Lower Strings equals Bigger Speakers??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Maurice ElDarko, Oct 5, 2001.

  1. Do bigger speakers (15's say) handle lower notes better than smaller one's (say a group of 10's), or is the difference in how it is pre-amped, equalised etc.?

    I'm sure a few of you will know the answer ( J.T I'm lookin in your direction)
  2. yes.... big speakers can go a little lower than small speakers, because : a larger surface can vibrate slower than a small surface, without getting floppy.

    just think about it : why is a B-string much thicker than an E-string ? exactly.. thicker strings can vibrate slower than thin strings, without getting floppy.

    if you're going to play with A B-string a lot.. i think the best combo is a 4x10 and a 1x15... if you're going to play with F# ( 7++ string bass ), i'd even advice an 18" to go with it :)
  3. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    The difference is more in cab tuning and 'quality' of speakers than in speaker diameter.
    I bet there are quite a few 5-string players using the SWR Henry 8x8 out there...
    But with 'everything else being equal' (theoretically) a larger speaker will give you better bass response.

  4. Nope. It's a physical fact that a larger cone can produce lower frequencies. All else being equal.
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I’m with Matthias on this. My Euphonic Audio VL208 reproduces the frequencies of my B string far better than dozens of cabs I have tried with 12" and 15" speakers. The VL208 has 2 X 8"s and 2 X 5 and a quarter " speakers as well as a tweeter. I have carried my Eden head and used this with several other cabs and the EA Cab always sounds best for the low B.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    The other thing I would ask somebody with technical knowledge is that when buying HI-Fi I went for the best speakers I could buy which are Tannoy - made in the UK.

    Now if we're talking about Bass frequencies, my HIFi system reproduces Huge lows from things like classical records with low Organ pedal notes - these literally shake the room with bass!! ;)

    But these don't have any drivers bigger than 8" and looking around the most expensive HiFI shops there are no really expensive speakers with large drivers??
    If I play a CD through my bass rig - which includes a 1 X 15 it doesn't get so much bass.

    So why this insistence that larger speakers are needed for the lowest frequencies - in my experience this is simply not true - the low notes on the Church Organ are way below the range of Bass Guitar, but as I say my HiFi reproduces these faithfully, but a bass rig with 15" speaker doesn't ?? :confused:
  7. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    I'd like to quote bgavin here:
    "Most of the general public perceives a boom in the mid-bass range around 80 to 100 Hz as "bitchin' bass" response" (from the thread "frequency ranges)

    I believe he is right here, and that's why most bass rigs are not designed to have a flat response down to 30Hz, but to achieve a high 'chest hit factor' as someone called it in another thread.

    Plug a discman or tape-recorder into a bass amp - it will sound weird in most cases. Try a 'hifi-like' bass sound in a loud band - you will get drowned out as long as you haven't got tons of power (< 1000W) at your disposal....

    Just my 2 cents,
  8. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    I am not a fan of huge speakers... I just don't want one 15' to be my only speaker... I would get say a 4x10 cab and throw a 1x15 cab underneath it for that added kick... yeah. it could be tasty
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think you're probably right but it's a question of what is meant by "handles better" which was what the thread is about.

    To my ears, my HiFi separates system handles the very lowest frequencies better than any bass amp, in terms of faithfully reproducing that "underground rumbling". But of course it would be no use at a gig! ;)

    I play Jazz and Latin with mostly acoustic instruments, so am not looking for huge amounts of volume and quality of sound is my priority. So the EA cabs provide the highest quality of sound and so to me "handle" the lows better - but of course would probably be no use to somebody in a Death Metal band!! ;)
  10. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    First of all, Joris is right...all things being equal a bigger speaker handles lower frequencies better (important part here..."all things being equal").

    high frequencies make a speaker move faster and shorter (thus a smaller speaker is better at high frequencies) and low frequencies make a speaker move slower and longer (thus a larger speaker is better able to handle low frequencies).

