WAY UnderPower

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by FletchPNW, Feb 6, 2023.

  1. FletchPNW


    Feb 6, 2023
    Ok guys - so I know this topic has been beat to death many times over but bear with me here - I can't seem to find a topic that has this specific setup. I have a Hartke HD410 (1000w) and Hartke HD115 (500w) stacked. I've been using an LH1000 and running them in parallel. I know it's slightly underpowered already but for my purposes, it doesn't matter. I haven't gigged in years and even if I did, this is more than enough for any small venue I'd play.

    But - it's WAY too much power for my little bedroom I jam in. Like - volume at 1 (not 1 o'clock - 1) is pushing the volume barrier and it's barely cutting the amp on. So I bought a LX5500 (500w). If I run it into my 115, it's a perfect match so no issues there. Except I really love my 410s. If I run it just into my 410s (1000w cab), while it's underpowered by half, it still has more than enough volume with plenty of headroom to spare for my small room. (The amp is 4ohms and each cab is 8ohms so resistance is good.)

    Just for giggles, I ran both the 410 and 115 in parallel pushed by the LX5500 and quite frankly - it sounded freakin' amazing. The horns are pushing/brighter a little more than usual, but I can cut those back with the switch in the back of each cab.

    So here's my question - my rep at Sweetwater practically yelled at me when I told him that this was my plan. He said it was stupid, especially running them in parallel, because it was severely under-powering both cabs. I wanted everyone's thoughts on this set up and if I'm at danger of blowing or hurting anything. My sweetwater guy basically said I was an idiot and I'll be honest, I'm not savvy on all this stuff and maybe I am? I know most here argue that under-powering is a "myth" so long as I'm not pushing my amp to the point of no return, but even with the 500w going into a combined 1500w of cabs, the gain is about half way up, the master at 9:30, and the clip light never comes on. It sounds best with both cabs running, has plenty of volume and headroom, but like I said (and my sweetwater guy rammed into me), it's "severely" under-powered.

    I don't have the cash to invest in more gear right now so...

    Thanks in advance.

  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    You can turn down as much as you want, with no danger to the amp or cabs.
    KaraQ, mdalamond, Zbysek and 34 others like this.
  3. Just because you have speakers that may handle the power they claim, doesn't mean you should or need to run them flat out.
    I would suggest the salesman is the idiot.
    bobomatic, KaraQ, mdalamond and 31 others like this.
  4. FletchPNW


    Feb 6, 2023
    Thanks - I won't be buying from him anymore.
  5. Clark Westfield

    Clark Westfield Floyd Pepper is my mentor!

    Jan 30, 2012
    Central New Jersey
    I run a Hartke TX600 head or a Tech21 VT500 head into a 4 ohm 810 and it blows the ceiling tiles off the dam roof.

    Had a gig Saturday and took my 410 and it was plenty of punch with a loud drummer.

    That 500 head will provide 250 watts to each cab.

    How much volume are you looking for, because with those cabs you’ll have plenty of volume and punch.
    FletchPNW likes this.
  6. FletchPNW


    Feb 6, 2023
    The 500w running to both cabs is WAY MORE volume than I need, so I'm plenty happy with the volume aspect of it. I'm still barely turning the thing up, but I'm able to open it up more than the LH1000. It sounds amazing in the small room I'm in and I still have the LH1000 for bigger venues if I need it. Thing is - both my cabs are rated at 8ohms and the amp is 4 ohms. So I'm not getting the full 500 even when I plug it into the 410 b/c it's 8ohms. I think I let the sweetwater guy get into my head because of how aggressive he was with his displeasure of what I was trying to do. Like I said - the 410 and 115 combo pushed with the 500w sounds amazing.
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  7. Two 8 ohm cabs on an amp rated for 4 ohm minimum is close to ideal.
  8. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I'm very surprised that sales rep at Sweetwater is so uninformed and absolutely technically wrong about something so fundamental - that is quite unusual IME. However, if he was right (and trust me he's not), that would mean every speaker cabinet in the Sweetwater warehouse which is at the moment in a box with no power on it (the ultimate underpowering of a cab) is self destructing.

