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Bass Cabinets: On Speaker Sizes and Pairing Them Up

Bass Speaker cropped
Photo by Mark Seton

Q: I read the blog of a musician explaining that combining bass cabinets based on speaker size makes a big difference in sound. He also said that combining two 410 cabinets is better than combining a 410 with a 115. I was under the impression that a 410 cab combined with a 115 cab was a great combination, and because I have this combination, I was taken aback when I read this. However, after thinking about it, I remember playing my bass through an 810 stack in a local music store and how I absolutely marveled at the incredible sound it produced. The stack was $600 (used) and the only thing that stopped me from purchasing it was the awkwardness of hauling it up and down stairs… and it was LOUD. Way more power than I need. The guys working told me to stop playing – I was wrecking the place and didn’t realize it. I bought a used 210 cab that I thought I’d use for practice, but I get a better sound when it’s combined with either the 410 or the 115. On it’s own it doesn’t sound that great. I’d like to hear your opinion on pairing up bass cabinets by speaker size, and any other thing you have to share on this topic.

A: On one hand, I have next to zero technical knowledge when it comes to pairing cabinets and what that does to the sound in a scientific way.

On the other hand, I do have quite a lot of experience playing venues of all sizes, with a variety of rigs, and I have also owned my share of different cabinets. So, while I cannot speak in technical terms as to what is “best”, I can tell you what I have come to believe through my years of gigging and touring.

There is no “best” for everyone. Some people love to tout the science of why this is better than that, but I can tell you that I have preferred many things in life that were supposedly not as “good” or “proper” to things that were “inferior” or proclaimed to be not as good by the online population, simply because I thought it sounded, felt, worked better for my purposes. So, in short, you will have to find what works best for you.

This will often be a compromise between form, function and reality of day to day life.

Here is a list of questions I’d ask myself:

  1. Is it rugged and durable (road-worthy)?
  2. Does it sound good to you?
  3. Is it portable enough that you don’t hurt yourself trying to lug it around to every gig and/or rehearsal?
  4. Can you afford to have an assortment of cabs for every occasion or do you need one to do it all?
  5. How do your answers to all of the above balance with the cost of your various choices in cabinets?

I have gigged with 8″, 10″, 12″ and 15″ speakers and combined those different sizes in many ways. I’ll tell you what I like personally.

I have come to prefer both 10″ and 12″ speakers. Anything smaller doesn’t move enough air for my taste and anything bigger loses definition to my ears.

I have never gotten a sound from mixing 15″ or 18″ speakers with 10″ speakers that I preferred more than a simple 410 cabinet. It might sound good and have tons of bass, but that usually works to the detriment to the overall sound of the band if cranked too loudly. Plus, at softer volumes, it doesn’t really make that much of a difference to me. I’ve tried it and it’s never left my jaw on the floor.

You mentioned that you wanted to pair a 410 with a cabinet with 15’s but found the suggestion to pair two 410’s instead. I imagine that this is because the 15″ is basically a sub – super low end, with no definition. In most environments, this would only serve to make the sound a bit muddy and undefined. It’ll shake your heart in your chest, sure, but will it actually sound good? Not likely if you’re not careful. Two 410’s can move equally as much (or more) air and will still have plenty of low-end goodness. But it will be defined and discernible.

When using a single cab or even two single speaker enclosures paired together, I prefer the sound of my 12″ speakers.

My favorite sounding single cabinet is a 410. I don’t know why I prefer single 12’s when using two or even three cabinets and 10’s when using a single 410 cab, but I love my 410 cab (although it’s harder to tote around so it only gets used on certain types of gigs where I really need or want my full volume and sound).

I have a small assortment of cabs. My list includes:

Two Aguilar GS 112nt cabs. These are single 12″ speaker enclosures with no tweeter (I don’t like the sound of tweeters, and I never slap, so I don’t really need them)
One Aguilar GS 410nt. This is my “big boy” rig – a 410 with no tweeter.
One lightweight Aguilar 112 cab. This is my rehearsal or low volume gig cabinet of choice. Easy to carry and sounds wonderful. It weighs 12 pounds and sounds every bit as good as it’s full weight brethren.

Between these four cabs and my two power amps, I can cover any gig imaginable. I can use a single 112 for low volume gigs, two 112’s chained together for medium volume gigs and the 410 for the really loud nights.

