Need advise on powerful stage rig, Mesa Subway cabinet selection

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Groove Creator, Jun 21, 2020.

  1. Groove Creator

    Groove Creator

    Feb 11, 2017
    Greetings Fellow Bassist!

    I am struggling to chose a new stage rig for my post metal/progressive rock band ARIS. Looking to hear from users of Mesa Boogie Subway bass cabinets that play loud and preferably use 5 string basses. These Subway cabinets are small and too close to the ground to be usable in the bars and clubs we perform in. There is not usually a PA for instruments...just vocals, so I need to fill the room or hall with bass. What’s Subway stacks are recommended? You can here what I’m doing here...
    or [email protected]
    I want the top cab to at least be high enough of ground to get over the crowd that are usually right up at the stage area, which is no stage at all because it’s the floor. I need to be loud and move a lot of air. Especially, need low B string punch. I have two Mesa Big Block Titan V12s and Line 6 Helix on the way, so a stereo stack is preferred. Would like to know what cabinet pairings would be best for a loud punchy, yet full range sound to get the most out of the Helix. I’m leaning towards two 115s with two 210 in a stereo pair stack of four 8 Ohm cabs or should I go with a 215 and 410 for a single stack of two 4 Ohm cabs? Thank you in advance for any inputs you may have for me.

    Kind regards,

  2. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    Northern KY
    Cab fan, hobbyist
    A pair of the 212 stacked would be pretty amazing I'd bet. All of the low end and also speakers firing at waist chest head height. Plus it is a vertical array providing good dispersion. One cab size foot Print.
  3. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    If you're playing places with only vocal PA, you don't need that much firepower, and everything will sound like garbage if you just try to out loud your bandmates.

    If you want your band to actually sound good, research live sound techniques and spend some of the money you were going to use on a too big bass rig on getting a set of PA mains and subs that go well together. Having bass, drums, etc... in the PA will go a long way towards making your band actually tolerable to listen to.

    I would also say, if you DON'T do that, "stereo" on bass is going to probably get lost in the room anyway. The subway cabs I gather are all grouped pretty closely in terms of frequency response, so you won't gain much with a pair of 2x10/1x15 stacks. You would get more out of 4 2x12s I think. If the V12s can biamp then you could look into some sub specific low tuned 15s or 18s and go with 2x10s or 2x12s on top. Again, this becomes complete overkill in a bar where the drums aren't in the PA. Generally speaking, a single good quality 4x10 should pretty much keep up with acoustic drums, even in a fairly loud metal band.

    Also, just so you know, you don't have to have Mesa cabs just because you have Mesa heads. Feel free to use whatever brands you want to use together. The only caveat I would make to that is you probably want to keep all the cabs more or less in the same brand and/or line. A mesa 2x10 and an eden 2x10 and an ampeg 15 and an swr 15 or something isn't really a recipe for success.

    Anyway, to wrap up, if you or your band aren't going to roll with your own PA with subs, the equivalent of a 4x10 or 2 (like 2 2x12s, etc...) is probably plenty. Also, guitarists should really only be using a 2x12 each in a situation like that, and more like 50w than 100. Otherwise you're pretty much all giving the finger to your drummer and your singer (especially the singer). If you all get into a volume war, the vocals will basically ALWAYS be muffled, drenched in feedback, and just generally sound awful. So before blowing 1000s of dollars on JUST bass stuff, you should really look into dedicating yourselves to bringing a PA to shows if you actually want to put on a well produced show and not just a noisefest. Take it from this guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/sound guy.
  4. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    A lot of people really seem to like the Subway 15s. A single 215 and one Mesa Titan should be enough for just about any situation. I own a Titan and I refer to it as a wrecking ball! If you need more volume get a pair of 215s. Do use discretion if you only get one cab because the Titan has enough power to blow a single 215. Two Titans and four 215s would be brutal.

    As far as separating your cabs, this is an effective way to help band members hear the bass across a large stage, but it's not an effective way to deliver bass to the audience. Whenever you have two separate sound sources, you set destructive interference patterns that cause uneven frequency response or what is called comb filtering. See the attached bass array guide for specifics.

