Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

LDS 1x8 and 2x8 3ways vs. Epi UL110

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by macmrkt, Dec 5, 2005.


  1. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I'm a big fan of LDS. They've produced the truest sound to date for my DB. In a variety of comparisons, I've chosen the LDS over many other well respected cabinets. One of the few I've never tried, are the Epifani's. Why? I dunno. I think it's because I've been on this 8"-drivers-must-be-better kick. I've thought many times about trying Epi's especially since Anthony Jackson uses them. Now, we all know you can't trust endorsements alone - but Mr. Jackson may be one of the few you can. That's because as far as I can remember, he's sought the ultimate hi-fi bass rig like no one else. One of his recent rigs is indicative. If I remember correctly, in the wonderful documentary "Calle 54", he is shown playing his Fodera Contrabass (no preamp or controls other than a single volume) directly into a Krell power amp (Krell is one of the very top audiophile amps on the home hifi market and start at around $5K). The guy will stop at nothing for the purest tone! And yes, he uses Epi's.

    I tested the Epi 110UL versus my LDS 1x8 3way and 2x8 3way. The 110UL is new and not broken in. The LDS's are broken in. All cabs were off the floor about 20" on steel stands. The basses were a Schnitzer & DeSola DB with a Fishman FC and a Steinberger XQ 5 string BG. I ran a WW Super with Monster Cables. I did the tests in a 10x12' room and a 20x30' room, playing solo. I tested with DB first then BG.

    Epi 110UL vs LDS 1x8 3way
    First off, the 110UL is a 2way with a 10" bass driver. Second, it weighs just over 20lbs on my scale. The LDS weighs just under 25 lbs. The Epi is a tad bigger. Both use neo drivers. Both cabinets sound very good and rich. But after a few seconds, differences show up. The first and most significant impression is that the Epi is more even sounding from top to bottom. This is actually a big deal. The LDS sounds different on the DB's top 2 strings than on the bottom in comparison to the Epi. The Epi is the same sound all over the bass. Paying close attention to this I realized that the LDS compresses the 'A' and 'E' strings. This kind of makes sense - it's only an 8" driver. The low string 'chuffing' sound reported on the LDS is also much more apparent in comparion to the Epi. I'd also say that the Epi was more natural sounding, more like the bass itself. I'm very surprised. I didn't think I'd find a more natural sound than the 1x8 - but there it was. All the clarity, all the inflection, and all the fullness - without 'sound shifting', no matter what note you played. The only place the LDS was maybe, maybe, more appealing was the middle positions on the 'G' string. It seemed dryer and cleaner - but maybe it was just brighter.
    On BG, the LDS started out as my preference on the top 3 strings. Its livelier sound was appealing. But as you went lower, the compression and 'chuffing' became apparent. On the low 'B', it was no match for the Epi. In fact, the LDS couldn't reproduce some of the lowest notes. For example, it dropped out on the low 'C' and came back for the 'D'. Goofy! The Epi got them all with wonderful evenness. The Epi is slightly fuller or darker sounding, but able to reproduce all the notes. The slightly less lively sound is not really better or worse, just different. Of course, I could dial in the extra liveliness on right on the BG's active preamp. However, no eq would bring back what the LDS misses.
    Conclusion: The Epi is more natural, more even sounding and can handle a 5 string bass. I would have not noticed any deficiencies in the LDS if it weren't for the Epi. Did I say, it also WEIGHS LESS! It's only 5 pounds less, but it is easier to carry. It also seems more balanced when you lug it around for some reason.

    Epi 110UL vs LDS 2x8 3way
    The LDS 2x8 is a fuller sounding, less bright cabinet than the 1x8. It's a terrific box. It's a good deal larger than the Epi and at 39lbs, twice the weight. Is it worth lugging around? Well, on DB, I call the sound comparison a draw. The differences are slight. Once again, the LDS's 8" drivers are compressing the lower notes in comparison to the Epi. Much less than the 1x8, but still a bit. The Epi matches the LDS tone for tone, but it seemed to disperse a bit better. Bass extension was equivalent, but the Epi may open up a bit more when pushed. I'd be happy with either. On BG, the LDS seemed a little muted in comparison to the Epi. The bigger advantages the Epi had over the 1x8 were much less with the 2x8, but still there.
    Conclusion - It's a toss up. If anything, the Epi may be a little closer to the truth on DB and a little clearer overall on BG. BUT IT WEIGHS HAVE AS MUCH! I get the feeling it can play just about as loud too.

