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AudioKinesis Cabs Part VI...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Thor, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    So far all the Hathor 1544's I've done have used the Faital 15PR400 woofer, which is definitely on the smooth side. When I designed that cab, I hadn't yet figured out how to do a cab that was voiced for bass guitar. My target response was still pretty much "puts out what you put in".

    Well, since then I've done some investigating into non-flat bass cabs, and the forthcoming Hathor 215 will make use of my findings. And along the way I came to appreciate the stock Kappalite 3012LF and 3015 (non-LF) a lot more, as they are good candidates for a deliberately "voiced" bass cab. In a nod to their smooth cab heritage, and to respect my original customer base, I'm including the midrange smoother switch wherever possible.

    Thanks, Mike and Ken!

    Mike's success with his Big E cabs is one of the reasons why I'm working on deliberately voiced cabs: I gotta carve myself out a somewhat different-shaped niche!

    Also, my priorities as far as low-end voicing have changed. We're used to thinking that the tradeoff is between box size, efficiency, and low end extension. There is actually a fourth factor that gets traded off, and that is transient response. In general, good transient response = good pitch definition. But, it's going to cost us in other areas.

    I'm stepping back a bit from my target of -3 dB at the first overtone of low-B. Instead, I'm going to make tradeoffs in favor of transient response, retaining good excursion-limited power handling, and expect you to crank in some EQ if you need it. The rolloff will still be gentle in the region of the first overtone of low-B, it's just that the -3 dB point will be a bit higher up.

    Now you guys who are already stuck with first-generation Thunderchild cabs - don't worry, you're not screwed. Plug up half of your ports, and you'll be right about where my new target is. The Hathor 1544 and Thunderchild 212 are my first cabs tuned to this new target. And I'll probably keep the original porting in my Gen 2 Thunderchild 112 cabs (both 4 and 8 ohm version), as well as the Thunderchild 115-8, but my recommendation will be to run the cab with half of the ports plugged.

    You see, I recently read a book on studio monitor loudspeaker design, and one of the problems recording engineers have mixing on ported console-sitting monitors (that usually try to squeeze maximum bass energy from a small box) is, pitch shift as the note decays. Say the box is tuned to 55 Hz, and we have a low-B decaying. The strongest energy is at 62 Hz, the first overtone, which is close enough to the 55 Hz tuning frequency to excite it. So as the energy decays, the energy "ridge" actually shifts south towards that 55 Hz tuning frequency, and the pitch changes!! Now we bring in a kickdrum whose fundamental is at 50 Hz, and as it decays, the pitch shifts north towards 55 Hz! This makes it very hard for the recording engineer to properly set the relative levels of bass and kick.

    So my solution (in a ported cab) is to tune well below the first overtone of low-B, so that we don't get significant pitch-shifting where it's likely to be audible (on the first overtones). Yes there will still be some pitch shift down around some of the fundamentals, but we'll be way down in level by then anyway so it's less likely to be audible. In a sealed cab obviously we don't have this issue, but then we've already traded off bass extension (relative to a ported cab) for transient response.

    Right now I have real serious competition from some excellent designers. Off the top of my head, in alphabetical order, Acme, Baer, Bergantino, Big E... and we still have twenty-four more letters to go, some of them more fRIGHTENing than others. These guys are making me revisit and revise, and up my game. That's the way it's supposed to be.
  2. I guess I would just say that 'different' is not necessarily better. While I totally dig and understand your new, more 'traditional' bass cab voicing, the original TC112 and TC115 are things of beauty and loved by many. Your description fits what I hear with mine.... big, even, wide, transparent. That is a wonderful thing for many players. I wouldn't walk away from that in any way. However, an additional line that allows for, as you so nicely put, a bit less bit low end that can mask the midrange complexity that really makes some bass tones sing, and the opportunity to let the top of the drive speak a bit more (realizing that there are some trade-offs in dispersion... always trade-offs) would be a good addition to your line.

  3. steubig


    Jul 17, 2001
    locustland, ca
    what ken said.
  4. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Inactive Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    The big educational thing for me is picking your voicing and doing your best to make it the best you can.

    With DB---it's a piece of cake for me. IMO on DB there is one voicing for amplified jazz bass. You nail that voicing and you're there.

    On electric---that's another story. You don't want to have too narrow of a niche, but you can't do everything. Too narrow---you can't make enough dough. Too wide---you wind up with a cab that does a lot of things well but doesn't excel in certain important areas.

