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Does anyone actually want a flat sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Eric Cioe, Feb 15, 2006.

  1. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Seems like all sorts of companies in the past few years have been using "flat" to describe their cabinets' tone. Two that come to mind right off-hand are EA and Accugroove.

    Now, I think it is agreed upon here that these cabinets sound nothing like each other, even within the same brand. Though all AGs are supposed to be "studio-monitor flat," the consensus is that the Tri112 turns out sounding a ton different than the Whappo, et cetera.

    So the question is, does anyone actually want a flat tone, or is that simply the marketing gimmick of these days? Both companies make great cabinets, but if they're both "flat," shouldn't they sound exactly alike?
  2. I could not agree more that "flat" is a very suspicious claim for all the reasons you stated. That being said, a flat rig does have appeal to me as a good reference for what I'm sending to the board (live show or recording).

    I think though that if flatness was all that important, people would just set up a reference mic, run some various flavors of noise and use the RTA and a nice graphic EQ to make their rigs flat. I'll bet for the price of an I-AMP 800 and an elwhappo you could get the gear you need to make pretty much any rig flat. (Though you would probably lose some headroom in the process somewhere)
  3. BSR6P-Bob


    Apr 5, 2005
    I believe the point of advertising "relatively" flat amplification (cabs & heads) is to offer the player a "relatively" uncolored representation of the signal source.
    A good thing if you have a nice instrument.
    As with all this stuff, your mileage may vary.

    I personally like the "flat" amplification because it seems to put more of the control of the sound in my hands.
    Just my experience. If it sounds good to you, that's good enough.
  4. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    I'm going to agree with Bob. I personally like a less colored sound and it's because I love the sound of my basses and gives me more control. Flat.. I dunno really....but less of certain voice that some cabs have by design. I am able to here my indivdual notes better at any volume.


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    ...can anyone give a few names that are "heavily" covered or non-flat? I know Eden has its trademark & so does Ampeg with its 8x10. My Bag End has a bit of "non-flatness" to it, but in a good way that helps...

    Any others?...


    PS: I LOVE my Bergs...
  6. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    I don't know about most cab/bass/amps (well, a few...) and flatness, but I do know that my amp settings might be something like SMASH, very little to no eq, and, at the moment, no external signal processing. Bass > amp > cab. I've come to like the onboard preamp type bass; I can add what little eq I want from the bass. Works for me.

    Flat is where it's at?
  7. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    I don't, but i dont want any over hyped or underhyped frewuencies either. I like my Eden XST mojo a lot, but one situation where it might fall short of something more "flat" would be in the upper midrange, i think, because whenever i use a filter/wah or play an electric g**tar through my rig i can notice that a chunk of the frequency response is missing, and my effects arent as pronounced as they are through a set of nice headphones or the DI'ed PA sound.

    but mic'ing the cab solves most of that problem as long as i can tweak. DI'ing an overdriven sound comes out much more through a nice PA system than my cab, and I had thoughts of getting a more 'flat' cab, but then i figured i don't need an expensive cab that would only really serve as a personal monitor, and I like my Eden tone anyways
  8. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    I've yet to hear a piece of audio gear that didn't have some kind of sound to it.

    Let's start at the source. Does your bass offer flat reproduction? Most pickups definitely do not even come close to flat. Some preamps might.

    Amplification is probably the only area that could come close to laboratory flat response. I've yet to hear a flat speaker cabinet. Every cabinet has its own color.

    So, what does this add up to? If the source isn't flat, why would you want the amplification to be flat?

    In the end, doesn't it make more sense to choose tonal coloring that sounds good, rather than looks good on a graph?
  9. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    While I've found the D210XST to be "flatter" than the other Eden cabinets, it too sounds far from truly flat to my ears. Overall, I find it a bit heavy in the mids compared to a monitor speaker, and I hear a bit of a hole between the range where the woofer rolls off and the tweeter cuts in. However, compared to the NL-210 and D210XLT, I found the D210XST more open in the upper mid frequencies.
  10. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    I'm not really talking about a "flat" eq - that's what I use mostly. I'm talking about claims of plus and minus absolutely nothing from 31hz to 20khz.

