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Karlson Cabinets

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by dlhughes, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. That photo is just one I snagged off a forum somewhere. I'm thinking about building a cab like this to try in my bass rig, but wanted to get some objective input about them.
  2. OK, this is the kind of input I was hoping for...

    I plan to use this cab with a tweeter of some sort installed in one of the slot-panels, kicking in at 1800Hz or so. I don't like a lot of 'middiness' in my bass guitar tone anyway. If I need more mids, I can always add another small cab for that.
    I, too, like the way the Karlsons look (like they mean business!), and I can't really see them coming in any heavier than the fEarFul cabs with all the mid-chambers and braces, etc., and certainly not as heavy as a BFM folded-horn cab. Besides, that's what casters are for, right?

  3. 1n3


    Sep 13, 2007
    I once shared your fascination with the Karlson design. They do look cool. Don't know how much research you've done on these... As Bill Fitzmaurice has said, they are a bandpass design. If you don't know what that means, it would be good to learn before you build.

    If you follow the plans I've seen (15" speaker), I'd expect it to come in heavier than either a fEarful 15/6 or a BFM Titan39 (depends on width), or even a well-designed bandpass cab.
  4. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Here is a diagram that might be helpful, if you don't have it already:
  5. bassman10096

    bassman10096 Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    The OP's picture was my old rig, and my old Karlson. I liked that cabinet for its low end, but would concur it was too scooped in the mids. Karlsons tend to be heavy cabs - like folded horn designs tend to be - because they contain a lot more wood than a reflex box. Can't say I'd go out looking for another Karlson - too pleased with my current rig.
  6. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    It's helpful in showing what a Karlson is, but like all enclosures it must be matched to the driver T/S specs. Being a series bandpass makes that a very complicated procedure, as most box programs won't do that alignment. And you can't model the response above 200 Hz anyway. My best guess is that it would have to be crossed to a midrange no higher than 800 Hz.
  7. My father made 8 Karlson 15" cabs for Billy Blough (George Thorogood's bass player) back in the early 80s when he lived and owned a restaurant in West Chester, PA. Then the band blew up and my father saw his karlsons on TV when they opened for the rolling stones. After that, every bass player that knew my father wanted one.
    My father said he always equipped them with either JBL D-140s or JBL E-145s (with the exception of a few)
    A few years back we made one last one for myself. I have a SICA neo driver in mine. The driver itself is pretty efficient up to 5K, so that took care of that midrange problem everyone is talking about. It is by far the most efficient bass cab I have ever played through. Two of them together would completely crush those 8-10 cabs

    Attached Files:

  8. 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)
    If it's not a trade secret, can you tell me which SICA neo woofer you're using?

    And if it is a trade secret, then no problem - I understand.
  9. No secret at all. I bought the driver from tubesandmore.com. The part # is: P-A-S15K4-8
    I bought mine just because they had them in B-stock for $180, not really knowing how nice it would sound. I would recommend this for any 15" application.
    The picture I posted actually has a vintage D-140 (hence the aluminum dust cap) this was before I replaced it.
  10. MR PC

    MR PC Inactive

    Dec 1, 2007
    Mitchell made several cabs with sand in the bottom.

    The Karlson cab loaded with an Altec 421-A sounds pretty darn good.
  11. freddyi


    Jul 24, 2010
    Hi Precisionb87 - that picture w.140 appears to be the "KHYBOE"/"X15" size coupler (?) (I have a pair of KK Audio and a pair of 115BK) X15 made its debut in 1965 and I believe at first it had a mini "Rocket-klam" tweeter made of wood attached to the reflector panel. For bass guitar use where one want's extended treble, an internally mounted slotted Karlson open end waveguide tube would be good and protected from damage. Here's an approximate clone of the X15 with a clone of a tube from about 1966. I would guess a Transylvania Power Company "The Tube" size piece of 1" schedule 40 pipe with ~5.3" long half ellipse slot and ~2-2.5" unslotted section for a total length of ~7.5" would work well with 1" compression drivers.

