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.
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.