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Its frecuency response an Issue?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by G43, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. G43


    Oct 11, 2006
    Here where I live, south spain, you dont get to try or see good stuff, so all I can do is read specs and read this forum to know about the gear. About the specs, my question is as the tittle says, its frecuency response an isssue?
    some really good cabs like EBS 4x10 can just go down to 70 hz and up to 17 khz which doesnt seem to be as good as for example the markbass cabs that go down to 35hz and up to 20 khz. Obviously, as bass players we like to cover all frecuencies, specially the lower ones, but, do we really need to worry about this? does the EBS cab need another cab like a 15" to handle lower frecuencies like 40hz?
    and what about of "DB sensitivity", I can only imagin what is it about, but I wound mind to know exactly what is it and if is also another important issue.

    hope Im not making stoopid questions and sorry about my english.
  2. Hello!

    This has been discussed quite a bit on TB.

    There are two schools of thought. One group believes these measures are totally useless, since there isn't a fixed standard by which every cabinet is tested, and also the -3db roll-off spec (the 45 hz, 50hz or whatever) only gives you part of the info, since the slope of roll-off of the frequencies below the -3db published spec can vary quite widely.

    Same thing with SPL (a measure of the 'loudness per watt), which is usually tested at a higher frequency than really useful when determine the volume of a bass cab.

    The other group (of which I am a member:D ), finds these figures quite useful. Even though they aren't accurate in an absolute sense, many of us find that these figures are highly correlated with way different cabinets sound in the real world.

    Most higher published spec SPL cabs (EpifaniUL, Schroeder, Eden, etc.) will sound louder per watt than cabs with lower SPL published specs (Acme, Bergantino). Highly related to this, most cabs with very low -3db roll-off published specs (40hz or below) do have more 'deep bass' response than higher published roll-off spec'd cabs.

    The key is that the spec's are pretty loose, and higher/lower SPL or higher/lower roll-off's are neither good nor bad... just different. I personally like a very tight, quick low end, which seems to be delivered better by high SPL cabs with a higher -3db roll-off (like Eden or Epifani). Others love to hear that full, deep open B fundamental and are willing to buy enough watts to get that done (like with the Acme's and older EA VL cabs, etc.).

    So, IMO.... very useful to use these specs as one of many inputs in deciding on a cab... with the most important one being your ears, or accurate description of the sound from players that you trust.

    Edit: On a related topic... the -3db roll-off point has very little to do IMO with a good B string sound.. many relatively high roll-off cabs sound GREAT playing the lowest notes on the B string... tight and defined vs. overly large fundamental tone. It's more personal taste than an absolute requirement regarding the sound of the lowest notes and the lowest notes that the cab can reproduce at volume.
  3. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    It would matter if the majority of the specs were correct but they're not, so it doesn't.

    Ken, if these specs are anywhere near the truth they're -6dB or -10dB specs, certainly not -3dB. (And actually, though I think your posts are amongst the most valuable on here, when you refer to some cabs having more sub 50Hz output than others, I think if you were to test this you'd find that you're really talking about sub 100Hz output).

    EBS's specs are much closer to the truth than the rest of the competition's - unfortunately they don't sound as impressive...

  4. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    One thing you can try is good headphones. Play through an equalizer, parametric, etc. or software that lets you adjust the frequency response. See what you like or don't like. Chances are there's a couple of different EQ curves you like.

    For me, I like flat frequency response on the amps and speakers so I can get out different EQ curves with signal processing.
  5. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    I agree with Alex. The SPL specs on bass cabs are about as useful as quoting the top speed of a car at 100, while not bothering to make mention as to whether the figure is MPH or KPH.
  6. As you can see (as posted above)... there are two schools of thought on this:smug:

    There sure is no argument that most of the spec's are not accurate in an absolute sense, but rather if they are somewhat useful in a relative sense. As one who has played and owned a lot of different cabs, and who also at least glances at the specs.... the correlation of the lower roll-off published spec and the SPL with real world cabinet performance seems very real to me, and anything but random.
  7. G43


    Oct 11, 2006
    thanks for the answer, im just starting to understand a bit about, but Im still a bit confused.
    My problem is that I cant try the cabs because my country sucks big time and there arent many musicians here who suffer GAS and buy interesting gear. So If I am going to buy new gear my criteria to choose it is bassically to check the specs of every product, but I wanted to know about them. I still dont understand very good if is good or not that a cab cant go under 50 hz or higher than 17 Khz... or if 103 db of sensitivity is better than 99db... beacuse following this i could say that ampeg sucks and Markbass is the best, at least in specs, ampeg´s specs are quite low compare to other brands, just for example...
  8. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    There's a general distrust of all Bass gear manufacturer's specs. The thinking is manufacturers mainly want to publish specs they think will impress rather than real life measurements.

