Couple questions/ideas about cabs/beaming/driver size

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by VigierUSA, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. VigierUSA


    Jan 7, 2013
    Kingston, NY
    General Manager USA, Vigier Guitars
    Hey guys, so I feel like I'm pretty good in terms of my instrument knowledge (comes with the job!), but I've been in a cab frenzy for the past year trying to learn what does what and I just wanna have a better idea of what the audience is hearing when we play without having to experiment with a million different combinations. I have the following cabs and I like all of them for different reasons. I want to narrow down my 'collection' to things that are practical for live use.

    Henry the 8x8
    Ashdown MAG 810
    Ampeg SVT 810 E
    Mesa RoadReady 215
    SWR Big Ben 118

    After having em for more than a week, I finally got to use the 8x8 and Big Ben at rehearsal last night. The Big Ben sounds STELLAR (gives my tone a nice woody-70s vibe that I dig), but doesn't have the output I need to use by itself and I think it would be cool to use more than one of 'em. The 8x8 was shockingly loud (and more modern sounding, which I also dig) and I could probably use that live with no issues volume-wise, but I worry about people at the back of the room missing the THUMP. The 810s are the handy standbys and the 215 is getting used with my other band and I LOVE it.

    What I think I understand is that the larger drivers are more directional - so while they might sound really fantastic when you're directly in front of 'em, they lose certain frequencies at different angles/distances. Is that the gist? Why does that happen and what relationship does that have the the size of the speaker?

    I'm thinking of having a few rigs for different situations - for instance, it might be cool visually, if cumbersome, to rock four 18s (two on each side of the stage) or two 215s (again, one on each side) if I know I have a relatively big stage to work with, but will it sound like crap?

    Something I've avoided since my younger 410/115 days is mixing driver/cab sizes since most 15s that will get pairs with a 410 just can't keep up, but is there a way to do this that makes sense (splitting them up on stage, using specific drivers in each cab)? Biamping is something I've considered, but never tried.

    One of the things I love about acquiring different/new-to-me gear is how complex a rig really is. For instance, my Pigtronix PolySaturator through my Meat Smoke and either of the 810s ROARS. I put the same pedal with the same settings through my Tiny Terror through the 215 the other night and the low end/low mids just dropped right out of my tone in a really crazy/stark way. It's not quite so simple as 'bigger speakers have more low end' or 'more speakers is louder' although those are great starting points for building a rig you think you'll like. I guess I'm setting this thread up as a conversation on the theories of driver size... sorry for the ranting/long post, I'm only trying to learn! Thank you for your input!
    DukeLeJeune likes this.
  2. Low frequencies should be from a single source. Placing them apart (if not done properly) can result in cancellations (areas of no bass in the room).
    Coolhandjjl, will33 and VigierUSA like this.
  3. VigierUSA


    Jan 7, 2013
    Kingston, NY
    General Manager USA, Vigier Guitars
    See that's something I didn't realize. Is it just a matter of the waves crashing into each other in the middle or is it some other sort of voodoo?
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    More like the crest of one wave hitting the trough of the other wave, giving you nothing.
  5. Dispersion is determined by the width of all your drivers. So an 810 works like a 19" driver (Taking in to account the surround of the driver that doesnt move). Hence you 215 has the best dispersion, followed by your 808...
    fdeck and VigierUSA like this.
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    If you want to use non-matching cabs, IMHO the best way is to have two separate amps so you can dial in complimentary sounds rather than having one cab at the mercy of however you set your favorite cab.
  7. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Closer to 22 or 23 inches. Need to add the distance between the drivers.
    fdeck and Downunderwonder like this.
  8. VigierUSA


    Jan 7, 2013
    Kingston, NY
    General Manager USA, Vigier Guitars
    I kinda figured this. I'll have to mess around one day when I'm alone and have the time to get everything I have in one spot.

    Thanks for chiming in guys, all very enlightening!
  9. will33


    May 22, 2006
    It may seem counterintuitive at first, but the skinny speaker (or array of speakers) spreads the mid and upper frequencies wider than the wide speaker (or array of speakers).

    When you stack speakers in a tall, narrow array, you're shifting the beaming to the vertical plane, which usually isn't a bad idea, seeing as audiences can be quite wide, yet the difference in ear level between a short person sitting and a tall person standing might still only be 4 feet.

    The tall, skinny stack spreads it wide like a single speaker would, but has narrower directivity (dispersion, beaming, generally same thing here) in the vertical. That's ok because there aren't any ears on the ceiling and the ones on the floor are having so much fun it doesn't matter what you sound like.
  10. dukeorock

    dukeorock Owner BNA Audio Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Authorized greenboy designs builder/Owner of BNA Audio
    Man, you have great taste in cabs! I like every single one of those :)

    Your safest bet for even dispersion throughout the room is the Mesa 215. Putting cabs on either side of the drums looks way cooler than it sounds out in the room, sadly.

