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LDS 3-way 1x8 and Acme B-1 comparison

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by Adrian Cho, Sep 5, 2005.


  1. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    In the last few days I have spent countless hours in multiple sessions testing both of these cabs. I've not yet had a chance to play any sessions with them although I will have three opportunities this week to put them through their paces in the mix. Despite that, I thought I would post some initial thoughts now and provide updates later on.

    Firstly, the LDS 3-way 1x8 and Acme B-1 are both great cabinets each with their own unique characteristics. I really hope that I am not getting even an acute case of Tombowlus Syndrome but already I feel that if I had to give up one of these cabinets that it would be a very hard decision.

    The most important point is that the two cabs are voiced very differently. IMO, the B-1 is definitely the more accurate of the two cabs although that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be the cab of choice.

    I began with some non-bass tests. With flat EQ through the Focus, I put each cab through its paces playing a variety of CD tracks via the digital studio setup from my PC listening both up-close and from across the room (about 20’ away). I then played Steinway piano samples from my Roland keyboard again listening both up-close and from across the room (obviously I had the computer controlling the keyboard in that case). In each case, the B-1 sounded great with pleasing depth, warmth, detail, and apparently quite a flat response. I decided to test the claim about the Acmes being like a studio monitor by comparing output of CD samples through both the B-1 and a single Alesis M1 Active Mk2 near-field monitor. The sound from the B-1 both up-close and from across the room was impressive. I think it also works very well as a keyboard speaker and would probably be nice as a PA. With the same tests, the LDS sounded very harsh, boxy, and lacked depth and warmth. However as I’ll explain later, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will sound bad with the bass. I believe that the LDS is voiced for bass instruments and expects bass-heavy input typical of many pickups not to mention electric bass guitar. Given the right inputs and the right EQ, it can sound just as accurate as the B-1.

    All testing with the bass was with the AMT mic and the Vektor pickup. The bass is my modern Italian with unwound gut on the top two strings and Permanent A and E (extension). I didn't play any arco for these tests but that's something I definitely plan to to do. The AMT mic was plugged into the Focus mic channel via the XLR output from the AMT super preamp. The Vektor was plugged into the low-Z input of the Focus instrument channel via an LR Baggs GigPro preamp. The LDS high-end was fully attenuated (-2 dB). The attenuation controls on the B-1 were flat. My aim generally was to get the most transparent sound I could get with various combinations of the mic and pickup with each cab. Transparency was measured by me as a sound coming from the speaker that was very close to the acoustic sound of the bass, to the point where it was difficult to discern the two. To maintain this transparency, I found myself having to EQ in various ways as I increased volume.

    As a side note, the Vektor really is a great sounding pickup but it’s definitely very bass-heavy on my bass. With the bass rolled off appropriately, the Vektor sounds so good that I can really get away with a lot less of the mic. In fact with the new setup, I find myself using only a very small amount of the mic in the mix – just enough to give it some presence and some air. However even without the mic in the mix at all, I’m pretty happy.

    The AMT simply sounds better with the B-1. In fact using the AMT by itself, the point at which it starts to sound hollow, nasal, and boxy with the LDS is quite low. At lower volumes, the B-1 has the preferred sound for me either regardless of what combination of mic and pickup I use. It’s just more natural with more depth and warmth, less harshness, and more gentle transitions between the notes. The LDS is a bit more aggressive sounding. One thing I found with the B-1 is that as the volume increases, the bass needs to be rolled off more and more. I believe this is a combination of both the B-1 being very so slightly bass-heavy and the Vektor being very bass-heavy. At the higher volumes, the LDS requires less EQ adjustment to maintain transparency. However I could imagine the exaggerated bass at high volumes with the B-1 may not be as much of an issue with a different pickup. I would be very interested to know who else is using the LDS with a mic.

    In terms of volume, I don't find either cab to be substantially louder than the other and both would be fine for the overwhelming majority of gigs I play. I also did a lot of testing with both speakers together and at low volumes they sound great - arguably better than either alone. I will need to get in a bigger room to really test them at higher volumes. I have a gig this week and another next week that are both in very large rooms and they should be good opportunities to test the two speakers together.