    There are very few 100% certainties in this world, but I'm 100% sure every engineer and technician I know would laugh out loud at the idea of underpowering (as used in this context) damaging a cab. You are fine...enjoy your gear and get another Sweetwater rep. Paul Allen is the gent who helps me at Sweetwater and he's exceptionally competent.
    mdalamond, Ewo, DwaynieAD and 20 others like this.
  9. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    You could just dime it and be “too loud” because that’s “too awesome”.
    DwaynieAD, Pi_Husky, MrLenny1 and 2 others like this.
  10. FletchPNW


    Feb 6, 2023
    Thank you! I'll ask for him next time. I couldn't imagine how it could hurt the cab - just didn't make sense to me. I guess my concern was more the amp, but again - if the impedance is spot on and I'm not pushing the amp to it's max, I don't have any clue how that could happen either. I think these guys sometimes are just trying to up-sell you. He was rude as hell about it too. Whatever. Thanks for the feedback!
    BlueTalon, Al Kraft and byacey like this.
  11. FletchPNW


    Feb 6, 2023
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  12. bherman

    bherman Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Sounds like it works so don't worry about it. But honestly if all you are doing is playing in a bedroom and you have some cash, just buy a really small class D head (like a Trace Elliott Elf) and jam away. Around $200 used, use it to power one or two cabs if it makes you happy. Either way its massive overkill so might as well enjoy it.
    FletchPNW likes this.
  13. InhumanResource

    InhumanResource Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2012
    Bucks County, PA
    There is no such thing as under powering. You might be surprised at how loud that stack gets with an even smaller amp.
  14. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    My first band, I played through a couple 115 cabinets, and had a 90 watt head. It was a rock band, It was loud. I got tinitus. I never ran out of power. I could always be heard. I was sometimes asked to turn down.

    The idea that 500 watts is not much power is BS - with reasonably efficient cabinets, you don't need anywhere near as much power as you might think. And there is not such thing as "underpowering" a cabinet - if it goes loud enough for your needs, you have enough power.
  15. darwin-bass

    darwin-bass Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Salem OR
    I had to read your OP a few times. I think I spot something.

    Your do NOT have to match the power ratings on cabs and amps. At least not like you said. A 500 watt speaker does not need a 500 watt amp. Running a 500 watt amp into a 1000 watt speaker is not under powering the speaker. That's now how any of this works.

    Amps power ratings are max output ratings. Amplifiers are variable power output devices. With the volume down really low they'll produce less than 1 watt of output power. As you turn them up, their power output increases up to their max output rating. So a 500 watt amp being run a 1/4 volume may be producing 10 watts of power.

    Speaker cab watt ratings are the max power the cab can handle. There is no damage feeding less power into them, only feeding more.
    ashtray, DwaynieAD, Pi_Husky and 4 others like this.
  16. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    I noticed you joined TalkBass today to ask a question about a topic that has been “beat to death”, which seems to indicate you have read a great deal on the topic of “under powering” speakers. Every thread I’ve ever read on TB regarding “under powering speakers” says the same thing; there is no such thing. Speaker power ratings are the max power handling of the speaker, not the power requirement.

    This topic has indeed been beat to death, and you know that by your own admission & by your own description. So, what’s really up with your post?
  17. Is it possible you misunderstood him? There is no harm in doing what you are doing. I got several cabs and amps and mix it up all the time. Just make sure you don’t go under 4 ohms and I could be wrong but I bet your head is closer to 350 watts at 8 ohms. You don’t want to run a solid state head on full blast in general and it sounds to me like you are not and don’t need to. I’m assuming the Sweetwater person is new or misinformed. I read the manual for your amp and it doesn’t warn against it at all.
    Element Zero likes this.
  18. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    I wish this under-powering myth would die…
  19. willsellout

    willsellout I apologize in advance. Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2002
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Your sales engineer is an idiot and you should immediately request someone else. I'm amazed they are still teaching this s#!t at sweetwater university.

    No as long as you pay attention to your gear. You could hurt gear in a lot of ways if you treat it improperly but with what you are describing, you should be completely fine.

    I'm honestly surprised to hear this but this guy seems to want to sell stuff more than help his customer. Disregard whatever they said and request a new sales person immediately. I have recommendations for people I trust there if you'd like to hear them. Feel free to PM me.

    Side note: As a former Sales Engineer at Sweetwater, which is a hilarious term in and of itself considering what most of them do, realize that the majority of these people have no idea what they are talking about at a minimum of 75% of the time. These folks come from a variety of backgrounds and most of those backgrounds do not involve the bass guitar. I have a lot of thoughts on Sweetwater in general, not all positive, but the best way to buy from them is to find a person who you click with. Your current SE isn't someone worth hanging onto and you can request to be transferred to someone else. They don't like it, but they are there to work for you. All of the emails of their higher ups are on their website. Email any one of them and tell them your experience and request a transfer. Your emails will be transferred to their customer service team and appropriate action will be taken.

    Although I wouldn't email Jeff Radke because he is the type of guy who has the license plate "Rckroll" and gets upset when people send him Rickroll emails...

    Good luck and rock on.
  20. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    ...and while a slow, painful death is what it deserves, we'd all be better off it would just die quickly! :)