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Schroeder, EA, Acme Taste Test

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Scooperman, Oct 26, 2004.


  1. Scooperman

    Scooperman

    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    Several months ago, when I bought a Schrodeer 1210, it made me one of the few people to have the 1210 as well as an Acme LowB2, an EA VL-110 and an EA EA CXL-112, which were are all cabinets with strong followings on TB. I had compared the cabinets within the confines of my home, but I wanted to compare them in a larger room at full volume.

    When I mentioned on the main Schroeder thread, that I wanted to do this, it was enthusiastically received, but one person, SlinkP (Paul) wanted to come along to hear for himself. Good thing he volunteered! Not only did he bring 2 of the 4 amps that we powered the cabs with, but he also wrote up his findings.

    Finally, 2 weeks ago, we got to run the tests.

    My findings are for the most part similar to his. So rather than edit Paul extensively, I'm just going to post his findings directly and then I'll simply answer questions (if there are any).

    A special shout-out has to go organist John Freund, who provided us with his van, his cabinet moving elbow grease, a large space to run the test in, some unusual source material to test with, and his own unique ears and opinion.

    And now, on with the show: SlinkP, it's all yours....




    OVERVIEW
    ========

    We tried playing bass, Hammond organ, and a little bit of pre-recorded vocals through the following cabinets:

    Acme Low B2
    EA CXL-112 (the bottom part of an iamp800 combo, with the head removed)
    EA VL-110
    Schroeder 1210
    Hartke HL115 (just because it happned to be there)

    We used a smattering of amps:

    EA iAmp 800 (mostly we used this one)
    Demeter VTB-201 (Blackface) / Stewart 1.2 power amp
    Eden WT-300
    AI Clarus


    We used only two basses:
    Jerry Jones longhorn (with flatwounds)
    Greco Thunderbird ("lawsuit" model)
    We didn't really plan on only having funky not-so-modern character basses, but that's what we happened to bring.

    I should mention that one of my personal goals for the taste-test was to find a single small cab that I could get through a gig with the AI Clarus. I own an EA CXL-112 and while the Clarus through a pair of them is pretty darn cool, when I play with a single cab it's really not enough oomph. I live in a fourth-floor walk-up apartment and don't own a car, so portability is an extreme concern for me.

    We also checked the cabs out with a Hammond organ.
    The organist was looking for something to run alongside his Leslie cab to beef up the low end of his sound, for an ensemble which has no bassist. He is currently using the Hartke and looking for something better. The organ has a little home-brew preamp tap that we fed through a small active crossover (basically a lowpass filter) and then into the Stewart power amp and into each of the cabs.
    We also tried the organ without the leslie and without the crossover, to find out if the cabs could work alone as a backup in case the aging Leslie dies on a gig.


    DETAILS
    =======

    Bass Tests
    ===========


    Acme Low B2
    -------
    This was an eye-opener for me, having never played one of these.
    It easily had the deepest, smoothest sounding low end of any of the cabs. True to its reputation, it liked a lot of power: with either the iAmp or the Demeter/Stewart rig, it sounded awesome.

    With either the WT-300 or the Clarus, I felt it wasn't adequate volume for me to get through a gig. I was getting the power amp clip light on my Eden and it didn't really sound "loud" to me yet. The Clarus sounded roughly similar in output power.

    That said, the B-2 wasn't a whole lot quieter than a single EA 112. (But then, the Acme is a 4-ohm cabinet, and the EA is an 8-ohm cabinet, so while the EA is more efficient, we were hearing it with less power from the amp.)

    The treble and mids are pretty sweet-sounding, even with the pads turned all the way up. The upper-mids are certainly there and quite clear, but not very aggressive. I didn't find the cab particularly neutral - it seems to favor the low end, and I felt like there was a bit of a dip somewhere in the mids - but everything is there to work with and it responds well to EQ.


    Schroeder 1210
    --------------

    This was fun, and the main thing I came to check out. The Schroeder is really loud, even with a low-powered amp like the Clarus. I felt it was the only cab of the bunch that I was confident would get through a small rock gig with a low-powered compact amp like my Clarus, without adding a second cabinet. While I haven't had a chance to test this theory, I'm pretty sure it would be fine (for me).

    In terms of size, the Schroeder is a very close match to the B-2. I think the Schroeder is supposed to be marginally lighter but I didn't spend much time comparing weight.

    After all the hype about Schroeder cabs, I was wondering if it was really possible to have a cab that was only a bit larger and heavier than a single EA CXL-112, but as loud as a pair of them, while retaining good frequency response, and for less money too! That's a tall order.

