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Teach me something about playing "low"

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Crescent Seven, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. Crescent Seven

    Crescent Seven Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2005
    Lakewood, CO
    So, I'm finding myself tuning my 5 string ADGCF, and I'm playing through a PV1820, but it's muddy.
    Now, I'm going for "low", but is low necessarily about the fundamental, is it? The reason I'm asking is, I'm designing a 1x18 cab to go as low as possible, and I stopped myself, thinking "do I REALLY need this cab to play flat to 30hz?" I see alot of guys with 8x10's that sound just as low.
    I realize my question isn't really a question, really, but enlighten me about the "sound" of low, and it's reproduction.
  2. I probably can't be too helpful, but I can tell you that your brain can and will "fill in" the fundamental for you even if it isn't actually audible. The harmonics present in a low B signal are not the same as in a B at the 2nd fret of the A string. Even with no fundamental present from the low B, it will sound "lower" than the B played an octave higher.

    As such, it is not particularly important for your speakers to go down to 30 Hz or whatever number people like to shoot for. An Ampeg fridge can't even make the fundamental for a low E, but it still sounds huge. I can't say if your giant 1x18 cab is worth building, but it might be fun for you to try.
  3. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Just as well. 18s don't go any lower than 15s anyway, and they need too large a box. You don't need to go flat to 31Hz, flat to 50 Hz is quite sufficient. Tens won't do it, though. A 15/8 and possibly tweeter as well is your best bet.
  4. I am just curious where everybody is getting their info on speakers. specifically 18" not going any lower than a 15" and 8x10 not being able to reproduce a low e.
  5. jsbach1982


    Feb 11, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    If you really wanna know, look up "The Loudspeaker Design Cookbook" on amazon.com or at a local bookstore. Will answer all your questions and more.

    Short answer: the frequency response (how "low" a speaker will go) depends on a lot of factors, the driver size by itself has almost nothing to do with it. There are 6" subwoofers out there that will go lower than an 18" PA woofer, it all depends on how the speaker itself is designed.

    An 8x10 will reproduce the low 'E' just fine, I'm sure you've heard this yourself before. However, the very lowest bit of the sound will not come out as loud as it is going into the speaker. Not a big deal in most cases.

  6. Crescent Seven

    Crescent Seven Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2005
    Lakewood, CO
    I just bought a GK1001rbII, more than doubling my wattage from the Ashdown, and I made a pleasant discovery: the Homebrew 15 with the Peavey Scorpion spanked the heck out of the 18" in my 1820. The 18 was flopping around like a dying fish, while the 15 (when coupled with my B210 Delta) was tight and responsive, and LOUD.:D
    This is a 180* shift from the sound of the Ashdown; the BW18 preferred less power I guess.

    Now I'm thinking of 2x12's...the 15 sounds good, but you can tell it's working its butt off to do it. Maybe a nicer 15...:meh:

    I'm running speakers through winISD, and it seems that a single Eminence Delta12LF goes lower than a pair of them. Maybe I entered the numbers in wrong...:D
    Thanks for the info gentlemen.
  7. paulraphael


    Apr 13, 2006
    If you heard me play, you'd stop reading what I write.
    Exactly right. I've heard a number of hi fi speakers with 6" to 8" drivers that are -3db at 20hz. The catch is that they tend to be huge, and they tend to be a fraction the efficiency of the typical bass cab. They're also a huge pain to set up ... if the room has any acoustical problems in the low frequencies, speakers like these will find them.

    Also, in my experience, the amount of energy being produced in the fundamentals has more to do with what you feel than with what you hear. 40hz is really very low. The ears are pretty insensitive in that range. But your ribcage picks up those frequencies just fine.

    It's also worth noting that most bases put out more energy at the second harmonic (or first overtone) than they do at the fundamental.
    If you want to be heard, the last thing you need to worry about is the fundamental--that low low range is all about being felt.
  8. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    You didn't. The size of the speaker is the second least reilable predictor of response, only wattage is worse.
  9. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I totally agree with your thesis that getting a good sound out of 'low B string and below notes' has very little to do with a cab 'rolling off' below the fundamental frequency of the note. Tuning a cab that way, by definition, results in very low efficiency, since your amp is trying to produce all those power sucking extremely low frequencies (below 40hz). These very low fundamentals can also end up sounding boomy and muddy out in the audience, and unless you have a very large box, IMO won't get to your audience anyway.

