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Wall of 10s no longer the standard? Have the rules changed?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jnprather, Sep 26, 2005.

  1. Hey guys,

    Bill Fritzmaurice made a post in another thread here regarding speaker/cabinet choices/sizes that got me thinking about something i've noticed on talkbass lately. I figured it was worth a new thread as I didn't want to intrude on the other thread that isn't directly related.

    A quick background on my own bass amp progressions. My first 'larger' bass amp was an SWR Super Redhead maybe 6 years ago. I added a Goliath III (4x10) shortly thereafter. Eventually I upgraded to an SM-900 and searched far and wide for another cabinet, trying every configuration in existence. In the end I ended up with another Goliath III (4x10) as it was by far the best sounding and loudest complement for another 4x10.

    I know from reading and from older bass player I know personally that speaker configurations for bass players went crazy in the experimentation department in late 60s and early-mid 70s trying bigger and bigger speakers and cabinets and some crazy designs. Eventually people discovered at some point that a wall of 'smaller' speakers (Ampeg 8x10) was the way to go, and that became the standard for years.

    I remember looking wide-eyed at the Big Ben 1x18 and other larger speaker cabinets (2x15, 1x15, 2x12, etc) and thinking "ooohhhh more low end". Without fail, of course, I would try them out and be treated to a dull, boomy, muddy mess (compared to a wall of 10s anyway). Bi-amping helped but still left something to be desired. Nothing gave the same kind of smooth, even response across all ranges that a wall of 10s did.

    As little as a few years ago when I was still building my rig, the conventional wisdom among experienced, bass players was that in the end, bi-amping and larger speakers just weren't up to the standard of the trusty 8x10 or 6x10 or 4x10 stack. In addition, there was good science to back up the idea that this would never happen (A wall of 10s can actually produce low frequencies as well as a single 18, crossover points for bi-amping will always cause a dip in frequency response that's crucial for a live sound, etc).

    Anyway, as i've been paying attention to talkbass more lately, after not reading much for a couple of years, i've noticed changes in the conventional wisdom in everything (basses, pickups, preamps, you name it). I think those things are so subjective that they are always pretty cyclical, but i've also noticed a big change in how people talk about speaker cabinets as well. Among the more cutting edge gear-heads around here, suddenly im hearing people swear by their Bergantino 1x12s, 2x15s, their Aguilar 2x12s, etc.

    The "I use my Eden 2x10/4x10 for small gigs) has been replaced by "I take my Aggie 1x12, and when I need more power I bring the 1x15 too and it sounds great! Also, I hear people absolutely *raving* about their Accugrooves El Whappo and Whappo Jr cabinets, cabinets that have multiple sized speakers in one cabinet.

    This makes me wonder if the rules have changed regarding speaker cabinets. Are we on the edge of a huge leap in bass speaker cabinet design? Is the wall of 10" speakers going to become a thing of the past. In 10 years, are we going to be sitting around choosing between different manufacturers' Accugroove clones? Could it be that these advanced designs are just in the reach of the gear heads and will carve out their niche but are too expensive (or whatever) to ever become the workhorse for the majority of bass players like the 10" stack did?

    Sorry for the length of the post, but I think it's an interesting topic and worth dicussion. What do you guys think?

  2. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Man, great question! I'm no expert in this field but I can tell you that I've gone from a 4x10 and 1x15 stack to a 2x10 and 1x12 stack and recently downsized that to just one 2x12 cab (Aguilar). Guess what? I'm not really missing much other than saving my back. I also downsized my heads from a 75+ lbs rack down to a 55ish lbs rack and just recently dropped down to a 25ish lbs rack (again, Aguilar). I'm not missing much there either. Fact is, I don't seem to need big and heavy gear to still make big sound anymore. I think that technology has really come thru for bass players (Neo magnet speakers, class D and T heads, etc). Why kill yourself hauling big gear when you don't have to? This is especially appreciated when unloading after a gig at 3 a.m.!
  3. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I still love my 10"s... but now I love Neo 10"s even more (both sound and weight). Some of the new 12 cabs are also wonderful.
  4. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    moi aussi,

    i've tried most every other cab out there, by some terrificly reputable makers, and i STILL come back to 10" cabs, i.e. Epifani UL310, Acme B2, B4, and my new love, the EA NL210.

    nothing punches, cuts, and slams you in the chest w/ proper EQ'ing like a set of 10" speakers.

    but i gotta say, an Aguilar DB750 w/ a GS 212 is PURE sweetness. :cool:
  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I think 10s became the rage because they were quick. You could get that punchy sound from them. 15s were the original standard because of their frequency response.

