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Head-cabinet help

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Strikebass, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Strikebass


    Oct 16, 2012
    Rome, Italy
    Hi guys. Since I've made the tremendous discovery that a combo bass amp does not ouput the declared level of watt (at least i've been told that, if I have a 180 W combo to 8 Ohm, it will output only about 100), I find myself wondering about getting head+cabinet. Which is cool, obviously, except it's not very easy to bring around to gigs and stuff.

    So. My budget is 300 euro, maximum 350. What I want from it: at least 200 watt (whether 4 or 8 ohm, I don't care), at least 2 cones + tweeter.

    I've been looking on the internet and the best I found was:

    A guy who's selling hartke ha2500+transporter 4x10 hartke, 325 euro. Which is good, but looking here on talkbass I found out that the average opinion on transporter is ****.

    ampeg 4x8 200 watt cabinet, 200 euro. also at 200 euro a 2x10 transporter hartke, but as said before transporter seems to be ****

    hartke vx series 4x10, 200 euro (which is good, but the doubt is that on the hartke website it says that it only works at 8 ohm. This would make it difficult to match adequately this cabinet with a cheap head)

    ashdown mag 210tdeep 200 w cabinet, 179 euro. the only one which is brand new.

    So, I'd very much like to hear your pieces of advice, and of course if possible what head/cabinet would match the aforesaid heads/cabinets the best. Thank you guys.
  2. Strikebass


    Oct 16, 2012
    Rome, Italy

    ps: what about warwick and behringer? are they good in heads and cabinets?
  3. Sorry no one answered yet.......the idea of watts output gets asked a lot. DON'T get hung up on watts! It is what you do with that power (speakers) that matters a lot more. Speakers do not put out watts, they use the wattage sent to them. The cab's power ratings of what they will take from an amp are for the most part unreliable. The 4X8 for example will be louder with 100 watts than a 210, the 410 louder still with 100 watts input. Start with a good cab (like the 410VX maybe) then buy a good head with the features, sound and output you can afford. Ohms comes into play as the maximum load the amp can accept. Most amps won't take a load lower than 4 ohms (two 8 ohm cabs equal a 4 ohm load).
    Quite a few combos output there full power rating into the built in cab. If the combo does not have an extension speaker jack, it is maxed out (if it has an extension speaker jack with the warning to disconnect the internal speaker(s) if is still at it's maximum load and output power).
  4. Strikebass


    Oct 16, 2012
    Rome, Italy
    I've been told not to care about ohms loads of time. So I know you're right

    You're suggesting me to take a nice cab first than the head? Because most cabinets that I've seen don't work at 4 ohm but just at 8 ohm (with an output ok 400w with 4 cones), and finding a head that releases 400 watt at 8 ohm will cost me a hell...So I thought I could start with a hartke HA2500, which at 8 ohms sends 180 watt, through a 2x10 hartke cab, which sends 200 watts at 8 ohm. Do you think I'd get a nice sound this way?
  5. You are still not getting it. The cab has a NOMINAL impedance like 8 ohms or 4 ohms (this is NOT a fixed value as it changes drastically with the frequency put into it) that it will present as load to an amplifier. It also is rated for the maximum power that it can SAFELY handle from an amplifier (usually at 1000 Hz which has little to do with a bass guitar cab). The amount of power the cab can safely take from an amplifier with bass guitar use is usually MUCH lower.
    A 8 ohm "400 watt" cab does not need to be powered by a 400 watt amp. It can be driven just as well by a 50 watt amp. SPEAKER CABS DO NOT "SEND" WATTS, they can only accept what is sent to them until the voice coils burn out by an amplifier.
    The HA2500 will sound better with the "400 watt" 410 then it will the "200 watt" 210.
    Are we getting some where with the understanding? :)
  6. Let me put it this way: A speaker cab is like a 200ml (watt) glass, fill it with 180ml (watts) of water and it will hold that water so long as you don't try to walk fast with it in hand. Put 180ml (watts) of water in a 400ml (watt) glass and you can run without spilling water from it.
    Speaker cone area and the amount the cones can move safely determine in a big part how much sound will be made from from every watt sent to it from an amplifier.
  7. Noose


    Nov 19, 2010
    B-String- Dont take this the wrong way, Im trying to understand and learn, (btw thanks for your input on my thread on a similar subject) but what you are saying is really confusing to me and Im sure other technically challenged guys such as myself. here is what Im not understanding:

    You said a 50 watt amp will drive a 400 watt speaker just as well as a 400 watt amp will. That just doesnt make any sense to me. Maybe when you say "drive" the cab you have something different in mind than I do. I think of driving the cab as being able to produce desired volume levels/frequencies ranges cleanly without clipping or distorting. In other words, wouldnt the 400 watt amp be louder and cleaner than a 50 watt amp using the same speaker cabinet? Wouldnt the 50 watt amp struggle a lot more to produce the same volume levels cleanly as the 400 watt amp?

