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Cab positioning: side by side or one atop the other?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Rockin John, Jan 11, 2020.

  1. My bass rig comprises 2off, GenzBenz Focus 112 cabs (+ head, of course!).

    I’ve used it for years one atop the other and never thought of doing it any other way. Recent thread viewing on TB shows there are differences in sound between stacking them, and using them side by side. I never thought of that, either!

    Would somebody please tell me what differences to expect, one method to the other?

    As a side issue, a stack is a very convenient height for using the amp controls (it also uses less stage area). Would someone speculate the likely audio response if I stood the cabs on a frame to raise the rig back to, roughly, its stacked height?


  2. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    My understanding is that stacking them, with the speakers vertically aligned, maximizes horizontal dispersion -- so people off to your left and right (including band mates) can hear you. Also, stacking gets one of the speakers up closer to your ears so you can hear yourself better. My ideal rig is a pair of vertically stacked 2x10s for these reasons.
  3. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Yep, better (wider and more consistent) horizontal dispersion, taller and easier to hear.

    Two cabs on the floor would likely pick up some bass, vs. the vertical stack, from coupling, but drawbacks would likely outweigh potential advantages - easy enough to try, though.

    Cabs horizontal, on a frame, raised up -- you might find yourself with anemic low register response to go with worse dispersion. However, the degree to which each of these would impact you in a given situation is hard to say and elevating a cab can sometimes help on a boomy or flex-y stage (some sort of isolating pad might also help, particularly in the latter case).

    You could experiment with setting the cabs, side-by-side, atop a low table, or chairs, or a couple of milk crates/file boxes. You could also try setting the vertical stack atop same or a (sturdy, level) folding stool.

    I don't think I'd build a frame to do what you're saying, but the effects are easy enough to test without doing that. I might, though, experiment with raising your current stack varying amounts and see how you like that in different settings.

    ADDENDUM: There's nothing to say that you have to set up the same way every time, in every room -- or that you have to like what I like. I wouldn't see myself using the cabs horizontally, but if you like the result better, go with that. I would walk around the rig and give it a listen from different spots, though.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
    Lobster11 likes this.
  4. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    If you discover that you like the sound of the cabs being horizontal, then buy a couple of amp stands, and place them side by side.
    Nevada Pete likes this.
  5. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    112s are tiny.
    Putting them side by side will give your ankles a more evenly distributed sonic massage.
    Both cabs will get ground coupling. But they'll look terrible.
    I could understand 410 cabs side by side, especially when you're among the vertically challenged and have problems seeing and/or touching your amp when it's sitting on a full stack. But those tiny 112s?
    I'd go vertical. And maybe even try a milk crate to raise them further.
  6. Redbrangus

    Redbrangus Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2018
    Under The X In Texas
    And you think you might want to change...why?

    There might be a measurable, if not discernable difference in the low end response, but as far as I'm concerned, the disadvantages of a horizontal array far outweigh any perceived acoustic coupling advantage, particularly where the player is likely to be standing. You've been doing it right all this time...what are you trying to accomplish by changing?
    lomo likes this.
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    When in doubt, I always ask "What would Julie do?"

    Chris Szatny likes this.
  8. I’ve used both arrangements with my Acme B2 2x10 cabinets. I much prefer the vertical 4x10 approach as I can hear it better and it sounds more even. :)
    shoot-r and Nevada Pete like this.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Nevada Pete and fig like this.
  10. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    First of all, vertical stacking does nothing to the horizontal pattern, but it can shrink (slightly) the vertical patrern.

    Second, this effect will be noticeable above a couple hundred Hz since the height of the stack is so short compared to the wavelength of the low frequency signal.

    Third, with only 2 point sources, the shape of the pattern will take on a slight dipole but only at frequencies above a couple hundred Hz.

    This is why line arrays are so long, it's as much for lower frequency pattern control as for SPL.
    Sascha Erni, jblock, Cracker7 and 3 others like this.
  11. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    I can't think of a problem with stacking 2 cabs that putting them side by side would fix!
  12. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I would, but I'm not sure I can pull off those pants.

    Andy, when you say, "vertical stacking does nothing to the horizontal pattern," you mean that relative to using a single cab, right? My understanding is that, with two cabs horizontally arranged, the horizontal pattern will shrink slightly (as the vertical pattern does when stacking vertically -- basically, same pattern, turned on its side).

    I've also felt that, in addition to falling off at the sides, the mids and treble from a typical 410 were kind of uneven as I walked around it -- less so with vertically stacked cabs. I realize that other factors can come into play, here (driver size, crossover design, other cab features designed to improve dispersion off-axis).

    In any case, if one is already in possession of the cabs in question, it seems easy enough to try them in different arrangements and see what works better in a given situation.

    Amplifier muffin-top? I tend to favor narrower cabs. Some of the amps I favor are wider. Nothing unstable -- and the function is the thing -- but I am denied a tiny bit of aesthetic satisfaction, nevertheless.
  13. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Bass waves go everywhere, they already have the widest dispersion anyway, so whether they are stacked vertical or horizontal is of no consequence.

    I was always led to believe the horizontal dispersion on frequencies above a few hundred Hz on the 112 cabs will increase with a vertical stack, rather than the dispersion of those frequencies decreasing with a horizontal stack. But if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Always something new to learn or have old assumptions corrected.

    And as mentioned, you will be able to hear it a bit better with the stack being closer to your ears.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2020
  14. Some venues it sounds good and some it doesn’t. Stacking is usually the safer bet imo. But occasionally depending on the stage and acoustics of the venue I’ll run mine side by side. Two cabs on the floor coupling with a wooden stage can be desirable if you want a little more boom and can hear yourself fine. It’s an alternative to boosting lows on your eq which might give you the sound you want on stage but make you sound muddy in the PA as a side effect. For me though the reason I more often stack them Is due to shallow stages in a relatively loud band. Don’t get me wrong the guys I play with arent stupid loud. They use 212 guitar rigs. They aren’t using full stacks or anything but if I’m standing right up on my cabs and they are side by side a lot of the sound is just going by my ankles making of difficult for me to hear myself while killing the front row. Another bonus is when stacking if The soundguy says I’m too out or if my sound is too muddy onstage I’ll often just unplug the bottom cab instead of adjusting my eq. Then I have no cabs coupling with the floor. I really try to stay away from tweaking eq. To me it just results in a sort of an artificial sound. I run everything near flat unless the amp I’m using has a dip somewhere that I have to compensate for to have a more flat sound.
  15. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015


    As close to your ear level as possible.
  16. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Stack unless the setup supports separating them 30+ feet.

    I usually run my Markbass 1-12 &1-12 stacked except when I play with a 40 member uke band. Putting a cabinet on the far side of the stage keeps the band in sync. That’s more important than the sound the audience hears.
  17. Redbrangus

    Redbrangus Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2018
    Under The X In Texas
    sing-modulator and agedhorse like this.
  18. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Correct, it's the pattern relative to the two point sources.

    As the stack grows in height, and as the number of point sources grows, the frequency that the pattern begins shrinking decreases. This is why for PA, the length of a line array is important regardless of the SPL potential. Off the top of my head, the array needs to get to about 12 feet to have significant effect as say 100-150Hz.


  19. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I can only speak of my experience back when I was using a pair of Goliath Junior II cabs for my stage rig. I used to place them side by side when I first started using them. But following the suggestion of a professional soundman at a gig, I finally tried stacking them. And to my ears the improvement in sound was significant. So after that I always went vertical.
  20. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    A gig is a gig.

    Music is fun when you overlook the obstacles.
    Redbrangus and agedhorse like this.

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