    The 12 was always compromise in the middle.

    But, today, with advancing research in both speaker and cabinet design, alternative contruction materials and huge amounts of power being readily available (a 1K head is nothing these days), you can make a 12 that is quick like a 10 but hits fat like a 15.

    I still like 10s, but I have played a 212 or two that sounded great.
  6. Fawkes007


    Sep 13, 2005
    SF Bay Area
    OK, kiddies, I've been playing bass since before most of you were born, and back in MY day, we didn't have your lightweight NEO speakers, which reduced your cabinet weight, saving your back (not to mention your nuts), that could easily fit into the trunk of a Honda Accord! That's right! Back in my day, we had HUGE 18 inch woofers in folded horn enclosures that weighed half a ton and threw the sound wave so far and wide ya couldn't hear nothin' unless you were standing 100 yards away! And ya had to rent an 18 wheeler to get the cabinet to the gig! That's right! We didn't have ten inch speakers in sealed enclosures that sound tight and punchy while not sacrificing the low end! If ya wanted tight and punchy, ya had to go mouth off to the biggest guy in the bar! He'd put you in a tight headlock and punch your lights out!

    So there we were, nothin' but a bunch of punch drunk bass players with bad backs playing through speaker cabinets the size of a two car garage and ya couldn't hear anything you were playing unless you were in the next county. But that's the way it was and we liked it! We loved it! Oh, happy day!
  7. I can certainly attest to what Quadzilla says. The largest stack I ever had was a 1x15 topped with a 2x10, and it sounded very good (I experimented with bi-amping, but got better low end going back to full range, which I'm an advocate of), and with my older Eden WT 800 it was even better; worked great for the largest gigs I ever ended up in. But I simultaneously had a 4x10 to choose from, and I gravitated toward that due to its solid sound capabilities and one-piece moving convenience, as well as how it fit into my small wagon with all the drummer's gear. I've gotten a little older, and lots of equipment is now out that can produce great sound with even smaller cabs, and amps with more watts out per pound. I decided to take the leap and just recently got two used Bag End S15-Ds, one the "X" model with the coaxial tweeter, as well as a new Gallien-Krueger 1001RB-II, and just had my first gig with it. It sounds different than my all-Eden 4x10 experience, but I tell you now, and you can think about it later, it sounds excellent, and is way easier to tote around. Fantastic! So there's more than one rationale behind how players scale their rigs, but I think the bottom line is how it sounds (and covers the gig), and what the tradeoffs are regarding that versus portability and cost. But it's a good time to be a bass player, for sure.
  8. Blues Cat

    Blues Cat Payson Fanned Bass Strings Owner Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 28, 2005
    Katy, Tx
    Payson Fanned Bass Strings Owner
    I went from SWR 410 to Carvin BRX12neo & the twelves actually sound better, go lower & are felt by people farther away from the cab. They're both around 83lbs. I was told by a friend who has the Celinder, DB728, Demeter pre, compulator & EA cabs that 12s were good for mid only & wouldn't go low, man was he wrong. He now has a EA12 wizzy.

    I never thought I would have been a 12" guy, but after hearing them (neo), I don't think I can go back.

    I have two 1980 JBL 15" E-140-8s sitting in my closet & was looking for a cab for them but after reading up on the suggested uses & cab demensions I would need to get the low end out of them, I think I'm going to put them in two 1x15" Fender style cabs & use them for guitar.
  9. Fawkes007


    Sep 13, 2005
    SF Bay Area
    OK, in all seriousness, I will never buy a speaker larger than 12's ever again. Though I don't think I'll be running 8's anytime soon.

    Even in the audiophile market, home stereo speakers have gotten smaller, more efficient, and better sounding. The trend is towards more speakers in a cabinet (years ago it was a woofer and a tweeter). In my home stereo system speakers have 3 six inch cones and a domed tweeter, and the bass response is UNREAL. Bigger doesn't always mean better.
  10. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Some people (like me) simply don't LIKE the sound of 10" speakers. I personally think most of them sound like ass, the Ampeg ones especially sound like mud (I've gotten more clarity out of an 18" black widow in a scoop cab!). Alot of it's personal preference, some is portability, some is technology. I just don't like the way 10s sound, period.
  11. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    LOL right on!

    I think when you are in a playing situation where you need a wall of sound, you need a wall of cabinets. I just upgraded to a sort of high end 2x4x10 setup and the tone and presence of it is just incredible.

