The quest for consistent sound below E

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by shreave, Apr 24, 2004.

  1. shreave


    Jul 12, 2000
    Seattle. WA USA
    I been browsing speaker cabs on the Web with my new found knowledge of frequency response acquired at talkbass. I wanted to find a solution to my sound dropping off below E1 as I often need to detune to D1 (36.71 Hz according to this chart But I have just gotten more confused. Check this out:

    NV215: 37hz - 7khz
    HT322: 39hz - 18khz
    HT210: 36hz - 18khz

    Goliath III: -3dB @ 40Hz and 15KHz
    Goliath Jr.: -3dB @ 45Hz and 15KHz
    SOB 1X15: -3dB @ 45Hz and 15KHz

    I thought that larger speaker diameter would allow for lower freq response. What's up with that?

    edit: (Thanks Munjibunga!)

    Regardless, upon reading this excellent thread I'm blown away at the unique issues we as bass players have to deal with in regard to getting even sounding tones and perceived dB levels. This was never an issue for me until I began playing live in many different rooms. I understand that D1 and E1's fundementals emit less dB than their first harmonics. I'm not sure if the lack of preceived loudness is a result of this or not. All I know is when I play C2 it feels like I'm getting smacked in the back of the head!

    The conclusions I have come up with are these:

    -Every room is completely different and that it is impossible to get what I want all the time outside of pure luck.

    -I currently run a Goliath II rated at -6dB @ 40 Hz and 12KHz and switching cabinets will (mathmatically) have no effect on the issue I'm currently having. Unless of course I want to get a 15 and lug around two 90lb. cabs.

    -Switching from 10's to 12's or 15's will just present me with new problems associated with punch and attack.

    I am now wondering if maybe my 10 year old cab's speakers are just tired and ready to retire, and that's the reason they can't keep up when playing D1. I'm also wondering if possibly the added string travel resulting from lower tension when tuned down to D may be too much for my stock MIM Jazz pickups; but I'll tackle that in the other room.
  2. -I thought that larger speaker diameter would allow for lower freq response. What's up with that?-
    I've managed 30hz out of an 8" speaker once :D. It all comes down to the tradeoff between efficiency, low frequency extension, and box size. Most bass amp manufacturers opt for a loud cab that's relatively small, at the expense of low frequency extension.

    I suppose it's possible your old cab is dying a slow death. If that's the case, I hope it served you well over the years. Pretty insane, all the little audio nuances that keep us busy. If only one could bring perfect tone with them everywhere they played...
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Well, you thought wrong. Cripe. I wonder how many times we have to go over this. Almost universally, a 410 is going to give better bottom than a 115 or 215. I've posted Eden's specs on their cabs countless times, demonstrating the same results as your research. Fifteens are good for producing low mids (otherwise known as "muff"). I think my D-210XLT even has better bottom than my D-115XL.

    You must not have been around when we arrived at unanimous consensus here that 15's are tone-sucking muff monsters.
  4. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    This is true. To further illustrate, consider Phil Jones cabs. They're all 5" speakers, and they can get notes so low it'll make your bowels shake!:eek::D
  5. Corwin81


    Mar 18, 2003
    Ames, IA
    I've got a 1X15 and an 8X10 and have gotten good sound below E. It all depends on the EQ. I don't go for the extremely low rumble bass. I guess what I'm hearing is the first harmonic, but it sounds perfect in the mix. nice grunt.
  6. Please don't include me as part of your sweeping statement. If this were close to true, the PA guys would use 10s instead of 18s.

    Cheap 15s sound like ass. So do cheap 10s. And to be fair to Munji, I have not yet seen a 15" cab that is correctly enclosed. Most are stuffed into far too small a cab, and sound awful.

    For the record, I have a D410XLT that sounds like ass in the bottom end, because (by design) it is a gutless wonder below 60 Hz. The cab belongs to my daughter's bassist, and she drop tunes to D regularly.

    She is an unhappy camper because the loudness below A (55 Hz) is gone. Well, no sh!t... it's an Eden, and designed to have that huge, loud bark at 80 ~ 120 Hz. And gutless below that. As for sucking tone, when playing full range program material (CD) it sounds like screaming through a heavy, wet blanket. This coloration is applied as much to CD material as to the sound of your bass. And yes, it has brand new Eden drivers at the I had it on the test bench.

    For the original question, all your bass cabs are going to roll off as they go lower. This is a fact of life with cabs that make any appreciable amount of noise, and have to be somewhat portable. The only cabs that will give you a monster bottom are those with true subwoofers installed. These are enormously power hungry (I own 4) and don't make a whole lot of noise. For built in use, there are many subs that go way down and make lots of noise, but they require 20 to 30 cubic feet of cabinet volume.

    Four of my portable subs at 500w each deliver 121 SPL total at 1 meter. This means 4 cabs, and 2,000 watts. But... this is 121 SPL from 20 to 100 Hz. If you arrive at a show with a FOH guy and PA support, he is going to hate you. A lot. Your bottom will totally interfere with his PA support of your bass.