    Attached Files:

    SemiDriven, Murch, Sands and 3 others like this.
  5. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    I did some testing with this situation and we have several players who vertically stack either 2 x 215's, 2 x 212's, or 1 x 215 and 1 x 212 on the top. All 3 stacks appeal to their personal tastes, but all 3 represent significant firepower.
    pmad_bass, Murch, Stumbo and 5 others like this.
  6. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    A pair of Big Blocks? So, 1200 watts just isn't enough, you need 2400 watts? Whatever for? You're not filling arenas, just bars and clubs.
    To paraphrase me from a different thread:
    • If you're so loud that you become deaf, no-one will come to hear you play.
    • If you're so loud that your audience becomes deaf, no-one will come to hear you play.

    Are you using lots of modulation effects (chorus, phaser or flanger)? If not, stereo doesn't give any added value. Others above have given very good advice about what stereo means for bass in a live environment.
  7. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    Another vote for keeping the bass mono on stage and all the speakers on one side, preferably a vertical line.

    I was in a band in the Bay Area embarrassingly long ago. One guitar and one bass. We each had four large cabs and more watts than reasonable, even for the largest venues short of the Shoreline or SJ Arena. Specifically I had two Mesa 4x12 bass cabs and two Mesa 1x18 bass cabs.

    We tried splitting cabs with two each per side. It sounded like a cacophony of pure noise. We didn’t understand the science back then. We just knew it sounded horrible on stage and out in the crowd.

    After this brief experiment we relocated cabs to all guitar on one side and all bass on the other. It sounded much better. Same genre too.
  8. Groove Creator

    Groove Creator

    Feb 11, 2017
    Greetings BassCooker,

    Thank you for making time to reply. I appreciate your suggestion for a pair of stacked Subway 212s. I’m heavily considering some 12s in the stack. I do love 12s and need modular solution for playing in different projects. Using a Pedulla PentaBuzz 5 for a Fusion project and a KK Baby Bass for a Latin Jazz project. A 212 may be perfect for these lower volume applications. I don’t think I can avoid using a 215 for ARIS. Stacking 212 results in just over 5’ stack, which is perfect size considering I have a rack to place on top.

    Kind regards,

    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  9. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    I would buy a 2x15 Subway and try it, and if that's not enough, buy another.
    WoodyJ, Groove Creator and TN WOODMAN like this.
  10. Groove Creator

    Groove Creator

    Feb 11, 2017
    Hello Omega Monkey,

    Thank you for your response and advice. You raise several excellent points. Perhaps, I should have done a better job in describing my application for this rig in my original post. I’m always conscious of not drowning out my bandmates. Especially, our singer. However, my drummer and guitarist are loud and I could not cut through with a single Epifani DIST 410, so I added a UL3 310 and went with QSC GX-7 to drive the cabs. My preamp is an Aguilar DB680. This rig is a bit too HiFi for the style ARIS is playing and we do have have instrumental section that are pretty heavy. It’s during these sections that I need to elevate volume, yet retain low B fidelity and articulation and also have some midrange cut for two handed tapping, chords, runs and swells with FX. During the vocals, we control our dynamics quite well and I even disappear from the mix at times.

    Since we are opening shows or providing support for larger acts, we don’t have the option of setting up an auxiliary PA where we usually perform. We don’t play tiny bars. However, we do have 4 EV ELX floor monitors to make sure we hear clear vocals when we play clubs that don’t have stage monitors. If the PA is beefy enough, we chose to put in our guitarist who plays in stereo and some kick into the mains. My bass is rarely welcomed into the PA as there are not usually subs. So all the bass needs to be generated by my rig. I do use a wireless and go out front to hear the band mix and make changes accordingly. If the room get packed and there are bodies upfront blocking and absorbing the bass, I have been told by trusted musician friends that frequent our shows, that I’m not keeping up with the PA as it projects into the venue. When I turn up and EQ accordingly, I can blend into the room well. Since, the size of venue and quality of PA and experience level of the sound person varies widely, I need to make sure I have more power on tap rather than less. Its all about headroom for me and I want as much as possibly so my rig will work wherever we play.

