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New MA Soundworks Tens (MAS 110 and Bodai 110 cabs - impressions, discussion, rambling, amps...)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MarkA, Aug 23, 2019.


  1. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Hey, all.

    Been meaning for weeks to start this thread.

    I’d like to get a discussion going on the new MAS 10” woofer cabs – the new MAS 110 and the new Bodai 110, specifically.

    My interest in these is prompted by having played the new MAS 110 on a visit, last month, to Mike Arnopol’s place (and the old version of the Bodai 110 on a previous visit, over a year ago). Also by my on-again, off-again interest in the fabled TB “modular rig that does everything.”

    Any experience with these cabs? Please chime in. Questions? Same.

    I expect folks to bring other cabs (MAS and non-MAS) into the discussion (it’s hard to discuss cabs without comparing them to other cabs) but the 10s are the ones foremost in my mind right now and the ones about which (apart from some recent posts by one or two TBers – @BIGREDSIX comes to mind) there seems to have been the least discussion (and some confusion).

    So, there was the earlier version of the Bodai 110 (which I played). I think there was another cab, a few years ago, called the MAS 110 (@Mike Arnopol?). There is a MAS 110 sub (I’ve played mine out with my MAS Flex Mod, MAS 46. and an Audiokinesis Hathor 1203). And there was an MA (not MAS) 109 (which used a 10” woofer). Kinda confusing.

    By “new MAS 110” I mean the middle cab(s) in each of these photos (take from the MA Soundworks Facebook page):

    upload_2019-8-23_1-4-38. upload_2019-8-23_1-4-57.
    • First photo shows the new MAS 112 (I have an “old” one, which is larger), the new MAS 110, and the MAS 18.

    • Second photo shows the 112, two 110s stacked, and the 18.

    • The Bodai 110 looks like one of the MAS 110s on its side (as in the stack), but half-again as tall, with the top part being a separate chamber for two 6-inch mid/high drivers.
    All of the aforementioned, earlier, 10” woofer MAS cabs looked like smaller versions of the 112 (taller, “ports” on top and bottom) than the current 110 or 18 (more squat, single “port” – not sure of the correct term – on the bottom or side, depending on how it’s oriented).

    Along with the different appearance/form factor, the new cabs use a different waveguide – Mike or @Stephen Regier can explain the technical differences between the two waveguides but, as I understand it, the one use in the 18, 28s, and the new 110s (but not in the MAS 112, the Flex, or the older 10” cabs) allows for a little more bloom while spreading the “support” offered by the waveguide over a wider frequency range. I’m sure that there are subtleties I’m missing – and I know that Mike tweaks different parameters of the waveguide that affect everything from frequency response to note envelope – but that’s my basic understanding of it.


    So... the visit to Mike’s:

    Primary purpose: Try out some cabs.

    I’ve been very happy with my MAS 112 for the last several years, but there have been a lot of developments with the MAS cabs in that time and I was/am interested in a) something smaller, b) something modular, and c) what Mike’s been doing with the most recent Bodai cabs (and whether they, with their separate mid-chambers, approximate the crazy, 3D effect of the old Flex cabs).

    Mike and I had tried, off-and-on, for a year or more, to make a visit happen, but our schedules never worked. When he had an afternoon that he said could work (and it coincided with a visit to Chicago), I pounced on it.

    Secondary purpose: Geek-out with some amps and preamps. (There were a bunch – more on those later.)

    While this might sound like geekery for geekery’s sake (and there was a bit of that), it’s helpful to hear how everything pairs up with the cabs you’re considering and to bounce things off of another, trusted set of ears. (That, and it was just fun to catch up with Mike and see what he’s been up to in his shop.)

    Cabs we played through:
    • MAS 28
    • Bodai 28
    • MAS 110 with the Faital woofer

    Cabs we didn’t play through (simply because finished ones weren’t on-hand):
    • the new MAS 112 (I’ve been a fan of the old one – it’s my main cab – and the new one is a lot smaller.)
    • New Bodai 110 (Saw an unloaded cab – a bit chunky relative to the MAS 110, but more svelte than its spiritual forebear, the Flex – also, some notable differences from the old Bodai 110 – thought I took a photo, but can’t find it. :/)
    • MAS 110 with the custom Eminence woofer
    Bass:
    • We played everything with Mike’s 5-string reverse-P Bass: passive; roundwound strings, 2-Tek bridge. Nice sustain, pretty clear B-string, and a lively, familiar feel. Did well with chords up the neck – a good instrument to test amps and cabs with.
    I’ll add that Mike was super-gracious (“long suffering” might be more apt), listening, switching out amps and cabs, playing while I listened, tweaking EQ, etc.