    IMO, the only real place for massive bottom is when playing outdoors without PA support. Most indoor venues are not treated at all for bass, and sound like it. A huge bottom in a typical bar, at typical too-loud rock levels, is a detriment. It muddies up the mix something awful. If you were playing a low level jazz thing, a tasty bottom all the way down would be nice.

    As for specs, Phil Jones is one of the VERY few that publishes measurements of his cabs. All the rest just crow about their specs and cabs, but never publish anything to back them up. Talk is cheap.
  7. Wow. What sort of band/venues do you play in?
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Some people say that feeshin' on Sunday's a sin,
    But if a feesh bite my line on a Sunday 'm'onna reel eem on in!

    Anyway, my D-410XLT does just fine on the B string. It's rated -6db at 31 hz, which works well for me. Maybe somebody put some Peavey speakers in your daughter's cab while she wasn't looking.
  9. It's far more likely you don't know -16dB from -6dB.

    No matter, you love the Edens, and I think think they suck for lack of bottom. Punchy, absolutely. Highly colored and muffled, absolutely. Big fat hump that cuts through, absolutely. But bottom? Absolutely not.

    And if you believe those -6dB specs at 31 Hz, then you are the fish on the line.


    I just finished with a 2x weekly band that ran 3 years. We played half bar gigs, and half outdoor gigs. The bar was easier, due to using a a modest 1x15 combo given to me by a friend. The outdoor things w/o PA support are much more demanding. Open air street gigs require a lot of bottom, since there isn't any bass reinforcement from inside walls.

    I took up briefly with another band that had sufficient PA for bass support. Multiple QSC and Crown amps (9,000 watts), 4 JBL 18" bass bins, JBL horns and mid-bass drivers. Klipsch secondary mains, a monitor for each player. Drummer was 100% miced with Audix D-series inside every drum, plus overheads. Bass was Countryman DI + Audix D2 in front of a very modest 10" rig. Everything went through the PA. 32-channel Mackie FOH and snake, with dedicated sound man.

    Downside is taking 3 hours for unload and setup. Band owns a large double axle trailer. All gigs were two-day events, as two+ hours required for loadout at the end of the gig. Four guys required to move the keyboard coffin built to hold multiple keyboards. Drummer has 12 pc, if I remember right.

    Pure overkill.
  10. karrot-x

    karrot-x Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Omicron Persei 8
  11. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    For me, this question resolves itself down to an entirely different question. Namely, "what's the application"?

    My experience (over thirty years as a bass player) has been that small speakers (and cabs) might do fine at low volumes or when you're listening to them "close up". But there's no way that 10" speakers are going to get the low frequencies "out there" into the audience with any level of authority. As far as I can tell, it's physically impossible.

    Remember that when you crank your bass amp, the low frequencies are going to want to travel "through the ground" to get from your amp to the audience. That takes a huge amount of juice, and any 10" speaker is going to be screaming in agony under those conditions. People's experiences with the Eden and that type of thing probably apply to indoor venues under normal playing/listening conditions. The same cab that sounds great under those conditions, will sound like complete sh*t when you take it outdoors and try to play for two thousand people.

    That's the tradeoff with 10's. When they get really loud, the bass frequencies drop way down in volume, relatively speaking. Don't believe me? Try it sometime. Take that 410XLT to the park, and see if it'll cut it with a loud drummer and a couple of Marshall stacks. An SVT cab will work fine under those conditions, but it won't have very much low end (it'll be right in the "woof" range that bgavin was talking about, and maybe that'll be fine for some purposes, but there's no way you'll be able to get a clean low B out of it at high volumes).

    My suggestion would be, supplement your existing rig with a couple of "big" (15" minimum, preferably 18") subs. That's what I do. The subs only get used for outdoor gigs, that's the only time they're necessary. Their purpose is to compensate for the loss of low frequencies at extremely high power levels when the smaller speakers are being taxed beyond their capabilities.
  12. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Perhaps, but I'd guess it'd be about 10dB. Anyway, when I play outdoors, I use the D-410XLT on stage, but go direct to the JBL 18" subs and 3-way JBL mains in the PA. A 215 cab isn't going to do any better than a 410 outdoors.
  13. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Well yeah, not if you're running most of your low notes out the house sub. But take the sub out of the equation, and think about it again. There's not a 4x10 in the world that's going to stand up to a nice Cerwin Vega 18 in a folded horn cab (like the old Acoustic 301 cabs).
  14. Speaking from my experience bi-amping with 18's and now using my Acme Low B-4 it does just that. I suppose the reason might be the addition of the 5" and 1" speakers to the equation (jk;-). It's not the 70's any more. Speaker technology allows for many things that weren't possible when you started playing bass. Modern materials and design allow for better coil control, longer throw, and higher power handling in smaller speakers. I don't doubt that your equipment does what you say, it's just that you no longer need huge subs as you so adamantly suggest. They will do the job but so will much smaller speakers in a well designed modern enclosure.
  15. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Well guyplaysbass, I certainly respect your opinion. I hear a lot of people saying the same thing, especially about those Acme low-B's. They must be nice cabs. Can't say for sure 'cause I've never seen one myself, so I'll reserve judgement.