I have my optimal setup after many years of experimentation.

You mentioned not liking the 210 compared to the 410. I agree. I’ve never like 10’s outside of the 410 cab. When using one or two speakers, I need just a bit more low end and prefer the 12’s – they just sound perfect to my ears. Plenty of low end capability but every bit as defined as a 10.

Now, about those 810 cabs and pairing multiple 410 cabs… I don’t know a single musician who uses anything more than one 410 that isn’t in a biggish name band that has techs and roadies. I do know weekend warriors and young players just hitting the road who have bought these refrigerators with speakers and I can tell you that most of them regret it.

I was one such bassist on the road with my first touring band-in-a-van-with-a-trailer. I’ll never forget it. We were hanging out at Grandma’s Music in Albuquerque, NM and they had an SWR 810 cab that was calling my name. I had a bit of room on the credit card, a bit of space in the trailer not spoken for and just thought I’d be in tonal heaven. I sold it less than a year later. It was so heavy and honestly, it didn’t sound any better than my 410. It was louder, yes, but my 410 was as loud as I needed so it didn’t really matter. I simply never had the opportunity to get any louder than that (as much as I wanted to). It only took a couple of gigs and steep staircases before I decided that I had just made a huge mistake and would immediately go back to my 410 cab.

Bottom line, they are dangerously heavy to lift over and over again, a total nightmare if there are stairs on the load-in to the gig and, here’s the kicker, if you are that loud, you’re too loud. Period. I know, I played in a metal band, too. We were too loud. The fact is, if the band actually wants it to sound GOOD in the room (and I don’t care what size room it is), the stage volume needs to be under control so the FOH (front of house) engineer can take control of what the audience hears. Your amp on stage should be considered more of a monitor for yourself, assuming that you have a sound engineer running the show.

If you have no sound engineer and are just using stage volume than it is even more important to be very careful with the balance and volume of each instrument. You never need to be louder than a 410 cabinet with a 500-800 watt head. Now, I have had some 1,200 to 2,000 watt heads and I loved them, but they are useful with regards to head-room (the ability of your amp to operate comfortably and with power to spare). Even with my 2,000 watt rig, I was never actually louder than I was with my 500 watt rig, I just wasn’t pushing it as hard. Big bands on BIG stages will often have a wall of amps. This is more often for show and aesthetic than anything. It does feel wonderful to have a wall of 410 cabs behind you and to feel all of that air your moving when you play but it’s completely for you. In stadiums, nobody beyond the 1st few rows is hearing the stage anymore anyway. It’s all what the FOH engineer is pumping through the mains. If anything, you’re making it harder on the FOH engineer because:

  1. You are sending low vibrations through all the mics around you.
  2. You are sending too much volume into the mics around you.
  3. You are making it harder for people to hear their own monitors. Even if the band uses in-ears monitors, you are still creating a LOT of low end rumble that has to be countered.

Usually the only one who really likes it is the bass player. That means that it isn’t helping anybody and is doing more harm than good.

In short, keep the stage volume in check! If you can only afford one cabinet for now, compromise. Think of something that might be a tad big for your lowest volume gigs and a tad small for you higher volume gigs and use a DI to compensate for the FOH (and even in your own monitor).

If you have one band that you play with, get what is right for that band. Don’t think bigger is better, just think of what will do the job that you need it to do. I can’t imagine ever needing more than a 410 cab, honestly. Sure, if I had a steady stadium gig with roadies to lug and setup the gear, I’d likely run a DB750 or two into a pair of 410 cabs. That’s me thinking 12,000 arenas and gigantic stages where I can bask in the glory of my huge bass sound without killing everyone and everything around me. Until then, 410 is more than enough for any club or theatre.

Readers, how about you? What is your go to for bass cabinets and why? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Have a question for Damian? Submit it to the Ask Damian Erskine Forum. Check out Damian’s instructional books at the No Treble Shop.

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Perry Bancroft

Perry Bancroft

I used an 810 Ampeg cabinet for years and hated lugging it around for gigs. On a whim, I purchased two Phil Jones Bass B4 cabinets. I mate them to a Genz Benz shuttle 6.0 for a micro-rig of doom. I sold the 810 and haven’t looked back. I also have two Aguilar 112nt cabs, and when I A/B the two micro-stacks, the PJB’s won out. The Aggies were plenty loud but lacked the fidelity that I get with the 5 inch piranha drivers. I mix them sometimes, with the Aguilar on the bottom and one of the PJB’s on top. It makes for a pretty versatile rig.

