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3012LF Limitations

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by blip, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. blip


    Jun 1, 2010
    MPLS, MN
    Hey y'all. Longtime lurker, first time poster. Got a long-winded ramble concerning cabs:

    I recently developed the desire for a portable cab that can hang with a rock drummer. I have a pair of 15" Black Widows in a hacked together slant cab that gives me a nice, loud, punchy full-range bass experience. I've been using these drivers for the better part of the last 10 years. No real thought was put into the cab other than 'i want one of them pointed at my face.' No bracing, no damping, no volume or port calculations. That said, it still sounds pretty good. Trouble is, it hardly fits through a doorway and is a real PITA to move.

    I started exploring the alternatives, and found many recommendations for high buck cabs (berg, BF, BFM, etc.) and the fEARful line. A common thread among many of the well regarded offerings is the Eminence 3012LF driver. The 12/6 and its peers seems like a good balance between power and portability, but the price is a bit steep. Enter the Avatar SB126.

    The other day I had a chance to play though a pair of Avatar SB126 cabs loaded with 3012LF drivers. Stock 6" (alpha6?) and xover (2k6?). A poor man's 12/6? Using just one cab, I got a nice, deep, tight sound that was even across the fretboard. Hint of balls in the attack. Even had a sort of 'new string sparkle' to it that was really nice without being harsh. Trouble is, when I turned up to what I thought was a good 'playing with a group' volume, it'd fart out on and around E. Tried using both cabs, and while it was fuller and a bit more forgiving, they still failed to deliver at what I feel is a pretty reasonable volume.

    Why would they crap out like this? I wasn't clipping or over/under-driving them. Is the crossover just set too high? I really liked the sound - pretty neutral without being boring - but need to be able to turn up. Also, compared to my 215 BW baseline, they were super quiet for the power they were getting. I guess that's no real surprise, though.

    This limited experience leaves me wondering what a 12/6 or like brings to the table. I mostly play rock, blues and jazz, so I don't know that 'studio monitor transparency' is really what I'm after. I'd like something light, but honestly size is more important. I don't slap or really have any fancy gear, so I don't think I need anything too 'modern.' Am I wrong to press on in my pursuit of a 12/6, or would I be better suited with some ceramic drivers? For as long as I've been playing, I'll admit I never really gave much thought to my cabs. I'm willing to suck it up and piece together something ~$500, but would prefer something cheaper. And while I'm sure the fEARless/AK/BF cabs are tremendous, they cost more than all of my bass gear combined.

    Is there a middle ground between junk and awesome that is loud, punchy and portable? Should I just buy a hand truck and be done with it?

    Thanks for digesting my disjointed mental vomit. I prostrate myself before the based gods of geardom.


    TLDR - what's a loud portable cab cheaper than a 12/6?
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  2. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Most cabinets you buy nowadays are to small for optimum tuning with the drivers that are in them. Typically, this means they are portable, light in weight, and...fart on the lowest notes if pushed. They also won't "dig" on the lowest notes - there's not much fundamental from tge speaker.

    My 112 cabinet is bigger than a lot of 115 cabinets. It's optimized for the driver I used (actuallt, the two were chosen for what I wanted performance wise), It's heavier than most 112's, digs well, and... no farts.

    It's just tradeoffs. If someone tells you their cabinet is lighter than the competition, smaller, more efficient, and goes lower, some part of that is most likely not true.
    blip, okcrum and DukeLeJeune like this.
  3. blip


    Jun 1, 2010
    MPLS, MN
    Fair enough. Perhaps a better question would have been: What is the minimum kick ass cab that can keep up with a drummer?

    I understand tradeoffs, and perhaps my expectations are unrealistic. Just hear so much positive feedback about peoples 112s and 115s these days.
  4. popgadget

    popgadget Commercial User

    Sep 4, 2005
    Eastern, PA USA
    Authorized Greenboy Designs Builder, Scabbey Road
    With a capable driver like the 3012LF, it’s important that the enclosure controls the driver and prevents over excursion. It’s possible for the driver to reach its mechanical limits long before its thermal limits in an enclosure that is not properly tuned for the driver and application.
    That said, a single 3012LF is quite capable in the right enclosure. What amplifier where you using for your demo?
  5. You are possible they were loaded with the optional Kappalite 3012lf drivers and not the normal Deltalites? What amp were you using? I find it hard to believe that you were bottoming out two 3012lf's. I have heard that driver CRANKED with more than 600watts on a single driver with not even a hiccup. Unless you had your bass knob goosed all the way, I really wonder which drivers were optioned in the cabs you were using. What amp were you using?
    TrevorOfDoom, Passinwind and pacojas like this.
  6. Rick James

    Rick James Banned

    Feb 24, 2007
    New Jersey
    The 3012LF is a monster, the equal of at least two average twelves, so what you experienced wasn't the fault of the drivers. Either the cab design is flawed or they didn't contain 3012LFs.
  7. TLDR?

    Head’s not working well today! :(
  8. blip


    Jun 1, 2010
    MPLS, MN
    TLDR = Too long, didn't read.

    I would expect that the SB126 cabs weren't tuned perfectly. May have been the 6" driver rattling, but I had my ear right up to the 12" and it didn't sound pretty.

