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"Tight and Punchy" vs. "Supportive Pillow"

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by CH Design, Mar 20, 2009.

  1. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    It seems as though bass amps these days fall into two distinctly different categories in terms of tone. You have the "Tight and Punchy" amps that don't usually have a lot of low end (probably due in part to smaller cabinets with large speakers) but have solid low mids and cut really well (i.e. think Schroeder). Then you have the more hi-fi sounding amps that have a much wider sound (deeper lows, more even mids and pristine highs) and tend to fill out the bottom more than cut through (think Epifani). There are a number of amps and cabinets that people have lumped into one group or the other. Does anyone think that there are amp/cab combinations out there that can cover both ends of the spectrum reasonably well? My iAMP/Schroeder do tight and punchy very well, but doesn't have a lot of true low end. The LMII/ Epi UL310-S2 that I had a while back had a very full and rich tone, but not so much punch. Has anyone found something that will do both (as opposed to being something in between the two)?
  2. This is the way I think about cab voicing also, and I agree with your Schroeder and 310UL examples as pretty good examples of the extreme ends of the continuum.

    There are a number of cabs that I am familiar with that sit nicely between these two voicings IMO and IME.

    - Bergantino AE cabs, a bit more toward the 'tight and punchy' end of the continuum, but still pretty even with plenty of reall low end wump. I'd put the HS410 in that category also.

    - The EA NL210. This is a love/hate with me for a number of reasons, but it really does that 'punchy, articulate but still full sounding' thing very nicely to my ear

    - TecAmp cabs. I'm only familiar with the s212 (which has undergone some changes since I got mine). Similar to the NL210, tight, punchy, but very even with nice low end extension that is not pillowy, but still full.

    - Genz Neox112.... similar to the Berg AE voicing to my ear... punchy but very full for a 112. I assume the 212 version is similar, but I haven't heard that.

    - Aguilar DB112 x 2.... still one of my favorite tones... big and deep like the GS's with all the punch of a Schroeder if you want it. A bit too heavy for me personally, but they KILL IMO and IME.

    - Eden 212XLT... similar to the DB cabs, punchy and mid present while still kicking some low end booty!

    IMO... many more examples, but those are ones I'm very familiar with.
  3. Tunaman


    Dec 26, 2004
    I like this question...
    "Clean Monitor" like cab can be added to general descriptions I've heard for cabs too
    Any others?
    I wonder what description is frequently used for the cab sound you are looking for, it may be hard to classify under the "2 word only" labels
  4. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    IMO, the LMII is a great sounding head, but lacks the power to provide that punch you may be describing. The Schroeder and Epi cabs are both great and should be able to deliver all you'd desire if paired with a good head with more headroom than the LMII.
  5. stflbn


    May 10, 2007
    Definitely "Tight and Punchy" for me. I'll let the kick-drum have the Pillowy sonic area. LowMid's belong to me.

  6. Edit: I first posted that I totally disagree with the above, but I agree in general that massive power can, in some cases, really change the voicing of a cab (i.e., like dialing in a ton of deep low end with a lot of watts to 'open up' the smaller Schroeders). However, the general inherent voicing of the cab is still there, and I would choose to find a cab with a voicing I like, rather than try to muscle the cab into doing something that it wasn't particularly voiced to do.

    I agree though, that a powerful and deeply voiced head like the iAmp800 or Epi502 can really spread out the low end of a Schro 1212 or 1210.
  7. pedalguy1


    Jun 3, 2008
    Riverton Utah
    I think if the cab is ported or not plays a big role too. I play in a power metal band with with two sealed Ampeg 410's. I dont get too much low end, but the guitar player boosts his so i tend to focus on my mids and can get a geddy-esque tone to cut through.
  8. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    I don't know that I agree - my Epi 2x10 can get plenty tight but puts out mondo bass... Newer to my rig is an Aguilar 2x12 for bigger rooms (I have yet to crank that dog up, but I'm pretty confident it will be good to go).

    Now, I've had issues with 15" speakers in the past - that they do indeed lack 'punch' - that's why I have played 10"s & 12"s for years. I would be interested to hear feedback from anyone who has a 15" rig they feel is punchy - what brand/amp/etc.
  9. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    Thanks for all of the comments. I'm not really asking for something that fits in the middle of two extremes that I have described though (which I think is where most Berg and Genz cabs would fit). I'm wondering if anyone has found something that can do both.

    For example (and I'm just guessing here), in order to be able to get both tight/punchy and deep clear lows (not both at the same time, two different sounds), I think you need a very versatile head and a cab that naturally has a lot of low end. My reason for thinking this is that if you have a cab that's tight and not a lot of bottom, it doesn't matter how you set your EQ, you just aren't going to get a lot of really clear low end. If the cab isn't designed to reproduce the low frequencies, boosting the low end on your amp isn't going to help. In order to get the same cab to sound tight and punchy, you would have to be able to cut some low end and boost the low mids with your head. Since most of the heads out there (or at least the ones currently being discussed on TB) have set frequency centers on the EQ, I don't know that they would be versatile enough. The only head that comes to mind would be an iAMP. They have a very versatile EQ and lots of headroom. I know they can do tight and punchy through the right cab, and I have read that they can be very wide and clear sounding through the more hi-fi sounding cabs, but if you play with the EQ, can you get a hi-fi cab to sound tight and punchy? I'm sure there are other heads that would work as well, but I am only familiar with the iAMP.
  10. allexcosta


    Apr 7, 2004
    I've been using a GK2000RB with a great assortment of Bergantino cabs for the best few years and if I had to mention one of my cabs that combines the best of both worlds, that'd be the HT212. A pair of HT115's is amazing as well... The mini-stack HT112+EX112 sounds very punchy and mid-voiced, but lacks some pillow. HT115+EX112 is surprisingly good... And yes, a 1000W head makes a difference...
  11. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    FG, I think you might be over-thinking this a bit... In a live performance, subtle variations of tone will be lost in the wash and what will cut through is your mids (particularly for, well, Fretless). I'm guessing you know this, so what you hear in the store or at home practicing bears little resemblance to what will be heard on stage - particularly if you are running through a PA!

