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"Full Range" vs PA cabs

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ZGotts, Dec 15, 2018.

  1. ZGotts


    Sep 17, 2007
    With this trend towards, well, basically FRFR cabs (fEAR, MAS, Audiokinesis, etc), what is the difference between one of these and a decent PA cab? What comes to mind is 1) no tweeter waveguides, so not as directional and 2) most PA cabs need a sub and cant handle bass on their own.

    I ask because I own a full range PA. I've experimented and tried going direct into it and found I needed to 'color' it quite a bit to get anything I would consider useful/pleasing. (Not so much on DB though). Does that mean I probably won't like these types of cabs either?

    I've tried searching and I must be using the wrong terminology as Im certain this has been explained to no end. If someone could just point me to one of those threads it would be appreciated. :thumbsup:

    For the record, I like the sound of my Eden D112XLT's which everyone around here seems to hate - so maybe I just prefer a different sound.
    BadExample likes this.
  2. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    I agree with your assessment, most low to mid tier PA cabs don't play low enough (without a sub) and have a bit too much output from the horn to sound nice with bass. I kind of like it for monitoring on stage, but many people don't like the way these cabs sound with bass unless you apply a lot of EQ or an LPF at around 3kHz.

    Just because you use FRFR speakers does not mean you don't EQ your signal. But what is the point in paying for a speaker that has an extended, smooth high frequency response if you are just going to EQ it out. It sounds like you prefer a more traditional speaker. No big deal, play what you like.
    Redbrangus and ZGotts like this.
  3. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    Yeah go full range
    Save yourself some money lol

    More to life than Kool Aid
    Marko 1 likes this.
  4. Some like the sound of clear uncolored amp and cab sound and some like the sound of a colored amp and/or a colored cab.
    Depending on which side you are on will determine which is right for you.

    You sound like a colored tone guy yourself.
    BadExample likes this.
  5. ZGotts


    Sep 17, 2007
    Yea, it seems that way. Interestingly, in the studio, I have no issue with it. I tend to lean toward direct more than mic'd.

    Im leaning towards there not being much reason to pursue these types of cabs (for me). Except for DB.
    Wasnex and S-Bigbottom like this.
  6. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Nothing is ever quite so easy, but the argument could be made that a FRFR lets you tune your signal so that what you have coming from your cab on stage translates well to what is coming out of the PA (if not mic'd).

    Again, it usually isn't that simple for a number of reasons, but "color" can come from many different sources. Doesn't have to be the cab.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
    Dragonlord likes this.
  7. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I get what you're saying, but my personal belief is the best EQ for monitoring is very different than the best EQ for sitting in the mix. As a bass player I give the audio tech a flat, unprocessed signal straight from my bass rather than trying to be a back seat audio tech (hopefully you get my mixed metaphor).

    My approach is not so much about getting a sound as it is to be able to hear the nuance in my playing as clearly as possible. So I may apply lot's of EQ to my personal stage monitor (IE amp) to overcome the effects of masking and the distorted frequency response of my ER15 ear plugs. My perception is ER15s accentuate low mids and have a gradual HF rolloff that starts somewhere in the mids.

    My goal is to monitor at the lowest possible level so my stage wash does not compete with the PA. Then the audio tech can easily EQ the flat unprocessed signal from my DI to sit well in the mix.

    No amount of EQ can force an Ampeg 810E to produce the upper mid and high frequency response I prefer for monitoring. But, IMHO, the sound of the cab sits in the mix pretty well for a variety of styles.
    Kro likes this.
  8. ZGotts


    Sep 17, 2007
    So on that line of thinking, what's the advantage of a bass specific cab? At the cost of a fEarless 115, you could get a rather nice PA box.
  9. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Specs might give you a hint...but specs have not been standardized so they can be misleading. Even if you were to measure each cab on calibrated equipment and find they had very similar efficiency and frequency response characteristics, each design tends to have a somewhat unique voice and way of speaking. You might prefer the fEARless, or you might prefer the rather nice PA cab...or you might prefer your Eden D112XLT. The only way to really know for sure is to try the specific models you are interested in and compare them directly.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2018
    TAZ, Kro and Passinwind like this.
  10. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    I agree that they can vary greatly, and this is the reason why even though I have a fancy Fearless cab, I have my signal that I send to FOH via my SansAmp, and the signal that I can adjust just for me on stage via my amp.

