Genz Benz - Streamliner + Focus LT 112's

Discussion in 'Rocket Music' started by VroomVroom, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. Let's start right with the pron-o-graphy:


    As my fellow cronies, you know this was inevitable. Surprisingly, it took me until today to make another rig purchase. (Thanks for the refund, Uncle Sam.) As soon as the Streamliner came to market, my inner Butthead helped me realize that any amp I could refer to as the Cleveland Steamer would have to be added to the arsenal. So, what took me so darn long? Well...these new Focus LT cabs. The Steamer and LT's are like chocolate and peanut butter....Starsky and Hutch...pacifiers and paddles. Wait...was that my outside voice? :ninja: Anyway, you get the hint. While I'd liked this amp with a lot of cabs, I never loved it...until now.

    So, a quick review...then some sound clip torture. Not a whole lot to say about the amp...everyone knows it well by now. For me it was a matter of choosing the 600w or 900w version. Ultimately, give me the option for more power, and I'll take it. Slight concern with these cabs, and I'll get to that in a sec. Otherwise, total "dig" on the amp.

    These cabs have been one of those poorly kept secrets that marketing guys love. I got to hear a 112 a bit over a month ago, and was really impressed. I played through it without knowing the weight, or the price point. When I lifted it, I assumed it had a neo driver. Wrong. It's ceramic. This thing is LIGHT. And it sounds really good. Getting back to price...holy cow. This thing is an AMAZING value. It goes deep, hits hard and strong, offers slightly (to my ears) compressed mids, and the highs are pleasantly smooth. This is a great cab at list price, let alone street.

    However, at that price point, there are inevitably compromises. Here's my list, in no particular order...

    - It's only a 200w driver. If you're pumping serious air, this is not the cab for you. I've gotten one - and two of 'em - pretty darn loud...certainly much louder than I expect to get on gigs. No choking or farting...but that 200w number is certainly in the back of my mind.

    - The covering is cheap and it's got a top-mounted strap handle. I'm not much on this covering anyway, but make sure your expectations are in-line. One little ding going through the doorway will tear it. The handle? I've never been a fan, although I have to say that carrying this thing is a breeze. That said, the feet on the Steamer (nor on my Shuttle 9.0) aren't tall enough to clear it. You need to lean the amp back for any sense of stability...and at that, there's not a lot because the covering is slippery. Worst, for me at least, is that there's no real option to route the instrument cable to protect both it and the amp. I'll probably craft something to fix that, as it's my biggest worry. On tight stages, where someone stepping on or kicking the cable is always a risk, I'm afraid of something going flying.

    - Back panel controls. There's only one Speakon connector, and the tweeter has only a three-way switch. The latter isn't really a big deal for me, but something to keep in mind. Actually, the same applies to the speaker jack. If your amp only has one jack, you're limited to using a single cab (or going 1/4" on one end, I suppose.)

    - Form factor. Weight aside, this is actually a pretty big cab - both deeper and taller than my Berg HT's. The front port is awesome, but if you are trying to position one or two on a really tight stage, it may be worth looking elsewhere.

    - Stacking is a concern. I haven't removed the feet from one cab to test if the corners interlock, but short of that, such a setup consists of those smooth feet on a smooth surface. This worries me a bit, especially with the concerns mentioned above.

    So...all those concerns, why buy? Well, back to the sound. This thing sounds really, really good. The weight makes load-in/out a pleasure instead of a headache. The cost takes away any (huge) worries about theft or damage on a gig. Since so many of the gigs I do are casuals, all of these factored in to my decision. Even though I don't expect to get really loud, the reason I bought two is so that I can hear myself more easily. Those small stages mean I tend to stand about 1'-2' in front of my rig. Gauging volume with a single 112 on the floor isn't easy, and as we all know, it sucks not hearing yourself on a gig.

    There you have it. Since I had my recorder out for a little cable test anyway, I decided to mess around with one of my favorite standards with the new rig. Same setup as in the pic above. As always, forgive the bassee.

    Red Devil and the Cleveland Steamer
  2. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Cool, Jerry. Thanks for the great review!

    I've honestly been ignoring these cabinets since they were announced. At their price point, my thinking was "I'll let Musician's Friend have that business". Of course as I say that and go check Musician's Friend, I see that they're not carrying the Focus LT cabs either.

