Which is more important? Amp or Cab?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Funkize you, Feb 18, 2005.

  1. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    Hey, all. I dont know crap about amp's or Cabs. I've had NICE basses but only played them through a $200 "Bargain combo" (I know, I know...) The basses I've used through this Monstrosity of a combo include, Lakland 55-94, Lakland 44-02 deluxe, Lakland 5-01, Peavey Cirrus 6, BNF5.

    So, I have $1000 to buy an Amp and Cab... My question is whats more important for sound quality, The amp or cab?

    Right Now, here are the possibilities...

    Amp Ampeg B-2R with Ampeg BSE-115 OR
    Amp SWR workingman's 2004 with Ampeg BSE410HLF

    Or whatever...

    I really dont know, and I would REALLY appreciate anyone's help here. Saving up more money is NOT an option at this time. So if you have any other combination that you could offer or advice please tell me.

    Thanks a lot.
  2. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Which is more important? Amp or Cab?

    Which is more important to live, your heart or your brain?

    1. Instrument
    2. (Tie) Amp/Cab

    Amps and cabs go hand in hand. A lousy amphead coupled to a great cab will sound just as bad as a great amphead with a lousy cab.

    Ideally you want to reproduce the tone of your instrument. Some amps and cabs color that sound, so it's a matter of what coloration you can live with (if you can live with any coloration at all). Which ones to get are completely subjective.

    However, the best advice I can give you is to play through every combination you can until you find something that does it for you. There are way too many good choices out there and no matter what anyone tells you, it's just thier opinion and you may not like that sound anyway. Play through them all and judge for yourself.
  3. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    Like, i've said... I had lots of Nice basses, and none of them sounded very good through my amp, Not because I didnt like the sound of the bass, but because of my amp.

    I think I just need to wait till someone has some good used gear.
  4. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    The cab is by far the more important link in the chain. While speakers are electrically powered, they function as mechanical devices with moving parts, as opposed to amps, which are electronic devices with no moving parts. The difference in the sound quality of the cheapest versus the best amp made is not that great, just as the picture quality of a $2000 TV is not that much better than that of a $200 TV, the main difference being the size rather than the quailty of the image. Speakers are quite different. The worst of the lot are the equivalent of a Kia in the automotive realm. The best are more akin to a Rolls-Royce.
  5. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    like bill said, definitly the cabinet. Audiophiles will generally tell you to get the best speakers you can afford, and go from there. There are definitely tonal differences between preamps and heads, and poweramps can have tonal differences as well (tube poweramps anyway). Adequate wattage for your application is also a big factor to consider. However, hook up ten different preamps to a poweramp all thru the same speaker. you'll hear some differences. Soem of them will sound very different from each other. Now, take one of those preamps with the poweramp and try it thru ten different speaker cabinets. You'll hear huge differences. Some will sound better to everyone, others will appeal to different individuals as a matter of taste. After all of that, take the efficiency/sensitivity of the cabinets into question. Every once in a while someone will come on here asking about really cheap no name 4x10 cabs offered for sale on e-bay. these usually have a sensitivity of 96 dB. A good 4x10 will have a sensitivity of 105 dB. The cheap 96 dB cab will require eight times the wattage to be as loud as the 105 dB cab.
  6. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    I also think the speaker cab is a little more important than the head. For a grand, I think you can get a pretty darn good speaker/head together used.
  7. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI

    In relation to the question originally asked about amp or cab...

    Yeah, you can be kept alive without one or the other, but what kind of life would it be? So which would be more important to living, your heart or your brain? What's more important, your left hand or your right? Your eyes or your ears? etc.

    That's kind of how I look at amps/cabs. One without the other sucks. Buy a great cab and a crappy head. Still ain't much fun.

    I played through a Hartke 410 cab with a Hartke 3500 a few weeks ago. No matter what settings I tried it just sounded hollow. It wasn't terrible but it wasn't my cup of tea. So last weekend I brought my Eden WT400 and plugged it into that same cab.

    Suddenly that cab sounded like I expected it to sound. Very full tone. Basically the tone of my bass.

    But I suppose it was the cab all along...because, after all that's the most important part, right? Perhaps I should have brought my cab instead of my head?

    I've played my Eden head through quite a few different cabs and it sounded (tonally) pretty much the same through all of them...which is to say it sounded great. So now, no matter where I play, even if I have to use someone else's cab I use my head with it.

    As far as the original question, I would say that the amp head has more "control" over the sound than the cab. Now, power handling and volume is a whole different thing.
  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    For me, amp/cab always outweighs bass (unless the bass is unplayable) because a crappy rig is going to sound like crap no matter how good the bass or how well it's played. OTOH, the bass is an extension of the player: I've seen *many* players get great tone out of extremely low-budget basses.

    As for amp vs. cab... my initial reaction was to say cabinet, but I recently sat in with a band whose bass player had a Hartke rig that sounded like crap (distorted mud). The speaker cab was a 2x15 which should've sounded fine at that volume level, so I figure the head was way underpowered.
  9. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    You have a good chunk of money there and should have no trouble putting together a quality rig, especially if you can find stuff used.

    Amp or cab? I say cab-last thing before it hits your ears, it's where the rubber hits the road. And the preamp is more key to tone than the power amp. You've got some quality basses already. And definitely, definitely use quality cables.

    Key will be to match the cab to the amp. I believe in general you should have an amp with 1 to 1/2 or 2x the power handling of the cab (so a 350W cab will need to be driven by a head that's 350 to 700W for enough overhead/clean power). And ratings/specs don't tell the story, you have to put stuff together and try out and compare before you'll know what works, and what works for you.