    As I said, while the argument I was making isn't perfect (including for the reason you noted, among a few), I do feel that when I'm exploring different bass tones, my Fearless gives me a better representation of what FOH will receive. It too isn't without some coloration ("flat response" as it pertains to them is very relative - I don't believe they are), but it definitely gives me a better idea of what the signal I'm sending FOH sounds like vs. more traditional fare. Sadly, most of the PAs that I personally have at my disposal aren't great for bass, and I don't really have much time to play around with nicer FOH systems - when I do it's usually all business, and time is of the essence.

    I wouldn't say I'm really tied to a "sound" either, but there are certain elements that I prefer for my signal to have when it goes to the board over just the completely dry signal - that includes a little drive/compression and some amp/speaker emulation. I do have a little EQ flavoring included to my preference as well, but nothing crazy - and nothing that sound engineers couldn't easily tweak as the venue necessitates.

    Besides, my technique, strings, and bass all already have a "tone" to them - including certain frequencies being more/less prominent. I used to be a completely dry/unaffected signal to FOH type guy, but my views have shifted on that a bit over time. Not saying that it's the right solutions for everybody, but it seems to work for me personally.

    I haven't tested out too many "nice" PA boxes as they pertain to bass, maybe some are great, but I know that my Fearless blows the PA systems I do have personal experience with out of the water. Anyways this:

    ...is so true. I didn't pick up my Fearless because I wanted a "FRFR" cabinet. Yes, their performance claims (true IME) are probably what made me first curious enough to seek one out, but I did a head to head test with an F112 vs. my then current rig - a pair of 112s that combined cost pretty much the same. I liked the sound of the F112 so much better that I knew I couldn't go back. I personally just clicked with it. I think I put the order in for my F115 that night.
  11. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    I am pretty sure I would enjoy a fEARful or fEARless cab. I don't really need perfectly flat, but I do like the response to be fairly smooth and the voicing needs to work with whatever amp I am using at the time. For now I plan to stick with my Genz Benz 1288Ts.

    If I had a project where I needed to play with a bit of grind, I would probably adjust my approach for getting a signal to FOH a bit. I could go with pedals, as I think it is possible to get some nice sounds with parallel processing and blending clean and dirty signals. I could patch the end of my effects chain into a DI followed by my amp and a pair of 1288Ts. This would be more inline with your idea of dialing in a sound that should work reasonably well at FOH.

    I also have some hybrid and all-tube amps that can produce some decent preamp drive...and of course some of the tube amps can produce really awesome output drive. If I were relying on the amp to produce the drive I would probably ditch the DI and use a more traditional full-range speaker with a mic. I am not a fan of using a post EQ DI.

    I have a Greenboy Dually loaded with Faital 15PR400s. It's a bit dark for my taste overall, and seems a bit fizzy with distortion. I really like the forward mid range voicing of my Electro Voice EVM18Bs, but they need a huge cabinet to develop any decent lows, and they don't effortlessly handle big power like the Faitals. I do have some EVM18Bs in a pair of cabs that are way too small. I would need to do some experiments to make a final decision. The Dually wins on portability and big lows against all of my bass cabs. Amazingly light for a 215. But I prefer the smooth, articulate mids of the 1288Ts.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
    Kro likes this.
  12. ThisBass


    Aug 29, 2012
    If you plug directly into the PA system then you want to play a bass guitar that is "perfectly" aligned to your personal taste which includes your personal playing style technique and sound goals as well, and also "proper" aligned action of the strings just to meet best your playing style demands.