    For sure having more speaker area does much more to increase pure loudness than wattage from the amp does, but if your goal is more "clean" volume, assuming everything else is equal, wouldnt having more power be important?

    Hope you dont take offense to me questioning you. Im questioning myself as much as anything because what i thought I understood seems to be wrong. This stuff gets confusing! lol Thanks for your help.
  8. No offense taken. The 400 watt amp will drive the cab louder with un-distorted power IF the cab will actually make use of all that power without what is called "power compression". Power compression starts at the point where actual maximum linear movement has been reached. From that point on additional power starts to just heat the voice coils and cause distortion (from the actual speakers not the powering amplifier). (Simplified) Power ratings on bass cabs rarely are at the maximum "clean power input" for bass guitar use.
    As far as tone, very few cabs will sound, as far as tone, any different with 1% of it's power input being fed it or 100% of it's max linear power input level.
    An amp rated for 50 watts clean power output will sound the same as a 400 watt amp putting out 50 watts into the same cab. Can the 400 watt flap your pants more with the initial string hit? Sure can, but 99% of what can be heard, no real difference. Headroom is always a good thing, but gets WAY over estimated on actual stage use. Most amp makers play a game with us; My amp blows the doors off at 11:00! Try cranking that same amp past 12:00 or 1:00 (with input gain properly set) and all you will get is additional distortion, not clean power.
    So yes, if you need more than 50 watts clean then the 400 watt will sound better. Most players unless they play with immature wanna bees will rarely use more than 200 watts of amp power. With PA support maybe 100 watts. BUT always feels good to have more on tap.
    I understand there are players out here that think hearing damage to themselves or wearing ear plugs so only the audience gets the hearing damage is a right of passage. My apologies to them in advance. I have spent days with diminished hearing and live with constant ear ringing so I understand. Just don't do it anymore, I like getting asked back to venues and building a stable fan base.
  9. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    It's useful to look at headroom in its own special light. I'm all about headroom, which is why I run an extremely powerful amplifier (700w, of which I use only a maximum of 485w).

    Headroom is what a lot of players often mistake for volume. It's because it's far more perceivable than the actual difference in db (loudness). When you're up against loud guitar amps your often need to be able to maintain a clean, crisp sound without your tone breaking up. This is why higher wattage amplifiers exist. They're for people like myself who need their on-stage signal clean and strong in the face of two 120w tube amps. I'd be perfectly audible with a 250w amp but it wouldn't provide me the clean headroom I would need without implementing at least 2 410s worth of speakers.

    Imagine I have any 2 amps set to A/B with two 500w 410s at 8 ohm. The actual volume difference between running my 1001rbii (700w) and for instance a 400rbii (280w) would probably be negligible. The difference in headroom would be what you would actually hear. The 400 would break up far far sooner than its bigger brother and that breakup is what I personally need to avoid with my bands. If you set both to noon and ask the layman which amp is louder, they'll probably say the 1001 because the cleaner signal is perceived as loudness.

    Another common misconception (which I almost fell foul of myself) is that if you want to get the best possible experience out of your amp you need to run it at minimum impedance and use up all the available watts. This leads a lot of people to go out and get a single 4ohm 410 or similar because they think this will give them access to all of their amp's power. All they're really doing is preventing themselves from being able to add on additional speakers. More speaker area is what actually gives you more volume, which was the thing that was hardest for me to come to terms with when I first joined this forum.

    If I was in the OPs position I'd start with that Hartke amp then ask myself how loud I actually ever want to get. If I'm thinking that I'm not going to be gigging bars I'd go with the brand new Ashdown Cab, which I could later extend into another 210 if required. If you want to be ready for anything you want a 410 at 8ohm, which is of a brand that you could easily match later if you need a full fridge.

