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30 comments / Posted by Bruce Ohms

10-inch Bass Speaker Cabinet

Many bassists looking to get more bottom out of their bass rig have considered adding a bass cabinet with a bigger speaker, such as a 1x15 (or maybe even a 1x18)! Cabinets like these have a popular reputation for providing more low end than their smaller counterparts, such as 2x10, 4x10 and 2x12 cabinets. Similarly, it’s commonly perceived that smaller speakers have more high-end and a quicker response, so players looking for a more articulate sound may gravitate to a cabinet equipped with smaller speakers.

This seems like a fair assumption, but the fact of the matter is that speaker size alone does not give any indication of what the cabinet will sound like. While it’s possible that adding a 1x15 speaker configuration may result in earth-shaking low end, it’s not always guaranteed, just like how adding a speaker with 10s won’t necessarily make your sound more punchy. All else being equal, many factors, including the speaker cabinet’s design, whether the cabinet is sealed or ported, and especially the choice of speaker used can determine the overall sound of the cabinet. To illustrate this point in a simple, practical way, we will compare different cabinets from Carvin Audio’s product line.

Let's compare two Carvin Audio bass cabinets from the MBE Series, MB series extension cabinets: the sealed 115MBE and the ported 210MBE. To help answer the question of how low these cabs can go, we will look at their frequency response specs. The 115MBE has a frequency response of 60Hz to 5kHz, while the 210MBE goes down to 65Hz and up to 6kHz. In this case, the 115MBE does go a little lower than the 210MBE, but the 210MBE has a little bit of extended treble. From comparing these two speaker cabinets, it may seem like the old myth that fifteen inch speakers go lower may ring true.

Let’s now compare both of these MBE cabinets to Carvin Audio’s BR210 bass cabinet. This 2x10 cabinet’s frequency response is from 50Hz-20 kHz, which means it goes significantly lower and higher than both the 115MBE and the 210MBE. The BR210 goes higher because it has a horn driver, where the two MBE cabinets do not have horn drivers. The BR210 goes lower than both of these, even though it has the same 10-inch drivers as the 210MBE, because the BR210 is a larger cabinet and engineered for larger amplifier applications. The MBE Series cabs are designed to be lightweight and portable, while the BR210 is a more full range standalone cab, geared for Carvin Audio’s higher powered bass amp heads.

BR210 2x 10-inch Bass Speaker Cabinet

The BR210 is geared towards higher powered bass amp heads.

A common pitfall in selecting music equipment is assuming a one-size-fits-all approach to classifying gear; two bass cabinets using the same speaker configuration may be drastically different sonically and spec-wise form each other. It’s your job as a musician to look at the specs AND listen to your ears.Let us now take it one step further and look at the Carvin Audio BRx10.2 This cabinet has a frequency response of 35Hz to 18 kHz. The 18 kHz high side is the same as the BR210, because this cabinet has the same horn driver, but the low end drops another 15Hz down to 35Hz even though this cabinet is a little smaller than the BR210. Here the 10-inch speaker has changed and the cabinet is ported. Now porting will not always mean the cabinet will go lower, because the 210MBE in the first example was ported.

A common pitfall in selecting music equipment is assuming a one-size-fits-all approach to classifying gear; two bass cabinets using the same speaker configuration may be drastically different sonically and spec-wise form each other. It’s your job as a musician to look at the specs AND listen to your ears.


  • Posted On January 30, 2017 by Bill Kennedy

    Many moons ago I played bass in a loud assed band that was a cross between Deep Purple and Santana. Using a modified Gibson EB3, the only way I could be heard in any environment was two Fender Showman cabinets loaded with Lansing D140 speakers. A Traynor YB3 head “300 watts I think” powered them. In small clubs I could cause bottles and glasses vibrate off tables. Table or curtains would move because of the air I could move. Mothers with small children would cover their kids ears and get as far away as they could. The point here? Bigger is better. If you want to be heard, if you want to fill the sound of the band so that it sounds complete then big speakers and powerful amps. if treble is an issue then get a 6×10 caminet and a 100 watt head and lash it to the bigger amp… amen….

  • Posted On January 18, 2017 by Hitch Paprocki

    The poor bass player with larger speaker cannot hear his or herself.
    The bass travels away from the player, and overwhelms the audience.
    Nobody is happy. I don’t know for sure, but I think that the 10s help here.

  • Posted On January 18, 2017 by Lawrence de Martin

    Frequency response is more complicated than it seems. Low end extension can’t be defined by one number, and frequency is not pitch.

    The classic Fender Bass design puts the neck pickup at 22% of the string length. This makes the second harmonic more powerful than the fundamental for open strings and the first few frets. We hear low E because the combination of harmonics at 82Hz, 123Hz, 164Hz and 205Hz point to it, not because there is actual 41Hz coming from the pickups or speakers.

    Classic Fender cabinets like the Bassman 2×12 and Dual Showman 2×15 roll frequency at 80Hz, so the Carvin 60-65Hz cabs are as good for low B as the 4 string sound of James Jamerson we know and love.

    If you have Gibson Bass or other model with a neck pickup at 40% of string length, then you have to worry about speakers going below 60Hz, and you had better not make it a vented box. They are farty if you pick, thump or slap in the nether regions. Even Jack Bruce or Rocco Prestia fast fingerstyle technique will get mushed out by the time delays and resonances of vented boxes on open B and E strings.

    You also need to move twice as much air for each octave going down, so your woofer has to have displacement over a liter, which is moving an inch in and out for a 15.

    I have a pair of custom 15 cabs flat to 30Hz, a 5ft3 sealed box and a passive radiator 3ft3. They both weigh 80 pounds and the custom woofers in them break if you drop the cabinet, so they live in my Manhattan loft and never travel!

  • Posted On January 18, 2017 by Gregory Raw

    I’ve noticed that since the SVT was introduced that 10 inch bass speakers sound great on stage but will not push to the back of the room. On the other hand a 15 inch will push to the back of the room. Also a 15 or an 18 in a folded horn is rather weak until you are past 40 feet and then it will hammer you for a city block.

  • Posted On January 18, 2017 by Tim Knights

    It seems that many of your bass cabs’ low frequency range is mainly in the 60Hz area . Some as low as 35Hz . The E string is around 41Hz and a B string goes down to 31 . Why are standard bass cabs not rated this low ?

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