Shelby

Shelby

After a lot of years, I’ve arrived at two configurations I rely on almost exclusively, depending on the needs of the job. My main rig consists of a rack (primarily for speed of setup) with one Eden D210XLT and one Eden 210 MBX. I can use both cabs or one, and with the MBX being a wedge, I can position it either on top or facing me (or the drummer or wherever else on stage needs/wants more bass). I find that 10s give me a better, cleaner tone on stage and cut through the mix well out front too. Plus a modular setup like this is easier on my old back. I use a GK MB150 with 12″ speaker for jams, rehearsals, and open mikes, and pair it with an extra 1-12 cab for smaller venue gigs. While I have a 1-15 cab around for backup if necessary, don’t generally tend to use it much unless I’m in a band situation that allows me to park it at a practice space, As you say, anything past a 12 just doesn’t seem to have the definition I like in tone.

alx

alx

I love 410×2 or 810. I’ve been using a Genz Benz steamliner 600 and NEOx 212 for years that keeps up with anything. Just recently moved over to GK MB fusion 800 and 410. Absolutely love this rig! It’s all you need !

    Slammin’ Mike Wedge

    Slammin’ Mike Wedge

    I’ve got the same GK rig as you, alx… just picked it up a few months back and am loving it, running it through a GK NEO 410 cab (8 ohms) and it’s proven pretty diverse so far. Everything from small clubs to theaters with the trick to a good tone in having tons of headroom. I chose the 8 ohm cab so that I could add another 410 8 ohm cab in case I needed more power but the situation hasn’t really arisen. My main bass these days is a Musicman Stingray HH strung with flatwounds and that combination along with the headroom makes it sit with the bass drum really nicely in the mix, which to me is what it’s all about anyway… These small amps are amazing but gives me pause to think that there’ll be a whole generation of young bass players coming up with GOOD backs!

Bob Cotter

I don’t get it. I play electric bass in every kind of band Solo gigs, acoustic guitar duo, hard rock to 20 piece big band. I haven’t played arenas but have performed in large venues. When playing almost any room bigger than a coffee house, no matter the size of the band, usually the only function of the amp on stage is as a monitor. The FOH always either mikes the cab or uses the XLR output on my amp post EQ. Most Rock n Roll venues do this. I use either or both of my TC Electronic 2×10 or 2×12 cabs with an RS450 head. The bass always booms in the audience and is loud and clear enough on the stage, with plenty of headroom. I’ve never been able to turn the amp up more than a third of the way. I love when a studio has the SVT pro and 8×10 cab, but would never think to drive that rig around and load into the venues we usually play. Some have lots of stairs! I’m not being a smart-ass, I would like to know the logic behind lugging around a refrigerator. thank you.

    Shelby

    Shelby

    I agree, Bob. I’m concerned primarily with stage sound and portability, for the same reasons

    Mow

    Mow

    Maybe is not logic. It´s just inspiring and feeling. I´ve triend also a lot of configurations and 8×10 no matter what, always wins. Plus carrying a 4×10 alone it is always a risk. you shuoldn´t carry one alone either.

    Fritz

    Fritz

    I have exactly the same rig. They sound great together, for smaller gigs I use the 2-12.

    Al Archibald

    Al Archibald

    I started out playing 2×15’s many moons ago. Now I have one 4×10 and one 2×12 Markbass cabs. Light and very versatile, I love em.

OC Harris

I used Hartke Hydrive 810 cab and a LH 1000 amp for a few years.After common sense arrived and my second back surgery I now use a Mesa Venture 600 combo with two 12’s and a horn The best rig by far

hugh

hugh

I use a Mesa ,carbine m6 with 2×12 ,plenty of head room and tone up the ying-yang.Playing a 79 stingray with flats.

Brian Haight

I play through a Genz Benz 210 NEO and a GB Shuttle 12.0. That is plenty for stage volume, I go direct out of the head into the house and let the mains carry my weight. If I really need more stage volume I add another GB 210. I also have a Hartke 410 and 115 but hate lugging those heavy boxes around. The Neos are much lighter and allow me to hear myself just fine without overpowering my bandmates on stage.