    Notes: Clearly, I was not prepared for anything to outplay my LDS's. But the 20lb 110UL weight was too much for me to ignore at least a test run. What I didn't expect was to shave weight and improve my sound. I wonder if the simpler 2 way design contributes to the much more pleasurable evenness of the Epi? In the high-end audio speaker world, less drivers are usually better to my ears. For DB or doublers, the 110UL is a gem.
     
  2. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    Aw gee mac, thanks for making the choices clearer. Here I was set on a LDS 2x8 or an EA 2x8 (when it comes out) and now you do this! :rollno:

    Kidding! Thanks for the review. :)
     
  3. bolo

    bolo

    May 29, 2005
    Apex, NC
    macmrkt, you just never let up do you? Talk about the relentless pursuit of "the" tone!

    It's apparent that you were surprised with the results of this test. So am I actually.

    I think a lot of people get real good at practicing self-deception when they buy equipment, 'cuz they want to feel like they made the right decision on how they spent their hard earned $. I think you have to be pretty open minded and have big ears to admit when maybe what you thought was #1 yesterday might not be #1 after all. Granted, LDS and Epi both make outstanding products I'm sure.

    Anyway, here's a genuine "Thank you!" for taking the time to write up these impressions, and all the other evaluations you've done. You and Tom Bowlus (and many others) are better than a Consumer Reports for DB.
     
  4. Just returned from St. Louis where I had the pleasure of hearing Ric Vice's new LDS 2x8 three way powered by an older Walter Woods and fed by a Realist pickup. It was one of the best live DB sounds I've heard to date. Ric's LDS has the B&C drivers (that Epi uses). It was warm, articulate and clear up and down the neck.... amazing sounding.

    I love my EpiUL's for EB, and I bet that little 110UL also sounds great. When you get to that level of quality, it's almost just pure personal taste.

    However, that little LDS box sounded AMAZING on the gig.
     
  5. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Nice review as usual! :D

    I corresponded briefly with Martin regarding a similar comparison that I recently did (bass guitar only) of a variety of 1x10's and 1x8's. My results were pretty similar, though I will add (as a teaser!) that the Epi T-110UL (same cab as the UL110, I believe) was probably my favorite all around cab at the lower to moderate volume settings. At higher volumes settings (playing fingerstyle on a 5-string electric bass), the VL-110 took control of the pack.

    I'll post a thread soon on the BG side of things and post a link to it here.

    Tom.
     
  6. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Thanks all for the comments and for the nomenclature fix. These reviews are as helpful to me as maybe they are to a reader - after you do the test, you get to put words to your experiences which makes them more 'real'.

    And the comments are right - these are my preferences. My 'house advantage' always goes to smaller, lighter and more accurate. But this is the first time more accurate was not the 'brighter sounding' cabinet.
     
  7. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Absolutely. The LDS 2x8 3way is a champ, albeit in the welterweight class (I'm soooo lazy). There will be some great new designs in the coming months from Don and Co. And I know weight reductions are on the menu.
     
  8. So much also has to do with the pickup, bass and head (I would guess even more so than in the EB world in which I live). I've heard DB's sound great through AI heads for example, but Ric's Realist pickup did not sound good at all through the AI preamp... very dull, dead and lifeless... even through my 3x8 LDS with agressive selenium tweeter! On the other hand, that bass and pickup with a WW head sounded way too clacky with the Epifani tweeter (he was playing out of my 410UL for a brief moment a while back). It does make your head spin, since all these components work together to either make a wonderful or awful sound that sometimes depends on just one component being different.
     
  9. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I finally got a chance last Thursday to take my new LDS 2x8 3way out on a gig. From my perspective, it's the finest Double Bass cabinet I've ever owned. I was using my older Walter Woods MI 400 with the cabinet at the club. What I noticed about this cabinet is it's ability to faithfully reproduce the instrument. Bass notes are very full, but equally articulate. The cabinet handles the lower range of the instrument faithfully. The transition in to the midrange is very smooth, so smooth that you just don't notice the Mid Driver. The same thing happens when you move into thumb position for solos, the transition to the tweeter is effortless and transparent. On ballads the cabinet allows you to lean into the those big, open singing low E's, F's and G's without the
    over sustain that most cabinets produce on those pitches.
    Playing really fast tempos really shows the LDS's ability to
    precision articulate moving bass lines at those screaming bebop tempos. Provided you can actually play at those tempos. I can't speak to the EPI 110 since I don't own one, but this leaves my Euphonic Audio VL 110 in the dust.

