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Speaker size characteristics

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Alex, Dec 28, 2005.


  1. I have played basically nothing except my B2R - 410HLF rig since I got it 2 years ago. They even have the exact same setup at my local GC! :rollno: I have forgotten what other amps sound like!

    I've never really played through a respectable speaker with 12" or 15" speakers, so I really can't comment on them. I have heard that 15s give you a lot of boom, and fatter tone. I also am pretty sure that as speaker size increases, relative wattage decreases. (so a 4x10 would have more watts than a 1x15) Besides that, I know nothing.

    This brings us to our story......I jammed at my friend's house yesterday, and I just used his little GK Backline 112 combo. It had a lot of punch, and a good sound (until I got down to my E and B strings, lots of distortion; those combos are cheap for a reason) When not in the low range, the tone was not necessarily better, not necessarily worse, just different. And that got me wondering......*scratches chin and looks inquisitively, yet arbitrarily upward*......what are the general advantages to different speaker sizes? What are their specific tonal trademarks? How do different sized speakers affect certain frequency ranges tonally?

    Hopefully this thread will answer everyone's questions (along with mine :D ) about speaker size pros and cons. I know that it's one of the biggest dillemmas in picking out a cab.

    Dumb thread, or possible sticky?

    ~Alex :bassist:
     
  2. Crockettnj

    Crockettnj

    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ
    i dont think its a dumb thread at all. its an interesting question. I look forward to some insightful answers, however deep down i fear that the consensus will be... "it depends"
     
  3. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    Yep. The box/speaker interaction is absolutley crucial. A 12" that has great mids in a small sealed box may sound dreadful in a larger ported box. Worse yet hornloaded... etc... Too many variables for gross generalizations to carry much weight.
     
  4. ElBajista

    ElBajista

    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    From what I've read, the basic consensus is:

    15" = big, round, somewhat muffled/sluggish, boomy
    12" = the median between 10's and 15's
    10" = punchy, midrangey, clear, quick

    But then you have numerous exceptions. A properly designed speaker enclosure can cause significant differences. The same 10" speaker in two differently designed enclosures will have different depth, punch, and tonal characteristics. Also, different brands of speakers are designed differently, so two 12" speakers from two different makers will have different sounds even if placed in the same type of enclosure.

    For example, not all 15" speakers are muffled/sluggish etc, because not all 15" speakers have the same enclosures, or are constructed by the same makers.

    Basically, as was already said, there are way too many variables for gross generalizations to truly help.
     
  5. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    I feel like the "basic consensus" on 15" is from people who haven't played decent ones at all. They get such a bad rap, and I just haven't had the same experience at all. Hell, even my Workingman 1x15 isn't "sluggish," and I played it with all sorts of basses.
     
  6. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    Could be - I like my 15 Black Widows, and find I can get a good tonal variety out of them...



    - georgestrings
     
  7. ezstep

    ezstep

    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    I feel the same way about people who haven't played the SWR Big Ben 1x18" cab. It isn't "boomy" like so many other 18's, and it has (surprisingly) pretty good mids and highs. But, most people assume that since it is an 18" and the old Acoustic 18" folded horns sounded a particular way that the SWR must sound that way, too.

    I have said it before and I will say it again - if someone (my wife) held a gun to my head and told me to pick one cab and one cab only to make do for the rest of my life, I would pick a 2x15". Plenty of lows, plenty of mids, plenty of highs, and plenty loud. I could live with and be happy with that one cab.
     
  8. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    +1

    A quality 15 placed inside a quality box will sound defined. No, it won't have the same punch as a 10, but the stereotype that 15s sound like mud is just that: A stereotype.

    A perfect example of a good 15 box is those old Peavy 2x15 cabinets. Those things sounded great. I'd never want to haul one around though. *LOL*
     
  9. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Another thing to take into consideration is what's known as the "throw". To create sound waves, speaker cones vibrate. The in and out vibration is the throw. Older technology shows that the larger the speaker, the larger the soundwave possible. Now with newer technology, smaller speakers can make almost the same frequencies with a longer throw. That's how you can have an 8X10 cab and still get great bass response out of it.
     
  10. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    This is, indeed, an interesting question, and one I have been pondering since I picked up my Bergantino IP212 and IP310. For those who might not be familiar with these cabs, they are internally powered (1,000 watts into 4 ohm) and incorporate a DSP front end to render them virtually "flat." Exacting measurements are made of the frequency response of each cab, and powerful EQ is then applied to bring their response as close as possible to "flat" (but not down to 20 Hz - this would waste a lot of energy and just get boomy).

