Cabs = Hard to decide

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by a e i o u, Oct 27, 2003.

  1. Intro:
    Im just a 15 year old guy, who really likes spending time looking at amps and cabs and playing bass. I play in a hardcore band, for those who dont know what hardcore is, check out bands like Minor Threat, Carry on, Bane, Give up the ghost, stuff like that. It is by no means filled with any 5 string ibanez drop A slap lines so commonly and disgustingly found in "mtv nu~metal" bands like korn and slipknots.

    What I have:
    In 2 weeks i am ordering a Fender Geddy Lee jazz bass. And as if of now i use my Avatar 2x10 cab and a crappy [email protected]/[email protected] pv session head. When i play with my band, i pair the cab with my friends genze benz 1x15 cab. When i push my dinky little amp to top volumes, i get a crappy tone and alot of distortion. The kind of distortion you get when your speakers are being driven way too much. I dont understand this at all. I use alot of midrange tones, and hardly and low or treble. I've been reading about how you guys have these insanly powerfull amps but you just use a 1x15 or a couple 1x12's and i am blown away that you dont need more speakers. I am also planning on buying a hartke 3500 head, its cheap, powerfull, has great eq

    What Im deciding on:
    buying a avatar 4x10, and selling the 2x10 to buy a 1x15


    buying a avatar 2x12 to pair with the 2x10

    Everything would be simpler with the 2x12 2x10 set up, but im scared it wouldn't handle enough power. I'd also be a little upset that it isn't this insane death rig,that i'd be super proud of.BUt if i went with a 4x10 1x15, i'd never have to worry about volume, and i'd have a death rig, but it'd be hard to take to places.
  2. Underpowering a cab way too low can be as damaging as overpowering a cab way too much.

    Basson cabs are quite a bargain at the moment but way higher quality to me than that Avatar "bargain basement" stuff - Basson 4x10's have 200 oz. magnets and handle 1000W RMS. They weigh a ton, but, since your back is still probably is in good shape (given your age), their 8x10's handle 2000W RMS.

    They sound whoopass and don't require a second mortgage (about $500 for the 4x10 that does building demolition).

  3. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    looks like you are clipping the poweramp in your head. the Avatar 2x12/2x10 setup would need mucho watts to not be considered underpowered. the 2x10 handles 700W alone, and i'm pretty sure the 2x12 is 1000W. thats 1700W. running a HA3500 would give it 350W, so you would be SEVERLEY underpowering it. I Say sell the avatar if you need the money, and go for something like an Ampeg 8X10 (IS that death rig or what??). A Very reasonable priced and great sounding is the Peavey 810TX. Theres a new one at my local Music go round for like $480, and this thing kills! it would be good to keep the 2x10, so you wouldn't have to carry an 8x10 around all over the place. Also, its a long shot, but try and find an Ampeg SVT 1540HE. Sealed 4x10 and ported 1x15 all in one menacing box. awesome sound. It will be my cab for life!
  4. There's really no such thing as underpowering a cab. Cabs don't sit down and sulk when they don't get enough power, or try to to get back at you for being underfed by magically blowing up or something.

    But there most definitely IS such a thing as being underpowered *for your playing situation*, and it sounds like you certainly are. You're *never* underpowered if you don't have to work your amp hard to get the volume you need, regardless of what your amp's rating is and regardless of whether the cab has a higher power handling rating or not. Conversely, you are *always* underpowered if you have to push your amp too hard to get the volume you need, again regardless of what the amp's power rating is or whether the cab's power handling is higher or lower than that.

    Since you're pushing your "dinky" amp to top volumes, my take is that you need a new, more powerful amp before you get anything else. Right now, different cabs aren't going to solve your problem. And no offense, but forget about getting a rig to be "proud of". Just focus on getting one that does the job. Pride is a luxury; functionality is a necessity.
  5. "White man speak with forked tongue"

    Richard, you post seems self-contradictory to me.

    Here's what I'm was saying, in the words of a real expert -

    "The power output of an amplifier should be roughly matched to what the amp will be used for and what speakers it will be driving. Oddly enough, the most common problem with matching speakers and amps is using an amp that is too weak to power the speaker. When an underpowered amp is used to power a speaker, the listener tends to turn the volume up higher in order to get more output from the amplifier. Eventually the amplifier runs into its limit and begins to distort or "clip". This distortion can cause the AC output from the amplifier to become alternating DC for short periods of time and DC signals of even low power can destroy a speaker. Underpowering a speaker in this way can be more dangerous than overpowering it!

    Also more power is usually necessary when powering subwoofers because of their large size and excursion. Our recommendation is that amplifiers should always have 10 to 25 percent more available RMS power than what the woofer nominally requires."

  6. Subculture13

    Subculture13 Jamming Econo

    Apr 9, 2003
    Toronto, Ont. Canada
    Well put Rickbass, saved me the trouble of having to do it myself.