    I agree that both approaches for Duke are best. The TC112 is one of the most magical speakers ever made. And now that Duke can see the goalpost for other voicings you can expect the same excellence.
  5. svtb15

    svtb15 Inactive

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig. Q+
    I think you made a Hathor for a friend of mine.. And he digs it... you sent it to Utah... I have not been there to try it . Too far away... But he said it is real nice... and i can trust his word for sure.

  6. RColie

    RColie Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2007
    Eugene, OR
    Ken makes an excellent point. Duke, you say you want to "up your game" but I see it as "adding to your game".

    I also think the original Thunderchildren are already "top of the game" for many. So, keep up the good work!


  7. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    Thank you, Ken! Don't worry, I won't stop doing the the "big, even, wide, transparent" thing; just now I have a better idea of how to also do "gnarly", and sometimes both in the same cab.

    Thank you! Your friend's Hathor 1544 uses the 4-ohm Faital 15PR400. That's one advantage of the Faital over the Eminence - it's available in 4 ohms off-the-shelf.

    My daughter now owns the TC112 that your friend used to own, and she is totally thrilled to own a cab that he had.

    Thanks, man! Yes, I now think I can compete in "voiced like a bass cab"... but that's a seriously crowded market!

    Don't tell any of my competitors my secret, but here's what I'm doing: I'm looking at the curves of popular guitar speakers and designing my "voiced" bass cabs to zig where the guitar speakers zag. The result should have a nice baked-in character and really sit well in the mix. The forthcoming Hathor 215 embraces this paradigm rather blatantly, but it is part of all my newer cabs that have a midrange switch.

    I have to give credit to my son Joseph for the idea. He's a keyboardist/composer, and had produced dozens of his own albums. He explained to me some of the techniques he uses to "make room" for a lot of instrumental voices in a really complex mix, and I'm applying the principles to bass + guitar.

    Mike Arnopol helped me along also, telling me about frequency regions to watch out for, which were consistent with the "zig where they zag" concept.

    And then last year I build a cab that combined a 12" guitar speaker with a 15" woofer. Sounded fine on its own, but instead of sitting in the mix, it train-wrecked the mix by fighting the guitar every inch of the way. That taught me what not to do, which was an extremely valuable lesson. I learn more from my failures than from my successes.
    31HZ likes this.
  8. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    Wow so many new versions. Im completely happy with my TC15wAF. I know it doesn't sound like any other bass cabinet yet fits with what I like in one. Duke Its only natural for a guy like you to continue making different models. Like some say it doesn't mean one is better than the other especially if you feel you found what you are very happy with. I guess its the same thing when you went from your "Dream Maker" to the "Jazz Module" to the "Rhythm Prism". None are better but different in a good way to those who have them.
  9. svtb15

    svtb15 Inactive

    Mar 22, 2004
    Austin,TX - McKinney,TX - NY,NY, - Nashville,TN
    I play it all. Whatever works for the gig. Q+
    I totally get the Zig and Zag concept... The real engineers know how to notch a mix so everything isnt piled up in the same area. .Great idea for a cab!!!!!! And i think unique...
    Can you patent it?
  10. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    Thank you sir! I have more ideas than I know what to do with, and trying to sort out the ones that will actually make money isn't always easy. I had something like six significantly different cabs beta-tested before coming up with the basic Thunderchild 112 configuration, and even that had to be revised before going into production.

    I hope to have the Hathor 212 [<--TYPO: that should have been "Hathor 215"] cab off to its beta-tester within a couple of weeks. Obviously I'm a bit more confident in its success than I was pre-Thunderchild, but it still makes me nervous! Of course the worst that can happen is, I learn something.

    Thanks, but I very seriously doubt I'm the first bass cab manufacturer to come up with that idea. And even if I was, I wouldn't want to patent it, anyone who wishes to is free to use it.

    I've looked at a lot of woofers searching for models whose frequency response curves are compatible with the zig-zag paradigm, and most of the ones I've found are made by the same company.

  11. Doug Parent

    Doug Parent Supporting Member

    May 31, 2004
    San Diego, Ca.
    Dealer Nordstrand Pickups.
    Berg NV115 with the 6" mid will get you there.
  12. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    Since somebody mentioned the NV115...