    The more you go the "linear" way the more you will notice the drawbacks of your instrument and, the more you will also recognice your personal "musical" drawbacks.
  13. joebeadg


    Sep 1, 2010
    what does frfr mean?
  14. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Flat Response Full Range. Many of the cabs noted in this thread are probably more "full range" than they are truly "flat response" IMO.
    Marko 1 and Wasnex like this.
  15. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    Since my brand was mentioned, I hope you don't mind me replying.

    My understanding is that there are three possible reasons reasons why a bass player might want a full-range, flat-response cab:

    1. To amplify the sound of your instrument with as little "editorializing" on the part of the cab as possible. Ime this is more likely to be the case for double bass than for electric bass.

    2. To clearly hear what you are sending to the sound man. Imo in this application, vertical dispersion may matter a lot; if all of your overtones are shooting past your knees, you are probably not getting a very good representation of what your send is.

    3. To amplify the output of a modelling amp, again with minimal "editorializing".

    Imo the main difference between a "FRFR bass cab" and a "decent PA (top) cab" is in the efficiency vs bass extension (and bass power handling) trade-off. The parameters that a woofer needs in order to go deep, with enough excursion capability to not fart-out, work against efficiency. It is more practical to make a PA top efficient, and then add subwoofage as needed for the bottom couple of octaves, rather than to trade off efficiency for bottom-end capability in a PA top.

    I agree that the frequency response goal posts are in different places for electric bass vs PA (with DB being similar to PA). My first line of bass cabs were arguably "FRFR-ish", but they didn't have "the sound in my head", and frankly it took me a while to figure out how to do that. These days by far the majority of my sales are of cabs that are deliberately "voiced" for electric bass.

    So I do not recommend my "FRFR-ish" cabs unless this is clearly what the person is looking for (my most recent sales of such cabs have been for luthiers, electric piano, and multi-instrument amplification). Obviously I cannot speak for other designers, but that has been my experience.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
    TomB, fdeck, BadExample and 2 others like this.
  16. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    Great post!

    For me the whole basis for FRFR is to provide a blank pallet with the speaker, so the player can apply whatever signal shaping is desired with EQ and other processing. In my opinion, wide dispersion and smooth, extended range frequency response is more important than perfectly flat response...providing your EQ can compensate.

    I also tend to favor amps that are relatively neutral/transparent, with more powerful EQ sections. I like a fairly bright and open sound that is very articulate and focused, but the listener will not typically hear a lot of clank and fret rattle in my playing unless it is intended. Technique, setup, and EQ are used to reduce are increase these artifacts as desired.

    A lot of different sounds can be approximated with an FRFR based system if you know how to use EQ, compression, and overdrive effectively. I love getting different sounds and fiddling around.

    A lot of players who favor speakers/amps with a more baked in tone tend to prefer very basic tone controls and don't like fiddling around to get different sounds. One problem here is you have to shop around to find the specific amp/speaker combination with the voicing you like. This may lock you in to a tone this is not particularly versatile, and also makes it difficult to compensate for bad acoustics.

    There are some baked in tones I love too...I learned to play on a blackface Fender Twin loaded with JBL E120s....still love the sound today, but this rig is severely limited on volume and low frequency output.

    I also have a lot of experience with pro sound. My philosophy with setting up a sound system is pretty much the same as my philosophy for amplifying bass. The subs and mains should be setup for flat response. If the audio tech wants to change how much low end is coming from the bass, he/she should reach for the channel EQ instead of fiddling around with the balance between the subs and mains.