    I was playing my Peavey Fury P-Bass through a PV Rockmaster pre (clean channel, flat eq) into one channel of a Carvin PCM1000 (~225W @ 8ohms). Could tell I didn't have quite enough juice when both cabs were hooked up, but with my pre practically off (8 o clock) and my power amp halfway (12), I was making the Avatars rattle quite unpleasantly. A shame, really, because they sounded really nice at solo levels.

    The 3012LFs were specified by the seller, but I didn't tear them apart to confirm. Just took him at his word.

    Assuming an improper enclosure and/or crossover were at fault, would you recommend moving forward with the 3012LF and building an enclosure to suit? If so, what would be the peoples' choice in cab design? I'd like to keep it as small as possible without compromising on excellence.
  9. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    To my knowledge, the Avatar 126 cab was designed around the stock driver, with no mods when switching to the 3012lf. So the result is a less than optimal tune to the cab that doesn't really illustrate the capabilities of that driver.

    That being said, I bought one with the 3012lf, but with the 1.6k crossover. I play a fretless five string through it powered by a Quilter Bass Block, so 450 watts into the single cab. I play in two fairly loud bands, and tune down to low A on some songs, and it has never once farted out or even sounded like it was getting close.

    Of course, we're all different in our volume needs, how much bass EQ we push, etc. What I think of as loud might only be a moderate volume to you.

    But if I really wanted to get the max out of the 3012lf, I'd either build a couple of fEarful 12/6, or at least measure the cabinet and port dimensions of the Avatars and then use some software to see if maybe a change to the ports might offer better performance.
    HolmeBass and blip like this.
  10. Inara

    Inara Fierce Fun Fretless Female

    Jun 12, 2017
    Seattle, WA USA
    Also, there may not be any damping material inside these ... I haven't looked in mine and don't know if Avatar uses any in general. If not, perhaps adding some might help?
  11. BigBobbyBass


    Jan 23, 2015
    I owned one for about 2 weeks. I'm not an expert by any means, but it was certainly no Barefaced/fearless/fearful. It seemed the box wasn't right for that driver. My Barefaced is in another solar system.
    10cc, HolmeBass, svtb15 and 3 others like this.
  12. With luck, you *might* find a used fEARful 12/6 for 500 bux.
    That would be the best way to get a 3012LF that delivers the goods.
    The speaker is up to the task, if the cab is designed round that speaker.
    Finding someone that will part with any fEARful isn't easy.
    If you can build your own, you might not go too far over your budget.
    blip, pacojas and Coolhandjjl like this.
  13. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Winter Park, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    I could be wrong but Avatar strikes me as the kind of company that would throw any speaker in any box without much thought. If you check the specs on their website, you can see that they use the same size boxes for different configuration.
    Jeff Scott likes this.
  14. popgadget

    popgadget Commercial User

    Sep 4, 2005
    Eastern, PA USA
    Authorized Greenboy Designs Builder, Scabbey Road
    Build a fEARful 12/6, plans are free and it’s optimized for the 3012LF. You won’t be disappointed. 225 Watts will leave a lot of performance on the table though.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2017
  15. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Not to hate on Avatar, I've owned 4 of their cabs in the past, and still have two, but... this.

    The fact that they offer those LF Kappalites as an option for pretty much any cab they offer is IMO rather irresponsible.

    Not even close to being in the same league as the Fearful/Fearless stuff.
    10cc, Jeff Scott, HolmeBass and 2 others like this.
  16. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    This, but FearFUL for the DIY variant ;).

    I had @popgadget (that guy right there ^) build me my F115, and I currently run it with only 340 (conservatively rated) watts. I tested out an F112 - the authorized builder-only brother to the 12/6, before pulling the trigger, and while I didn't test it out in a mix, I do think it's the likely answer to your question of:

    blip likes this.
  17. popgadget

    popgadget Commercial User

    Sep 4, 2005
    Eastern, PA USA
    Authorized Greenboy Designs Builder, Scabbey Road
    Yup I mistyped. I meant fEARful.
  18. TrevorOfDoom

    TrevorOfDoom Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I have zero complaints about my fEarful 12/6. Never heard it fart out.
    If you want a fEarful, take your time and buy pieces as you can afford them.
    It's worth it.
    And yes, i'm planning on building another for when i need to do some demolition work. ;)
    jallenbass and blip like this.
  19. You can find AK Tc112's, AK Hathor 12/3's, and Fearful 12/6 usually anywhere from $450-$650 in the classifieds. You have enough amp, just bridge it. I know Passinwinds TC112 can get insanely loud, even with a B string. If you are worried about it, a Fearful 15/6 kit from speaker hardware is around $500 and that will for sure carry you up to the size where a PA would be required for the rest of the band. Below 200hz a 15/6 will keep up with an SVT, and a 12/6 will keep up with a sealed 6*10 or a typical ported 4*10.
    HolmeBass and svtb15 like this.
  20. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    An Audiokinesis Hathor 1203 or Barefaced Super Compact will really show you what a 3012 LF can do, and either will cost a a good bit less than a Fearful.
    blip, Marial, svtb15 and 2 others like this.

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