    This should mean that they both sound the same, right? Well, not really. The different driver sizes do make an audible difference. To my ears, the 212 has more midrange attack and articulation, especially in the low mids to middle mids. It has a "bark" to each note, and it really brings out the nuances of fingerstyle playing. The IP310, on the other hand, has a slightly rounded low end and a quickness and snap to the highs that seem to make it an ideal cab for slap/pop playing. I also have a prototype IP322 (two 10's, one 12) which, as you might expect, definitely hits the middle ground of the IP212 and IP310.

    Now, I just need an IP215, or IP118... :D

    Tom.
     
  11. +1
     
  12. Throw is the catch term for describing directional characteristics. It is not a function of cone movement.

    Directional characteristics are a function of:
    1) piston diameter
    2) waveguide interaction

    Piston Diameter
    A point source driver is fully beaming (directional) when the wave length is <= the piston diameter. Using the Eminence Kappa 15 as an example, it has as 13.0" piston diameter. A 13" wavelength is approximately 1041 Hz. The 15" driver is very directional from here on up. It is very hot on-axis ("long throw") and very dead off-axis.

    The same driver has a fully spherical waveform when the wavelength is >= 4x the piston diameter. Using the 13" example above, this is 260 Hz and lower. A spherical wave form is non-directional, and has no "throw". You can turn the cab around to face the wall with no change in sound for frequencies below 260 Hz.

    Waveguides
    A compression horn is a wave guide, when the horn length is a full wave length or longer. A line array of vertical drivers operates somewhat as a wave guide. Distribution in the horizontal plane is widened, and reduced in the vertical plane. This reduces the beaming effect and on-axis hot spot. Line arrays also reduce the wasted energy directed at the ceiling.

    The 8x10, as a vertical line array, concentrates more energy horizontally than does a single driver. The effective piston diameter of the line array is much larger, so beaming occurs at lower frequencies. More of the mid-bass is directed at the audience, rather than wasted as spherical energy.

    At the extreme end, a 40 Hz bass horn with a 9-foot diameter horn mouth is very directional (long throw) at low frequencies.
     
  13. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    What you meant to say was excursion.
     
  14. I knew that the "It depends" sentiment would arrise! How about people like tombowlus, who have played the same model cab, but with different speaker sizes. Anyone like this should post the audible differences.

    Also, when people say that a speaker is too "slow" do you mean that there is excessive response time between plucking the note, and the note coming out of the speakers?
     
  15. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Size in and of itself is only about 1/15th of what determines a drivers sound. You could play the same cabinet loaded with a dozen different varieties of the same size driver and have a dozen different responses. The short answer to your question is that there is no short answer.
     
  16. Crockettnj

    Crockettnj

    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ
    bruce / Bill, regarding:

    "The same driver has a fully spherical waveform when the wavelength is >= 4x the piston diameter. Using the 13" example above, this is 260 Hz and lower. A spherical wave form is non-directional, and has no "throw". You can turn the cab around to face the wall with no change in sound for frequencies below 260 Hz." bgavin

    Hypothetically, would this be a good starting point for selecting a crossover frequency ? Wherever your drivers start beeming, cross to a smaller driver? Assuming, of course, you could find an adequate low mid driver to pickup from 260 ish on up.



    NEXT question (to all)-
    does there exist a pair of drivers that have identicle ( or near enough) TS specs and only vary in diameter? If so, they could then be loaded into identicle cabs and analyzed. The "it depends" part of this discussion seems to be so due to the many variables involved. So, let's remove them.

    I suppose the IP berg cabs are one way to approach this, however the EQ'ing of the DSP, in it's effort to flatten response and uncolor the cab, actually colors the true response of the driver. ( of course the box it is in is a huge part of this... yes.) Just thinking out loud.
     
  17. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    And for the record, I definitely agree with what Bill is saying. But, I guess I was somewhat surprised to hear the different characters of 10's and 12's in the otherwise "flat" Bergantino's. Again, though, I would expect the individual characteristics of the drivers (xMax, length of travel, cone material, etc.) to also have an effect.

    Tom.
     
  18. Crockettnj

    Crockettnj

    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ
    so i guess my next question here, if i let my curiosity run a little, is whether any one has ever studied how the different mechanical and electrical characteristics of ANY drivers contribute to specific tonal qualities. for example, (one which i am sure is WRONG, but i use it to help illustrate my question) "if you want a warmer tone one way to get it is look for drivers that have smaller magnets." or "drivers with high Qts tend to be very tight sounding", or "a driver that has a very stiuff suspension will have a natural built in _________ sound".

    this is basically the extention of the original question. if speaker diamter is jsut one of 15 or so variables contributing to overall tone, how are each of the different variables linked to the final sound?
     
  19. Where's Specplyrz?
     
  20. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    In hi-fi and PA the crossover point is usually set at the frequency where 30 degree off-axis response is no more than 6dB down.
    Read the works of Neville Theile and Richard Small and you'll begin to find out. The scope of the subject is quite literally enough to require the equivalent of a Master's degree in audio engineering to fully understand.