Big amp vs. PA

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by the ombudsman, Aug 5, 2003.

  1. Here's a question for you, fans of powerful amps:

    If you have, say, a 1000W bass amp, and you go through the PA, is it really necessary to have such a powerful amp?

    I've been playing medium sized venues with my 200W combo as a stage monitor, and going through the PA, and never had any trouble hearing myself on stage. I could use a bit more power, like maybe 350-400W, but what's the point of having something like 1000W? Am I missing something?

    I really don't mean to offend anyone, I'm just a little confused.
  2. rumblethump

    rumblethump Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2000
    Pioneer CA. 95666
    The first thing of the top of my head. Headroom! Of course some of us also like to feel our pants flappin. :D

    I don't need that much power personally, but I definately see the need for 1k, 2k, 4k, amps, and all the great pre-amps out there too. They can be dialed in soo sweet and still not have to be that loud.
  3. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Yeah - a high power head for when you don't DI out/go through the mains necessarily. Sometimes, the house PA is just miserable and you're better off with your rig.

    The pounding bass, even when DI/mic'd, gives an incredible vibe onstage and to the first rows and acts as a nice monitor, too.
    When you don't need to DI/mic, that pure amp output is just buttah!

    Nothing, but nothing, IME, sounds as good as the straight output from a good bass amp, IME. Moreover, the hassles are a WHOLE LOT less, like when you re-tune or switch basses. Otherwise, the soundboard may have a tizzy.

    Then there's the aspect of headroom. When you slap n' pop or give your strings a sharp attack, your power spikes. The more available power you have, up to a point, the smoother it sounds and the more it punches people in their chests.
  4. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    The other aspect to big power amps is that some speakers are made to be deliberately innefficient. Why? To increase the frequency response. Guys who use Acme/Accugroove style subs that go much lower than a standard bass cab find thay have to use 1000w just to keep up with the drum kit. Someone with 400W amp with an Eden style efficient cab will actually be louder (but not as low).
  5. Thanx a lot, guys! Keep the opinions pouring in!
  6. icks


    Jul 12, 2001
    Charleroi, Belgium
    I play in front of 150 people with a PA system and a 300 W combo at 7/10 ..

    Now I'm saving money for a 1400W Beringher pa.
  7. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    Generally you need a bigger amp....unless you're in a band that has a large,high quality PA and YOU own it.
    Most bands who play the standard indoor small,medium and large bar/club/pub gigs have a relatively a small PA with two 15" plus horn mains (frequently,even 12" plus horn)and a couple of monitors. Except in an emergency that is a horrible rig to put your bass need an amp.
    If you're in a band that does large indoor and ourdoor venues then you probably have a decent PA.That's fine as a DI if YOU own it. But if you don't and the band disbands or you quit etc. you don't have an need an amp.
  8. ZuluFunk

    ZuluFunk Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2001
    I've gone through band PAs before and sucked all the watts up.

    I've had more success having a strong on stage rig, and keeping my channel on the board lower and with less low boost than I'd otherwise need.
  9. This describes our standard PA exactly. Two 12" mains, two monitors. Definitely nothing to put a bass into. We use it for sax/flute/vocals. If the guitar player gets into it, it turns into mush.

    We have a larger PA for outdoor gigs. It is a pair of 2x15 horn-mains, more monitors, all Carvin stuff. Still nothing to put a bass into, cuz it has no bottom. My daughter's band uses a pair of JBL SF15 mains, and they have no bottom either. These are all PA cabs, not subs, and don't have much bottom by design.
  10. Watts are really, really cheap nowadays. I sold a 900 watt QSC USA amp a couple of years ago for $250. It was in perfect condition!
  11. F*#$NA4


    Jul 11, 2003
    I link a b100r and a Ba-115 together for my 'rigged' rig and we always play shows through PAs and I have never had a problem with loudness, or headroom. My past experiences lead me to believe that, as long as your DI/Mic'ed or both it doesnt matter as long as you can hear and feel yourself on stage. I remember seeing Sheryl Crow play live show, and her bass player was playing out of one of the reissue flip top b100rs. He seemed to be doing okay. Just my THOUGHTS.
  12. Right right!
  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Not really. I just played a smallish venue and took my WT-800/D-410XLT rig and played through the PA, too. I think it added some thump for the dancers, but I'll probably go back to my Avalon U5 straight to the board next time at that place. Our small PA is two Mackie 1530s and two Mackie SWA 1501s, so I've got plenty of bottom without the rig. Outdoors, I always use the WT-800 and D-210XLT+D-410XLT and run through the PA. Our big PA is two JBL MR835s and two JBL MR 918 subs with QSC power. Again, the only things in those subs are my bass and the kick drum. This sort of rules, in a way.
  14. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    I am not as experienced as some individuals around here, but I have a couple thoughts.

    It is true that many times you will play through a PA, thus negating some of your power. That may make you feel like it is worthless to have that much power. I only have 350 watts into a 215 cab, but I love it. I have been run through a good PA, I have played through a crap PA. You may not often have to use the full capacity of your amp, but it is better than getting less than you need and relying on PA. You MUST have the power to decide......go with the PA, or screw it and turn your rig up!

    It is oh so personally comforting to know that I can play my rig on my OWN watts if the PA sucks!
  15. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    As a sometimes sound guy, I can tell you that there a LOT of bass rigs out there that can overpower all but the biggest PA's. I was stunned initially at how much stage volume ends up in the final mix. We spend most of your time mixing the sound from the rig on stage with sound from the PA. So this attitude that "the amp doesn't matter" doesn't add up. The better the stage rig, the better the sound out front IMO.
  16. Yup, that's a great quote, man. The thing is I'm a bit lazy and I don't want to carry 150 lbs cabinets to a gig if I don't really need them. I guess a modular rig with, say, a 4x10 and a 1x15 is cool cuz you could bring only one cab for small gigs. Just a thought.

    It's true that if someday I can't go through a medium or large sized venue's PA for some reason, I'll be screwed with my 200W combo.

    This thread is going well, keep it up.
  17. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    There are 2 words that have saved my life. The first one you mentioned - Modular. The second one is Neodymium. It's a magnet material that lets us make lightweight cabs that don't sound lightweight. At this point people that have never heard them usually jump in and try to tell ya they're no good. People who use them are in the know!

    Companies like Tech Sounndsystems and Epifani have started using it with great results. My Neo 2x10 (home made P.Audio) is only 37 litres and weighs 20kg. I carry it around in one hand. It needs a 15 under it, but that was deliberate. I'd rather do 2 easy trips to the car than one backbreaker.
  18. Neodymium speakers are always a good choice if you want light cabs. I tried some Tech cabs at the Musikmesse, very light and powerful sounding.
  19. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    ombudsman.....I know how you feel about lugging around monster cabs. I am in the same dilemma as you right now. I want to downsize my rig to a nice combo, but I fear the day when I am playing somewhere that it will not be enough. Then everyone will laugh at me for having this small little rig that isn't loud enough.

    In the end, I am going to go with the heavy cabs and heads. I have to. I can see some serious regret coming my way in the future if I don't. The Marine corp put it best: "Expect the best, prepare for the worst". As far as music goes, there are few things worse than a lame PA system at a gig.