Carvin RL1018 Worth it?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Luis Fabara, Jul 28, 2001.

  1. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    Hello to all.
    I have been after this Carvin RL1018 for Months.
    I sold my former rig, and the money I got was frozen in a local bank (Filanbanco) and I wont have my money back until September Maybe, but well...

    I wanted to know, if some owners of this setup can give me some input on the sound and performance of this system.
    Series II and Series III.

    I have noticed that the RL118 is very small for the driver it has, and it may not be able to really reproduce the fundamentals of the lowest notes on a 6 String bass or a Seven String bass tuned to LOW F#

    Is it worth the money? Which equipment does compare to it?

  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    My Series II been shaking floors in clubs reliably for a year and a half, week in and week out, without one day in the shop. And it gets treated like a rented mule.

    Like my other Carvin, I can't dial up the juice very high by backing off on the gain, but it's not the only make of a mid-level big rig that is like this.

    The 18" gives me a surprisingly decent solid notes on the B string.

    If you've owned/played high end big rigs, you may find it has a boxiness and some SS sterility, as I do with Carvin's cabs that are used with the R heads. But that is only apparent to me when the cab is soloed and doesn't come out at all in the mix of a band situation.

    If I had to do it all over again, I'd get the R head and different cabs. I think Carvin puts their best thinking into the heads and the cabs get the leftovers. As always with Carvin, construction is Grade A, IMO.
  3. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    Thanks, I know you were going to reply to this one.
    Im getting an incredible deal on this rig. (As a Carvin Distributor and Endorser)
    But tell me, the cabs are bad, average, good?
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    luis - It's good you ask, because no piece of gear is an incredible deal at any price if it's a poor performer.

    I'd say any of the Carvin cabs that come with R series heads are above average.

    I had emails from people shopping and have seen people post on boards, who liked them better than whatever models of SWR's, G-K's, and Hartke's they compared with them. Personally, I'd take an Eden/Aguilar/SWR or an upper end Ampeg over one for tone, but then, those cost significantly more.

    If Carvin used better Eminence speakers, or offered the option, that would be cool. I've tried some Ashdowns, Fenders, Hartke Transporters, SWR LA Series and thought the Carvins were obviously superior, even more so when you look at the price tag.

    The Carvins' strongest points to me are reliability, quality of construction, tonal flexibility, and their suitability for slapping and popping. "Fat" and "warmth" are what they lack, IMO.

    MikeyD knows them inside and out from a technical perspective and I think Richard Lindsey has a Series III.
  5. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    I had been playing with an Ampeg SVT410HE and I was very pleased with It.
    I had to sell it to get rid of the Hartke2000 I had. (The buyer wanted to buy the whole rig only)

    Im also an Ampeg dealer, and get very good prices on Ampeg gear. But the price I get on the Carvin is simply Unmatchable for the Power/Price ratio I get.

    If you say that only the Upper End Ampegs will match the Carvin, then I will be fine.
    Btw, the New BXT Ampegs seem very nice.

    Also, Owning a Carvin RL1018 will help rise sales on Carvin Bass gear too, because of the people that will see me playing/giging with it.
  6. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Well, I HAD a Series III. Loved the amp, but it constantly shut down when I bridged it into my 4 ohm Acme. I dare say if I had gotten an 8 ohm Acme to begin with, I wouldn't have had the problem--but I thought, and still think, that if Carvin said the amp was usable this way (and they did), it damn well should have been. And I'm not the only one who's had shutdown problems inthis kind of setting.

    That said, I haven't heard of those shutdowns occurring in a biamp or stereo full-range situation where each side is seeing a load no lower than 4 ohms. Which would be the case for you. Also, I'd get the R1000 if I were you--small price difference, and more power is always good.

    I more or less agree with rick that the amps are better than the cabs, but the cabs are by no means bad. I'd take Carvin cabs over GK and Hartke for sure, but not over Eden or Acme.

    Tonally, I prefer the Carvin head to anything I know of near its price range. That includes Ampeg, GK, and Hartke. I also did a head to head test between a Carvin and the Eden I just bought. The easy assumption would be that the Eden would win easily, but IMO it didn't. The two amps seemed to be better at different things, and if I hadn't had the shutdown problem with the Carvin, I probably wouldn't have bothered to switch it for an Eden.

    The Series III no longer has a tube in it, just a tube emulator. However, I think it sounds better than the Series II anyway. I've never been one of those who thought that the mere presence of a tube magically conferred great tone (I've heard too many tube amps I didn't like).
  7. I don't want to p*ss on your parade, but Carvins are not the rig for this application. I've added the Carvin drivers T/S data to my spread sheet, and find that Carvin has a habit of stuffing very large drivers into very small cabinets. The net result is wimpy bass response in the low end.

