Ported or Un-Ported cabs.?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by madjazzbass, May 24, 2017.

  1. madjazzbass

    madjazzbass Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    My question is; When using Ported or Sealed/Un-Ported cabinets, Is there a significant difference in tone/sound? (I'm sure there must be). Can one tell the difference between the two if blindfolded and just using their ears?
  2. blubass


    Aug 3, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    Current: Blackstar, DR strings, Nady. Previous endorsements with: GK, Rotosound, Ernie Ball, Cleartone, EMG, Dean, Dava Picks, Rebel Straps, Dickies
    Way too generalized of a question. There's dozens of variations of both cabs in all kinds of speaker and cab size configurations.

    The very general rule is that a sealed cab will sound tighter and not reproduce frequencies as low as a ported cab could, given the same number and size speakers.

    I can easily find 5-10 exceptions to this rule based on cab tuning, quality, and manufacturer. That is why I say it is too general of a question.

    If you can narrow down what you're really trying to ask, we'd be better equipped to help you. I can find significant differences in tone between just two sealed cabs, and find nearly identical tone in one sealed and one ported cab. Lots of variables.
  3. madjazzbass

    madjazzbass Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    ? Hmmm, So it's not that simple huh? I didn't realize that. Thanks Dude.
    bolophonic likes this.
  4. madjazzbass

    madjazzbass Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    O.K., What if there were two identical cabs, the ONLY difference being one was sealed, the other ported, then could a blindfolded Bassist tell the difference between the two?
    bonin in the boneyard likes this.
  5. P-oddz


    Apr 7, 2009
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'm not a speaker scientist, but from what I've picked up from reading threads here, my guess would be that they would sound different because one or the other wouldn't be an optimized space for the speakers to move air. You alter that space when adding subtracting a port(s) so I would guess that, yes, there would be a marginal and identifiable difference, but not like "the ported cab sounds deeper and the closed cab sounds tighter" but more so that one might sound better than the other depending on the the optimal performance of the speaker in its optimal enclosed space.

    Or I could just be full of it, and completely off base...
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  6. MCS4

    MCS4 Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2012
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    If you're asking whether an otherwise identical cab would sound different if ported or not ported, you probably would hear a difference, although I don't know if you'd be able to guess which was which.

    If you're asking whether, in general, ported and non-ported cabs have specifically identifiable tonal differences that would cause you to want to avoid one type or the other, then I'd have to say that I haven't noticed any.
  7. fast slapper

    fast slapper

    Dec 11, 2001
    Fresno, CA
    There is no real advantage to sealed cabs if using typical prosound based drivers in typical sized boxes. You get reduced output capabilities for a given input and you lose headroom in the frequencies which matter most.

    As far as "tighter" is concerned, that's just a result of less going on in the lows. The same results can be had by eq or plugging the ports.
    Last edited: May 28, 2017
    Garret Graves likes this.
  8. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass Inactive

    Sep 14, 2010
    there is artifacts with both sealed and ported that annoy me. likewise benifits as well. pretty basic general statement.

    without going into some super convincing incredible explanation why sealed is better blah blah blah. lets just say ive always gone back to my 810 and have had many 18" 12" 15" cabinets ported /sealed cabinets.and that is a general statment but has nothing to do with size. there is a certain " magic" with sealed applications with tube amps. and its just basically a more friendly impedance curve for a tube amp. so if you have a love for tubers, then you have a big ol sealed cab. you tend not to care much for the hype of the week or the kool aid at the party. sugar, cream, coffee, basic easy, but powerful. no mix match 4 ohm this 8 ohm that 15 this 10" that blahh blah. just 8 same old speakers all piled in one biggo box ohh. one cable plug it in. " will these be loud enough" does it have enough low end" blah blah blah....yes lol yes
    scf4003 and P-oddz like this.
  9. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    ports just ad more lows ... which is a lengthy calculation that depends on design ..

    for me , i like front ports that i can hear and aim at myself ... rear ports usually need something fairly close behind them to bounce off of ... which i rarely ran into while playing live , ... but is fine at home/studio , as you can kinda tune the rear ported cab/combo by moving it farther/closer to the wall ... or get even more by aiming the rear port into a corner .. ! ( artificial bass )

    sealed cabs take more power ... as they're air tight , which constricts cone movement ...

    to me it depends on how you want your bass or low end to sound .. ?
    bassomane likes this.
  10. BasturdBlaster


    Feb 19, 2012
    Crandon WI
    Interesting thread for me as I have two Bag End S15B cabs that have a removable "vent cover", the two together is just way too much deep lows so I am determined to try them with the ports sealed in hopes that it will help tame the extreme low end. Trouble for me is I only have one vent cover as one has gone missing. I'm calling the company to see if I can get a replacement or I'll end up fashioning one myself. :cigar:
    Rattman likes this.
  11. Raf Seibert

    Raf Seibert

    Dec 16, 2013
    As a rule, two cabs, otherwise identical, but one sealed and one ported, would not sound the same, but probably the volume of the cabinets would not be optimized for both uses. That is, for a given driver, likely, ported or sealed would have different volume recommendations.

