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Bi-Amp or Full range?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Freuds_cat, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. Bi-Amp

  2. Full range

  1. Pro's and cons for both.

    Whats your preference and why?
    Have you ever tried a Bi-Amp rig?
    Why do you think one is better than the other?
  2. joelb79


    Mar 22, 2006
    Lansing, Michigan
    I run bi-amped. My reason for the preference, is it allows me to set a balance between the "sub" and my 2x10. Generaly i find that a 250hz crossover point gets my best volume, but 120hz gets me best definition.

    If i run the cabinets full range, its generaly a smaller show where i dont need to blow the front of house away, and where i can get away with a lower volume.

    Bi-amped is MUCH louder, hence my choice for using it.
  3. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I agree that bi-amping is preferable for larger gigs and/or those where you want to project more sonic definition. It's a great tool, so why not use it? Overkill for small, low-volume gigs, however...

  4. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I use full range. Why have the extra stuff? I've been an audience member enough to know no one else can tell out front.
  5. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    I like running biamped because I can have a strong clean low end, but have an overdriven midrange & high end, which sounds absolutely huge, and really fills up the space when gui**** goes to solo. Sounds almost like a bass & rhythm guitar all at once. :bassist: I haven't been doing this lately however, because one head is enough, and for practice, I don't need a huge amount of low end... I also don't have a cab for the lows right now. :help:
  6. I already have a rack with my preamp and power amp.

    Why not 1 more RU for the crossover, and one more cable, for much better sound and power utilization.
  7. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Chances are no one in the audience can tell the differance. Chances are in most of the venues most of us play it won't make a difference. As with all gear choices, it's up to the player to decide if it's worth it or not.

    I run one full range cab.
  8. Pocket1


    Apr 11, 2006
    I am kicking the tires on going this way and am interested in what riggs you Biampers are using. Thanks.
  9. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    I like bi-amping, but most cabs designed for bass really don't "do subwoofer" very well and most heads have crap crossovers or don't cross over low enough, so it just ends up throwing away some dB in the mids that full-range use gets.

    For a good biamp rig you need a power amp that can develop enough wattage for the low side to actually keep up with the "mains" cab, and since most amps make the same amount of wattage at the same ohms for each side it often means having a more powerful power amp to get what the low side actually needs. But when you have all this and mainly play with PAs that can't give much or any bass support it can make a positive difference out in the club/on the dancefloor.

    Just as having a home system with a sub can be a nicer listening/feel experience.
  10. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Should add that if you don't have lows going through the top cab that it can get ungodly loud yet clear because the speakers don't need to try and make xmax they aren't maybe capable of and any distortion in the system is distortion you CHOOSE to add...

    I like having a REAL compact subwoofer (not just a bass cab with a 15 or 18 which often is nothing like one) for the lows, and then the upper cab doesn't need to have lots of xmax ability ... Actually a sealed top cab can just be incredible for fast sparkling transients, and doing OD/Distortion through just it without compromising the lows going through the sub sounds so GHODLIKE yet tight, huge, and punchy.
  11. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    Other than the added cost and complexity, I feel that biamp is superior all the way. You don't have losses in crossovers in the cabs, you don't have the very shallow slope crossovers that occur in cabs (let too much power to the tweeter - foom!), you typically get better phase response at the crossover point as well.

    And frankly, with the exception of the need for a second amp (which is a moot point, if you use the two sides of a stereo amp, and already have it . . .), active crossovers are typically cheaper than good passive ones . . . and can be varied much more easily for crossover point, slope, etc.

    But, as others have said, do you necessarily need it? No, but that does not have any bearing on the technical comparison of the two, which is what I was looking at.

    - Tim
  12. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Greenboy does (as usual) have great points. My home and car both have a dedicated sub. It is nice. I was speaking from a point of practicality and portability, of which I have been somewhat obsessed with lately. I also tend to play most often with PA support, so my needs are different. A while back, during my endless quest for "the" rig, I even debated a tri-amped rig.

    I think to do it right you need a PA system. The cabs (at least the sub) need to be different than bass cabs. What about EQ? Do you have EQ for the highs (mids) and lows? Maybe I just make it more difficult and more gear than necessary, but it seems to me you'd want to power, EQ and maybe compress each frequency differently. That starts looking like a big rack of gear. Again, maybe I'm way off. GK heads and cabs are bi-ampable and they are just 2 pieces of gear.
  13. watspan


    Nov 25, 2002
    madison, wi
    ampeg pr1528he w/ hartke 5000 or amp bh-420/amp bh-250

    bi-amp gives another level of control to your tone and effects as others have posted. to be statistically accurate in your poll, you should only be able to vote if you've done both.
  14. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    This is STILL one of my favorite biamp rigs:


    Owned by Bob Nyswonger (nysbob on this board), he makes this thing sound amazing (and yes, those are guitar speakers on top).
  15. Hmmm, good question. I tried bi-amping (real low-end mid-bass biamping at around 200-300 Hz, not tweeter biamping with the 5 KHz and up deals like with current GK amps - which is what I currently use, by the way). I first did it with a Hartke 7000 amp, then with an Eden WT 800 which I acquired later (also with some Peavey combos and heads). I've read and hopefully understood about biamping all my technically aware life, and when I got the chance to do it with bass, I gave it a whirl.