Dave Mason

Dave Mason

Currently using an Acoustic 1×15 paired with an Acoustic 2×10 running through an Acoustic 600 watt head. I have two of these set ups and Run stereo with a ’75 Rickenbacker or a ’78 Ovation Magnum, 15’s for the neck and 10’s for yhr bridge. I can pair them in any combination that I need for any type of music or gig. Use an Acoustic 8×10 when needed.

Hurricane Jimmie

Hurricane Jimmie

‘If you’re that loud…you’re too loud’….This should be printed on every ‘fridge cabinet. Like most of us, I spent the first 10 years buying bigger stuff and the last 10 years getting smaller. There are some versatile cabs with small footprints that will cover 99% of your gigs; the house PA will cover the rest.

Toby Wayne Webb

My ideal set-up is a SWR 4×10,and 2×12! My bandmates use to Rave about that sound! I played medium to large venues,and also use to mix a bit into my monitor as well.That way I didn`t have to crank my amp! I also had what I called my Stadium rig! This was the same as mention above with the addition if two SWR 2×10 Monitor style cabs! Place on either size of my vocal monitor! Loved that set up!

David Ord

David Ord

Epifani – one UL112 for small gigs and two PS 210s for anything bigger.

Steve

Steve

I have 6 5″ drivers best!!PJB

Ken Seaton II

Ken Seaton II

I have played through two Ampeg 810e cabs, powered by an Ampeg SVT4Pro on one and and an Ampeg SVP1600 on the other for over ten years. I’s say 150 shows and the ONLY time I downsize is from a small stage. I guess the sweat is worth tone……My favorite bass is my 2003 Fender pbass Deluxe w/ 7 point tone control and duel active pick-ups!!

\m/ \m/

Jon Willis

Jon Willis

Invest in speakers that do the job.. not just the cabinet or configuration… do some research and learn to read speaker specs…. and ask questions.. I recently had a 2×10 custom built out of Poplar and housing 2 FAITAL PRO 10PR300 speakers… the cab weighs about 35lbs and has as much energy as my Eden XLT 4×10. Sure my Eden 4×10 slightly moves more air.. but the clarity of the Faital Pro’s destroy my poor Eden…. I also have another XLT that I loaded with SICA PL10B25S and it without a doubt destroys my other stock Eden XLT .. not even close. I recently purchased a small Hartke 2×10 and installed 2 of the SICA PL10B25S in that to play smaller gigs and because it now weighs 28lbs… So I can easily carry it 4-5 city blocks with my gigbag and amp on my back.. It is fantastic sounding as I knew it would be..

My point is.. there are speaker makers that are producing superior speakers that when loaded in traditional cabinets yield a higher response and tonal value than the stock choices.

I am keeping one of my original Eden XLT stock just in I need to loan it out or if I am the guy providing the bass amp at some of the shows featuring multiple bands.. :)

    Virgil

    Virgil

    I Use 2, Epifani DIST 112’s and either an Epifani Piccollo 1000, or 902 C head, or. TecAmp Black Jag 900, for small to medium sized rooms and a Epifani 410 cab for big rooms without PA support or when playing outside.

    dale

    dale

    I absolutely agree with this. Back in the day it was almost a need for more speakers due to their lack of efficiency. Speaker technology has grown dramatically over the last decade or so and the efficiency in some speakers is astounding. I built some cabs with a eminance 2012lf 12″ and eminance 6 1/2″ speaker crossed over at 700hz I believe for a little sizzle and it soaks up every bit of 500w and projects in to a room like no commercial cab I’ve played. They’re not cheap but well worth it and the cab weighs around 40lbs. If I have a large outdoor gig I might use both or if I’m on a large stage I will bring both just for looks. Cab design is very important to get the most out of these speakers but it’s the speakers that make the noise after all so the cab really needs to be designed around a specific speaker imo.

DaleC

DaleC

WHen it comes to stage volume, I have a saying;

“If no one is telling you to turn up, you’re probably too loud.”

brdjdave@gmail.com.com

brdjdave@gmail.com.com

Bergantino NV610 is what I use. Sounds awesome! I usually run my TC Electronic RH750. But I also have am Orange AD200 I use one in awhile. Both sound great. I play Spector basses. I also have an Avatar 410 at home that sounds great as well. You can’t go wrong with a 410. But my Berg is my fave.

