The fEARful/FEARLESS advantage!
Loudspeaker technology has come a LONG way in 25 years. Unfortunately, commercial bass cab makers haven't. Looks and a price point continues to trump premium components, design, and performance.
fEARful/FEARLESS cabs are engineered from the ground up to deliver exactly what the working bassist/keyboardist needs onstage.. Loudness, strong low-frequency response, and unparalleled clarity and sound dispersion..
Did we mention smaller and lighter??
It's funny to read some of these "Bassist Wanted" ads.. Quite often you see a "must have pro gear" requirement.. Unfortunately, most of us just look at the nameplate on the gear to make that determination. You got "brand A"? Welcome to the band!
We all know what the classic bass cab driver configurations are, and how long those have been established. Long enough to remind you that when these cabs were first designed, the engineering research that enabled designers to build proper enclosures was in its infancy. By and large these cabs were eyeball engineered by the seat of ones' pants.. There weren't many driver choices back then, either. Some were better than others, none were ideal, but often times cost was the overriding factor. Sure, "brand A" came up with something that has for 40 years been the definition of "pro sound", but in reality these classic 810/410 configurations are an audio engineering disaster. The 70's vintage 2-15"s are slightly better, but not much.. Looks and a price point are still selling at the music megamart, so there's little pressure for manufacturers to offer better... The same is true with automobiles, TV's, computers, and bass cabs...What was "state of the art" in the 70's is now woefully obsolete!
For many years its been assumed that if you wanted "your sound" out front, you had to mic your cab. Preamp outs and DI's "didn't send the same signal" to the board.. In reality, it wasn't your amp/preamp's fault.. It was what the onstage speaker cab was doing WITH that signal that was causing all the grief.. Those of you who have had, or currently play the "classic" 810/410 configuration can probably attest to the following...
Not being able to hear yourself onstage, but 20 feet into the dance floor the bass is overbearing.. Getting a nice tone onstage, but in the room its just a roar.. Can't dial in volume/tone because its different everywhere in the room. Bandmates either can't hear you, or you're "too loud". Can't turn up past 4, or you hear a "farting" distortion. That B string sounds defective...
The major issue behind a lot of this is the horizontal placement of drivers in the cabinet. Creates a phenomenon called "comb filtering". Sort of like having a non-adjustable EQ set at the wrong places.. There's some major cancellations going on in the frequency spectrum depending where you stand in the room, and there's not a lot you can do about it besides building new cabs and arranging all the drivers vertically..(where the typical 2-15 has a slight advantage) Its likely where the term "cabinet voicing" came about ..
Reproducing the low frequencies properly requires a lot of excursion from the speaker driver. The vast majority of 10's and vintage 15's were/are not designed with sufficient cone travel (xmax) to do the job right. Some of you may be familiar with a term called "displacement limitation". This is why manufacturers' wattage specs are so misleading.. It does not really matter how much power the driver can thermally handle, if the driver exceeds xmax at say 25% of that power rating, that is your limit! When you hear "farting" distortion, this is what's happening.. In general terms, the less expensive the driver chosen, the more likely you will experience this.
This also goes a bit hand-in hand with the B-string issues encountered. The classic enclosures were built with the belief low E was as far as it would go. Generally cabinet tunings were set fairly high in anticipation of this, and it did alleviate some of the aforementioned "displacement limitation".. Nowadays 5 strings have become the new standard. Unfortunately, the first harmonic of the B string is way below a lot of these classic cabs' tunings, and there is a perceptible sonic disconnect.. It will either be weak, or worse yet worsen the "farting" distortion at a lower volume level..
One last issue is mid/high frequency dispersion. Comb filtering really raises havoc with this on the 410/810's, the 15's have their own issue..
All drivers have a narrowing cone of dispersion as sound frequency goes higher. The larger the speaker, the narrower the cone. The more the driver is engineered to reproduce the low-end (extended xmax), this phenomenon only gets worse.. Stand in front of your cab, then stand beside it and listen.. sounds different, huh? If you don't have full PA support, your tone and volume are sure to be all over the place depending on where you sit in the room.. Some manufacturers tried addressing that by including a bullet tweeter. Two problems with that..
Crossover frequency way too high (it needs to be about 1000Hz lower to properly address the midrange "hole" - then you are under the drivers' frequency range), and the sound is often too harsh...
Before you set fire to that 8x10, you might want to know why fEARful/FEARLESS are becoming cabs of choice for a growing number of working bassists..
The fEARful/FEARLESS cabs are in every respect no-compromise designs. Every component was chosen for its exceptional performance. The internal crossovers were specially engineered to the chosen drivers/application (electric bass), and the enclosures are specifically designed to handle extended range instruments with ease. fEARfuls will deliver your sound with unmatched clarity, lows are present and strong, mids and highs are now even and properly dispersed. What you hear onstage is exactly what everyone else in the room will hear! It does not matter which fEARful you pick, sonically they will be identical!! The only differences will be impedance and SPL.. Use your preamp's XLR out with confidence! fEARfuls are truly "tone neutral".. You will be forced to really learn how to use your EQ, because you will get out of a fEARful exactly what you put into it.. only a lot louder...
Displacement limitation? With fEARful/FEARLESS, this is a thing of the past. The woofers chosen for these designs (Eminence Kappalite 3012 and 3015LF's) sport an xmax of 9mm, 3x the excursion of many drivers chosen for bass cabs. What this means is that the fEARful/FEARLESS will handle nearly its full thermal power capacity without losing linearity and distorting. More sound pressure level, more clarity. The lows aren't just hinted at, they are THERE, with a vengeance! No more B string thinness of tone, it sounds like the rest of the bass..
The efficiencies of the chosen speaker drivers are also much better than a lot of commercial offerings. That translates into more sound pressure level per watt.. Case in point. the fEARful 1515/66 can handle up to 1500 watts cleanly. I built one for a customer who will be using a 400 watt tube head for power. Last I heard he's using a lot less of his volume knob than with his old 810..
Exceptional low-frequency performance does come at a "price", and the tradeoff is suitable midrange response. The other part of the fEARful/FEARLESS equation is the inclusion of high performance 5 and 6" midrange driver(s), chosen for the application. Internal crossovers are optimized for each design.. By itself the response might be a bit mid-forward, but the magic really happens when the cab is working onstage. The midrange adds much needed presence and definition (which is absent with nearly any other cab design out there), with the added advantage of better room coverage. FEARLESS models have a switchable midrange response (one for upright, the other for electric) Although the midrange drivers can cover up to 5kHz or so, fEARfuls/FEARLESSes can be ordered 3-way with a high-frequency waveguide/tweeter for those who really need the snap and sizzle. Tweeters can be switched on/off, and controlled by an L-pad. In fact these designs are so well thought out, driver placements on the baffle have sonic significance!!
We shouldn't forget that all this performance is available in considerably smaller and lighter packages than what you're used to. Some players have discovered the little 12/6 is more than enough for their needs.. The biggest fEARful (1515/66) is smaller and lighter than the typical 810, and there is no comparison in performance..