    Because I had the LDS built with the top compartment, I am sure it will end up as my primary cab and I will only bring the B-1 out to supplement it. Perhaps that may change if I build a similar compartment designed to fit on top of the B-1 using the same interlocking corners. Despite the extra weight of the compartment (9 lbs), I suspect the reduced on-stage clutter and added convenience for transportation, setup, and teardown will definitely make it worth it. To minimise clutter I have been making various cables with custom lengths and using right angle connectors where appropriate. On a separate note, I must say that the Speakon connectors are wonderful things and require no soldering at all. Another thing I should add about the compartment. Don made it with a 1 1/2 inch hole (with a grommet) for the cables to pass through. I suspected this might be too small but went with his recommendation. Once the hole is filled with cables, getting some plugs through is a little tight but it works out fine as long as I do it in the right order (biggest connectors first). It also works because I’m using a thinner speaker wire (14 gauge but without the usual rubber exterior).
     
  2. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    A masterful review - I for one really appreciate your time and effort.
     
  3. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004

    Ditto!
     
  4. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I would like to add that I think the build quality of both units and the service offered by both companies is top-notch. One thing I like about the B-1 is that it has plastic rails on all edges that meet up with the corners. I find that looks a little more professional and has a tendency to attract less fur and hair because with the carpet, that stuff tends to be on the edges more than the surfaces. It's interesting to note too that the LDS has rubber feet as well as the lifter handle on the bottom but the B-1 has neither.

    Both of these cabs sound great and I think it mostly comes down to a matter of what sound you like and also what gear you're using. It's possible as I start using these cabs that I will come to prefer the B-1 for lower volume gigs but the LDS for louder horn gigs although I do feel the B-1 has almost as much volume as the LDS. It's just that the LDS has a more aggressive sound that I believe would probably cut through better. I must say that I can't understand why there aren't B-1s in use (especially considering how long they've been on the market) because they are great cabs for the money and I'm sure would be great for doubling on electric bass too. The grille on the B-1 is a little vintage look compared to the LDS grille but then the LDS is coated in paint (the B-1 grille is not) and mine already got scratched revealing the silver bare metal underneath. There are other aspects of the B-1 look that are also a little vintage with the large silver washers at corners of the grille and small silver nails holding down all the plastic rails.
     
  5. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    The more I listen to my LDS 2x8, the more I realize that if I took away one of the 8" drivers, it wouldn't sound so hot. The response wouldn't be nearly as balanced.

    Is the Acme B-1 a power hungry cab? One thing I love about my LDS 2x8 is that a WW MI-100 gives it enough juice.
     
  6. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    I do wonder what an LDS 2x8 would sound like. I guess one theory is that it would sound a bit more balanced and a bit more like the B-1 but then I also wonder if it's the neo drivers that make the cabinet sound as aggressive as it does. I think way too much is made of the B-1's inefficiency. I guess if you have a small amp it's an issue but with the Focus it's nothing to worry about.
     
  7. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004

    The B-1 is rated at 90 dB SPL 1W/1M. The EA Wizzy 112, for example, is rated at 103 dB SPL at 1 W/1M. Because they are separated by 13 dB, that means that for a given desired output, the Wizzy will require 1/20th the power of the B-1. That, in and of itself, is not an issue if you have more than enough power to begin with.

    Consider this though. If you drive each cabinet with its maximum rated power, you will achieve 112 dB SPL with the B-1 and 126 dB SPL with the Wizzy. Perceived loudness roughly doubles with every 10 dB increase in output. That means with both cabinets driven at full power, the Wizzy will play more than twice as loud.

    Then again, one might argue that 112 dB SPL is plenty!

    Some caveats. As Adrian is fond of noting, it is not sheer output power that is important but being able to cut throught the mix. That's a spectral matter (i.e., frequency repsonse). Also, it is not clear whether the rating of the EA Wizzy applies to the full bandwidth of the cabinet or to one frequency or a restricted range of frequencies. Their site does not provide much info. I will say this. 103 dB SPL 1W/1M is INCREDIBLY sensitive. I would be very surprised if it applies to the entire bandwidth.

    I do not know, nor was I able to find, the relevant ratings for the LDS cabinets. From Adrian's wonderfully detailed report, we can guess they are on a par with the B-1 in terms of sensitivity.
     