    I recently polled a large cross section of bass players on the head vs cab wattage issue and far and away, regardless of brand names, the constant seemed to be 800 watt head sitting on a 500 watt cabinet. Gives you plenty of headroom without ever having to clip. a 500watt rms cab "should" be able to handle the extra current going through it even at the highest volume setting of an 800 watt head, it's called "peak power handling" which is often as much as 2xRMS.

    IMO you seem to have a great setup as far as your cabs go, I would invest in a larger head to stick on top of it, more cabs do not equal more power.
  7. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    Playing the type of music you do I would recommend a 4x10 to move more air. You may want to look into a more powerful amp in the future too. I used to play hardcore type stuff back in my day (6 years ago... :rolleyes: :D ) and I fried my voice coils a couple of times playing a distorted 5 string through my 300 watt 1x15 Peavey combo. Literally burned a small hole in the copper voice coil! :eek:

    I also wanted to add my .02 about about underpowering speakers. This is the kind of place where misinformation is easily spread. Alternating DC is not true, its a misnomer. What occurs when an amp clips is the signal becomes more like a square wave but not entirely. Either way the phenomenon you are describing is when the signal clips the speakers voice coil will overheat. This may occur but its not because the amp is underpowered its because it has been overdriven and subsequently the speakers are also overdriven. When the speakers fry its because they are being technically overpowered i.e. they cannot dissipate the amount of power put into them.

    Im not trying to say this doesnt occur because it does but the reasons why are never properly explained. This is NOT more dangerous then putting 1000 watts into a 100 watt speaker. Of course if you have your amp cranked to the maximum for long periods of time you should be expecting problems.

    NOT underpowering... overdriving. If the amp is 200 watts and its clipping into a 300 watt speaker and the voice coil smokes its because the speaker is overdriven. If the same amp clips exactly the same into a 100 watt speaker and the cone creases/tears or the voice coil burns out (or both) the once again the speaker has been overdriven. Richard Lindsey speaks the truth but did not explain. Sorry about the ramble! I just wanted to point outy to Rickbass that your post from a technical expert is full of misnomers and a bit of ignorance. Its ok though we are all here to chat and learn! :D
  8. Rick,
    The problem with this information is that it's wrong. ;) Even a lot of so-called experts have a very poor understanding of what clipping is and what it can and can't do.
  9. rick, I hear you, and you know I respect your opinion, but I'm not clear on where you feel the self-contradiction lies. Some of the stuff in that excerpt you quote has been repeatedly debunked in this forum by Bob Lee/QSC and Mark Reccord (both of whom I consider experts), among others, especially the bit about DC. Both Mark and Bob have posted more eloquently and authoritatively than I on this topic, and there's probably a lot still in the archives.

    My comment was not that there's no such thing as underpowering at all, but was directed at what underpowering actually means. From my own experience and everything I've been able to find out, underpowering has little or nothing to do with the ratio of the amp's power to the cab's power handling (so-called underpowering the cab), and everything to do with the ratio between how much power you have available and how much you need to get your volume (what I referred to as being underpowered for your playing situation).

    I've seen a lot of posts from people who have gotten the idea that just because they have, say, a 400 W amp and a 700 W cab, they're instantly and automatically at risk for underpowering and speaker damage. They're not. The question that should always be asked in this setting is, how loud are you wanting to play? If the 400 W amp is ample for their needs and never has to be worked hard at all, *then they cannot possibly be underpowered in any meaningful sense of the term,* and it doesn't matter whether their cab is rated at 200 W, 400, or 700, or even 1700 (as in the example above). They are no more underpowered with any one of those cabs than with any of the others. Conversely, if the 400 W amp is being worked too hard, they're *always* underpowered whether the cab is rated for 700 W, 400, or 200 (even though the last of these is supposedly not underpowering by the 2:1 formula).

    I guess the point is, it's not about the cab rating; that doesn't matter all that much as long as the cab is capable of handling what you give it. It's about the power you have versus the power you need to sound the way you want to sound.

    Note: I'm NOT saying you can't power a 700 W cab with a 1000 W amp or that that wouldn't sound good. I'm saying that there's nothing wrong or dangerous about putting a 350 W amp into 1000 W of speakers *if that 350 W amp is enough to give you the volume and headroom you need without strain*.
  10. xyllion

    xyllion Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    I just can't believe that everyone puts so much trust in all these numbers. First of all these power ratings are not derived by any form of standard. Manufacturers can rate their equipment anyway they please and often times they do it at a frequency above what is normal for bass.

    Next misconception is that when you start hearing distortion, you are at the equipments power rating. Maybe you are and maybe you aren't. Anybody out there actually use a power meter? I don't think so.

    There is no such thing as underpowering. You can drive a 1000W cab with a 100W head and it won't hurt it. However, keep in mind that if you turn it up so high that you hear it distorting, then you possibly could damage something. If that happens it is time for either a bigger amp or more speakers.

    The trick is to get enough drivers and enough amp power to acheive the volume you desire cleanly. If you are really curious to know if you are reaching the rated limits of your equipment, then you will have to measure the power output while playing. Also watch for your equipment getting excessively hot. Often times it is the heat that causes the equipment failure.

