Young Dude Buying First Bass Head and Cab, Very Confused!!!???

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by OliveBoy, Jun 10, 2020.

  1. OliveBoy


    Jun 10, 2020
    Have previously always used a combo amp, shopping for a head and cab for the first time and there's one big thing I'm a little lost on.

    For the cab I'm likely looking at an 800W Ampeg SVT-810E, and for the head either a 500W Orange Terror Bass or a 300W Ampeg SVT-AV. From reading forums and watching videos (like the one linked below), my impression is that this is a proper set-up, that your speaker should have a higher wattage than the amp.

    But often enough I come across threads (like the one linked below) where, unless I'm somehow misreading, multiple people are claiming that the exact opposite is true, that my head's wattage should be at least equal to if not MORE than that of the cab.

    matching watts on head and cab

    Very lost and confused, is this a highly contestable matter and there's no clearly proven right/wrong/better/worse way to do it, or is there just something simple here that I'm not getting or misinterpreting???

    Thanks so much in advance for any help and/or insight,
  2. primusfan1989


    Jan 17, 2005
    new jersey

    Theres more than one way to look at it I suppose. I personally rather have an amp that has more power than my cab can handle (the idea being I'm only ever using the amp at 1/2 capacity). I know I've haven't blown speakers with this method. When using solid state amps, if you push them to their limit, they'll create a distortion that shreds speakers IME. Really just being aware of your situation is whats most important IMO.

    SVT+8x10 is a lot of amp for someone who's doesn't really have experience with setups like this. Tube amps can be a pain in the butt (I personally love them and take the inconvenience because I love the tone and feel but be warned, it can be a total PITA)
    You might be better off with the Terror and a 4x10, very few actually "need" an 8x10, they're more often then not a burden (cant move it by yourself). Get another 4x10 down the road if you need it(the flexibility is nice).
  3. beans-on-toast


    Aug 7, 2008
    A conservative approach is to take the RMS output of the amp and double it for the RMS speaker cabinet capacity. So for a 300W RMS amp, you would want a cabinet rated AT LEAST 600W RMS.

    The SVT-AV was designed to go with the 810e. The Orange 810 is rated 1200W so it would handle the 500W output of the Terror. Could you use an 810e with a terror head? Sure, but you would have to listen for a mechanical sounding distortion and turn down the volume or bass EQ if you hear it.

    Note that the Orange terror is not an all tube amp like the SVT. It is a solid state power amp combined with a tube preamp.

    BTW, I find that the Heritage 810E is a better sounding cab, the speakers are different. The drawback is the vinyl covering is soft and requires care ith transporting it.
    janesaid and Wasnex like this.
  4. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    What combo amp did you use, what style of music of do you play, and are you just wanting to move on to other gear or is your combo no longer gettng the job done for what you need? I ask because I think you'll get better advice if folks have that background/context.

    IME jumping from a combo to an 810 is a huge leap without something driving your decision - like needing something bigger than the combo rig you use for rehearsal to handle an XYZ sized gigging venue with an ABC size band playing whatever style of music.

    I have nothing against the Ampeg 810 you metioned (great cab!), but there are a lot of options that might serve you better just within the Ampeg product line.
  5. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    I don't know how young you are but I would suggest having your parents buy you a full blown Mesa rig as an early Christmas present .. never look back... ;)
  6. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    @OliveBoy I will try to help you understand why this makes sense.

    The drivers in a speaker cab are typically given an RMS rating. This is the average thermal power the drivers can handle. Some speaker rating standards include Program Power and Peak Power as well. Program Power is 3dB higher than the RMS power (2 x the RMS wattage) and Peak Power is 6dB higher than the RMS power (4 x the RMS wattage).

    The key here is understanding the duration of time that the speaker can handle Program and Peak Power. The way these tests work is a modified signal is created that varies above and below the RMS power rating, but average power is equal to the RMS power. Also some of these standards only require the driver to survive for 2 hours and the driver doesn't even have to meet spec after the test. With this understanding, you probably don't want to expose your drivers to a much more than it's RMS rating on a regular basis.