    For what I do, I couldnt possibly get by with the fanciest 1x10 stacked on a 1x12. It would also look ridiculous on stage, and sound like a whisper next to the drums and guitar stacks.

    Maybe down the line, the full stacks will be made of Neo 2x12s. I;d love to try out a GK Neo full stack, or the Mesa Powerhouse 4x12.
  12. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Dude we must have been born in the same year! I remember when any respectable bass player played with no less the 4x15's. That's two 2x15 cabs laying on top one another. All bass players had full size vans or cars that could fit 4 bodies in the trunk comfortably. when the Acoustic and Ampeg stuff became popular it just meant you could get away carrying one less cab. I laugh today when bassplayers bitch and moan about cutting through the mix, Hell there was no mix back then it was turn up the knobs and watch the speakers dance! like he said above, you couldn't hear squat on the stage but nobody stood in front of your amp either! Those were the day's!
  13. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    Been playing since '73! My first rig consisted of a 2x15 Traynor cab! Had many other rigs but always had to have 15's! Until 2002! Tried a 2x10 and was hooked. I could actually hear some clarity in my playing!! Used in conjuntion with a 1x15. Sold the 1x15 and bought a 1x12 and have never been happier! I think the technological trend will advance just a little more where you'll see 1x10/1x12 stacked rigs on the norm! Except for Metal bands who'll always utilize a wall of sound for ear splitting volume! :D
  14. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    Hey DWBass, who's this. Here's a hint "super rod"
  15. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    His bassplayer used 2 Acoustic 360's on stage!
  16. Thanks for the replies guys.

    I guess using the term "wall of 10s" over and over made it sound like I was focusing on the overall size of rigs. Really, what I was thinking about when I made the original post was simply speaker size and bi-amp/full range configurations, that being that a full-range setup utilizing only 10" speakers was always the standard and it seems that other speaker sizes and non-single-cone-size setups have started to gain more popularity.

    Maybe there is a point though that larger speakers *do* allow you to get a better sound from a smaller/lighter setup, which is why they are gaining popularity (a 1x12 is better than a 2x10 maybe?), but that 10" speakers are still the way to go for a full-sized stage rig.

    That's possible, but then I would point to the numerous review of Accugroove cabinets on this forum claiming that they not only sound better but also play louder and bring a bigger more room-filling sound in comparison 4x10 or larger 10" setups.

    Anyway, thanks again for the replies.

  17. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    I went through a "12" period for a while, and although they aren't bad, I've found myself going back to a "wall of 10s". I've never played through a cab I like any better than my Bergantino NV610.
  18. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Interesting post. The Accugrooves sound great. I like my Epi410UL better
  19. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    What you also have to remember is that 10s didn't really come of age until the later 80s. Before then, not many bass amps had 10s except the notorious SVT and some Bassmans. Even the Ampeg V4B had a 118 folded horn! Most cabs used in louder gigs were folded horns (15s or 18s), the better of which had other non folded speakers as a sort of monitor along with the folded horns. Specifically, I'm thinking of the Acoustic amps. Into the 90s, SWR and later Eden popped up and focused on 10s like the infamous SVT cabs, but these new cabs had focus instead of Ampeg warmpth (mud). In recent years, the focus has been less on the hi-finess of SWR and such and more on classic tubey warmph, which many have discovered sounds great through 12s. That said, in modern times any size speaker can sound like anything depending on its design and the cab design.
  20. zipflint


    Sep 25, 2005
    Spartanburg, SC
    I feel like I'm maybe beating a dead horse (great 1st post, eh?) but even after reading all these posts and many other threads, I've got a few issues that I just can't get thru my thick skull.
    Is it sensible to think that, given the same head (let's say an Ampeg SVT-CL, cuz I like tubes) an 810 Ampeg fridge would sound more "loud" than, say, an Ampeg 410HLF paired with a 115 cab?
    On the other hand, would you maybe get....more tonal range and better response from the 410 and the 115?
    Or am I just plain wrong?

    I'm using those particular heads/cabs as a reference mainly because I hope to buy one or the other sometime soon. I'm pretty much settled on the SVT-CL (or maybe the SVT-AV? I don't really see what the difference is between these two). After fooling around with the 810 and the 410HLF at GC I was left kind of befuddled. Basically, I just couldn't decide.
    (incidently, I fell in lust with the Bongo I was using during this test drive. I'm still set on a Rickenbacker4003....I think.)