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Bass cab as part of PA - Try this, it works!

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Tuned, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. Tuned


    Dec 6, 2007
    Here's the method and I'll explain below:

    You'll need a bass rig with some way of connecting the preamp to a mixer input and the poweramp to an aux send or even one of the main outputs, and you definitely need an EQ dedicated to the bass cab output apart from the main EQ. Don't try this if you aren't good with killing feedback with an EQ.

    What you do is use the bass cab as a monitor/subwoofer on stage. Put kick and bass through it obviously, but also vocals and anything you'd want a monitor for. The location of the cab means you generally can't drive vocal treble hard through it, but you can fill out the stage plenty, and supplement the PA out front. Brighten up the PA speakers a bit to make up for the added stage bleed.

    What this does is allow you to play bigger rooms with less PA, since the main speakers are essentially just satellites spreading some clarity around instead of doing the heavy lifting. A bass cab isn't a proper substitute for subwoofers, but they reach lower than lightweight PA speakers and it's in the van already anyway, might as well make the most of it.

    I'm a pro sound tech so this idea started out with putting the kick through my bass rig, then a band touring through a venue I worked insisted on a subwoofer and wedge for a drum monitor and there was no budget for it, so I used my bass cab (SWR Goliath III 4x10) and while at first he was skeptical, he absolutely loved it. The treble dispersion is pretty narrow from the horn, but as a spot monitor it was actually really good, and at 700W and 105dB/1W efficiency it's crazy loud.

    So now I have a party band (fun covers, i.e. Boston Foreplay/Longtime :D ) that has a stage volume that vastly exceeds the capabilities of our trusty Peavey PR12's, but with the help of my SWR GIII, we've got all the power in the world. The best part is that it's a very comfortable loud out front because the bright treble is still coming from the PA speakers and not cracking the teeth of folks up front. Even with the rig EQ'ed with vocal feedback in mind, I get a good bass tone and plenty of output, and the guitarists are ecstatic that they can amp up, hear their vocals and know that they're being heard out front, all without lugging or paying for additional PA. I actually like it better than only bass out the cab because I'm better connected to the rest of the band. It's 100% win-win for everyone.

    But you HAVE to know how to work that bass cab EQ. First you have to get a flat response like a good vocal monitor, then ring out the feedback bigtime. The good news is that you have an excuse to splurge on a great rig, because better bass rigs invariably make better "stage drivers", and are actually cheaper than PA speakers of the same power output and quality. I happen to have the PERFECT rack gear for this, an Ampeg SVP-CL preamp, Alesis DEQ830 digital EQ (8 30-band EQ's in 1RU!), and Peavey IPR1600 poweramp. Fellow sound techs are absolutely freaking out at the power and clarity I get from a dinky old Behringer mixer and this configuration, a ~20lb 4RU rack.
  2. Barisaxman

    Barisaxman Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2005
    Omaha, NE
    Interesting solution to supplementing a speaker-on-stick rig...but why not just use the right tool for the job? I guess I don't get why so many musicians have no problem dropping thousands of dollars on their own rig (bass, guitar, etc.), as you suggest, and then pipe it through a couple of $200 FOH speakers and expect things to sound good as possible.

    For a VERY small venue...it may be ok...but even a modestly priced FOH rig is going to simply do the job exponentially better.
  3. MrDOS

    MrDOS Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2006
    Colorado Springs, CO
    +1 :)
  4. Hi.

    How very nice that it works for You, you must be about the only one who has succeeded in doing so ;).

    And a HUGE +1 for what Barisaxman said.

  5. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Masks, people, masks!
    Song Surgeon slow downer.
    Thanks for the info. Any pics/audio available?
  6. TimmyP


    Nov 4, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    I don't like most bass cabs for bass, let alone in lieu of having a proper PA. The good bass sounds I've heard (save one or two that were good but lacking in low end) were from players who had rigs so small that they could not really be heard once the PA was on.
  7. Tuned


    Dec 6, 2007
    This would be for small bars/clubs up to maybe 175 cap, but for pretty good sized rooms for private parties, since they're more lax about PA quality and aren't as chatty as bars. Not recommended for corporate.

    Obviously it's no substitute for a PA with FOH engineer, but if you're mixing from stage, you can mix based on what the bass cab is putting out, and there's less guesswork. But I will say it does much better than the FOH rig and tech that *don't fit in the van*.

    I'll take pictures next time, but there may be some video already out there, I'll check around.
  8. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    I sold a high end cab last year to a Tb goofball who blew it the next week using it to mic a bass drum.

    There are more pieces required to make this happen (as a rule)
  9. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    DSFDF, but I don't want other stuff coming out of my amp.

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