    I think what you are looking for isn't a specific band so much as just "Good" - that is one thing that really seem to separate good gear from bad gear - the ability to deliver a broad spectrum of tone depending on your axe and how you EQ. I think it's safe to say that any respected cab maker will deliver on this: Epi, Genz, Aguilar, Eden, etc. Same with amps - and in fact, I think you really have more wiggle room with amps because a great cab can make a medocre amp sound nice, but a mediocre cab will ALWAYS sound mediocre (that's why I spend $$ on my cabs).

    On last thought: I bought a 2x12 recently because I wanted to be able to throw a bit more air around and yet maintain a good tight sound. I've had 15"s and never liked them - Get you a 2x12 from a respected builder and I'll bet you'll be a happy camper.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I like memory foam pillows. Tight, punchy and supportive.

    Seriously, just get something you like.
  13. Dan55


    Apr 26, 2006
    I just switched from running my GK 700RB II through 2 Aggie DB112s to a single Orange OBC115, I love the Aggies but wanted to pair down to being able to carry only one cab. The Orange is the punchiest 115 I've heard and still has a nice bottom end. First gig with the 115 is tonight, we'll see.

  14. CH Design

    CH Design Supporting Member

    Apr 25, 2007
    Ottawa, ON
    Agreed. The thing is, 99% of my playing is at home. I'm not a pro or even a semi-pro. I didn't intend this to be a "tell me what amp to buy to get this sound". I was just trying to see if anyone felt that certain amps/cabs could cover both ends of the spectrum.

  15. +1 to all the above. I too feel that cabs have much more impact on your tone than most ampifiers (unless you go to the extremes of comparing a very transparent solid state amp to an all tube amp that is specifically voiced to grind a bit.

    I myself have never been able to EQ two different cabs to sound identical. Some just sound better to me, and fit the 'tone in my head' with less fussing.

    I agree with you that most decent quality cabs (any gear for that matter) will work pretty well in a mix. I agree that a 20 year old Chevy will get you to work most days also, but that's kind of missing the point IMO:smug:

    I especially agree that rig tone in a solo playing situation at home versus gig performance in a mix have, at best, a low correlation. I've found that a cab that sounds just a touch 'overvoiced' in the mids at home tends to work quite well in the mixes I work in (pop/funk), and that the pure, even, wide, beautiful voicing that makes you want to weep for joy at home sometimes ends up sounding like you are playing out of a subwoofer with a tweeter on the gig!
  16. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    I love the Orange 1x15. Though I don't own one. I would own two if I was shopping.
    If you are playing with supportive "comfortable in their skin" musicians subtle changes in tone are quite noticeable unless too much volume and bad acoustics get in the way.
    If a cab can do all the frequencies well then you can eq. in the punch. Sometimes it's just reducing low bass.
    If you are careful and don't over eq., your rig can respond to your hand changes giving you punch down to dub bass all by hand placement and touch.
  17. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    I just got an NV610. Great great cab. Had it paired with a LMII. Really nice tone. Then I got a DB750 and it made a world of difference. You read a lot about cabs being 'opened up' with certain heads. That is exactly what the DB750 did for the NV610. I am a staunch believer in the concept of headroom, the more the better. The LMII just couldn't fill up the room the way the DB750 does. And that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be louder, although it definitely can and will do that. At comparable volumes, the DB750 somehow makes the bass sound like its throughout the room instead of just coming from the area where my cab is. For solo practicing it doesn't really matter. My TA501 and Berg HT/EX are more than enough for that and occasionally are appropriate for small, quieter gigs. For the rest of the time its all about the DB750 and NV610.
  18. +1, especially with a relatively low SPL sealed cab. I agree totally.
  19. Big String

    Big String Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2000
    Northwest Indiana
    I agree with much of what has been said and experienced.

    To add on to Sufenta's post.

    I own and LMII and DB750 (and M6) and I've owned many many cabs including the NV610 and NV215 both just killer IMO.

    Now, the DB750 kills with both those. I tried my LMII into the NV215 I had just before I sold it and it was spectacular! Almost didnt' sell it because of that. But, when I tried the LMII into my buddy's NV610 I was not impressed. Same thing happened with the TF550A I had, same results. So IMO the NV610 does better or opens up with a higher power amp and the NV215 does well with a nice 500w amp and even better with a higher power. So, all depends on what gear works or has some "synergy" even with like brands. Tough to try everything that everyone likes or dislikes...

    Also note, my pal had a Genz 1200 at the time an it rocked both NV's...
  20. the engine

    the engine Guest

    A sealed 4-10 and a ported 15 with any really nice head would go a long ways towards both/either/or. My backup rig is an SWR SuperRedhead on top with a Triad cab on bottom (Triad has a 15, a 10 and a horn). The way the rig was wired from the factory, it only sent 100 watts to the bottom cab (at 4ohms). I had it rewired to split the wattage between the 2-10's in the top combo and the bottom cab (225 watts to each). It does both REALLY well. I can shake the windows with low rumble or really punch it up with tight mids, OR I can clean up the mids AND throw out enough low down to black your eyes. I only switched it to my backup because I got a good deal on an Ampeg rig and I have gigged that SWR rig about 1000 times! It's a little beat up. Hope this helps.

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