    The other thing to consider is cabs also have mechanical limits that are a product of the driver's Thiele/Small characteristics, the volume of the cab, and the dimensions of the port. Changing the volume of the cab, or the dimensions of the port impacts how far the drivers move when they try to reproduce low frequencies. So the mechanical power handling is not purely a function of driver specs, and you also have to consider the design of the cabinet. Often the mechanical limits of a cab below 100hz are actually less than the RMS rating of the drivers. So if you like a tone with heavy bass, you need to be careful if the power rating of your amp approaches the RMS power rating of your cabs.

    Another thing you should be aware of that relates specifically to ported cabs is how the port is tuned and how it impacts driver excursion. At higher frequencies the cab acts as if it is sealed. As the frequency drops, the response of the driver begins to roll off. The port is tuned so it reinforces the driver's output and smoothly extends the low frequency response of the cab. As the port becomes more resonant, it suppresses the driver's movement so driver excursion decreases as the system approaches port resonance. Below port resonance the cabs response drops off quickly and driver excursion increases exponentially.

    Because of this it's a waste of power and potentially dangerous to the driver to force it to reproduce sound very far below the cab's tuning frequency (Fb). This is where high pass filters (HPF) have become popular. The HPF basically rolls of the extreme lows so the drivers do not have to try and reproduce frequencies below the cabs passband.

    I'll attach the spec sheet and a suggested cab design doc for the Eminence Deltalite 2512. This 2512 has a power rating of 250W RMS. Take a look at the first design and note that it is displacement limited to 125W and requires a HPF set to 35hz. The Xmax (linear excursion limit) of this driver is 4.9mm. Take a look at the chart on p. 2 labeled "Cone Displacement (mm/Hz) with 125 watts". Note how excursion decrease as the port becomes active, reaches a minimum at 44hz (Fb), and then quickly increases to Xmax of 4.9mm at about 35hz. Remember the design requires a 35hz HPF.

    Ultimately the reason there is so much confusion is because it depends on how you use your cab and how much risk you are willing to take. I often play with amps that make significantly more power than my speakers are rated for, but I don't play loud. Also it's possible I could have an accident that would damage a speaker, such as accidentally unplugging the bass with the volume up.

    Attached Files:

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  7. OliveBoy


    Jun 10, 2020
    lol I guess I gave the impression that I'm REALLY young and inexperienced. I'm 25, been a gigging death metal musician for almost a decade, gotten by fine enough playing shows with a Fender Rumble Combo and borrowing better bass rigs for recordings, just decided it was high time to finally get more serious gear to start building my own proper tone/sound. Only reason I'm going specifically with an 8x10 Ampeg cab and not a 4x10 is simply because I found one near me for a really good price. Cab+Head technical stuff just happens to be a specific blind spot of mine, anytime I've used such a set-up in the past has been a "here you are, it's already set to go" type situation. The info online can be pretty confusing/contradictory, wanna make absolutely certain I'm not buying a totally wrongheaded set-up that's gonna shag itself up or anything. Thanks all for the help/advice!
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  8. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    If the 810 is in decent condition and all the drivers work. Make sure you like the sound and are able and willing to transport it. If yes, I think it's a fine choice for a TB500 or an SVT AV.
    robd, Haroldo, DiscoRiceJ and 7 others like this.
  9. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    This definitely helps and as always Wasnex's post is sound (pardon the play on words) advice.
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  10. dalkowski

    dalkowski It's "rout," not "route." Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    I don't know how young you are but I hope you have a plan for schlepping all this kit hither and yon.
  11. OliveBoy


    Jun 10, 2020
    Praise be for my big ol Honda Odyssey ^_^
    wave rider, Stumbo, Lobster11 and 8 others like this.
  12. dalkowski

    dalkowski It's "rout," not "route." Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Former owner myself. Take care of the sliding doors. They're the first thing to go and when they go, they make life very difficult and costly.
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  13. Lowend65

    Lowend65 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2006
    San Jose, CA
    Ah, to be 25 and be willing to put up with hauling around a ton of gear again (as I guy who used to tour with and Upright, Electric, and 2x15 cab).