    Played two gigs last night. A guy in the band before us at one of the clubs was using an Ampeg PF800 into an SWR 8x8 and it really did sound good. No PA support and dispersion wasn't perfect, but certainly wasn't terrible. I liked the sound of the cab. Helped him take it offstage and forgot how dang heavy those things are!

    The Big Ben doesn't get much love but I always liked them. Trace Elliot made an 118 I liked even more. Buddy of mine rocked two of them back in the day and sounded awesome.

    Lately I've been playing a sealed 118 with two mid drivers in an attempt to get the best of a couple worlds. The tight, punchy sealed thing with better power handling, lighter weight and the HF extension of modern cabs. At some point, I'll build myself a second one as well as a 218, just for fun and experimentation:)
    VigierUSA and JimmyM like this.
  11. will33


    May 22, 2006
    The Henry is indeed a big little punch machine.

    Always liked those cabs.

    Got a sweet spot for the Mesa/EV 15's too. One of my favorites for lower power tube amps.
    Febs, VigierUSA and dukeorock like this.
  12. dukeorock

    dukeorock Owner BNA Audio Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2011
    Nashville, TN
    Authorized greenboy designs builder/Owner of BNA Audio
    Yep! That Henry 8x8 is my favorite SWR cab. As a kid, the Mesa215 was my favorite...still love em, but yeah, they have their limits :)
  13. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    Let's say you have two 10" woofers side by side. Imagine you stand ten feet in front of them, and measure the distance from the center of the cone to your ears. The distance is the same for both speakers. So their outputs will add perfectly "in phase" along that axis, for maximum loudness.

    Now imagine that you take several steps to one side. Now if you measure the distance to the center of each cone, it is different by several inches. Let's say the difference is four inches. This corresponds to 1/2 wavelength at about 1.6 kHz. So now the output of the far woofer will arrive 1/2 wavelength behind that of the near woofer, which puts it 180 degrees out-of-phase with the near woofer at that frequency, thus their outputs will cancel, and you'll get a big dip in the response.

    This has been a somewhat simplified example, but it illustrates the mechanism by which "beaming" occurs. The wider the driver spacing (or larger the cone, as the same thing happens with radiation from the left and right sides of the cone), the narrower the radiation pattern at any given frequency. So if you have two widely spaced cabs, you can get beaming down into the lower midrange and even bass region.

    Probably the most obvious example of beaming is the on-axis "icepick" of a 4x12 guitar cab. Move 15 degrees off-axis, and it sounds a lot more balanced. Move 30 degrees off-axis, and it sounds too dull.

    Here are some techniques that can minimize beaming in the horizontal plane: Use vertical arrays; use smaller diameter cones; use splayed arrays (like two vertical 210s either splayed out a bit or crossfiring a bit); use a big cone for the low frequencies then cross over to a smaller cone for the mids.

    Not everyone will agree with me on this, but imo if you care about "what the audience is hearing", and you're not in the PA, then you cab's radiation pattern matters.

    All else being equal, a narrow-pattern cab will "thump" more up close. Out in the audience, the difference is negligible. By way of analogy, imagine a garden hose with a spray nozzle. Set the nozzle for a narrow pattern and it "hits harder" within that small area, while the wide pattern hits more uniformly across a wider area. But both put out the same total amount of water.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
    Febs, VigierUSA, yodedude2 and 5 others like this.
  14. VigierUSA


    Jan 7, 2013
    Kingston, NY
    General Manager USA, Vigier Guitars
    Thanks for all the great responses! Definitely eye-opening...

    I like that water hose analogy @DukeLeJeune that definitely helps. That's really my goal, to soak the audience in my bassy goodness. I guess the next step on my journey will be actually learning about how specific frequency bands
    This is my ultimate concern. We don't play a ton of places that have FOH systems and when we do, it's pretty rare for that PA to be worth a damn, so I just want to make sure I'm doing all I can to help my bands sound great from the stage.

    Got an offer on my Ampeg 810 today, so it looks like she's not long for my collection, but luckily one of my bands has one as a 'band cab' so I won't be without the trusty standby. I also have a line on another RoadReady 215 AND an RR118... so I might be taking a drive later today for more experimentation ;)

    Regarding the 8x8, it's heavy, but definitely a little lighter than the 810s. The biggest problem for me is the inability to tip it into the van. Actually lifting that bad boy into a van or my car can be a bear after a show...