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Sealed Cab Options - What's Out There?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Doner Designs, Apr 10, 2017.


  1. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    Looking to generate a list to do some comparison shopping. Who makes sealed cabs? They are a lot less common vs ported.

    I know Ampeg makes some and Bergantino offers a few and Audiokinesis has some where you can plug the ports.

    I'm partial to the Berg HG310 which weighs in at an astonishing 35 pounds but am curious what else is out there in a similar class (small, light, sealed).
     
  2. MarkA

    MarkA *** Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    There is that sealed 18" cab that @dukeorock makes. Always thought that looked interesting -- if I were looking for a single, sealed, do-it-all cab, that would be high on my list.

    I've been playing a little Hathor 1203 lately with the port plugged and liking it. Sounds more open (and deeper, obviously) with the port open, but I like the quicker, percussive feel of it sealed. Sealed and elevated is a bit bass-shy, but it works nicely flat on the floor or tilted up with an Ampwedge (or a doorstop). The open mid chamber is nice for monitoring yourself, too. It's an easy one-handed carry.

    Neither sealed nor ported in the traditional sense, but I'll put in a word for the MAS stuff. It has its own feel but, if I had to pick, I'd say more like a sealed cab than a ported cab (generally speaking) in the way the notes start and stop. That might be part of why I like plugging the port on the Hathor -- feels more like what I'm used to (I've been playing the MAS stuff for a few years now). The Hathor is still nice unplugged, and that sound/feel would work better in certain contexts.

    There's the Ampeg and the Berg NV stuff that you mentioned -- I feel like there should be more, but that's all I can think of at the moment!
     
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  3. Interceptor

    Interceptor Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    Madison, WI
    Hartke did some sealed stuff, as did SWR with their Marcus Miller 410.

    Then there's Kringle77's design Speakerhardware.com has a kit for. If I was to build a sealed design right now, the two Eminence bass drivers optimized for sealed look promising.

    I like the sealed sound, but there's ported designs that do great things too. I just translated an EV TL606 to braced 1/2" plywood, put in a fresh EVM-L and it is an outstanding pairing with an Ampeg PF-50T. To my ears a not too big cabinet and tuning that's starting to roll off in the mid 60 Hz range works well.
     
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  4. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    The ones that come immediately to mind that I've played on are the Berg NV series cabs, some Ampegs (I'm not familiar enough with Ampeg to cite exact models) and the Hartke 210 XL and 210 and 410 HyDrive models.
     
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  5. RBASS930

    RBASS930 Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2005
    New York
    Hartke Hydrive 210
    Quilter Bassliner 1x12W
    Quilter Bassliner 2x10W
     
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  6. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    vintage fender bassman, bandmaster, tremolux, showman, etc.

    replace the baffle if you don't like the speaker config (can get a new one at mojotone). i have a 60's bassman that was a 2x12 and it's now a 1x15, sounds excellent.
     
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  7. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    In most of my cabs, the port plugs are mainly there for dealing with boomy rooms... in other words, the woofer choice and enclosure design are optimized for ported mode. But a few of my cabs are optimized for sealed box mode, with the ports essentially give the option of having a bigger low end should the need arise (like for an outdoor gig).
     
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  8. MarkA

    MarkA *** Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Which of your cabs are optimized for sealed box mode, Duke?

    A lot of the rooms in my area are boomy. I think it's part of the building code -- if the room's not boomy enough, you can get a citation.

    I had a look at the Speakerhardware site -- for some reason, I'd thought Chris' (@kringle77) design was ported. There's some neat DIY stuff I didn't know about on that site, btw, including a cross-firing 410 design from Duke and some Big E kits, in addition to the Greenboy and BFM stuff I knew was on there.
     
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  9. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    First, I'm really glad that little Hathor cab is working for you! Some of the cabs you have are extremely tough acts to follow, to say the least.

    The Birdhaus 46 is optimized for sealed mode, and the Thunderchild 118 was intended to "split the difference" but most people prefer it in sealed mode (Faital 18FH500). I have a one more cab out for beta-testing right now that is optimized for sealed mode, with the option of unplugging the ports should the situation call for a bigger bottom end.
     
