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What's the deal with mixing driver sizes?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Two-Spirit, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. A lot of people say you shouldn't mix drivers but I see a lot of people doing it. TC Electronic advertises K Series Cabs both ways. I should probably play it safe and buy two K-212s instead of a K-212 on top of a K-115. I want more bass than my present amp, an Ampeg BA115v2.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  2. It's all about phase cancellation and gets complicated, fast. I don't claim to fully understand it, but it boils down to this:

    Pairing up identical cabs will sound more coherent, and give you a better all-round sound (read: stronger low end) than mixing cabs/drivers.

    An exception to this is if you run a setup with a crossover, where different speakers/cabs get sent different frequencies (for example some cabs have a 12" paired with a 5" driver. The 12" handles the lows and the 5" handles the highs.)

    For your case I would recommend doubling up on the 212s. Four 12" drivers will absolutely smoke the single 15 you're used to in the low end department!
  3. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    I have discussed this in excruciating detail, you might want to search on the topic.

    If the designer understands the science and engineering behind it, mixing driver sizes CAN provide some advantages that are not possible using identical drivers... BUT if the engineering is not done right, the results will often be disappointing.

    The performance advantages are in the details... how well a good design is executed.

    I have designed cabinet families using different driver sized that are designed from the very beginning to work well together. I also have the engineering background (and testing capabilities) to to this with 100% confidence of the results.
  4. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    The things that make a couple of different cabinets work well (or not with each other) are all fairly well known science/engineering - to those educated in that discipline. If you look at drivers made for Pro audio usage, you'll see parameters that are useful in doing that kind of work specified. They're there to make that work possible. If you're not well versed in that discipline, you might want to consult someone who is. Results obtained without that knowledge are...electroacoustical crapshoots.

    It's not strictly about driver sizes - it's about the whole cabinet design - you can indeed make mixed drivers work, but you can also make 112's that won't play nicely with each other.
    Two-Spirit and DukeLeJeune like this.
  5. waveman


    Sep 25, 2008
    more uniformity = more consistency in general.
    BuffaloBill likes this.
  6. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Sycophants and rule extremists often take over practical sense.
    It isn't "you shouldn't mix driver sizes" as much as "all things equal, using identical cabs will always be more consistent and efficient than mixing them".
  7. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    If you trust the manufacturer/designer to engineer their products correctly to work together within the same family of cabs and they tell you what combinations work well, mix away.

    If you think they just put some speakers in a box, then don't mix them together.

    Some manufacturers do design their products to mix well together. Others don't, and they'll tell you not to do it.
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Don't do it. Just don't do it.
    mobdirt likes this.
  9. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Power distribution is a big factor as well, but that has more to do with the number of speakers per cab.

    For example, if you were to send 1600 watts into an 8ohm 4x10 plus an 8ohm 1x15, you would be sending 800w to the 15 and only 200w to each 10. You'll likely reach the failure point of the 15 long before the 10's break a sweat. And you may not be able to hear the pre-failure death rattle of the 15 because it would be masked by the 10's cab.
  10. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    I have had successful results mixing Mesa Boogie 10's and 15's and Bergantino 10's and 12's and I've seen others with mixed cab rigs that sounded good, so any advice that says you can "never" mix speakers and get a good sound is not good advice.

    Always do your home work and trust your ears.
    HolmeBass and Pbassmanca like this.
  11. moogieotter

    moogieotter Custom Title

    Jun 16, 2009
    Duluth, GA
    Some epic legend cabs have mixed sizes. Like a Berg hT333.
  12. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    I use a Bergantino 1x12 and 2x10 all the time. Who knew?
  13. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    The short story is it's not so much about mixing drivers, or driver sizes, but about mixing cabinets that aren't designed to work well together as a system.

    If they're not explicitly designed to work well together, then it's a crapshoot - could sound amazing, could sound terrible... or depending on where you're at in the venue or what note you're playing, maybe both at the same time.

    Nothing inherently wrong though with using different drivers combined together in a purposeful and well engineered way.
    agedhorse and Pbassmanca like this.
  14. First off, listen to agedhorse. He's an engineer for one of the top amplification companies. Search his topic.
  15. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Lake Havasu City, AZ
    ^^^THIS! :thumbsup:
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  16. Pbassmanca

    Pbassmanca In the pocket n' thumpy. So woody, so greasy...

    My complete layman's perspective on this is: "If it sounds good, it is good".
    Phil508, The Nameless and Artman like this.
  17. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Artman, Gearhead17, lowplaces and 3 others like this.
  18. Wicked G

    Wicked G

    Jan 19, 2017
    Hell Paso Texas
    As someone who owns 2 TC K212 cabs, trust me when I say they put out a ton of low end while still remaining very crisp and clear.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  19. Advice to not mix drivers applies when you are dealing with outputs from the same full range amp. This advice was not meant for mixing drivers in the same cabinet. Within a cabinet there are crossovers which split a 2 way into highs and lows, and a 3 way into high, mid, and low. This is not a problem

    If you have a full range amp with 2 outputs, you should not mix cabinets (like a 115 and a 410) because invariably the speaker area will differ, the load will not be split proportionally, and sound waves from each could cancel each other out at certain frequencies.

    The exception is if you have a biamp amp, like a GK 800RB, or a Hartke HA7000. Biamp has a crossover frequency knob, and a balance knob to split your high and low signals to separate speakers via a high and low amp.
    Artman likes this.
  20. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    Two points:

    If it sounds good and you understand how much power is going to each cab, go for it. But...

    If you find a cab whose sound you really, really like, why buy a second different cab and expect it to be better?
    Pbassmanca and lowplaces like this.
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