Comparing F112 + BB2, A Second Opinion

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by 600 Ohms, Jul 15, 2021.

  1. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
    Continuing in the tradition of this post's mother from another brother. I bought three cabinets of similar type, with a view to keeping the one I preferred and selling the others here at TB: a Barefaced Big Baby 2 gen3, a Tollini-built Greenboy fEARless f112 and an Audio Kinesis Thunder Child 112 with the latest version of the top-mounted tweeter. Duke has that on his long list of cabs to build, so it will be done at his pace. For now, I wanted to jot down my experience of comparing the first two. Who knows, maybe a combo of two of them will be the thing.

    Day of f112 Arrival:

    Out of the box, it's a very nice build, really solid and good paint job, with a clean black grille. I was surprised that it is smaller in person than it looks in photos. Compared to BB2, it is a couple inches narrower and also shorter, but maybe a couple inches deeper than the BB2. I opted for the birch instead of the okoume... birch is harder wood and only a difference of 5 pounds so I went with it.

    I'm using a Noble as a preamp, my default is both EQ knobs at 9:00 for a small bump of each band, going in the FX loop of a Mesa Subway D-800+. A Moollon P-Classic IV and a J 5-string. Later I'll try my Stingray fretless.

    Playing f112 side-by-side with the BB2, my first impressions are there is no clear winner yet:

    1. They are both of a similar sensitivity. At the same EQ settings on the Noble, the f112 has a clearly pronounced... I'd guess around 80-150Hz, which makes it sound louder in a way than the BB2. This bump is definitely causing feelings of punch, and there is something satisfying about having lots of that range with bass. It makes it feel a little bit more like a conventional bass amp, which might be good or bad depending. That punch adds authority that would help in a band setting.

    2. I was finding, when just playing along with music, that the bump was obscuring the clarity of the bass a little. I turned the Noble's bass down to 8:00 and it was better balanced in a mix. Speaking of obscuring, keeping the tweeter L-Pad at noon, I fiddled with the I and II switch and, although I was expecting to prefer the I setting, I found I liked the II for more things, as it helped bring back some of the voice of the bass that was getting a little lost in all the lower mids. I need to spend more time with this.

    3. I didn't realize at first that the f112 tweeter control didn't control the mid driver along with the tweeter, so f112 doesn't get as dark as BB2 if you roll it off. Different controls altogether. But the mid driver really does most of the heavy lifting. My impression may change with time, but I think I prefer the openness of the BB2's high end. That said, I'm thinking I will get used to the f112's tone over the course of a week, and it might even... shhhhhhh... "break in" (don't tell Agedhorse I said that!).

    4. When I returned to the BB2, I missed the punchy low end that f112 was giving me (it felt a little "hollowed out" in comparison), but I found that a bump of about 1 hour on the clock face of the Noble's bass knob was all it took to make the BB2 have similar low end authority. BB2 can take some serious EQ, and I'm glad to see that it can compete with a slight turn of knob.

    5. When the cabs are standing upright, I'm hearing the BB2's dispersion to be superior. f112 sounds more directional to me. After playing that way for a while, however, I turned the f112 over to wedge monitor mode and it sounded completely different, almost better in every way, as it was pointing right at me. But that kind of proves to me what I'm hearing with the dispersion. Again, this cabinet could "open up" over the course of a week's playing.

    6. This may be unfair, as I've been playing through it for a month compared to the Greenboy, but BB2 sounds a little more transparent and the cabinet's low end seems to transcend its cabinet's size. f112 sounds great, but sounds more "of the box itself" if you know what I mean. Interested to see if that changes with time.

    7. Popped notes on the J sound excellent through both of these cabinets, and while they aren't identical in tone, I don't know that I prefer one over the other because they do a great job.

    8. Playing distortion and overdrives through these cabs sounds significantly different though, I would guess due to the mid driver and crossover. Today, at least, I think the BB2 slightly edges out f112 in the overdrive test, in terms of it sounding more natural and not fizzing out, even full-up, which is where I keep it. With f112, it all concentrates in the mid driver, and you really hear the crossover points. BB2's tweeter manages to both be a little brighter with drive, but also softer and less buzzy. It sort of recedes into the background a little, which I think is a cool trick. f112 isn't fizzy by any means, and I actually like drive through this cabinet quite a bit, but you hear a lot more upper-midrange distortion, which might be good and might not depending. Using the I setting on the switch might help.

    9. I would say both cabs handle the Moollon's B string beautifully. I can't give out a prize for this, except to both.

    A big take away for me has been that the right 12" speaker in the right cabinet for bass is actually awesome, despite past experience, and I'm a convert. These are probably the two best bass cabinets I've ever played through, for my taste. Their differences are much, much smaller than their similarities. There is something special about the f112 that I can't put my finger on yet. Regardless of the differences, if I'd only ever heard of one of these, I could happily play one or the other without regrets, as they are both winners. Now, I can hone in on what works best for me in the end and enjoy testing both in the process.

