A Tale of two cabinets and efficiency specifications : NL-210, D210XST

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by 12bass, Oct 21, 2005.

  1. Today I had the opportunity to try the EA NL-210 and the Eden D210XST side by side. Both cabinets are rated at 8 ohms, 500W RMS. I played a Dingwall Afterburner 2 5-string bass. Both cabinets were powered with the same EA iAMP 500 set flat.

    Given the manufacturer's specifications, the EA at 100dB SPL should be noticably quieter than the Eden, rated at 103 dB. Oddly, according to my ears, the EA cabinet definitely sounded louder.

    In another thread I mentioned my reservations about Eden's claim that the D210XST is just as efficient at their D210XLT (both are rated at 103dB). IMO the D210XLT is quiet a bit louder than the D210XST, and now I've found a cabinet rated at only 100 dB is also louder than the XST.

    This of course makes me seriously question the validity of the specifications.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this?

    Further, in spite of all of the hoopla about EA "not having a sound", IMO, the NL-210 most definitely has a sonic character, and definitely does NOT sound flat. I have a set of studio monitors, and the EA does not sound at all like them. It's a very different sound to the D210XST (which isn't flat either...).

    I found that the NL-210 seems to be dominated by low mids and is lacking openness in the upper mids and treble, and that the highs sounds harsh when the tweeter is dialed in to compensate.

    As for the Eden, it sounded more open on the top due to the horn, but the horn doesn't produce a smooth high end. Still, I found it not as edgy as the NL-210. Also, the Eden sounded like it has a bit of a car subwoofer type hump in the midbass, but lacks the low mid hump of the XLT series. Words that comes to mind with the XST are "tubby", round, or full in the bass.
  2. As you said, the EA had more low mids which would make it perceptively louder to the ear...

    I found the XSTs to be lacking in this area as well, but then again, I think that is the more "flatter" tone they were going for in relation to the XLTs.
  3. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I think efficiency specifications for bass cabs are a little unfair. The frequency range where "bass volume" is needed is just a portion of the tested frequency range which, AVERAGED, give manufacturers the SPL rates they publish (and the "bass" part of the curve is gererally lower than this average SPL). Maybe if they focused more on the "bass" part of the spectrum (or if they published several SPL ratings splitting measures in different frequency ranges), we could have more realistic SPL claims and could predict more accurately that cab A must sound louder than cab B. For me, they're not being serious on this subject, which makes me skeptical with published SPL ratings.

  4. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    That's putting it mildly. There are no industrywide standards as to SPL ratings. Some use an average figure, some a peak figure. The lower limit might be at -6dB, or -10dB, or any other figure the manufacturer may care to place it. The claimed SPL may be at a peak, while the lower limit may be down from average. I've seen SPL ratings that are the equivalent of an automobile's gas mileage measured while driving downhill, with a 100 MPH tailwind. In other words, if you don't see an actual SPL chart the quoted sensitivity figures are for all intents and purposes useless.
  5. The manufacturers don't publish response plots for a good reason.

    I've argued for a long time that claimed response for bass cabs is pure bullsh*t. Until somebody publishes response plots to verify those claims, I will continue to believe they are all bullsh*t.

    You can always tell when a salesman is lying: his mouth is moving.
  6. +1000.

    If you measure the efficiency at 1kHz (not uncommon), take cab A. Say it rolls off gradually below that, until its quite a ways down at 100hz. Now take cab B. Its less efficient at 1kHz, but has a much flatter response down to 100hz, where it rolls off from there. Its going to be way louder sounding on the notes you play as a bass player than the other cab. But measure much less efficient.

    So there you go. Measuring the efficiency for hifi speakers at 1kHz makes some sense, they're designed to be relatively flat response. Bass cabs are notoriously NOT flat for the most part. The efficiency at 1kHz isn't exactly meaningless, but its pretty close.