Kevsy

Kevsy

Amen to modular, in my case 2 x Baer ML112s. Single/horizontal stack/vertical stack depending on the room, whether we are on floor or stage, and if they can go in or away from a corner. Plus a splash of DI’d into the PA (highs only). Once the 7-piece rock blues band get going, all I care is whether I can hear anything I’m playing, and I know that FOH will take care of what the crowd (if any!) can hear.

Chris

I use a Carvin BX500 head and a Schroeder 1210L cabinet (the older smaller size with an angled speaker). I bought the cabinet used and it had a luggage rack installed on it. This is a very lightweight and powerful rig. I love the Schroeder cabinet. It’s about the size of a 2 x 10″ cabinet. It sounds clear, punchy and is loud enough for all my needs. I have thought of adding a 15″ but it just isn’t needed! I am only running at 8 ohms so I have room to add another cabinet, but I’m already to loud, plus I don’t need to carry any more! I highly recommend Carvin heads and Schroeder cabinets to anyone!

    Charlie

    Charlie

    I have had the same experience as Chris. I own lots of bass amps, and my “go to”, is often my Carvin BX 500 bass head, paired with a Schroeder PL 15, or 1212L. On louder gigs I’ll sometimes bring both cabs. I also have some AccuGroove cabs, they are great too. And the EA iAmp heads are very good. Most of the time, all I need is a small set up with a Schroeder cab and the Carvin head. That rig is lighter than most combo bass amps, and has 500 watts at less than 40 pounds! And it sounds really good.

Mow

Mow

810 Just feels better. It is not about volume

Jonathan Aspegren Bormann

Just a memo: Speaker sizes have no sound. As the guy from Barefaced says; “the only thing it will tell you is, well… The size of the speaker”.
What important Xmax, linearity, magnet array, compression at high power levels, etc. etc. etc.

There are certain trends of course: It’s difficult to make a large speaker produce treble, and its difficult to make a small speaker produce large amounts of bass.
It’s however perfectly possible to make a small speaker produce “good bass”. So you might just need to toss 12 5 inch speakers together (*Coughs* Phil Jones *Coughs*), or you might wanna use a very well made single 15 with a well matched tweeter. Or you can do whatever really.
In the end you gotta listen to every cabinet you can find, and make a decision based on that. you can’t really have any preconceived notions based on speaker size. What it comes down to is speaker quality, and the quality of the enclosure design.

lordatwaterScott

I use a pair of SWR 112 Golight cabs. I used to lug around a 118 and 2 110 Eden setup in a metal band, but it got to be too much after 1 1/2 with that rig. I get a great tight sound out of a rig that is now 50% lighter and have a gkmb500 watt head vs my peavey 700 watt head I had with the monstrosity mentioned above), there is little difference in volume and I stil get the tone I wanted.

Anthony Cook

Sounds like a lot of different configurations for amp set up and cabs. As always, we all have a varied preference when it comes down to what we like to hear. Over the years, like many of you , I have played and recorded with just about everything from the vintage AMPEGS , B-15s & 8 10s to Edens, SWR,Carvins, Aguilar , and the list goes on .Currently, I am partial to the Aguilar amps & cabs ,Schroeder cabs, and MARKBASS 210 combo for smaller gigs, and lastly , a vintage Music Man HD TUBE AMP.Damian makes a very good point with the 4 10s as the go to for most mid size to bigger venues and 12s are always great, as well. All we need is enough head room to groove, cut through the band mix, and hear how our sound translates out in front .Dont forget to be especially thoughtful when it comes to the FOH folks. I always go out of my way to publicly say thanks and show some respect. The FOH techs. can make you sound awfully good ….or just plain awful LOL. BASS ON FELLOW BOTTOM DWELLERS !

Gregg

Gregg

That’s what I needed to know. My Hartke Hydrive 410 with my Hartke LH1000 amp is plenty loud with headroom to spare. I appreciate your detailed answer. Thanks.

Rune Offerdal

Very nice and informative article. I really like the way you emphasise that these are personal preferences. Your 5 questions says what it’s all about.

