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Old dog needs to learn new trick!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Deacon Blues, Mar 6, 2016.

  1. Hi Folks!
    I'm new to the forum, here, but have been playing for nearly fifty (50) years. I have also been designing and building commercial and 'pro' sound systems for nearly that long. After reading several threads here, however, I'm discovering just how much I don't know about certain subjects...like the science of speakers & enclosures.

    My little dilemma: I have a beautiful old Trace Elliot 4X10" (British/Pre-Gibson) that has served me well for years. I drive it, and a Trace 1X15" of the same vintage, with a G-K 700RBii. Most often, I play a Fender Jazz Bass V, performing Cream/Hendrix-ish material at fairly substantial levels in small venues. Recently, I've found that my 10" speakers are beginning to surrender, and sound like the cones are simply dying of old age and being beaten ('blatt-blatt' instead of 'thump-thump!'). I have certainly replaced speakers before, but not since switching to 5-string. I started shopping for replacements, looked to the forums for suggestions, and found that simply looking at power handling and frequency response wasn't going to be effective (i.e. Simply finding a speaker that could handle +/- 30Hz was the wrong approach....and I apparently don't know jack about cabinet design and effectiveness! :bored: ).

    Considering that I subject my speakers to playing pretty loud (often in the 110dB SPL range), like my sound clean and punchy, am not playing professionally anymore (weekly rehearsals and gig only a few times a month, in smallish clubs), and do not have an unlimited budget (getting ready to retire to a fairly 'fixed income'), I would appreciate suggestions for rejuvenating my rig (replacing the 10s). Like you all, I just want my rig to sound as good as possible for as long as possible. What I have learned from answers to similar questions, that you all have provided, is fascinating but I have not yet found a thread that answers my question specifically. I'll keep searching, but I'm very open to your input. Thanks!!

    (Yes, I'm a long-winded SOB! I'll do my best to keep any message exchange a lot more brief and to the point! Sorry.)
  2. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    OK, I couldn't read your entire post. Just what is it that you desire? Please answer in a single concise sentence.
  3. In short: Replacement 10" speakers that can handle the low end of a 5-string, played loud!
  4. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Maybe get the originals reconed? Cabs work best with the speakers they were designed around.
  5. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Sealed or ported cab? Best guesstimate or actual measurement of internal cubic volume? Size and length of port if there is a port?

    (I'm not a wizard, but I know what anyone, wizard or not, would need to know to make a reasonable suggestion. But I'll leave the suggesting to the wizards.)

    According to nearly all my non-wizardly modeling (of my amp/speaker, not yours), "power" and "Volume/SPL" are not usually the limiting factor, as such. Xmax, and specifically Xmax in a fairly narrow range is what limits (or kills) most of the time. Looking at my particular not overly exalted amp, and various possible adjustments to the speaker box, somewhere around 35-40 watts at around 70 Hz is an effective killer. Wind the highpass filter up to ~75 HZ and it will take the full power of the 130W amp, flat out. If I had a fussier filter I could add back in the very bottom, as it will take that if just the troublesome region could be lowered, but that's just from models, since I don't have a filter like that handy. Too dang loud for me anyway (not much power, but an efficient speaker when not being beaten to death around 70 Hz.)

    If you have not tried high pass filtering (I have one built into the amp, makes it easy to try) you should - much of the sound is in harmonics, not the fundamental, so if you are winding up power in the low bass to "get the fundamental" you should at least listen to what happens when you pretty much take it away. Trying to get much power in the fundamental is difficult with a rig you'd care to move without roadies, more so on a 5 string. While the room vibrates less, the sound is not nearly as "gutless" as you might think if you have not tried it. If you really miss the room-shaking, use a crossover and get a powered sub or additional amp and sub.

    On the third hand, for the price of 4 decent speakers, you might be able to build a more modern box with better specs from better speakers that manages to weigh less and do more. That comes from the combination of specific speakers with specifically designed boxes - replacing the speakers in your box with speakers that do wondrous things in a box designed for them might well be far less than wondrous.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2016
  6. As 4x10 boxes go it's on the bigger side, same box as the 15? Two 4'' ports 6'' deep same as the 15? Do you have a PC runnng Windows of some sort? WinISD is a free program you can download which will give you good enough indications what might work by trial of drivers stored in the program.

    If those conditions I listed are true you have a 1518 and 1048H. A good option would be to take a completely different tack. Rebaffle the 410 for a 15 and a Faital or 3015 Eminence won't need much retuning if any. If you sprung for a pair you would have a very potent rig.