    More reports over the next week.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2021
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  2. fast slapper

    fast slapper

    Dec 11, 2001
    Fresno, CA
    It would be interesting to see frequency response and polar measurements between these two.

    I suspect the BB2 is more "technically correct" with a more even off axis response. It's easier to get the crossover right in a passive 2-way than a 3-way. Doesn't mean that it'll sound better to the user, but it might have a better chance of sounding the same over a wider listening area.

    I keep coming back to a wide dispersion constant directivity waveguide crossed to a 12" or 15".
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  3. bob atherton

    bob atherton

    Mar 8, 2005
    The way I try out bass gear, or hi-fi for that matter, is if it sounds better then it is better. I come from a totally subjective standpoint. Of course if the bass gear might sound pretty crap out front then I guess that is another matter. I do do usually add some upper mid on my back line as I know this will get lost out front but it gives me the pitch of the fundamental a little clearer.
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  4. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Thanks for this -- I appreciate your sharing of your impressions and look forward to reading more of them as they develop and evolve.
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  5. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
    Do you know what that sound is? That's the dulcet tones of the plot thickening.

    I got a little playing in today, but nothing conclusive. I really liked both, pretty equally. I ended up making a loop on a TC Ditto, which is always helpful, because even when playing loud, the acoustic sound of an electric instrument fools you into thinking you know what your bass sounds like, and you don't.

    The following testing ("fooling around", really) was all done at low levels with the Ditto, so take it with a grain of salt, because it won't necessarily resemble how these cabs sound turned up. As I heard yesterday, the F112 is a punchier cabinet, out of the box. Compared to the BB2 at the same EQ settings, the F112 sounds like bass plus a little kick drum mixed in. I had to keep it down, but when I very temporarily cranked it, the punch of the BB2 was there, just less apparent at low levels, and I'm not sure I can get the same kick from it. What I know is that the BB2 has a fantastic low end when you play at regular levels, and I have never found it lacking... but, it's not that extra axe-into-a-wooden-door the F112 gives. I have to play with this more. There's a difference between what works in a mix and what sounds impressive solo and that can't be forgotten.

    If the F112 appears to have possibly a better low end, the BB2 in my opinion still has the better high end for my taste. It's more effortless, and silkier. I have an EQ patch on a SA EQ2 pedal that is a 4.6dB shelf at 4.8kHz, and with both of these cabinets, you can unmistakably hear the boost when engaged, which I barely could with with my old Subway 2x10. I can't quite get the F112 to have the same clarity the Barefaced does. These are small differences, but repeatable and noticeable. The "I" setting is not quite enough, and the "II" is a little too much emphasis, and neither quite have what the BF's HF driver has. The 3-way of the F112 is very capable, I just think I prefer the BF's 2-way, which sounds more integrated to my ears. If I end up loving the F112, I'll have to give that up, which isn't the end of the world, but not what I want.

    Tomorrow I need to play them both loud again and focus on the low end only. My feeling right now is that, despite the BB2's lack of a lower-mid bump, it feels full and satisfying at volume, and the F112's punch is really impressive at lower levels, but might be overwhelming at volume. I hate that neither are perfect!
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
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  6. fast slapper

    fast slapper

    Dec 11, 2001
    Fresno, CA
    How about a little bump at 100hz on the BB2?
  7. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    ^^^this, or even 250Hz...would love to hear a review with band/drummer context....
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  8. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
    Noble’s bass knob is cornered at 150, so in real terms, that’s pretty much what you’re asking for. It gets you there except for the big transient. I also tried a 125 peak filter with similar results. Again, this was at low level so somewhat meaningless.
  9. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
    Yeah you and me both. That might not happen for a little while.

    Among the biggest priorities to me is “does the amp/cab inspire?” It should make you go “yeah, man.” And that is likely possible without the super thumpy output.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
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  10. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Which one is lighter and easier to move around?
  11. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I tried a bunch of amps and preamps through a couple of different cabs awhile back -- a fair amount of living-room obsessing was involved (mostly playing, sometimes listening to loops I made with a Ditto Looper) though, at various points, I got to play a lot (but not all) of the rigs live with a group.

    Some observations:

    Looping-and-listening can be useful in a few ways -- it eliminates the acoustic sound of the bass you mentioned (which can be a factor at living-room volumes), takes are absolutely consistent, and, when you're not playing, you are more free to listen critically and might pick up on things you'd miss otherwise.

    That said, you get less of the feel of a rig -- less of a sense of how it responds in the moment -- listening to a loop through it than playing it in real time. If...
    ...then that in-the-moment feeling of connection (or lack of it) is important (it is to me, anyway).

    Finally, the absolutely consistent takes of a looper are not always advantageous. If an amp/cab combo is an extension of your instrument (and there are varying takes on this), it stands to reason that you won't play through them all in the same way. If you walk up to a piano, some have firm action and some have light action -- you wouldn't play them all with the same touch.