    That said, one of the finest contributors here, Duke LeJeune, makes some cabinets that come with plugs for the ports so that the owner can vary the sound to his needs. Obviously, Duke wouldn't go to that trouble if there wasn't a real difference between the sealed and unsealed sound.

    All the above withstanding, it's very difficult to make generalities about the sound differences.
  12. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    They wouldn't be identical. And if they were, one would likely be a very poor design. There's more to a ported vs non-ported cab besides whether or not there's a port in it. The dimensions of the cab box itself and its construction would be different in most cases. You don't just make a ported cab by taking a sealed cab and cutting a hole for a port in it unless you designed it with that in mind..

    Best think in terms of this cab vs that cab rather than ported or sealed. Either way your're comparing apples and oranges. Which is "better"? That all depends on whether you prefer OJ or cider.
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  13. The answer to your question then is, NO!
    Lvjoebass and madjazzbass like this.
  14. sears

    sears Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2005
    ec, md
    You should read the Audiokinesis thread to see what people think of plugging the ports in their thunderchildren.
  15. Isn't it also a thing where some speaker design parameters are better suited to work with ported and and others with sealed?
    If that's the case, does it not become difficult to even compare speakers in a ported vs seal cab if they don't work well in some boxes?
    wcriley likes this.
  16. ThisBass


    Aug 29, 2012
    Here you go


    Legend BP102 Larger Sealed 1x10 Bass Guitar Cabinet
    Vb = 0.898 cu.ft

    Legend BP102 Small Vented 1x10 Bass Guitar Cabinet
    Vb = 0.866 cu.ft

    also see
    Legend BP102 Larger Sealed 2x10 Bass Guitar Cabinet
    Vb = 1.778 cu.ft

    Legend BP102 Small Vented 2x10 Bass Guitar Cabinet
    Vb = 1.9 cu.ft
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
    madjazzbass and BrBss like this.
  17. Yes and no. An example of no would be I've put a mic on a ampeg 410he and an ampeg 410hlf and the mic signals pretty much sounded identical to me. Now from ten feet away its a completely different story. I wouldn't say one design is necessarily better than the other. It really depends on the situation. If the bass is going through the PA I always run an xlr to foh, sometimes they mic a cab sometimes they don't . I actually own both ported and sealed cabs now and will pick what cab i use depending on the situation. So let's look at different playing situations and why I think each is better or worse for that situation.

    Playing at home: this one is pretty even. You can get an nice full body tone out of a ported cab but the low frequency content can also cause stuff in the room to vibrate at lower volume levels in comparison to sealed cabs which can get annoying. You can cut lows or use a high pass filter but it kinda defeats the point of using a ported cab if you do

    Playing a small show with a little PA: I play gigs occasionally with no PA subs. Literally the only things that go through the PA are vocals and acoustic guitar. I prefer a ported cab for this because I'm not getting any low end support from the PA.

    Our typical shows with 4 or more decent 18" subs in the PA. I much prefer sealed cabs for this situation. The low end bleed from the PA subs combined with the lows from the ported cab can get muddy causeing issues. Mainly that you can get into a volume war because the lack of clarity will make you want to turn up but the boominess will have everyone else wanting you to turn down and it'll probably end with the soundguy asking you to lower your stage volume leaving you less than happy. I've also noticed if you cut lows to compensate for the mud while running an xlr to foh you end up with a thin or clanky(in a bad way) tone in the PA unless the soundguy total mutilates your sound at the board. I think this is a big part of why we see so many ampeg 410he and 810e cabs (which are sealed) on big stages.
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
    bararan, madjazzbass and HolmeBass like this.
  18. YES! He wouldn't be able to tell which is which, though.

    As a rule, certain drivers (speakers) work better in ported boxes and others will work better in sealed boxes.

    If you like nerdy specs, multiplying a speaker's Free Air Resonance (FS) with it's Electrical Q (Qes) will yield a number called the Efficiency Bandwidth Product (EBP). Low EBP's, around 50 or lower, have an advantage in a sealed box. Higher numbers, say 100ish or higher, are better off using ported designs. Anywhere in between will work with both types of boxes.

    There's a lot of things to think about when it comes to cabinet design!
    shodan, madjazzbass and HolmeBass like this.
  19. ThisBass


    Aug 29, 2012
    That's right.
    In the middle of the "range" some drivers fit well for ported as well as for sealed like the Legend BP102.
    madjazzbass likes this.
  20. In general, and per the excellent example @ThisBass posted, sealed cabinets will need to be a bit bigger to get the same low end and efficiency as ported, and even then there will be qualitative differences based on amplification, EQ, and the frequency - that is the specific note/range on the instrument.

    I've always used ported cabinets myself.
    madjazzbass likes this.
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