    And for goodness sake don't forget to buy Hearos.
  10. Actually distortion is perceived as louder, at least until you try to speak over a loud clean transducer. (TC anyone?)
  11. Strikebass


    Oct 16, 2012
    Rome, Italy
    Man I know that a 50 watt head runs into a 400 w cab as well. There's no need to say that

    What I wanted (and it seems it's you the one who didn't understand) is to be suggested a good cab-head match with a 300 euro budget. Or better, a combo, or even better, someone who explains me the real output of the average bass combo amplifier, because as I may have written above, a friend of mine told me that, for instance, a ashdown electric blue 180 watt will output only 100 watt, because in order to get the maximum of the head you have to put another cab next to it...
  12. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    With a really limited budget, your are going to do best going second hand for decent economy, and that really needs local knowledge. What you can pick up as a rule that applies anywhere, is ignore watts, they don't tell you anything useful.
  13. Strikebass


    Oct 16, 2012
    Rome, Italy
    The transporter series of hartke seems to be quite cheap. Do you think it is so ****** that it will break down during a gig or something like that?
  14. rubbadubdub


    May 8, 2012
    Theres a lot of good but potentially confusing info here so far for some one starting out. First of all, any amp wether standalone or part of a combo, will put out less watts into a single 8 ohm speaker cabinet. So unless you get a 4 ohm cab (or two 8ohm cabs) you will have the same 'problem'. I put problem in inverted commas because I'm not convinced you have a problem. It all depends on what kind of gigs you are going to play and how loud. I have played an enormous stage (4000+ crowd ) with a 4x10 Marshall combo. I had it turned up no where near full and we were playing classic rock. On the other hand if you were playing without going through a pa system as you might be in a bar, then you may need a couple of cabs but you would have to be a loud band to make it a neccesity.
    With a small budget you may be better off getting a tidy but substantial combo than a cheap amp and cab. A peavey tnt combo would be affordable, reliable and very likely loud enough. Sometimes people get obsessed with power as they sometimes do with engines and horse power. It's like buying a Ferrari to go shopping as a crude analogy. I once had a 4x10 Trace Elliot combo which put out around 90 watts into its own cab and that had no problem cutting through anywhere I ever played with it. I only sold it because I wanted a very heavy low end and 10's werent doing it for me.
    The difference between 90 watts and 150 is not worth worrying about. As another poster said, it's all about speaker surface area and efficiency. Most often it's the drummer who sets the volume requirement. If you play with a hard hitting drummer with a large rock style kit you would be more likely to need a loud amp than if you were playing with drummer using a jazz style kit. Another thing is that amateur bands often play too loud for the venue and mistake volume for quality sound sometimes drowning out the vocals etc. It is much better to keep the volume sensible so that you can hear other band members more easily. This is even more the case when playing with pa support as a low stage volume lets the sound engineer get a clear mix in the room without conflict with sound coming from the stage or 'backline'. This is especially true of the bass guitar which can get seriously muddy out front with too much stage volume.
    A lot of us suffer from GAS.... gear aquisition syndrome. A very expensive but fun way of blowing cash uneccesarily. Hope this helps?
  15. Your friend wasn't wrong. Solid state amps don't make full power into half their rated load. Same for combo or separate cabs.

    Most of TB is American and no clue on Euro budgets. You would be better to put the Euro thing in the subject line.

    I don't like new Ashdown budget stuff. The really weak combo and extension cab I played was a joke.

    A pair of 2x10 stacked vertically gives you a very good rig for carrying small to meduim bar gigs from the stage. I don't like regular 4x10 as they only pop when you are right in front of them.

    Good luck finding a good used rig. 350 Euro should get you something decent used gear.
  16. Strikebass


    Oct 16, 2012
    Rome, Italy
    You both helped guys, thank you.

    rubbadubdub, I agree with you, I should get a combo, but I don't like the monocone amps. I had one and It enhanced too much the low, leaving nothing to high range. So I'd want at least a 2x10, or 2x8 combo. Can you guys suggest me anything?
  17. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Enhancing the low has no relationship to number of speakers or speaker diameter. And it almost certainly isn't the low such a cab is enhancing, but the midbass or low mids, to make it sound 'bassy' with not much power. That can be made to happen regardless of speaker layout.
  18. Strikebass


    Oct 16, 2012
    Rome, Italy
    Whatever, but with a 1x12 combo I sure didn't get that sound that in rehearsal studio I get with a 4x10...

    the fender rumble 350 combo has 4 ohm impedance, and it's got 2 cones. Maybe it could do...
  19. What do you need to achieve with your rig?
  20. Strikebass


    Oct 16, 2012
    Rome, Italy
    I don't whether the venues in which I'll be playing will always be furnished with acoustic installation, so if I'll have to play only with the amp, I guess I'll need at least 200-300 watt. I want a combo which can output a good wattage, whose cabinet works at 4 ohms, and that has at least 2 cones, with the aforesaid budget..

    Anyway, another question. At the moment I got an SX amp, 15 watt at 8 ohm. What if I could take the cab out of it and add it to an hypotetical head? How much addictional power would I get? Does it depend on the speaker?

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