    I very much agree that blowing out band members and the audience with too loud of sound is a very bad thing. After three years playing the local circuit, we are no where near the loudest band in our scene. However, hearing health is important to me as well as the guys in our band. I personally walk the room before shows to thank people for coming and also to offer them earplugs. I mention we have loud passages in some songs and that we can get loud. Most don’t accept them, but those who do are pleased and usually come up after the set to say thanks and sometimes pick up some stickers or buy a CD. So, impactful dynamics are key to conveying our songs and having control over the necessary amount of volume (headroom) during our shows is required to make sure the bass is not lost in the room or over powered by the PA.

    The Mesa Boogie house “rock” sound as well as switching from a Paul Reed Smith GG-5 bass to a Spector 5 should deliver the tones I’m after. After reading the TB replies and watching some great tone comparisons on YouTube, I’m leaning towards a Subway 215 with a 212 on top. The Titan has a 2 Ohm switch on the back, so aim assuming it can handle the 2 Ohm load. Both Titans are receiving power supply and thermal updates at the factory. I plan to play through some Subway cab pairings when I pick up my amps. I will come back and share my findings to help other who may be in a similar situation.

    As for splitting the bass cabs left and right of the drums to run in stereo, I do now realize that in larger venues with a proper PA that this setup is not acoustically ideal. The split cabs would create issues for the stage mix. So this is no longer something I’m interested in doing when we play bigger venues with full PA. I’ll stick with making my sound in one area and projecting from a vertical array cabinet stack.

    In the smaller venues without full PA we play, my guitarist has problems hearing me at times and the same happens for me not hearing him as well as I need at times. We discussed both of us splitting our cabs left and right of the drums. The idea is that hearing each other better will help us self-balance our mix. For the audience, we’re thinking it will be just like listening to a big stereo system with a live drummer in the middle. The guitar is already stereo and mostly in the PA and we want to keep the stage monitors with vocals only. So the split stereo set up seemed like a good idea to try.

    Again, thank you for your response and advice. I very much appreciate your point of view and it has made me rethink how I put this new rig together.

    Kind regards,

    TN WOODMAN likes this.
  11. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
  12. Grahams Groove

    Grahams Groove If it feels heavy, it's heavy. Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2001
    Despite what you all are saying, I would love to try out a 4x10 + 2x15 Mesa stack. I think standing in front of that might make you sterile...
    villegastx and Groove Creator like this.
  13. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    I use two Subway 115s with a D800+ and they're loud and deep. I can't imagine needing anything more. If I wanted stereo I'd use two 215s. The Subway heads can run at 2 ohm, so one can be used for both 215 cabs. Not stereo though.

    IMO the Subway 12s are unimpressive for rock. If you want 12s, look to Barefaced.

    If I wanted height, I'd either put both 115s on something like a milk crate, or put the milk crate in between them.

    But having height for bass isn't necessary. Bass frequencies go everywhere. If they didn't, you'd never see subs on the floor - where they make the lowest and deepest low end.
    P_Robyn and Groove Creator like this.
  14. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    With the cabinets on floor level, and your mention of it being blocked/drowned by people up front, I'm curious how much of this could be solved by simply elevating the cabinets up to ear level. A cabinet at waist level and a cabinet at ear level are two different experiences.
  15. Anemic_SluG


    Dec 1, 2009
    Ok OP let’s assume you need to level small buildings, but also want something that is modular to fit a venue.
    My current pick would be from reading the entire subway thread would be to check out the 215 cabs and pair them with the single 15. So in pairs that would be 6 total 15’s. When playing the 15-12-210 cabinets I thought the 15 delivered.
    Then if you need more you could even add a set of 210’s if you thought you were missing something.
    It would put each setup either at 2.67, 4 or 8 ohm depending on how many cabinets you ran, be modular and loud enough to be heard across the state line ;) just my 2 pennies.
    Best of luck!
  16. Groove Creator

    Groove Creator

    Feb 11, 2017
    Hi Wasnex,

    So cool to hear from another Titan V12 owner! Thanks for providing the attachment and insight about setup. Yes, I do agree that a split stereo bass rig with identical cabs (and signal inputs) left and right of the drums will in fact create comb-filtering, if not other undesirable acoustic anomalies. I’m all on the vertical array approach of stacking the cabs and projecting my sound from one location.