    The reason I get interested when the subject of the sealed 215 is brought up is because of my experience with the NV215. It sounded what I want bass to sound like. It's supposed to be vintage but that wasn't what I thought. It was just solid and sweet with enough high end but not the clicky clack tweeter stuff. Sounded good at low volumes but could also carry a small outdoor gig. It didn't cut through the mix or make a foundation for the mix. It owned the mix. I parted with it because it was 100lbs and was mostly doing small gigs but I do miss it.

    So I was excited to hear about the NV115, especially in light of the CN series weight reduction over the AE series. But I was a little disappointed that it weighs 53lbs. Many folks think it's plenty light but I was hoping it would be in the 40 range.

    So for me, a humble hobbyist, the NV215 sound is what I think of when I hear talk of a sealed 215/5. If you can hit that sound in the weight range of the NV115 it will be a winner. The allure of the NV115 is strong but I'm holding out to see what you come out with.
    JimmyT likes this.
  13. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    I expect the Hathor 215 to end up in between the NV115 and NV215 as far as SPL. Weight might grow to the lower 50's, as I'm considering adding tilt-back wheels and a handle.

    Forty pounds, you say? Hmmm....

    Okay, one of the configurations I experimented with, but put back on the shelf, would use just one of the Hathor 215 woofers, and weight would be in the lower 30's. Max SPL would be a bit less than the TC112, but not by much, and perceptually they'd be even closer considering the (switchable) midrange peak we'd have going on with the 115. While on paper this woofer can handle 300 watts thermal, I'd be claiming maybe 250 watts or so; excursion looks okay, but sealed boxes are not as good as vented boxes from a heat management standpoint. For the top end we'd just have a single 4" cone mid, in a Hathor-style open-format midchamber.

    I put this design on the shelf because I just don't think there's a big market for a boo-teek 115 that can only handle 250 watts. All the other boo-teek 115s would laugh in its general direction, and take its lunch money at recess. But it would have some dance moves.

    I do try to listen to my customers, because by definition they know what my customers want. So let me know your thoughts, Nutdog or anyone else.
    mexicanyella likes this.
  14. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    To clarify, I was hoping the NV115 would be 40ish. It's in the low 50's. So your 215 is in that range with the handle and wheels, very impressive. If the NV115 were 40 I'd have two already. I didn't dare to dream lower 30's.:)

    I've got 3 gigs on the 212 and it's been great. One this weekend outside at the local country club pool should let me open it up a bit.
  15. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    A Hathor 212 ..... Very interesting. Good luck with it. That is one cab I would love to try when its in full production.
  16. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    Ha! That was a TYPO! I meant to say "Hathor 215".

    A Hathor 212 with the mighty Kappalite 3012LF would be something of a little monster. Would the cone midrange really be that much more attractive to you than the horn I'm using in the Thunderchild 212, given that it's a very smooth horn, and that you can roll off the top end so that it's even more cone-midrange-like?

    If the answer is yes, definitely let me know. I want to hear back on how the Hathor 215 sounds before launching into development of a 212 version, but it certainly could be done.
  17. 5StringPocket

    5StringPocket Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2006
    I'm surprised more hasn't been said about the TC212. Loading a pair of 3012LF in a smaller box to reduce that big low end a touch and enhance the mids seems the right thing for a bass cab with solid but not too big lows that really punches. That's a very clever porting arrangement. I've wondered how it would sound with a Faital M5N8-80 mid driver crossed over around 1500 Hz. Duke, the way you work those horns and crossovers is magic but that 5" mid is really sweet. I've got one in one of my current cabs and like it a lot. I think it would be a good efficiency and tone match with a pair of 3012LF and goes up to 6.3 kHz which is high enough for most players not wanting that ultra high extension. It would be different than the horn but sound very nice.
  18. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    Thanks for your input!

    What you're describing here is very close to what a Hathor 212 would be. I'd pretty much just replace the horn section in the TC212 with the open-format midrange section and redo the crossover accordingly... ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom. But I want to see how the Hathor 215 goes over before committing to a 212 version.
  19. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    if i want to reduce some low end to let the mids come out i just keep in the port plugs and add a touch of high pass filter. easy
  20. foderaman


    Jun 14, 2005
    I have found out on my Arnapol TC212 I like the sound the best for me is having the top and bottom port plugged and it reduces the BIG bottom end and tights the Bass up for me but this is just my opinion .Also I have noticed more of a presence to the tone that it picks up by the use of Composite for the Box.
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