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More speakers vs more power - what sounds better?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jim Nazium, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. I have a cab and an amp I like. I need more volume. I know the cab can handle a lot more power than this amp can provide. I can either (a) get a more powerful amp, (b) get another cab, or maybe even (c) both. Or (d) carrots.

    Assuming for the sake of this discussion that option (a) will provide enough volume, is there any sonic advantge to option (b)? That is, will two drivers running well within their limits sound better than one driver pushed near its limit, or would there be no difference?

    I realize that the two-cab setup will provide more headroom if I ever need it; I'm just asking about the sound.

  2. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Wha tis telling you that you current stuff is not capable of the volume you require?

    More speakers is harder to move, and you need to be more aware of dispersion issues, but running things well within its limits will always beat pushing things, unless you need the distortion, and even then, there is often better ways to achieve it.
  3. I played a gig last Friday and both the preamp 'clipping' light and the power amp 'limit' light were flashing, so the little amp was doing all it could do. We had a substitute drummer who was really loud, and I wasn't keeping up.
  4. Andyman001

    Andyman001 moderation must be taken with a grain of salt

    Feb 11, 2010
    Some drivers have a musical "break up" near their limits, some sound like doo doo
  5. Foz


    Jul 26, 2008
    Jax FL USA
    What cab - what amp?

    Never mind, u said you liked the cab so "more speakers" = best answer - next question.
  6. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
    Without knowing specifics, chances are the power increase to reach the thermal limit of your cab will not be even close to as noticeable as adding a second cab.
  7. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    Help us out here... what make/model amp/cab are you using?
  8. Speakers will run into power compression so while you may think they will take more power that could actually not be the case. Add the second like cab will get you there long before increasing input power will.
  9. OK, it's a Fearful 12/6 cab and an Eden WTX 500. The cab has the switched midrange driver, so I can add the 12 sub. The amp is rated for 280 watts into 8 ohms, and I think the cab can take like 500 watts.
  10. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Probably is more headroom in that cab than the amp then. Fairly unusual case scenario. EQing lows down ab it might help, but again, because of the exceptional cab, you might actually miss them.
  11. Might need to do both: more speakers and more power. Just suppose your amp was only capable of 400w and your speakers had a thermal limit of 800w (just ignoring Xmax for now), and you buy a new 800w amp. It only gets you less than 3db. You get less than the expected 3db due to thermal compression. Thermal compression robs you of spls in 2 ways. 1) As voice coil temp goes up VC resistance also goes up, dropping more power across that resistance as heat. 2) As voice coil resistance goes up the amplifier is able to deliver less power. So a four ohm driver may increase to 8 ohms producing twice as much heat in the voice coil and dropping max amp power by 40-60%.

    Now, if you add more speakers, power is divided between them, resulting in less overall thermal compression. The additional speakers also increase the overall system sensitivity. Using enough speakers to have a total thermal power handling capacity of twice or more the rated power of the amp helps control thermal compression and provides more displacement capacity.

    There are diminishing returns. At some point you may just have to tell the drummer to cut back a little.
  12. Adding a cab will net you two things:

    1: increased sensitivity of the system - More volume with the same power

    2: Lower impedence - Draws more power from your amp

    The combination will net you a LOT more volume. Simply increasing the power is only going to increase your volume a 2-3 db's. That said are you sure you are not simply running into head room limitations from your amp?
  13. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    +1 to All above

    but Maybe you need to position the cabinet so you can hear the midrange better. Like tilt it back a little so it faces your ear. Getting another cab and stacking the two would move the top mid-range closer to ear level. Hearing that mid-range can help you to hear yourself.
  14. My preference is to fire the drummer. Next, put cab amp up on a riser.

    Then get another cab. Generally speaking, two cabs sounds "boomfier" if that is a word for mondo headroom with an indefineable extra full sound.

    At full clip your amp should be doing the 4 ohm RMS rating into 8 ohms so you're pretty much getting all the performance available out of the one cab. A bigger amp might get a little more out of it but I reckon not much.

    I always figured the ffSub versions must have their own low pass filter in them and you would connect in parallel like any other cab. What's the go with the switching mid?
  15. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    If it's shear volume you're wanting, adding another cab to the existing amp will net you more volume than staying with just the one cab and doubling the amp watts. Pushing more air is generally the most bang for the buck way to "up the rig".
  16. They do have their own low pass filter. The switchable mid is a padding switch for the 18sound mid driver. Needs to be pulled back a quite a bit with a single 3012LF woofer, and even a bit with the 3015LF in the 15/6. So you add a sub, and you can (if you like it tonally) lift a bit of the padding on the mids to make them even out with the addition of the second woofer.
  17. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    Generally, adding speakers will be better than more watts.
  18. +1

    If you are only throwing 30 watts at a big cab, you do have a bit to gain with more power. 500 watts into a 210? nope more power isnt going to net you more volume.
  19. If that amp is only 8 ohms, unless that fEarful is 16 ohm, which I highly doubt, you need to upgrade your amp, and possibly the cab too, if you want more sound.

    Basically, you can't get another speaker until you get a 4 ohm or 2 ohm amp, and that should boost your volume, but adding another 8 ohm cab after getting a 4 ohm amp will boost your volume alot more than the increased amp power.

    More speaker area = More volume.
  20. jamiroquaisub


    Dec 28, 2012
    The 12/6 as you know is rated for about 533 watts.

    Doubling your wattage will only increase your volume 3 db. Because of the way the human ear works, you have to have 10x the wattage to increase volume by 10 db, thus doubling your apparent volume.

    Doubling your speakers, in and of itself, will only increase your volume 3 db.

    In your case, adding a 12 sub would change the impedance shown to your head from 8 ohms to 4 ohms which will almost double your wattage and so give you almost a 3 db boost, AND would almost double your speaker area giving you another almost 3 db boost. So just by adding the sub you'd get about a 5 db boost with your current head, which is halfway to doubling your maximum volume. It will also bring the midrange speaker closer to ear level which will help.

    The 12/6 and 12 sub combination is well loved because you can leave the sub at home for most gigs, but tote it when you need war volume. In your case, I'd suggest you get the 12 sub and see where that takes you. If it's not loud enough, get yourself one of the many kilowatt heads out there and you will drive both cabinets to their full potential with a little headroom left over. You don't lose anything by getting the 12 sub now because you're going to need it in any case.

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