    John Turner is the man for basses with more strings than I have fingers, especially ones that tune down to low F#. He plays with a pair (I think) of Yamaha 18" subwoofers and a 4x12 for the highs. You will need gobs of power to reproduce 23 Hz fundamentals, and you will need lots of cone area to couple that power to the air.

    I am enclosing a JPG of how the designer juggles the speaker parameters to get the desired results. There are three factors: Loud, Size, and Low. The designer can increase one at the expense of the other(s), but cannot have more than the "pie" will hold. See the pictures.
  8. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    Thanks Richard , comments like that really reinforce my decision for the Carvin.
    BTW, the RL1018 consists of an R1000 Series III Head and a RL410T and RL118, so I will get all the power I think I´ll ever need.
    Of course I could add a DCM4000 some day, hehe.
  9. Luis Fabara

    Luis Fabara

    Aug 13, 2000
    Ecuador (South America)
    Audio Pro - Ecuador
    I guess I will have to admit the fact that almost no standard rig will be able to reproduce the fundamentals of a Low F#
    I havent got any 7 string bass yet, but was thinking a little on future, as I will try to save this year to get a GT7-BD maybe at the end of the Year.
    Now, on a Live situation that will be different, as I will be reproduced by the House Subwoofers.
  10. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    Seems odd that the R1000 is only $80 more than the R600, it's almost like you HAVE to get the R1000 over the R600 just based on the power to price ratio.
  11. Well, how do the Carvins work on a plain ole passive 4 string? (Ive decided thats all Ill ever play, unless someone wants to mail their active basses to me for no charge :D)
  12. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    The thing that I find frustrating about Carvin's cabinets is that the "pie" seems smaller! For their size, they don't seem to give either Loud or Low! They are certainly adequate for intermediate use, especially if you have a lot of power to feed them.

    The Carvin 1x18 will reproduce 31 Hz., but it is a question of how *loud* you want it. If you EQ up your amp's lowest ranges and don't have a super-loud application, the cabinet can handle the job. The power handling is serious - 600-800 watts RMS. I have bridged my Carvin head(s) into it on occasion and it will make some vibration, for sure. But IMO, it wasn't efficient enough - I expected that level of sound with a fraction of the power I had to push. I eventually upgraded to an Eden 2x15. First thing that happened is my channel gain went from 7 down to 5! Same output at much lower power input.

    - Mike
  13. The RL118 appears based on the Carvin PS18H-4 driver. This is a driver that appears to be first optimized for Size, then Loud, and last is Low. The optimum alignment for this driver is a paltry 3.12 cubic feet... a tiny volume for most 18" drivers. The calculated SPL is 126 at 200 Hz and 800 watts input power. This is further supported by the 98 SPL rating at 1w/1m. This driver is down -3 dB at 56 Hz and -10 dB at 37 Hz. Unfit for a 5 string but acceptable for a 4 string.

    Based on the published dimensions, it appears Carvin is trying to take advantage of the bass hump that can be had by putting the driver into a larger than optimum cabinet. Running these numbers, the RL118 still doesn't have much poop in the low end below 80 Hz.

    I suspect what is actually being heard is the 2nd and 3rd harmonics of the 31 Hz fundamental, which are higher enough for this driver to reproduce with authority. The actual 31 Hz fundamental is down more than -14 dB at 31 Hz. This is heard as much less than half-as-loud.
  14. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    Interesting numbers - a spec sheet from their web site indicates Vas = 354l = 12.5 cu.ft., but the spec sheet I received with the equipment indicates Vas = 524l = 18.5 cu.ft. The 98 dB sensitivity seems overstated, though - it is not a loud cabinet, by any stretch. The frequency response does indeed sound exactly as you describe. It is strong down to mid B (approx. 60 Hz.) then fizzles out slowly below that.

    This is an interesting observation. I should load it into WinISD and play around to see for myself. There may be a discrepancy in Vas figures, though, so I'd need to see. My experience with the cabinet is that it is pretty solid down to ~60 Hz.
    While its 31 Hz. is weak, it is there - as you say down quite a bit. If you crank up the EQ considerably, you will hear (more feel) it, but again - the cabinet's efficiency is probably equivalent to 98-14 = 84 dB down there. I agree - most of the energy would be in the harmonics, which, again, is why I'm not too impressed with the LF response. As far as being unloaded goes - I'm sure the driver is probably starting to be unloaded, but I have yet to bottom the cone, even with 500-600 watts going into it. Thanks for the interesting comments. I am curious about how it would look on the WinISD program.
    - Mike
  15. I am operating from the data published on their site, with the 12.5 cubic foot Vas value. By itself, this indicates a very "large" acoustic space, but this is tempered by a VERY low 0.240 Qts which indicates a smaller size.