    My conclusion: Yes and no. Yes on volume and portability. It is noticeably bigger than a single EA-112 but not by a huge margin, and the weight is in the same ballpark. In terms of volume, the Schroeder is way ahead. It has an advantage of course, being a 4-ohm cab compared to the EA's 8 ohms.

    In terms of frequency response, they're radically different animals. The EA, as noted, is the most neutral-sounding bass cab I've heard yet (I haven't had the pleasure of Accugrooves). In contrast, the Schroeder is much more of a dedicated bass guitar speaker. To my ear it has a strong emphasis in the midbass, and the low end is not nearly as deep and flat as the B2 or the EA.

    This is not to say that the Schroeder's low end is weak or unpleasant; far from it, the tone really rocks, being (dare I say it) somewhat SVT-like; it would probably cut through a mix quite well. It was quite pleasant with both of our test basses. I didn't notice any really nasty peaks, and it's not boomy, rather it's fairly tight. And if you want the really deep fundamentals, it seems to respond well to boosting the low EQ. I found that I really liked the Clarus through the Schroeder with a slight boost of the bass and a slight cut of the mids. This doesn't get it as smooth and deep as the B-2 nor as hi-fi and tight as the EA, but frankly onstage I don't think anyone would notice the difference except maybe another bassist, and given the volume and cutting power of the Schroeder, it has its own advantages.

    It seems to handle high power well, too. Either the iAmp or the Demeter/Stewart rig was enough to deliver some really satisfying wall-rattling levels.



    Overall I'm impressed. The Schroeder delivers a solid punch in a nice package without needing much power. For some people (like me) that's a very attractive combination.
    We didn't have a 4x10 handy to compare with, but I think Schroeder's claim that the 1210 can replace a 4x10 is probably warranted.

    EA 110
    --------

    This was a really cute little cab, surprisingly powerful for its size, but not super efficient and not super deep either. The deep bass is definitely there - it's just not capable of getting very loud. I can't swear to this, but my memory suggests that it had the clearest, least peaky treble of any of the cabs.
    It had a suprising amount of bass for its size, especially with a little bass boost from EQ, but I felt that in order to move enough air for a gig I'd probably have to push it with an unsafe amount of power.

    We briefly tried the 1x10 stacked on top of the Acme B-2. That was a really sweet, full-sounding rig that can cover a lot of territory and handle a fair amount of power.


    EA CXL-112
    ----------

    Of the bunch, this is the cab that I'm most familiar with. I still think it's the most neutral of them overall. The B-2 might be superior in in the low end, though. A bit of bass boost is necessary to get the EA sounding at all comparable to the B-2.

    The thing I like about this cab is its tightness and wide range. The fundamentals go very deep, with no noticeable rolloff down to low E or drop-D (I don't play 5-string); but every part of the spectrum is also well represented. The upper mids / lower treble do have a kinda peaky edge to them, but nothing extreme. I've said before and will say again that the CXL-112 makes a better PA cabinet than most PA cabinets of comparable cost.

    But, while it's fairly efficient, I don't think I could get through a gig with just one of these, unless I had a good amount of power to drive it with (at least 400 watts). My Eden WT-300 (probably about 180 watts into the 8-ohm load) gets pushed to its limit if I play through only one CXL-112, and at that limit I still feel like I could use a bit more volume. I need just that little bit more headroom to get there.

    In retrospect I kinda wish I'd checked out the combination of the CXL-112 and the B-2. With a stereo power amp to balance the relative cab levels, I suspect that would be a really powerful and versatile rig.


    Hartke 115
    ----------

    We were a bit surprised that this cab didn't totally embarass itself in this company. It delivered a perfectly acceptable rock tone, especially with the nice Demeter/Stewart rig. I could definitely get through a gig with it. Still, there were things to prefer about every one of the other cabinets. All of them had clearer treble than the Hartke (no surprise since it lacks a tweeter); but all of them had deeper and smoother lows too (even the little 110, which admittedly a lot less powerful).
    Its one defining characteristic is a sharp, aggressive, punchy midrange. If that defines your sound, you might even prefer it to these more high-end cabs, if you wanna sound like U2 circa 1983. But all of the other cabs were tighter and more "hi-fi".In terms of character I'd say the Hartke was most comparable to the Schroeder with its prominent midbass, but the Schroeder is still smaller, louder, deeper, more open at the top, and less peaky in the mids.