    Example: I tried a Genzler Magellan alongside a Peavey Minimega for a few weeks. They felt markedly different to me (Minimega stiffer than my reference GBE 1200, Magellan with more give) and I found myself employing a different touch with each to get a result I liked. What would be the correct approach to take, then, if comparing them with a looper? (Again, not saying that looping can't be useful in a number of ways, but it's something to consider.)

    When looping, I sometimes messed around with layers -- I'd record a part on the neck pickup, a part on the bridge, and a part with both pickups, then see how they sounded together and how clearly I could pick out each voice. You might or might not find that this tells you anything useful about how a rig will work in a live mix. (Same for playing recorded music through a cab, which I tried once or twice -- can expose some stuff more easily than a bass signal might, but whether or not you'd find it useful I can't say.)

    I found playing with drum loops and recorded music in various styles useful and fun.

    All that said, while I learned a lot playing at home -- and there are some things that are better explored there than in a loud bar with bad acoustics -- there were some questions that I obsessed over for weeks at home which were answered inside of five minutes with a band on stage.

    Those are just my thoughts -- your process might well differ!

    Thanks again for sharing your findings with us.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2021
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  12. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
    Yes, totally. Loopers do not in any way take the place of the connection-with-instrument part of the evaluation.

    I 100% agree.

    This cab will spend most of its life in a studio live room and be there for my enjoyment and occasional jamming, so I'm less concerned with the bad acoustics part of the equation, but yes, the "answered in five minutes" thing is maybe the most real of any result you can have.
  13. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
    The BB2 is 26lbs (I have the grille cloth, so it's 3 lbs lighter than normal). The F112 (I have the birch-made one, okoume is a bit lighter, up to about 5lbs) is about 38 lbs, so a difference there. The BB2 is larger on two dimensions and has a single, Fender-style handle. The F112 has a nice, heavy duty recessed handle on the top and is very easy to move around, as it's really pretty compact. F112 definitely has the best form factor in my opinion.

    I come from 1990s bass gear weight standards, so both these things are impossibly light. My old Eden, Ampeg and Trace Elliott stuff weighed the same as a Yugo.
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  14. mmbongo

    mmbongo I have too many basses. Supporting Member

    Yeah recessed handles really make a difference!
  15. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Aren't you exaggerating, just a little bit?

    I mean, Yugos were pretty light. (I never tried one, but I could see it vibrating right off the cab at high volume.)
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  16. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
    So yesterday's low-volume looper test was as meaningless as I had suspected. I played nice and loud today and both cabs have all the punch you would hope, just not way down in the Fletcher-Munson zone. As before, the BB2 likes a couple dB more of the bass EQ, or the F112 needs a bass cut for them to sound similar. I would also say the BB2 needs another dB or so to make the volume feel equal, but I sure enjoyed playing both side by side. Really great cabinets that both gave the "yeah, man."

    Since they're both really desirable, it really comes down to voices. F112 has that low-mid emphasis that reminds me a little of multiple 10-inch speakers. It sounds great and is fun to play. My observations on the high end still stands: position I and II have a much bigger effect on the clarity and voice of the bass than does the tweeter. Overall, I find the F112 sounds more like a "musical instrument speaker" than the BB2 does.

    BB2 on the other hand, doesn't have the same emphasis, and feels "flatter" to me, but maybe there's a little dip (I'm going to guess) around 1k. In the upper end, it's a bit more open sounding, a little brighter, if you have the knob all the way up. If the F112 is more "MI", BB2 reacts more like a PA speaker, which is more or less how it's advertised. This has the effect of making the bass a little more clear and articulate, and that was originally my goal. The F112, in comparison, feels a little more confined to the lower three quarters of the frequency spectrum of the bass. For some people, that's exactly what is desired, and I get that. Others will disagree with me, saying the mid/tweeter provide all the clarity and brightness they could ever want. It makes a horse race.

    If I had to put my current opinions in one sentence: The F112 has a gratifying low end at the slight expense of the upper midrange while the BB2 has a really clear tone, that sounds a little more like a record than a live bass, and both are really excellent cabinets that exceed the scope of most "typical" designs.

    Tomorrow, I'll give them both a sweep to see if my suspicions were correct about their response.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2021
  17. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
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  18. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I figured that the I/II switch had something to do with the crossover/treble voicing, but, not having played a Fearless, wasn't sure exactly what. For those in the same boat, I found this @edfriedland video helpful (F112 review starting at 9:08):

  19. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    I got a Fearless 1x12 based on Ed Freidland's video.
    Radical departure from my Bag End 1x15 and GK Neo 1x12 's.
    I'm looking for a one cab solution. 2 gigs have good PA support.
    I have yet to gig it but it sounds great in the studio.
    I write in after gigs next month.
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  20. 600 Ohms

    600 Ohms Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2012
    I'm 99% confident that the I/II switch alters the mid driver level. I would guess that position I attenuates it a little, where II is full blast.

    I would also note the way Ed has the cab miked up makes it sound incredible, but you don't a feeling for the amount of low end it produces.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2021