  8. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Same here. Nice job! But I warn you, TBS (Tom Bowlus Syndrome) strikes without warning! One day you wake up and realize that you can't even find a place to sit down in your practice room! :eek::D

    Later, Tom.
     
  9. BassGreaser

    BassGreaser

    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    I'm looking at getting 2 B-1's, and I'm wondering if my Bassman 135 (100watt all tube head) will be enough power to run two B-1's :confused:
     
  10. Tbeers

    Tbeers

    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Ehh, I know that tube watts are a different story, but I would have my doubts about powering 2 Acme cabs with a 100 watt head.
     
  11. My understanding is that although the B-1 has a lowish power handling spec (175W?) it is actually comfortable and perhaps sounds better at substantially higher levels. Not that it NEEDS it, but that it can handle it and should benefit from it.
     
  12. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    Holy cow. You can't sit down? You mean TBS affects your rear-end? I thought it only affected one's low-end :)
     
  13. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    In all my testing so far, I don't find the LDS to be really noticeably louder than the B-1 and there's no way it was anything like twice as loud. I think it's important to compare the same tone. When switching cabs for example, especially at higher output levels, the B-1 would have more bass than the LDS and that would make me think it was louder. Which I believe it is but I don't think it's as loud as people tend to think it is. If that makes any sense...
     
  14. jmain

    jmain Oo, Uhn't uh, Yes! Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    I've haven't tried a B-1, but I've been doing some research because I'm thinking about adding one to my rig. From what I've read, it seems that although it is rated at 175w, you get better production by giving it more juice, around 200-250w. A number of BGers use B-1s.
     
  15. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Well, tube watts are not really a different story if one is using a standard rating of a given number of continuous rms watts into a specified impedance at some level of distortion.

    Where tube circuits differ is when you push them past their nominally rated power. The type of distortion they produce is often referred to as "euphonic." It consiste largely of even-order harmonics which are much less objectionable to the ear than are the odd-order harmonics produced by solid-state circuitry.

    Still, when you "clip" tubes (or transistors) in such a manner there is a large amount of energy that is transferred to high-frequencies. If you have a full-range cabinet with tweeters (do I hear LDS?), this would be the most reliable way to fry them if they are unprotected. It is a fact that, in the hi-fi end of the world, more tweeters have been ruined by UNDERPOWERED power amps than by over-powered amps. Clipping is deadly to tweeters.

    It is the even-order distortion profile of tube circuits that guitar players count upon and it is an integral part of their sound.
     
  16. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004
    Just to be clear and in case you were referring to my post, it is the Wizzy that has the potential to play twice as loud (given all the caveats).
     
  17. drurb

    drurb Oracle, Ancient Order of Rass Hattur; Mem. #1, EPC

    Apr 17, 2004

    Say you push a B-1 with twice its rated power, i.e., 350 watts. That will net you another 3 dB and get you to 115 dB SPL.

    Keeping the caveats of my prior post in mind, and just for purposes of comparison, the Wizzy at it's rated power is 126 dB SPL. You'd have to apply about 4410 watts to a BG-1 to reach that output! Of course, it would catch on fire first.

    Now, I am not suggesting that 115 dB SPL is not enough. Nor am I suggesting that everyone should buy a Wizzy. I offer these observations only to make clear the real-world consequences of these ratings-- IF those ratings are accurate.
     
  18. jmain

    jmain Oo, Uhn't uh, Yes! Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    DRURB,

    First, just wanted to say I appreciate you sharing your knowledge. Gotta question:

    Given the B-1's sensitivity level of 90db, would it make sense to have a 4 ohm version paired (in parallel) with an 8 ohm cabinet that has a sensitivity rating of say, 97db? Specifically, running a 4 ohm B-1 with an 8 ohm VL-208. Is there a scenario whereby the impedance of the cabinets, and therefore the wattage each would receive, would offset so that the output would be more even?

    Thanks
     
  19. jmain

    jmain Oo, Uhn't uh, Yes! Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2005
    Alexandria, VA
    All I was saying here is that the cabinet is "power hungry", according to others. So you would prolly get better results from pushing it past it's rating, and not underpowering it.
     
  20. AMJBASS

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    Acme cabinets benefit from increased headroom. I think a lot of guys are getting away from the basic point though....how it sounds!