    But if you read this board, it looks like some high end manufacturers are heading towards publishing honest measurements. Until that day, you may have to look to other disciplines such as sound reinforcement systems. And there's many there that also don't publish honest specs.
  9. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    Don't go by published specs at all. If you can't try it first you'll have to go by established reputation. Markbass cabs may sound good but their published specs for frequency response are not real. That doesn't mean they don't sound good and aren't good value. They just play with the truth a little, like most companies do.

    Also, you usually get what you pay for. Some of the American brands are over priced for sure for what you actually get, but the good established ones sell a good quality product.

    Also, old Peavey gear is built like a tank and weighs as much but are a great deal if you buy used. They are not boutique amps in any sense but most of them can get you a good useable sound. They seem to last forever. If gear is expensive and you play music for a living these things are very important.
  10. Hello again.

    Well, on this one, I'm with Bill and Alex. You are much better to go on recommendations, etc. (if you can't try the cab first, which would obviously be the best) than putting too much weight on specs.

    One thing is clear.... the upper end response of a cab is a pretty useless spec... basically you have cabs with tweeters that can reproduce the very high treble regions (6K+) and cabs that only have woofers that usually roll off quite a bit lower than that. Whether a spec says 17K or 12K or 18K, you won't hear the difference. The key there is to decide if you want a cabinet with a tweeter (for example, if you like roundwound strings and a bright sound) or you want a cab that is 'vintage sounding' without a tweeter (for example, if you use a P Bass with flatwound strings, etc.).

    SPL.... this gets confusing... first, due to the inaccuracies in measurement mentioned by Alex and Bill, and second due to the fact that smaller cabs tend to have lower SPL's (in general). Here also, there are two types of cabs to me.... the type that used long throw woofers and is tuned to produce the lowest fundamental notes (like the Acme), and more 'normally' voiced cabs that role off a little higher and are therefore more efficient. The SPL measures for these two types of cabs are usually miles apart (e.g., 96 versus 102 for a larger cab). Smaller differences are probably not meaningful.

    Finally, low end roll-off. As Alex points out, this is probably the most misleading of spec's. Some cabs with relatively high roll-off spec's put out very nice low end (like some of the Eden cabs).

    So, all that being said.... my suggestion is to de-emphasize your focus on specs, and start another thread detailing the type of music you play, the bass you use, the type of strings, and the sound you are going for... maybe your favorite bass sound (e.g., Alain Caron, Duck Dunn, Marcus Miller, Anthony Jackson, etc.).

    There are a lot of TBers who can then point you to a cab that might have an inherent voicing that would get you closer to that 'sound in your head' than other cabs.

  11. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    You mean specs like these?:

    Frequency Response 30Hz - 14KHz
    Sensitivity 103dB SPL

    That's the listed specs for an Eden 210XST and the 210XLT is nearly as laughable. Actually most of the Eden cabs - I'd say all but I may have missed looking at some lesser lines - have either inflated sensitivity or inflated frequency response figures. Actually both. Specs such as these totally blew my mind 9 or so years ago when buying my fist bass gear after my experiences buying SR gear for decades.

    Other companies stretched the truth like Mr Fantastic stretches his, ah, well - they LIE LIE LIE. But someone who isn't technically able to distinguish the likely bounds for such designs is just swallowing it hook line and sinker. And the other competitors who don't stretch it so far wonder if they need to go just a little further, or just to continue losing sales from people whose credulity is approachable.

    Notice I didn't say anything about the pleasingness or suitability of Eden cabs for bass backline. Just their atrocious PT Barnum approach to marketing, hidden under the guise of technical acumen.
  12. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    A few measured curves, posted on the forum, would go a long way towards sorting out many of these issues.
  13. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    If they lied in text why wouldn't they lie in graphs?
  14. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Opp, fdeck,

    Or maybe you are saying that people here should supply graphs. But that would require a little more equipment and acumen than is commonly available, and if several were doing it, some assurance that everybody uses the same procedure and without fail.

    No, that's not realistic either. What is realistic is buyer education, and that can include things as simple as entering commonly used drivers into WinISD Pro or Eminence Designer or the like and getting some idea where reality exists.

