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Do I need a more powerful head or just a power amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by shambobala, Mar 23, 2014.

  1. shambobala


    Feb 19, 2009
    My current full bass rig is as follows:
    Zoom B3
    Warwick ProFet 3.2 Head
    Warwick 2x10 cab
    Warwick 1x15 cab

    I play in a number of bands and play a lot of different styles of music. I find the B3 really handy for dialing up different sounds to suit the variety of styles I play. I've found the best way is to use the amp models in the B3 to shape the sound and just run them through the head with a bit of compression and the EQ set flat. Most of the time, due to transport and stage size restrictions, I only use the 2x10 cab so I'm getting approximately 200w at 8 ohms (amp would deliver 300w at 4 ohms with both cabs). There are, however, some situations where I'm just not getting enough volume on stage with this setup so I'm considering upgrading the head to a more powerful unit and while that's the most obvious solution I'm just wondering if there might be another way around it so I have a couple of other scenarios which I'm thinking might also be possible:

    1: Since I'm using the amp models and eq in the B3, do I really need to run it through another preamp or could I simply buy a power amp and run the cab from that? (B3->Power amp->cab)

    2. Could I just get a power amp and take a line out from my head into that (whenever I need to) or will I damage the head by running it "without a load"? (B3->Bass Head->line out to power amp->cab)

    Both cabs can handle up to 450w.

    I'm happy with the sounds I can get from my current setup but as I've said I just need a bit more "oomph" in some venues and bringing in the 1x15 for the full "tower of power" effect just isn't practical!

    For what it's worth I play fretted/fretless/4-strings/5-strings/roundwounds/flats/ubass/upright! (and I've got 3 kids and a wife in college so I'm on a pretty tight budget!)

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
  2. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    You've got unmatched cabs, which may cause a perception of lack of volume due to non-ideal phasing. That's the first thing you'll get told, so I figured I'd get in quick (see the stickies on the forum for great info).

    Volume is best delivered through speaker area, so your actual best option would be to dispense with the 210 and get another 115. If you like the 210 better, get another, sell the 115 and go the vertical stacking route. If you suspect that this isn't going to get you there either you might have to start looking at a highly sensitive 410 (good quality) or a 6 or 810.

    Volume comes from having lots of speaker, and does not necessarily require a lot of amp. While a poweramp would get you more volume you're much better off just having matched cabs.
  3. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    You shouldn't have a problem running it without a load... it's got a solid state power section. Although honestly, unless you are married to that exact tone, you can get a tone you like just as much out of a ton of amps with bigger power sections. If I were in your position, I would just find a different amp that I thought sounded good with a higher output.

    Just my $.02.
  4. shambobala


    Feb 19, 2009
    Not quite sure I get you there IPYF. The amp delivers 300w at 4ohms. Each cab is an 8ohm unit so together they give a 4ohm load resulting in 300w but used individually I'm getting less output (approximately 200w). at least that's my understand of how these thing work (or am I missing something)?
  5. cableguy


    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    If you are getting all your tone processing including EQ from the B3, I would sell your head and buy a power amp with more watts. FWIW I do not own a B3 so look into how they are able to drive a power amp. I think the B3 also has a DI so you would be set. I know what it like with family and such. I usually have to sell some gear to get more. Good luck.
  6. He means either go with two 2x10 cabs, or go with two 1x15 cabs, rather than mixing a 2x10 with 1x15. You will still have your 4 ohm load and get the full 300 watts.

    But I think your real question is how to get more "oomph" with only one cab rather than having to tote two cabs. Unfortunately though there's only so much that a single cab can do, whether it's a 2x10 or 1x15. The limit is the cab not the amp when you have only a small cab.
  7. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    You're not missing anything. You're just assuming certain things which aren't as relevant as they may seem.

    The difference between 200w and 300w in db volume is pretty negligible. I'm sure one of the much more knowledgeable cats on here could give you exact numbers, and even then its more a case of 300w of headroom, not volume. Simply put, the reason your amp seems louder when you've got both speakers plugged running has everything to do with the extra speakers in play and almost nothing to do with the extra 100w of amp power.

    If you need to be loud on a budget you need lots of speakers. The only way to be properly loud with less speakers is to start looking at a boutique cabs like a Fearful or a Barefaced.
  8. pudgychef

    pudgychef Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2005
    Chongqing, China
    Vertical stack of 2 2x10 will save footprint/stageroom and increase volume. Few threads here about vertical stacks
  9. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    As others have said, your problem really sounds like one of speaker area, not amp power. A pair of vertically stacked 8ohm 210s would probably make you very happy, but if you need more sound with just one cabinet, you'd have to look at a 212 or a 410. I tend to favor 212s myself - they're lighter and a tad less directional - but go where your ears and budget take you. A bigger amp for the single 210 is *not* the path to happiness.
  10. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    When you say not enough stage volume, are you only talking about what you're hearing or what the other people on stage are hearing? If it's just you, angle and/or raise the cab up away from your knees and closer to your ears.
  11. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    How are you setting up your cabs? I have used 2x10 vertical atop a 1x15 in one situation, and it was plenty loud enough for the stage and part of the room. Getting one of the 10s up by your ears can make a world of difference.
  12. Ya, try putting the cab up on a chair or tilt it back before spending hard earned.

    2x 2x10 stacked up tall will succeed for sure.
  13. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    I got into a situation like yours a while back - found a decent preamp and started using my head's 400 watt power section to drive the preamp's tone. Ran that into a mismatched pair of cabs - a 2x10 and a rather odd 1x15 (both 8 ohms). I got into the two smaller cabs when I got a smaller vehicle and couldn't cart around my old 4x10 anymore.

    Then I decided to get somewhat squared away, so I got rid of the head and the goofy 1x15, found another 2x10 that matched my first one, and found a great deal on a decent power amp with all the juice I'll ever need. My cabs are the more affordable Workingman's line from SWR, but since I got into this more cohesive setup, I've been completely happy for many years.

    My current layout isn't best for everyone, but your particular pickle has an especially familiar ring to it. If you want to keep your setup limited to fewer "pieces-parts", I'd say consider getting rid of the head and your cabs, get a power amp (make sure your Zoom will run it fine), and look for a 2x12 with healthy sound.

    Otherwise I'd say the guidance from our pals is easy enough. Either a pair of 1x15 or 2x10 cabs should be rather eager to throw your favorite tone around.
  14. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    Though if you only have one cabinet, don't jack it up more than a couple of feet. Somewhere in the 20" to 30" range, it will lose acoustic coupling with the floor, and you'll have Extreme Bass Suck.
  15. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    I think I recall reading that a B3 will drive a power amp well and if you just bypass the pre of your regular amp its definitely a good route to go.

    However, as others have said, for more volume a good 212 at 4 ohms will make a significant difference as there is more speaker surface area.

    I personally prefer two 112s with a handcart. Easy to move, fit in the car without issue and you can just use one for low volume gigs, rehearsals and jams.
  16. Webskipper


    Dec 2, 2013
    Have you tried an acoustic foam platform? Auralex GRAMMA was $35 on amazon.

    Helped isolate my Bass amp from the apartment.

    Found a small piece of hard packaging foam at work that fit the home theatre sub.

    Better sound quality after getting them both off the floor.
  17. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    I ran a 210 and 115 for years and they sounded fine, but if the OP wants more from his 210 I'd add another 210. More speakers will give more volume and better tone.

    If 2 cabs isn't practical I'd sell the 210 and 115 and get a good 212.