    Impressions/Ruminations:


    Even though the MAS 110 didn’t have the separate mid-chamber (and resulting crazy imaging and detail) of the Bodai 28, it was still open-sounding (MAS 28 sounded thicker, but still clear), deep, and nicely balanced. I felt myself relax when playing it, which, to me, is a good sign – it felt both comfy and articulate – and it jived really nicely with the Orange 4-Stroke. Even though Mike’s cabs, as a rule (with a few exceptions, like the 112), like a lot of power, the 4-Stroke’s 300 or so Watts at 8 Ohms seemed plenty to drive the 110.*

    Historically, I’ve tended to bring one medium-largish cab (my old MAS 112) instead of two smaller ones, but, while the 112 is killer for medium and large stuff, it’s out of its element in very small rooms and quiet stuff. That’s were the 110 stack looks appealing – thinking/hoping a single cab will hit its “sweet spot” (where the vortex from combining the rear-wave with the front wave makes a meaningful contribution**) early enough to be at home in small stuff, while two cabs will cover bigger stuff.

    I’ve said, elsewhere, that my old MAS 112 with the 18Sound woofer is the “driest” cab (in the sense of having the least note “overhang”) I’ve ever played. Chords are laser-etched and it’s hyper-articulate – which, weirdly enough, has been my comfort-zone – but having a note envelope that’s less square-edged (of course, the amp affects this, too), and trading a little “gut-kick” for some “chest-thump” and a voicing that’s less lean-and-mean would, I feel, lend itself more naturally to some styles. (I’m still an articulation freak, but perhaps I’m mellowing out and my tastes are evolving accordingly.)

    The 110 I tried seemed to do all this while maintaining a good separation between notes all the way down the B-string. The voicing was a little warmer than that of my 112 – a bit more booty – and it definitely extends deeper. I think the mids are better – more organic – smoother without sounding “hi-fi” (but being hi-fi in the sense that it will cleanly reproduce a very full-range signal). Note envelope is relaxed (relative to the 112) but articulate...

    I’m not sure of the weight – I think Mike said ~35 pounds (Correct me if I'm wrong!), which isn't super-light, but it felt a good deal lighter to me -- it’s quite compact and the handle placement made for a very easy, one-handed carry (which, yes, I tested).

    Two of the new MAS 110s would be 4 Ohms and, per Mike, capable of going a good deal louder than a MAS 112.

    I got a few PMs after I posted in the main Big E thread about trying the 110 – and I answered them as well as I could – but there’s a limit to what I can know after playing it for one session (however extensive) without a band. I have some familiarity with Mike’s cabs, having played out with four separate MAS rigs (early 66, MAS 46, Flex, and my trusty 112). I haven’t played the new MAS 110 with the custom Eminence driver and I didn’t play the new Bodai 110...

    Ah... I mentioned playing the old Bodai 110 awhile back – I dug the sound. Pretty, natural, woody, organic (I posted in some detail about it at the time). The new MAS 110 with the Faital woofer, though, felt more forceful and more supportive. Not sure how much of that is due to the different woofer and how much to the different waveguide but, regardless, it struck me as better suited, with a single cab, for driving a band. If the new Bodai 110 (which is a bigger cab than the old one – again, with a different waveguide) has the organic, 3D Bodai mids and highs with the bigger, more supportive/forceful feel of the new MAS 110, it could be pretty cool. Could stack one with a MAS 110, too.

    The MAS 110 is smaller and lighter though, and sounds good. Might be better if you wanted to get grindy (not my usual thing, but sometimes).

    The stack thing I could do with two 18s, but the 110 is louder (closer to a 28) and more efficient. Maybe (Faital version at least) a slightly more relaxed note envelope, but I, personally, liked the MAS 110 more than the MAS 28.

    I liked the Bodai 28 a lot – and its footprint is appealing with a smaller amp – and it would be loud enough for the vast majority of what I play – but the 110 feels like it might bridge the Old-School/Hi-Fi gap better than the Bodai 28 and a stack would be enough for anything I'd play, including bigger outdoor stuff.

    I am curious how I’d like the custom Eminence version of the MAS 110, but Mike seems to prefer the Faital version. Liking my 112 as I do, I'm also curious about the new, smaller, version, but, from talking with Mike, I don't think it would have the support in the lows that two 110s would, or be as good in a small room as a single 110 would...

    Okay, that’s it for now – haven’t even touched on all the amps/pres and how they played with the different cabs – but that (along with any more-coherent thoughts) will have to wait!