    +1 on setting a HPF on it. Trace amps are great for tailoring the low woofer breaking stuff out to leave the meat. GK not.
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  7. OldogNewTrick


    Dec 28, 2004
    Germany, EU
    TripleDouble, wintremute and redshot like this.
  8. I'm a heavy Trace Elliot user as well. When the speaker start to fart, it's time to recone. That said though, if you've been gigging plenty and you're not living off of some sort of trust fund and you're staring down at a retirement; take all of your gear to someone that can give it a proper "going through". I'm in that very same process right now with all of my Trace gear.
    Charlzm likes this.
  9. Hello to you as well! :) I am actually a pretty fair tech...professional for the last 45+ years. Working primarily on commercial gear, though (as opposed to MI stuff), I have seldom done more than 1:1 swaps on speaker enclosures. My obvious 'knowledge gap' is in considering new speakers and not shooting myself in the foot by defeating the enclosure design with too much or too little driver, and attempting to better address the use of the 5-string (there weren't many in use when this box was designed). That said, WOW!! The page you linked me to is one I hadn't yet discovered! That's a ton of great information, which I will now begin to find my way through. Thanks very much...for both the info and the cordial greeting!
  10. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    Welcome to Talkbass... For starters, may I suggest joining the "Get off my Lawn, Grumpy Old Farts Club" ... ;)
    alaskaleftybass likes this.
  11. Hi! :) Ultimately, I may end up reconing. What I was hoping to accomplish, though, was a modest upgrade to a set of speakers better suited to the use of the 5-string. I've gone through the electronics on both the G-K 700RBii and my 400RB 'backup' head, and they're both solid, so I'm not hearing ghosts in the (front end of the) machine, and I don't push the rig with quirky settings (a ton of boost, contour, or bass, etc.)! My real problem is an embarrassing lack of knowledge in the speaker enclosure department. I'm afraid that I may be searching, using some incorrect assumptions, and trying to find 10s that 'play nice' with frequencies as low as 30Hz! There don't seem to be many of those around...and there must be a reason for that! Thanks for the response. :D
  12. Already a card-carrying member of the international organization....and damned proud of it!! :sour: Is there a TalkBass chapter? I'd love to join! ;)
  13. You have my cabs' models nailed!! I've played with twin 15s, and have found that I prefer the mix of 10s and 15s. Playing only 15s always gave me too 'boomy' a sound. Adding the 10s give me a balance of 'boom' and a little tighter punch (stiff jab and an overhand right!). Unfortunately, I've never run across the right deal at the right time on a Trace head...but I do keep my eyes open). Lately, I've been toying with the idea of going over to one of a few Carvin heads, in the 500W @ 8 ohm neighborhood. They seem to have the most 'bang for the buck,' I have a couple of friends that swear by them, and your point about the G-K head(s) is well taken. FWIW, I also have an old Carvin tube guitar head that has me thinking, if I could find a bass head that performs that well, I'd jump on it! Back to the point, though...I just downloaded WinISD. Sounds like a great tool! Running Windows 10, though, I need to find a way to use the help files...which are not compatible, as is! Just e-mailed them for assistance. Thanks for your insight and help. :)
  14. John M? Is that you? Whoever you are, you're my neighbor! :wideyed:
    Reconing is my 'fall-back' solution, and I may end up having to do that. As I have mentioned in other replies, though, I was hoping to upgrade to a 10" (X4) that can better handle what the 5-string will throw at it. Thanks! :)
  15. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Yep - the "definitive cab" (Ampeg 810) rolls off at 58 Hz. Pretty much only mud below that - you don't generally want the fundamentals of notes below that.
    Ampeg: Classic Series - SVT-810E
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  16. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    If you wanna learn a new trick, I highly recommend doing a fair bit of searching and reading on this site before choosing an option, especially with respect to the lack of any meaningful relationship between driver diameter and overall cab sound. It's 2016; there are cabs with arrays of 5" drivers that go lower and clearer than many loaded with 15s and some 112-based boxes available that also go lower, clearer than any 15 you have heard.....juss sayin'. Also, considering that you are (as I often tell my patients over 20 yrs of age) "no longer under warranty", it's worth asking yourself whether you can spend enough to substantially lighten your load. With cabs available today, you can get a whole lot lighter without compromising tone (and even with a substantial upgrade in tone and clarity IMHE), although that will set you back a lot more than a recone. Good luck and welcome!
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  17. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Nope, not me but New England is infested with bass players - used to be if you owned one you could get a gig no prob, now you have to actually know how to play it too LOL.
    The #1 thing you can do to "upgrade" a ported cab is to use a HPF. More modern heads have them built-in, you can also buy them in pedal form:
    Fdeck's HPF
    My newest amp has it built-in and 9000 watts :cool:
    Behringer XR12 as a preamp
    T_Bone_TL likes this.
  18. AHA!!! Here's the discussion I was looking forward to! First, I would really prefer to keep the cabinet (it's well-built, solid as a rock, and has served me well), and just choose a replacement speaker ( set of 4, actually, not to mismatch) better-suited to the lows of the 5-string, but, here's where the apparent gaps in my knowledge base are biting me on the butt!! I realize that the human ear cannot (in most cases...other than mutants!) hear 30Hz, so we're listening to harmonics. Through the amp, the 5-string's low B does, in fact, toss a 30Hz signal at the speaker....thereby creating the dilemma, since most 10s don't play well with such low frequencies. If I introduce a HPF (at 50Hz, just for discussion) and rely solely on production of harmonics, do those harmonics ever even get produced, since we've filtered out the fundamental?? This is where I'm not sure if my thinking is correct. Also, I have no idea how to calculate (or find) Xmax. My head produces (best case) 485W @ 8 ohms, and I run it at 4 ohms, so I'm in the 800W neighborhood, theoretically (I don't run at full volume). If my thinking/knowledge is lacking, and it's as easy as a HPF, this will get much easier. I can whip up filter as fast as Mouser can deliver the parts!! It's not usually that simple, though.

