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An Amp's Character is Mostly...???

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ross AriaPro, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    I was using some excellent Sennheiser headphones today with my Dynabass, and starting thinking about what defines MOST of an amp's character of tone.

    I used to think it was the speakers, but my amp sounds pretty much the same through headphones.

    So, is the difference to be found in the EQ stage...between two amps separated by $1000 in price?

    If not...where?
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I think it goes something like this, in order of decreasing importance:

    1. Overall achievable volume
    2. Room acoustics and speaker placement
    3. Frequency response of preamp and speaker
    4. Off axis behavior of speaker
    5. Harmonic distortion
    6. Everything else

    What I mean about volume is that, everything else equal, we tend to perceive the louder thing as sounding better. Also, "achievable volume" is affected by how an amp actually behaves when pushed towards its limits.
  3. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    This is an all-other-things-being-equal type question...including sound pressure level and room placement.

    Is there a huge difference in the 'frequency response' of speakers hugely different in price?
  4. But you specified headphones vs everything else, not equal.
  5. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    I specified two amps "separated by $1000 in price".

    Only reason I mentioned headphones is that using them on my own amp seemed to eliminate the speakers as the primary source of the amp's tone character.
  6. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass What the .............. Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    I imagine it would be the power section , the pre ampa as in tube or ss and the frequency ranges on theamp itself although I imagine that the last one would be kind of similar within a certain range from high to low for most bass amps with the fine tuning being more a matter of the individual amps..
  7. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan
    Even ignoring the price difference, there can be huge differences in the response of a cab. Price actually might have little to do with it.
  8. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Two amps that sound similar through headphones can sound vastly different cranked through cabs.

    The response of the drivers and the impredance the amp sees "on the back end" can VASTLY affect the damping and overall "tightness" or "looseness" of the sound for example, depending on how the amp is constructed and engineered and the quality of components used. That's just one aspect of tone, one of many.

    I agree, I can take one of my cheap practice amps, and a more expensive amp and with some general eq'ing my bass may indeed sound vary similar through headphones.

    But cranked at volume through drivers, they are VERY different animals.

    Great thread discussion, I love this topic!
  9. Not necessarily.

    Cabs designed to meet a price point, generally use a box that is too small for the chosen drivers.
    Stuffing a too-large driver into a too-small box will result in a hump in the mid-bass and loss of deep bass.
    See the Fender Rumble 100 chart below.

    Avatar NEO 410
    Eden D410-XLT
    Fender Rumble 100

    The above are three differently voiced cabinets.
    The Avatar is quite flat to 60~70 Hz, where it begins to roll off.
    The Eden has its signature hump ("the Eden bark") that peaks at 500 Hz.
    The Fender uses the 2nd harmonic hump to produce the illusion of 'big bass'.

    The relationship between the specific driver and its enclosure determines the response curve.
  10. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Musical instrument amps are complex non linear devices. The tonal character will change with volume and tone settings and how hard the amp is being driven. You can sometimes dial in one amp to sound like another, especially at lower volume levels, but they are very different beasts.

    Why does one amp cost $1000 more? Amps aren't created equal. Sometimes, you pay for what you get. Other times, not so much.

    The sound and performance is paramount. The design, fault tolerance, quality of the components in the build, road worthiness, the warranty, customer service, profit margins, the brand name, service network, as well as many other factors also have to be considered when evaluating a product. Some amps are a better value than others. There is no question about that.
  11. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    Good post...this makes sense. I've noticed many of the Eden cabs are quite small relative to the speakers, crammed into the narrowest possible opening.

    My Dynabass cab seems very deep for 2x10...what would be the best replacement speaker for an 18"x15'x13'" internal volume?
  12. Your dimensions are 2.03 cubic feet.
    For two drivers, divide by 2.
    The Basslite S2010 is very happy in 1.0 cubic feet, each.
  13. Ross AriaPro

    Ross AriaPro

    Dec 27, 2013
    Excellent thanks...those will cut the weight too...currently about 60 pounds.

    Can you kill the deep-bass in any cabinet just by partitioning the internal volume?