    I can tell you two things for sure though, based on my personal experience. One is, I've tried the Eden 410XLT, and it behaves exactly the way I described. Indoors at any normal gig, or in a "small" outdoor venue, it'll do fine and it'll sound great. Take it to the park, and it won't even get out of the starting gate.

    The second thing is, I'm totally open minded when it comes to technology. I have no "theoretical" preference for an 18" cab, or a 4x10, or any other cab. All I care about is what gets the job done. In that context, I've tried "many" of the newer more modern cab designs, probably more than half of the various brands and models. I have yet to find a single 4x10 (of any vintage, or type) that can get those low frequencies up your pant legs like an 18 or a good 15 can. I don't mean to doubt your statements or your experience, I'm just sharing my own. It's purely practical, it has nothing to do with theory. My experience has been, that the big speakers work, and the small ones don't (no matter how many of 'em you can squeeze into an enclosure), when it comes to getting that butt shaking bottom end out into the audience.

    But, miracles happen every day, so I'll keep an open mind. I'd like to try that Acme low-B cab. Till then, people keep telling me stuff, and I keep trying it, and I keep going back to my favorite 15's. :)
  16. VicDamone


    Jun 25, 2000

    My 4-10" plays low B so good that I sold my subwoofer!

    Ever heard anybody say that? I haven't. While a sub system may not be practical for every situation there is simply no substitute for not only haveing a flat response past 50Hz but to have the ability to increase or decreas the gain in the subharmonic area.

    The problems with subs are:
    It's more gear.
    It can be big.
    It can be expensive.
    Players who don't use it are often jealous and will tell you you don't need it.
    You don't need it.
    You'll never want to play without it.
    Sound people with crapy gear will hate you.
    Sound People with good gear will tell you you don't need it
    and they'll prove it.
    You'll know what 31Hz realy sounds like.
    Over use can make you nauseous.
    You'll never want to play without it.
    You'll never want to play without it.


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    bgavin for President!!!


    PS: I love my 15's & 18's + my 10's too(great tweeter's)!
  18. Fair enough. There are no miracles to speak of though, just physics. I appologize if my statement came off a little harsh BTW. I suppose my whole point is that modern small speakers (if built "right") in a well thought out design can do everything an 18 or 15 can do. This can be achieved in a much smaller "footprint" on the stage as well. The little 78lb wonder that Andy Lewis cooked up is truely incredible. I was skepticle too before I tried one. It was not going to be easy to convince me that I didn't "need" my 18s any more.

    My first two gigs with the box were both out-doors, back-to-back. The first was a large stage in a local park with a large PA system (approx 2000 people). From out front (I run wireless) my bass sounded incredible. Afterwords, when I spoke with the FOH guys they told me the low end was all from my Acme. They had pulled me from the subs and the JBL tops out front were taking my signal from 100Hz up at a pretty low level. They both wanted Andys contact information.

    The next gig was a local roof top patio/bar (approx 150-200 people). We had our smaller PA (JBL 15s- Yamaha 12s) and once again (after trying it) there was no need to run into the PA. At 30' we were hitting 96db on the meter and the bass was full, deep, smooth, articulate, and balanced. The bassist from the opening band was baffled as was the engineer we'd hired to run sound. I must say as well that I was thoroughly impressed myself. So, if you've ever got a few hundred bucks laying around you might want to check one out.
  19. shreave


    Jul 12, 2000
    Seattle. WA USA
    Well, if I've learned one thing from this thread, it's that the tested frequency response of cabinets are no indicator of the perceived range of frequency output. The Low B-4 is rated at +/-3 dB 41Hz to 22 kHz -6 dB at 31 Hz. Testimony above however dictates that this is conservative to say the very least.

    I have never heard an Acme cab that I can remember but I'll be keeping an eye out for them at shows now. I am a bit inspired again, albeit trepedatious, to continue my search for the right cab. It looks like the two contenders I have in mind are a Bergantino 322 and Acme Low B-4.

    Everyone says the 322 totally kicks ass in every way a cab can kick ass, but will it solve my problem in projecting D1?

    The Acme will probably solve it, but will it do so at the expense of the in your face, raw mid-punch I've come to love from my SWR 4X10?

    Who knows...
    I'm guessing I'll be in this limbo for a while until I just spank the money down on one of these.
  20. I love my Acme. I tune my bass DGCF and I have no problems with projection of the fundamentals. Another cab I didn't see mentioned was the Accugroove El Whappo. This is where performance starts to be reflective in price. The Acme cabs are astounding for the price. The Accugrooves are just astounding... period.