    I think something to be careful of is FRFR is often used to describe a speaker that is meant to be used with a guitar modeling system. FRFR may be accurate for the frequency range of guitar, but not for bass. The low frequency extension and output capabilities of some FRFR speakers will not support high power bass applications.
    BadExample and DukeLeJeune like this.
  17. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    since mine were mentioned too

    Again---there is more than FRFR going on. The envelope of the notes can be quite different in cabs where the frequency response measure the same. My experience with pa cabs has been that the note envelope isn't what I'm looking for. The ability to start but more importantly for the notes to stop. Most pa cabs suffered from bass reflex overhang. You can't play a punchy stacatto bass line if the previous note mooshes into the current note. The motor structure and the physical damping (suspension) affect the response a lot. And the balance between electrical and mechanical damping affects this profoundly. If you look at Faital's specs---all of their 12" woofers have similar frequency response. But their damping varies a lot. For my needs---I can't use 'em. The 12pr300 has too little damping. Attack is softer and decay is mooshy. Too much bloom to the note. The 12FH500 is much beefier with a low QTS (high damping) In my cabs it sounds dry with no bloom. Tight and focused---but too much.
    The PA cabs that I tried for bass were terrible as far as note envelope. I used to own the Stage Accompany cabs. It's what Anthony Jackson used before they went out of business. These IMO were the best PA cabs made. They sounded amazing with my bass. On the gig---not so much. I used a 5 band parametric so eq was no problem. Sounded great---didn't feel great.
    I design bass speakers. But---not a single cab of mine goes out of the house that I wouldn't recommend for PA.
    BadExample, DukeLeJeune and Wasnex like this.
  18. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Plenty of (I would say most) purpose built bass cabs are under damped and mushy. IMHO a lot of players seem to prefer a bit of looseness, but it has always driven me nuts. In the early days I used an 8 band parametric...it helped a lot, but I could never get all the way there. I have to admit cabs (and amps) have gotten a lot better since the early 80s though.

    Somewhere along the way I stopped worrying about the low end so much. Often the acoustics and interactions with the subs are so bad it doesn't make a practical difference anyway. I was an early adopter of extended range speakers elevated and aimed at the ears. As long as I can hear the mids and highs, I am usually good to go.

    I remember when I was a kid hooking up my bass through my stereo and loving how tight, deep, and focused the sound was, but also how much clarity and articulation there was in the mids. The speakers were Realistic acoustic suspension designs with a 10" woofer. I think the specs were something like F3 70hz, 88dB sensitivity and 70W RMS power handling, so obviously they weren't loud enough for anything but my torment.

    To this day, I have not found a pro PA or bass cab that produces similar results at stage levels...and I have worked with top of the line Apogee and Meyer Sound gear. My favorite sub to date is the Apogee AE12...it has a bit of overhang that seems to give the sound extra weight, but also sounds very tight and deep to my ears. Haven't used AE12s in a bass rig though.

    Hopefully I'll come across one of your designs in the wild one day, and be blown away :thumbsup:.
    BadExample and DukeLeJeune like this.
  19. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    I hear ya. I was the same way. But I got tired of the tonal balance that would allow me to hear better through thinner lows and too much mids. In a perfect world I'd hear the pulse through the mid bass thump and the pitch through the second harmonics. Not through wanky midrange articulation (you can hear the rhythm from the mid articulation). I want to feel the propulsion of the band. That's why I started playing bass. The feeling of low end propulsion.
    Reflex cabs don't do this so well.
    The other big detriment from hearing the rhythmic pulse in the low end is room interaction.You excite one resonance and play that note and it blooms and lingers so as to obscure low end info. So we turn down the lows.
    There is technology out there that doesn't have the downsides to reflex designs and that minimizes room reaction.
    BadExample and Wasnex like this.
  20. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    IME and IMHO bass monitors (some called them Bass cabs) need subs too.

    Bass monitors are all about low mids , not that much lows.
    Loads and lots and lots of low mids.

    So a good Full Range PA cab of the same size and weight will usually have more extended in the low end.
    Because of better design and R&D , will be more expensive though.
    But bass players are used to hear loads and lots and lots of load of low mids.

    So it all come down with what's your reference and what you want.
    I've always practiced through my studio speakers , so I'm used to a more flat reference.
    When I play through a 4X10 , I always end up cutting the low mids.

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