    But...You can have smaller speakers (like 10") in a cabinet (like an 8 X 10) that has the cabinet designed in such a way that it is "tuned" (ported properly for the speaker configuration it has) so that it will produce and "handle" lower frequencies better than say, a poorly tuned 15" cabinet.

    Now, about reproduced sound vs. live sound...If you were to have your "live" bass sound compressed and digitized in the same way that the reproduced sound of a CD is played, then you could compare. Otherwise saying that a CD on your hi-fi stereo at home handles the low frequencies with small speakers better than your bass amp with 15" speakers is comparing apples to oranges.
  11. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The "all else equal" is where the argument gets into trouble.

    The easiest way to get low end extension is indeed to use a larger cone, but you can design speakers with smaller cones that put out plenty of low end.

    If larger cones was the only answer, EV would still make those 30" woofers they used to sell back in the 1960s.

    Here's a simple example: headphones!!! They can easily give you really deep bass with drivers that are only 1"!!!

    Bottom line is you can not make assumptions about a speaker cabinet just by checking the size of the drivers inside it. You have to listen to it.
  12. It comes back to the three design tradeoffs: Low, Loud, and Size. Your HiFi and mine are designed to reproduce the lows and also fit modestly in a living room. They trade away efficiency as the compromise. Instrument cabs have to be loud and portable, hence they trade away low frequency extension. HiFi speakers can achieve realistic loudness because they fill a much smaller listening volume than a typical venue.

    Play your bass through your HiFi and see if you like it... I do.

    Play your music CD through a typical bass rig and see if that sounds pleasing. IMO it doesn't. The difference is those who want the amp/cab to define the sound, and those who want the sound of the bass faithfully reproduced. For the record, my JBL E110s heavily color a music CD with what I call "bright yellow" as compared to the "clear glass" reproduction of my HiFi speakers. As a HiFi listener, I would walk away from the sound produced by a bass rig, and the company would go broke.

    Engineering-wise, the only drivers I've seen that will faithfully reproduce 31 Hz are either subwoofer designs or huge cabinet volume designs. Subwoofers trade away Loud to gain Size and Low. I catch a fair amount of flack for using Rockford automotive subwoofers in my bass cabinet.. "those are CAR speakers!!!" etc. They also happen to do the job better than anything else I've seen to date.

    Cone area is what moves the air, and true low bass requires a tremendous amount of air movement. Smaller drivers provide air movement through the mutual coupling effect. Multiple 10" drivers can move the identical amount of air as a single 15" driver, but at higher cost and weight. With my rig, it takes 2.7 10" drivers to displace the same air volume as one of my 15" drivers. Also, the 2.7x drivers will be louder and handle more power than the single 15".

    Very few 10" drivers are capable of going as low as a comparable 15", so even multiple 10s are at a potential disadvantage. Most 10" drivers begin to roll off higher than 31 Hz, so this disadvantage is more than academic. It can be compensated for by using an extended bass shelf (EBS) large volume design, but this defeats the portability requirement. The 4th design trade off is Price. One can trade away cash for an active ELF design and receive Low, Small and Poor.. :D
  13. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Well, the original question was...

    The answer is yes they do. As I said, the higher the frequency, the faster and shorter the cone moves. The smaller the speaker, the better able it is to move faster and shorter.

    The lower the frequency, the slower and longer the cone moves. The bigger the speaker, the better able it is to move slower and longer.

    This is just simple physics and nothing more.

    Now, how about you take the speakers off that head set and mount them into a cabinet and play your bass through that?

    Again...apples and oranges.

    If, by his question, he meant...would an 8 X 10 cab handle low frequencies better than a cab with 15" speakers...well, now that is a different question.

    Some 8 X 10 cabs are designed to handle the low frequencies better than some 15" cabs...and visa versa. How well the cab handles low frequencies has more to do with it's tuning (porting) than with the speakers alone. The cab design is equally important to the speakers being used.

    ...all things being "equal"...:)
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I was saying that there are sounds which go lower than a multi-string bass and the example I quoted was Church Organ.