    Hmmmm... I might need to grab a pair of these once we have a finished showroom here at the new store. Or maybe even sooner...
  3. Alphaman

    Alphaman Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2008
    Those look a lot like Mesa Powerhouse cabs, great!
  4. In case anyone is interested, here's a shot from Thursday's big band hit.. Interesting acoustics...disclaimer upfront. The alto sax didn't sound so out-of-tune live, nor did the bass sound so mid-scooped. Pretty dark room with lots of carpet, fabric, and people. Anyway...

    Sister Sadie

    I knew in advance the load-in/out would be easy, but nonetheless...this was my first gig in easily a coupla' years where I left the cart at home, and the back seat in the 'up' position. Total dig.
  5. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Nice. I'm not surprised that you're digging the SL - and those cabs seem pretty cool.
    Though I just looked them up - $349 online, for a 112 that doesn't seem all that "too cheap to be true". Maybe I'm just out of touch with the market.
  6. On sound alone, I'd choose the Berg HD, the Aguilar GS, and maybe the DNA 112 ahead of the Focus LT. The latter is significantly cheaper than those first three. Factor in the weight, which for me trumps the 200w limitation, and this thing is an amazing value. IMO of course.
  7. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    I wonder how different it'd be to my TC Electronic 200w 1x12.
  8. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Killer tone AND great playing. I dig the solo a lot. Doesn't seem too scooped to me, especially after you've told us about the room. :)
  9. Thanks, Jeff! Played through a single cab (and a Roscoe) today. I'm really pleased with the sound, and with the portability I've even stopped whining about the strap handle. :D
  10. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002

    +1 to Jeff's comments. Great solo Jerry!
  11. Quick update for anyone interested....kinda' timely since I've gotten a couple of PM's about the cab and another about the amp.

    I LOVE the weight and form factor of these cabs. Since I bought, they've been on 11 gigs, and on 10 of those gigs I left my cart at home. Definitely a nice luxury there. It means that, in the car, I don't have to fold down the rear seats. At the gig, it means I don't have to worry about finding a place to stash the cart. This may sound like a very small luxury thing, but it's a terrific bonus.

    Sonically, they're a bit mid-scooped. Especially so with the Steamer amp...more on that in a minute. Not a huge deal, and to the extent it's a problem, a bit of EQ solves it. As a small bonus, I've found that, with the EQ flat, soloing the bridge pickup on a J bass yields a ridiculously fantastic Jaco-esque tone. Otherwise, depending on the room, a bit of cut on the lows, or boost on the mids, and all is well with the world.

    FWIW, I've found that the frequency response seems to be a bit more flat when these cabs sit below the Shuttle 9.0 amp. I can't offer lots of validation, though, as I've only used that amp on one gig since buying the Steamer. Nonetheless, and I knew this going in, I do find the Steamer to REALLY emphasize lows and low mids. Not always a bad thing, but it does mean I'm selective about which cabs I use. Along with that, the mid frequency selector settings remain a mystery to me. I'd love to hear this thing with the settings at ~ 250hz, 500hz, and 800hz, just to name the first three to come to mind that suck less than what GB chose. Not that I have an opinion. :D In any case, beyond that, I really do dig the amp. Fat, full, a little grindy. To get more tube sound I'm convinced you have to find the right old SVT, or pony up to an Aggie 750/1. Considering those options, every time I lift the amp and put it in the carry bag, I smile.

    Finally, back to the form-factor of the Focus cabs. I mentioned before that it's obvious where they went cheap. On a gig last weekend, I lifted one of the cabs, only to watch the left-side strap handle screw strip out entirely. So much for that one-trip load out. :) I fixed it with a gob of super glue, but I'm already wondering when I'll need to do the same for the other screws. I despise strap handles, ergonomically, and for the fact that you have to balance the amp just right on top of the cab. But, at this price range, I can appreciate why they're in place. I just wish they'd use bigger screws, more of 'em, or some slick engineering means of reinforcement.

    Anyway, while I was doing the super glue fix, I also put in place a solution for my other gripe about strap handles...that they prevent a means of routing/securing the instrument cable. I picked up some velcro strips and stuck them to the top-left-back corner. I'd actually purchased some wood screws to secure the strips, but the adhesive seems to be plenty strong for the purpose. No sense being invasive if it's not needed. Here's a pic...