    Semi-on-topic advice: If the Fender Rumble has been serving you well at live shows from a volume perspective, I can't think of any reason to run an 8x10. They are inefficient, heavy and a general PITA to move.
    Not sure what constitutes a good price, but there are a lot of better, more modern options out there for matched systems.
    The Mesa Subway line is all designed to work together. It will shake the rafters.
    I run a fEarless 12/6/1 Cabinet it's small, light, and louder than any sane person would want to stand in front of.
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  14. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Plus another for Mesa. You can kick yerself in the nards all day with a couple Subway 12" or 15". I had an Ampeg 810 SVT rig and yes, nice choice. But I'd agree with the others that you can get alot of family jewel punching power in a smaller outfits. If you really need that much cabinet I'd still split it into 2 cabs because of the logistics. There are a lot of really good options out there. Good luck. Pics when you get it.
    TN WOODMAN and Matty Koff like this.
  15. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    THE most iconic setup for bass is the SVT on the Fridge.
    Sometimes even two Fridges.
    So there we have a 300W head on an 800W cabinet.
    Somehow, this has worked (a lot) in the last 60 years.
    So I suppose you can actually use a head that's rated less than half of what the cab is rated for.

    Ratings are only sometimes accurate. Sometimes they are wishful thinking from the marketing department.
    And some people rate their gear so conservative that it can take (or give) a lot more than advertised.
    So when you pair a cab that is rated (wishful thinking) to take 1200 watts (I remember seeing a 210 for less than three hundred bucks) and pair it with an amp that says 500 watts but puts out more like 600, you will easily feed the speaker cones through the front grille even though your cab was rated at more than double of what your amp was rated at.

    This is where common sense comes in. Try out your stuff in a safe environment and gently probe towards the limits, looking (listening) carefully to spot the weakest link before it gives out. When you can run your amp on full throttle without the cab farting out, then all you have to watch out for is not to cook your amp by running it too high for too long. I've done exactly that to quite a few amps. Some quality ones run happily all night while others get hot and shut down. If your amp can make your cab fart, then see to it that it does not. The two dials to watch out for are the master vol and the bass knob. You can, for example, easily shred your cabinet by leaving the EQ flat and then probing for the max possible volume. You find that with the master set to 8, the cab is maxed out. So you set it to 7. Now all you need to do is dime the bass knob and your speaker cone will loose a wrestling match with its basket.
    Wasnex likes this.
  16. I was at a festival where there was an Ampeg SVT with matching fridge provided. Unfortunately the head was shot but luckily I brought my Orange TB500 just in case. Man, it sounded great!
    Bleecker and Loring like this.
  17. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Buy whatever you think will work for you and follow all directions of speaker ohm requirements for whatever head you buy. Chances are you'll almost never need much more than a 300w amp and an 810e can give you, and should you actually need more, just use common sense and not numbers and ego to guide your volume settings. And then prepare to get fired :D
  18. Roxbororob

    Roxbororob Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2015
    The SVT/810 set. The SVT/810 set. The SVT/810 set. The SVT/810 set.
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  19. blastoff


    Sep 5, 2007
    way out west
    Go full ampeg! theres nothing like an ampeg 810 stack. do it while you’re young! send pictures!
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  20. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Interesting how it worked for ten years before the first SVT rolled off the line :roflmao:

    To the OP: the biggest advantage of using an 8-10 cabinet instead of your Rumble combo is it moves a lot of air and you will literally feel the notes more. How you get away with a Rumble playing death metal is even harder to figure out than the riddle of the sphinx.
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