of reconed ones on eBay, but you'll never find a reconed EVX).

    If it were me, and I decided to get the 18, that's what I'd do, get a decent (but cheap) cab, take out the cheap speaker and put a good one into it. That might even be more cost effective than an Eden or SWR 18, which I wouldn't waste my time with under any circumstances. I'd only get an 18 if I could get a really good one, otherwise I'd stick with the 15's. There are plenty of really good 15's out there, but not a whole lot of really good 18's. IMO of course.

    The Bag End 15's, by the way, are excellent speakers. It seems they can take even more instantaneous power than the 18's. I'd highly recommend checking out the Bag End S-15, a pair of those with a 4x10 would be a great combination. A pair of those "alone" would work just fine. I regularly gig with Bag End "mini-stacks", consisting of a 15 on the bottom and 12 on top. One, two, or four stacks, depending on the venue. That's thick and deep enough for anything but the biggest outdoor gigs, that's been my experience. When you need to get the extreme low frequencies "out there" into the audience, at long distances, that's when you really need the 18's. IMO it's not worth the extra effort and weight, and the few extra Hz, dragging 18's to a club gig. Unless of course you don't like the owner, and want to make a few beer mugs fall off the shelf. :D
  6. millard


    Jul 27, 2004
    Excellent post. Just the sort of insight I was hoping (and expected) to find here.

    At the moment, the most likely combination is a 1x15 and a 2x10 or 4x10, either Eden or Bag End. If I go 2x10, there may be a second 2x10 down the road. It's slightly tipping in Eden's favor because there is some local used equipment available.

  7. Expensive 18" drivers are worthwhile. Cheap ones are not. My Eminence Magnum 18LF is a high quality driver, for sure. Same goes for my JBL E155.

    The real answer to your question is not the size, but the tuning frequency of the cabinet. You are using a sub-octave effect, and that will blow the cones out of most rigs, at any appreciable volume level. Look for a cab with a tuning around 26 Hz. This will provide maximum loading when you cut in the effect.

    My DBX 120a sub-synth goes down to 26 Hz, so I assume yours does something similar. My 15" subs are tuned at 20 Hz, and handle the low note just fine.
  8. White_rabbit


    Jan 3, 2005
    Hey, try the AMPEG SVT 410HLF... everyone says it sound like a 4x10 over a 15'' or even over a 18''... I have one and it's really impressive stuff :eek:

    Just try a few cabinets, or, if you have the chance,try a few combinations of cabinets too, and follow your hears!!!

    God bless you all