    The Organ Tests
    ===============

    The Hartke was the known benchmark here. In combination with the Leslie, it did a merely OK job of beefing up the low end. It was a bit boomy and definitely emphasized some notes strongly over others. The result was hard to blend well with the Leslie cab.

    The little EA was cute and hi-fi as always, but lacked the necessary raw low-end power so we didn't spend much time on it.

    The Schroeder wasn't bad, but the organist wasn't really taken with it for his purposes. Could probably do the job with a little EQ, but that's not something he wants to do apparently.

    The EA CXL-112 wasn't bad either. I was really curious due to my overall impression of it as a really neutral cab. The organ test did reveal one "flaw" I never noticed before: A strong sharp peak somewhere right in the midbass, maybe around 200 Hz. This was revealed by playing chromatic scales on a patch with very few overtones. One key right in the middle of the keyboard kept leaping out of the runs. I don't remember which key. This surprised me a bit, I've never once heard that effect on bass guitar.

    I liked the overall sound, but the organist seemed kinda non-commital - neither excited nor disgusted by it. I think he wanted more oomph in the lows. Maybe a little boost via EQ would have done this, but since his plan was to run direct into power amp with no EQ, that wasn't an option.

    Then there was the B-2. As soon as he plugged in, all three of us said "wow". The organ lows through the B-2 were simply awesome. Combined with the Leslie, the sound was just amazingly lush and gorgeous and the lows were so smooth. The chromatic scale / few overtones test revealed no single dramatic peak like the EA 112. It wasn't perfectly flat-sounding, there were a few little humps, but nothing dramatic like that surprising peak on the EA.
    Then we tried the B-2 alone without the crossover or the leslie. The sound wasn't bad; a bit too clicky on the attacks. This was remedied by turning down the attenuator for the tweeter, which softened the edge a little, whereupon the organist declared he could get through a gig with it. I won't be surprised if he goes out and buys one.


    THE VOCAL TEST
    ==============

    We played a CD of "Our Prayer", the a capella intro of Brian Wilson's "Smile". It's just what happened to be in my portable player. Gorgeous harmonies, so rich I can't count the number of voices. We turned off all EQ on the CD player and ran one channel direct into the Stewart power amp. We only did this for a minute at the end of the evening. I was curious what it would reveal about the treble and midrange response of the cabs. My impression:

    Hartke 115 - awful. Very muffled, due to lack of tweeter; but also peaky, harsh, and nasal as hell.

    EA CXL-112 - best overall in my opinion. The one noticeable flaw is that it's a bit strident in the upper mids or lower treble.
    But hey, I've heard studio monitors I liked less than this!
    (Not kidding. *cough*KRK*cough*)

    EA VL-110 - I don't think we heard this.

    Acme B-2 - Acceptable. I thought it was the second best overall vocal sound.
    I thought it had a slightly harsh, peaky edge somewhere in the lower treble, but also seemed to be slightly lacking somewhere in the middle - a bit scooped. Mid-bass was flawless.

    Schroeder - for this material, it was kinda similar to the Acme B-2. Like the Acme, it had some peakiness in the upper mids / lower treble, and a dip somewhere below that; but there was also something honky going on in the mid-bass, so it didn't seem quite as smooth as the Acme overall.
    But still miles better than the Hartke. I've heard worse mids and treble than either of these cabs on dance club PAs.

    Scooperman: Since it took me so long to get around to doing this test, I had already gigged a number of times with 1210 by the time we ran the test. Paul had to make some guesses about how the sound would translate to a band setting and I would say that he is largely correct: the Schroeders cut. In fact, for me, the Schroeders' Ace in the Hole is that they have an uncanny ability to be heard in a loud band context while still sounding good and not sacrificing the deepest lows. Put that in a small cab and you've got a rare bird.


    Bonus Quiz From Scooperman:
    I'm probably going to sell one of these cabinets. Can anyone guess which one and why? Hint: I can't sell the Hartke, because I don't own it.
     
  2. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Great shootout! Man, I love these kinds of things! You do have me wondering if I should keep my Low B-2 for "keyboard" use (actually, MIDI pedals triggering sampler/synth, but similar idea). And of course, I am anxious to hear a Schroeder cab someday, too!