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  10. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I don't own any of your cabs (yet) Duke, but have always admired your engineering and product offerings. Without giving away any trade secrets, would you be able to share some insights on how you can make a speaker/cab design work as sealed, ported and partially ported? From the little I understand about cabinet design there is usually a "meaningful difference" in the specifications between speakers that would be optimal performers in a either a sealed or ported design. I'm not sure I know of any other cabs that are as effective/capable in "multiple configurations" as yours are. Thanks in advance for whatever you can reasonably share.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
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  11. As in most cases. ...I'd say use your ears rather than yr eyes OR the specs.
    I'm VERY partial to the sealed cab sound. ... but my Fender Bassman Pro Neo 115 cabs give me the tight bottom end sound I'm after in spades. Ymmv of course, but. ..imo...they don't 'seem' to be low tuned. .. (in fact, if I'm after big lows, I'll usually take my Berg AE410- as it seems to handle and project low B's etc far more readily than the 115 Fender Bassman Pro Neo.
    Tight bottom, vintage sounding cab is how I feel my Bassman 115s sound.
    If I could be bothered, if take an Ampeg 810 or NV412 or 215 to every gig. .. but I can't. . But that's the sound I try for. I'm very happy with the Bassman Pro Neo 115s in this regard. Not sealed. ..but good sound for me.
     
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  12. DukeLeJeune

    DukeLeJeune rational romantic mystic cynical idealist Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Princeton, Texas
    Owner & designer, AudioKinesis; Auth. mfg, Big E (Home Audio only)
    Nothing top-secret about it! For starters, I use flared Precision Ports, usually in multiples. The flares help delay the onset of chuffing, and the inner diameters are precisely as advertised, which means I can use off-the-shelf expandable plumber's plugs.

    So let's say a cab with a vented-box woofer calls for three 3" diameter Precision Ports (two 3012LF woofers in about 2.6 cubic feet). With all three ports open we get what I think is the "optimal" tuning frequency in this case, about 50 Hz, and we're -2 dB at the 62 Hz first overtone of low-B (and -3 dB at 59 Hz). I like to quote the response at 62 Hz because I think that gives a useful indication of the cab's low-B.

    If we plug one port, the tuning frequency drops to about 41 Hz, and now we're -3 dB at 62 Hz.

    Plug two ports, tuning frequency is now 30 Hz, and we're -4 dB at 62 Hz.

    When we plug ports we're also reducing the port cross-sectional area, which theoretically reduces the chuffing threshold, but we also are moving down into a region where there's typically less energy going into the cab... at any rate, I haven't gotten any reports of plugging some ports resulting in chuffing.

    If we plug all three ports, we end up with a low-Q sealed box, -6 dB at 62 Hz (and -3 dB at 90 Hz).

    On the other hand, I have a sealed-box-woofer cab being beta-tested at the moment that models -3 dB at 82 Hz (first overtone of low-E) and -6 dB at 62 Hz (first overtone of low-B) in sealed-box mode. Unplug the two ports, and now the cab is tuned to the mid-30's, but in this case most of the boostage happens much higher up. We get a ballpark +2 dB hump from 100 Hz to 200 Hz, and we're now "flat" at 82 Hz and -5 dB at 62 Hz. Also, I would claim a small improvement in thermal power handling from opening up the ports, due to air exchange with the outside world. So imo this is more of a "low-E" cab than a "low-B" cab, with a bit of "free" bass boostage available for outdoor gigs via unplugging the ports.

    My cabs are no more "capable" in these various modes than anyone else's would be if they also used pluggable ports, but as far as I know, only a few DIYers have used the technique.