    It's a Trace Elliot 1048H that looks like this: images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTpjD1w1YBbRypyB8LQYHZXe4Gr5VAq5gRGhlRVboHSRF7cdQOv. Internal volume of the enclosure is around 6-6.5 cu.ft., and those two 4" ports are tuned (according to TE) for 40Hz. The piezo 'horn' is largely irrelevant, for my purposes. I leave it set to 1 or OFF. The OEM speakers are, I believe, Celestions, FWIW. Coupled with the 1518 1X15" cabinet, it's a great rig....when it isn't farting at me!! And yes, I have considered a passive crossover, but it was all doing fine until recently. Thanks for your input! :thumbsup:
  19. Warranty?? LOL My certificate was issued before warranties 'were a thing!' :wideyed:

    I have never cared for 12s for bass. They have a characteristic tone that's a bit too 'loose' for me. I have, however, begun to give serious consideration to some of the lighter-weight gear you suggest. I have kept abreast of the technology, and just have to find a few places up here in New England (though preferably not right in the middle of Boston!) that carry some of it, to try out some new stuff. Speaker cabinet manufacturers, for some strange reason, never publicized the fact that their equipment got heavier as it aged!! Bahstids!!

    In the meantime, though, for both financial and scheduling reasons, I need to get 'ol faithful' back in shape...and, as previously stated, hopefully in such a way that will be more 5-string friendly (<sigh> Swapping out a 15" was so much simpler! LOL). Also, another member just gave me a link to another page on this site, that will have me up late tonight, reading! For that, and your similar suggestion, I am very grateful. Looks like a treasure trove of information! Thanks! :thumbsup:
  20. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    The harmonics are in/on the string, so they get picked up by the pickup, amplified by the amp, and head to the speaker unaffected by the lowered power in the fundamental from the HPF.

    Xmax is a "T/S parameter" (Thiele/Small) and is found on the driver datasheet, or in the WinISD file for the driver, which found it from the datasheet. The proper figure is displacement from resting position - some cheap-bs-marketers double it (front to back movement rather than rest to limit) but most reputable companies give the right number. There is an interaction with how stiff the suspension is (same Xmax, stiffer suspension, stiffer handles more power, but is also less efficient at converting power to sound.) i.e. "if the point is making sound, sheer watts is not the figure of merit" - SPL, or SPL limited by Xmax (which you can set WinISD to graph for you) is.

    To use it, you enter your box configuration into WinISD and pick a driver, or create a driver file from datasheets if they don't have the one you are considering, and then look at various factors on graphs. Go find a grandkid / neighbors kid if needed to play with the program and sort out how to use it - it can be confusing, but I don't recall the help being all that great anyway, so I've mostly poked at it and put two and two together (ie, tabs on the model box have power (which defaults to 1W) and the ability to add filters - you can have multiple projects up at once and graph all of them in different colors, to, say, see what a particular filter at a particular frequency does, or how driver A compares to driver B.)
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
    wintremute likes this.

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