What makes more of a difference, amp/preamp or cabinet?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bkchang79, Aug 8, 2002.

  1. I have a carvin stack at home that I don't want to bring to my apartment. When I was younger, I loved how loud it gets. But now I just want to get something that sounds alot better. How would the Carvin Pro 500 sound with an eden 4x10s?
  2. For me, cabinets are the big tone difference.

    I played various SWR, Ampegs, etc at the local GC, and they all sounded like bass amps. I was hoping to hear a dose of the famous "Ampeg grind" but it sounded the same as the others.

    The SWR were more shrill sounding, especially through SWR speakers. Both had a lot missing from the bottom (I admit subwoofer bias here).

    For my own rig, I switched from an Alembic F-1X to the SWR Interstellar Overdrive, mostly for the active tone control circuits (cut/boost) and the superior DI/XLR outputs. Setting both Flat, they sounded pretty similar... like bass amps. The IOD does have boost for the mids, which the F-1X does not, and that is a noticeable difference. To be fair, I can get the same boost from a 1/3 octave EQ.
  3. I'd be willing to say cabinets. Same deal as Bgavin.

    I've A/Bed a bunch of basses/amps/cabs. The biggest changes are




    At least IMHO IME
  4. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    (almost) the same here.
    1. cab
    2. bass
    3. preamp (or amp head)
    4. power amp if it's a rack system

    IME the cab is even more important than the bass, because I can get an acceptable tone with a really crappy beginner bass from the 70ies through a decent rig. OTOH the best bass will sound like mud through a crappy cab.

    Of cause it also depends were you start from - if you already have a very good cab or bass, changing the amp will most likely make more of a difference.

  5. Suburban


    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    I agree with Matthias. Though I might even put the bass and the preamp on the same level.

    The power amp will not affect your sound in any way, if it is a sound amp. An with sound connections!
  6. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    And if it's not, you may get muddy low end and less punch. But I've got no experience here.

  7. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    I've often thought about what makes the biggest difference in my tone. Here's a tentative ranking.

    1. Bass first, but even here we could do a breakdown - strings? Pickups? Playing style?

    2. Preamp or Cab - I really don't know which is more influential, although cab size interacts w/ #3 and #4.

    3. Amp

    4. Room Size?

    It gets even more complicated when we add effects, cables, power quality, etc. When I get overwhelmed I say that my tone is "overdetermined" - meaning that there are multiple ingredients all affecting one another on multiple levels. Too many levels for a human to comprehend. Yes, I can hear it when something is changed, and I bought piece o' gear X because I liked the change, but I can't really say that it wouldn't be "my tone" any more if we took away one ingredient, even the bass itself. I have several basses and they all roughly get my tone w/ my fingers through my rig.

    I have no experience w/ the Carvin and Eden you are asking about.
  8. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    I haven't either.
    But I guess a Carvin amp through an Eden cab will sound better than an Eden head through a Carvin cab.
    I would swap the cab first in your situation.

  9. This is interesting. I remember a while back, this question was asked and the majority answer was just the opposite-the head/preamp made the biggest difference.
  10. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    I was going to say that the preamp would make the most difference... then the cab.... but I might be wrong... of course :)
  11. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    I used to run a PB500 through an Eden 2-10. and I got lots of compliments on the sound. I think that would be a pretty decent combination for you. If I were you and buying right now, I would look into the new XST (as opposed to XLT) cabs that people are starting to talk about.
  12. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    Yes, but many statements were not substantiated.
    I suggest the following:
    amp: 6-20 knobs->biggest influence
    bass: 1-4 knobs->second biggest influence
    cab: 0-1 knobs -> almost no influence
  13. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Thank you, Matthias, for showing that science and music are not in fact incompatible!;)
  14. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    Yup, I always prefer the scientific approach! ;)

    But seriously:
    I think I have to 'extend' my original post a little:
    If you take into acount different playing styles, new vs. old strings, solid vs. hollow body, ... the bass will have the biggest influence of cause.

    But I think one has to see the background of questions like these: What should I buy first to improve my sound?
    And here it depends on what I've got and which piece of gear is the weakest link. If all pieces are of about the same quality, the cab usually has the greatest potential for improvement. (hope this makes sense, sorry for my English)

    And as jondog said, there are too many variables to make a general statement.

  15. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    but if its tube like a nice Demeter VTHP-300M,

    .....tingles shoot up and down Jokey's spine....
  16. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Cool question! Here's my opinion:

    1. Speakers and cabinets involve the most compromises in engineering, and they're heavily influenced by the surrounding environment. They're also the hardest to properly measure and evaluate, so they tend to vary the widest in performance.

    2. Like speaker systems, bass instruments themselves involve a conversion between mechanical and electrical energy, so they involve a wide range of variables that can influence tone and performance.

    3. Preamps tend to be where most of the tone shaping and signal processing takes place. Here's where you dial it in. Effects go here, too, but some patches and settings may shoot the ranking up to #2 or #1.

    4. A power amp's job is to boost the input signal without arbitrarily altering it. It's not supposed to affect the tone, though a few poor-quality ones can't help it. The big challenges in power amp design are reliability, roadworthiness, reserve power, and such.

    5. Everything else. Cables, power conditioners, miscellaneous accessories, etc., range from minuscule to nothing in their influence on tone.

    CAVEAT: A defective anything can make the whole system sound like crap (or like nothing at all). ;)
  17. FalsehoodBass


    Jul 22, 2001
    Denver, CO
    bkchang for YOUR situation, i think that the speakers/enclosures are much more important than the amplifier.

    I've had experience with carvin gear and their cabs just aren't up to par with the rest of their stuff, or any of the good stuff like eden etc.

    I think that a carvin head and an eden cab will sound much better than any head through a carvin cab. Especially if you plan to play at moderate to high volume levels.
  18. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    IMHO....good speakers are first......but I'm a compleat speaker slut:D
  19. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Where are all the monster cable people? The way some of those threads talk, they'd put the cable at #1 or #2! ;)