    So if you have a digital recording of the lowest organ pedal notes they go way below a bass guitar and my HiFi reproduces this faithfully - it shakes the room and any inabitants of the building imagine they are in an earthquake situation!!

    But my 15" speaker cab won't do this, although it projects a fair amount of volume at large gigs - so my view is that my HiFi with it's smaller speakers actually handles the very lowest frequencies better than a 15" cabinet!!!

    [I would suggest sceptics go into an up-market HiFi shop and ask for a demonstration of a digital recording of a Church Organ!! ;) ]
  15. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    Bruce, what you say about the hi-fi sound of your bass guitar cabinets, as well as your home stereo, makes sense. It's great that a hi-fi type of cabinet works in your performing situation. However, "handling" is not really a good term. It boils down to frequency response, efficiency, and size. There is a body of physics for dynamic loudspeakers that shows the tradeoffs. If you don't need loud bass, then a hi-fi speaker is great. But some players (including me) have had situations where we want people to feel strong bass in good-sized venues - without having to (a) use megawatt amps or (b) haul 800 lbs. of cabinets around. So we compromise a little on the low end response. That is the essence of the tradeoff. If you get a speaker that is flat to 31 Hz., but you play in a loud band in a large venue - what good is it if no one can hear that faithfully-reproduced low note?

    This subject gets hashed and rehashed, and it still boils down to this tradeoff. Wishful thinking doesn't change the underlying physics. And (once again), larger drivers usually generate low frequencies more efficiently.
    - Mike
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Is anybody actually reading my posts!! I'm talking about my HiFi system at home and about very low bass - not about live situations or anything like this. I've explained this twice now...very carefully!

    Is it not possible to have a theoretical discussion around here!??
  17. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yes, Bruce...but you keep making the comparison to your hi-fi handling the low frequencies better than your bass cab.

    Again...apples and oranges. If you play your CD through your bass amp and cab...it will sound like **** because your bass amp and speakers were not designed to play reproduced, highly compressed digital sound...it was designed to increase the volume of the strings you pluck, as picked up by the "pick-ups".

    "That" has nothing to do with the size of the speakers. Hell, even my band's huge PA system does not sound as good as my home hi-fi system when playing CD's.

    Thus the constant response of the difference between "live" and pre-recorded sound.

    Have you noticed that your "low-end" on your hi-fi system isn't coming through your tweeters? My guess is that it would be coming through the biggest speaker in your system. Even a perfect Bose system, with their tiny speakers, still use a sub-woofer to handle the low frequncies.

    I wonder why?

    And...just to prove my point about which speakers handle which frequencies better...conversely, you would not run high frequencies through an 18" speaker exactly because a large speaker does not move fast enough, or short enough to handle high frequencies.

    If you tri-amped a system and you had 4-10 cabs, 2-15 cabs and an 18 cab...which speaker cab would you run the low frequencies through?

    This discussion was about which speakers handle low frequencies better...and when discussing speaker size, bigger speakers handle low frequencies better than small speakers in any given system, be it a home stereo or not...ALL things being equal...and comparing the ability of a hi-fi systems' ability to handle the low-end better than a much larger speaker in your bass cab is really moot.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes but as I've said about three times now - the lowest woofer on my HiFi system is much smaller than 15" - looks about 8" - but it still faithfully reproduces much lower frequencies than my 15" bass cab!!
  19. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yes...but the 8" woofer on your home stereo system is the largest speaker IN THAT SYSTEM, is it not?

    Also, the speaker cab in your hi-fi system may be of a better design FOR THAT SYSTEM, than your 15 cab is for your bass amp...since your bass amp is not designed for the purpose of playing reproduced music through it.

    Again...we are talking about whether or not a larger speaker handles low frequencies better than smaller speakers...and you prove the point that your largest speaker in your home stereo handles the lows better than the smaller ones in your system do.
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    No, no, no .. but anyway the other point I was making is that I have 15" cab and a 2 X 8" and the latter produces better low end than the 15!!