    BTW, I know hard core. I spun records at the college radio station playing bands like Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, Butthole Surfers, Black Flag, and many many others. This was back in '83 and '84 when hard core was newer.

    Best of luck. Hope you find just the right rig.
  11. Sure, an 800 W amp on top of a 500 W cab will usually work fine and sound great. The problem I have with the whole "underpowering the cab" thing is that people get the idea that if you, say, replace that cab with a 1200 W cab you're gonna start having problems just because the cab is now "underpowered." This doesn't add up if you examine it. Let's assume for the sake of argument that the two cabs are of equal efficiency, frequency response, tuning, bla bla. Now, if 800 W was enough amp to get the volume you needed before, with the 1st (500 W) cab, it would still be enough amp to get the required volume with the 2nd (1200 W) cab (which, remember, is equally efficient). You wouldn't just arbitrarily decide to turn the amp up simply because the 2nd cab could handle more power; you would set your volume on the basis of what you needed in the context of your playing situation. If you weren't working the amp hard with the 500 W cab, why would you work it any harder with a 1200 W cab? Answer: you wouldn't, unless you wanted to be louder. What all this means is that you're no more underpowered with the 1200 W cab than with the 500 W one. This is why I say there's no such thing as underpowering a cab.

    And BTW, if you do want to get louder in this setting, you're actually better off with the 1200 W cab (i.e., the supposedly underpowered one) than with the 500 W one, because you'll have more leeway before potential damage occurs.
  12. So what should i do!! i am beyond confused!! I was thinking, i'll buy the Avatar 2x12 to go with it, but the rms for 2x10 is 750watts, and the 2x12 is 1000!!! that is 1750 watts! I'd have to buy a 1000 watt head to be somewhat safe then! I do not get this! The head i want is the hartke3500 because its cheap, and i only make 90 a week, and thats a damn long week (i get paid like a slave)

    if i bought the h3500 and put it in 2x10 2x12 stack it will probaly then clip too!, but if i just put it in the 2x10, it wont move any air!
  13. xyllion

    xyllion Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    You will be fine. Get the head and the cab that you want. If you hear distortion, then back of on the volume. If the system sounds clean, then you will be fine.
  14. No no no no no. You do NOT have to get a 1000 amp to be "safe" with speakers that can handle 1750. Read what I said again.

    You are not more likely to clip with the 2-10 plus the 2-12--assuming that putting the two together doesn't present too low an impedance to your amp--you are LESS likely to clip. The reason is that the combination will be more efficient than the 2-10 alone, and thus you will not need to turn up the amp as high to get the same volume.

    Get the head, and use it with the two speakers together. But make sure first that the impedance is OK. I'm assuming your 2-10 is 8 ohms. If so, you can get an 8 ohm 2-12, and the two together will be 4 ohms, which is the minimum impedance the 3500 is rated to drive. However, if your 2-10 is 4 ohms, you can't use another cab with the Hartke head, because either an 8 ohm or a 4 ohm 2nd cab would drop the impedance below 4 ohms (to 2.67 ohms and 2 ohms, respectively). Anyway, assuming the impedance is cool, that should work; if you still don't have enough volume, you'll need a bigger amp.

    If your 2-10 is 4 ohms, what I would do if I were you is get a 4 ohm 2-12, then find a head that will either drive a 2 ohm load mono or two 4 ohm loads in stereo (or dual mono). To do the latter, you could look at a used Carvin RL1000, which would give you about 350 W *a side* in that scenario and which I personally think is a better head than the Hartke anyway. But YMMV.
  15. are you 100% positive?
  16. About what?
  17. Blues Bass 2

    Blues Bass 2 Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2001
    Davenport Iowa
    Don't worry about the cab power rating.All this means is how much clean power the speakers will take.The real deal is how much sound the speakers will put out per watt,or how efficient they are.The Avatar 212 and 210 at 8 ohms each driven with a Hartke 3500 at 350 watts should be a pretty loud and deep sounding rig.Richard is right,all the speaker power rating is for how many watts the speaker will handle,not what it will put out in volume per watt.It is true that a lower powered amp will blow speakers quicker than an amp with a higher power rating than the speaker has but the Hartke 3500 is known as a pretty loud 350 watts.This should kick some serious butt.
  18. No it isn't.;)
  19. Blues Bass 2

    Blues Bass 2 Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2001
    Davenport Iowa
    You're right Mark,I was a little off base with my underpowering statement.The crux of the matter is that 212/210 Avatar cabinets should be able to handle all the power the Hartke can put out and get pretty loud doing it.Also the combination of tens and twelves should cut through and have good bottom.I'm using one of the Avatar 112s with my Eden 210XLT and they sound real nice together and get louder than I'll ever need.
  20. alot cool, in about a week or so im gonna get the head for sure now. i was real worried but now im no thanks to all you guys. i really really appreciate the in depth help. on other boards like ultimate-guitar, you usaly get a 2 word answer. thanks a bundle
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