    Be patient, try out a lot of stuff, try stuff out of your price range to have good reference. Did I mention patience? It'll be a fun search, enjoy! -Jeff
  10. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    good points. as always, your experience may be different than someone else's. i've been known to bring my head with me to gigs where a rig is available. the preamp can have a dramatic effect on tone as well. Overall i'm with fuzzbass weighing the amplifier as a whole over the bass. The optimal thing would of course be to have a good amp and good cabs. And i agree with previous posts that a grand shoud be able to get you a lot, especially when you consider the used market and some of the lower cost manufacturers available.
  11. KristiJ


    Feb 18, 2005
    I can totally relate on power handling and having a good amp to drive them.

    Does anyone have any speaker recommendations over others? For example:

    Hartke Cabs?
    SSB Cabs?
    Legion Sound?

    Madison Knight speakers?
    Madison Warrior speakers?
    Emminence Speakers?

    Any thoughts on any of the above items would be outstanding!! My husband just bought me a Yamaha B100 head, so that is what I will most likely connect to a cab.

    Thanks in advance!! :help: ;) ;)
  12. WayneP


    Oct 11, 2004
    Katy, Texas
    No one seems to stop and consider this, but IMO it largely depends on your performing situation.

    For instance, if you play in places where they have capable sound systems complete with multiple subwoofers, you really don’t need a traditional amp/cabinet at all. Even the biggest refrigerator-sized bass cabinet is pretty lame compared to a couple (or more) high-output 18” horn loaded subs.

    Typically in those situations they want a direct feed from your instrument anyway, so all that great sound you’re getting from that perfect amp/speaker combination – you’re the only one who’s going to hear it. Everyone else will be hearing the PA system.

    That’s my particular situation, and I found it made more sense to ditch the old-fashioned stage rig in favor of something that complimented the sound system, rather than poorly duplicating it. I’m using stage monitors to hear myself, which – since they’re similar to the house speakers - give me a better representation of what the audience is hearing from me than a bass cabinet would. Plus the resolution is better than you get from a bass cabinet firing at your butt (guess I’m a freak of nature – my ears didn’t come in back there).

    However, if you play mainly in smaller venues with smaller sound systems, then you definitely want something capable of carrying the bottom end better than a couple of little PA speakers on poles. You want something with good extension, for one thing.

    Beyond that, some bass cabinet manufactures strive for linear (accurate) response, while others are famous for their particular “sound” – i.e., coloration. Neither is inherently better; it’s just what fits your particular tastes or sounds best with your instrument.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt
  13. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    IMO you could do a lot worse than this for $1000:


    I have this head, and I like it quite a bit. I haven't tried this cab, but the word of mouth I get from some people whose tastes I generally agree with is very good.

    I generally agree that the cab is somewhat more important, but as has been said, you can't shortchange either one. If you don't have enough amp, there are some gigs that you just cannot do. You can get the best cab in the world, but if all you have to drive it is a 15 W solid state head, you're very limited. Also, watts are relatively cheap if you shop smart, and the advantages of buying a lot of amp are (1) that you get headroom (which BTW has nothing to do with cab power handling), and (2) that you have room to expand. But it also makes no sense to blow all of your wad on an amp and leave yourself only a cheap, weak cab to play through.
  14. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    Thanks A LOT for all the replies!

    I am currently wading my way through the endless possibilities of combinations!

    The Last thing I looked at was a Yorkvillie Combo, with an extension 15" Cab, Only 200w, But I just want something that sounds REALLY GOOD, I dont need a 900w 300lbs system.

    (Yorkvillie, BassmasterXm200T (210) combo, with Yorkvillie XC115XC 15" Extension cab) Total price for that is around $750

    Thanks again.
  15. To paraphrase the old Monty Python skit, today's lesson is "how to play the flute". It's simple... blow in one end and move your fingers up and down. My point is that these are the easy answers to complex questions.

    To expand on what Bill and IvanMike have said, your cabinet is what takes the electrical energy and converts it into something physical: a sound that you can hear. A speaker that performs this conversion well is a key factor in determing what you sound like. If you're playing a 5-string (or more) bass, your cabinet is what will decide whether those lowest notes are heard, to say nothing of tonal quality and balance. Chances are good that your amp will have no problem reproducing those frequencies, but the cabinet is another story.

    The amp is also a critical part of the signal chain, controlling, amplifying and shaping the electrical signal and contributing it's own "character". Some characteristics to think about are tube vs. solid-state, EQ settings and actual amount of power available. I am fortunate enough to have a range of amps, but from a plethora of speakers choices have narrowed this down to two that actually produce the sound that I'm after under a wide variety of conditions. Speakers get my vote.
  16. AlembicBob


    Dec 28, 2004
    MA, US
    Every time you buy or sell something, it tends to cost you money. WHat I mean is that it is rare for you to sell any of this gear for more than you paid for it, so you usually pay for the item, maybe add on tax and shipping to that. When you outgrow it, you sell it for maybe 75% of what you paid and then go buy something new. If you deal with stores instead of private parties, they usually take a bigger piece.

    I say all that because I am going to recommend that you split your $1000 in such a way that you buy at least one "keeper" piece of equipment. If I were in your position, I'd get a Schroeder cab brand new, or a high-end used cab in the $600-800 price range as a keeper. Then I'd take what I had left for a used head in the 400+ watt range.

    I believe that a mediocre amp through a good speaker will sound better than a good amp through a mediocre speaker.
  17. Funkize you

    Funkize you Guest

    Nov 4, 2003
    Westminster Ca.
    I am having a REALLY hard time finding ANY amp with more than 400+ whats for cheap...
  18. ewarren88

    ewarren88 Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2002
    Medina, OH
    +1. And another vote for mediocre amp through good speaker cabinet.