    My conclusion was that, if I'm playing in a range where fundamentals and roughly first and second and whatever harmonics are below my crossover point, I'm only using half my speaker complement and corresponding portion of amplifier power to blow it out there, and I understand that ideally your upper range speaker(s) should be tailored for that range, but with the typical 2x10/ 1x15 stack (typical for me, anyway), the 2x10 is quite capable of contributing to the lower end as well, and if I ran full range, I'd get the benefit of that extra power, cone surface area, and associated amp power to make my pants flap, and get the low end out, with, of course, EQ tailoring to make a good, balanced sound. I think this is probably what most players end up with. I had the occasion to attend a clinic in the Chicago area by Anthony Vitti on behalf of SWR once back in the mid-'90s, before the Fender takeover, and I asked the SWR rep what he thought about biamping (since at the time, their premiere heads sported that feature), and without getting specific, he didn't seem too hot on the idea (can't remember his explanation).

    I think, sure, if you've got a large enough bottom range speaker and amp to drive it, you're going to do fine, but for rigs in the 300 to, oh, maybe 1000 watt range, you're better off running all the power you've got so that it's available for the lowest range you're likely to play. But obviously this is just my take on it. Also, I think most of the good, usable full range speakers (from Avatar to Berg and Epifani to Schroeder) out there are so well thought of because they do produce good, full range output that pretty much gets the job done; otherwise they wouldn't be so popular.
  16. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    The bad thing about it is, if you're a gigging player, you're also not going to find any soundguys that will work with you onstage. Plug in direct (as most stages do) and you're the only one hearing it, not the audience. If you demand a sound guy to cater to you (the bass player) and rig up multiple channels, he'll just turn up the suck knob on you.
  17. +1. I run full range from an SWR 350 into a Hartke 410XL and an SWR Big Ben 18 - it sounds great and I have (nearly always) plenty of stage volume. I played with bi-amping in the past and thought it was interesting but ultimately unnessesary, really. It does seem to yield more volume, but I leave the soundguy/gal in the front of the house to worry about anything over stage volume. And if I ever have a problem with volume, say at an outdoor gig with an exceptionally large stage and no SVT monster backline (which I usually find at these types of gigs) I'll just ask for some bass in the monitors :D . As for sounds, I really think bi-amping simply sounds different, not necessarily better or worse. I like my full range set up so I stayed with it.

    EDIT: I DO like bi-amping for running distortion, you get much more control that way. You can distort like mad to your smaller tweeter cab and you won't loose your the bottom end if you run less or no distortion to your sub. But I really don't use distortion anymore - at least not enough of it to worry about butt-loss, lol. Plus, if you bi-amp for distortion you'll need to either get a second DI to the board or get your distorted cab mic'd and then, like mentioned earlier, most soundpeeps will make the stinkface at you all night!
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I run full-range. I've experimented with biamping, but never found it to be of any benefit. It could well be that I wasn't setting levels right, or didn't have proper gear. But I like full range perfectly well so I have no real need to switch.

    To make the equation even more complex:

    I've found running stereo to be easier and more useful than biamping. Here's the last time I did it: I ran my bass mono into my SansAmp RBI preamp. I set it up for mild overdrive. I ran the effected out into one channel of my stereo power amp, and the uneffected out into the other. The effected signal went to a 2x10, the uneffected went to a 1x15. I made the effected signal trebly, and the uneffected signal bassy. That way, I got clean lows and dirty highs.

    This is the method pretty much invented by John Entwistle. Guys like Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, Billy Sheehan, Doug Pinnick (etc) use similar methods (well, most of those guys have much fancier rigs, but the concept is similar). When done right, you can get tones like theirs.

    Stereo isn't necessarily for distorted bass, it just happens to be very effective at getting dirty tones with big bottom end. Stereo can also be used with stereo effects, or stereo basses (one channel for each pickup)... or even with a clean uneffected mono signal.
  19. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Every time I've ever biamped I've had a full range signal if I needed to go to FOH. No different using an active crossover than a passive one really, if your gear has a full range signal available.

    But biamping with equipment from the majority of bass gear manufacturers in their various periods is pretty much a waste. Crap crossovers that often are not sharp enough and do not go low enough, power sections that don't supply enough power on the low side to keep up with the upper side, cabs that are not suited for the two different jobs.

    But there's nothing wrong with biamping when its properly exected. In fact its superior then. SR wouldn't make it very far without it. Especially at low frequencies passive crossovers waste incredible amounts of energy and warp signals, and they actually change their response as the heat builds up. Try running full bandwidth high-power shows on nothing but full bandwidth passives. THAT would be a joke.
  20. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Another downside of biamping. A lot of bass players don't really operate the gear so well for it anyway. It's just another thing that can be dialed in wrong, which is pretty easy to do considering nobody has really built a decent bass-guitar-specific biamping rig anyway. No real thought put into it, no good unitization.

    Also, if there is FOH support, the long-waveform low end from stage - if there is real subwoofer range low end up on stage in the first place - just ends up phasing with the house subwoofers since it has to travel a different distance to most listeners' ears. Cancellations, peaks and valleys in the lows, all the problems that a soundie already has just have more reason to be major problems unless you are talking well-built and very large stages.

    That's NOT what most of us gig on, however. Most of us or many of us anyway, often find ourselves on undersupported underdamped or crappy stages that do bad things when longer waveforms are up there. Liike climbing up the kick and floor tom mics and looping. Or booming the underneath of the stage on certain notes, so the entire stage becomes an ubergiant guitar body that only resonates when it isn't needed.

    Having been on either side of the mixer, I haven't seen that many bassists that when they actually have their hand on systems with 60-Hz and below available in equal quanitities can actually use it well. It's probably a good thing that most bass cabs don't do so much below 80 Hz or 60 Hz (regardless of manufacturer claims).

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