Personally I so far have played gigs I consider small. But I also have a back condition which limits my lifting capacity. So even a 410 is too much for me. I have a small Eden EX112 for home rehearsal and small, not loud gigs. With my rock band I use a 115 + 210 stack from Kustom. I’ve tried to play with only the 210, and I like the complete stack better. Yes, the 115 is basically a deep frequency addition, but it gives a bit of that tactile rumble that can be an important monitoring feature when the songs are at their intensity peak. The 115 cab also lifts the 210 higher from the floor, which means I get the defined sound closer to my ears.

With the rock band it’s all about monitoring. The PA covers the FOH. When it comes to stage volume, my personal preference is that if you need drums through your monitor wedge for them to be heard, then you are already on your way into too loud stage volume. I do understand that large venues may need a bit of rhythm through the monitors if you stand far away from the drum set, but again, I consider it too loud if that monitor sound need to be louder than standing next to the unamplified set.

With the acoustic drum sound of a hard hitting drummer, the 115 +210 stack is plenty, even when driven by a lightweight EBS Reidmar. And it is lightweight enough for me to be able to lift each part of the stack on my own, and it even fits in my family car. Being a local band with no band van or crew, this is a great solution for me.

Ara

Ara

Even though I own two MesaBoogie 410 cabs with MPulse600 head, and a SWR 6×10 cab, I primarily only use my TC Electronics RS210 and RH450 head. I place it on a keyboard stand with a Gramma speaker isolator and I have the perfect monitoring for me on stage. The cab has a short throw (unlike the Mesas that can be heard miles away…) which is great for my stage sound and I leave the PA do the rest for FOH sound. Small, light, compact, loud… perfect!

    Fritz

    Fritz

    I do something similar. Same rig, but I set either my 2-12 or 2-10 on a milk crate. for the same reason. Otherwise I use them both.

rick

rick

Totally agree with Damian. We’ll written. Big rigs wrecked my back and am now forced to use small rigs. Depending on the venue, I’m using a genz benz shuttle 6.0 112 and 210 stack. Plenty of punch and great low end. Great stage monitor. Plenty of head room. I also have 4 112 bergantinos that I use as a single, pair or all 4. I only ever used all four together once on a large outdoor stage. My FOH engineers love all of my configurations.

Dave Marion

Dave Marion

I can honestly say I positively hate the sound of 10 inch speakers. I use only 15 inch JBL speakers in Lab Series 315A cabinets and a Lab Series L11 Amp Tops.
I use one or two 315A cabinets and rarely add others. The only exception to the 315A is a 2×15 cabinet that I built that is the clone of a JBL 4508. The 2×15 gets used when I need more speakers but not more cabinets. It is set up with dual impedance (4 or 16 ohms) in case I need to use all four. All the cabinets are on wheels and when I can no longer move my own stuff it is time to quit gigging. I recently acquired a 1×12 tone ring cabinet and that is waiting on a suitable speaker. I loved the Fender Showman 1×15 tone ring cabinets and I expect that the 1×12 will be a smaller, lighter, slightly less powerful version.

Steve

Steve

I’ve been downsizing for a few years now. I thought I had reached as small as I could get and still be happy with the tone with an Eden WTX head matched with a 4ohm 12″ cab but I have now gone one step further and now use only an Eden WTDI preamp pedal.
I get the same tone from a box which fits in my bass gigbag.
I’m more than happy using a P.A. stage monitor to hear myself at gigs.

Rob

Rob

I’ve used the 410-115 set-up for many years now, not gigging alot now, but I believe I’m going to check into the Hartke 112 cab’s with the switchable load (4-8 ohms) buy 2 and have pretty much what I need for any gig…lightweight and versitle…

Shay

Shay

For years I used 210 over 115 w/ GKRB800 head, never failed me nor my band. Now I prefer 112 (ampeg), it’s just feels right :)

chris @nedandthedirt

growing up as a kid I dreamed of having a huge rig like JPJ or Sir Paul. For me it wasn’t about the sound as much as a rite pf passage. That 8×10 LOOKS Amazing up there next to a drum kit and Marshall stack. Unfortunately music lovers come to the show (who know nothing about sound) and decide to take a group either seriously or not solely based on the initial appearance of their equipment. The 8×10 de,ands respect. That’s what drew me to it at first. Now however after multiple shows and tours with the 8×10 I have traded it in for a TC Electronic rig. I’ll be damned if that little thing doesn’t blow the house up night after night.