    In fact, the Carvin 18" driver specs are identical to the Eminence Omega Pro 18 driver. :D

    The JBL E-155 has an even lower Qts of 0.200 with a Vas of 15.0 cubic feet, and the JBL is an awful performer in the low range. Both are optimum in small boxes, as typically higher Q drivers want much larger volumes, often 20+ cubic feet.

    I suspect the primary design consideration here is for Size foremost, then Loud, and last is Low. Probably ratio'd as 50/25/25 respectively.

    Perhaps you might consider getting a 100 ohm power resistor and a DVOM to find the actual tuning frequency of this cabinet. I'd like to know just for the understanding of their design.
  16. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I'd like to know what the hell you and MikeyD just said!!!! ;)

    Perhaps a new forum - "Amps & Rocket Science."
  17. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    :D Good one Rick - but you already know rocket science. Problem is, acoustics is much more difficult! ;) If you haven't checked out the recent threads (e.g., Cabinet Buildng 101 - or whatver it was called), you might find them educational.

    bgavin - I should go and measure the port size for you. The cabinet dimensions are on Carvin's web site (I think). As far as measuring the tuning frequency goes - I don't have a "sig-gen" that I could hook up. Maybe I should check out your site for the program and hook it to my computer or something. No time to do this right now, though. It is a good question, because it could show if the design technique you suggested was used. I did play with WinISD for the drivers in my Carvin 2x10 and one thing that seemed to come out was that the port tuning frequency was VERY low - much lower than the driver resonances. So maybe your hunch is right. If so, the corner frequency slouches down - gives output at a lower cutoff, but the tradeoff is the bass starts a very gradual rolloff first before its final descent. Fascinating subject. Maybe I can get my voltmeter and see if just slewing pitch with my bass will reveal something about the tuning frequency.

    - Mike
  18. Look at the attached Pic chart graphic. A designer has 3 parameters he can twiddle with: Loud, Size, Low frequency extension. They can be ratio'd as 33/33/33 = 100% or 50/25/25=100%, etc. The designer cannot get more than 100%, which means he cannot have a Loud, Tiny and very Low responding driver in the same physical package.

    The Vas number is amount of air volume equivalent to one of the driver parameters (compliance). More often than not, a driver with a large Vas volume such as 15 or 20 cubic feet, is going to require a very large cabinet, especially combined with a high Qts.

    A high Q and low Vas is often Low + Loud + Big
    A high Q and high Vas is Low + Loud + Huge
    A low Q and low Vas is Very Low + Quiet + Small

    These are generalization drawn from sorting my spreadsheet data by frequency, Qts, and Vas and noting the general pattern.

    For those not inclined to do the engineering, you can watch the geeks at work here, or grab any of the available design programs and simply plug in drivers util you find something you like.

    I opted for Door Number 3 above (very low, quiet, small) and make up for it with amplifier power and more speakers.
  19. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    Well, I was motivated enough, so I hooked up the Carvin 1x18 cabinet to a Carvin head and provided an approximate sine signal using a keyboard synthesizer with a one-octave pitch shifter control. I encountered one current minimum at approx. 46 Hz. (low F#) using a 100-ohm current sensing resistor. Frequency was estimated by ear.

    I'm going to attach a plot I got using WinISD, with the Eminence Omega Pro 18 parameters. Note: this driver very closely matches Carvin's PS18H-4 driver used in their RL118 cabinet (except for its impedance). Gross box interior volume (estimated): 5.5 cu.ft. = 155.7 liters.

    The box tuning for the plot is:
    133 liters (net) = 4.7 cu.ft.
    46.00 Hz. tuning freq.
    Vents: (2) x 3"x10.5" x 11.81" deep

    The plot shows -3 dB @ 45 Hz.; -10 dB @ 36 Hz., -15 dB @ 31 Hz.
    The perceived levels are very dependent on the room the cabinet is in. The cabinet sounds like it starts to roll off at a higher frequency than this - more like 56 Hz., as bgavin suggested. The response plot in the Carvin catalog looks like -3 dB @ ~ 47 Hz. or so.
    - Mike
  20. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    I retract this. I think the box is probably tuned to 65 Hz., as far as I've been able to tell. The drivers' Fs = 57 Hz. So... neverrrrmind!
    - Mike