    * The 110, like the other MAS/Big E cabs, has the interesting property of getting more efficient as you turn up – low volume took more juice than anticipated, medium volume maybe a bit more, but we hit hella loud – louder than I would want to play on most gigs I’d take the single 110 to – with room left on the amp.

    ** For those unfamiliar with the MAS or Big E cabs, a big part of what they do is harvest the rear wave coming off the back of the speaker and combine it with the front wave – the cab is twice as loud as you’d expect, based on the driver, and the way the front and rear waves combine gives the cabs some other, interesting performance characteristics.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2019
  2. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Perhaps it's unfair to mention bringing "a bunch of amps and preamps" and not say which.

    Most of this falls under the heading of Better than I Deserve. Still, each had its own feel and voice and the different cabs emphasized different qualities in each:

    I brought:
    • Reiner 6SL7 preamp (hand-made by TBer @JGR)
    • Reiner VHF preamp (ditto)
    • Arkham Zephyr preamp (hand-made by TBer @Arkham Sound)
    • Sonic Farm 2DI4 direct box/preamp
    • Wayne Jones 2 channel pre (the one with the XLR input and 6 bands of EQ on each channel)
    • Orange 4-Stroke 500 amp (500 Watts, transformer-based power supply, class AB)
    Mike had:
    • Bassics BPA-01 solid state floor preamp
    • the new Euphonic Audio iAmp Classic
    • a small poweramp based on the new ICE 1200 AS1 power module
    • a small poweramp based on the Pascal S-Pro 2 power module (this one was set up to internally power a cab and incorporated a 24 dB/octave HPF set at 28 Hz and I think some other tweaks besides – I’ll let Mike correct me here or elaborate on this if he wishes to).
     
  3. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Chicago
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    Wow! Thanks Mark!
     
  4. Type-55

    Type-55

    Jul 20, 2000
    Michigan
    So much info. Do you ever sleep ?
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2019
    Kirk Bryant likes this.
  5. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Thanks for putting up with me!

    Sometimes!

    As for the amount of info, I was worried the OP would be a jumbled mess (and some might argue that it is) because 1. sometimes, when I write a post like this, I'm thinking through something more than presenting any sort of finished review and 2. it was written in chunks, separated by some days (work, a funny gig, and beef ramen were among the "distractions" in-between).
     
    Kirk Bryant likes this.
  6. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Third St. Cigar Records staff musician.
    How do they sound in a band mix, on the gig ?
     
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  7. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    If you're referring to the new MAS 110s, I don't know. I just tried them (and a couple of other cabs) in Mike's shop. Tried them about as extensively as one could under those circumstances - went back and forth, over several hours, between various combinations of the cabs and all of the amps/pres listed above - and I both played and stood back to isten while Mike played - but, still, that's not playing the cabs with a band.

    I have owned and gigged (in various settings) four MAS rigs, so I think I've got a good idea of what they "do" and a decent idea, by way of comparison, of how these would work in a mix, but it's still just an idea.

    Of the MAS rigs I've had, each excelled at not muddying up the mix onstage, even coverage throughout the house, and making the drummer happy (i.e. having a "kick" that's easy to lock-in with). I liked the feel and tonal profile of some more than others (I prefer the Flex and my 112 over the 46 and early 66 I had, though some players who shared my rig liked the 6s more).

    @BIGREDSIX has gigged the new MAS 110s (the version I tried, with the Faital driver, and another with Mike's custom Eminence driver, which I haven't tried). He might have some impressions to share.

    I'm strongly considering a pair of the 110s -- they've got more depth and a little more bloom than my MAS 112 (which is pretty "lean and mean" both in terms of voicing and note envelope) and they'd give me a modular stack (the 112 is a bit much for some settings), but I'm going back and forth between them and some of the other cabs Mike's come out with that I mentioned in the OP.

    If I had to pick this second, though, it'd be the two 110s.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
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  8. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    @jnewmark, I don't know if this will help or only serve to muddy the waters -- it's not in a band mix and it's not of the 110 -- but since I used my MAS 112 (which has been my main cab for the last several years) as a point of reference, here's a clip of it, driven by the excellent Reiner 6SL7 pre, that I posted in the Reiner Amplification thread last year.

    I picked this clip because it features both the DI signal from the pre (first) and the miced sound from the cab (second) so, even if you don't hear it in a mix, you can compare the DI and miced sounds and see how they translate.

    Caveats: My micing technique leaves something to be desired and the recording was just made at home (I'd have liked to turn up more to let the cab "breathe" and really be itself, but that's not happening in my apartment). I don't feel it entirely does the cab justice, but I'll go so far as to say it's not horrid and hazard that it'll give you some idea of where I'm coming from.