Stephen Whitfield

I use a 2×8 with a 15….best sound I have had, although I would love to try 2×8 with a single 12…

David Edward Valentine Spidel

I agree that a larger cabinet gives a certain amount more magic. In some contexts, an 8×10 can sound a little sloppy to me. A 4×10 was my first real bass amp, and it was pretty great! Went as loud as I ever needed. But the weight was a little much. I moved to a MarkBass 2×10 and stayed there for years. The weight, size, and sound was it for me! Until I blew a speaker on a rock gig that is! Now I’ve gone for the 2×12, and it’s perfect for everything. Louder than any 4×10 I’ve ever played (with the exception of the Eden 410 xlt), and contains the 5-string friendly subs. I once paired a 2×15 and a 2×10 together, which I’d do every night on the loud gigs if I had a crew to load my gear for me, but the sound it for me. Totally full and huge without straining the speakers. Until then 2x12s are where it’s at for me!

Lewis K

Lewis K

Great article Damian – I’ve been using Ashdown ABM 1×15 compacts for years – I have 2 of them and use either 1 or 2 depending on the venue size, they really are quite ‘bright’ for 15s. I have been considering switching to 12s – Got the G.A.S. after reading this!

Greg Smith

Great article, and one that I’m sure will get everyone throwing their two peneth in! Your opening statement is of course true it’s all down to personal taste and what you hear and like, coupled with practicality. I too have owners many combinations of cabinets and can’t believe where I am now!! Last rig before the current one was a TC Electronic rs212 & 210 cabinet with the Classic 450 head. To be fair a great sounding rig, modular too, even the 210 on its own could move some air and plenty for a 6piece jazz gig. But other artists I play with were playing increasingly larger venues and I found I was running out of headroom, thus the change of setup. I stayed with TC for the head, but went up to the RH750 more bells and whistles & headroom, in particular the ability to change the EQ centre points to control the low end better. Anyway! I could have stayed with the RS Cabs, they are great!! But I needed a less modern aesthetic (vanity can also be a factor haha!), read loads and loads of reviews and plumped for the Ampeg PF115LF x 2 (no tweeters). Was really risky, cheaper cabs, with ‘the look’ I wanted, good reviews though so I made an educated purchase. Gotta say the combination of that head and cabs is ridiculously good, 15’s are flubby… No!, slow reacting… Not with that head!, loss of definition! ….. None. Now there are no sparking highs, even though the slap tone is definitely acceptable.

Against all odds and conventional thinking 15’s and no tweeters in this instance work well. Who’d have thought it!

My Fender Roscoe Beck V also contributed heavily to the tone nirvana :)

John

John

I use a Markbass 2×10 combo chained to a MB traveler 2×10 cab , both very lite and sound punchy.

Jd Blackwell

I used to run a 2×10 and a 1×15 cab and found that the 15 gave no advantage so I sold it and got another 2×10. For lower volume I take one cab and a lower powered preamp/power amp rack and for higher volume I use a higher powered rack. It’s proven to be efficient in its modularity and the MarkBass cabs sound great.

Björn Vilhjalmsson

Pairung different cabinets can be very good, because the different frequency response. I had 210 and 115 Mesa Boogie cabs and playing through one at a time was horrible. The 210 was to middy and the 115 lacked mids, together they sounded very good. You also get more low end the more cabs you use, that is if you stack them together. The cone area gets larger and produces more lows, called coupling effect. In fact two rather thin sounding cabs can produce good bass when used together.

Dan

Dan

I’ve played and toured in Americana bands for a few years, but recently started playing in a more experimental indie rock band where I can focus more on tone than theory and technique. Someone at our last show described it as “aggressive showcase” haha. I primarily use an early 70’s Kustom 2×15 “tuck n’ roll” cab live, paired with my Ampeg SVT4-Pro. I love the fat, rich low end from the 15’s. I use a crappy Peavey 4×10 in our practice space, and have toured with an Ampeg ported 4×10 (borrowed it from a friend to cut down on size, and the Kustom isn’t too road worthy without a case.). I recently borrowed a friend’s Black Market Custom pair of 1x12s with an Aguilar Tonehammer 500 for some radio/studio gigs and enjoyed it, though the Aguilar head was a little too bright for my taste. I own an Acoustic 8×10, but I’ve only played it live twice. I have to be playing in a 1,000+ capacity room to justify bringing the 8×10. My 2×15 is my favorite, but I wouldn’t mind having a 2×15 cab made with a pair of 8’s or 10s on top so I can still get some definition to my tone. My advice to others is don’t buy an 8×10 until you’re big enough to have a crew of stagehands to help you lug it around.

