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does bi-amping actually improve TONE?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by dace, Feb 7, 2003.

  1. dace


    Dec 25, 2000
    sydney, australia
    i realise that bi-amping is used primarily to get a cleaner, clearer sound, particularly if your cab isn't handling the low-end well, however i don't consider this an as improvement to tone, because its more like a correction of a cabinet flaw.

    nobody seems to have discussed its effect on tone. ok lets say we've got 2 rigs:

    * RIG1 - a 2X10 cab + a 4X10 cab non-biamped and you've got no problems producing the the full spectrum of frequencies

    * RIG2 - a 1X15 cab + a 4X10 cab biamped and assume that you've got no problems with it like a hole in the frequency spectrum or powering each of the cabs etc. etc and you've picked a crossover frequency that you're happy with

    ok, assume that they've both been setup without problems and each of the cabs are made from the same manufacturer (including the drivers). which rig would produce better tone? or would they sound about the same?
  2. sleazylenny


    Jun 20, 2002
    Mpls, MN
    well, seeing that it would CHANGE your sound, I would vote "yes" to it can improve your tone.

    Although the EQing would remain the same, having a cab and power amp section dedicated to reproduction of low freqs will make them clearer, more powerful, thus changing what you hear. All components ( heads, effects, cabs, picks, fingers,ect...) are a part of the tone equation. Altering one component can change the tone

    Although I won't say it's ALWAYS an IMPROVEMENT. I heard first hand what crossovers can do in the wrong hands:( shudder!!!
  3. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I think with todays good full range cabinets it's a waste of wattage.....just my two pennies;)
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    What jerry said.
  5. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    It depends mainly on the cabs you want to use.

    For example, Avatar's B210s are -3db down at 76Hz and are rated for 700Wrms. If you want to use one or more 15" cabs with the 2x10, bi-amping would give you a lot cleaner low end and let the 2x10 do what it does best.

    Are there any Avatar owners out there who run their B15s and B210s together full-range and play with BEADG 5 strings at REALLY high volume?

    I would be surprised if the B210 wasn't getting pretty badly overdriven on the 31Hz stuff if it really loud.

    I have always thought that the ultimate rig would have about 4000W into 4 Acme Low B-2Ws (subwoofers) and about 1000W into a couple of EA VL208s with the crossover set to 80 to 100HZ (this would be a 4-way system).
  6. redneck2wild


    Nov 27, 2002
    Memphis, TN
    Biamping uses power more efficienctly than running full range. The Speakers are used more efficiently also. The drivers producing the High frequencies don't have the extra strain of producing the low frequencies. Likewise the drivers producing the lows will distort less because of the lack of high frequencies.
    Even If you use the setup with a 2x10 and a 4x10, you can biamp and get a cleaner sound than running both cabinets full range.
    I have on many occasions used 2 4x10s with lows going to one and Highs to the other. Both the Lows and Highs project better this way.
    There are very few true "full range" bass cabinets on the market that can produce down to the 31hz of a Low B on a five string. The ones that do exist are either very expensive, very large or inefficient (requiring a large amount of power).
    But one can get the low B with a biamp rig at a lower cost than the single "full range" cab able to produce the same frequencies with the same efficiency.
    Biamping also allows you to balance Low and High frequencies better.
  7. Multi-amping is an efficiency issue. It restricts the frequencies presented to a driver to the range it is designed to properly handle.

    The full range driver is a myth. If it were true, every sound company in the world would skip multi-amping and use a single-size driver.

    Subwoofers produce low notes and loudness levels not obtainable with small drivers. They also have no mid or high frequency response. Worse, large diameter drivers "beam" very early and wide coverage is quickly lost. A 10" driver is fully beaming as low as 1600 Hz. The polar response drops dramatically only a few degress off axis.

    Active crossovers utilize a steep 24dB slope to aggressively separate frequency bands. Preventing high frequencies from entering a subwoofer reduces distortion and avoids the waste of power applied to high frequencies the sub cannot process.

    I routinely play my Hammond keyboard through my bi-amp rig simultaneously with a guest bassist. Crossed over at 325 Hz, the Hammond is almost entirely in the Highs, while the bassist is almost entirely in the subs. This works well, even at ear splitting volumes.

    Tone is much more subjective. Bassists quickly favor the "Ampeg" tone, or whatever, and much of this is cabinet based. The old sealed Ampeg cabs had very little bottom end, and no highs, but they are the Holy Grail for many players.
  8. Rig #1 will sound much better simply because rig #2 is such a poor choice for bi-amping. The 1x15 cab on it's own will never keep up with the 4x10.
  9. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    You should try comparing two rigs using the same cabs to be fair.