    One observation about the VL-110. Well, three observations, actually. First, I wish you would have tried the vocals through it. I use my three VL-110's for vocal monitors, and they work better than any other cab I have tried (including PA and dedicated monitor cabs) for this purpose. Second, I know that you were just comparing single cabs to single cabs, but I'd like to point out that two VL-110's (or a VL-110/VL-208) still makes for a pretty compact rig, and when you add up two of the smaller VL cabs, the sum is far greater than what you would expect (and of course, you now have a 4 ohm load). Lastly, to Paul's comments about pushing the VL-110 with an unsafe amount of power, keep in mind that the VL-series cabs will take stupid amounts of power and keep smiling! :D Do you know which 10" driver was in the VL-110? I think that the magnet sizes used in the VL-110 included the 56 oz, 67 oz and 80 oz varieties (or weights in that general ballpark) with the larger magnets giving, amount other things, more efficiency and volume. [John Dong is making up some 105 oz drivers for two of my VL-110's!]

    I also found it very interesting that you found such a dramatic peak in your CxL-112. I will have to look for that in my own CxL-112. If you haven't guessed, I am a bit of an EA fan :p , but I must say, that as good as the CxL-112 is, as a single standalone cab, it's not my favorite. I will say this, though, the "Deep" circuit on the iAMP seems to be customed tailored for the CxL-112. It fills in the low end big time, and the CxL-112 can take some serious volume, even with the Deep switch engaged.

    Thanks again for sharing!

    Tom.
     
  3. nemo

    nemo

    Mar 19, 2004
    Czech
    Thanks for review Scooperman!
    How did you like the WT-300+1210 setup?
     
  4. Very good review.
    Although I have not tried any of the EA or Acme cabs I have tried most of the Schroders and agree with your findings. Thanks for taking the time.
     
  5. Scooperman

    Scooperman

    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
     
  6. Scooperman

    Scooperman

    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    The WT-300 sounded good through the 1210. It's def. powerful enough to do the job. We mostly ran everything flat, so the biggest difference in sound from amp to amp was caused by headroom issues. The 1210 being very efficient, everything sounded pretty good through it.

    That being said, that once you take the incredibly powerful iamp800 EQ out of the equation, the biggest difference was between the Demeter/Stewart rig and everything else. You could hear that difference through every cab (except maybe the Hartke which just wasn't as able to show the added clarity and transient response as the other cabs were).

    EQ and "bell and whistles" aside, when it came to pure tone - the Demeter/Stewart rig (for me) kicked posterior on everything else. Of course, that EQ can be a real life saver, not to mention low weight...
     
  7. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Funny, I don't recall ever even tying EQ with my VL-110's! I just liked the sound of them set flat. I'll have to try messing with some EQ optionst the next time I use them.

    Tom.
     
  8. I'm guessing the VL-110 cuz of the efficiency and lack of low end oomph. I'd be interested if I had any money.
     
  9. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    I'm going to hook up my signal generator in a few minutes, and will report back on what I find with my older CXL112. I never use the "deep" setting, always "contour 2". "Deep" really unbalances the upper ranges on my EUB, which is the only bass I use my iAmp with. In any case, the CXL really does respond well to EQ, and does handle a lot of power pretty gracefully.
     
  10. Scooperman

    Scooperman

    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    I won't tell you if you're right just yet, because I want to see what other answers I get. Anybody else want to guess?
     
  11. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    If it were me, it would be the Low B-2 (but only because my Accugroove Tri 210L makes the Low B-2 somewhat redundant), but I was actually under the impression from your comments earlier that it would be the CxL-112.
     
  12. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Ain't that the truth!
     
  13. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Every once in a while, I use my CXL112 with a Crown K2, and an Ashly parametric EQ. Oddly enough, the EQ curve looks almost exactly like "contour 2" on my iAmp. :cool: I've used the CXL outdoors with a 6 piece jazz group a number of times this summer. I usually end up going through FOH, but only so I don't overwhelm the stage volume. I'm very happy with the CXL as a standalone for EUB, FWIW.

    I just tested my CXL for a low-mid resonance peak, using a sine wave generator, and found nothing I could hear. With a meter, I saw something at ~180Hz, but I definitely couldn't hear it.
     
  14. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    If I were any good at photo-editing, I'd have a really swank reply to that quote...
    ;)
     
  15. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Just to clarify: I've neither seen nor heard any of the other reviewed cabs, and thus have no opinion whatsoever on their merits.
     