    Did your Dad's cabinets have an 3" x9" vent in their upper reflector panel?


    here's one of my KK-Audio Karlson-couplers - with a slotted tube on top its much better sounding than my Klipschorns for stereo plus I prefer the Tube in its range to a round constant directivity waveguide

    In this size class, a Karlson 12 (~1 cubic foot smaller in bulk than KHYBOE/X15) loaded with a PYM1298 had a lot of subjective punch - Kappa 12A should be a good substitute for PYM1298
  12. My dad's model does have a vent in their upper reflector panel, but I'm not sure of the exact size. I'm not in front of it now. Billy bought one somewhere in CA, and brought it back to Philly where my dad copied that design exactly. He does not recall the company that made the original.
  13. patchwork


    Feb 6, 2012
    i am building up a karlson system again. but not with 100 watt woofers but more 1200w and 600 wat rms speakers




  14. jeffmaxwell

    jeffmaxwell Commercial User

    Oct 8, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    owner, Silver Hammer Designs
    I built 8 of the karlson cabs for a guy back in the 80's. He loaded them with JBL 15's and used them in his 4-way PA setup. He loved them but I never did manage to get to a show where he was using them. Lots of output with not much power in based on my tests of the finished cabinets. Interesting design.
  15. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    I saw Willie Nelson and Family, and Asleep at the Wheel at the Brown County Arena in Green Bay, WI in 1978. This venue was known as an uncontrollable echo box making any band sound awful, regardless of the PA used during that era and decades to come.

    This PA used Karlsons for the lows, and a lot of them. the sound was clear and even. Despite significant volume, all instruments and vocals were distinct and had great presence. I walked through the entire venue, from the front to the highest remote seats and the tone was great everywhere.

    All other groups I've heard in that venue suffered from boomy, flubby low end, just lost in an echoey, reverberant mush to the point of being painful to listen to.

    We're the Karlsons the reason the PA sounded so good that night?
  16. norain


    Jun 23, 2010
    I know this thread is old...but...nostalgia.
    There were resonances due to the flimsy removable back. I had to beef it up with aluminum channels to get the back to settle down. Once that was accomplished, the Karlson was a great bass speaker. I used a JBL D130F in mine, and drove it with a McIntosh 30 watt tube amp! It was LOUD.
    I ran curves on the unit and it was pretty flat to about 1 khz, then began to show phase problems. Once I replaced the raw wood edge of the opening curve with Formica the high end went up to 2.5 khz without any problem.
    I found a fully Formica finished Karlson used as an organ speaker in a Phoenix church. It had a triaxial 15" speaker. Wonderful sound.
    I think Stanley Clarke used a pair of Karlsons for awhile in the 70's.
  17. Bassboy63


    Jan 20, 2019
    I bought a karlson design bass cabinet about a month ago and put a black widow in it, and now that's all I use. Sounds amazing. A little heavy but manageable.
  18. Bassboy63


    Jan 20, 2019
  19. Bassboy63


    Jan 20, 2019
    I bought a karlson design bass cabinet about a month ago and put a black widow in it and now that's all I use. Sounds amazing. A little heavy but manageable.
  20. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass Inactive

    Sep 14, 2010
    Love the Klam

    Freaking lasers lol

    Just like the last Karlson thread I still think "Transylvania Power Company

    Is the coolest name ever.
    Of opinion and what they do and don't do.
    Either love em or you don't.
    And usually I've found people that do.
    Somewhat have a near obsession with them lol. Which I like
    If something makes you that happy in life. It's a darn good thing for sure.
    I always thought they looked like Alien technology stolen by wierd engineers strung out on acid lol.
    Also thought the same about some Univox heads. Imagine a funky blue Univox sitting on top of a custom Karlson with matching 2 tone blue vinyl and oxblood grill.
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