    12bass is right on, I think.
  11. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    When those first came out I fired off a simple question to Eden tech support. How high do the drivers play with the tweeter off?

    Got a reply from David Eden himself - the XST 10" drivers only play up to 1K.

    Thanks, but no thanks.
  12. 12bass


    Jan 2, 2003
    Victoria, Canada
    Bill Fitzmaurice is better able to address this issue, but I would guess that most large woofers are poor at high frequencies. I don't know which cabinets/drivers are any better in this respect. IMO, the XST drivers sound better in the upper mids than the ones in the XLT and NL-210. If you want more upper mids, you are probably better off with smaller drivers (6" or 8").
  13. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I just posted about this very topic in another thread. Who really knows what a flat sounding speaker should sound like? Is there actually such a thing? Also its likely that most amps with flat eq settings are not really producing an even frequency response.

    Personally I prefer upper mid peaks, middle mids scooped, lower middle mid bumps, shimmering glassy highs that are a little scooped and ultra low lows that are totally flat. Or whatever my nv 610 is...
  14. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    I dont get it, why is this undesirable? What would be a better frequency to crossover at? Actually its probably a fairly optimum frequency.
  15. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

  16. Crockettnj


    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ

    does the response actually come from "david eden"? I mean, that's sorta weird. it's not his name. I guess it's his rock and roll cab building persona though.

    cool pseudonym.

    no experience with the cabs (yet).
    awesome amps.

    its still a little weird.
  17. Anyone who is using:

    A) passively crossed over cabs, especially some of the extremely poor crossover designs found in a lot of bass cabs (even high end ones).
    B) standard 210/410/etc+HF horn configuration.
    C) Multiple high frequency drivers.

    Is not hearing anything remotely close to truly 'flat' sound.

    Even the best engineered speakers have some colouration. Even Meyer, though they're better than most. Until a massless, point source, full bandwidth driver is found all speakers will have a 'sound.'

    If speakers were truly 'flat' they'd all sound identical.

    Personally, I think a lot of people have been duped into thing that extended bass == flat sound.
  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    In a sealed cabinet with a given driver size, cone excursion goes up by 12 dB per octave until the box resonance is reached. You can stretch the low end response of a ported cab, but not without limit. Ultimately, extending the low frequency response results in an efficiency sacrifice.

    Such a sacrifice might be acceptable if you don't need a lot of acoustic power, and wurmhole's example of wanting a reference monitor in the studio is such a case. At least one brand of flat speaker -- Acme -- is actually stated to be flat within a given number of dB, and is also known to be power hungry.

    But on stage a woefully inefficient speaker could represent a poor use of amplifier power if there are ways to operate with higher efficiency and retain good tone. You can recover some of the loss by increasing box size and overall cone area -- adversely affecting portability. Big cone area results in poor off-axis response, necessitating the complexity of a 3-way system. And so forth.

    I think that bass amplification has evolved to use speakers with cutoff frequencies above the lowest fundamental because it is a practical and efficient use of power and size.

    Amplification has also been the victim (or beneficiary?) of "gap analysis," where you try to introduce features that are not already reprsented in the market. Market gaps tend to get filled, and flat response was definitely such a gap.

    I want a non-flat sound that allows me to get the volume I need in a speaker that I can carry with one hand.
  19. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    A 10 IS a small driver. And it should play much higher than 1K. The Ampeg SVT-18 goes up to 2K! A 15 typically goes up to about 3K. A 10 should hit at least 4-5K.
  20. Metal Mitch

    Metal Mitch

    Jul 14, 2003
    NO crossover is the optimal frequency. Highs sound different when played by a tweeter than when played by a driver. I much prefer the sound of a driver, as do many other tweeter-hating bassists.

    And now back to our regularly scheduled thread...