  16. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    awesome post, scoop!

    but i gotta say, sorta disagree with you on the Acme vocals. i use a pair of 1x10's for a mini PA setup, and its IMHO, so much nicer than the old JBL's i had going. much more focused, punchie, and best of all, clear.

    but i guess we all hear things whatever way we feel. still, amazing review! made me nearly GAS for a Schroe. ;)
     
  17. Scooperman

    Scooperman

    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY

    I have to say that the kudos for the review should go to SlinkP, who wrote up his findings, which mostly I agree with. The truth is, although the three of us (SlinkP, me, and John Freund the organist) in general agreed on most things, one area where I differed from the other two guys was that although I agreed that the CXL-112 and Low B2 were the best sounding cabs for vocals, I would have reversed their rankings - I actually liked the Acmes more for that. I also was the one who liked the VL-110 more than the other guys.

    In fact, with no EQ on the amps, or concern for how the cabs would sound in a band context (whether they would cut through, etc.), my overall favorite was the Acme. However, there are more things to evaluate than which cab sounds the best for my "typical" tone when soloed. Some of those things are how many other tones the cab can get, can it be loud, cut through a band, disperse the sound far and evenly, and how portable, durable a cab is, etc.

    An therefore, the winner of the "which cab is (most likely) to go competion" is....

    TomBowlus!!

    There's no reason to get rid of any of the cabs - they're all pretty awesome in their own way - but I live in a small Manhattan apartment, and I could probably use the space. If I were Tom I'd probably find a way to hold onto all of them! :D But since I need room:

    The VL-110 takes up very little room, is very versatile, sounds better than any cab that size that I've ever heard (I've never heard the Low B1) and darn it, they aren't making the VL-110 anymore! Besides, I wouldn't gain a lot of space in my apartment by getting rid of it. :D Oh yeah, it also fits so nicely on top of the Acme and complements it both in terms of sonics and efficiency.

    The Acme is just so rich, deep, fat and sweeeet sounding... it ain't going nowhere.

    The Schroeder can sound good in any situation, and when you absolutely gotta be heard, and only have room for one smallish cab, it's the one that I know is going to get the job done and there are certain tones it gets better than the other cabs (anything that requires a bit more agression, for example).

    The CXL-112 is the odd one out. It actually sounds great, but it's not as loud as either the Acme or the Schroeder (but not by that much) and it's flat tone is not quite as appealing to me as the Acme, and getting rid of it would free up much more space than getthe VL-110 would.

    Then again, now that I have my Demeter/Stewart rig, maybe I should just pop the iamp800 head back into the space at the top of the CXL-112 and keep it as a combo - I have to admit that that setup yields the nicest combo amp I've ever seen.


    I've just got too many options! Oh well, as far as problems go, it's a pretty good one to have! :)

    PS: Tom - I'm not sure what the 10" driver in the VL-110 is, but whatever it is, it sounds good to me.
     
  18. slinkp

    slinkp

    Aug 29, 2003
    brooklyn, NY, USA
    Thanks for posting it, Seth!
    I was sure you were going to disagree with more than that :)

    Hmm, I honestly don't remember doing vocals with the VL110.
    Oh well, it was a long night of goofing around and I didn't take notes until the week after.

    About the B2 / CXL112 comparisons: I was a bit surprised you described the B2 as "louder" than the CXL-112; my impression was the 112 was a bit more efficient. But then it occurred to me that maybe you meant "with a honkin' big power amp", in which case, maybe the B2 would actually get louder than the CXL-112 can handle? Just trying to guess what you mean...
    And as for the vocals: I want to make clear that the B2 and the EA were both quite listenable, I just had a marked preference for the EA. But the difference between them wasn't any greater than, say, the difference between two different reasonably listenable home bookshelf speakers.

    My one regret about the evening is that my plan to do some recording didn't come through.
     
  19. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    great thread. How about that demeter/stewart rig eh?
    no eq needed. :cool:
     
  20. Scooperman

    Scooperman

    May 28, 2004
    Brooklyn, NY
    It was my pleasure to post it Paul. Of course, I would have had nothing to post if you hadn't written up your findings!

    You've got a point about needing a big amp for the Acme. We didn't even try the Clarus with it for more than a few minutes, because it simply didn't have enough juice for it. The other amps ranged from "pretty decent" power to "seriously honkin'".

    With those amps, both the Acme and the Schroeder seemed to be a bit more loud and moving a bit more air than the EA. However, both the Schroeder and Acme are rated at 4 ohms and the EA is rated at 8 ohms, and the EA was a single 12" speaker as opposed to a 2x10 or a 12 and 10, not to mention that the EA was slightly smaller than the other two cabs, so considering all that, I was impressed that the CXL-112 was as loud as it was, which wasn't that much quieter (to my ears) than the others.

    Yeah, there's always the YMMV factor.