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an interesting article on speaker size

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Cornbread, Feb 6, 2001.

  1. Cornbread


    Jun 20, 2000
    Lawrence, Ma
    I found this article by Glenn Letsch, BassPlayer Magazine contributer. http://www.glennletsch.com/speakers.html
    His main point is that 10's are the way to go. What do you technical folks have to say about his ideas?
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I'm not a techie, but I have a cab in which 2 of the 4 speakers are 8"s and, in alignment with what Letsch said, they do a pretty nice job. I wonder how about 16 of them would sound?
  3. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Nor am I Rickbass, and there were some interesting points, however, I dont really agree. I have tried almost every combination possible i think (8,10, 12, 18...). The rig i have right now has everything i need and want, I wouldnt change anything on it. To my recolection, I believe it was stated here before that the 10's could not reproduce the lower frequencies 40hz or the like, only the harmonic of that frequency.

    Maybe the more learned members can enlighten us on this.

  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I agree with some of what Glenn says. In general, huge fat thumpy bass sound is BAD NEWS on stage. Tight, articulated sound is the way to go if you want to hear your notes. The louder you get, the less really low stuff you wnat in your signal.

    He is WRONG about the SVT cab. It is specifically designed to have LESS low end that 15" and 18" cabs, in fact the Ampeg spec sheet shows this. Why does it sound so big then? Because your EARS don't really care about notes lower than 100 Hz, it's mostly rumble anyway. What the ear wants to hear is the MIDRANGE where the upper harmonics of your notes lie. Your brain still "hears" the low fundamentals although they are not actually there!!! The lack of the rumble and mud makes it sound bigger.

    Check out the "ultra low" switch on Ampeg heads. This is NOT a bass boost, rather it is a midrange cut!!! By getting rid of some of the mud in the lower mids, it makes the lowest frequencies more easily heard. This is also the secret behind the "pre shape" and "enhancer" controls found on many modern bass amps.

    I'll also say that all spoeakers are not equal. I can show you cabs with 10" speakers that sound way woofier than cabs with 15" speakers. It's all in the design of the speaker itself and the box it's placed in. It is correct, though that you can get plenty of lows from small drivers if you want. The secret is having a big enough box. An SVT cab is not small, it it was just a tiny box with one 10" it wouldn't sound quite as massive :eek:
  5. Cornbread


    Jun 20, 2000
    Lawrence, Ma
    I also think it's not wise to generalize about different speaker types. In another article about getting a good sound ( http://www.glennletsch.com/getting.html ), I agree with some of his comments about room size, but I can't explain my own experience. I played in a pretty large high school gymnasium filled with people, yet my bass (through a 15" combo) sounded much better than in a smaller room. It seems to contradict the idea that big ceilings and rooms=boomy sound. Maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Cornbread- I think you do know what you're talking about. This town has a concert venue that was built in the 1950's, a "ballroom," that is great to play, sonically speaking. Although the roof is quite high, (50' est.) and the floors are vinyl, the rafters/ceiling, stage, and proscenium are wooden. When you fill it with the "baffling" of a big crowd, the sound is superb. However, when setting your levels, the good guy at the board has to make adjustments, keeping in mind that the sound will not be nearly as boomy or reflected/sterile when people start filling the place up. My 18" w/4-10" is what I always use there.
  7. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    All else being equal, a larger driver will be capable of more efficient production of the lowest frequencies than a smaller driver. There are a lot of physical reasons for this. This isn't to say that tricks can't be done with cabinets and arrays of smaller speakers, but when one wants to get really low fundamentals out into big spaces (I'm not talking about plucking your open E string, whose fundamental is at 41 Hz. - you might just be getting mostly its harmonics through your rig - I'm talking about the fundamental of 41 Hz. itself), there's no more efficient way to do it than with big speakers.

    I agree with most of the article relative to "on stage" vs. "off stage" sound. Back in the old days, we bassists needed bigger speakers because the PA wasn't capable of helping the bass out very much and amplifiers didn't have that much power. Nowadays, we'd rather not lug these huge refrigerators around: it's easier to just buy a bigger head to drive smaller, less efficient cabinets and to let the PA system handle getting the big sound out to the audience.

    I like the 10" speaker for a lot of the electric bass sound - it's a speaker that does very well from about the D string up, including most of the harmonic series. But when you really want a strong fundamental note from low A down (depending on the type of music you're playing), good 15"- and 18"-loaded systems are better. The best compromise seems to be systems with some 10's and some 15's or 18's. One can turn up or down the level into the bigger speakers if the balance isn't very good out in the audience, while the tens help everyone on stage hear the bass line clearly. So - I'm not ready to give up on the woofy woofers for my music. Many others might be fine with typical 10"-loaded cabinets only. I guess I also would rather have more control over what the audience hears from my rig (i.e., less reinforcement from the PA, and more direct from my amp).

    - Mike
  8. Letsch is right, for the most part. He seems to forget that when playing without a PA, you need to bring your own low end, or else the audience gets to hear the stage sound, squeeky bright sounding 10s, without low bass whatsoever. And in the music style I play, low end is especially important. I don't tune down to low A, just because I like a floppy B string.

    I know I'm the exception to the rule, but I myself play 12" hifi woofers, which go far and far below any 18, except maybe Bag End ELF speakers. I don't use this rig on large gigs, because of 2 things:

    1 It's very unefficient and at 350-watts-and-amp-almost clipping it's just enough for our (pretty loud) rehearsals.

    2 At those larger gigs, a backline is almost always supplied and obligatory. I have to play what's there. And as long as it's a cab with 10s or 12s with the bass DI'ed into the PA, you don't hear me complain. 15s and 18s are a pain.

    One time, on a smaller, no-drummer-gig, I played my own rig (with thunderous low end, think Acme times 2) on-stage. Because it also has a 5" midrange, which sounds clearer than the best 10.

    So Letsch is right, when it comes to cabs with ONLY a 15 or an 18. As soon as the cab has a midrange extension, things become very different.
  9. Mr Bassman

    Mr Bassman

    Aug 28, 2000
    <B><I>"...The tens will convert the most skeptical player. I guarantee it..."</B></I>

    Who's going to believe a man who can't spell scepical ;)...

    No, generally I agree with what's been said above, I used to own a 4x10 which was a lot punchier than the 1x15 combo I have now. As far as sonic 'throw' i'm not sure how the 1x15 would sound as I've not tried it at a gig yet.

  10. I use a 1x15 and a 4x10 running both fullrange. I have tried running each cab on it's own, and dont like them as seperates. Because my amp has bi-amping (SM400S) I've tried them like that, but nothing beats the 1x15 and 4x10 running full range together. The 4x10, a Goliath II, cant handle the low B string on it's own, and the 1x15 lacks what I can only describe as "forcefullness" on it's own.

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