  7. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    good stuff, 12bass!

    comparisons are what i dig. :cool:

    IMHO, i think the Eden may need a "break in" period. my Epifani UL310 sounded weak and small when i first received mine, and at first, thought it was defective or was pushed too hard at one point. but Nick at the shop told me to just give it time, and after a few days, VOILA, sheer fatness.

    course, the NL is definitely one loud little mofo, and interestingly, doesnt sound as neutral as the other cabs in its line, past or present. still, its fast becoming one of my more favorite cabs. oh, and ya forgot to mention that the NL is nearly a third lighter than the XST. :bassist:
  8. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    Thanks man. As a 210XST owner/user I always like to read how it compares to other cabs i haven't used. I also feel taht my experience with the 210XST sounds like there is more of that "tubby"-ness that sometimes makes it hard to hear the upper mids, especially when i use effects.

    Also good to know that my cab sounds less loud than those guys, since I'm wondering how much of a volume hit i'd take if i switched to Acme's in the real-gig world.
  9. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Possibly, but that's not a good thing. Typically a woofer suspension needs a good 24 hours of flexing near the limit of its excursion capability for the driver to operate to its design specs. That break-in should be done at the factory, not only so that the speaker is delivered ready for use, but also to weed out defective drivers.
  10. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Is that actually ever done?

    I was under the impression that this was all production line
    stuff, stamped baskets come up the conveyor, suspension gluer, cone installer machine or whatever, gasket installer, foam cushion, drop into case, close case, run through case taper onto pallet and into warehouse. Pick order and ship
    to client?

    Do they actually hook up and flex drivers at any of these manufacturers for a break in?

    Just curious...
  11. Thanks for all the comments!

    It's interesting that you say this, billfitzmaurice, because Eden recommends breaking in their new cabinets by playing music through them for 24-48 hours before taking them to a gig. I'm a bit skeptical about the idea.

    Bill's suggestion above makes a lot of sense to me. Shouldn't they be "broken in" at the factory?

    Further, I also wonder about subjectivity when people claim drastic tonal differences after speakers have been "broken in". It sounds a bit too close to claims of hearing the benefits of "directional" speaker cables. Solid empirical data would be helpful.
  12. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Probably, and at the price point of Steelsound and Avatar I'd say that's quite understandable. I wouldn't expect a Kia or Hyundai to be throughly road tested by the dealer to make sure it's perfect before delivery either. But I do expect it from a Cadillac
    The differences are subtle, though real. A woofer fs might come down 10Hz after break-in. But break-in doesn't take hundreds of hours, as some 'audiophiles' (the same ones who buy $300 a foot cables) insist.
  13. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    $300 a foot is more than I paid for my upright bass :)

    As I just mentioned in another thread, I think that the bass amp industry wants to maintain an aura of mystique and uncertainty surrounding equipment specs. It is not a meaningful sensitivity spec unless it is a graph of sensitivity versus frequency, because it is too easy to inflate the spec by emphasizing the high end. A linear average over frequency also emphasizes the high end.

    A good example was a driver with a 103 dB sensitivity rating at one catalog outfit. I was intrigued until I saw that the driver had a whizzer cone and definitely more high-end response. Plugging the Thiele-Small parameters into WinISD, this driver was no more efficient below 250 Hz than any other decent driver. In that case, I was glad that the manufacturer had published a curve, because it told me a lot more than the 103 dB rating.

    A graph showing on- and off-axis response curves would be even better.

    I have a friend who once worked for the factory that assembled Fender tube amps in Chicago. He said they would literally play a guitar through every amp before shipping it. They weren't trying to break the amps in -- they were just trying to break them.