    FWIW, 1) I played that exact combination (6SL7 pre, QSC amp, and MAS 112) at a long outdoor event last year -- everything from "Sweet Emotion" to accompanying acoustic guitar and mandolin to funk with horns -- and it got rave reviews from musicians and audience alike. 2) the 110 struck me as deeper, smoother (but still detailed and - honestly - more organic sounding) through the mids, a bit more open overall, and more relaxed in its note envelope than my 112.

    Settings and all that are given in the quote (usual disclaimer about the limitations of clips):


     
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  9. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Been busy with other things, but the 10s are still on my mind.

    Some questions for @Mike Arnopol (or anyone else with some first-hand experience):

    How would you say the Faital-loaded MAS 110s (the ones I tried) compare to those with the custom Eminence driver? Thinking both singly and as a pair and in terms of tone, note envelope, efficiency... (Am I missing anything, folks?)

    Let's say you're looking at running either a pair of the MAS 110s or the new MAS 112 with a 400 or 500 Watt, class AB head. Would one setup have a significant advantage over the other? (Both the 2x110 stack and the new 112 should be 4 Ohms, if I recall correctly.)

    Thanks in advance!
     
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  10. jaroh24

    jaroh24

    Sep 29, 2012
    Just got off the phone with Mike discussing the MAS18, MAS110, and MAS28. He convinced me that the 110 is pretty much better in most ways compared to the other two. I'm placing an order today and I can post on here about my impressions of it once I get it. This is the cab that I will be replacing my old MAS112 18Sound version with (too much power for what I need).
     
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  11. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Cool. Will look forward to reading your impressions of it.

    As you might know, an 18Sound MAS 112 has been my main cab for the last several years. In terms of output (and of schlep) the nearest equivalent to that cab is a "super 2x12" (which is how I've always thought of it).

    As far as stage monitoring is concerned, I am comfortable covering anything with it that I would with two "super 12s", two good 15s, or a good 410 (moreso, since the sound is up higher and the clarity and dispersion are so good).

    As far as coverage out in the house, since the sound drops off less with distance (at least in the range where the vortex - integral to how these cabs work - is in effect), I get more and better with the 112 at a given stage volume than with any non-MAS cab I've tried. It's a dream for medium-to-loud bars and clubs and outdoors.

    The downside (which I've noted and which I think you might be touching on with "too much power") is that it's less well-suited to small spaces and quiet gigs. I guess it depends on the space (how configured, how reflective, how full of people) and on what "small" and "quiet" mean to you, but I don't envision mine in any coffeeshops anytime soon. It needs a little space, literally and figuratively, to open up and be happy. Not a ton, but some.

    Per Mike, the 110 should be a good deal more "coffeehouse friendly" than the 112 while still capable of some pretty serious volume. If it covers the same gigs you were covering with the 112, it's a way easier schlep.

    What amp are you thinking of running with it?
     
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  12. jaroh24

    jaroh24

    Sep 29, 2012
    Yes, I (and many others I'm sure) have read a lot of your very informative posts about MAS cabs and am aware that we own the same MAS 112 model. Your posts about the new MAS110 also definitely factored into my decision to purchase one - so thank you for that! I will try to be as thorough as I can when I post on here with impressions, though I know you tried one out for yourself too.

    I don't play and haven't played any big gigs in a while and don't envision myself playing anytime soon. It seems like this MAS110 is the perfect MAS cab for my situation. It is flat (I like the mid bump in the 112, but would prefer a flat cab to be honest - I play with humbuckers in series that put out plenty of mids to begin with, so I'd rather not have a lot of mids in the cab). It looks to be ~20% lighter and more portable than the 112 and still put out a decent amount of volume. And it will be more suited to play in coffee shop gigs and living room jams with friends. That and all the MAS magic that the cab has.

    I like amps how I like my cabs - lightweight and flat voicing. Currently have a Berg Forte, but I have been eyeing the new Quilter amp. Probably will keep the Forte though because I don't like the Quilter's built-in limiter sounds. I would prefer more "open" dynamics versus the compressed ones I couldn't dial out with my old Quilter amp. Other than that, I did love the Quilter.
     
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  13. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Chicago
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    BTW---your cab is shipping tomorrow. Didn't realize that I was out of foam that I use for the corners in packing. Arriving today so your cab will go out tomorrow.
     
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  14. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I'm giving a BB800 a second go - there are things I quite like about it and things I'd change. Though I rarely do so with other amps, I have found that dialing the Gain back and the master up, both a fair amount more than I'm used to, yields a more open/less compressed dynamic response with that amp. I haven't played it out yet, though.