    The best B string sound I've ever heard live was through an Eden410XLT.... a four ten cab that had a published -3db roll-off of around 50. The B string notes came out punchy, clean, clear, loud.... like lower extensions of the E string versus that huge, overwhelming 'he's playing the B string' sound.

    Just IMO and IME....
  10. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I use the low range on my 5-string constantly, and play pretty aggressively. I use all 10's, and have my amp EQ'ed with a low bass cut, and lots of boosts in the mid range. I find that when you have enough speakers going at it, you get plenty of low bass just by cranking it up in general.

    Also, if you plan on playing low tuned music like that for the long run, I'd also suggest looking into 35" scale basses. They have a bit more tension on the strings, allowing the low notes to stay a bit more defined.
  11. Crescent Seven

    Crescent Seven Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2005
    Lakewood, CO
    I'm playing a 35" Spector and I'm loving the longer scale. I think I'm going to rock the 15+210 for a while to see if it's enough, and I'm going to replace the Scorpion with something a bit more bass-oriented, and slap the Scorp in a monitor or something.
  12. ibz


    Apr 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    Yes, a balanced sound from string to string, is more pleasing and musical sounding to me. But your cab is only part of this equation, you got eq setttings, amp make, strings, bass make, ect.
  13. My question was more rhetorical. If people looked up the specs, an ampeg 8x10 has usable low freq to 45hz or so, a 15 goes to about 38 and their 18" goes to 28hz. I have done sound for a heavy metal band whose bassist was trying to "get under" the guitars. He went from an 8x10 SVT. to an 18" and 4x10, but came crawling back to the 8x10. They just project bass! I think its a combination of compliance, line array properties or having 8 acoustic centers as opposed to only one or two. Either way, they have no problem reproducing B's and C's even if the 18's have better response. BTW has anybody tried teh Ampeg 18? It sounds like the amp is in the other room? IMHO that Ampeg cabs are lacking in mid anyway, but the 18 is hollow.
    PS. sorry about the weak link to Ampeg. Their site doesnt change the address as you go to different links.
  14. Crescent Seven

    Crescent Seven Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2005
    Lakewood, CO
    This is why I'm going away from the 18". I was loud and low, but the only way you could distinguish what notes I was playing was to focus your attention on your liver and pick up the reverberations.:D
    I like low, but I need it to thump, not WHOOOOM.
  15. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Sort of. The 8x10 would have the advantage is in the 2nd harmonics, which not only are higher in intensity than the fundamentals, they are also easier to hear. Reference the Fletcher-Munson curves.
  16. reference them? I have them tattooed on my inner thigh!
  17. Crescent Seven

    Crescent Seven Supporting Member

    Oct 27, 2005
    Lakewood, CO
    I tell you what, that Scorpion 15 the tuned box I built has FAR more low end thump than that 1820 ever dreamed of having, and the Scorpion isn't even a fantastic bass driver. I understand now what you guys mean about not needing to meet the fundamental.

    I've seen the frickin' light, man. I'm getting a 4x10 to add to the 2x10 and I'm DUNN!:mad:
    Thanks for the educashin.;)
  18. Okay I was being glib about the Fletcher Munson curve reference. Psychoacoustically speaking the human ear is more sensitive to sound as the frequency rises, until you get to about 4k or so then the sensitivity starts falling off.
    I understand what you mean about 2nd harmonic, which is just double the frequency of the fundemental. Lately so many guitarists have 7 strings roaring thru triple recs, I found I can only compete by going clean and hitting real low notes that a guitarist can only dream of. But it is true that it is almost impossible to hear a low B, C or D fundemental. You are hearing the partials and feeling the fundemental. Still I like that THX thing.
  19. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    i thought it was horrible for low B'ness. then again, my acme b4 does spoil me. :p
  20. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    It's much different 50 feet out IMO:D I also thought the Acme's sounded great 'near field' and that the Eden XLT's sounded a little compressed in the very low end. That all changed when I heard various versions of these rigs at high volume out in the crowd.... the Eden low B string notes were punchy, you could hear each and every nuance and actually could hear the tonal center of the note, and the B string didn't sound so huge.... just sounded like the E string going lower.

    I do understand you can get that with the Acme by using a filter to eliminate that 'under 40 hz rumble', and many have very positive results doing that. Also, obviously.... all great sounding.... just some personal taste and preference involved here. I greatly prefer the sound of the lowest notes on a 5 string when they don't bloom so much and sound more like an even extension of the instrument. Of course, this has to do with the player, the EQ, and bass, the strings, etc.... but the Eden's out in the audience almost never sound bad to me.

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