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Subwoofer & Top vs. Traditional Amp and Speaker

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by LowDown Hal, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. Has anyone gone the route of using a sub with a top instead of a traditional amp and speaker type of set-up?

    I'm thinking with a good pre-amp it would give a real good system as well versatility since I would then already own a chunk of a PA?

    Please let me know what you use and any pros/cons you have encountered?
    What you might do differently if you started over?

  2. Hi.

    Up until recently I went "rigless" whenever I could, so in a sense I kinda did what You're asking about.

    My signal chain was:

    Passive bass -> SVTDI -> Mixer -> EQ's as double duty crossovers -> power amps -> TL505 bottoms and 18"+12"+2*1" tops.


    Excellent tone, both on- and off stage.
    Less gear and clutter onstage.


    The price is about twice of a regular bass rig.
    The monitoring requirements pump up the price even higher.
    It doesn't look nearly as cool as a big rig behind You ;).

    The way You're wording your question makes me suspect that you want to use a PA bin onstage as your rig though, and on stadiums or outdoors it can be beneficial, but on smaller gigs it most likely just makes the life unbearable. For everyone concerned. And leads to volume wars, especially if a keyboardist is involved.

    IME anyway.

  3. TimmyP


    Nov 4, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    Pros: You'll at least halfway hear what your instrument actually sounds like. I'd go with powered boxes (which is not usually my choice).

    Cons: Costs more, weighs more, takes up more space in the truck.
  4. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    Use those for 15-20 years now.
    I went through lots of different stuff , pretty satisfied with what I have now.
    RCF ART310a top (I got two of 'em)
    RCF ART912as sub

    Costs: yep , good quality = higher price
    Weight ; not anymore , my kit has 1350 watts and weight 98 pounds.
    Space: depends on what you get , I got a 12" 1000watts sub and it is smaller than a 4 X10" cab.

    Attached Files:

  5. That's what I was thinking. Except maybe 12" tops so I could possibly just use one do without the sub for small, no PA, type gigs. Or the top and sub for larger, no PA, gigs.

    Or just the tops for small, with PA, gigs.

    Then for big stuff I would only need a small monitor / stage amp.
  6. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Take a look at some of Bill Fitzmaurice's designs.

    Explain your 'EQ's as double duty crossovers'. Unless they are actual active crossovers, it's not going to sound very good.
  7. So you use that as your bass rig? Never thought about it but I bet it sounds really cool/good.
  8. Hi.

    2-channel 31 band EQ with the inputs linked, one side feeding the subs, the other feeding the tops. EQ'd accordingly, obviously.

    As for "not sounding very good", well that's highly subjective ;).
    Gives a lot of wiggling-room for dialing in difficult rooms and mismatched PA bins though. IME anyway.

    I always run mono BTW, so makes my approach that much easier.

    I started using this method on techno rave PA duties when I had to feed 4 bins of 2 or 4 1K 218 bottoms and 1 1K top in a quad arrangement. I had an eq feed for every cab, so backing down a bit when any of the cabs sounded stressed during the night. I was semi-famous for not breaking any equipment, which was very unusual for that sort of gigs.

  9. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007
    That's exactly what I do.
    On smaller gigs with my Jazzy trio, I only bring one ART310a.

    I also play in a "Very Hard rock" band , and it hold it's ground against two very loud gui****s.
  10. I have been going rigless for a while now I go bass driver direct to a Bose L1 out to 3 Bose B1 subs the highs come through the tower (L1) the the crossover take lows out to the subs 2 stacked on a guitar amp stand on my side of the stage the other is on the opposite side for balance works great.
  11. @ fokof

    I assume there are times where your sub and two tops function as the PA for the group?
    If so, what do use for a stage monitor?
  12. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    I just can't see how this would work. The slopes of typical graphic EQ are so wide, you've got to be getting severe lobes, or overlap of the drivers delivering both signals near your crossover point. And with those lobes comes dispersion problems. There's got to be some leakage of frequencies on each side of your crossover point throughout the knocked out range as well.

    An active crossover would give you the same ability to adjust the gain of each side of crossover point so you can easily tame the top or bottom as needed, with a robust Linkwitz-Riley 24 db/octave slope at your x-over point to create a more pleasing sounding transition from bottoms to tops, with better protection for your tops as well. An active crossover will keep your tops and bottoms correctly phased as well. The severe EQ'ing you are doing has to be creating some phase issues.
  13. MNAirHead

    MNAirHead Supporting Member

    I've so wanted to go direct to a Bose ---- just can't make it work ---- di/iem everywhere else
  14. Hactar


    Sep 25, 2011
    Boulder, CO
    This "works" to a certain extent, but aside from the obvious phase issues, the other issue is that the EQ will let through signals out of the passband, as those signals will only be attenuated by 15dB at best. Thus, there are a great deal of unwanted frequencies all over the place.
    This may not be a problem for electronica/rave sound, but is undesirable in many applications.
  15. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    You've stated with better clarity than I did. Thanks. I really hate reading posts like that as it only adds to common misconceptions and poor practices when it comes to proper bi-amping. I also read about people that have the crossover and amps part right, but then send the signals to two cabs of similar style. Ugghhhh.........
  16. fokof

    fokof One day ,I'll be in the future

    Mar 16, 2007

    In those cases it's either no Monitoring ( really quiet/small ) or IEM.
    I also have a Mackie SRM450 wich I could use as a monitor.
    It doesn't get much love anymore since I bought the RCF's.

    Another big advantage with a setup like this is you can have a feed from a FOH/Monitor console and just "sum" that and the bass signal. Vocals will sound amazing in your bass amp !:hyper:
  17. So what isn't working for you? I as mention I use a bass driver like a sansamp I go direct to channel 4 the tower
    picks up the highs and mids the the crossover kicks the lows into the 3 subs. So I have sub lows shaking the place and clean as a mp3 player mids and highs pumping from the tower The Bose system I am using is rated at 250 watts.
    The bass driver amp sim allows me to dial in what i am looking for and sends a wet signal to the tower. Anyone who has heard my set up live keeps looking for my amp they can't believe the bass sound I am getting from the Bose setup. I have no reason to go back to a bass amp on stage.
  18. So can I at least get a decent bass sound by using a powered sub and a top? I already have powered EV tops and need a sub for some other stuff.....wondering if I could just use a top and sub for my bass rig....which right now is 100% used at home as I don't gig right now. Then I can get rid of my 810 cab. I don't need big gear anymore.
  19. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Absolutely, a top plus sub works great for bass.
  20. Even for 5 strings?

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