Does less power but more speakers equal more, less, or equivalent loudness?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Acidic25, Feb 6, 2020.

  1. Acidic25


    Feb 6, 2020
    Hello all!

    I’ve been playing bass for a little over 2 years now and have been taking lessons for a little over a year. I’m looking at upgrading my amp, and as much as I would love to get head and cab, I can’t swallow the price tag. So I’m looking for advice on a new combo amp.

    The amp I have now is an older model Ampeg BA112 rated at 50 watts with a 12” driver. The one I’m looking to get is a 1966 Vox V4 Essex Bass combo at 40 watts with two 12” drivers. From what I’ve read, these amps aren’t remembered to fondly, but I wanted this amp because the band that I’m in pretty much plays music from this era and I actually like the tone I get out of it; I play a short scale hollow body (no, not a violin bass) and I feel the two are a good match.

    But here is my question: even thought the ampeg is rated at at a higher wattage, would the Vox be louder because it has more speakers? Even if two amps are rated at the same wattage with the same amplifier circuit, but one setup has a 1x12 and the other has 2x12, would the 2x12 still be louder?

    If you have any suggestions on amps, those are also welcomed; we mainly play late 60s-early 70s blues rock, psychedelic rock, as well as 50s blues. I’d like to get something vintage because of the warm tone, but my budget is $600-700, so I’m pretty sure most tube amps are out of the question.

    Any advice is much appreciated!
  2. Pat Harris

    Pat Harris

    Nov 17, 2006
    Brighton, MI
    In general, more speakers = more air moving = more perceived volume. More speakers also generally means bringing the load from 8 to 4 ohms for your amp.

    For amp specs, you need double the wattage of an amp to get 3dB more overall volume out of it. Bassists tend to like headroom, and that's why we tend to like a lot of watts (solid state, speaking).
    smtp4me, rogypop, DJ Bebop and 2 others like this.
  3. Hurricane Jimmie

    Hurricane Jimmie Supporting Member

    So Anyway, is your Ampeg loud enough for your band? If it isn't, a 40 watt Vox might not be a big enough of a bump.
    Not sure where you're located, but your budget range could get a lot of used amp or something lightweight and new.I
    Good Luck!
  4. madmarvin


    Mar 7, 2005
    Take a look at the Ampeg Portaflex series - you can get a 115 cab and 350 watt amp for around $700. I think that would do everything you need. And that's new. Used I am sure you could do much better.
    johnpbass, And I, whero and 2 others like this.
  5. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    In theory, the Vox will be louder as the 10w difference between the amps is pretty much insignificant. As an earlier poster said more speakers equals more air moved.
  6. Acidic25


    Feb 6, 2020
    Good to know, I’ll definitely check them out. But again, I’d really like to get something vintage, but getting something newer is not out of the realm of possibility.
  7. Acidic25


    Feb 6, 2020
    That’s mainly why I asked this. I wasn’t sure if they would be equivalent in loudness because the Vox has two drivers. Thanks for the answer!
    Sonicfrog likes this.
  8. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    In theory, maybe. More cone area does yield more volume. However ...

    The V-4 model, which was one of the early "Thomas Organ era" models, was actually rated at 35 watts RMS. As a transistor amp, pushing it beyond its rated power would result in clipping, which is really unpleasant. And - cool-looking as it may be - these amps didn't sound very good even at lower volumes. The Oxford drivers in the Essex are probably the least efficient of all the ceramic drivers that could have been used in 1966, and they weren't good bass speakers. I remember blowing these drivers regularly in Fender Bassman cabs.

    Not to mention that you have only one tone control on the Essex.

    The Ampeg combo you have, despite its one driver and low power, probably sounds better and quite possibly as loud or louder than the old Vox amp. If you're looking for "louder" with good sound in a combo amp, on a budget, I heartily recommend the Traynor SB12 or SB15, or perhaps a used Peavey combo. You'll find them much more versatile and reliable... if you're willing to sacrifice the cool visual-vintage vibe.
  9. madmarvin


    Mar 7, 2005
    This line is based around the vintage Ampeg products, the look feel and sound is all very vintage oriented.
  10. Acidic25


    Feb 6, 2020
    That’s the thing, I feel like the amp is sufficient, but I could use something a little bit louder, but not by much. Which is why I’m thinking of getting the Vox: yes, it has a little less power than the ampeg, but it has two drivers and it has the tone I’m looking for, but I’m not sure if I would be better getting something with higher power at 1 driver
  11. Acidic25


    Feb 6, 2020
    If I could find one of the “better” models, like aV1042 or V1043, would you recommend that? I believe the one I’m thinking of getting is either a V4 or V104.
  12. brianmharrison


    Oct 11, 2007
    See if you can find an Ampeg B100r
    40Hz and Artman like this.
  13. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    I could only recommend one of these amps if a) you're getting it for a low price, and b) visual coolness is your top priority. Most amps made in the last 30 years will far outperform a solid-state Vox from the 1960s.
  14. More drivers = more louder = more better. But don't go lower than the minimum ohms rating. Cheers.
  15. bass151


    Mar 10, 2012
    There was not a vox bass amp from the sixties that was considered very good. You mentioned limited budget and the amount of problems and probable repairs would make this a poor choice assuming your really gonna use it and not just look at it.
  16. tb4sbp


    May 9, 2017
    North East
    The first question I would ask is 'How has time treated this amp?'. Electronics and Speakers may need serious attention which will add to the cost.

    The "cool" factor is amazing but could be expensive.

    Best of luck to you I hope it works out
    Waltsdog likes this.
  17. Acidic25


    Feb 6, 2020
    Out of curiosity, what bass amps were used in the 60s? I know the Fender Bassman was used, but it ended up being widely considered as one of the best guitar amps. Where some amps made back in the 60s that are considered decent?
  18. Acidic25


    Feb 6, 2020
    So I did play it in the store. Again, I really liked the tone out of it. My guess is, at the very least, someone had it recapped or possibly had it redone to some degree. It is in decent shape. Here’s a pic:
  19. LoTone

    LoTone Clean as an Entwistle... Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2010
    Quebec, Canada
    If you consider late 60's solid state amps, the only thing that stands out and could hold a candle to modern gear is an Acoustic 360. Beyond that, I do not see why I would invest money in an old solid state amp. The modern ones are a much better value for the money.
  20. Speaker efficiency (or sensitivity) is the most important difference in loudness for a single speaker. Although one must keep in mind they're typically measured at 1kHz, which is upper midrange area, not low bass output range.

    There is a lot of math that tells us the exact results, at the tested frequency, of various speakers in various combinations, knowing their impedance and efficiency.

    So if you want to go that far, you can.

    But yes, more speakers does mean more volume, simply speaking. And it takes a pretty hefty difference in amplifier power to make similar differences in maximum output volume.