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Cabinet weight? Heavier = better sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by thefruitfarmer, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. thefruitfarmer


    Feb 25, 2006
    Kent UK

    I am looking at bass guitar cabinets and I don't want something too heavy or bulky. I understand the neodynium speakers give good performance with less weight.

    Is there any advantage in having a heavier cabinet?

    How does the physics work here?

    My understanding is that when a speaker vibrates and moves the air to make the sound wave it will also move the cabinet. If the cabinet is moving then it may be absorbing energy that would otherwise be moving the air, therefore limiting the volume....?

    Maybe there is a critical weight below which a bass cabinet just will not hold the speaker solidly enough to produce more than so many dB...?

    Perhaps this is a red herring and choice of driver, ports in cabinets, the rigidity of the cabinet etc is more important...?
  2. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    The rigidity of a cabinet is very important. The weight has no bearing on performance if rigidity in not compromised. Making a light cabinet that is as rigid as a heavy cabinet tends to cost more in terms of labour.

  3. The only reason I keep my Ampeg 410 PR-HLF is because of its sound. The 128 lb. monster is ridiculous to carry and gig with, but I put up with it because nothing else I have tried sounds the same... This thing just kills (in terms of sound and my back)!

    I don't know if heavier = sounds better, but I can tell you I value tone over ease of lifting..
  4. MarkMyWordsXx


    May 17, 2006
    heavier magnets tend to be lower and louder. better sounding is objective. this is of course a generalization, without mentioning specific magnets. overall weight isnt important other then for this reason.

    my opinion of course
  5. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    I think people have just used heavy cabs for sooo long that when the neos came out it was just hard to fathom a 7oz magnet doing what a 45oz magnet had done before. Also some of the new plys that are available are rigid and help save weight too.

    :) ... In every test I've tried weight and even size don't compromise sound in a properly designed cabinet.
  6. Rob Mancini

    Rob Mancini Guest

    Feb 26, 2008
    I think neos are as good as tradional ceramic and alnico magnets. But as far as the cabinet itself, I really don't think light wood makes as much of a difference in tone. After all, they're usually lined with fiberglass or foam anyway.
  7. Doesn't the lighter weight magnets in some way cause the speakers to respond faster, which would cause a greater attack in the sound? Because that's going to be a little unfavourable with some people if it's the case, including me :p Fair enough if you play funk or any other music where you need that immediate treble but for classic rock and the like where you want a deep bassy sound with a less pronounced high end that wouldn't be a good thing.

    By the way that's all speculative, I know next to nothing about speaker cab design. But I don't really get why all bass manufacturers wouldn't use neos for all applications if there was no difference in tonality. I imagine they might be a little more expensive but due to the outsourced nature of manufacturing wouldn't they balance the difference by the reduction in shipping costs?

    I'm in the willing to break my back to get a good sound camp myself, so I'd like to think I was at least dragging my NV around for a good reason.
  8. It's all voodoo to me. :D

    I like old fashion heavy cabs and heavy speakers. It may just be in my head, (probably) but I personally think the neo cabs are lacking in tone of their heavier brethren.

    But this is coming from a guy whos motto is "never trust a button to do the job of a lever".

    I'm kind of old in my preferences.
  9. Tons of threads and posts on this. All cabs sound different.... various 'heavy' cabs sound different from each other, various lighter cabs sound different from each other. Some lightweight neo cabs are full and dark sounding, some are bright and modern sounding. Some traditional 'heavy' cabs are bright and modern sounding, some are low mid punchy, some are dark sounding:smug:
  10. Just throwing neo's into a cab doesn't save as much weight as you think. Just as important is the weight savings you get from using lighterweight or thinner wood, since the baffle board doesn't have to be as strong to hold up those heavy speakers, etc. However, lighter weight wood is more expensive, harder to work with, and the cabs need additional bracing.

    Also, since most cab manufacturers purchase their speakers from Eminence at this point (at least in the U.S.), there might not be a particular neo speaker currently available voiced the way a manufacturer would like, and many manufacturers don't have the volume (or skill) to custom spec a driver.

    IMO and IME.
  11. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn

    Mar 25, 2006
    So much comes down to how a speaker is voiced so to speak

    Some speakers ... I'll use the Eminence BP102 as an example are designed or voiced less as a "full range" driver and others like the neo Eminence 2010 as another example have a higher resonant frequency and different upper frequency peaks. Still it's all in how you design the cabinet as in what you are trying to achieve. Others far more qualified can speak to cab volume, Xmax and such but proper cab design is everything, you build the cab around the speaker.