    Ironic that simulation software would be closer to reality than what most are accustomed to. And it'll even help educate the ears (a lot of good live and studio engineers correlate visual and specs data with what they hear - indeed it might be said that's part of keeping themselves honest and "calibrated").
  15. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I was thinking that people could measure their own cabs and share the results. It would be with the understanding that procedures could vary, but this affects some things more than others. One can get a decent relative low frequency response curve with a cheap condenser mike element and the software that I share. Getting an absolute curve requires a SPL meter and either an anechoic chamber or outdoors. That would be more difficult. But given how many of us are geeks, maybe a few people would be willing to give it a try. And combining measured graphs with simulations, I'd bet that we would learn quite a lot.

    I actually do what you suggest, comparing curves with what I hear, and I use the results to guide my DIY projects.
  16. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Hoi, fdeck,

    Frankly I wouldn't trust those results any more than I trust the current set of conditions. Environment is a huge contrinutor and especially with low frequencies/long wavelengths the same cab could give as many vastly different results as there are people attempting to measure. Say STAND-ING WAVE. CAN-CEL-LATION. BOUND-AR-Y RE-IN-FORCE-MENT. You get the idea I hope.

    The other reason is that if people aren't educated enough to even be aware of how problematic all this is they are unlikely to get very trustworthy results.

    But what do I know: I don't trust others people's soundclips as much as I do my own listening and playing experiences and experiments ; }
  17. It think we are all saying the same thing. Of course, most of these specs are not anywhere accurate in the absolute sense.

    However, when you look across the Eden line... the correlation between published low end response and how those cabinets actually sound down low is pretty good, with the XST line having lower roll-off spec's than the XLT line, and the larger 410XLT having a higher roll-off than the 210XLT. That's EXACTLY the way my ear hears those cabs.

    So, again, you are correct, you can't just look at specs and say... well, the EdenXST rolls off as low as the Acme B210, so therefore they will sound the same. HOWEVER, if you are trying to decide on an Eden cab, and are looking for, perhaps, a cab similar to the 210XLT that you played in the store, but maybe with a little more open low end, the specs on the Eden site would point in the (correct) direction to the 210XST.

    I can understand why EE's and techies (and especially TBers who build cabs themselves and try to provide honest figures:smug: ) would be extremely negative to these inaccurate figures. Totally useless.... hardly... but I agree you have to use some common sense (for example, if you see a very low roll-off point and very high SPL, I would put more weight to the SPL figure than the roll-off... that's usually what I've found when playing cabs, etc.)

    Edit: I also, of course, obviously agree that 'using your own ears' is the best bet (although playing a cab in a music store solo setting for a short period of time can actually be more misleading than the spec's IMO!). However, very few will ever have the opportunity to try out a lot of boutique gear because most of these companies have very limited distribution. Unless you are a fanatic about it like me, who plays (and buys!) just about everything, you have to cue in on others opinions, soundclips, RELATIVE specs (with caution), etc.... that's just the way it is, unfortunately.
  18. G43


    Oct 11, 2006
    wow, great lots of information here, just learning a lot :D
    Kjung thanks for you r advice, Ill do a new post about what I need.
  19. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    I won't let them off the hook like that, KJung. If the figures are almost something one could use within a brand line, they are a horrible thing across brand lines. Not only are they NOT to be trusted, but they give competitors who might wish to provide honest figures a very hard choice.

    There are two reasons a person would desire specs. One is to get an HONEST idea of how something really performs, one that actually correlates directly to its sonic abilities - and does not to be guessed like, "Oh they always lie around 5 dB and an octave in the lower response. I think. Unless they had a different marketing team for that last product. Or a change of plans. Or." Simply not worth much at all.

    Two, is to be able to make comparisons with the gear FROM OTHER COMPANIES. You are right about one thing: in limited time in a store - or anywhere really - we often can't make a good sonic call often on something. Specs COULD BE (but aren't) a useful buying aid when one isn't just comparing to other products from the same brand in such instances, and for many people could be of more use if they actually were representative of actuality.

    I don't expect the worst offenders to clean up their act. But I know it's not just a problem that I percieve. When I've posted about this before on this and other forums I usually have ended up with PMs from people at companies who have tried to fight a clean fight, saying something along the lines of, "Thank you so much for helping to educate the buyer, bub! If you only knew the half of it : {"

    That's just sad.
  20. +1 to the above... I agree with this much more than disagree:)

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