"More watts" or "more speakers" for more volume...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by GeorgiaHonk, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. Right now I'm using a Peavey 450 MAX into a 4-ohm Avatar B212 cabinet, which gives me 300 watts into two twelve-inch speakers. Still, I'm finding that the red "clipping" indicator light is flashing fairly regularly when I turn up the volume enough to be heard over my two guitarists in a sizeable venue.

    If I add a second 4-ohm cab, not only will I increase the amount of air I'm moving, but I'll be using all 450 watts that my amp can push, a power increase of 50%.

    On the other hand, if I increase my wattage (by either adding a separate power amp or by trading my amp for something more powerful) I can possibly have lots more power, but will still be utilizing the same speaker area that I have now.

    Which would be the most cost-effective way to add volume? Should I double my speaker area or increase my watts by more than 50%? I'm on a fairly restrictive budget, so boutique suggestions are not gonna be in my price range. Considering that I have a guitar I can sell (and depending on the consensus of this thread, my current amp head), my budget would be around five or six hundred dollars. Thanks in advance.

  2. mikeyvr6

    mikeyvr6 Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2002
    Plymouth, Wisconsin
    IME more speakers will do the trick. More speakers = more air moved = more volume. I'm not familiar with your amp, but if it can handle a 2 ohm load, get yourself a 4 ohm 2x10 on top of that 2x12. You'll certainly notice the difference.

    I've got that same Avatar 2x12 cab and I don't notice a volume difference between running it on one channel or bridged into it with my QSC RMX 1450.
  3. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    I'm with Mikeyvr6...add cone area.

    However, before you drop cash on another cabinet, examine how you have your EQ set on your instrument and your amp.

    If you're cutting mids, you're going to hurt your ability to cut through.

    How do you set the controls on your amp? If you are using the Contour control, it probably works to reduce your mids. Try setting it to "0".

    Try boosting your midrange a little at 200 Hz or so, that helps cut through. Also, don't overdo low end boost, it really eats up amplifier power.

    Remember, what often sounds good at home, doesn't do the job on the bandstand.

    You can try to get those pesky guitarists to turn down too...and maybe rework their tone to get out of your frequency range.
  4. From memory, I think the contour is set at zero, bass is cut slightly (-3dB), mids (in the 200-400 hz range) are boosted about +6dB, and treble is nearly flat. FWIW, these are the identical settings I use at practice with no problem. I tend to roll off the tone knob on my bass to between 1/3 and 2/3, depending on how much "bite" I want.

    So, that's two votes for adding a second cab. I was thinking about maybe going the 2X10 route, since the Avatar 2X12 seems to be a bit lacking in "chest punch." I had a 4X10 previously that I felt lacked low end, so maybe a 212/210 stack would give me what I'm looking for.
  5. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    Your settings all point toward cutting through...

    The Avatar B210 is an excellent companion to the B212. It really fills in the upper mids that you never knew were lacking.

    Good luck!!!
  6. Best setup for volume

    ---4x10 + 1x18 2x8phms=4ohms
    Power amp. --
    ---4x10 + 1x18 2x8ohms=4ohms

    A lot to carry, but as long as you have a power amp with two channels both capable of 4 ohms in each channel, you can get a ton of volume out of it.
  7. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    One thing that I've often heard (but never tested) is the fact that wattage is based in logarithmic functions and not just simple math. That said, APPARENTLY, to double your volume by increasing watts you need to raise the wattage by ten times its original amount. In other words, a 20watt amp driving a single 10 won't be twice as loud as a 10 watt amp pushing the same 10. However, a 100watt amp pushing a ten will be twice as loud as a 10watt amp pushing the same ten. Again, I've no basis for comparison on this and have never tested it out, but it makes sense (at least in my head).
  8. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Getting speakers would definitely help. In this day and age of cheap watts, it's an underestimated way of getting more acoustic output. The thing is, though, the most you're gonna gain from that in your situation is probably around 3 dB. You won't be able to add more speakers or get any more power. You're tapped out at that point.

    However, if you can manage to increase your amp power by *a lot*--I mean, not just 50% or 100%--that might work just as well. For instance, your cab is rated at 1000 W. You could get something like a Carvin B1500, which will put out 1200 W at 4 ohms. This gives you 4 times the available power you have now, for a potential added 6 dB. (Things often don't come out so linearly or simply in real life, of course.) What's more, you have somewhere to go from there. Since this head goes down to 2 ohms, you could later add another 4 ohm cab and get another 700 W from the amp and even more loudness from the extra speaker. There are other amps that can do something like this, too--I mention the Carvin just because I know it, own it, and like it.

    Just some thoughts.
  9. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    More cabs is definitely the way to go.

    Otherwise at some point you'll be adding wattage but not getting any benefit because the speakers can't handle all the power anyway.
  10. Kael

    Kael Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    The human ear percieves volume in a logarithmic fashion. ie: it is easier to judge subtle volume in changes at lower volumes than at louder ones.
    This makes sense from a biological/evolutionary perspective. Once you've heard a sound you've heard it, but being able to hear prey/predator sneaking about might be a good thing.
  11. I cut everything from 150 hz down to 30 hz by 6db on my b212. That gives me the mids that are inherently lacking in these cabs. Other than that I would recommend a 2x10 cab.
    You must have one loud band!
  12. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    While it's true that it takes about a tenfold power increase to sound twice as loud, that relationship does vary somewhat with frequency. The human ear is very insensitive to bass and especially low bass frequencies (compared to the upper mids) at low SPLs, but at higher SPLs the ear's response is quite a bit flatter. Thus, the frequencies that we bassists work in progress in loudness a little bit more favorably as power rises, once you get above the threshold of hearing.