    As a side note ... I play old school blues and R&B etc: and have done so for years through what some may consider hi fi type cabs.

    :) ... Still do
  12. JGR

    JGR The "G" is for Gustav Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 29, 2006
    President, CEO, CFO, CIO, Chief Engineer, Technician, Janitor - Reiner Amplification
    a good example is the aguilar DB vs. GS line. same speakers, different cab materials. in this particular line, the thicker, heavier wood used in DB cabs gives a thicker, more pronounced midrange vs. a more scooped, modern tone in the GS.

    most guitar 4x12's are built pretty much the same, but i've always loved the sound of the orange which uses 18 ply birch compared to other cabs 11/13 ply. compared to other high quality cabs with the same speakers, the orange has a bigger, thicker sound with a more solid low end.

  13. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine

    Isn't that Ken Jung's motto? :smug: :p :D

  14. I'm only 21 and I share a similar stigma toward neos and anything light... Definitely won't compromise on my amp being big though while playing any form of Rock music :smug: If I ever end up in a Jazz band I might start considering a 1x15 Markbass setup for it but that's not likely to happen any time soon.

    Ah fair enough, I was under the impression the drivers were the main reason for the weight of a Bass cab.

    Celestion gets most of the business over here, unsurprisingly what with them being British and all. Although I don't get how it would make a difference where speakers are made in relation to an amp manufactures base country if they're being made overseas anyway. Is it just the boxes that are made overseas and then speakers are added or is there some other crazy economics black magic behind it?
  15. It's pure economics. Most upper end US boxes (Epi, Berg, etc.) are made and assembled in the U.S. The Epifani UL's started out with the wonderful B&C drivers (from Italy), but the weak dollar, shipping costs, and the sheer volume needed resulted in Nick moving to the Eminence drivers, which did not suffer from the exchange rate nor shipping delays, etc. They are great speakers also.

    Some of the US made Glock cabs also use Eminence drivers, versus the Volt drivers used in the German models... again, just economics IMO.

    The Markbass stuff uses Italian B&C drivers, which makes sense, because they are located in Italy.... pure economics there IMO and IME.
  16. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    My head and cab together weigh 18 pounds and sound GREAT.
  17. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I'm planning on testing this theory very soon with a composite cab. So far everything is on paper, but calculations show some impressively light weight possibilities.
  18. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    Likewise but with 9mm ply - I'm hoping for under 40lbs for a 4x10" killing 15"+6.5".


  19. zac2944


    Dec 28, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Nice work! I applaud your effort. Will you put together a thread here on TB when your done?

    I'm planning on a 15"+tweeter that is under 30lbs.
  20. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    This would have been built around 1/2" 9-ply baltic birch but the cabinet builder that requested a plan had already purchased a bunch of 5/8" 12-ply of a less dense variety:


    alternate HF section:

    What is important is not weight, but rigidity (less wall vibration). This can be attained by better bracing - I used integral girdle bracing that brings strength from corners to panel centers. I also chose adjustable/retunable shelf porting for its bracing advantage and integrated the midrange sub-enclosure into the girdle bracing to gain further rigidity ... But for the 1/2" version I would add a second integral airline-drilled set running vertically from the horizontal girdles, using glue and long screws at the handles and connector cup.

    You could as Alex has done, use even thinner plywood, but I wanted to use routed joins with more glue surface area, and if the plywood is too thin that becomes tougher to pull off. Commercial builders tend to use 3/4" because it doesn't require much time or thought to build something that feels solid though not necessarily as rigid as a thinner-paneled cab that has better planning and bracing.

    I've owned a fair number of cabs constructed with 5/8", 1/2" and even 3/8" panels but they come from the SR/PA sector where even high output subwoofers may be done with thinner plys and better design. The loss from panel vibration is minimal compared to garden variety 3/4" bass cabs that actually have drivers that exert less force!

    * * *

    As far as drivers go, it's about the T-S (and associated) parameters. It's not that tough to replace a 18-20 pound woofer with a neo woofer that weighs only 8.6 pounds yet performs better for the intended job. Likewise, a 2.76 pound midrange cone that can beat the tar out of two 6.1 pound conventional-motored drivers was chosen for its sonic excellence. For the woofer I went for more internal volume than many do to get a smoother and more extended low frequency response, but by choosing to get much of this from height the design actually gets the midrange output nearer the ears even when set on the floor, and still narrow and not so deep so that it'll be an easy schlep. For me, extended and flatter SPL per pound is where it's at.


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