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Can a rig be too big?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Matthias, Nov 6, 2000.

  1. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    Recently I played through a 700W rig (115 & 410) in a rather small rehearsal room and had the following problem:
    The bass was either way too loud, kind of drowning everything else, or it did not cut through when turned down and had a lack of 'focus' or 'definition' in the sound.
    Maybe this has to do with the fact, that a speaker only sounds good when fed with a certain minimum amount of power, and the minimum for this rig was too much for this room?
    Or was it maybe just bad quality equipment or worn out speakers or so?
    Second part of the story: One week later I played in the same room with my own 150W 112&112 setup and everything was fine...

    What's your experience with this topic?
    Can anyone explain? (Is this a general problem of physics/acoustics or was it just a specific problem with bad gear?)

  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think this is quite common - I rehearse at least once a week with my band in various rehearsal spaces and have visited most of these facilities in the local area over the years. They are not going to buy expensive gear and it has almost certainly been abused by previous occupants.

    The answer to the question, is that Yes of course a rig can be too big. If it's too heavy for one person to lift then it's not going to be suitable for most semi-pro bands with no roadies. The larger, heavier and also worst-sounding rigs are going to end up in rehearsal rooms, where they don't have to be moved around much. My experience, is that you get what you pay for and cheap amps are going to sound awful, no matter how big they are. Light, portable and great-sounding amps/heads cost more money and are more desirable, so you aren't going to find them lying about in rehearsal rooms - they would probably have been stolen if they were anyway.

    I go for a compromise and always take my Eden Traveller head with me,as it is very small and light and play it through whatever cabs happen to be around. Some of them are so bad though, they still manage to make the Eden sound bad, but I can usually tweak the EQ and get a usable sound. With a decent cab, I always leave the EQ flat and get a great sound! ;)
  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    You left out the most important point: WHAT speakers, WHAT amp...

    Sounds to me like the big rig just happened to be poorly matched to the acoustics of the room you were in and yours was better matched.

    I've played plenty of amps that were pumping out serious dBs but still couldn't be heard.
  4. phil_chew


    Mar 22, 2000
    I think 700W into a 1x15 and a 4x10 is much too powerful for a "small rehearsal room". Heck, it may even be overkill for most stages, unless it is an outdoor venue. And don't forget, low frequency notes are heard better when you are at least twenty feet away, especially with a big rig like yours. You must have been standing about 3 feet away from your speakers when you rehearsed.

    Like Bruce, I carry a Eden traveller. Small, light (13 pounds !) and adequate for most purposes. At practices in small rooms, I only use one 1x15 cab or even a 2x10.

  5. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    Thanks for your comments

    brianrost: I'm not sure, if the brand of amp and speakers is really the most important point here, that's why I left that out. It could be a general problem too!?
    It was a Hartke 7000 with XL cabs, not TOO bad (though I don't like Hartkes), BUT the 15" driver was not the original one (it was made of paper instead of aluminium) - I guess this replacement driver did not match with the cab design (in terms of frequency response and so on).

    phil: Fortunately this was not my rig, it was just there. I know about the distance thing and tried different positions. BTW a 410 is usually very suitable as a 'monitor'.

    Bruce: You've made a good point regarding heavy and awful sounding equipment in rehearsal rooms - sad but true...

    Maybe we had 2 problems here: overkill AND bad equipment.

  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think this topic really deserves a poem - inspired by the Rick with no pick, but I'm not as good as John Turner :

    Can your rig be too big?
    Can your sound be too round?
    How long is a piece of string?
    Should you really be proud if your rig is so loud,
    That your drummer gets scraped off the ceiling!

    Anyone else come up with something better... I know you can!! ;)

    [Edited by Bruce Lindfield on 11-07-2000 at 07:46 AM]
  7. Laker


    Mar 23, 2000
    I think you are all missing something here. I don't care if you have 1 15" speaker or 10 15" speakers with a 2-12 or 4-10 or whatever......... if you are in a room that has very poor accoustics, you are gonna sound like sh*t! To be definitive about your amp/sound, you should be playing in an accoustically tuned enclosure or a room that you know can sound good. Seven hundred watts vs.one hundred and fifty watts doesn't mean squat in a room that is merely adequate for good sound reproduction.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings

    I once played in an atrium in D.C. that had:
    Narrow (60 ft.), deep (250 ft.) rectangular shape;
    Marble floors and walls;
    High (60 ft.)glass ceiling.

    Anyone else get chills from that description?
    You can guess how it sounded. Even at very low volume, slapback was ridiculous.
  9. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    My 'best' one was a huge baroque church with cross shaped floor plan and a huge dome in the center - we (gospel choir & band) were playing right beneath the dome...
    :D more than 20 seconds resonating time (is this the right word?), as far as I remember :D

  10. Jeff Corallo

    Jeff Corallo

    May 30, 2000
    I have not played in an acousticaly challenged (hows that for pc language) environment as you described. Since I also run sound for a band, I've noticed that amplifiers (both bass and guitar) will sound differently at lower power settings than at high. Its like in baseball when you hit a ball with the sweet-spot of the bat versus another part of the bat; you feel the power of the ball coming off the bat in your swing. In order to get the sound that you are expecting, an amp needs to be in its "groove". Having an overpowered amp and not being able find the "sweet-spot" can limit the sound.
  11. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Answer - Yes. Why ? My experience with my old EMC B-450 might help. This refrigerator-sized thing has 3-15" Eminence blowing through 15 feet of folded horn in a reverse-W,(actually an upsidedown-W), enclosure. It's front-ported at the top and the bottom with the top speaker facing skyward. I began using it in large halls. Since I liked it's sound, I took it into the studio, miked it to the board without baffles/portable walls/shields and nuked 3 pairs of Sennheiser headphones. The engineer said I'd better go direct to the board. Then, I started using it in clubs where it would overpower the other musicians even if I turned down the volumes. So, after re-reading the owner's manual, I found the problem was two fold. First, the ported cabinet was designed so that sonic convergence, that is, where the waves meet after the voice coils traveled, didn't begin until the listener was at least 18 feet away from the cabinet. This was fine for stages in larger halls but in clubs people were getting bludgeoned by subharmonics, (which, personally, is okay since I like to cripple the first few rows). Secondly, I wasn't well-acquainted with my graphic equalizer and was shaping my frequencies in clubs/studio the same way as larger halls.

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