    Nobody wants to publish their specs, only to have someone else meet the same specs at a lower price. Also, keeping the customer confused requires them to put more trust in things like brand consciousness and endorsements. Even telling us to trust our ears is frustrating for those of us who live in small towns and cannot always audition multiple brands side by side.
  14. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Those are two very nice cabs, and in general, my opinions are fairly similar to yours. I do find that the NL-210 is the most warm sounding 2x10 from EA yet, and it is both not as extended in the deep lows, nor as bright on the high end as their prior two, the VL-210 and CxL-210. But, it has a nice vibe, and to my ears does a good job of combining a musically warm, full tone, with good clarity (though some EA cabs are more clear sounding).

    As for the relative efficiency thing, I agree that the specs seem to be all over the place, and I tend to trust my ears moreso than the numbers. I also found the NL-210 to be louder than one would expect, and the 210XST to be quieter than one would expect. Another eye opener for me was when I recently compared my Accugroove Tri 210L to my Bergantino HT210. The Tri 210L is rated at 102 SPL, and the Berg is rated at 100 SPL. In addition, the Tri 210L is a 4 ohm cab, and the HT210 is an 8 ohm cab. Despite all of this, at the same gain settings on my Navigator/CA9, the HT210 was much louder, more punchy, dynamic and authorative than the Tri 210L. I was very surprised by this (and very impressed with the HT210). I really need to update my "2x10 Shootout."

  15. Thanks Tom!

    I was hoping you would contribute to this thread.

    I'm curious about the HT210S, and how it compares in sound to the other cabinets mentioned. What I am looking for is a small cabinet that works well as a standalone for small to medium gigs.

    As for the NL-210, I really wanted to like the cabinet, and appreciate the overall design and light weight, but it just doesn't sound that great to my ears. There is something about its personality that I don't find appealing, while on the other hand the D210XST sounds like it might have a bit too much character.

    I have a D210XST 4 ohm on order, and will give it a try and see how it goes. Given its relative inefficiency, I'm a bit worried about getting enough volume at gigs. Actually, I've been waiting since August to get a D210XST, but twice the store got in the wrong cabinet, first a D210XLT4, then a D210XST8..... hopefully they will get it right yet!
  16. Kael

    Kael Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    I think the nl-210's solo performance really depends on the head you are pushing it with. With my old iamp 800 (now gone), I always prefered my cxl-112 for one cab nights. I just got a thunderfunk a couple weeks ago, and so far I have flipped to prefering the nl-210 for smaller gigs.
  17. FireBug


    Sep 18, 2005
    EBS claims their 8x10 is rated at 107 dB. This is the highest rating I have seen yet and supposing that it was an average, is 107 dB even possible? The cab has a frequency response from 70 to 18k Hz.

    I am asking this to get an idea of how much some manufacturers inflate their sensitivity rating.
  18. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    I did get a chance to A/B the HT210 and HT210S when I was down at Bass Emporium last December. My perception was that the S was a bit more full in the midrange, with more punch, and slightly less extended on both the lowest and the highest notes. After talking to Jim, he confirmed that this is how he hears the difference between the two as well. I'd love to be able to mix and match some of Jim's new S series cabs (HT210S, EX112S, HT122S). I think that there are some good combinations to be found using those cabs.

  19. Danm


    Sep 24, 2003
    Canberra Australia
    I understand completely what's been said about manufacturers specs but maybe this is another take on it.

    The XST is rated by Eden at 103db. I used this rating when trying to find other Eden cabs that it would match up nicely with. It just so happened that the D212XLT also has a rating of 103db so I was able to take from that that the chances are, neither of these 2 cabs should overpower each other ( and they don't ). If I'd have gone with a 215 or a 410 who's ratings are different, I could well have ended up with missmatched cabs so the ratings were usefull (to me) in my situation.


    Back to your usual programming :hyper:
  20. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    Let us know how it works out. You'll be using that iAmp with the cab? FWIW, I use my Peavey CS800S bridged for a full 1200 watts at 4 ohms into my 210xst, i dont dime the preamp knobs, but it still gets pretty loud. I'm always with PA supoprt for medium to large venues, but i usually get told to turn down from the sound guys, so my impression is that it gets reasonably loud.