    Also keep in mind that when you increase power into a loudspeaker, the voice coil gets hotter. Because the VC is metal, its resistance increases at higher temperatures. This raises the overall impedance of the VC and reduces the amount of electrical current passing through it. Current is what creates the magnetic field around the VC, which interacts with the magnet to drive the loudspeaker cone in and out. The result is that the loudspeaker isn't as loud as you might expect for a given amount of power. This phenomenon is called power compression. It's one reason why X watts into one particular loudspeaker cabinet may not be as loud as X watts divided into two of that same cabinet.
  13. Petebass


    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Another vote for more speakers. It's true you'll get more watts out of your amp, but that's not biggest benefit. The 2 cabs will couple and in effect increase the overall sensitivity/efficiency of the whole rig. All this should combine for a rig which is considerable louder than what you're currently using.

    I'm at work now so I don't have time to post the mathematical proof. I can do it later if you want, but paper is meaningless without the listening evidence - and I know it works.
  14. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    Some good responses here, but what's missing (for the most part) is efficiency. As others have pointed out, doubling your speaker area will net you 3dB, plus 3dB if you are using a SS amp. This may or may not be sufficient, but probably will be less than what you would expect. I am currently contracting a very nice guy 8 hours away who I have never met to build me some horn loaded speakers that border on the ridiculous. For about $600, you can get a 2-piece rig that will give you great LF extension, mid-bass punch, treble sparkle (if you want it), and sensitivity that (from all indications) will render most any amp over 100W overkill. And they are smaller and lighter than what you (and I) are using now.

    I expect to have these in my possesion in a few weeks. I will certainly report on my results, if there is any interest.

    I happen to be a true believer in horn loading. The speakers in my living room are a three way all-horn design. They are rated at 104dB/W/m. The 30 watt tube amps I use have their gain controls set at about 2/3 max, just so I have some usable play in the preamp gain. Even so, I never turn them up past about 11:00 on the dial. I guarantee they are louder and cleaner (when the wife & kid aren't home) then pretty much any band around, short of a full-blown, kilo-buck (and probably horn-based) touring array.

    This all written not to boast (honestly), but to illustrate the point that low distortion, high output situations really can be facilitated by horn loading.

  15. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    If true, that would be amazing. Personally--and don't take this the wrong way--I would be a little dubious. Horn loading has been around for decades, and it's no secret to speaker designers. If it were really that easy to get "more" of everything, with better fidelity--and in a smaller and lighter package, to boot--I would think more than a few bright sparks would have done it already. There would be scant reason to do a speaker any other way. Yet this clearly isn't the case. I gotta wonder why.

    But hey, if you get them, and they're all the designer claims, then you have scored a major coup. And I'll be jealous.;) :bassist:
  16. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    Nice sig, Richard. I do recall that cartoon.

    The trade off in this is flat response, something left lacking in most commercially available bass cabs anyhow. We'll see how they sound and if I need to buy an EQ to get them right.

    My guess as to why a package like this (if it is all it's cracked up to be) hasn't hit market yet is construction diffuclty and profitability of speaker-in-a-rectangular-box designs. And, watts are cheap. The designer of these cabinets still takes an hour to assemble one of these cabs. And that is after the CNC has cut all the pieces. He has chosen not to put them into production, probably due to the complexity of construction and lack of market.

    It's not new technology, but a bit of a twist. They ain't pretty , but they're supposed to sound really, really good.

    See here-has a forum, too.
  17. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    and here for the bass bin.
  18. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    Here's a paste of the propoganda:

    Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Plans

    Double-Reverse Horns: Hear the DR Difference!
    DR Pro-Sound Folded Horns utilize state-of-the-art folding geometries to achieve an unmatched combination of efficiency and bandwidth. Using the same woofers commonly found in traditional style speaker enclosures, DR horns typically are 8 to 10dB more sensitive than their ported-box counterparts. That means you need less than half the cabinets and amp power that you’re using now to reach your audience. However, unlike folded horn cabinets of the past, DRs are no larger or heavier than the ported-box designs they replace. Moreover, traditional folded horns suffer from a lack of mid-range capability, making additional midrange cabinets and bi-amping or tri-amping a necessity. DR horns have the same mid-range response as other cabinet styles, making additional midrange cabinets, and the electronic crossovers and amps need to drive them, a thing of the past. In fact, when coupled with modern piezoelectric tweeters DR horns can run full range without subs using a single amp channel and no crossovers of any kind. If you want to carry half as many cabinets and a third the electronics from gig to gig and sound better than ever before make the switch to DR horns.

    Tuba Subs: Big Sound without Big Boxes!
    When it comes to earth-shaking gut-wrenching low-down bass everyone knows that there’s no substitute for a big folded horn- until now! Tuba Subs take advantage of a proprietary folding topology to squeeze the most performance possible from small woofers, and that translates into huge bass from small cabinets, with high efficiency that keeps amp power requirements minimal. In fact, a Tuba loaded with a single ten and 100 watts input will out power an eighteen in a traditional cabinet driven by 800 watts! Yet the Tuba is no larger than the competition. Want more bass from less space? Go Tuba Sub!

    Build Them Yourself and Save!
    The good news is that you can build DRs and Tubas for at least a 75 percent savings over commercially produced loudspeakers that don’t perform half as well. The bad news is that the level of sophistication of these cabinets means that they’re not for beginners, though if you are a reasonably competent woodworker you can probably handle them. But just to be sure when you order a set of plans for a DR Horn or Tuba Sub you get not only the plans but also a complete set of instructions and step-by-step photos of the construction process as well. All of these designs have been thoroughly tested in the lab and on the road, and are so well respected by experts in the field that they have all been published by the leading audio technology authority in the US, AudioXPress magazine.
  19. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    The plans are a bit of a puzzle to me, so I hired someone to build them for me. As I said, we'll see how it goes.
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego