Why is a tweeter or horn needed?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Thumper, Dec 13, 2012.

  1. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Layton, UT
    I do Classic Rock and Country, don't tap or slap, and play Pbasses, 55-94, Zon 519 (with flats). If I am looking to have a cab built (sheesh, and I thought basses were addictive), why do I need a horn or tweeter? Actually, why would I need a 15/6 or 12/5? Why not just a 15 & 10, or 12 & 10 or even just a sub?

    Looking at some manufacturer sites, a sub 15 or sub 12 might even be less costly.

    So why have the added cost, complexity and weight for highs?
  2. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    Your bass sound has more high end than you think.

    Some modern speakers are great at full range but they will be lacking somewhere.

    You don't need horns. I don't use them but you need a full range cab. A sub will sound like mud.

    Even if you're in a country band you'll need up to 5kHz for good tone.
  3. Many players don't feel the need for horns. But there's frequencies in a bass guitar that you cannot hear even with 10s. Use your ears to judge what works best for you.
  4. Thumper


    Mar 22, 2000
    Layton, UT
    Thanks, that's the kind of input I'm looking for, it just never crossed my mind.

    When I have a cab with a horn/tweeter and attenuator, I disable them anyway. So my Eden 210XLT and 115XLT are running without them. So why wouldn't the 115XLT be considered a sub?
  5. Well, with your bass, strings, and tone goals, a high crossed over tweeter would not be necessary, since you probably aren't putting out any energy/sound above 2K or so, and most tweeters don't kick in until 3K or higher.

    A sub would be awful, since they usually are lo passed at 100hz or so, or use a driver that is very bassy and won't give you any sort of midrange articulation or definition.

    A good single driver 15 cab can sound GREAT with for you tone goals, and many companies make them.

    There are also cabs with mid drivers that allow the use of a more heavy duty driver/more lows (since woofers capable of a big low end often sound pretty nasty up top), but still nice definition up top without the sizzle of a tweeter. There is always a 'cost benefit' to every design decision. One benefit of a small mid driver is that the top end of your tone (that P Bass grind) will spread a bit more, due to higher frequencies becoming pretty directional coming out of a large woofer. However, the downside, especially when playing in a rock setting and using a P Bass, is that the upper midrange coming out of many/most mid drivers is very different sounding than the classic, warm, organic break-up from the top of a woofer. So, you can kind of pick your poison!

    A good one way 115 cab should do you pretty well, but not a 'sub' per se.
  6. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    Because that tweeter is crossed over at 3-5k. Some designs don't even have high end filtering on the speaker because it can't produce that many highs. It might have been running the 15" full range all along.

    Subs are much, much, much, lower.
  7. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan
    There is a lot more content above sub frequencies than you think! They give your sound tone and articulation. The real perk to a mid driver loaded cab is what it allows you to do. Having a low frequency woofer lets you go lower, and maintain sensitivity. It only has to do the job of representing that portion of signal. The mid driver takes over where the LF woofer would start to beam. This increases the dispersion of your sound. Basically you can hear yourself better off axis. The key to these working is a really good cross over.

    That said there are a few cabs out there with full range drivers that still give me gas. A Dually or Bassic loaded with Faital pro's would be a sweet rig.
  8. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    DISCLAIMER: I don't use tweeters or horns.

    Many claim that a specifically-voiced mid- to upper-mid driver allows yourself to "punch through" the stage mix better, thereby making it easier for you and your bandmates to hear the bass. A sub alone or some combination of bass-voiced 10's, 12's and 15's doesn't quite accomplish this.

    I use a fEARful 15/6 (no tweeter) and it provides the mids for the drummer and myself to hear the bass well on stage, along with that super clear and articulated low end that is heard better in the audience than on stage.

    I used to use a Schroeder 1212 (two 12's) that was also voiced to provide more midrange. It also did a good job of making the bass heard in the stage mix, but it lacked the low end of the fEARful.

    I don't need (or like) the high end of a tweeter or horn. I would probably have a different opinion if I was into "hi-fi" or "modern" bass, slapping, etc.

    IMHO, of course. YMMV. Different strokes for different folks. And so on, and so on...
  9. A sub is basically a cab that is designed to reproduce only the lowest frequencies, and is typically crossed over, and uses a driver that is voiced to provide big lows and not much else.

    Most bass cabs use the same drivers in the tweeter versus non-tweeter cabs. A 115XLT with the tweeter turned down should sound great for what you want to do, and will have plenty of midrange punch. One thing to be careful of is that some cabs that have tweeters use 'true' crossovers, which means if you turn the tweeter down or off, you are literally losing the upper frequencies all together. Other cabs use a simple hi pass filter that keeps the woofer running full range and just cuts off the low end going into the tweeter (hence, hi PASS), so the tweeter doesn't get damaged.
  10. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Subs do low end only and the speakers don't usually sound good past the sub's optimal operating range, and full-range 115's usually don't have enough xmax to operate as a sub.

    With you on the tweeter hate, though. I don't hate them for others, but I'm not a fan. If you go the 15/6 route or similar, I'd look for one with a mid driver that cuts off past 5k at the most. Some of them use mid drivers that go much higher.
  11. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    When I started my search for what I called "twang" I was using a 1x18 cabinet, VOX AC50 amp and Gibson basses. Redesigning the amp gave me a fair increase in highs. Discovering the "tone coil" in the Gibson bass circuit and disconnecting it gave me a huge boost in the upper range. Dropping down t a 4x12 helped a bit more and going to a Fender Pecision even more. It wasn't until I finally arrived at a three way speaker cabinet that I finally found what I was looking for.

    In my mind the woofers give the "whump" but the mids and highs add the "life". :)
  12. JTE


    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    While the fundamental of our notes (especially if you're of the "no money above the fifth fret" persuasion- I am not) are low, the overtones that define the notes are way above them. Those overtones not only differentiate the bass from the kick drum or low toms, but also a Precision from a Jazz, etc. I will say that there are a lot of tweeters that are harsh and unmusical sounding. But not all so don't dismiss them all.

    As other have said, though- play through a bunch of different cabinets and listen to what you hear. Play with the tweeter adjustments for a while, and with your amp settings too. Find what you like.

  13. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Just to clarify further- many people assume that bigger spkrs equals lower frequencies, but this is not true at all. Bass cabs, in general, use full range spkrs, regardless of the diameter. It's impossible to generalize "15's for lows, and 10's for highs", as so many players do. The ONLY thing that you could assume, is that bigger spkrs equals more volume, when comparing 1 to 1. But, with 2x and 4x spkr configurations, it gets way to confusing to generalize anything except MORE and/or BIGGER spkrs equals louder. Frequency response is a whole 'nother thing.
  14. Never ben a big fan of horns, good full-range speakers do a better job for my tastes.
  15. soulman969


    Oct 6, 2011
    Playing a Classic Rock and Country on PBass with flats my guess is that not much if any of your sound is gonna make it to the tweeter anyway. The crossover setting would tell the story about that.

    I would think a good full range 1x15" or a 2x12" cabinet would give you what you're looking for. My 1x15" combo has a tweeter and my playing style and the material I play is similar to yours. From anything I can tell I'm getting little or no output from it playing a PBass with flats.

    I had to run some recorded music through the aux. in just to make certain I was getting any output at all. In my case it's sure not getting much of a workout.
  16. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Some of the best subwoofers I've heard are horns. :D

    Even when I was spending a lot of time above the 12th fret on the G and C strings of a 6 string bass with roundwounds, I filtered everything above 5K. A good woofer crossed to a 6" mid driver is all I need.
  17. barryaudio


    Feb 9, 2012
    Authorized Builder: fEARful bass, greenboy designs, Bill Fitzmaurice
    Maybe you don't need a tweeter? Based on what you describe, I would skip the tweeter if you are going with a 15/6 or 12/5 (i.e. an LF driver with a midrange). The midrange reaches high enough for bass.

    So why use a 5" or 6" with a 15" or 12"? Well, at least with the designs that I build, the 15s and 12s that are used with 5s and 6s are not the same 15s or 12s that you would use in a full-range cab. These particular "LF" 12s and 15s can take more power and cone excursion than their full range 12 and 15 counterparts. But they lack critical content for bass in the 1-5kHz region that full range speakers posses (but that's why we use the 5 or 6). By using a combination of a LF driver with a midrange, you can pump a lot more power into your cab without worrying about the dreaded "fart-out". Additionally, A two-way system using a 5" or 6" driver will have better dispersion due to the fact that smaller drivers have a higher frequency beaming limit. A 15" speaker has an inherent beaming limit at around 1 kHz, where a 5" is up near 3.5kHz.
  18. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    There was a time, of course, when there was no such thing as a bass cab with a tweeter...or even a midrange driver, for that matter. It was only with the advent of players like John Entwistle, then Marcus Miller...later on Mark King, etc. that tweeters became popular - for producing a truly "full-range" tone that in turn, defined a rather different - and expanded - role for the bassist than had ever been envisioned before.

    These days, the name of the game is "choice". Two-way cabs and three-way cabs are gradually becoming accepted as mainstream - but they are in no way mandatory.

    If old-school one-way works for you, get it. I'll stick with my modern, hi-fi cabs - and we'll both be happy! :smug:

  19. Tim1


    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    The Bergantino NV215 cab had it right in my opinion, with a 6" driver added to the mix. Comes close to what seems to be a growing trend towards boutique full range cabs. I too usually turn the horns off or run them at the most halfway.I think the quality and design of the crossover has much to do with this - with my old SWR Goliath cabs I used to have the horn almost off, just too much sizzle for me (I can't slap and don't pretend to try ;). That said, the new Fender neo cabs seem to have an extremely natural and nicely integrated crossover and driver where even if it is maxxed it is not too much (at least with my Jazz and TI flats anyway).
  20. +1 on the Berg 215. That is a great example how how the different mid drivers and crossovers can sound SO different, and Jim B. is the master of crossovers IMO (along with Duke of Audiokinesis). Some mid drivers sound like wonderful, natural, organic, warm extensions of the top of the drivers (like Roger Bear's ML112 and the LDS 12/6 builds using the amazing Faital mid driver and the wonderful Ralf Patterson crossover). Other mid driver loaded cabs can sound harsh and 'peaky' right where most playes don't want those peaks (in that gank area between 2 and 4K).

    Also, remember, in many two way woofer/tweeter designs, the tweeter attenuator set at noon is designed to give you a balanced tone with the woofer, not 'all the way up'. Some issues that some have with tweeters is user error. Of course, if you use a bunch of distortion, then a high crossed over horn can sound awful no matter what.

    +1 also that the SWR tweeter execution (they kind of pioneered that two way sizzle thing) was crossed over very high and extended way high.... that would be too much sizzle for all but the gospel slappers for the most part.

    All two way cabs (and all three way cabs) can't be lumped in the same bucket IMO:)