    I do not work for LDS, I paid for my cabinet just like any one else would, in fact, since I opted for the spray finish and the detachable cart option and 4ohm load, I payed a little more. It was worth it.

    Ric
     
  10. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    I'm glad you brought up the EA VL's. That was my experience too. I think that maybe the reason Tom B favors EA VL's overall is as he says - high volumes - is where they come into their own. At lower volumes his test results seem to be similar to mine. I don't have the need for high, or likely even medium rock volumes so LDS and now Epi's work best for me.
     
  11. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Macmrkt,
    I forgot to mention two other important things. First, thanks to you for that wonderful LDS 2X8 design that you and Don Oatman came up with, it's killer. Second the LDS is an extremely efficent cabinet I had the volume control sitting at somewhere between 2 and 3 all night and it was more than loud enough to meet my needs.

    Ric
     
  12. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Ric,
    You are too kind. It's Don's effort - not mine. I just sat on my duff and asked for a vertical array with staggered woofs and the added midrange. I do admit to getting a thrill reading about how happy you are with the cabinet. I was in heaven when I got it as well. And to think someone else hears it as I do. I hope others get to experience it as well...
     
  13. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Yup. At lower volumes, the VL-110 is a bit dark sounding, and not as clear or present as either the LDS cabs or the T-110UL.
     
  14. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Tombolwlus,
    I tend to agree with you here, with one qualification. I had the opportunity, or misfortune to play at a rather large outdoor festival last fall and decided to take a single EA VL 110 as a fall back speaker.

    It proved to be a wise decision on my part since the stage rig was a SWR Workingman's 410. Using my Walter Woods
    Ultra at pretty high volumes, didn't produce a better sound. In fact even with proper adjustment in EQ the cabinet just wouldn't cut it in that particular situation.

    Without adjoining walls, a single Transmision Line Cabinet has difficulty IMHO, even with lots of avaliable headroom from the amp. My educated guess is that I would need a lot more cabinet surface to "fill the space", but working exclusively with the Double Bass as I usually do, I think the more sensible approach is to use something like the LDS 2x8 on the stage and run a mike for the house IMHO.

    Ric
     
  15. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I've come to love the sound I get with my new BG going through the WW and into the LDS 2x8.

    It's so mellow. And that's basically how I want to hear the BG... I like a very relaxed, chill sound for the music I play with electric (invariably either funk or Latin).
     
  16. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, I think that has more to do with the fact that it's a single 1x10 at an outside show. I really wouldn't expect a single VL-110 to be able to handle that task. A single CX-310, though, which is also a transmission line design, would be far better suited, of course.

    I just don't think that "single 1x10" and "large outdoor festival" are concepts that I would recommend putting together. ;)

    Tom.
     
  17. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Agreed,
    Unfortunately, you're one of the few people on the planet that actually own's the EA CX 310. I have never actually seen anything but pictures of those cabinets.

    Ric ;)
     
  18. hensonbass

    hensonbass Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    I've owned my Epi 110ul for over a year and it has been a god-send for gigging with my AI Focus head. My Shen hybrid with a Rev. Solo PU and that rig - I'm always good to go.

    I'm happy to hear that the Epifani 110 rates up there with the LDS 8" cabs. You always wonder if it's greener on the other side.

    And I have to admit that when EA comes out with their new 2 x 8 cab, will the grass be greener? :hyper:
     
  19. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    I have a sneaking suspicion that the NM-208 will set a new standard. Between the new EA 2x8 and the AI series 3 heads, I wonder sometimes why I didn't wait another year to upgrade my rig.

    On the other hand, I'm crazy about my current setup and really can't complain.
     
  20. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Marty, thanks very much for posting your review. I have wondered many times about the UL-110 but based on descriptions from others, I had decided to give it a miss.

    I think the LDS 1x8 3-way is not very natural sounding at all. I've felt like that since I got my cab and still feel that way. If you feed a CD or mic the bass into it, it sounds very harsh and way too bright. It is the complete opposite of some muddy cabs I've heard but it sure ain't natural-sounding to me. I think with the neo 8 that having the mid-range is a mistake if you're looking for a flat response. It would be interesting to hear an LDS 1x8 2-way. I would have liked to try one of Ralf Patterson's 2x8s but at 42 lbs, that's way too heavy for me.

    I'm hanging out to see what becomes of the NM-208 but it's good to know the UL-110 is worth a look.