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Current fads vs game changers

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ashtray, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. So the world of bass guitar amplification is still fairly young. I think the current (2015) tech in the bass amp world is pretty advanced (especially even compared to just 20 years ago) but I was wondering which current trends are game changers and which will just be a flash in the pan?

    Now, not talking about "stepping stones" that will be replaced with a more developed version of the current tech - but true fads that we can look back and say "remember when everyone was using _____ and ditching their old gear?"

    Considering that many players are still using the same bass as was created in the 1950's, amp tech certainly has a lot more fluctuation!

    Note: this thread is purely speculation. We can look back on it in 20 years and see who was right though. ;)

    Here's some starters for possible fads:
    -mixed drivers in single cab
    -class D amps
    -neo magnets
    -super high wattage amps or cabs

    Ok, go! :)
  2. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    IMO it's the general acceptance and development of light cabs that sound good. Note that I don't necessarily mean small cabs - i think many players like a little size if for no other reason than it looks cooler and usually accommodates 2+ speakers for increased volume.
    TinIndian and SanDiegoHarry like this.
  3. Or are class d amps a game changer and the days of heavy solid state amps are over?

    Standard rack size amps replaced with micro amps? Or the return of full sized amps?

    Or will the days of 4x10 and bigger cabs come to an end as everyone goes modular? Maybe single speaker 16 ohm cabs will be the norm and you can stack and mix and match 4 of them, each under 20 pounds?
  4. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    If by "mixed drivers", you mean bass cabs with tweeters, I think they'll be around for a while, though the market share may shift back and forth. If you mean mixed 8/15 or 10/15 cabinets, they probably fall into the fad category. Contemporary 15s are full-spectrum enough to get up to where a tweeter can take over.

    Class D amps are a lighter, cheaper way to amplify audio frequencies. Not a fad. They'll be around until someone comes up with something better.

    Neodymium/rare earth magnets are lighter, and lightness is a virtue, not a fashion statement. So I don't see them as a fad, even though demand for rare earths from other sectors may drive the price high enough for them to become more and more a high-end boutique thing.

    Super high-wattage amps and cabs, on the other hand, are probably a fad. It's increasingly rare that anyone can actually *use* that kind of power, either in a studio or on stage, and for the most part it's a penis-length substitute. I'm fine with penis-length substitutes, but I think the ones that don't cause permanent hearing damage will ultimately win out in the marketplace.
    Fat Steve and blindrabbit like this.
  5. strictlybass_ic

    strictlybass_ic Mediocrity is a journey

    Jan 9, 2014
    Northern Indiana
    I feel like class D is the big game changer. Especially as manufacturers get them ever more dialed in and putting out good tube emulated sound. An amp that fits in your gig bag pocket and weighs a few pounds is a major leap from an 80 pound tube head.

    Same goes for lighter/smaller/more efficient cabinets and neo magnets. Who doesn't like carrying less weight around.

    As for fads. And I'm bracing for the flame here... modular 112 rigs. Don't get me wrong, I like them too and they sound good. But the current popular thing is just enough cabinet to get the job done. Which I can easily see rotating back around to how much cabinet can I take and still get away with it. "is a 2x 810 rig too much for a coffee shop?" is the future TB thread title equivalent of "is 112 enough for my bar gig?" (a bit exaggerated, but you get the idea)
    Munjibunga and Omega Monkey like this.
  6. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Class-d is the winner
    Now not really, it is just an amplifier, but think of it as wire with gain. This leads to show there have been vast tunings in the signal processing/pre-amp portion. Get a good sound and send it to the gain wire. Good sound out but louder.

    The type of magnet doesn't matter as long as the rest of cab meets the needs. There are new ceramic designs that are also good.

    The standard old bass reflect baffle box tuned correctly continues to be the highest output, best bandwidth, and loudest enclosure. Horn loaded speakers are more efficient but they increase size. Since class-d amps have huge amounts of power a baffle box does a great job.

    Some boutique builders are learning that lightweight is a factor for a big part of the market. They have learned to brace and use thinner plywood to really drop the weight with no compromise in sound.
    AstroSonic likes this.
  7. iualum


    Apr 9, 2004
    Class Ds & Neos are here to stay.

    How high is "super" high-wattage amps/cabs?

    Mixed drivers in a single cab weren't ever in fashion long enough or in a big enough way to even rate being called a "fad."
    Munjibunga and SBsoundguy like this.
  8. lexington125


    Sep 11, 2013
    hollywood, baby......
    someday I will find 4 or 5 other guys who want to play the blues the way it was played before it became all about guitar heroics
    I could be wrong, "the same amp as was created in the 1960's" is still the single most popular bass amp (once you discount the child / student market) [ SVT ]
    AstroSonic and jeff ward like this.
  9. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    Yep. No question.
  10. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    You are exceedingly wrong! Fender has always outsold ampeg. From day one until today. Right now the most popular bass amp ever sold is the second generation (or V2) Fender Rumble 150 combo. On a world wide sales basis it remains the best selling bass amp in history. The new V3 Fender Rumble 500 will soon overtake that mark.
    petrus61, smeet, kdogg and 3 others like this.
  11. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    Interesting discussion. Computer technology will still drive the industry with smaller components, more natural sounding tube emulation, smaller lighter speakers. I wonder if technology will find a synthetic substitute for rare earth material needed for neo speakers. That would be great if we could move away from having one country like Japan dictating the market with their precious supply.