    Anyways I Bi-Amp with my Eden 210XST taking everything below about 375Hz with around 1000W from a QSC USA 900, and everything above that point going to my Eden Nemesis 210cp combo.

    I use that relatively high crossover point because I actually Bi-Amp to get my sound which is fairly clean lows with overdriven mids and highs. I push the pre amp of the Nemesis into distortion even though I could just as easily get the same gig volums cleanly with this setup.

    I find that it really helps to have the setup biamped for those times when I really need to be clean. The power amp clips much less easily than when I am going full range into the Eden than when its only pushing the lows and lower mids. Like wise, the Nemesis likes it much more when It doesnt have to take the lows and can just take the mids and highs.

    It gives me a great rock tone.

  10. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    This depends on the efficiency of each cab.
    But as long as either the crossover unit or power amps used have level controls (which is usually the case), you can just adjust the levels to what you want (assuming you have sufficient power).
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    That is one humongous assumption, isn't it. You have zero specs on the 1-15 (or the 4-10 for that matter) and assume it can't keep up.

  12. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I agree, I haven't come across a full range driver either. OTOH are you talking about a driver or a cab, as everyone else is? I don't think a full range bass cab is a myth;)
  14. The myth is the belief that a cab with 10's and a piezo tweeter is "full range".
  15. ESP-LTD


    Sep 9, 2001
    The one you personally liked the sound of better would produce "better tone".

    They would sound "about the same" if you were a tolerant sort, and they would not if you were more particular or measured them.

    I think it comes down to the fact that they would always sound different if presented with different signals, which they would in the case of full range vs biamp.

    IMO, I'd say the difference would be a function of what your favorite speaker sounds like when asked to perform a task it can't perform in a "flat" way (highs in a sub, lows in a mid/tweeter/horn). Maybe it makes a sound that is popular and maybe not.

    For years I played bolt-on 4 strings into full-range driven 15's. I recently switched to neck-thru 5 strings (which I believe has more fundamental content than bolt-ons) and lower notes as well. I am now experimenting with bi-amping and subs to see if I can make those low notes sound as good as the rest. I'll biamp so that I have accurate control (and plenty of power) over what the subs are adding to the mix.
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    It's full range enough for some people;)

    Isn't it?

    If a cabinet is producing the desired lows and highs and everything in between, what more is required? I'm pretty sure I know what you're getting at... and I simply disagree. It's no "myth", you just have different "needs".

    If it were a myth, it would be no more of one than the myth that you "have" to produce the fundamental at 31hz with a bass rig:D

    Is the same rig required for a 5 string as a similar 4? I doubt it.
  17. quote:
    Originally posted by Mudbass

    Rig #1 will sound much better simply because rig #2 is such a poor choice for bi-amping. The 1x15 cab on it's own will never keep up with the 4x10.

    Show me any 1x15 cab that can not only move as much air as a 4x10 cab, but can also do it under 200hz and I'll shut up. A 1x15 can't fill a room of any size with bass and that's just what it would have to do in the hypothetical setup in the original post.
  18. ESP-LTD


    Sep 9, 2001
    I think we're off the original thread a bit, but it's interesting terriroty to me.

    A 4x10 box has more cone surface area than a 1x15- granted. By the surface area alone, a 4x10 cabinet COULD be louder than a 15, but of course you can't compare them directly since they must use different speakers. Where I disagree is the definition of "under 200hz" as being the target. From my perspective, the real showdown takes place between 30hz and 80hz, because 80hz-200hz is pretty easy to do.

    As I understand it, it's an issue of contrary physics- if a speaker goes low, it doesn't get loud. From what I have seen in the marketplace, most 4x10 cabinets are using speakers and cabinet designs aimed at getting loud at the expense of sacrificing low end below 60hz or so. Because 15's typically have heavier cones than 10's (being bigger), they typically have a lower Free Air Resonance than 10's. There are 10's that have a low Fs, but it's just not as common as in 15's.

    I don't know that we are in disagreement; a 4x10 CAN go lower AND get louder than a 1x15 because it has more surface area. However, most of the ones I am familiar with in the current marketplace, do not go as low as some of the 15's. I'm afraid I don't have the math skills to compare the area under the response curves (once we decided what "low" was going to be defined as).
  19. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    ANY 1-15 vs ANY 4-10? Let me know if you seriously believe that and then I'll proceed with examples of why that's just flat out silly.

    Hint: ever hear a JBL 4530 cab*?

    Do people ever get tired of making sweeping generalizations that just don't hold water.

    *I used a pair in my triamp bass rig in the late 80's.
  20. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Forgot to mention... not everyone is going for room filling sound. Some people have PAs