    For DIYers who don't want to buy the expensive Precision Ports, just use PVC pipe from the plumbing department at your local hardware store (this way you can test-fit the expandable plumber's plugs in advance). Once you've calculated the length for your ports, measure that length down the centerline and cut the inner end of the port at a 45-degree angle, instead of straight across. This results in an elliptical rather than round opening, for increased cross-sectional area. Two benefits arise: First, the larger cross-sectional area of the elliptical opening improves airflow at this critical location, which is where chuffing would first set in. Second, the port length is now a bit "fuzzy", and this reduces the magnitude of internal port resonances in the midrange region (imagine talking through a cardboard tube). The outer end of the port will be flush with the baffle, and the baffle improves the fluid flow (airflow) into the port, but the inner end of the port has no such benefit, which is why that's normally where chuffing (turbulence) begins.
     
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  13. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    Thanks Duke! I'm not a professional or even a DIY cabinet builder, but your post was really interesting. One thing that seems consistent as I read about cabinet design is how significant first harmonics/overtones are for addressing voicing on the bottom bass strings - more so than the fundamental in many cases. That is not something that would have been obvious to me years ago - I always over-focused on the fundamental itself when looking at specs.

    I was also intrigued by your technique of cutting the internal end of the port at a 45 degree angle. I can see where there would be a benefit to that, especially having the additional area at a critical location and creating a smoother, broader transition area.

    Cab design is so much more than speakers in the correct size box, a flawed mental model I carried in my head for many years. Thanks for taking time to educate us, or at least me!
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2017
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  14. jthisdell

    jthisdell Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    What budget and form factor are you looking for?

    The Berg NV cabs are really nice. I have an NV115 with a 15 and a 6 mid. Really nice deep tone. They also have an NV412T (big), NV610T (bigger) and the new NV212T (littler). There is a thread on the NV212T and it is getting a lot of love. Jim told me that he thought the 212 was the smallest he could go in a sealed cab, you just can't get a sealed 110 or 112 to push enough air.
     
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  15. Doner Designs

    Doner Designs Steve Doner Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2012
    Metro Chicago Area
    Doner Designs is an alias for Steve Doner
    I have a pair of the Berg HG310's which weigh in at 35lbs and are the same size as a 210. Very tough to beat that form factor and they sound great. I have looked at the NV cabs but they are too big and heavy for this old man. If there was an NV112, a pair of those might be in the strike zone in terms of size and weight.

    Besides the HG310's I have a pair of Markbass 112's. That's what I would be swapping out. I thought the Markbass rig sounded pretty great until I got the Bergs. Now my ears are ruined. In the end I might end up getting a third HG310. I like the sound and it would be cool to be able to stack three of them for a light modular 9x10 rig.

    The Audiokinesis Birdhaus line that Duke mentioned sounds pretty interesting too. The 4x8 is small and light and I think the cone area is about the same as a 2x12 or a 3x10. I'll be interested to hear more about the 4x10.
     
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  16. Off topic, but I would just like to say that I'm always in awe of Duke's knowledge, generosity and humbleness with regards to his posts on TB!
    We're lucky to have people like him and Agedhorse around these parts, Cheers to you gentlemen!
     
  17. jthisdell

    jthisdell Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2014
    Roanoke, VA
    Yeah, I ended up putting casters on my NV115 and then bought a CN112 because it was lighter and would fit in my car better but I do love the sealed NV.

    My issue with Jim is that he keeps bringing out gear that I would love to use but I don't like to sell my old stuff. Thought about selling my NV but the idea of selling a cab that I paid $900 for $600 just does not sit well. Would love to try an HG310 as I mostly play upright but it came out right after I bought the CN!
     
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  18. The Regulator

    The Regulator

    Aug 10, 2005
    Hartke AK 410

    Discontinued but can be found used for ~$300
     
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  19. Ampeg do make smaller sealed cabs - The PF-HE series are sealed. I have the PF115HE which is a nice smaller sealed cab. I think the 210HE is also sealed though someone else may be able to confirm this.

    The only caveat is that because these have a 'flip-top' that is latched down, im not sure exactly how if the integrity of the seal would remain at really high volumes. Ive cranked it a couple of times and it sounds pretty good to me, and it is probably unlikely that any air is porting through the lid but just something that I was thinking about the other day when I was observing the cab.

    The Berg NV212T certainly looks to be a great option.