    I'm hoping that the industry will also be driven by more environmentally friendly manufacturing methods as the world continues to become more environmentally driven.

    I like examples like the Hotone amps and the Gallien Krueger MB200, they're pushing the boundaries of size and weight for excellent performance. Granted, the Hotone is only 5 watts but it's been highly rated for its tone. The biggest complaint about the MB200 is players accidentally pulling it off the cabinets due to its lack of weight. Maybe the components on amplifiers will become sophisticated enough that there will be fewer parts on the new amps, less points of failure.

    I hope that as a substitute for rare earth minerals develops speakers will continue to become lighter and more powerful, and more efficient.
    Size will remain smaller, but the much lighter speakers will also allow for larger efficient and easy to transport arena capable cabinets. The cabinets themselves hopefully will undergo a reduction of weight similar to the already successful fEarless and Greenboy cabinets. I believe sustainable wood is already being used in cabinet production, but not at the much higher level it could be used.

    Hopefully MDF will evenually become obsolete to make way for ultrastrong lightweight plywood, maybe no thicker than 5/8". The cabinets will streamline down with less moving parts, much as the chrome trimmings on cars of the 50's and 60's were abandoned. Cabinet design could simplify so that slots in the cabinet would replace metal and plastic screw mounted handles. The coverings could continue the trend to rubberized, bump resistant paint on coatings, replacing most rug or tolex covered cabinets, except on custom builds.

    I can't imagine what is fad today that won't be here tomorrow. Lack of imagination! LOL

    Indeed, the future's so bright, I gotta wear shades. :cool:
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
  12. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Bergantino has ben doing the mixed driver thing for a while.
    Could advancements be headed to key board bass or a bass triggering a keyboard?
    Just how much better can a bass instrument sound?

    Considering how low-fi satellite radio and MP3's are compared to old fashioned FM radio and CD's, could the next generation be sacrificing quality for ease of use?
    My kid really wanted those Dr. Beats (or whatever) headphones.
    I auditioned them against my $95 Sony's which were a million times more accurate.
    Turn out that it is a fashion statement and not at all about what "sounds best".

    Could the next generation sacrifice tone for price, weight, and size?
    Us 50+ year olds still seem to care about a duo quality but welcome the lighter weight and form factor.
    Of course there is small, light stuff that sounds just like crap.
    TMARK, JimiLL, mindwell and 1 other person like this.
  13. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    I agree with you about the Beats headsets. Silly trendy, probably a forgotten fad in twenty years.... hope this doesn't get me flamed! :bag:
    goodformetal and Moosehead1966 like this.
  14. Once computer modelling really gets to where what comes out feels like tubes into a transformer, the present tube renaissance will get to looking like a fad.

    Class D might get bettered by a room temp thermonuclear chip tech but you would call Class D a stepping stone technology.
  15. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    The basic design of the bass has stayed the same because the human body has stayed the same. Amplification has no such constraint.
  16. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    Not understanding this. Can you expand this thought? Thanks!
  17. Technology moves on. At one time tubes were it. Then transistors. Now chips. Perhaps one day musicians will sit and think and their brainwaves will be transmitted to the audience by thought amplifiers.
    hrbassji likes this.
  18. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    Ok. I think I saw that on Star Trek already. LOL J/K
    What we laughed at 50 years ago is reality today.
    As far as transmitting music through brainwaves, will a person actually qualify as a musician as he isn't really manipulating an instrument? Or will his mind become the instrument, as well as the computer receiving the transmission? And will we all be watching a concert where people are on stage with no guitars, basses and amps? Hmmm..
  19. Shoe phone anyone? Beam me up Mr Scott.
    alaskaleftybass likes this.
  20. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    I believe multi-driver cabs with sophisticated electronic crossovers have radically changed speaker cabinet performance for the better. I've been gigging Greenboy-type cabs for about five years and will never go back to traditional designs. The performance and tone is simply too stellar to turn back to the dark ages.

    There's also various new technologies that's enabling us to get the tone and feel of tube amps without having to lug a 100 pound tube amp around. I'm totally loving this option. In the last year it has changed my world and expectations of what I want out of my gear.

    But none of the fancy new stuff is doing a dang thing to stop the decline of people enjoying live music. A lot of kids have no idea how music is made. Our fancy instruments and gear might as well be museum pieces for the DJ-only crowd. I suspect THAT trend will have a severe negative impact on our world because there will be a continually shrinking pool of people who are willing to buy instruments/etc., sticks with it to master their craft, and continue the upgrade cycles we endlessly yap about on TalkBass. Not much we can do about that except enjoy ourselves while the getting is good.

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