    If you dig more neutral amps you might also give the Forte HP (haven't played either Forte) and new iAmp a look. If you're cool with something a bit bigger and heavier, the Orange 4-Stroke 500 is surprisingly versatile with a nice kick.
     
  15. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Chicago
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    I like the Orange. Makes me reluctantly admit that the combination of a switching power supply and an A/B amp section is still the best compromise. Also---EA is the only one (except me--thanks EA!) that is modifying the power supply on the 1200. More oomph and solidity. Closest to A/B.
     
  16. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I want to say that the Orange uses a transformer (not sure that you were implying otherwise).

    There were things I thought the iAmp did better - Orange got just the tiniest bit ugly when pushed (you pointed this out - that bit of "bark" - though it only really showed through the more revealing Bodai 28), whereas the iAmp stayed smoother - iAmp also a little more full/true through the bottom notes on the B-string (though a tiny boost to the lows on the Orange seemed to more or less balance that out). I suspect that the iAmp would go louder, too, if push came to shove (though the Orange seemed to have more kick and stay more dynamic when pushed than any of the "500 Watt" micros I've tried), but the Orange had a solid, present feel that I liked. A little more in-your-face than the iAmp.

    Some slightly quirky design choices on the Orange, but it sounds and feels pretty good and is less colored and more dynamic than I expected (given what I've heard from Orange tube heads at shows and in demos).
     
  17. jaroh24

    jaroh24

    Sep 29, 2012
    I’m quite content with my older Forte model. Probably don’t need to upgrade to the new one.

    I would crank the gain almost all the way down on the quilter and use the master to set final volume, and then it started to sound fine to me as well. The other thing I didn’t like was the lack of a “normal” EQ section - which they fixed with the new Quilter bass amp. I’ll probably pass though seeing as I have more control and volume with the Forte since I don’t have to crank the gain down.

    I haven’t heard anything about the Orange!?! Interesting...never would have suspected.
     
  18. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Nor I, but my semi-local mom-n-pop shop had one out on display and I tried it. A couple of weeks later, I tried it again, back to back with my Eich T-900, and I liked it enough to buy it.

    Size and weight are comparable to a Thunderfunk 550B - and the four semi-parametric bands of EQ are reminiscent of the T-Funk - but the voicing is more open, top and bottom (but not as open as that of the EA amp).

    The T-Funk has Gain, shelving Treble and Bass controls, the Timbre control, and two effects loops in addition to those four semi-parametric bands of EQ (the Orange has none of those), but the amp seems, so far, to work well with everything from a not-too-hot passive signal to a hot signal from an external pre and the EQ is useful enough and flexible enough to dial in a variety of tones, used subtractively or additively.

    I'd still like a Gain control and would prefer that the bands of EQ were voiced a little wider - and, for low-level recording when using a cab, a pre-Master (or adjustable level) DI would've been nice (along with one or two other niggles), but it's a solid-sounding amp with a good, direct feel, fairly neutral to my ear (and per the company rep I corresponded with) without sounding sterile (to invoke a cliche), and the signal coming from the DI seems to be of good quality.

    More pertinent to this conversation, it seemed to play well with the MAS 110 (which itself is a pretty "hi-fi but not sterile" cab). The more hi-fi and holographic Bodai 28 exposed some gank in the amp when you hit it hard (don't know whether it was from the front end or the power.section) which wasn't present with the other amps - don't know that it would be my first choice with the B28 and I'd have to hear it with the Bodai 110 - but I dug it with the MAS 110. I don't know if it would push the single 8 Ohm cab (or a 4 Ohms stack) to its full potential, but it pushed the one cab pretty darned loud (though we turned it up.pretty.high) and stayed dynamic doing it.

    The amp has a built-in compressor which I leave dialed fully down or close. It's still in the circuit, though, unless you disengage it with a footswitch (or clever jack insert). I think I might actually like its subtle effect when dialed fully down (or close - still crisper and more open than the Quilter). Mike messed around with it some - he's a lot more versed in compression than I amp. The compressor strikes me as decent but not excellent.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2019 at 10:47 PM
  19. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I should add that pretty much everything we played sounded good through the 110. The iAmp came off better than the Orange through the B28, but the Orange edged it, for me, through the MAS 110 - had more grunt and felt a little more direct, but, with the amps set flat, the iAmp was more even down the.B-string than the Orange and maybe a bit more open up top.
     
  20. radbass

    radbass supporting member Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 15, 2007
    south of chicago
    Owner RAD Repairs and RAD Engineering ,guitar, bass, and amp repair and limited custom instrument and amp building.
    Check out my post in the Big E speakers thread.
     
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