    However, I have an idea about adjusting the left and right signals slightly differently and hopefully, Eloise or at least, minimize the comb-filtering issues. I explain more on this below...

    Yes, thank you for pointing out the power handling of the Subway line. Only the 410 has the power handling to match the Titan. This has me considering a pair of 410s as the 215 and 212 don’t have high enough power handing to match the 410. I could use the volume of each amp to adjust so it’s not a deal killer. Im curious if two 115s with a 212 or 210 on top of each would stand tall enough. The 215 and 212 are 30” high so stacking these comes in at 5’ tall which is good. Will get try out the Subway cabs when I pick up my Titans from Boogie factory next week. Will come back with my findings.

    Yes, you are on point about a split can set up aiding in guitarist and bassist hearing each other better. Especially, when we are backed up against a wall and the PA is 8-12 feet in front. We hate trying to hearing with all the room sound...slap back off the side and back walls. We spend a lot of time tone chasing and we very much enjoy hearing each other play. Since we do it use in ears or put anything in the monitors other than vocals, having both the stereo guitar cabs and stereo bass cabs split on both sides of the drums would help us self-mix better. Hearing each other well is so important and inspires us to elevate our performance. Plus, I am using more FX in our new material. With us both using Helix, we were thinking splitting would create some cool FX. We don’t have a lead guitarist, so I have an expanded role over playing traditional bass lines locked with the kick. We do a lot of odd meter time signatures and syncopated rhythms and I’m more like the other guitarist. I’m also going to start adding keyboard parts through my rig for intros and extended instrumental sections. I’m very much looking to utilize some bass pedal sounds and synth through the Helix/Boogie rig. I’m thinking these sounds will translate better in a stereo set up, considering that Helix allows for individual delay and EQ for left and the right channels of the stereo signal. Being that my guitarist will have the same, we can dial in when we are completely in unison and when we are totally different. Using a slightly different delay and EQ for each left and right of the bass signal should eliminate the comb-filtering issue or any phasing issues. I do have some friends that are FOH engineers at large venues and will inquire with them about this split stereo bass rig approach. Will share their feed back, in case others may be curious about this approach.

    Kind regards,

    Wasnex likes this.
  17. bdplaid

    bdplaid Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2007
    You should ask this question on the Subway club thread. Lots more knowledgeable people there.
    P_Robyn likes this.
  18. I could see that. Also, I feel like it would make it easier to focus on an individual player. The sound comes from the area that the player is.
    Groove Creator likes this.
  19. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    Both the Subway 212 and 215 are fine with a Titan when used with just a little bit of common sense.

    There are published mechanical power handling specs provided, most cabinets do not provide this information because often the mechanical power handling on a cabinet is much smaller than their published thermal power handling.
    Wasnex and Groove Creator like this.
  20. Groove Creator

    Groove Creator

    Feb 11, 2017
    Hello AgedHorse,

    Thank you for responding to my post. I am pleased to read your reply and looking for substantial firepower. I do remember playing through the first Subway cabinets are the last Bass Player Live (RIP) and was impressed what the small cabinets could do. I remember Cody Write and myself playing though them and being totally enamored with the tones. I believe the 215 and 410 may be the best for a single stack configuration. I could still utilize the stereo FX in the Helix. However, I believe the close proximity of the two cabs in a single stack configuration will not deliver the true spacial dimension the Helix is capable of. This is why I was thinking to use both Titans (L+R) to take full advantage of the Helix stereo FX. In this scenario, a 215 with a 210 on top seemA like a good pairing. However, the impedance of connecting 4 Ohm + 8 Ohm bass cabs = at 3.62 Ohm. The Titan V12 has an impedance switch on the back with a 2 Ohm setting. I’m hoping that this load will not be a problem for the Titan and actually leave solemn headroom without maxing out the power section.

    I am looking forward to trying some Subway cabinet combinations next week when I pick up my Titan. Are you still affiliated with Mesa Boogie? It would be great to say hello in person should you be at the factory next week.

    Kind regards,