    This really is a great rig. As I mentioned in response to one of the PM's, these are definitely "working" cabs. When tone is paramount, the Bergs go on the cart. But for so many of the gigs I do, it's awesome having a rig that sounds good-enough, and an entire load-in/out process that is much, much easier.
  12. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    Jerry - I concur. The Streamliner is definitely nowhere near "flat" when the EQ gains are all set to noon. I tend to run my Streamliner with the bass around 9-10 o'clock, the mids around 3-4 o'clock, and the treble at 11-12 o'clock.

    My NV-610 does a great job of taming the low end on the Streamliner. When I run the Streamliner through a big sounding cab like the HD-210, it's just too much of a good thing...

    I think the EQ controls are interactive, too. Changing the bass affects the mids, and vice versa.

    None of which is the end of the world, it's all just a little bit unintuitive. But once I figured out how it works, I'm now able to work with it just fine. The Alembic F-1X (where BMT set to 2-10-2 is "flat") was helpful in easing me into the Streamliner. I long ago gave up trusting the dials on an amp's EQ...
  13. Thanks for sharing some of your Steamer settings, Greg. You mind adding where you park the mid freq selector? I haven't yet found a combo of freq/level that I like (hence my whining above), so I usually just park the bass EQ @ 9 o'clock, mid @ Noon, and then fine-tune on the instrument.
  14. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    That sounds about how I use mine, with the freq. awitch at it's highest setting. I often run without my tweeter though, in which case I push the highs to 1-1:30.
  15. CrashClint

    CrashClint I Play Bass therefore I Am Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Wake Forest, NC
    DR Strings Dealer
    Awesome playing Jerry and a killer solo! In the studio should be your day job.

    I like scooped mids, with my Shuttle 6 I find myself engaging the mid scoop circuit most of the time unless someone says I am not cutting through the mix. Listening to your gig, tone wise I thought you sounded really even.

    On another note, I came across a link with some faux lambs wool straps similar to the ones you like.
  16. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    I go back and forth between the two lowest settings (220 Hz & 600 Hz). My mind wants to like the 220 setting, but my ears eventually tell me that it's too muddy given the big overall sound of the amp... so I usually start on the 220 setting and end up on the 600 setting. :rollno:
  17. Thanks, Greg. I'm with you. 220 should be a good launching point. I can see, in theory anyway, that in a really live/boomy room, dialing back the lows and boosting the 220 mids would be a nice solution. In practice....not. Sigh. :D

    I'd guess 800hz might be more useful, as the 600hz (my default too) doesn't seem to cure the muddy character. And what's up with the 2.5khz action? Good grief. :)

    Interactivity...hmmm. I remember reading in the owner's manual that they minimized the effect, but now you've got me certainly fits with why I have a bit more trouble than expected when fiddling with the EQ.

    Anyway - small stuff, really. Hard to whine about actually having to dial OUT low frequencies, no?
  18. RocketMusic

    RocketMusic Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 31, 2007
    Blacksburg, VA
    Owner, Rocket Music
    ^^ Yep, and I end up doing exactly what you do. Get it close with the head, and then tweak with the bass's on-board EQ.
  19. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    What you guys are describing is exactly why I got rid of mine. If an amp doesn't sound good with my bass set flat, I don't have a use for it.

    I found I had to do MUCH more tweaking with the Streamliner to get a usable (not great, just usable...) live sound, than I did with my Max 9.2 to get an awesome live sound. Shoulda listened to Joe.......

    So, I now play through Eden stuff again. And it makes me smile.
  20. You know...darnit, I may be heading down Ryan's path. I used my Shuttle 9.0 on the last two gigs...with these Focus cabs. Dialed in "my" tone INSTANTLY...with no knob twirling. I spent a lotta' months convincing myself the Steamer was a good amp for me, and now I'm thinking that was another in the long list of 'Bad Idea Jeans' decisions I've made. :)

    We'll see...but for now I've totally confirmed that I really dig these cabs. And the amp may be on the block soon. I probably shoulda' just bought another 9.0. Sigh. As always, ain't easy being me. :D

    And total FWIW on the cabs... My super glue fix on the strap handle is holding up great, and the little 'cable retainer' mod I made does the job nicely. These things are keepers.