Jon Hallam

One thing to remember is that when you use multiple cabs with one amp you’re (normally) lowering the impedance load and drawing more power from your amp so you might not like a single 8 ohm cab but when you plug in a second you will not only have more speakers working but more power behind them and this can change the tone and headroom of the amp. My amp can run at 2 ohms but I only currently have two 8 ohm cabs so can only put a 4 ohm load on it. I was able once to use two similar 4 ohm cabs and even though it was at the same volume it sounded so much bigger and clearer.

Mark

Carvin BX500 and Carvin BRX410NEO is my workhorse rig. For smaller gigs Carvin MicroBass 1-10″ reloaded with an Eminence NEO driver does the trick. Sometimes I stack it on a DIY 10″ Eminence box for a little more punch. I find 10’s are clean and fast, and can still shake the room in the 410 configuration. I play a Steinberger L2 with extra light guage rounds and I always get compliments on my tone from sound crews (and the band!). I can get very deep bass and slaphappy highs with this setup.
I also play a WAV4 electric upright and it thumps and growls nicely!

basser

basser

For 90% of my gigs I just use in-ears, no amp…. this results in the best sound for the audience and is safer for the ears, as the whole stage is pretty quiet, except for drums. For situations without FOH sound, an Avatar 1-12 cab and GK 200 watt micro head is plenty.

Harvey McCormick

Harvey McCormick

For small gigs, I use my Orange 2×12 Smart Cab: Medium gigs I have an Ashdown 4 ohm 4×10 or an Avatar 8ohm 2×12; For Larger gigs, I have 2 Marshall VBC 4×12’s (I use 1 or both)
My primary head is an Ashdown EVO II 500; but I also use my Orange Bass Terror 500; a Marshall VBA 400 tube head, (love the tone..but hate the weight!) or my HIwatt DR 103

Mike Artz

I use a GK 2×12 neo cab for most small venues run out of my GK 700rb head. For bigger venues and outdoor gigs I add a 4×10 neo cab and it work fine. With both cabs I can also turn down the volume on the amp and get a cleaner sound.

Terry Spence

Terry Spence

Hi ok, first time here as a tx bass player oops.I concur with this gentleman on finding the head a speaker set up for the individual. I played tours in top forty country and played with the best musicans out of Austin texas. If I had a blues set up I use the ampeg svt pro 4 with 4 10 top and 1 15 bottom. I play an active 5 string dual h 5 musicman bass.When I play outside I use a MB 800 gk head with gk 4 10s and a 1 15 ampeg classic speaker cab. I try to keep it light on the cabs, cause I know trying to lug the 8 10 ampeg cabs up the stairs, by YOURSELF at 4 oclock in the morning really, you know :) Again combinations of different cabs and heads is to experiment with. Your rig on stage IS your monitor to hear whats up and the rest is di. As for myself, I like to run same volume on stage with the rest of my guys, have the moniter comeing back a little more crisp with flat kick drum (only to hear the mallet attack) and step in between the cabs and monitor and experience the mix. Its quite cool. But over all its a preference on your thing playing live, out doors, or at the house for practice.Experiment.

James Gibson

James Gibson

I’m an old fart & play mostly old blues and old standards in a three piece group. No big gigs anymore and that’s fine by me. Since our PA has two 2-15 cabs, I use a one 15″ loaded with a Delta LFA and one 10″ with a Celestion (mic`d), each amped on it’s own,
300 watts to the 15″ and 50 watts to the 10″, using an Eden WTDI to send a signal, Does great and is easy on the back.

Keith

Keith

Im new to gigging and as such Im still learning. I did a small outdoor gig and used 2 peavey cabs, 210 and 115 with a 180 watt behringer head. Amp was at 8, gain 3 compression 3. DI into the board too. Active peavey bass everything set flat. VERY loud amp. I was shocked. A friend doing some recording revealed the bass sounded good but onstage i couldnt hear squat. Scary. Maybe next time i use a smaller monitor amp and trust the PA? Worst part was lugging the cabs. Despite thw small amp head i was heard over the PA.